The first month of the new year is almost over. And already we’ve had a month of major dramas in the media industry. Clearly, it’s going to be an exciting and challenging year. So here is our final wrap of Trends 2013; the future is now!
The future of PR is already in the now
It’s the strategic and well-rounded communications specialist that will continue to lead the industry. The days of ‘newbie’s’ with two seconds experience opening up shop will fade into the distance. Clients are more savvy than they have ever been before, they are exposed to so much more in terms of industry trends and innovations than they have ever been and you best know your game and be able to create the right conversations in the right circles for your client or you will soon be pounding the pavement trying to hustle up new business.
We are already seeing more clients investing in “conversation capital” than we have ever seen before.
The communications person will be firmly at the table from day one and will need to truly understand your business goals before they even attempt to put finger to keyboard for that first word of positive publicity. If they do not understand what you do in the first half an hour of your conversation with them – they never will.
The days of the thick news clip file with over inflated R.O.I’s worked on a 7 to 1 average will not exist within the next 18 months.
The merit of your work will be measured not by what you put in your progress report to clients, but the strategic conversations and content you have created for them in the market place.
Practitioners in this industry had best brush up on their skills – not just writing, but you had best spend time truly understanding and getting to know the media. It’s called a relationship and not SEND TO ALL via email.
Do not “blow hot air” your clients way (they already own perfectly functional hair dryers) – stick to what you know and become great at what you do – do not try be all things to all clients just to win the business.
The days of long and legally intricate retainer agreements are going to be a thing of the past – sorry the lawyers can’t make money from this anymore – it will all boil down to the relationship and the trust between practitioner and client and having a true understanding of their business goals that will keep you in demand.
Educational institutes that are training the young communications people had best up their game or they will soon find themselves without students. If you are not offering what the young person needs, then you should stay at home or go into another field. The lecturers need to ensure that they have actual business/communications experience, otherwise how can you possibly be sufficiently experienced to train the youngsters wishing to enter the industry.
Ingrid von Stein, Indigo Zebra
Media agencies will move towards centralised services
The move toward more centralised services for our clients – with budgets declining, client marketing departments decreasing in size & general time pressures…clients want to deal with less people. Clients no longer want to call on a digital specialist, then a sponsorship specialist, then a channel specialist, they want to deal with centralised resource. Consumers don’t differentiate between digital media, new media and traditional media, neither should we as communication specialists. Media agencies will need to rise to the occasion of being truly consumer centric, where strategists no longer specialise in on or off line channels, but across all platforms.
Tanya Schreuder, director Vizeum
Owned digital assets need to start delivering
Consumers will become more and more frustrated with brands and marketers inability to manage their expectations in a seamless manner across multiple platforms and touch points. If you cannot represent your brand, product points of difference from awareness through consideration to action whilst understanding that consumers have evolved, it will start impacting on your bottom line.
A practical example would be that it will no longer be acceptable to flight above the line messaging without effectively taking into account the direct response layers (search, social etc) that consumers are now levitating towards. Not being present will result in your marketing driving consumers to your competitors if their digital marketing strategies are superior. Furthermore, your owned digital assets need to start delivering in terms of customer expectation. Apart from a small group of agile businesses, most companies in South Africa are well behind the curve in this area with their digital assets performing poorly from an engagement and customer retention perspective.
Peter Stewart, managing director of iProspect
Integration: Look at the brand in totality, the message is important
In the world of communications, digital and traditional mediums are working in unison – but in 2013 the message will become increasingly important.
Following an ‘integrated approach’ to client communications has become a basic requirement many agencies strive to fulfil, but leveraging content on various media platforms can be a minefield if you don’t know what you are doing. After all, being online, or consuming social media doesn’t automatically make you an expert.
We all know relevancy is a basic requirement to secure buy-in from consumers, but in 2013 I predict a renewed interest in how we approach communications on various platforms – and how we tailor make content to suit various audiences. Too often communication strategies incorporate digital channels without keeping specific business objectives in mind. It makes for a fragmented, not to mention confusing, communication line that won’t have a beneficial, or professional, outcome.
There is an old adage: you can stand outside your shop and shout in order to attract new customers, or you can talk to the customer who is already in your store. It boils down to retention and acquisition, and, if we talk integrated communications, all channels – on and offline – can, and should, serve both objectives.
We’ve learned to accept that digital exists alongside traditional media, but 2013 will see these roles increasingly merged. Instead of weighing the one up against the other, we should be looking at the brand in its totality.
Ingrid Lotze, JHB managing director of marcusbrewster
Quality brand content is key
Inbound marketing, driven by brand content, will gain significant traction as marketers realise the power of allowing customers to find them (and their content) themselves via digital channels, usually started by a Google or Bing search. Outbound marketing (advertising/press releases) will promote marketers’ own digital brand content and platforms to motivate customers to seek and find. The challenge for marketers will be their own readiness to provide substantial, professional brand content to satisfy consumers’ varied digital searches for valuable information and entertainment.
Internet radio audiences will be tracked better, leading to a realisation of just how minuscule some ‘stations’ are. Selling internet radio advertising snake oil will therefore become a bit harder.
The integration of social into corporates will accelerate further, led by a larger number of CEOs following in the footstep of social leaders such as FNB’s Michael Jordaan.
In addition, brands and companies will increase the quality of brand content disseminated across social platforms, rather than hoping to use them only as sales channels. In fact, many marketers will realise most social platforms do not sell directly (as opposed to Google search advertising) and they will use these for brand content and deeper engagement. (Properly convincing customers to really like them, rather than just Like them.)
Consolidation will continue, with more magazine (and possibly some nich newspaper) closures. Successful, established traditional print media will continue to deliver good profits, but new launches (last two years) and niche titles (without the complete dedication of thoroughly passionate people), will not be able to deliver on inflated launch and business plans. The print market next year will simply be too tough for success without a huge track record (or insane passion).
Any communications plan without a solid brand content strategy will not find traction. Next year will be the year that marketers will dedicated significant resources to brand content strategy, creation and dissemination. Simply giving away a brand’s own, valuable brand content to external media to “place” will be replaced by companies and brands developing their own brand content channels.
Watch out for the job titles of “chief content officer” and “content director” to start popping up in communications departments (and even in traditional agencies, never shy to miss the latest title on the block).
Sadly, traditional advertising will remain, well, traditional advertising. The vested interests evident in how marketing departments, traditional media and agencies are structured and remunerated will prevent real innovation. The creation of print, television, radio and banner ad digital advertising will largely remain on a stagnant plane of safety.
Louis Eksteen, managing director of Twisted Toast
Out of home media will grow market share
Will continue to grow rapidly and take more revenue from print and other vulnerable media platforms, but will continue to struggle to monetise at the same levels as traditional media.
OOH /out of home
OOH is poised to grow market share during 2013. It offers great value for money and offers great synergy with both TV and print. More media owners will move towards digital applications.
SABC / broadcasting
SABC In trouble, as always, and will require a fresh approach to entice marketers to spend budget with them. Time Shifting on pay channels will require attention as marketers are hesitant to spend money. New entrant to the Afrikaans TV market on the horizon? TopTV to close.
Radio will continue to blossom and offers best value for money when budgets are small.
Massive further growth with more invasive marketing tactics to de deployed by the big players.
Will hold on but circulations of daily newspapers to decline further. Community papers will continue to perform well on revenue. Will be interesting to see how the Times Media Group rates linked to core sales will fare, and if other publishers will follow.
Growth of 4% predicted by me, but media inflation will see a negative growth of around 8%.
Sarel du Plessis, CEO of Out of Home Media South Africa (OHMSA)
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