Why media matters now more than ever (Source: The Drum – Thomas Minc)

Media brands around the world are stepping up to the challenges of Coronavirus. But what comes next?

The COVID-19 outbreak is a global health crisis that has upended our daily lives. With millions confined at home, agencies, clients, and the media industry as a whole will experience unknown pressures. In the world of media planning and buying, that will lead to focusing investments and partnerships on meaningful media. By creating purposeful content, or sometimes, simply financially supporting media brands that are taking the right action themselves. These are the moments when media really matters.

So, what’s the role of media within this new dynamic? With social interactions on a hiatus, media is the core tenet of our social bonds. We need to investigate the evolution of the media landscape in two steps: short-term decisions and innovations the industry made to adapt, alleviate, and support immediate needs, and later, when the dust settles, diving into the long-term changes in consumer behaviors and industry practices.

Moments like this prove that not all media are created equal and some media brands can make a genuine, meaningful difference through three missions: inform, entertain, and connect.

The informative: Some media brands have really taken the spread of the coronavirus to be the purveyor of sense and calm that the world needs. Now more than ever, to inform the population is media’s public service duty. Despite the economic factors they face, news providers are dropping their paywalls—The Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, in the US to name a few. To counteract fake news, rumors, and despicable acts like hackers creating fake coronavirus maps to infect users with malware, trust in media is the strongest guardrail. Facebook is directing users looking for information to the WHO or local health authorities and prohibiting ads related to the coronavirus to curb scaremongering as well as prevent dishonest businesses from profiteering from the outbreak.

The entertaining: Some media heavyweights are upending current business models. For example, NBCUniversal will make its theatrical releases available to rent. We will investigate over the next few weeks the long-lasting impact of such decisions. Across the industry, meaningful initiatives are happening. Organizations such as the Seattle Symphony Orchestra plans to rebroadcast earlier performances and livestream new performances. TikTok challenges of handwashing dances are going viral. Italian’s TV broadcaster RAI is helping families stuck at home by significantly increasing the amount of kids and teens shows. And it’s hard to deny that by offering free premium service in Italy to ease coronavirus pains, Pornhub is being meaningful to many.

The useful: Video-conferencing companies are facilitating use by offering free services and free access to upgrades, starting with Google unlocking premium features of Hangouts Meets. Amazon Web Services has given access to its cloud computing to (AWS) to Italian companies, nonprofits and government agencies.

It is difficult to categorize every single initiative. And more are being launched by the hour. And some are just about giving everyone a much-needed laugh like the Australian newspaper NY News printing extra pages to help out in toilet paper shortage.

Media brands around the world are stepping up. But what comes next? With contestants on the current German edition of The Bachelor unaware of the situation until a few days ago, The Truman Show doesn’t feel that far-fetched anymore. Media creation could change, live entertainment might never be the same, consumer behaviors will evolve and business models will be rethought. Our next task is to look at the long-term media implications and help brands navigate the new paradigm.

Thomas Minc is global managing director, intelligence & strategy, at Havas Media Group

Building the Agency of Now « Threeminds

Building the Agency of Now « Threeminds.

It strikes as somewhat ironic – or self-centered perhaps – that every time you engage somebody in our industry about “the future” or “keeping up,” their typical response is “the industry is changing too fast to keep up.” I’ve been hearing that for as long as I’ve been in the industry so it does feel a little passé.

Recently though, I’ve been confronted by a few situations which did suggest there was more merit to their response than I’d previously given them credit for.

So, here’s some thoughts and pointers looking ahead.

Stop trying to do everything: Repeat after me, the integrated, full-service, channel-agnostic, through-the-line agency is a pipe dream and no longer credible. In past lives, I’ve had clients ask me how one organization can purport to have the most amazing talent in every single discipline. We can’t. Today’s multiplicity of technologies, emerging platforms and dizzying consumer and business trends makes being an expert in all of them ever more impossible. Stop doing it.

Be a partnership polygamist: To the point above, find partners who are experts, who care deeply and obsess about niche areas of the communication spectrum. Have an alignment around passion, values and success but let them bring their true expert thinking to the mix, you bring yours. Ban the “Jack of all Trades” solution set from your vocabulary. You’re both more credible playing to your collective strengths than trying to do it all alone.

Create ideas…and products: Thirty seconds of film still has its place but the emerging demi-gods are the folks building actual stuff. “Did you see that cool shit” is now more likely to be about something on your phone than the ad that just ran on TV. Ergo, customers and clients increasingly need folks who can do more than just spout an idea but can actually build the tangible (and tactile) part of it too. You got folks who can do that?

Get creative with your revenue streams : We’ve always struggled with fee and retainer agreements and the joy of staff utilization. We’ve moaned and complained about pay-per-performance models being ground in success metrics we can’t always control or affect. Totally fair. New paradigms exist though. Licensing models for software or applications your agency produces and your client uses. Revenue sharing of downloads from the App Store. All feasible if you’re prepared to redefine the way your clients actually pay you.

Be creative consultants beyond communications: Design thinking is a relatively new ethos in business culture. About time some would argue. Essentially many of tomorrow’s business ideas need disruptive thinkers to spawn them. Those used to generating ideas ground in strong conceptual design. Sound familiar. Consider ways you might take the design thinkers in your agency to tackle client problems beyond their advertising, website, packaging and in-store displays. Your ECD might not relish thinking about supply-chain hurdles but, in a design-centric way, she may just bring a fresh perspective to it.

One last thought. An old favourite. Not new at all.

Be agile : We still take too friggin long (massive sweeping statement) to do what our clients pay us for. Too long to ideate. Too long to scope. Too long to budget. Too long to execute.  We have to find ways to strip that stuff away. Product cycles and consumer trends move too quickly for us to play the way we’ve done for the past 5 decades. As creative thinkers we have to be able to get these ideas out faster. Our customers demand it and our clients deserve it.

What do you think? Is any of this really futuristic or just table stakes? What’s your agency doing to stay ahead of the curve and be more lean-forward? I’d love to hear about it.

Hilton Barbour is Executive Strategy Director at Organic

This post was also published on Hilton Barbour’s personal blog found here.