We all know about Taylor Swift, famous US singer and songwriter, the voice of her generation, and we now discover Taylor Swift, the one who made Apple cave.
With her latest music video’s highest views in less than 24hours breaking VEVO’s records, a 1989 World Tour and a new boyfriend, the girl is busy and there’s no stopping her. And while we love strong 25 years old independent women capable of taking down an entire team of executives in the blink of an eye, we can’t help but wonder how strong is this lady? Was this a well-orchestrated PR stunt from social media queen Taylor Alison Swift?
Soon after Apple revealed their new paid Apple streaming music service, Taylor took to her Tumblr to pen an open letter pledging the giant to reconsider the terms of the free trial that would see artists being left royalty-less for the 30 days of the trial.
She explains why her album, 1989, will not be appearing on the streaming service, saying this is not about her.
“Thankfully I am on my fifth album and can support myself, my band, crew, and entire management team by playing live shows. This is about the new artist or band that has just released their first single and will not be paid for its success. This is about the young songwriter who just got his or her first cut and thought that the royalties from that would get them out of debt. This is about the producer who works tirelessly to innovate and create, just like the innovators and creators at Apple are pioneering in their field…but will not get paid for a quarter of a year’s worth of plays on his or her songs.”
The very next day, Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services,
tweeted an apology to the songstress offering to revise their offer benefiting artists. What a fantastic news you say, especially since the songstress has since confirmed that her album will be available on the music-streaming site. Wait a minute, how easy was this, and did Taylor really once again saved the day on her own?
A few months ago, the American Association of Independent Music expressed their feelings towards Apple’s new service, stating that they were “struggling to understand what new entrants would authorize their content on the service before October 1st, 2015.” Although it is clear a collection of independent music labels were not going to sign with the label, Taylor Swift seemed to have been the major recipient of the positive headlines.
Marketing Communications agencies have big shoes to fill these days. Not that their roles were ever easy, but in recent years the communications industry has become so diversified that keeping up with the latest trends can be a rollercoaster ride. No sooner is a new social media platform making waves online than a new one emerges to take its place. And where once advertising on billboards and pop-up ads meant money well-spent, nowadays companies are looking at the ROI of their owned content and how it can lead to sales.
Last month, Active attended the annual meeting of one of the global PR networks we are part of, WhiteOaks International Network. Representatives from PR agencies across the world met in Paris for 3 days to discuss the latest developments, clients, best practices and challenges faced by our rapidly changing industry. From the US to UK, South America to France, Poland or the Middle East, we found that despite our very different media landscapes, agencies around the globe have to constantly adapt to the new communication trends. While these trends may differ slightly from one country to another, there are some clear directions that most agencies are taking to ensure they can step up the game and dazzle their clients with spot-on campaigns.
So where is the agency role heading to? Here are a few trends we identified that are taking over the strategies of agencies worldwide:
- Diversification of PR agency offerings
PR agencies in the traditional sense of the word are slowly dying. They can no longer base their offering on just media relations and press release conveyor belts, but need to expand their services in order to increase revenues and cater to the growing demands of existing and potential clients. There are few agencies that do not yet have social media campaigns or digital marketing strategies incorporated in their propositions, while event management is also a usual add-on. A PR agency should be the one-stop shop for all marcom needs.
- The shift to digital
We are looking at a shift from print to digital. While high profile publications still keep a loyal readership for print, especially through subscription, there are many publications that now have only digital editions. This means a change in structure and also in the easiness to spread the information. The readers are now more active, they spread the news and they often create them as well. Bloggers and social media influencers have sometimes more authority than the most reputed journalists. Brands can no longer afford not to have digital presence. It is our job as PR consultants to make sure that the digital audience is not overlooked and that digital campaigns are integrated into the traditional PR remit.
- The zapping culture
A few years ago, “zapping” would have led you to think of rapidly changing TV channels without actually watching any. Translate that in today’s world and you can easily adapt the notion to websites and social media. People nowadays rarely stop to read through an entire article online. On a social media post, some people would rather read the comments than click on the link to the original article. News that are too long or spread over a few pages online are not read entirely. In a fast paced, mobile life, people need bite-sized content. Articles need to be no longer than 3,000 characters to keep the reader’s attention until the end. So make every word count and don’t forget the pretty pictures.
- The fight with the ad
With a drop in print readership worldwide, media are more avid than ever to keep their publications profitable, which means that the sales are becoming increasingly linked to advertising, and in turn, the editorial becomes dependant on the revenue streams, leaving little room for independence and unbiased information. Companies that have advertising deals with publications are clearly preferred when it comes to coverage. As PR professionals, we need to make sure that our clients can add value and address points of pain of the market that can interest the media and the audience. The value should be in the information, not the ad spend.
- Social Media and lead generation
Everyone has a social media presence and footprint, which means it’s easier now to find details about an individual than it ever was. Forget Yellow Pages, our social media channels now have all the information about us, from our job history and interests, to where we dine and hang out. By using social media listening tools, agencies can identify the target audience for companies and engage with them in real time, while capturing intelligence about them and relaying it back to the company. Once the target is defined, companies can share relevant content with the right audience, on the right platforms and start converting the leads into customers.
- Turning brands into their own media
People are saturated with advertisements for the most part of their day, so companies need to think of a different way to get the attention of their target audience. One of the ways to get through the noise is to address the needs of the audience directly and in a trustworthy way. To achieve that, agencies can leverage editorial content to give their client organizations a media oriented mind set. All the channels owned by an organization can be used to spread the content. It reflects the brand’s positioning and identity into a story that customers can relate to, by addressing their points of pain. By putting the narrative approach at the heart of the content generation, companies gain more credibility and followers that will keep coming back.