Webby Winners but What Did We Learn?

My philosophy has always been its always good to push yourself out of your comfort zone and try something new. Well this week, together with my super talented colleague Sofia Juhlin,  I did just that … a red carpet walk in New York City as a winner at the Webby Awards 2017.

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Described by the New York Times as “The Internet’s Highest Honour” thanks to the unlimited creative powers of our partners at Edelman Deportivo and the ability and drive of our awesome marketing team at Mynewsdesk who are always pushing boundaries and testing new things our 100 million / Give a Beep campaign for our client Hövding was awarded Best Community Building and Social Engagement campaign on the Internet in 2017.

Here’s a reminder of what put us ahead of the other 13,000 entries who tried to win a webby.

 

There were lots of lesson’s learned from a star studded few days hanging out with internet celebrities, social change makers and the media and agency elite of the US in a political and technological era that has us all asking … What will happen next? Whilst I don’t have the answer to that question here are my top 3 takeaways from the Webbys 2017.

Culture is the Currency of Modern Communication

Any successful marketer needs to always answer the question,

“Is my brand, company and product relevant in the world in which we find ourselves today and will it still be tomorrow?”

For most of us with any sense self awareness the answer is always a little uncomfortable with both positive and negative ways of looking at the situation. One of the answers to your relevance is to be found in popular culture.

As with all strategic thinking the most important question to ask is … what has changed? This could be centred in political, economic, social, environmental and other movements that without you knowing it will impact your company, brand and product.

In our “Give a Beep” camapaign we addressed the cultural trends of urbanisation, the rise of the cycling movement, the importance of a partnership between cyclists and their local politicians to change the status quo and the way innovative technology could impact on creating a lasting change. By partnering with the London Cycling campaign we actively involved our target group in the entire process which lent a unique legitimacy to the entire campaign.

By combining this with the innovative technology of a connected device on peoples bikes, reinventing a digital bike bell, we created an emerging data visualisation of activity which was able to bring this story to life.

It is this very intersection of popular culture and technology which I believe is the currency of modern communication.

Inspire and Spark Positive Change

We are lucky. At Mynewsdesk the core purpose of our business is,

“to release the full power of stories to inspire and spark positive change,”

and that’s exactly what we did with the “Give a Beep” campaign. Not all businesses are so focused on this. They choose to focus their communications on their products, their innovation in the market or their stellar financial performance. In a world of decreasing attention spans and commoditised products this way of marketing is not sustainable and will not be successful going forward. What differentiates you from the competition will not be a new feature or tantalising pricing offer. It must be so much more.

Every company and product, if they really take a look at their place in the world and their reason for being can find a way they are creating some form of positive change. It’s pleasing to see many of our fellow award winners at the Webby’s were taking a similar approach with their communications and campaigns.

As a father of two young girls who I am bringing up to believe anything is possible to be honoured alongside the organisers of the Womens March on Washington was a very special moment.

 

Brand Safety will be bigger than Fake News

As you can imagine in this era of political confusion and division the subject of “Fake News” was high up on the list of talking points amongst the media and marketing elite at the Webbys.

To me, of course this is an issue that is important but if you get beyond the hype and partisan viewpoints the issue that we will need to address long term as marketers is not what dodgy news site may cover our stories or who is hacking the algorithms that now provide our news but more around the long-term trust of our brand, our product and our people.

With Google and Facebook taking upto 90% of all digital advertising growth and programmatic advertising promising big things but so far only delivering a huge debate from the media and marketing super powers on the subject of definitions of view-ability and engagement the future direction of travel of the digital marketing industry is a little unclear at present.

Wherever we end up on the measurement debate, the question all brand marketers need  we need to ask is,

“How do I know my brands messages are appearing alongside content which maintains and builds trust in my brand as opposed to damaging it?”

I do not have a solid answer to this increasing challenge but one route is to ensure you are being more effective in the areas that you can control like your owned and earned media channels.

Becoming a direct and trustworthy source of information about the changes opportunities and pains that face your industry is a good starting point.

So thats my take on winning a Webby in 2017. It’s hard to sum up such a great experience so I will not try. Instead I will leave you with the words of  Webby Executive Director David-Michel Davies who I though spoke for most of the people in the room and all those watching on the internet when he concluded.

“This wasn’t the worst year for the Internet, it was the best. This was the year we looked up and realized what really matters … This was the year we realized that the values we, as an Internet community, really care about — our environment, inclusion, science, actual facts, truth, liberal democracy — can be stolen from us if we aren’t paying attention.”

 

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