“It’s about the soldiers and their families building a legacy,” says Keith Kawasaki. “We get tons of readers who request copies of the magazine where their son or daughter appeared. It’s something they can pass on, and know that their service mattered.”
iostudio’s Senior Director Keith Kawasaki sat in a Church service one day in 2005 when a guest speaker stood up and announced that there were no longer any heroes.
Kawasaki, not one to cause trouble in church, felt it’d be inappropriate for him to stand up and respond. “But I made a dedicated promise that we would be sure to focus on the heroes we meet every day,” he says.
As the editor-in-chief of GX®, The Guard Experience, a 108-page bimonthly (and soon to be tablet magazine, debuting in November) contracted in 2004 to recruit, retain, and tell the brand story of the Army National Guard, Kawasaki was uniquely positioned to fulfill that promise.
Nearly a decade later, he continues to steer a brand journalism that goes to extremes to gather first-hand client experience. To better serve his more than 200,000 readers, he recently sent an editor to Alaska to fly in a Black Hawk helicopter.
“That’s the basis of what we talk about when we talk about content marketing,” he says. “Know your audience, get out there and spend time with them. Whether it’s the Guard or another client, experience their experience so you can better understand them.”
Alongside deeply reported and researched pieces, Kawasaki and staff incorporate into the lineup newsy contributions from Guard members themselves—and the Recon section, a photojournalism spread shot by members of the Guard, offers visual narrative and a chance for members to shine in a dwindling print environment.
“We understand that there have been reductions in state National Guard budgets concerning print,” says Kawasaki. “So, fewer print outlets exist for Guard members to circulate their photographs. For them, appearing in GX means a lot.”