On the Brand Storytelling podcast this week, we celebrate Australia’s premier journalism and storytelling festival, Storyology. GM of Hearst-Bauer Media, Marina Go joins Rakhal Ebeli to talk about her career path, the trends in video content and the future of the Walkley foundation and the journalism industry.
5 lessons from Marina Go
1. It’s about the quality of your content, not where you are publishing from.
2. Millennials are driving how we think about engagement. How we interact with our audiences.
3. Content for one channel may not be suited to another. Brands need to innovate each to space to their audience.
4. What is a journalist now? What is their role? Despite the decline in print journalism, new avenues and opportunities continue to present themselves to the industry.
5. Our perception of what makes a story is changing with the technology we use.
Here’s a sneak preview of the show:
Rakhal Ebeli: Is that a big part of why digital is just going from strength to strength because in traditional print it’s very hard to do that hand hold across to engagement or indeed some kind of purchase decision?
Marina Go: Absolutely and it’s the reason why print and digital need to work very well hand in hand. We certainly integrated our brands very well at Bauer but it’s the reason. In fact, digital enables that extra part of the funnel I guess for us with our consumers. I think of digital as a real positive add-on to where we print years ago. If we get this right it doesn’t have to be a direct competitor. It can actually be complimentary. There are still some publishers I know that think of it as competitive media but that is not that way at all.
Rakhal: Is a big part of this push about engaging millennials given the fact that they are across so many different platforms?
Marina: Absolutely. Millennials are really driving the way we need to think about how we engage, where we engage because they are across everything. One of the challenges, of course, is that you still have limited resources and many more platforms with which to create content for engagement and every single platform has a slightly different way of engaging. The video content or the story that we might create for Snapchat will invariably be quite different to something that we might do for a video for Facebook. I think we have just had to think very strategically now about our resourcing and it is. Millennials are constantly challenging us but it also means that we are remaining innovative. If millennials are in your sight as they are with our audience, Bauer has a very strong millennial audience, then it does help the innovation across the rest of the business I think. You read the pointy end of it.
Rakhal: Taking off your Bauer hat and just speaking from an editorial perspective and a journalism perspective given your strong background, I know you’ve worked in the industry for three decades so you’ve had significant experience across this conversation and now with the commercialization of content it’s really quite poignant, where do you see the line being drawn between editorial and branded content? Is there now a very distinctive line or is it still a grey area not necessarily specific to Bauer but just in general?
Marina: I think it really depends on the category and the segment because it depends on the expectation of the customer. Ultimately the customer will make a decision as to where the line is and I think depending on who that person is the line will be different. By the example I give of that I’ve worked in publishing across women’s lifestyle, fashion, but also business, property news. I was a CEO of private media for some time. I’ve worked across these categories and there is less tolerance for grey in the business and news community and there is far more acceptance in terms of branded content being content within the fashion and lifestyle community. That was always the case. Even before the internet, even before native content was a thing I think with the digital community, in the magazine world a hundred years ago, which is really when I began so I’m very old, a hundred years ago when magazines began, we were already creating content with our commercial partners that was more accessible to our audience. It was more like an editorial than it was like ads. Our audience has accepted that. In fact not only accepted it but actually loved it. We could tell that they loved it because the engagement rate was high, very very high.
It really depends on the category. I think it’s hard to make a blanket statement about where the line is because, as I said, it depends on the category. It has to be quite clear I think. When it is, and I tend to think it is, when it’s more about large risk factors that affect your life like finances and that kind of thing, I think the line has to be much clearer. When it’s about entertainment, and engagement, and love, and passion, which is what fashion and lifestyle is, I think as long as the quality of the content is well produced and the brands are well produced and they are brands that our consumers are happy to have come into their lives to be pushed content to, I think it’s comfortable for them for the line to be grey.
Another example of that which a lot of men, in particular, find quite surprising, our magazines, fashion magazines sell much better when there are lots of ads in them. It seems really hard to comprehend when there’s this kind of blocking technology on websites but to be honest with you, the people who love ads and expect that to be part of the content are less likely to block and much more accepting of anything that feels a little bit greyer to other categories. Sorry.