Next World Media

Next World Media Symposium is a title that drew me in.  The talents of UNC’s Advertising and branding faculty: John Sweeney, JoAnn Sciarrino and Gary Kaye, focused on the newest edge of media change.  No tired “new media” phrase, they put the focus on next world media.

Almost all the emphasis on media change focuses on the shrinking news business and the fact that advertising is down.  But the business of engaging audiences is completely changing—as is the news business.  The re-invention and re-imagining of advertising and strategic communication are breathtaking.

Reaching people may never have been as easy as it is in this digital age; but it’s also never been more challenging.

Last Friday, almost 200 UNC J school students gathered to hear from those leading and navigating the change.  These students are part of why there is such a revolution in how people are reaching out to audiences, but they came not as consumers but as the curious who want to shape and be art of the Next Media

Karen Albritton, president of Raleigh’s successful media agency Capstrat, talked about figuring out how to reach “cord never-ers “rather than cord cutters.  Many people may stop getting cable TV because they can access video without cable – “cord cutters” – but many young people are “cord never-ers .”  They simply have never paid a cable bill nor felt the need to do so.  They get what they want in other ways.  The challenge now is how to reach them.

And if Advertising is known as the commercial art that convinced people to buy what they didn’t need – it can’t survive in this Millennial culture age with that attitude.   “Truth is the brand proposition” argues Jonathan Salem Baskin, a consultant and Forbes’ contributor.   He points to Pew surveys indicating 50% of the public doesn’t believe anything in advertising. He says companies must stand for something – brands need truth behind their pitch.

The MadMan culture is gone.  Technology is king.  Well sort of.

AT&T’s Daryl Evans who controls more than a billion dollar advertising budget, emphasized great storytelling remains key and “the innovative part is where you put” the story.  Even a big brand like AT&T is on Vine and Instagram.

The highly creative and powerful team at Charlotte’s BooneOakley argue: “The more digital we have to become as professionals, the more human we need to be.”  Greg Johnson, the president and a preacher, and David Oakley the creative force behind the firm, captivated the audience with a message that emphasized the personal.   In today’s interactive world, advertising doesn’t sell the audience as much as engages them.  “We are conversation starters,” says Oakley .  The audience finishes the conversation on social media.

I left with a clear bottom line about tomorrow:  Advertising messages are about reaching people and touching values.  Just selling something doesn’t work anymore.


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