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Blog post
June 25, 2019

How data brings marketing and communications closer and ultimately benefits the customer

The dividing lines between the communications and marketing function are starting to blur as more companies rely on the insights derived from data and analysis to build an integrated marcomms strategy. Across the globe, we’re seeing these once siloed teams come together to create more impactful and measurable campaigns – and we only have data and Insights to thank.

How and when did this happen? We know that customers do not distinguish between channels; to them, all brand communications are equal whether it’s a PR program, a TV ad or an advertorial. We also know that technology platforms that can provide real time metrics, allow more content driven activity to be measurable. Fusing marketing and communications helps provide a single focus and strategy into how an organization is reaching and communicating with their customers.

Communications has not traditionally had to showcase the customer journey – from the event or campaign, to the purchase – whereas marketers are accustomed to providing hardline metrics. However, as measurable data becomes more accessible through technology, communications professionals are becoming more conscious of learning from their proactive and reactive activity and gaining insights into how this can be improved. The onus is now on communicators to provide solid metrics and prove their impact, as marketers have, directly to the c-suite.

Without data and insights, communication professionals in the long term will struggle to continuously contribute to the business goals and objectives of the organization and more crucially in the shorter term, for budget.

From a ‘hug’ to a measurable ROI driven strategy

A corporate comms director that I recently spoke too describes PR as “the hug a brand gives the consumers”. But as technology improves, reliance on traditional ways of working will no longer suffice. It’s becoming necessary to measure the hug.

Originally the gulf between communications and marketing was originally so dispersed they were seen as two separate departments with two separate budgets, but this set to change forever.

Integrated marketing and communications teams now need to prove their worth across the entire gamut of activity in order to receive on going and increasing budget for their activities.

Why integrated marketing is more successful

But data doesn’t just help prove the worth of strategies. The right data provides insights and shapes future strategies to lead to better success.

The integration of these two disciplines is a win-win for the consumer, the employee and the brand. Add data and you have an even more powerful outcome.

These professionals can map out cohesive strategies that map the entire customer journey and all outcomes. Adding data means activity can be tweaked in real-time to increase success.

For instance, much of today’s measurable consumer engagement comes from social media. For me social is absolutely in the heartland of the communicator but today the social media strategy is almost exclusively managed by marketing. That is such a missed opportunity for comms professionals and I urge anyone in this role to immerse themselves in the world of social media.

Social listening tools are collecting data that can not only provide Insight before a campaign or strategic move but social media analysis can also offer metrics for communication practitioners to showcase their value to their peers and bosses. This insight is best used when translated to inform strategy, guide content and create a deeper relationship with the target market.

In today’s fragmented media landscape, it no longer makes business sense to separate marketing and communications activities. Data is helping to fuse all consumer touch points into one single holistic approach to communicating, marketing and selling to the customer.

Not only will technology help integrated marketing and communications professionals prove the effectiveness of their work, but it will help brands speak to their customers is one united voice, where ultimately the consumer benefits.

Here in Australia we are still very much at the beginning of this journey – I’d love to hear your opinions or predictions of how these two disciplines are coming closer together through data and Insights.

Asha Oberoi
Head of Insights, Australia 

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Credit keeps the world economy moving, with Visa, MasterCard and American Express brand names easily identifiable. As time passes by, we can see a definitive shift taking place, with each of these brands increasingly becoming part of conversations taking place around the world.

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[Pulsar Report] Transactions & Reactions: The Online Credit Card Conversation

Credit keeps the world economy moving, with Visa, MasterCard and American Express brand names easily identifiable. This Global report sheds light on international trends and zeroing in on how credit card incentives are discussed in Singapore.

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This week, we talk to Stella Muller, the Chief of Enlightenment and Creative Director of Bright Sunday about communicating with diverse audiences. Stella shares a case study on how pacific media agencies in New Zealand worked together to get COVID-19 messaging out in nine different languages to reach New Zealand Pacific audiences.

