How media marketers can navigate constant change

By Cathy Colliver

USA TODAY NETWORK

Louisville, Kentucky, USA

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As the pandemic and economic challenges continue with no real end in sight, figuring out how to continue marketing your organisation’s brand is, let’s say, a wee bit challenging.

What do you do when you don’t know what’s next?

We have moved beyond initial response and shifted to planning for the new normal or next normal. Yet we’re all acknowledging to ourselves that planning like this when it’s hard to predict what’s coming and when feels impossible.

This is a good time to remind ourselves that marketing is always evolving. We inherently know this.

Marketers today evolved and adapted throughout the digital revolution and the subsequent iterative evolutions. However, this change and uncertainty feels more pointed and confusing now.

Navigating the present moment is difficult for marketers, but staying on top of the latest trends and putting attention toward things you know need attention is important.
Navigating the present moment is difficult for marketers, but staying on top of the latest trends and putting attention toward things you know need attention is important.

What do you do when the world is turned upside down?

By now, most of us know people who have contracted COVID-19 and some of us know people who have died. A former co-worker of mine has been fighting for his life over the past month and is now fighting for his lungs to heal.

This brings home to all of us that we are not only temporarily shifting the way we do everything, we are doing everything in the middle of a crisis. It’s awful and horrible and makes normal things feel strange. Figuring out the best strategy to market to consumers or business clients in the middle of a worldwide pandemic may even feel meaningless at times.

Fellow INMA marketing blogger Andrea Rachbauer importantly reminds us as marketers to start with why. Your news media organisation’s why provides you with a purpose and focus. And that can feel very powerful and inspiring right now.

Your news media organisation is connecting your community to important, needed information through both news and business client advertising. News media marketers are helping connect people with the information they need. And that is very meaningful. However, that’s not our only challenge right now.

What do you do when change is constant?

It’s not only a lack of clarity about what’s next and feeling the pain of a pandemic. Right now, change feels constant and that can make it hard to decide what to do.

Understanding how things are changing, focusing in on key areas, and using tools to navigate change can help.

Stay on top of the ways things are shifting: Marketing trends amidst the pandemic seem to be shifting every month. How can you better understand those shifting trends?

Look to organisations casting a wide net in surveys and research to keep a pulse on these changes. McKinsey & Company have been examining COVID-19-related changes in business from a number of angles, including marketing.

Remember that what we already know needs attention: Other groups like Google are continuing to provide guidance and tips on those marketing evolutions.

Think With Google released The Marketer’s Playbook for Navigating Today’s Privacy Environment, covering changing privacy regulations and norms. The No. 1 tip? Work on direct relationships with your users.

This dovetails with advice from Marketing Professor Ann Handley on marketing during this pandemic. In May, Handley urged marketers to reach out to your community, deepen existing relationships, and focus on a combination of short-term actions and long-term leadership.

Navigating constant change needs a different approach: Trying to do business amidst constant change while also planning for the short-term and long-term is tricky.

If you haven’t considered agile marketing, now may be the time to try out some agile marketing projects. Agile Sherpas provides some great resources, including tools for both beginner and more advanced agile marketers.

There will be lasting changes to news media that come out of this pandemic. Exponential shifts to digital and virtual formats is likely only the beginning of those changes.

We don’t know what’s on the other side of this. However, we can continue to find purpose in our why, recognise shifting trends, pay attention to core customer relationships, and incorporate an agile marketing approach.

About Cathy Colliver

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