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“Omnichannel communications and multimedia content are the path to the hearts of your audience”

Today, data has become vital for communication. A good communicator must have the potential to understand, capture and translate data into strategic actions. Although the industry veteran and emerging potential leaders have successfully implemented the same, some challenges have become unavoidable.

In a conversation with e4m, Valerie Pinto, CEO of Weber Shandwick, highlights the importance of data and virtual reality in communications.


Today, where every professional is inclined towards the virtual world, how important is it to have face-to-face relationships/communications with clients?

The future is a hybrid, from work to customer relations, everything has evolved into a balance between virtual and personal. It is the same balance that is the key to successful relationships with customers and partners.

Virtual interactions have exploded, triggered by the pandemic which has accelerated digitization. Facebook’s rebranding to Meta also shows the appeal of the metaverse, which seems to be an increasingly accepted medium. Far from being the prerogative of games and communication, virtual reality (VR) is also proving its worth in all areas. The future will certainly be evolved, which encompasses all of this.

That being said, the human quotient of a relationship cannot be overlooked or replaced by anything in the virtual world. Face-to-face meetings are not mere interactions, but a way to understand the nuances of how a business and its individuals operate and to decipher how that translates into better customer service. Such engagement is key to building trust between the customer and service teams, and the bond comes in handy on tough days.

After using the fusion of digital and traditional practices, how successful have agencies been?

I believe that omnichannel communications and multimedia content is the path to the heart of your audience. Modern customers prefer to interact and communicate through multiple channels and the advent of the pandemic has only heightened this need. People are now clamoring for convenience and want everything to be accessible in one go. A successful communication plan is about meeting your customers where they are in the customer journey.

At the pace the world is changing, it’s completely understandable that communications professionals must also seize the moment and the platform to ensure their message reaches their audience. While traditional media remains, tapping into new spaces is key to ensuring a successful strategy, aligning it to the perfect medium, and what Weber Shandwick calls creating “media choreography”.

With the idea of ​​building immersive campaigns, AR also occupies a central place in the communication strategy. The experiential element that AR adds to communication imprints the minds of consumers and leaves them with a lasting impression of a brand. As the potential of social media continues to expand and immersive technology becomes a trend of the present rather than the future. Proof of this is the work done for many of our clients in the recent past, where virtual reality has been the driving force for us.

What initiatives do you have in place to ensure and strengthen regional reach?

Think, act and react hyperlocal must be our motto right now. With growing consumption likely to come from the next generation in India, the focus should be on working on strategies that can connect the next billion. Our audience today is made up of digital natives who interact directly with brands. Influencers are their sources of inspiration and define their preference for brands. Therefore, as communicators, we will have to rethink our strategy and our awareness campaigns. We will have to think, act and react hyperlocally.

Regional media is also going digital and therefore creating connections that can enable this change will be key. These markets have seen a surge of hyperlocal and nano influencers who cut through the noise with their advocacy and authenticity. Their voice is targeted to local demographics and audiences. These influencers act as valuable information providers, which can have a direct impact on shopping habits, so a major method we have adopted would be to drive narratives through nano-influencers. Following up on these influencers, driving a strong content strategy, and activating engagement to increase brand awareness and connection is, in my opinion, key to breaking into regional audiences.

How have new tools like data mining and data management helped professionals mitigate data?

I feel like data has become part of communications exponentially. My main vision right now is to ensure that as communicators we have the ability to understand and absorb data and translate it into strategic action. But that’s not all. I think it’s crucial to communicate data properly, to bridge the gap between those who work with data and the hardcore communicators of the world like you and me who sometimes struggle to make sense of the vast expanse of data that is presented to us.

One thing we need to start doing is introducing data early in the planning process and learning how to get rid of confirmation bias. Go from descriptive to prescriptive, upstream to downstream with data as a planning tool. The intention is to use the data to predict future challenges. The key is to change the planning process and engage the data team early on to understand where the campaign should focus. Data can tell you who the audience is and where the intersection between business and culture is.

Finally, it is about using the available tools and making them serve the purpose. Using tools means looking at what causes positive sentiment and what causes negative sentiment – ​​understanding the extremes, then understanding what will bring out those feelings in the audience and curating your story accordingly.

As we deliver strong arguments backed by data and insights, leading Indian organizations are turning to Weber Shandwick to make a deeper impact. As customers’ business models and communication methods adapt to new realities, we are uniquely positioned to bring diverse talent, global knowledge and pioneering instincts to deliver industry-defining work.

How have PR agencies managed to expand their territorial reach in advertising and marketing?

In the past, while PR was an integral part of successful marketing and advertising, it was an isolated space. The present and the future are synonymous with integration and collaboration. Which makes PR not only a part of the space, but also closely related to the process of developing strategies and ideas.

A big part of being a communicator is also offering forward-looking ideas. It’s the merging of the three verticals that really brings a message to life.

This year has been an awakening for us to transform our approach to ensure successful communications which led us to say “we are the in-culture communication agency”. What does that mean?

That means we’re designed to help brands and businesses create courageous ideas that connect with people and shape culture. How do we do that? Using 4 practices that are our gospel:

cultural intelligence – Shaping culture and knowing when culture enters the storyline. Not to be spectators but engines of cultural conversations. The world has seen an archetypal shift that has upended the way brands look at and relate to culture. We realize that everyone is talking and thinking about culture right now – which is why we fervently believe – that communications in culture is the right approach to help customers navigate this moment.

Brave Ideas – Do the unconventional but the necessary. We are driven by courage and curiosity. Our goal is to build an inclusive business and instill a culture of collaboration and adaptation to new technologies and data insights.

Mastery of the platform – Knowing when and which platform is key to cracking and moving the narrative forward.

Flawless media choreography –Expand beyond the media and drive the narrative. From geopolitical advice, policy advocacy, social impact, investor communications and employee communications to CXO strategy, we have expanded our current solutions for clients beyond basic requirements.

The content in this section is curated by the Public Relations and Communications team. For any comments, please write to [email protected]

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