Visit Coca-Cola Journey and you’ll be served a story about how Coca-Cola Consolidated, an independent bottler based in Charlotte, North Carolina, is funding the restoration of more than two dozen Coke ghost signs, old-school mural advertisements that have faded with weather and time. Aside from the heavy brand shout-outs, it’s the type of article you might find in a regional arts and entertainment newspaper or magazine.

Since launching Journey, Coke’s owned-media site, in November of 2012, the brand’s corporate communications team has learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to brand (or corporate) journalism, i.e., what to create, how to get eyes on it, and how owned media supports overarching strategies.

'If it’s only viewed as a platform for public relations for our company, we’ve failed."

“If it’s only viewed as a platform for public relations for our company, we’ve failed,” says Ben Deutsch, Coke’s VP of Corporate Communications. “The goal is to continue to push the platform’s boundaries and give it more credibility as time goes on by providing interesting content that relates or brings value to the reader.”

Journey has had more than 120 million page views since launch, averaging to 1.5 million unique visits per month. But Deutsch believes they’re only beginning to scratch the surface of the platform’s full potential. “We’re learning how to bring more tension into the editorial,” he says, referring to how the global brand is experimenting with posting gutsier content.

So what has the mega-brand learned since launching its own media outlet? And what does the team still need to learn? Here, Deutsch shares a few insights and corporate journalism wins.

Corporate Journalism
History and pop culture stories are consistent top performers on Coca-Cola Journey, often delivering earned media value for the company.

Content, Currency and Coordination: An Internal Team Motto 

Deutsch says, “We need to be connected and coordinated with so many other parts of the business to cover all corporate news, may it be marketing, public affairs, legal, etc., to make sure that what we’re doing has a connection and is consistent.”

For this reason, his team derived a motto for everything they create editorially called “the three C’s” which includes content, currency, and coordination. The first “C” refers to content production, a proper system for producing, refining, and publishing. The second “C” refers to currency, not money but relevancy. And the last “C” refers to coordination considering the size of the global enterprise and the sweat it takes to work with a global, cross-functional team.

When Deutsch and crew first launched Journey, consulting with the legal department about what the team could and couldn’t write about was an ongoing conversation. It took a lot of time and effort, but now, around three and a half years in, the Journey team is clear on what requires higher levels of approval and what doesn’t, ultimately speeding up content production and enabling real-time publishing.

A Keen Focus on Multi-channel Distribution, Evergreen Strategies and Engagement

When initially creating Journey, Deutsch and his team were concerned they wouldn’t have enough content to share, but that concern quickly faded. Havingenough content hasn’t been a problem at all because of all the places within the Coca-Cola organisation where content can be gathered - employees, customers, readers, and even critics. “The more points of view the better,” says Deutsch.

But now that the Journey team has produced a magnitude of content, from recipes that include the fizzy beverage to interviews with C-suite leadership, they’re getting smarter at leveraging what they’ve already created and publishing with more purpose.

“Now, we’re working to publish less, using that extra energy to create more awareness about the original content we’re featuring. We’re being more deliberate about gettings eyes on what we create,” says Deutsch. Since the role of “audience engagement editor” is on the rise across the publishing industry, this isn’t a big surprise.

Corporate Journalism
Journey served as a dedicated hub for news on the launch of Coke's 'one brand' marketing strategy and 'Taste the Feeling' campaign.

Corporate Journalism as an Internal Communications Function

Most employees (at any company) don’t really enjoy using intranets; they’re not a place you want to “hang out.” But Coke has squeezed additional value out of the content created for Journey by cross-posting it within its internal employee portal. It’s a multi-media-rich way to share corporate news, executive interviews, and the like. A recent example of this is when the Journey team created content supporting the launch of a new global marketing strategy and ad campaign.

Corporate Journalism
Coke's PR team uses Journey to seed news with media and supplement quarterly earnings and other business announcements with social media-friendly content.

Corporate Journalism as a Supplement to External Communications Strategies

While some stories are further leveraged in house, others support external public relations strategies. “Success for us is when a media outlet references or includes content from Journey in their stories about the company. It’s something we couldn’t do with general media relations or just a press release,” says Deutsch.

"We’re working to publish less, using that extra energy to create more awareness about the original content we’re featuring. We’re being more deliberate about gettings eyes on what we create."

Recently, Coke announced a new international structure and leadership team. It was news, but there wasn’t anything particularly interesting about it, so the Journey team published an interview with Coke’s president and COO on Journey in conjunction with a press release announcement.

Two media outlets used the content from that article for their stories. “When you start seeing more and more of this, it demonstrates some of the value of brand journalism and providing the story behind the story,” says Deutsch.

Ben Deutsch speaks at the 2016 #JourneyOn editors summit in Atlanta. Localised editions of Coca-Cola Journey are now live in more than 25 countries around the world.

Even Big Brands are Still ‘Figuring Out’ Corporate Journalism

All in all, corporate (or brand) journalism is still new. “We’re all continually learning, iterating, and seeing what works,” says Deutsch. His biggest tip is to not be afraid of failing. “The digital publishing space gives you the luxury of launching, testing, and learning. You’ll learn more by making attempts than you will by being cautious,” he says.  

"Success for us is when a media outlet references or includes content from Journey in their stories about the company."

When Journey started, Deutsch’s team acted conservatively given that Coke is a publicly traded company and is so well known. But they worked to break out of that safety zone and create an air of experimentation. Deutsch says, “I feel like we’re not even close to figuring out the full value and potential of owned media sites. That’s the exciting part.”

Sachin Kamdar is co-founder and CEO of, a leading provider of audience insights for digital publishers.

Editor’s Note: Earlier this year, Coca-Cola Corporate Communications VP Ben Deutsch was interviewed by Co-founder and CEO Sachin Kamdar about the global Coca-Cola Journey website – our owned media channel and global storytelling hub – and the lessons we’ve learned since entering the then-uncharted brand journalism waters in late-2012. This story originally appeared on and is being republished here with permission.