ABZ Creative Partners

Brand journalism hub creation

Novant Health is an integrated, four-state healthcare system of hospitals, physician clinics and outpatient centers. It serves more than 4 million patients annually through its network of 1,200 physicians and 24,400 employees working in nearly 500 care locations. Headquartered in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Novant Health is committed to making healthcare remarkable for its patients and improving the overall health and wellness of its communities.

ABZ and Novant Health have enjoyed a marketing partnership that has spanned the better part of 25+ years. This familiarity has elevated ABZ as an easy choice to assist in critical, strategic Novant Health initiatives, such as the creation of a brand journalism hub.


Creation of brand journalism hub, Healthy Headlines





  • Internal leadership/brand journalism team shaping
  • Editorial content planning, execution, editing and delivery
  • Complementary photography and custom infographics
  • Custom video & B-roll for media download
  • Social media content
  • Public relations & media content

Project background

Brand journalism as the new PR: the critical push for content

Content, content, content. The word is on the lips of every marketing manager, public relations specialist and social media strategist. It’s long been recognized that content is king. Brand journalism, when done well, is the panacea for a whole host of marketing ills. Brand journalism leaders such as Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Mayo Clinic have proven time and again how well-executed brand journalism creates a powerhouse pipeline of quality content for every marketing outlet – media, PR, social and more.

The question for every other organization now becomes, “How do we get started? Where is all this content going to come from? Who produces it? How do we keep track of it all? How do we keep feeding the beast?”


Novant Health leadership already recognized brand journalism’s intrinsic value to stay viable while creating streamlined synergy between social media, public relations and media content. They needed help hitting the ground running. That’s where ABZ came in.

Mobile-responsive content for Novant Health Healthy Headlines brand journalism hub

The project

The power of quality content put to good use

ABZ was hired in September 2014 with strict marching orders to produce a well-oiled brand journalism machine that’d be ready for prime time in a matter of weeks. ABZ met with Novant Health’s internal brand journalism team and began working on their personal transition from marketing professionals to true journalists who happen to work in the marketing department.

This required a colossal shift in mind-set and focus. Marketing team members suddenly had to turn content on tighter deadlines with backups in place. Overnight, stories were evaluated for their journalistic value vs. marketing value. The writing style was different. The expectations were different. And adapting quickly was a necessity.

Dietary fiber infographic for healthcare marketing

Content creation

ABZ established rolling editorial calendars while also taking existing, marketing-focused content and repurposing it with a news focus for brand journalism use. Content was created for various target categories – health tips and trends; health news; remarkable patient stories; remarkable stories of care provided; and insights into the healthcare industry. The goal in these early stages was to get online as soon as possible, making use of what was readily available while actively working on new content that used expert sources from across Novant Health’s four-state system.

Collaborative meetings

We led weekly team meetings to strategize, pitch and assign content. ABZ wrote and edited stories while furnishing images to accompany all posts. We interfaced with the Novant Health IT and web teams about site design and functionality, Herculean feats since the site is the first of its kind for the organization.

Image of Novant Health Healthy Headlines marketing meeting
Novant Health Healthy Headlines mobile-responsive web design image

Future growth

Each successful step came with even more questions about how to tackle future growth. ABZ advised on content and audience strategy (media pickup vs. the public at large?), story tagging, embedded story videos and other multimedia, establishing brand journalism advocates within Novant Health as an organization and more.


By the time an in-house Novant Health editor was hired in December 2014 to assume leadership of the hub, the site had more than 70 active stories.

Results: a study in ongoing success

It’s not an exaggeration to say that Novant Health’s Healthy Headlines brand journalism site is regarded as one of the most exciting things to happen to the organization’s marketing department in decades. The excitement is palpable at every meeting – from internal leadership to members of the media who exclaim, “You guys have already done my job for me! This is amazing!” The site has been a big win internally and externally. Internally, the site has provided organized, quality content for every marketing stream with increased communication across marketing, PR and social teams all working toward common goals. And external success is already evident in strong media coverage and social media stats.

ABZ continues to be involved in content and site redesign planning, as well as adding to the site’s content and multimedia offerings – from infographics and embedded video to B-roll downloads for the media.

Novant Health Healthy Headlines marketing infographic


  • The new brand journalism hub logged 14,874 unique page views in its first four months.
  • That includes 13,869 visitors who entered the Novant Health site directly to one of the brand journalism hub articles.
  • Visitors spent a healthy 2 minutes and 24 seconds average time on each page.

Social sharing

  • Content prepared for the brand journalism hub is shared through social media channels and is getting great engagement.
  • Samantha Busch, wife of stock car driver Kyle Busch, retweeted an article about Novant Health’s nurse midwife program to her 183,000 followers. That brought thousands of new visitors into the Novant Health site.
  • A video telling the story of Novant Health’s affiliation with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through a 6-year-old boy and his parents got more than 107 likes and 37 shares.
  • A single article on thyroid disease garnered 73 likes and 29 shares.
Novant Health Brand Journalism Case Study Results
Novant Health Healthy Headlines video production

In the media

  • Major newspapers and television stations have utilized brand journalism content 14 times in the first four months since launch.
  • Additionally, the brand journalism hub has been the source for 16 sponsored content opportunities in magazines and television.

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