Advertising and public relations professionals have recently applied the term `brand journalism' to their work and praised it as a new model for strategic communication. This dissertation develops the concept by illustrating that brand journalism is not brand new; journalism has long served as a model for corporate communicators, especially for editors of the company press.
To illustrate historical and theoretical tension inherent in brand journalism, this research tells the story of Ford Times, a company magazine created by the Ford Motor Company from 1908 to 1917 and from 1943 to 1993 for consumers and dealers. Ford Times mission was to present a "view of America through the windshield." As the chapters ahead illustrate, the magazine detailed more than new models for sale; it combined narratives about automobile use, travel, nationhood, history, land conservation, regionalism, food and family with the Ford brand in order to build a reader community that inspired interest and loyalty for most of the twentieth century.
By analyzing historical archival material, including Ford Times content, editorial memos, and letters from readers, this study examines the role of a particular company magazine in constructing social space and building brand tenets, and in turn, examines the Ford Times contribution to conversations about community, patriotism, consumption, and the history of public relations. In doing so, this dissertation offers a unique, focused look at the corporate press, a longstanding public relations tactic often overlooked by strategic communication historians.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. April 2012. Major: Mass Communication. Advisor: Dr. John Eighmey. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 217 pages.
Swenson, Rebecca Dean.
Brand journalism: a cultural history of consumers, citizens, and community in Ford Times..
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