By Gordana Buccisano, EVP Global Client Transformation, Havas Media Group and Chair of the World Media Group.
As I take over the reins as Chair of the World Media Group, an alliance of leading international media organisations, my first task is a challenging one: to help formulate our three-year strategy to promote the values of trusted and renowned journalism and celebrate excellence in international advertising. In the current climate with the effect Covid-19 is having on the marketing, media and publishing worlds, planning for next month is difficult enough, so how can we possibly anticipate what the next three years have in store?
Setting the goal to create a three-year strategy is ambitious but it’s important to have a long-term vision. When I work with clients in my agency role, there’s naturally a tendency to first fix the short-term challenges they’re facing, and that analysis of what is not working today is critical input into what we need to focus on next. However, it’s essential to project further and to understand what we need to achieve long-term, beyond Covid.
The key to doing that effectively is to continuously review the relevancy of the strategy and ask ourselves whether it’s in sync with the market and consumer realities. That’s dependent on so many factors – what’s happening around the world with the pandemic, with politics, how that affects consumers and how it affects World Media Group members. Our purpose is to create a platform that gives our members a voice to address the challenges they face. That requires a visionary strategy, but one that also has flexibility and adaptability at its heart, so that we stay relevant and accurate in these ever-changing times.
Whichever side of the marketing ecosystem we belong to, agencies, publishers and clients are all facing the same challenge: how do we add value and create meaningful and true connections with consumers? People are craving truthful, relevant content – and that’s a real opportunity for reputable media brands. The World Media Group can make a difference by reimagining our agenda and aligning it with what we stand for – truthful and trusted media – connecting journalistic integrity with what’s happening in the world and showing it through the lens of the consumer.
Part of my role will be to help the World Media Group connect with more agencies, clients and ultimately more consumers through our calendar of knowledge-sharing and thought leadership activities. This year has taught us some invaluable lessons: as an organisation we’ve moved away from in-person events (via workshops, live briefings, our annual WMA awards) to a one hundred percent virtual calendar.
Lockdown forced us to move our live Smart Briefings series, which brings together industry leaders to discuss the hottest topics impacting the media, advertising and marketing sectors, to a virtual format. It turned out to be a great success with more than a thousand people signing up for the webinars. When you compare that to an in-person event, which might have capacity for say 100 people, you can immediately see the benefit in terms of both reach and awareness.
It’s also forced us to think smarter. Like all brands, one of our biggest challenges has been staying front of mind during Covid, so we’ve had to think about different ways to share the World Media Group’s collective knowledge and keep connected with our audience. We recently launched our own podcast, ‘The Media Navigators’, a platform for key industry influencers to talk about the burning issues impacting their sector. We’ve covered topics such as AI, Sustainability, Events, Brand Safety, Audience Engagement, Diversity, Audio, 5G and Newsroom Development.
As part of the strategic planning, we’re evaluating all of the World Media Group’s efforts this year to identify where we’ve found new and better ways of doing things. I don’t believe any of us will go back to working in the same way we did pre-Covid; even when restrictions are lifted, the World Media Group is likely to continue with a mix of live and virtual events, for example, as it allows us to engage with larger audiences.
Having an agile mindset and the ability to adjust to the threat of a global pandemic has opened us up to experimentation, which in turn has driven innovation. It’s with this pioneering spirit that I embrace the role of Chair and approach our three-year strategy with the knowledge that it must also include flexibility, scenario planning and the opportunity to pivot in response to whatever 2021 and beyond decides to throw at us.