Isentia’s Insights Director, Ngaire Crawford also shares some of the trends and conversations we’re seeing across social and traditional media, and the role of simple, clear messaging in crisis response.

https://youtu.be/Wt44l37XuRQ

Ngaire Crawford talks about the change in media conversations

4:22 - Media narratives have shifted to a global social change movement. The mainstream media is talking about:

  1. The political relationship between Australia and China
  2. Police behaviour and racism across the world
  3. Concern for global economic recovery
  4. Life after restrictions (more prominent in New Zealand)

5:12 - The social media narrative is more focused around the Black Lives Matter movement and has opened a dialogue about white privilege and police targeting across the world. In the US especially, brands are very clearly being called on to have a view and make that known. Silence is viewed as complicity.

6:11 - On Google Trends, people are searching for:

  • Responses to Black Lives Matter (Chris Lilley, Adam Goodes)
  • Pete Evans (due to a recent 60minutes Coronavirus conspiracy interview)
  • AFL competition starting again
  • Launch of the new Playstation 5
  • Wage subsidies and economic recovery

6:55 -  For communicators, be clear in what you say and what you stand for.

  • Consider expanding your view of crisis communication to include response to social issues/ social change. Do you know what your organisational response would be if you were asked?
  • Constantly evaluate how inclusive your communications are. Audiences are constantly shifting and moving - you have to regularly evaluate and challenge what you think you know.
  • Know your organisational history, is there a risk that you should consider and plan for? 

8:40 - Some things to look out for in the media:

Nationalist tension vs social change.

  • There's a broad media narrative brewing - watch for nationalist responses to restricted borders, juxtaposed with broad social discussions of racial inequality.

Stella Muller talks communicating with diverse audiences

10:26 - In March when New Zealand was about to go into lock down, communications were being prepared for the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern to communicate to english speaking audiences across mainstream channels. There was a gap as some New Zealand Pacific audiences do not speak english. We needed a solution. 

My team spent days translating level 3 and level 4 messages into nine different pacific languages to ensure the pacific community received the correct messaging about COVID-19 and the government’s response. 

12:37 - Before communicating the various levels of messaging, there were many clinical messages about washing hands and social distancing, and although these were being translated to our pacific audiences, there was no context around the message. The pacific community was confused for the sudden need to buy toilet paper and the increased need to wash or sanitise their hands. 

13:30 - Our elderly, Pacific and Maori communities were most at risk to contract COVID-19 so we needed to ensure they understood the situation. After pitching our idea to the Ministry of Health and Ministry for Pacific Peoples, we had 24 hours to create and record our messaging in the studio, ready to be released after the Prime Minister made the Level 4 alert announcements.

Level 4 alert messages in New Zealand
Communications message shared on TVNZ

14:50 - For 6 weeks, we broadcast weekly 15 minute bulletins in each of the nine pacific languages. They were distributed across social media, New Zealand radio and mainstream television network TVNZ. Historically, Pacific languages are not televised on mainstream television, so it was quite amazing to see. 

Updates in nine pacific languages
Weekly episodes of the latest updates in nine pacific languages

15:40 - We were able to deliver the essential information to our leaders and elders in a timely manner so they could then inform their communities. It’s impact also meant we could debunk myths that were circulating around the Pacific community and be the source of truth. 

Compliance was a big part of COVID-19 and for our leaders and elders to communicate with confidence, they needed to have access to have the facts direct from the Government.

17:46 - At a time when everything was being categorised as essential or non-essential, it proved why communications are an essential service. Any content that is created or translated during a time like COVID-19, is premium content. To have the ability to cut through to audiences is really impactful. 

18:35 - Of the 1,154 cases of COVID-19 in New Zealand, Pacific people made up 5% of those cases and with zero deaths, we feel honoured to have been involved in the communications process for Pacific community.

If you would like to view other Webinar Isentia Conversations: Communicating through Change:

Isentia Conversations: with Katherine Newton at RU OK?

