Writes: Nataša Blagojević
Another successful #StartDialog online panel is behind us, and 45 minutes flew by with interesting speakers and a discussion that was once again moderated by Marina Čulić Fischer.
In the second panel on "Media and PR - love in the age of the coronavirus" we talked about changes in the media scene, communication challenges and change of consumers focus. Our panelists were Irena Kurtanjek (Head of Corporate Communications at Nestlé Adriatic for Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina), Krešimir Macan (director and owner of the Manjgura agency), Ana Tkalac Verčič (president of the Croatian Public Relations Association) and Boris Trupčević (director and member of the Management Board of 24sata - Styria Media Group).
In the introduction part, the panelists agreed that with the emergence of the coronavirus and safety measures, all actors in the communications industry, the media, advertisers and communicators, found themselves in equal trouble. However, in this uncertain situation, everyone had a common goal - to adapt to the "new normal" as soon as possible, in which mutual understanding and cooperation were crucial.
While the media and advertisers largely felt the negative consequences of the crisis, Ana Tkalac Verčič pointed out that for communication experts this was a time to strengthen their positions and confirm the importance of good communication in uncertain conditions. Boris Trupčević added that it was in such conditions that the strength of the media was shown through their reach and the increase in the media content consumption. He emphasized that the responsibility of the media for accurately informing the public and shaping public opinion has become even greater.
At the same time, it was challenging to balance the transmission of information on the one hand, and research and questioning of information placed in the public , as the basic postulate of journalism, on the other hand.
Almost all platforms recorded an increase in consumption, which was logical and expected in the given circumstances. Consumption of informative and entertaining content grew. Although TV seemed to be the biggest winner, the panelists agreed that the increase in content consumption on digital platforms was more significant because a large number of people formed completely new habits and the crisis positively contributed to a kind of accelerated digitalization of society. Irena Kurtanjek pointed out that precisely because of the enhanced communication on digital channels, it is an even greater challenge to place creative and purposeful content, and that it is in this segment that the media and PR people can make progress in cooperation.
Corporate social responsibility has proven to be a good example of content in times of crisis. In addition to news about generous donations and help to the community, messages related to consumer safety, employee care and responsibility towards suppliers and partners have received significant space in various media. Krešimir Macan pointed out that large retail chains reacted well and were among the first to communicate, which also had a further positive effect in the form of consumers thanking and supporting employees of these chains and also understanding the current situation and responsible behavior in general. On the part of the media, he especially emphasized the importance of success stories in Croatia as an example of positive content that should be placed more often, not only in times of crisis.
Although most consumers believe that despite the crisis, advertisers should continue to advertise and communicate appropriately and help communities, panelists agreed that this has not quite taken root in practice as advertising budgets have largely been cut. Moreover, the market in Croatia has not yet recover from the last great crisis and lags significantly behind more developed European markets.
Boris stated that cutting the budget in the communication segment is understandable as a current reflex, but that in the long run it is completely counterproductive.
Consumers on all sides expect signals of a normal life, if this is not the case, consumption will be reduced and an unfavorable atmosphere will be created, which will ultimately contribute to the prolongation of the crisis. In the context of media, solidarity and care for the local community, he called on advertisers to focus their budgets primarily on the media operating in Croatia, not diminishing the importance of large global digital platforms, but highlighting major problems in misinformation and flooding of false information. .
In the relationship between the media and PR people, as in any other relationship, mutual understanding is fundamental. Boris emphasized that what the media offers is essentially a transfer of the trust they have in their audience to someone who communicates through their media. In this context, the most important thing is to give the media freedom in shaping the content and to understand the extent to which the media can change their formats without compromising the trust of their audience.
Krešimir said that there is a lot of room for improvement in the profession because it is insufficiently integrated into the public sector, and thus communication with the media will be better. At the very end, Ana expressed hope for a strengthening the public relations profession, and Irena pointed out that it remains to be seen how communicators and the media will cope in circumstances when there is less social contact and how they will build good relations and partnerships.
Although we are in a very dynamic period in which the media, advertisers and communicators are going through numerous changes and challenges, the common conclusion is that mutual understanding, adoption of new tools and adaptation will be crucial for successfully overcoming the crisis.
You can watch and listen to the entire discussion on the Dialog YouTube channel, and to find out what will be discussed in the next #StartDialog panel, subscribe to the Dialog newsletter via https://bit.ly/Dialog_newsletter.