Change is the Name of the Game: 5 Takeaways from Publish Asia 2014
Charles Darwin’s quote was repeatedly used in Publish Asia’s sessions, and aptly reflects the spirit of the conference: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.”
In this digital age, the number one concern publishers have is how to adapt their organizations digitally, to remain relevant when many are predicting the demise of “traditional media”. Publish Asia injects a boost of optimism into a supposedly sunset industry.
Change is Inevitable
“Traditional” media organizations need to change their structures and practices. Publish Asia has five takeaways for publishers and marketers alike to remind the industries of their relevance in today’s society:
1. The key lies in cross-platform
When radio arrived on the scene, everyone was sure print would become obsolete. The same happened when TV debuted, and now history is repeated with the Internet. However, media does not kill media, but rather builds upon it – it is not “traditional” media versus new media, but rather plus new media. The emphasis is on combining and utilizing all platforms, and packaging it so that you reach your consumers on all possible channels. Do not abandon your traditional media when transitioning to digital, but rather integrate all platforms like V+ in Norway, SPH in Singapore, Hearst Publications in the US, and countless other examples.
The most effective strategy is combining the broad, yet short-term reach of social media, with the longer-term, in-depth reach of traditional media.
2. Be audience-focused
Know your audience. The more information you have about your customers and plan around the data, the more effective your strategy. In fact, it’s not just your customers, but your customer’s customers and their customers you need to have information about. More than ever, knowledge is power and customer insight is king as audiences fragment and their habits diversify. This is especially the case in Asia where even the culture may not be familiar. Do not act based on what you think your customers need, but on what they actually want. So do your market research into customer insights – or better yet, read up on what experts have already researched. Some information is even freely available, such as PR Newswire Asia’s “Asian Media Landscape Series” which breaks down the idiosyncrasies and unique media environment of China, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, and Malaysia.
Secondly, interact with your audience. Direct experience with them will heighten your customer experience, but mostly, marketing and publishing is no longer a one-way highway. Technology has made it a dialogue. Instead of preventing user-created content, try to integrate the audience into the campaign and co-create content with your target market. A good example of co-creation is RØDE Microphones’ campaign where their niche audience engages with the brand in the contest.
Know what your audiences want and increase interactions with them to create and offer solutions that drive value for them.
3. “Good content travels far”
Speaking of content, it was said that we are in the golden age of storytelling, where an engaging story is at the heart of brands and marketing. Increasingly, marketers are becoming storytellers. This is tied in with the “audience-first” approach: what would your audience care about? The more your content is relevant and resonates with your audience, the higher the amount of earned and shared media. In the case of WestJet’s viral Christmas Miracle campaign, they created great content through their audience-first approach and as a result, have gained nearly 36 million views. The initial push was their strategic press release to reach key media points, yet the vast reach of their video traveled through their audiences who shared it within their community.
So always ask this question when creating content: “what does my audience care about?”
4. Be transparent and accountable
Another recurrent theme at Publish Asia was transparency. In the digital age where boundaries between editorial and marketing blur, Mark Little who is the founder of Storyful, states that it is authenticity has replaced authority as the new currency. Especially with the rise of native advertising and content marketing, both Inez Albert of the Economist Group and Michelle Haase from The New York Times highlight the importance of distinctly labeling the difference between editorial and paid content.
Be authentic and accountable to your audience.
5. Don’t be afraid to fail – but fail fast
Looking to the future is crucial. Plan long-term and take calculated risks; don’t be afraid to think outside of the box despite the risks. Jeff Folckemer, SVP of Hearst Newspapers, says that media organizations should not be afraid to fail, but the key lies in failing fast and adapting quickly with your leadership team and the right talent. What technology would publishers need to adapt to in the future? Currently, consumer research shows that mobile technology is the first crest to conquer, but others are already talking about wearable technology and “The Internet of Things”. The landscape is advancing ever quickly, and the trick lies in recognizing the path that lies ahead with both eyes open.
Plan long-term by staying abreast of future trends, take risks, and if you fail, adapt quickly.
6. Stay passionate
Everyone I met in the conference remained passionate and interested in media. In a changing landscape, it is the passion and belief in what you are doing that will keep you optimistic and ultimately successful.
In the end, it is only with that passion that enables you to “screw your courage to the sticking place” and strive for solutions to continually evolve.
Celine Wu is the Audience Development Executive for PR Newswire.