By Robert Wright, Managing Director at davies tanner
I work in communications, and I can’t remember the last time I read a newspaper cover to cover.
The way we consume news has changed drastically in recent years. This means building brand awareness through the media has changed too. With this in mind, here’s a look at how venues and destinations can create successful media campaigns in today’s new media landscape.
To understand the media in 2018, you first need to understand how it got here.
The media’s journey
We’ll start with the launch of 3G data networks and smartphones, as that was a seismic disruption that led us to where we are now. It meant that for the first time, the internet browsing experience previously locked to PCs was freed. Through our phones, we had instant access to all the knowledge and information in the world, whenever we wanted, wherever we were.
This changed buying and buying decisions. You can find better prices for products and services on your phone while reviewing them on the high street. Print advertising simply became too static. Buying certain products, such as travel, moved almost entirely online.
With smartphones and data networks, everyone can publish and broadcast their news, photographs and video to mass global audiences, instantly at minimal or no cost. You can see the latest happenings everywhere live. Previously the traditional media controlled our access to news. Now, news on the hour, which 15 years earlier had been revolutionary, became too slow.
So, data networks and smartphones, gave people a permanent connection to news, entertainment, knowledge, retail products, flights, hotel rates and so on. This changed everything for print and broadcast media. Circulation and viewing figures fell; quickly followed by advertising revenues. The cracks that formed in these traditional media models allowed another to burst through and social media platforms sprung up all over the web.
Now, the permanent connection was extended to friends, colleagues and their contacts. People can see what everyone they know is doing pretty much all the time. You go on holiday, you share pictures of your hotel, your food, your activities; you go to work, but conversation with friends in other places continue and you share pictures and videos during the day; you need to know how to do something or whether a product or service is right for you, there’s a bevy of experts on every topic waiting to show you, with videos and blogs they have posted for you to consume and share. This is not news or advertising, but word of mouth and advocacy.
Furthermore, social media makes it easier for people with similar interests to find each other and connect. And it gives power to individuals wishing to influence these groups. This has given rise to special interest groups of all kinds, each with its own ‘thought-leaders’. Ideas and ideologies that were once on the fringes have gained traction and now mass support. And, in the main, they’ve done it without traditional media.
The traditional media has fought back
As someone who trained and worked as a journalist before entering the world of PR, I have a lot of sympathy with today’s traditional media. Years of training and diligent research and reporting can be quickly surpassed by a single, random and, in many cases, uninformed tweet or comment on TripAdvisor. We need to value our media as much as they need to adapt.
Traditional media has had to react by delivering news faster via their news portals. News stories are regularly updating and ‘breaking news’ is commonplace, stories have a greater sense of urgency and media groups race to be first with story updates.
Speed of delivery is just the tip of the iceberg. Traditional media has been forced to delve deeper and bring more detailed elements of the story to bear. To reveal the sides of the story that careful PRs kept away from social media feeds. News is now more sensational and cut throat. The emotional aspect of the story comes into focus – in many instances, it is the story.
How does this effect brands?
Big brands have become increasingly sophisticated in their understanding of the importance of ideologies and values. They know the truest engagement comes from an emotional connection. Most now publish their own values and espouse what big benefit they seek to achieve in the world. Their marketing and PR reflects this too.
Does your business have an ideology, values and vision?
Promoting venues and destinations
So, people want to be treated as individuals, they buy brands that align with their values and the traditional media needs stories its audience can ‘feel’. How do venues, hotels and destinations turn this to their advantage? Here are some thoughts:
- Alignment with particular interest groups to attract leisure travellers and with industrial sectors to attract business tourists. For example, oil and energy events go to Aberdeen in Scotland and Stavanger in Norway, because of their relationship with North Sea oil, Nashville promotes its musical roots to attract music lovers, medical events are often held at world leading Universities.
This association appeal can be extended with great affect to venues, hotels and destinations that promote an ideology or value that an organisation wishes to align with, or feels comfortable with – sustainability, fair trade, innovation, craft and artisan movements, technology – just a handful of the multiple options available.
- Hotels and venues can facilitate the need, especially among younger people, to connect to fast and reliable WiFi and work from anywhere. Help people record their experiences, take selfies and broadcast online. Stay up to date with technology, install more power points in lobbies and communal areas. Create spaces that appeal to people who are active on social media – that’s your product being shared after all.
- Treat people like individuals and give them choices across the entire experience at your venue.
How to achieve maximum coverage?
To achieve maximum reach in the new media landscape, think about your media outlets – traditional media, bloggers, your own website, your social media feeds and other social media feeds that may share your content. Create campaign elements that target each one. Think about values and emotions. Consider what your followers and stakeholders are looking for from your content – then provide it in multiple formats – video, audio, images, graphics and copy. Be relevant, entertaining and engaging.
- Appeal to niches
- Have a strong ideology and shared values
- Go direct to market with great content in a variety of formats across widespread media – become a publisher and be believable.
- Give traditional media stories with insight and emotion and trust in their craft.
This a big and complex topic, and the story is far from over, so if you would like to hear more, we would love to talk to you about it, so do please get in touch.