Building Bridges: Creating Lasting Connections with Consumers.

  • Dan Locke reflects on last week's Advertising Week 2020 session 'Building Bridges'
  • He talks about the importance of trust and how it is key in creating lasting 'meaningful' connections

Last Friday, I spoke on a panel of experts at Advertising Week 2020 to explore how brands find creative ways to build more personal connections with their customers, built on partnerships, values, relationships, authenticity and trust. Moderated by Tini Tini Sevak, VP Audiences & Data at CNN, I was joined by Tariq Mahmoud, Head of International at Reddit, Anna Dilku, Global Red Cross Partnership Manager at Aviva and Josh Bloom, GM of Global Business Solutions at TikTok.

In case you didn’t get to join the live session, here are some of my thoughts on our discussion.

The panel discussion kicked off on the topic of trust. I was asked ‘Trust is hard to gain, but easy to lose. How do you use data and insight to better understand your audiences and continue to build last personal connections, especially given this year?’ which I was glad to answer.

From a newspapers perspective everything we do is built on trust, our readers trust our journalists to reflect accurately and fairly what is going on in our world. Our readers trust our writers to be in the know, ahead of the trends and provide us with lifestyle content that is credible and inspiring, and that is relevant to every type of journalism, they trust our sports editors to be searching and passionate as much as the business and politics desks.

The Evening Standard launched nearly 200 years ago and Londoners have trusted the paper to represent and reflect the ideas and identities of the city as it has grown and developed. It has covered major world events including two world wars, three Olympic Games and now through one of the biggest challenges the world has ever seen - Covid-19.

That connection we have with London is stronger than ever and a big reason for that is that we understand that we are part of a community. We listen to it, reflect it, and right now we know we are in this situation together and we support it. We have been showing solidarity with the city by campaigning and fundraising throughout, as our special edition Peter Blake Rainbow poster said “London Stands Together”.

More than ever our journalists use all the data and insights available to help them to fully understand who are readers are, what they are reading and what they want more of, also what they don’t, it’s an always on approach.

We can adapt our content to inform and guide our readers with what they need to know about the pandemic, 24/7. We are a service as well as an inspiration.

TRUST is key to creating lasting ‘meaningful’ connections.

What does this mean for brands?

For brands this means that you have to pay attention to your audience. We listen to Londoners. Through our editorial knowledge and research we have captured what they care about most and what they want to improve in the city. This insight led to our Future London platform that is committed to creating a better London for its population.

We then went one step further and opened this up to work with brands who wanted to embed themselves in the project to create tangible change for our city. We worked with Uber and Source to tackle issues around clean air and we worked with Google to address and improve the digital skills gap within the population, among others.

These brands trust us to know what is right for the city and work with us to create inspiring, relevant content that, at its core, is about creating a lasting connection. The brands know what community they are joining, the challenges they face and how they can be an additive to the project. In a nutshell our community has purpose, so do we and so do the brands we work with.

One of the most ambitious media projects the UK has ever seen has been the collaboration of hundreds of UK national, regional and local newspapers (never done before) – print and digital to provide the government with one voice to speak to the hugely diverse audiences across the UK. The project is called Team Nation. It is supercharged with insight and data from all the publishers and delivers key messages on guidance and inspiring people to follow guidelines, provide support and do their bit during this pandemic. The thread throughout, was that the guidance was coming from trusted newspaper brands who have a connection with their readers. So far it is proving to be one of the most successful campaigns ever measured for influencing behaviour and making a difference.

We work with Paddy Power and Betfair, the online betting company, to create a long lasting connection with sports fan. Yes they trust us to deliver the best in sports content, but it’s more than that, they trust us to reflect the passion of our readers and in doing so they have a platform to also share their passion for the game. We amplify this by using our live data and analytics to know what sports fans are reading most about and with our in the know journalists we provide the client with the key stories, which they turn into topical, witty creative that is perfectly positioned next to the content, both digital and in print. Betfair are a long term sponsor of our Football content.

So it’s a combination of knowing your audience, having a relationship that is built on trust and being part of the community that builds great partnerships for brands.

Whatever platform we deliver our content on, it is the trust audiences have in our strength of journalism that creates the ultimate platform for brands to create lasting connections.

Learnings into 2021

Keeping close to your audience is more important than ever, their lives are changing and so must we. We changed the way we distribute the paper and launched new mobile platforms for our content, we will do more of this in 2021.

Being additive is important, stand for something and make a difference. Be part of the solution and audiences will see you for what you are. We will continue to listen to our readers and give them the content they want, how and when they want it.

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