In 2012, the global team launched Coca-Cola Journey. It's The Coca-Cola Company's corporate website reimagined as a dynamic digital magazine and owned media channel, taking the name from an internal magazine first published in 1987. GB & Ireland editor, Matthew Hepburn spoke to editor-in-chief Jay Moye about his editorial strategy and vision...

How would you describe Coca-Cola Journey?

It's our corporate website-turned-dynamic digital magazine and owned media channel. Inspired by leading online publishers and powered by social media, this pioneering storytelling platform brings the compelling stories behind our company and brands – who we are, what we do and why we do it – to the forefront through a digital publishing experience designed to inspire, educate and provoke action.

"Coca-Cola Journey is our corporate website-turned-dynamic digital magazine and owned media channel."

We made this big bet in digital content in 2012 because we believed – and still believe – that authentic stories matter, that exceptional writing and visuals win the day, and that building a global digital newsroom and real-time PR tool could transform how we engage with all our readers. 

What channels do you use?

Journey content is debuted and hosted on our website, but it is also amplified via a myriad of channels including: a companion blog, Coca-Cola Unbottled; the company’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat channels; and via local languages and hosted by 25+ international Journey editions around the globe. As such, Journey represents a global publishing network.

How has Journey evolved since it first launched?

Over the last four years, the Journey family has grown to 30 sites, spanning more than 40 countries around the globe and 20 different languages, which includes Great Britain and Ireland. These country and regional sites share a similar look-and-feel with our flagship site, but are published in the local language and produced by local Coca-Cola communications teams for local readers. That has been the biggest change since 2012; we have taken what we built form the corporate centre and helped scale the model internationally with support of our wonderful colleagues and partners around the world.

What is the main objective for Journey?

We use Journey to make and break Coca-Cola news, bringing to life the stories bubbling just beneath the surface of our brands and business. We amplify – and add an editorial voice to – our marketing campaigns and sponsorship assets. We champion our culture, humanise our company, and find fresh ways to tell our sustainability and innovation stories. We celebrate our past, present and future. And we capitalise on pop culture moments and real-time opportunities. Our target audience includes journalists, employees, consumers, fans, partners, stakeholders and sometimes even critics.

Which pieces of content are you most proud of?

We are purposefully investing more in business, brand, leadership and innovation stories. Along those lines, some 2016 “hits” that come to mind are our coverage (and syndication) of the “Taste the Feeling” one-brand marketing strategy launch in January, our fun take on the Hi-C Ecto Cooler comeback (May), our coverage of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (summer), and our continued focus finding fresh, engaging ways to amplify our quarterly earnings announcements via social infographics, Journey-exclusive executive interviews and more. We are also proud of our efforts to step up video, audio and other multimedia content this year.

"We don’t have a content creation problem, we have a content discovery problem."

Are there any mistakes you've learnt from?

It's not a “mistake”, per se, but we learned a few years in that we don’t have a content creation problem, we have a content discovery problem. We produce 10-12 pieces of original content each week, and realised after our first year or so of publishing that we were perhaps too focused on the “product” and not enough on amplification or syndication. Our team has since refined our focus on (and boosted our investment in) ensuring our content is read, “liked” and shared by as many readers as possible via social and paid media, internal channels, newsletters, third-party publishers and other avenues.

Matthew Hepburn Jay Moye Coca-Cola Journey Editors
Coca-Cola Journey editor-in-chief Jay Moye with GB & Ireland editor Matthew Hepburn at the #JourneyOn2016 annual conference in Atlanta

How do you source stories for Journey?

Here in Atlanta, Georgia, where The Coca-Cola Company's global headquarters are based, we have number of processes in place to keep our finger on the pulse of the great stories our colleagues are working on – including but not limited to Corporate External Affairs (Sustainability), Brand PR, Heritage, Global Marketing, Internal/Executive Communications, Ambassador, Media Relations and more. We are also taking steps to improve communication with our international editor community (it’s a key priority for me in 2017) so we can seamlessly share ideas, stories, assets and more.

Do you think more people will start looking to brands for content and news?

We think so, yes. As mentioned, we were a first-mover in the brand journalism space. But we’re no longer alone. The rise in fellow brand publishers has motivated us to step up our game. The branded content space is much more crowded than it was when we launched Journey, which means we are among many brands that are challenged with transcending the noise not only through engaging content but also through strategic presence on social media.

What's the future for Coca-Cola Journey?

We’re continuing to explore new ways to tell great Coca-Cola stories not only on Journey, but on the social media channels our team manages. Over the last two years, we have adopted a network-specific voice to social conversations through the channels we use to deliver Journey stories to as many readers as possible in a contextually relevant way – from Instagram to Snapchat and LinkedIn.

"With the growth of social networks the world is connecting to each other via stories, and people expect the same from their favourite brands."

With the continuing growth of social media, the world is connecting to each other via stories, and people expect the same from their favourite brands. You’ll see us continuing to find new ways to render content – from video and GIFs, to podcasts and infographics, to photo narratives and first-person blogs. And we’ll aggressively pursue new tools and channels to amplify this content. This is still very much a work in progress. We’re constantly learning from our hits and our misses, and exploring new ways to use the platform to engage readers in ways that builds both brand love and corporate trust.

See how Coca-Cola Journey celebrated its 4th anniversary.