Thank a Journalist Day

Executive Summary

Thank a Journalist Day was a was student-run advertising, marketing and public relations campaign based out of Ball State University in Muncie, IN. The campaign used social media marketing, digital advertising, and public relations practices and with funding from a variety of campus-grants to spark a discussion about local journalism. The campaign challenged existing perceptions and ignited discussion about journalism around the world.

As a member of the team, I contributed to content creation, social media management, analytics assessment, and the entirety of the paid social media and digital advertising strategy.

Read the full report here.

Problem Statement

Journalism empowers communities, strengthens democracy and promotes free speech in our society. Despite these vital functions that journalists perform every day, only 40.1% of the population find
news sources trustworthy and treat reporters with criticism, skepticism and backlash.

Whether its national news or stories about hometown heroes, journalism in local communities around the world is taken for granted. In a political and societal climate where the distrust of
information runs rampant, Thank a Journalist Day sought to emphasize the importance of journalism in local, national, and international communities.

Thank a Journalist Day was created as a response to these problems.

Goals and Objectives

The Thank a Journalist Day campaign promoted the importance of journalism as a societal function. It sought to entice key targets to show gratitude toward journalists, both local and national, on social media platforms using the hashtag #thankajournalist.

  1. Establish Thank a Journalist Day (TAJD) as a recognized event by the state of Indiana and beyond.
  2. Reach every state in the United States with TAJD messaging.
  3. Reach every continent in the world (excluding Antarctica) with TAJD messaging.

Executions and Results

Official Proclamation

Thank a Journalist Day was proclaimed an official state holiday on March 13, 2019 by Governor Eric Holcomb of Indiana. Indiana Representatives Ed Clere, Ed Delaney, Sue Errington, and Senator Tim Lanane, supported the proclamation and the campaign in general.

Twitter Performance

The 606 total tweets that used the hashtag,
“#thankajournalist” reached 1,892,178 people in less
than 24 hours. Tweets reached all 50 states and even a
couple of different countries including Japan, Italy and the United Kingdom

A video promoting Thank a Journalist Day went viral, garnering 63,202 total Tweet impressions and over 72,000 media (video) views within the span of 24-hours. The response to the video was largely negative, illustrating a silent majority of voices online that coincided with the divided political landscape in the United States.

The viral video that students on the team collaborated on.
Edited and posted by Eddie Metzger.

Brand24 revealed that Thank a Journalist Day media garnered nearly 300 separate mentions (uses of hashtag) over 331,000 reach, 97.2% positive mentions, and over 2,500 social media likes on March 13, 2019.

According to Trendsmap Indy, the #thankajournalist hashtag was trending in Indianapolis on the morning and early afternoon of Thank a Journalist Day (March 13, 2019). A variety of influencers
took to Twitter to use the hashtag including the Chicago Board Options Exchange (638K followers), Ted Allen (the host of Chopped), Governor JB Pritzker of Chicago, The Society of Professional
Journalists, Radio Television Digital News Association, Indiana University Bloomington, the National Association of Black Journalists, Ball State College of Communication, Information and Media, Power 105.1 (NYC’s Hip Hop and R&B radio station) and many more.

Facebook Performance

Thank a Journalist Day coincided with the worst Facebook outage in recorded history. Because of this, Facebook performance faltered on March 13, 2019. Leading up to the proclaimed holiday, Facebook posts reached a little over 2,500 people with paid media.

Website Performance

The Thank a Journalist Day website was visited by nearly 3,000 users between January 1 and April 1, 2019. These users were from nearly 70 countries across the world. The highest website visits came
from the United States (1,735) the United Kingdom (706) and Australia (88).

Digital Advertising

Thank a Journalist Day partnered with Simpli.fi, a programmatic advertising technology company out of Forth Worth, TX to promote the event using digital display advertisements.

A banner ad that ran on the Simpli.fi programmatic marketplace.

These ads were “geofenced” to appear near or around office buildings housing journalists and newspaper reporters. Additionally, the strategy geofenced the Newseum in Washington, D.C. to capture and “retarget” attendees of Freedom of Information Day on March 8, 2019.

Digital display ads garnered 206,806 impressions, but click-through-rates (CTR) were extremely low – between 0.15% and 0.18%. The highest performing campaign geo-targeted small-town publications throughout the United States.

Media Relations and Public Relations

Opinion editorials published via guest supporters of Thank a Journalist Day reached publications and outlets in Indiana, Ohio and Illinois.

The total amount of unique visitors per month (UVMP’s) for each outlet the campaign received coverage in was 721,253.

Byway Brewing of Hammond, IN, extended a thank you to their local journalists via their blog on March 12, 2019. Thank a Journalist Day was honored on Sunshine Week’s website under their
events. A blog titled “The Writer’s Apocalypse” also featured the campaign in an article. The Hoosier State Press Association wrote an article and the Chicago Public Square mentioned Thank a
Journalist Day in a roundup of March 13 happenings.

Conclusion

Thank a Journalist Day achieved its three goals through collaboration among team members, work with the state government, and strategic digital messaging tactics.

Download and read the full report.