Connections and conversations
PR agencies need to have honest discussions with their clients about what is newsworthy and makes for a compelling read
The media landscape is evolving with substantial shifts in earned and paid media. Earned media increasingly resides on digital platforms, with user-generated content taking a leading position and influencer marketing distracting audiences from editorial integrity. Paid media, conversely, is becoming more data-centric, employing programmatic advertising and analytics for precision.
What is becoming increasingly challenging is ad avoidance. To navigate this complex, changing terrain, agencies and clients need to understand how to effectively utilise both, placing emphasis on integration, authenticity and quality content that captures and retains attention.
A recent FM Redzone webinar, moderated by Arye Kellman, MD at TILT, delved into these dynamics, delivering practical insights to help marketers remain competitive in an evolving digital marketing realm.
Dustin Chick, partner and MD at Razor PR, explained that the story brands want to tell needs to be relevant and find a way to fit into the news of the day. If you can’t connect the dots, you have no story to tell. That requires that PR agencies need to have honest and hard conversations with their clients about what is newsworthy and makes for a compelling read.
For an insurance brand, for example, a reduced premium is news in an environment where consumers are under financial pressure. The next conversation is where these discussions take place: on social media or in newsrooms. Positioning is also important, as is the need to unpack the issue thoroughly.
When it comes to cultivating engagement, brands need to give up on the illusion of control. Not all engagements are entirely positive, but as long as they not more than 10% negative it’s manageable, said Chick.
He advised brands to embrace voices that disagree with you, explaining that engagement is not a like — it’s about engagement. This requires brand and communications people to be brave about interacting with consumers.
Brands need a robust marketing strategy which combines media impact with long-term brand growth
Are the people who should be getting your communications message actually seeing it, asked Marvin Kgasoane, MD at Connect Joburg. In a world where consumers are getting increasingly distracted, brands have to be on the lookout for the big attention moment. Getting it right requires understanding the context and who the target audience is.
Brands need a robust marketing strategy which combines media impact with long-term brand growth. Brands like Nando’s, for example, deliver compelling advertising content that is on point with the news cycle.
There is a news cyclone of stories, news and events, pointed out Katy Katopodis, director and co-founder at Nala Media. As the leader of a newsroom, you have to think strategically about what you cover because resources are not unlimited. Not all editorial decision-making processes are the same — it depends on your audience and what they want.
Brands need to be able to read the room and deliver content that fits the news cycle. Hollard, for example, changed its name to Pollard in the run-up to the Rugby World Cup final. That was a brand story that became a news story that worked — but that’s not always possible. To fit into the news cycle, the story can’t be about the brand.
Brand spokespeople need to be fully prepared when talking to the media because the conversation can go in any direction — unless it is paid media, she said.
The big take-out: Brands need to be able to read the room and deliver content that fits the news cycle.
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