The Birmingham News: This is our story.
The way people consume media has changed. With mobile technology progressing at an astounding rate, iPads, smartphones and laptops are in the hands of more people than ever before, allowing them to access free news content, wikis and blogs at a moment’s notice. Because of their once-a-day distribution channel and pressure to provide their precious content for free online, newspapers are fighting a hard battle to be both relevant and profitable. So, for a 124-year old brand like The Birmingham News, the challenge was to take a storied history of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism and project an image of cutting edge, cultural relevance and part of the fabric of the community.
One of the first things we wanted to do is reinstall a sense of pride to the employees of The Birmingham News. They should feel like ambassadors and help spread the positive story about everything the news has to offer businesses and citizens alike – instead of feeling ashamed or outdated. As reporters they are still the watchdogs of our government, still the voice for the wronged in the community and still the city’s top storytellers.
We also wanted to remind the community that their paper was something to be proud as it reflects on all Birminghamians and chronicles their lives and time together. Readers and non-subscribers should all be reminded that one of the main uniting factors of a city is its newspaper – it serves as a reference point for historians as well as a daily barometer for our successes and failures as a community. It’s insight, knowledge and perspective on the things that matter to us all. This is more than just news. This is our story.
This is Our Story
This line works to accomplish the stated objectives in a variety of ways. First of all, it is a statement of shared experience: that everyone in the community is involved in the story that we are all writing together. It’s immediately a statement that the newspaper is simply telling the story of Birmingham, of which we are all a part. Second, it gives the newspaper a position of ownership and strength about the news reported in the city. Thirdly, it essentially makes the campaign advertisement for the city itself.
It would seem obvious to place advertisements within The Birmingham News itself. But in order to truly engage existing subscribers, Big decided to turn things up a notch. For the first week of the campaign, The News arrived on doorsteps encased in a red plastic polybag labeled ‘This Is Our Story.’ The Sunday launch paper also was wrapped in a manifesto, a 4 page insert that detailed the message behind the campaign and touted the paper’s successes.
Of course, we also had to reach those who may have already dismissed the publication and were not subscribers. In addition to primetime television across all major networks in the city, we extended the campaign through an extensive online media buy and in other local print publications. But we also used the prominent location of The News building downtown as an asset as well. We hung a 5-story banner off the side of the building. Its unexpected placement received more attention than a typical billboard and reminded thousands of daily commuters that The News was alive and was indeed relevant.
Outdoor billboards were designed and placed – utilizing a digital board to run live content from The New’s twitter feed.