Earning our place in 2021

The Rs of earned media.

The year that was 2020 put strain on all industries across the globe, public relations included. There wasn’t a job, brand, or empire that wasn’t affected by the pandemic. It asked us to look internally, redirect our vision with new processes and strategies, pay careful attention to the landscape that we reside in, and focus on the now and immediate future. And that to move forward, we need to look back, with Earned Media being no exception to the rule.

Looking back we have to identify the closure of publishing houses that once ruled the roost. Major industry players and trendsetters as well as lifestyle leaders, such as Caxton and Associated Magazines were all caught in the crossfire, causing them to be one of over 10 print publications in South Africa to close their doors for business. As communications experts we knew that print was no longer the hero, however, the acceleration of businesses caught everyone off guard. Strategies, objectives and deliverables all needed to change. Thinking or rethinking, needed a major boost and refresh.

So what it comes down to is staying ahead of the game by sharpening our approach with these four simple steps:

Content is gold: with the existence of fewer publications, and their online platforms needing to sift through all the clutter to find top, newsworthy content, a good angle is a must. They should be topical and strong, which should be an easy task given that we are in the business of storytelling. And with the decrease and resignation and/or retrenchment of a handful of journalists in the country, and the ‘pages’ getting thinner, ready-to-publish stories are welcomed more than ever before.

Research and listen: study your audience with microscopic precision. Always having your ear to the ground, and knowing what exactly is taking place in your world or forum, albeit it be ever changing, will help you to adapt fast; and quickly. Your background research will open doors to new information; and your listening to what is out there will allow for stronger angles and compelling narratives - giving the journalist a better offer and easy access to what you want to put out there.

Build and maintain relationships: One of Total Exposure’s values is building relations and on a daily basis, we deal with journalists 80% of the time and knowing and understanding them is key to our success. They’re human, just like us and having a close relationship allows us to get better insights from them on what works, what doesn’t work and how to better our business practice. It’s also about communication which is what we do, and not just story placements. The relationship builds trust and the one feeds off the other.

The power of influencers: working with influencers is more important than ever. They tell our story, reach our markets faster than we ever could, and complement our brand with something as simple as one post. They are powerful. However, as much as we have learnt that it is about Storytelling vs Clout, it is also about quality. About people that have influence. So what do we look for in influencers? a) they must speak to our audience b) they must have a relationship with our audience and be able to engage. One brand that has found a sweet spot when it comes to partnering with influencers is Ballantine’s. Over the years the brand has worked with the likes of Black Coffee, Black Motion, Kid Fonque and recently Shimza - these partnerships have definitely helped cement the brand’s stay true ethos.

So as we move forward into a realm that we claim we’re not 100% sure of we’re very clear about what works. We’re just taking a different approach, it’s about Redirecting, Rethinking, and Research.

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