Articles Tagged with: media agency

What Brands Need to Know About Advertising and Marketing in 2022 and Beyond

Post-covid is the word of our times. For the unquantifiable changes it birthed, its prevalence in the minds and bodies of the human population, and the havoc it wrecked at the height of its powers, covid-19 has rightfully become a historical and contemporary baseline, in a manner more similar to attitudes such as modernism, than to analogous phenomena like the “Spanish” flu.

In the days of its novelty, however, SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes, saw aeroplanes grounded, streets deserted, restaurants and public places closed, as hospitals and healthcare workers all over the world were stretched beyond their limits. Anxieties and fear were also rife, and the growth that many industries and economies had experienced in the recent past, was either contracting in real-time or was forecast to do so in the coming months. Like the virus, a feeling of dread and doom was pervasive.

AMVCA 2022

 

 

Meanwhile, in the advertising industry, the advice from some quarters was to “take a step back and be ready for the future” — that is, that marketing executives and media agencies should put a hold on fulfilling action plans, and should instead focus on rethinking and redesigning their strategies. At the time, this seemed like the obvious, if not wise thing to do, with companies tottering on the relegation line of insolvency, trying to survive.

But it didn’t stop there.

During this period, the more prominent message circulating within the industry was that consumers were, for the time being, not looking at brands as personality tools to help them reinforce or project their social identities. Threatened by potential job losses, and the possibility of untimely death, it initially seemed that the majority of consumers were more interested in “survival” and a pseudo-ascetic contemplation of their mortality than in buying non-essentials like fashion accessories and the latest tech.

But regardless of hearsay, in that moment of a thousand uncertainties, companies had to stop their traditional communication to focus instead on connecting with the urgent needs of their customers, as well as that of the larger public. Above all, they had to prioritise building a new, timely and effective communication strategy that could cater to covid modalities and even more, chart a viable course into what appeared to be a very uncertain future.

Now, for media agencies, the reality of the global health crisis was a brutal halt to advertising investments across all media, as well as a sharp decline in revenue. The entire advertising ecosystem found itself under a sky of unanticipated pressures and was with great trepidation, awaiting a resolution to the doomsday-like plot that was unravelling in a rush.

In particular, three scenarios played out during this period. The first was that businesses halted advertising investments for the wrong reasons: reasons involving cost-cutting measures instituted by top-level management personnel. And this was predominantly out of collective fear and news-induced anxieties about the future.

The second was the discontinuation of advertising investments for good reasons: this involved terminating advertising campaigns that were too outmoded, as well as stopping advertisements that were in temporarily defunct media, such as in-flight magazines.

The third scenario was one where there was no halt in investments. For the brands — such as food retailers and e-commerce platforms — that did not stop advertising, they either continued because they were still operational, or because despite their non-operational status, had decided to adapt their message to the prevailing situation; and these messages were mostly in form of expressions of gratitude to employees, customers and frontline healthcare workers.

And speaking of scenarios, one notable effect the pandemic had on the advertising industry was the accelerated drop in the value of pay-TV — a situation that greatly benefitted ad-supported streaming video services.
Ironically, however, before there was ever a pandemic, advertising on pay TV had been seeing a global increase over the past decade, in stark contrast to the medium’s decreasing viewership, fuelled in part by the widespread adoption of mobile devices. And although television advertising is anything but dead, the ever-increasing consumer demand for ad-supported streaming video services that the pandemic has secured should be instructive enough to big advertising spenders that would once have, as a matter of tradition, prioritised pay-TV over other media for their campaigns.

In all, the pandemic saw a major shift in consumer behaviour, and in the way media agencies perceive consumers. Today this new perception is being applied in a variety of ways, especially in the optimising of marketing campaigns — in the key areas of content, community and convenience.

As a media agency skilled at navigating the African terrain, with the added experience of managing companies’ covid-era crises, one of the things we learnt at Red Media Africa, from the time of the pandemic, is that utilising customer segmentation and personas can go a long way in providing insights to media strategies and creative marketing approaches.

To be very effective, marketing messages need to attain relevance on a personal plane, paralleling an individual’s situation and values, as opposed to being based merely on demographic data. Achieving human connection within any brand message requires delineating consumers into segments that cater to the multidimensionality of the individual, without losing sight of the chief goal of stimulating purchasing behavior. This is the key to making adverts more “meaningful” to their audience.

Another important thing we noted is that consumer expectations — in terms of what companies could do for them — have skyrocketed. Consumers have aggressively transitioned from hoping companies have what they want, to expecting companies to have exactly what they want.

With technology seamlessly integrated into their lives, consumers have been conditioned to expect highly personalised experiences, and this moreso as companies have their personal data. This is why, from retailers to subscription sites, the implementation of interactive feedback loops will be very crucial to meeting and surpassing heightened user expectations.

But beyond new knowledge acquired, the coronavirus crisis also brought about nascent changes within certain areas of the global advertising industry. Learning about and taking advantage of these changes has been very crucial for brands intent on seizing a larger share of their respective markets this year, as well as those that are looking to plant themselves in the fertile plains of the future. Of the bunch, a change in third-party data policies is arguably the most important.

