Jason Baker is a founding member of the FedEx social media team and has played a key role in the development of the FedEx social voice. In his role as Sr. Communications Specialist, Global Content Production & Brand Journalism at FedEx, he’s helped transform a mindset away from the traditional press release, toward an authentic, engaging brand journalism approach to storytelling. On this episode, Jason shares how FedEx does storytelling to develop and maintain brand loyalty.
What is Brand Journalism?
We all hear the phrase brand journalism pretty often. Jason defines brand journalism as corporate storytelling from a journalistic perspective that helps the brand appear more transparent. It’s used to inform and inspire, but not directly sell. Since FedEx was founded in 1971, they’ve been growing their global network of 400,000 employees. They regularly publish stories about their employees and how they’re making an impact in their community. Other content is published that is not necessarily brand-centric but is relevant to people within the company.
Jason points out that traditional public relations activities are still important, but brand journalism is different. PR focuses more on traditional media and reactive company statements. Brand journalism is more about sharing breaking news and stories about organizations that FedEx supports.
Brand Journalism and Social Media Strategy
The content created by Jason and his team is shared with the social media team who pushes it out onto their channels. FedEx recently recorded a profile of one of their drivers who won the National Truck Driving Championship in Alaska. The profile was recorded during the winter in Anchorage, so you can imagine the amount of snow they encountered. They’re working on the video but have shared behind the scenes, 360-degree panorama images.
What Makes a Story?
Jason says that interesting people make for a great story. His team looks for unique stories that engage and have high shareability. The stories should be useful and entertaining, a form of “edutainment.” When FedEx transported Bao Bao the Panda to China from Washington D.C., they created lots of content and visual assets to share on social media almost immediately.
“We are looking for interesting people and unique stories that engage the brand every day.” @photoreb #sbeshow
The brand journalism team has access to other communication teams throughout the organization. They work together with them to find the shareable storytelling components of what’s important to the business. For example, if the I.T. department is focused on a new component, the brand journalism team would seek out a story to reinforce the objective. FedEx works in close collaboration with sponsorships, small business, and philanthropy teams at FedEx to determine the messaging. They discuss things like the headline and keywords to make sure everyone is on the same page.
FedEx Brand Journalism in Action
One example of the stories FedEx shares is about Orbis, the world’s only flying eye hospital that’s used to help under-served populations. FedEx donated the plane and provides volunteer pilots and maintenance. When Orbis began the flying eye hospital, FedEx utilized traditional PR. They were also able to embed a reporter to publish behind the scenes stories, which were then shared via the social media teams at both FedEx and Orbis.
When Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti, FedEx jumped in and donated two plane loads of hurricane relief supplies. FedEx embedded a brand journalist with the pilots to capture footage. That content was picked up by many organizations.
Another example of brand journalism at FedEx is their engagement with the global student robotic building competition, First Robotics. FedEx supports the organization through shipping and monetary donations. FedEx realized they weren’t reaching students through traditional channels, so they turned to social media. By creating a fun contest, FedEx was able to engage with the students and encourage sharing.
Featured On This Episode:
- FedEx’s website and blog
- FedEx on Instagram
- Two More Brand Journalism Examples: Mystic River in Boston and AIDS LifeCycle in California
- Jason Baker on LinkedIn and Twitter
- Download Social Business Journal, Volume 9: What’s Working in Employee Advocacy
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- Social Business Engine on Twitter: @sbengine
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