BrandingForward: Finding balance

group shot
Ole Miss IMC students (from left): Emily Stalcup, Lindsey Munson, Duncan Trumble, Nick Bushart and Taylor Pendleton helped identify opportunities for maximizing engagement across multiple content platforms for The Meridian Star.

In a time when new age media is fighting for control of the news marketplace, it is important for traditional media to expand and adapt. The Meridian Star is a long-lasting newspaper in Meridian, Mississippi, which has total control and saturation of their print media market. However, they have other outlets such as digital, mobile and a magazine that they would like to expand and promote.

Finding a way to present these services on an equal playing field required maneuvering the focal point of the businesses. We developed an overarching conglomerate we named MStar to help provide brand consistency across the platforms. MStar would be the umbrella brand under which every publication and service would be presented to audiences.

One aspect MStar brings is a balance in how to deliver news to the public. For such a large newspaper it is important to find a method to publish the print version cohesively with digital media. Having original content for each publishing platform drives consumers to engage and subscribe to both media resources.

In the past, The Meridian Star’s content was the same across print and digital platforms. This left both consumers and advertisers asking why they should use the digital platform at all. This problem has to be solved by a flexible, open and organized planning effort. We came up with a four-pronged approach that involves print, social, digital and weekly/monthly secondary publications.


The weekly plan as shown above thrives on two trains of thought when it comes to posting content.

  1. Print and digital should have diverse content that builds on each other. This is used to drive viewership on the different platforms that you may have. For example, if the Super Bowl was being held this week you can use the Tuesday Meridian Star print publication to give a detailed recap of the season from the Tennessee Titans’ perspective and then in the Thursday edition give the Atlanta Falcons’ detailed perspective. On the Monday and Wednesday digital posts you could give a recap of photos during the season. During the Friday digital post, you can post an article of the game by the numbers. These posts should build on each other in the sense of a consistent message that drives readers to viewing your sites for fresh, related information.
  2. Social media posting does not have to be every day when developing new accounts or adjusting old ones. Find out what works for your audience and fit the posts to those days and the content desired by audiences. This can be accomplished through online listening and social media engagement measurement tools. Social media needs to be a flexible endeavor until you find what works when. The last thing you want to do is oversaturate your audiences’ social accounts. Also call on citizen reporters to help drive your content. Having a Friday night roundup of all the games in the area which can be driven by citizens tweeting scores to you gives you content for a Saturday story or post.

These ideas are to help combine the traditional and new media that many see as conflicting outlets. By tapping into the audiences and capabilities of both digital and print media, The Meridian Star can reach a larger audience, boost brand awareness, build relationship and become more profitable.

This project is a partnership of The Meridian Star and students in the Integrated Marketing Communications program at the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media. For more information on this project, contact Alexander Gould, publisher of The Meridian Star.


Author: Mississippi Press Association

The Mississippi Press Association is the trade group for 110 member newspapers and affiliated digital media.

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