Emma Winchurch-Beale, international sales director, The Washington Post and president of the World Media Group shared her thoughts on the importance of awards and her industry insights.
This is your second year as president of the World Media Group (WMG) so what are your hopes and plans for the organisation over the next 12 months?
2018 is an important year for the WMG when we will be revealing news around some interesting changes for the group and some major milestones reached. However, what remains constant is our role as the champion of high quality and trusted journalism – with a back drop of fake news and the likely impact of GDPR on personal information access – it feels as though our remit is more important than ever. The WMG is a strong strategic alliance of the world’s leading international media brands and together we represent a strong quality environment for advertising in 2018.
This is also the third year of the World Media Awards our celebration of the best branded content work across multiple territories. As they become more established we are looking forward to seeing the number and quality of entries grow and, let’s face it, a great night at the Awards themselves on 22 March. Our greatest goal right now, though, is to encourage any agency or brand that has done great branded content to enter this year’s Awards – our entry deadline is coming up fast on Thursday 25 January.
We also will be running some great events this year, including ones addressing the issues of truth and transparency in the media.
Why did you decide to take on the role for a second term?
I accepted a second term as President to build on the successes of 2018 and to ensure continuity while we look to evolve the organisation to reflect the changing face of media. We have also appointed two deputies this year – Alexandra Delamain of the Economist and Stephen Murphy of National Geographic, who are already doing a great job of supporting the great work of the WWG.
What do you feel you have achieved in your first 12 months?
We produced 12 events including two highlights for me: a panel on fake news and a workshop on GDPR. We had fantastic speakers for both and the events were highly successful with record attendance plus our GDPR whitepaper had great take up. These are an essential element in what we do to support our industry and address the big issues facing it.
What are you most proud of and what was the toughest challenge?
I am proud that we are always ahead of the curve. As I mentioned, we started the year with a panel on the topic of fake news long before it became a major theme for many others. We are constantly looking forward to see what is likely to be the next thing to impact the media industry and see how we can help support the sector as it navigates change.
The World Media Awards for content are the pinnacle of the year and a huge amount of work goes into running the Awards but it is fantastic to both celebrate the best content-driven advertising from around the world and also to help benchmark what the best looks like too.
Why are awards important for the industry?
Awards are important to the industry and they celebrate the successes. They bring together agencies, clients and publishers and provide a platform to share great work. All industries have awards and awards that recognise great brand content work are like the Oscars of the media business.
What can awards do internally and externally for companies that win them?
Awards enable marketing teams to present their work to other key stake holders within their company, often helping to secure budgets for the following year. Awards offer the opportunity to showcase different parts and teams across brands, clients and agencies.
What type of work should the judges be seeing?
Work that helps solve a genuine business problem through a unique creative hook, smart insight and deep audience understanding – all whilst proving a demonstrable shift in the KPIs set by the client.
How do media owners take back control of content, or at least still exert some sort of influence over it in the next 12 months?
Media owners don’t have a monopoly on creating content. They must compete with every creative enterprise out there from independent creative shops to social platforms and in-house brand studios.
What media owners must leverage is their deep understanding of what makes their audiences tick, their behavior and the type of content that engages them and then use that knowledge to create commercial content that will resonate for the same reasons.
Content is at its very best when the quality of the output matches the editorial platform and the audience that editorial is aimed at.
When that output is married with the scale, resources, technology innovations, data targeting expertise and reach that media owners provide, it’s a very powerful combination for brands.
What are your predictions for the content sector in 2018?
The sector will continue to grow at a rapid pace in 2018 and as such the competition for clients’ business will grow in turn – clients will demand bigger and better ideas that can cut through and really engage their target audiences. The sector will need to step up to that challenge and push the boundaries of what is possible.
As the sector continues to evolve we’ll see better ways of measuring the impact of content campaigns, and the need for technology promoting and amplifying the messaging. Providing enhanced metrics and tracking will truly measure the success of the work and the uplift it can deliver for brands.
We’ll also likely see an increase in the number of much bigger, multi-year content partnerships that leverage the entire suite of channels, platforms and business opportunities that multinational media owners can provide.
How has the content offering at the Washington Post evolved over time and how significant has it been having a disruptive digital guru at the helm?
Amplification of the content is as equally important as the creation of the content. It is important to ensure that the great content created is seen and engagement rates are an important KPI.
Jeff Bezos has allowed for an investment in technology at The Washington Post and the innovation that has taken place ensures that speed of delivery and relevant editorial context are at the forefront. With ad tech solutions such as Clavis (contextual targeting technology) built into our content programs we provide both great ideas and great delivery of those ideas.