The adidas Group, which encompasses both the adidas and Reebok brands, announced in March that it had year-long plans to create various “digital newsrooms” for its brands. The move is part of a long-term strategy to capitalise on hot trends and build on “moments of celebration and acknowledgement”.
adidas are not the only brand adopting this model. Rival brands Puma and Nike have both made similar moves, claiming that they wanted to “exploit sporting events”. But it does raise the question as to why brands, particularly within the sporting world, are leaning toward this tried and tested journalistic newsroom approach, as well as what traditional journalists can teach brands?
Possession is nine tenths of the law
Summer is an important time for adidas brand ambassadors. Last year, it was Andy Murray that was front and centre of the news cycle. This year, more than a billion people will be glued to the events in Brazil, where the likes of Steven Gerrard, Lionel Messi and Xavi will be generating the water cooler moments for an entire month.
adidas wants to own the stories that these worldwide superstars will create. It wants to capitalise on the action as it unfolds, be seen as pivotal to the successes of the players and remain in focus of the avid sports fans watching from pubs and living rooms around the world. When Andy Murray put an end to the long wait for a male British Wimbledon champion, adidas wanted to be there - and be there first.
Some might claim that this is simply PR, but a brand putting its own slant on a story is no different from a journalist building a narrative that is in keeping with the publication's political viewpoint. It is common place to see the same story represented in different ways; brands are merely embracing that.
What a lot of content
adidas is sponsoring eight of the 32 teams in the 2014 World Cup, not to mention the tournament itself, providing the match balls and supplying boots to many of the 736 players attending. With that much going on they certainly have a lot to be talking about.
Stories will be created across 12 cities, 32 training camps and an endless supply of media conferences; that provides adidas with a huge amount of content to wade through, prioritise and publish in an extremely small timeframe. In a situation like this, only a newsroom model has the capability to cope.
It is no easy task to filter the best stories, decide what news is worth telling, find the narrative within them and decide where that story is best received. However, the pay-off for a brand if they get this right is huge and provides an unparalleled opportunity to increase reach and engagement with the audiences that matter; it can result in coverage that money can't buy.
Speed is vital in real time marketing; it can be the difference between great content that hits the sweet spot of your audience, or content that 'misses the boat' completely.
If you want to be at the forefront of a story and have an audience recognise your contribution, being first is critical. If brands want to respond quickly and creatively to stories as they break, they need to be ready for the unexpected, they need to be agile and they need to be fast.
The gold standard for brands doing just this was set by Oreo after their ‘dunk in the dark’ tweet during the blackout at the 2013 Super Bowl, but other brands are succeeding. Virgin Holidays marked the passing of the same sex marriage bill with a very clever tweet, Paddy Power took a typically comedic approach to reflect the sentiments of countless Liverpool supporters, and NASA celebrated Oscar success of the movie Gravity.
As the name would suggest, real time marketing requires immediacy – this is the strategy modern newsrooms are built around. To be truly effective a content team needs to be 'switched on' for the events its audience care about, be ready to act and have the resource to spring into action when the biggest stories break.
Trust your 'Creatives'
It is universally agreed that the best content is that which demands the attention of its readers, evokes an emotion response and brings something new to the table.
Marketers regularly come up against hurdles that prevent them from producing fast, ground-breaking content. From slow sign-off procedures and legal compliance, through to over-zealous brand protection and a lack of resource, many creative content teams find themselves stifled, unable to publish content until it's too late. Brand newsrooms are a great option for alleviating a lot of these problems.
Brands are beginning to loosen the reigns when it comes to content marketing, trusting their newsrooms to produce content without the watchful eye of those higher up to double check everything that goes out. This is particularly important for bigger brands who have teams spread across territories and time zones. Newsrooms have been producing real time content for decades and as such have strong editorial experience and structures in place to guarantee that the content they produce is up to standard, delivered with authority and within brand guidelines.
There are elements of risk with this approach, but brand editors need to be empowered to make strong decisions. It's rare for content to be universally loved (the image above, projected onto a building facing the Leeds Arena after the Sports Personality of the Year Awards, drew a less than positive reaction from many Andy Murray supporters) but it overcame one of the major challenges that stands in the way of content marketers – other departments getting in the way and trying to have their say.
Want to know more? Get in touch to find out about our content approach.
As featured on: