How Coca-Cola ‘Journeyed’ Into Brand Journalism Dominance
By: The Social Shake-Up
September 25, 2019
If a picture is worth a thousand words, one could argue that video and other multimedia content are worth millions.
This is certainly the case in the crowded waters of brand journalism—brands making and breaking their own news coverage. The Coca-Cola Company was an early adopter of online multimedia storytelling as a competitive advantage. In 2012, Coca-Cola transformed its corporate website into the digital magazine Coca-Cola Journey, which aims to simultaneously build brand loyalty and corporate trust.
As a company news source, Coca-Cola Journey brings to life the stories bubbling just beneath the surface of the business. But why spend the resources on exclusive visuals and written content, solely for the purpose of a corporate website?
It all comes down to owning the media narrative. In 2017, Jay Moye, global editor-in-chief of the digital property told The Social Shake-Up, “We made this big bet because we believe that authentic stories matter and that building a global newsroom can transform how we communicate as a company.”
Moye noted that a combination of user generated content, social listening and feedback from Coca-Cola’s global workforce helped Journey differentiate itself from the blah brand newsroom of the past. Competitive research is a must; Moye stays on top of brand publishing trends and follows other publishers for inspiration.
Journey has a symbiotic relationship with Coca-Cola’s social media presence. The site consists of a mix of visual storytelling media—original video content, photo galleries and infographics—all of which can be easily transferred to social media. “This has made our stories stickier and more discoverable, significantly boosting both our site traffic and engagement on social, and helping our content spread to more readers on more platforms,” said Moye.
Looking to revamp your own brand newsroom or company website? Here are seven ways to follow Coca-Cola’s example.
Humanize your company. Journey uses video, photos and animated GIFs to champion company culture. The efforts of over 700,000 Coca-Cola system employees worldwide—from senior executives to delivery drivers—have been highlighted in videos and visual-heavy news articles. Site content puts heavy emphasis on employees’ commitment to sustainability, as in a recent story about a citrus planting partnership in Florida. “Telling our stories through the voices of the people behind our global business brings a personal touch to our editorial content,” said Moye. The tactic has also been useful to HR in employer branding and internal communications. This human-centric approach resonates with today’s consumers, who increasingly consider a company’s values in purchase decisions.
Visualize company data. Infographics have proven to be an effective way to visualize Coca-Cola’s quarterly earnings reports, analyst presentations and other data-heavy communications. Using eye-catching charts, motion graphics and illustrated quotes, Journey breaks down and brings to life key results and messages. These visuals—which complement written stories and act as stand-alone storytelling devices—are published on Journey as downloadable PDFs. Bite-sized content is pulled from reports and repurposed across Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. In the first two years of the Journey initiative, Moye saw social media engagement around company news and earnings double.
Report company news in real time. Moye’s team covers company news, announcements and events, serving as an internal newswire. Stories and assets are syndicated to the team’s counterparts in other countries for quick translation and reuse. “Editorial photography and sizzle-reel videos are key pieces of the real-time puzzle, which deliver more color and context to media than a press release ever could,” noted Moye.
Show it, don’t say it. As competition for eyeballs skyrockets, Journey leans on its visuals to break through the noise. “Our Instagram handle is the LIFE magazine to Journey’s TIME, offering behind-the-scenes snapshots and pictorial extensions of our stories,” said Moye. Coca-Cola’s Instagram feed has a global focus, featuring employee faces and cultural events around the globe. On the Journey site, meanwhile, click-through galleries and videos help readers move through longer articles.
Make content shareable. Taking cues from social media-driven publishers, Journey embraces photo-heavy, copy-light “listicles.” For longform content, Journey posts documentary-style videos to Facebook with captions for those watching sans audio. Still, Coca-Cola doesn’t sacrifice substance for form: “Magazine-style feature articles will likely always be the bedrock of our editorial,” said Moye.
Refresh the evergreens. As a 130-year-old company, Coca-Cola has a massive archive of stories to share and re-share. Journey’s top-performing videos and articles balance nostalgia and innovation, “hinting at where the company has been and where we’re going,” according to Moye.
Leverage partnerships for visual content. From celebrating Olympic athletes to working with partner organizations to provide hurricane relief, Journey invests in multimedia storytelling to amplify sponsorship assets, showcase sustainability programs and strengthen relationships with B2B customers. Partnership programs offer up a wealth of visual assets, extending both the volume of Journey content and its reach.
Seven years in, Coca-Cola’s digital magazine and brand newsroom continues to thrive. “As our journey—pardon the pun—continues, we will find fresh new ways to use multimedia to tell the Coca-Cola stories that matter,” Moye promised.
Jay Moye is global editor-in-chief of Coca-Cola Journey. He leads editorial for the company’s award-winning digital magazine. This article was originally published in Content Science Review and on The Social Shake-Up.
Follow Jay: @JayMoye1