Brands as broadcasters

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The phrase ‘brands as broadcasters’ is one that has become common currency in content marketing circles of late. Yet what does it actually mean?

At the CMA Digital Breakfast on June 7th a trio of presenters attempted to come up with some answers.

What type of content and why?

First to present was Cháyya Syal, a broadcast journalist who is currently working for the BBC. As Chayya explained at the start of her presentation she became a journalist after the success of her blog Avid Scribbler which she began working on in 2012. Cháyya said that she felt that the blog became a phenomenon because it was unique – very few other people were writing about the changing role of ethnicity (with her particular focus on South Asian women) in the way she was.

Cháyya first asked the question “what is broadcasting?” She believes that brands are “not totally like broadcasters, but they have behaviour patterns that are similar.” She then began the discussion by looking at what content means and how many brands were struggling with it. Cháyya argued that brands “need to focus on audiences – working out who their audiences are, where they are and what kind of content do they connect with?”

She then offered some advice to brands – stressing that companies needed to engage with its customers around the clock and write in an authentic way – as people soon work out when they are putting on an act. She also highlighted other, softer skills that help brands engage with customers via content including having empathy and compassion. She said that marketers should watch make up vloggers and the subtle, but powerful way that they use psychology to build their audiences.

Cháyya then moved on to vlogging stressing that brands and individuals should only use video if it is something they feel comfortable with. Again, she stressed the importance of authenticity.

She finished her presentation by discussing whether blogging or vlogging was more effective for brands. She said that video takes up more resources and requires more planning, but at the same time blogging can be hard as empathetic, intelligent, articulate writers are thin on the ground.

What defines brands as broadcasters?

Second to present was Simon Shelley, Head of Industry News at ITN Productions

He began by quoting a friend who had told him “everyone makes content that people want to watch. Except for brands.” He then asked what content are brands making and what impact is it having? And more crucially – “are brands thinking like broadcasters, or actually becoming broadcasters?”

He then defined what he meant by broadcasters saying that “for broadcaster’s content has absolute pre-eminence and this guides the strategy. Broadcasters don’t think of customers – they think of viewers.”

Simon then briefly discussed his role at ITN Productions explaining how it was the commercial arm of the company and was seeing a large increase in demand of high quality edited and produced content. This was reflected in the way that when some brands create content they put the viewers first.

Simon described the three mindsets brands have when they create content. The first simply want to just make high quality content, so for example, this is the aim of the many public service videos ITN Productions create. Second is when brands are keen to get content out and make sure it is viewed. Simon said there are countless examples of brands who notch up hundreds of thousands of views. However, he acknowledged that not all of those popular videos deliver on their third mindset – when brands want to create a conversation.

Simon then referenced the Kenco Coffee Vs Gangs video as a classic example of the way that brands could create high quality content that was about the company, yet harnessed advanced and effective storytelling techniques.

He the pointed to the three key factors which make video work; relevance, reach and resonance.

Relevance means really working with your audience and making them love you. Reach is about placing content in the right place. Simon mentioned the way that some brands have achieved huge numbers of views by placing videos with subtitles on Facebook. Simon acknowledged though that reach was less relevant for some brands and productions. He cited a video that the company made for Panasonic which was used to target just 52 people.

Finally, resonance, Simon argued, “highlights how views and clicks don’t tell the whole story. The key metric for online video is actually shares.”

Summing up Simon suggested brands needed to think like a broadcaster to really understand their audience.

Disruption is an opportunity

The third speaker of the day was Rob Molloy, Director of Global TV Content & Sales , Guinness World Records. He took as his starting point that brands needed to embrace disruption. To illustrate this, he gave a quick history of the Guinness Book of World Records and its phenomenal growth from its genesis in the 1950s.

He explained that in the last ten years the company had been undergoing transformation and developing their brand in many interesting and innovative ways. He said that the reason for its success was “the feeling everyone wants to be a record breaker and how this inspires people in so many ways.”

Rob explained that the company’s current business strategy was to protect its main product – the bestselling book. Also, to follow digital trends whether it be e-books, apps or even VR. And finally, to diversify, so for example the company has spun books off the main title including one about gaming and a forthcoming one about animals.

The brand has always had a TV presence; however it is now embracing live events as these can deliver fantastic exposure for the brand via shares of the participants in social media channels.

A key growth area for the company is marketing services and Rob says this is a huge hit with brands many of whom have reported excellent levels of engagement, and in some instances tangible increases in sales.

Among the high profile videos the brand has collaborated on is one for Jaguar which attempted to break the record for the world’s highest loop the loop by a car. It achieved over a million views and scored 750 broadcasts to over 30 countries. Another example is LG which broke the world record for the highest house of cards built in under 12 hours – it was created on active LG washing machine to show its lack of vibrations.

Summing up Rob told brands who wanted to work with his company that they need to be creative and deliver a unique experience and most of all to enjoy the results.

Watch highlights from the morning here.

Commissioned by The CMA

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