We’re in an age of information overload, where, no longer does the ability to ‘access information’ suffice. Our need to access information has become more urgent, more ‘Now’ and in all shapes and forms. Between our 4 screens: – smartphone, tablet, computer and television, we now have the ability to consume information 24/7 and in multiformats.
This puts us on fertile ground. Where consumer marketing is witnessing perhaps the fastest change, it has seen since the advent of advertising, continuously challenging the status quo to provide an integrated experience to woo its audiences. This integration means that it is now crucial for the PR practitioner to move from media management to brand consultancy and understand the role of content, creativity and marketing.
The future of consumer communications and its strength lies in engaging the audience with hyper targeted and hyper relevant information. The approach will need to not just deliver exposure to the client across all available media platforms, irrespective of being online or offline, but also delight the consumer through insightful storytelling. We need to realise that consumer communications is more than simply digitising existing assets by republishing or repackaging: it’s about thinking across platforms and creating content for very specific environments like Instagram, Snapchat or the Occulus Rift.
Interestingly, while most brands are now communicating to the millennials, eager to catch their ever waning attention, the communication doesn’t necessarily resonate with this audience. What we fail to understand are the dynamics. Millennials grew up in an expandingly digital world, full of options available here and now. We need to understand and speak their values, amplify their realities to match the lifestyle expectations and engage them through stories that do not make them feel marketed to. This means agencies and clients no longer have to be the originators of content. A lot of engaging and worthy content already sits out there and there are immense opportunities to partner with YouTubers, Viners and Instagrammers who have big followings and outstanding visual skills.
To achieve the communication goals for the millennium, brands and agencies need to align strategies and initiatives and break down silos. Digital Marketing, PR, Analytics, Influencer Marketing should all work together, in cohesion, to deliver deeper brand engagement cutting across platforms. This also means building new organisational capabilities and partnerships for an effective ecosystem that helps the mind shift from traditional media to more immersive channels.
This article was first published in the Advertising Age.