Isentia Conversations: with Bec Brown at The Comms Department

Isentia Conversations: with Rochelle Courtenay at Share the Dignity

Isentia Conversations: with Rachel Clements at Centre for Corporate Health

Isentia Conversations: with Helen McMurdo at MTV

Isentia Conversations: with Daniel Flynn at Thank You

Isentia Conversations: with Campbell Fuller at Insurance Council of Australia

Isentia Conversations: with Craig Dowling at Mercury

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Thought Leadership
Isentia Conversations with Stella Muller from Bright Sunday

We talk to Stella Muller, the Chief of Enlightenment and Creative Director of Bright Sunday about communicating with diverse audiences. Stella shares a case study on how pacific media agencies in New Zealand worked together to get COVID-19 messaging out in nine different languages to reach New Zealand Pacific audiences.

Isentia’s Insights Director, Ngaire Crawford also shares some of the trends we’re seeing across social and traditional media, and the role of simple, clear messaging in crisis response.

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We talk to Craig Dowling, the Head of Communications at Mercury. Mercury was underway with some major construction and refurbishment projects; it had launched a new brand campaign; it was preparing to welcome a new Chief Executive - and then came the unforeseen. Craig reflects on how COVID-19 flipped the focus of communications almost overnight. He’ll share what went well and what the challenges were in such a dynamic environment. Isentia’s Insights Director, Ngaire Crawford also shares some of the trends we’re seeing across social and traditional media, and a quick look at what communication is working well right now.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhAh4gkEP7s&feature=youtu.be

 

Ngaire Crawford talks about predicting the future

4:06 - The current overarching media narrative is about predicting what the future will look like and the long term personal impact COVID-19 will have on us.

The mainstream media is talking about:

  1. Economic impact and how long the recovery will be (property, wealth and government response)
  2. Restrictions easing and cases of the virus in specific regions or specific person
  3. News is starting to resemble normal again.

5:43 - As anxiety about physical distancing eases, discussions on social media are turning towards the government response to the economic downturn and how businesses will course correct the job losses that have taken place.

6:23 -  What people are looking for on Google across Australia and New Zealand:

  • Individual COVID-19 cases based on a particular region, age etc.
  • Coronavirus App across both regions
  • Broader global and entertainment stories (Lady Gaga, Josh Reynolds etc.) This is reflective of the world slowly returning to normal.

7:00 - Now is the time to start thinking about the future and how to apply the learnings seen through COVID-19 in your future communications.

It’s important to understand how to communicate during an economic downturn; know your audience, be creative and innovative with how you demonstrate your message to your audience.

8:00 - There are interesting conversations around PR ethics and misinformation and the role they play. In particular, the Whitehouse challenged social media companies and their legal responsibility for content posted on their platforms. It also reignites the conversation/debate around the role of tech and their ethical responsibility. Anything to do with ethics and misinformation is important for communications professionals to know and understand during this time.

Craig Dowling from Mercury talks disrupted and disrupting conversations

9:49 - There’s a lot of value revisiting some of the lessons we’ve learned during COVID-19 to help us build new habits and progress forward.

9:55 - Sticking to the communication messages; clarity, compassion and creativity will hold us true to the course of recovery. This includes the ups and downs still to come throughout COVID-19.

10:10 - The 2010 New Zealand Canterbury earthquake is the biggest parallel to COVID-19. This earthquake was a long running issue for those directly impacted and the grief cycle involved a cycle of responses to our customers, partners and internal staff that lasted years. This could be similar with COVID-19.

11:05 - We had a range of things planned for the first half of 2020. We had our strategies, tactics and specific activities the business had decided to do. We were working on a brand campaign, planning price changes, and a major infrastructure investment of building New Zealand's largest wind farm.

11:53 - We strategically launched our brand campaign on Valentines Day. As a renewable energy company, our pointy messaging was telling people to break up with oil and kiss it goodbye. We had a lot of supporting work scheduled for release but it was apparent 2 weeks after launch, people weren’t listening to the renewable energy message (which usually has a fertile audience) so we decided to pull the campaign.

12:56 - The timing of our brand campaign coinciding with COVID-19 meant we had to segway to old neutral advertising to keep our brand presence and most importantly, not offend anyone. Neutral advertising also bought us time to determine what our longer term response would be.