Since January, when key browsers started implementing changes in their third-party data policies, marketers have gotten even better at engineering their online campaigns, learning the new ways they need to harness and utilise the power of data, and developing new strategies to partner with publishers. But even as strategies morph with these new policies, it will be important for companies to not focus on brand marketing — which is usually slow-burning and more enduring — at the expense of performance marketing, which emphasises achieving quick leads and increasing sales. Both are important. And it is companies that learn how to balance the equation that will gain a greater fraction of the consumer market — now and in the future.

In the insight segment of the industry, we expect to see a significant shift in the parties involved in conducting research activities in the coming years. This is because, as a result of increasingly user-friendly technology, as well as spillover effects of the covid-19 pandemic (in terms of a metamorphosis of consumer behaviour and in the rapid development and deployment of corresponding technologies to track the same), the barriers to market research have drastically diminished in height. This means marketers, designers, and other professionals will be able to not merely use data but also actively generate it from now on.

Furthermore, in Nigeria, the most populous nation on the African continent, and one of the countries where Red Media Africa operates, we have seen how, aided by the pandemic and the synchronous rise of social media apps like TikTok, the influencer marketing segment has been further legitimised as an avenue for advertising, making creators/influencers of even more important to companies’ marketing mix. A survey conducted by the Nigeria Influencer Marketing Report (NIMReport) revealed that more than 30 per cent of advertisers now value influencer marketing as part of their marketing strategy; and this trend, we believe, is bound to keep proliferating until it has been adopted as a choice medium of advertising at all levels of the consumer market.

Finally, while companies should be more inclined to engineer the customer journey in such a way that the disconnected elements of marketing, sales and logistics, are invisible to the end consumer, media agencies will have to shift from a number-based, purely remuneratory approach, and take on a more value-based role as they look to extend the lifespan of their partnerships with brands. This is especially as research shows that about half the money companies spend with online publishers is lost in the programmatic advertising supply chain, while 15 per cent is unattributable. This underscores issues with the advertising industry’s business model, in which there can be great traffic but with revenue figures that are not commensurate. These incongruences, worsened as it were by the pandemic, gives the idea that, in the advertising supply chain, greater transparency is needed.

Public Relations agency in Lagos/Nigeria: Fostering Public Trust for Sustainable Development

Since contemporary public relations became a fulcrum of how the world operates at the turn of the 20th century, the global rise and spread of Public Relations agencies have been remarkable.

While the phenomenon of maintaining a favourable public image by a famous individual, organisation or country is deeply rooted in the desire to remain bankable or marketable, public relations can be regarded as a core aspect of human life.

Anyone intent on maintaining integrity and reputation in society would at all times desire words of approval and admiration – whether from friends, family or the public. This explains why, for everyone particular about their brand, Public Relations represents a major getaway from situations with damning implications.

Like billionaire businessman Warren Buffet famously opined, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

In today’s world, where there exists a fine line between the public throwing up a thumb of approval or displaying blatant disgust towards actions and utterances, maintaining an admirable public image is beyond critical for anyone particular about their brand.

For decades, the realisation has necessitated the birth of Public Relations agencies that saddle themselves with the responsibility of building, sustaining and projecting positive and accurate images and identities of anyone that cares.

Public Relations holds the key as an effective tool in changing perceptions and influencing future decisions. Although many factors separate PR activities in today’s world from those of past years, the basics typically remain the same.

To understand the importance of PR, we’ll reflect on a little backstory on the earlier origin of what the world has come to know as the greatest tool of influence.

Ivy Lee, a publicity expert and one of the two forefathers of modern-day public relations, had been a significant figure in the reputation boost enjoyed by his principal, John Rockefeller. Starting from his appointment in 1903, Lee had been the cleanup general during a crisis caused by a series of strikes in the coal mines during Rockefeller’s glorified reign as an oil magnate. Lee is also credited with the writing of the first press release following a major rail crash in Atlantic City in 1906.

Lee’s contemporary in laying the foundation for Public Relations in the 20th century was Edward Bernays, whose PR strategies were greatly influenced by his uncle, Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis theories based on behavioural psychology. Also fondly regarded as ‘The Father of Public Relations’, Bernays is popular for writing in his influential book, Propaganda, that “conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in a democratic society.”

Bernays’ position stemmed from his view of the impact of using propaganda to influence war outcomes, which he found significant in his advocacy for mass manipulation.

Although first used as a term by Dorman Eaton in 1882, ‘Public Relations’ can today be described as a friendlier alternative to Bernay’s war propaganda as a tool to convert consumers for businesses.

New digital tools and technological advancement in the 21st century also mean that the practice of PR has evolved from the time of Lee and Bernays and is rapidly moving towards newer strategies.

