By Alex Malouf, Corporate Communications Director MEA at Schneider Electric
You don’t need me to tell you everything has changed. But are we ready as communicators for what comes next? The biggest transformation is happening right before our eyes. And it’s going to transform the industry.
Of course, I’m talking about media. The past couple of months have been devastating for media globally. Despite the fact that most of us are glued to the news, scouring for bright spots amid all of the darkness about those who are suffering, ad revenues have tanked as print media has struggled to get out editions and advertisers have cut budgets to the bone. Digital isn’t faring that much better – too few have been able to pivot quickly enough to be able to offer firms what they’re looking for right now, namely lead-generation services such as webinars and targeted database marketing.
The Middle East’s press is feeling this too. I’ve spoken with journalists who have been laid off, and I’ve seen LinkedIn posts from sales people who have been let go. For those who still have a job, publishers have cut back on working hours. As someone who spent years as a journalist, I have such respect for those in the trade; they work long hours, they’re dedicated to getting out the news, and they’re underpaid.
What also pains me is that there’s little many of us can do right now. Most companies are focused on the basics right now, and that includes cutting back costs to save money for operations, and investing money to help sales (and this basically means digital services).
We’ve got to be prepared for many media closures. How do we adapt, given that so many of the publications we work with, God forbid, won’t be around once we start to re-open and re-adjust?
The answer will effectively be about owned media. Smart communicators will have already started to move towards focusing more on both creating and hosting content. For example, we’re going to see more company-branded blogs, podcasts and videos (not all webinars, I hope). Communicators will move beyond social media to embrace longer-form content, and they’ll need to do it quickly too.
We’ll need to adapt to the changes with reskilling – we’ll need to be able to set up a WordPress site, understand how to edit audio and video, and record content remotely. We will also have to better understand the world of analytics, to better sense when content is working, how it is working, and what we need to do to tweak our work to improve our engagement with audiences that matter to us.
This will require us to rethink how we operate with fewer media outlets, and retraining will need to be primarily top-down (younger communicators are often more digitally-savvy than their superiors, which we all must acknowledge and address).
The one hope I have for many of my media friends is that they’ll find new roles as content creators in-house. It’s going to be an adjustment, but we need your writing, your videography, your editing and analytical skills. And for my colleagues in-house, are you ready for this change?