CANNES: The New York Times, the news provider, is tapping the combined power of purpose, principle and process as it seeks to further strengthen its brand.

Meredith Levien, EVP/COO at The New York Times Co., discussed this subject during a session held by Twitter at the 2018 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

And the brand’s purpose – namely, to “help people understand the world” – was an invaluable guide for the Times as it undertook the challenge of digital transformation.

“The foundation to being able to change many, many things at once was knowing what we had to hold onto and knowing what could change,” Levien said. (For more details, read WARC’s in-depth article: Cannes report: The New York Times blends purpose, principles and process.)

“So, we went through a pretty intense exercise to say: ‘What is our mission? What is our purpose in the world?’”

Coupled with this purpose are a slate of corresponding principles – firstly, in the form of the core proposition that “we make something of really high quality, worth paying for by somebody”.

Equally important is the goal of the Times to hold “power to account, and we do it independently – so, without fear or favour”, she continued.

And that prerogative remains in place despite a push among certain pockets of its audience to serve as a de facto opposition to the administration of President Donald Trump.

“There was lots of pressure for The New York Times to oppose a particular administration or set of things going on in the world. That’s not our work. I bet we could have grown our business faster by doing that, [but] that’s not our work,” Levien said.

And while there is no shortage of clickbait articles on the internet, another principle for the Times is to “direct people’s attention to things that matter”.

In line with these principles, the Times has also sought to highlight the process of writing original, trustworthy, insightful journalism – such as by featuring in a recent documentary series on the SHOWTIME network.

The brand previously “assumed” this activity was well understood, but that view has come under pressure as debates around fake news and “alternative facts” have grown.

“The work now is to actually be explicit in why we do what we do … and how we do it,” Levien said.

Sourced from WARC