PRCA Digital

Northern Ireland gets Digital

Alastair Luke Blog

The PRCA held its Digital Report event in Belfast this week and revealed in-house digital budgets have increased by 9% in a year, bringing marketing spend on digital and social media to 25%.  These budgets are also expected to grow over the next 12 months.

The reasons behind this trend were rather simple, brands want more audience reach and increased brand awareness.

Belfast’s #PRCADigital event featured a panel of industry professionals – Nicola McCleery, head of marketing at Danske Bank, Mark Whyte, creative solutions director at Trinity Mirror and Kathyrn Pyper, head of success at Engage – who all provided great insight and advice.

Video killed text

The report revealed that video based content was the biggest area of spend this year at 62%, followed by web design and build at 55% and paid social media activity at 55%.  Video was also one of the main digital services being offered by PR agencies, ranked highly alongside blogger and social influencer outreach.

The popularity of video came as no surprise to Kathyrn from Engage who reminded everyone that the attention span of online audiences now stands at 6 seconds.  Gone are the days of the five minute corporate video but, if done right, video offers a great way to reach consumers online.

In brands we trust

Transparency and trust was a hot topic of discussion.

Mark from Trinity Mirror said brands shouldn’t be afraid of paid for content.  Communicating with consumers has completely changed.  Audiences don’t want to be sold to, they want useful, relevant and a lot of the time entertaining information and as long as you do this then readers don’t mind that it was brought to them by a brand.   However the main message was… don’t cheat your audience.  Brands should be clear and transparent so the reader doesn’t feel resentful when they get to the end of a really great article to see it was sponsored by a brand.

Another good point Mark brought to the table was the fact that in today’s world consumers don’t like paying to read the news.  If news outlets have lost this revenue stream and brands still want to reach these readers, then there has to be spend behind their campaign.  This will ensure local news outlets thrive – a benefit for everyone, he claimed.

Social overload

Snapchat and Instagram were the platforms which have seen the biggest growth in use this year, an increase of 14%.

But with so many platforms available, the message from the panel was all about quality over quantity.  Nicola from Danske Bank said finding the right platforms for your brand was vital.  There’s very little point jumping on-board the next big thing in social media if your audience isn’t there.

Who’s influencing who?

There is a massive difference between someone liking your brand’s post or retweeting an article and being a social media influencer.  If a brand truly wants to work with influencers online, they need to be fully on-board with the brand and its values.

Be careful to also read their work with a fine-tooth comb to ensure there isn’t something in there that goes against what your brand stands for.  If you can identify relevant influencers, this is a very effective online marketing tool.

The future is here

Never an industry to rest on its laurels, one PR practitioner wanted to know what the future holds for digital.  The answer was virtual reality but it’s seems it’s already here and being rolled out by organisations and brands in Northern Ireland to engage with consumers and of course, provide that all important useful information or enjoyable experience!

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