13:25 -  We had announced a price increase to our customers in early February giving them one months notice before it was implemented. A number of those customers did not face their price increase until New Zealand were a week into lockdown. This presented us with reactive messaging - we had to let our customers know the background of the price increase and validate its existence. This was tricky to navigate but we needed to think like a customer in this scenario and understand their pain points.

14:30 -  The lockdown meant we had issues getting workers to our wind farm that was under construction. We had locked in community engagements; we spoke to our community once a month with face to face meetings and we had to think of new ways to best manage those tactics and situations.

14:54 - It’s fundamentally important to build relationships and trust for messaging to be well received.

16:20 - In terms of our own communications plans, in a neutral environment away from issues such as COVID-19 and other crises, you have the luxury of thinking and speaking in areas you may not otherwise.

Test the waters of communicating and take it back to the core elements of your business. Say less and find out what is important to say, and then test it. 

17:40 - It’s important to understand the tone of your message and how it is going to be received without making any assumptions.

19:42 - There’s been a lot of talk about businesses pivoting and whole business models being threatened. From a comms perspective, caution should be taken with a pause implemented between pivots. Test the business is pivoting for the right reasons, and understand what the underlying values are supposed to be. The change pivoting brings won't be sustainable unless it’s true to your business’ core values.

If you would like to view other Webinar Isentia Conversations: Communicating through Change:

Isentia Conversations: with Katherine Newton at RU OK?

Isentia Conversations: with Bec Brown at The Comms Department

Isentia Conversations: with Rochelle Courtenay at Share the Dignity

Isentia Conversations: with Rachel Clements at Centre for Corporate Health

Isentia Conversations: with Helen McMurdo at MTV

Isentia Conversations: with Daniel Flynn at Thank You

Isentia Conversations: with Campbell Fuller at Insurance Council of Australia

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Blog
Isentia conversations with Craig Dowling from Mercury

We talk to Craig Dowling, the Head of Communications at Mercury. Mercury was underway with some major construction and refurbishment projects; it had launched a new brand campaign; it was preparing to welcome a new Chief Executive – and then came the unforeseen. Craig reflects on how COVID-19 flipped the focus of communications almost overnight. He’ll share what went well and what the challenges were in such a dynamic environment. Isentia’s Insights Director, Ngaire Crawford also shares some of the trends we’re seeing across social and traditional media, and a quick look at what communication is working well right now.

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In a time where there is an enormous amount of information, we focus on the role traditional and social media have on public opinion through media and reputation analysis across all forms of media. And how it looks through a media lens.  

In this blog, we discuss COVID-19 communication across various case studies and talk in depth about the 3 pillars of good communication during COVID-19.

  1. Clarity
  2. Compassion
  3. Creativity

 

You can also watch Isentia'a Ngaire Crawford discuss communicating through COVID-19 here

Clarity:

The clarity of information is incredibly important from the outset.

  • Be clear about what you know, what you’re doing and what you expect. 
  • Be clear about what you don’t know, and when you’ll have those answers.

For example, the New Zealand government and its COVID-19 response team have provided clear and consistent communication.

It’s easy to focus on the New Zealand Prime Minister and the effectiveness of her communication style. There are many things that get attributed to the Prime Minister because she is a woman: her empathy; how she manages conflict; how she defends her position, and; how she answers questions.

Beyond personal style, there was consistency to the NZ government’s communication that became part of everyday routines during level 4 lock down. The branding of communications was quick, and stayed consistent across all platforms for government information.The yellow striped logo and clear message to stay home, save lives, and the use of an alert level structure helped create a simple and effective message.

NZ Government communications messaging
The NZ government Covid-19 communications messaging

No communications response is perfect, and many elements of the NZ response haven’t kept up with the consistency in the detail, but the foundational message structure, visual brand and consistent delivery made it a framework that could withstand some of those inconsistencies. 

In Australia, there was a slower start to a consistent communications approach. Although an initial concern, the Australian government stepped up and are now delivering clear messages needed to cut through in a crisis. The Prime Minister has provided an important sense of consistency by holding regular press conferences to update the nation directly. Not only have announcements for economic stimulus packages and public health precautions been clear, detailed and decisive, they’ve been broadly welcomed.