Due to the current digital landscape and behavioural change, Public Relations practice across the world has transformed from just writing a press release, planning an event or dealing with the media to sending out instant messages on microblogging platforms, connecting with influencers, analysing data, monitoring feedback and conversions.

Not only that, Public Relations has grown into a full spectrum of functions and as a strategic aspect of achieving business objectives, building invaluable relationships, preventing conflicts and crises, and pushing national interests.

But, in evaluating the practice of public relations in Nigeria (and Africa) in line with today’s climate and in comparison to the rest of the world, there are numerous grey areas yet unaddressed.

Challenges hindering the practice on the continent range from a poor understanding of Public Relations concepts, lack of adequate specialisation in the profession, language barrier, lack of technological know-how, infrastructural limitations, and a lack of ethics by existing professionals and organisations.

One could argue that of all the highlighted challenges, the lack of ethics by existing professionals in Public Relations agencies in Nigeria (and Africa) holds the biggest weight, and perhaps a solution to this specific problem would nearly solve the other drawbacks.

This does not imply that no professional public relations agency in Nigeria (and Africa) is standing shoulder to shoulder with their global counterparts, but it’ll be foolhardy to deny a dearth in the existence of such organisations that are truly worth their salt.

Beyond just keeping practitioners who are technology savvy on their roster in a fancy office space, the important criteria in ranking a Public Relations agency in Nigeria (Africa) would include factors such as credibility, capability, quality of services, trustworthiness and dependability.

Unfortunately, only a handful of agencies would successfully check these boxes. And it comes as no shock that over 50 per cent of Public Relations agencies in Nigeria report revenues below N5 million, according to a 2020 Nigeria PR Report, which also highlighted that 12 per cent of the agencies have been in operation for five years; 19 per cent of them for more than five years and less than 10; whilst only nine per cent have been in operation for over 20 years. Other damning statistics in the report indicate that 70 per cent of the professionals in the PR industry have less than five years of work experience.

These are alarming statistics from all indications, and for there to be a turnaround in fortune, every Public Relations agency in Nigeria (and Africa) would need to deploy smart strategies to attract and retain world-class talents.

One such no-brainer strategy would be the establishment of prime Public Relations teaching faculties across the continent for young PR enthusiasts to learn and grow. While Nigeria and the African continent need to step up in developing many of these learning institutions, it is worth mentioning that there have been worthy attempts in recent times by some PR organisations to fill the void.

For instance, the Future Project recently established an internship program to tutor young Africans with less than two years of work experience in their prospective area of expertise, including PR. A brainchild of Red Media Africa, the Future Project Internship Program (FAIP) is a critical response to Africa’s desperate need for capacity building among its teeming youth population in different career paths.

Red Media Africa’s idea of establishing the training project is not in the least surprising. The PR firm is one of a handful of professional Public Relations agencies from Nigeria with a footprint all over the world. Over the last decade, the agency’s practices have, to name a few, shaped the financial, energy, and entertainment sectors, having been responsible for the brand image of the biggest companies and institutions in Africa.

In terms of impact, Red Media Africa is in a classified league of agencies out of Lagos, Nigeria renowned for their world-class PR activities. A testament to its standing as one of Nigeria’s heavyweights in Public Relations is how the agency has greatly influenced socio-political discourse among the youth across the populous African nation in the last 10 years.

These strides signify that there is a variety of things the agency is doing excellently, the king of which, from the outside looking in, would be its understanding of the pains and demands of the country’s largest demographic. The PR agency seems to command a certain level of trust amongst the public.

Generally, the lack of public trust in the media in Nigeria (and Africa) is rife.

Peculiar socioeconomic and sociopolitical challenges in the country (and continent) mean lack of public trust is at an all-time low. Regrettably, this hurts corporate brands and institutions as much as it does governmental bodies. PR can and should help restore that.

Hence it is critical for every Public Relations agency in Nigeria (and Africa) to continue to command public faith and trust through genuine social gestures, especially at a time when it’s easy to see through pedestrian PR activities by many practising agencies across the globe. Every Public Relations agency in Nigeria (and Africa) needs to, now more than ever, transcend surface-level press releases by employing advanced media monitoring tools to ensure corporate authenticity through swift, empathetic responses to false reports and unsavoury incidents.

“There is a very important change in how we earn trust. A company’s competence– that it is good at what it does – used to be the predominant driver of Trust. Today, it gets only 25 per cent of the way, with the other 75 per cent now dependent on a company’s purpose, integrity and dependability,” Richard Edelman, CEO of the public relations company Edelman, says in his 2020 address to the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA).

To improve on the appalling statistics that describe the practice of Public Relations in Nigeria (and Africa), the time has come for more practitioners and agencies to take advantage of the untapped potential of PR and play a more central role in influencing global discourse.

Building more learning institutions where young PR devotees and professionals can learn the ropes on how to command public trust would certainly be a step in the right direction.

© 2022. Red Media Africa, All Rights Reserved.

Red Media Africa is the Public Relations (PR) Agency & Empowerment Marketing division under the parent company; RED, based in Nigeria.

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