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Navigating the headlines: Why marketers need to remain agile and top-of-mind

Navigating the headlines: Why marketers need to remain agile and top-of-mind

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It is an election year. In 2024, almost half the world will be headed to the polls as 49 countries gear up for a politically charged year.

With the world bracing for a noisy and eventful 12 months full of political campaigns, brands and marketers are gearing up for a year where their communications vehicles will have to work even harder to cut through the chaos.

And while we know that in theory, it is important for brands to stay top-of-mind during transitionary periods, in practice that often tends to be different. Generally, politically campaigning can often lead to more money flowing into media companies, but on the marketing front advertisers tend to hold back their spend, waiting on the sidelines to see who comes into power.

Media companies such as the BBC have seen this trend over the years, explained John Williams, vice president, advertising sales, Singapore and SEA, BBC Studios Global Media & Streaming.

Williams was part of a round table hosted by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE in collaboration with BBC Studios. He explained that whenever there is an election on the horizon, there tends to be a pause in marketing activity.

During these periods, organisations are often taking a quick pause to see if their activities are aligned with the policies of the potential incoming government, or do they need to further evaluate this stand.

“We actively consider this at the BBC and it is why we ensure that brand safety is guaranteed for our commercial clients. This means that breaking news or emerging topics that arise during election periods will not adversely affect the placement and connection to audiences for advertisers’ content on our platforms,” he said.

“Elections are a key time when audiences are looking to stay updated with news content; and accommodating the needs of audiences and commercial clients is central to our planning and activities”

Marketers need to stay aware of the headlines

Given the highly sensitive and charged society we live in, brand-side marketers are increasingly having to remain cognisant of what’s making headlines. While navigating the headlines was in the past a job for the PR or communications teams, today’s marketing teams must remain agile to quickly react to on-ground sentiments.

One brand that has embraced this nimble way of working is Mastercard. According to Snigdha Nandan, director, B2C and digital marketing, APAC, Mastercard has been very proactive in making sure the marketing teams are in tune with what is capturing global audiences’ attention, while quickly reacting to market sentiments and sensitivities.

“Be it geopolitical situations or changes on social platforms, we are quick to decide if there is a need to halt or pull back our marketing activities – even if it means pulling the plug on our biggest marketing channels,” she said.

But it isn’t all about staying quiet

Nonetheless, during difficult times it is also important to show up for your clients, argued Mohit Gupta, director, head of marketing – APAC and head of social media – global, Corporate Bank of Deutsche. Even if not through external partners, internally it is important to keep the content and conversation machines running.

“In uncertain times, it's all the more important to be even more proactive in terms of making sense of the world for your clients, and helping them navigate through these challenging times,” he said.

As such, Deutsche Bank has created an internal editorial team made up of former journalists who are able to understand its internal business, the macroeconomic world, and what clients may be thinking to create content that resonates with them to help navigate the uncertain world with thought leadership insights via its platform called flow.

“From a marketing point of view, this helps open doors for relationship managers to then go in and talk to their clients on these issues,” he said.

The need for credibility

While technology such as AI is also helping to make the content creation process easier, on the flip side it is also giving rise to misinformation. In fact, today there are AI-generated news presenters who are able to replicate the jobs of on-screen presenters in a manner that would go unnoticed to the untrained eye, shared Steve Lai, BBC Chief Asia Presenter.

This then means news organisations such as the BBC have had to be even more active in ensuring its credibility with audiences. In fact, to peel back the layers and let viewers have insights on its news creation process, BBC has launched BBC Verify, a transparency tool showing the work BBC does behind the scenes to check and verify information and video content that appears on its platforms.

The news teams also use sophisticated tools, techniques, and technology to fact-check and verify videos.

“As a user or consumer, you want to see behind the curtain. There is now the demand from the public to know how the news is gathered. They want to see it right, which is what's led to BBC Verify responding to that,” Lai said.

Added Williams: “Verify is all about pulling back the curtain and saying, ‘This is how we're making the news’.”

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