Compassion:

Effective communication during COVID-19 requires compassion and it comes from understanding your audience. Empathy and compassion are central to effective communication through COVID-19 across all sectors. 

For a leader during a crisis, it's crucial to be authentic, decisive and present. It’s important  to develop trust long before a crisis hits, so audiences will accept you as an authoritative source. 

COVID-19 has seen a shift to more empathetic leadership. Scott Morrison’s response has positioned him as more empathetic.He has shown the willingness to put his own customary views on hold including pledging to return the government’s budget to surplus. 

The government has placed medical experts at the centre of the response. A national cabinet has been formed - chaired by Morrison but including state premiers from both sides of politics. There’s no red or blue teams, it’s team Australia. Listening to experts is working. And working together, across political parties, is working.

How do people feel throughout COVID-19?

Across social media, discussions of mental health have increased more than 400% and references to anxiety have more than doubled. COVID-19 is also driving references to being unsafe, scared and isolated. 

Throughout the crisis, we’ve seen strong reactions to organisations trying to take advantage of the situation, and to point out organisations or people that weren’t playing by the rules. Level 4 lock downs in New Zealand were incredibly strict on retail. 

Compassion and social media do not always go hand in hand. Traditional media coverage often chastises social media for botting, conspiracy theories and misinformation, but social users have shown a hyper-awareness of mental health and safety.

The below images show social media users using a code to signal if someone needs help during lock down. While this might also be a performative gesture, it does set an expectation that abuse and toxic behaviours won’t be accepted.

Communications on social media

An example indicative of different political and media environments, the Malaysian government, in particular, the Ministry for women, asks women not to nag their husband, and to consider using the tone of Doraemon, a cartoon cat from Japan (see image above).

There was also some communication suggesting that women are to dress nicely and wear makeup while isolated at home. Social media went crazy over this communication. It was quickly turned into a meme, caused a lot of backlash and created international attention that probably wasn’t intended.

Creativity:

Creativity and innovation has been a theme during COVID-19.

Communication is at the core of innovation. A lot of organisations are delivering information in ways they weren't expecting, or connecting with customers in a new way. Knowing your audience and your communication style is important when being creative. 

Although, with creativity comes over-saturation of information. Make sure your internal communications are on point, and your stakeholders/clients/customers know what’s going on, then start to look for those outward facing opportunities - it’s okay if there’s nothing to say right now. 

The core trends that have resonated on social media are: social distancing;  ways to stay connected; ways to keep kids entertained, and;  mental and physical well being. 

An interesting public health message example is Dettol’s hand washing challenge on TikTok, where people create dance moves around washing your hands. It’s communicating a known public health message in a creative way, to an audience that really wants to play by the rules and as a result, has over 50 billion views. 

TikTok handwash challenge
Dettol #HandWashChallenge on TikTok

What does all this mean for communicators?

A crisis is a crisis for a reason, very few people default to best practice behaviours in a crisis - but planning, and planning based on what has previously worked can help mitigate some of this pressure. 

The role of the media during COVID-19 hasn’t fundamentally changed as a trusted source. What has changed is that information is a far more crowded space, including content from traditional media sources, social media, influencers and the increased  access to content internationally. 

This means it’s important for your communication to be clear and consistent. Create a rhythm and content structure that makes your information easy to share and amplify. Check your crisis plans and consider how tied they are to a set of simple, core messages, or check what the process is to adapt and create messages in the first stage of a crisis.

It can be incredibly beneficial to get the foundations right, to gain trust, and create acceptance that all the information that may not be known yet. 

For more information on how your organisation can be better prepared for a crisis, get in touch with us today.

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Blog
The 3 pillars of effective communication during COVID-19

In a time where there is an enormous amount of information, we focus on the role traditional and social media have on public opinion through media and reputation analysis across all forms of media. And how it looks through a media lens. 

Ready to get started?

Get in touch or request a demo.