Media consciousness. About ERGO Hestia’s corporate newsletters
Good quality communication is not the one that uses the most fashionable tools. Good communication is that which effectively communicates our content to those who are interested in it.
Will the internet kill the television? Will traditional media be replaced by social media? Will e-books displace printed books? Will audiobooks make us stop reading altogether? We ask ourselves these questions in the context of every technological innovation that enables new ways of consuming content. The answer is always the same: no. We have never printed more books than we do now. We have never had access to more radio or television stations, and the newspaper shelves have never been so laden with titles that cover a wide variety of topics – from the general lifestyle to the most specialised and industry-specific. New forms of communication are forcing – or perhaps provoking – an evolution in our viewing habits, but they do not cancel out their essence. The smartphone gives access to the whole spectrum of communication tools, entertainment, knowledge, information, but it responds to the same need that accompanied the invention of the telephone by Edison back in the 19th century. The e-book didn’t kill print, but it does make moving a little lighter.
The “attention deficit” caused by the expansion of social media, which is still widely discussed today, not only in communication circles, is a real and significant phenomenon. Just a few years ago, the key was to keep the target audience’s attention on the message for the first five seconds. Today, the battle is already fought for the first second. But this growing deficit doesn’t even explain the popularity of many hours-long video essays, a format that has been hugely popular on YouTube for some time. The dominance of ephemeral content (short, disappearing forms like stories on Instagram or Facebook accounts), which has become the ‘smoking gun’ proof of declining attention spans, goes hand in hand with the expansion of long and engaging podcasts (engaging, yet enabling multitasking – podcasts are most often listened to while we drive, jog or do housework).
Our attention (or ‘attentiveness’) still exists – despite the acceleration, despite the gigabytes of information we take in. The question of how to maintain this attention is in its essence a question of content and the tool required in order to do so. The classic of modern advertising – David Ogilvy – wrote back in the 1980s: “the target audience of your advertising is not the same fixed group of people all the time, but a group of people who are constantly changing”. (David Ogilvy, “On Advertising”, Studio EMKA Publishing, 2013). In terms of marketing content, nothing has changed, but one of the basic tasks of communication today is to build a permanent target audience – engaged and emotionally connected to the brand. What content to provide them with? Through which channels?
A contemporary brand cannot just be a vehicle for marketing content (just as a social media profile cannot just be an advertising post). It must become a guide to a world of shared values and interests. The electronic format can be as good a tool here as print.
“Strefa Dilera”[Dealer Zone] is a magazine published by the Sopot Insurance Company ERGO Hestia. It has been published without a break, for over a decade. Always in print form. Where has this decision come from? The magazine is a response to a specific need: the development of tools for direct communication between the insurance salesman and the broker. In this industry, face-to-face contact is essential, as trust and a sense of security are fundamental. And these are built in a relationship not with an abstract brand hidden behind even the most technologically advanced graphic identity – they are built in a personal relationship with a representative. The magazine is an enrichment of this contact with the wider context of company values, resting precisely on the concept of community of interest. Therefore, the Dealer Package Office is responsible for the editing of the magazine. And that is why the Office team is present in the warehouse at all times.
One will not find marketing content there. Subsequent editions are organised around broader themes, relevant to the industry but topical and cross-cutting, set against a background of trends going beyond the business context. In the face of dynamic generational changes in the car sales market, “Strefa Dilera” devoted its entire issue to millenials – from the point of view of their market potential, but also by taking a closer look at their habits, the communication channels they use or the new forms of online presence of the Y generation. Shifts in the luxury goods market were examined, looking at how our understanding of the concept of ‘luxury’ is evolving in a changing reality. And it began to change even before the pandemic, in the face of a crisis that, while topical, has receded into the background: the climate crisis.
The main focus of the current edition of the magazine is change. Also – and perhaps above all – in the context of these changes that 2020 has forced upon the industry. But we will not find there any information about the changes in ERGO Hestia’s offer. The Dealer Packages Team observes the shifting habits in the premium brand market, predicts the future of coworking as a form of work organisation in the face of a pandemic, analyses new trends in the design of logos and graphic identification, and finally looks at new technologies that are changing the way claims are handled. And since it’s not only cars that the Dealer Package Office deals with, you’ll also find extensive material on the latest trends in sailing and windsurfing. Sopot is about commitment.
The magazine goes out to car dealerships and insurance salesmen. It has its place in service- and sales waiting areas. Because the key factor for its effectiveness is time, a category which on the Internet has shrunk to the already mentioned one second. The time spent in the showroom, the time before meeting the customer… “Strefa Dilera” fills this time with values, fascination, inspiration and – above all – the practical knowledge of the editorial team.
Spacerownik Artystyczny [The Walkabout Art Guide]
Print is not the only strategy for delivering selected, personalised, comprehensive content to regular audiences. There is also a place for this on the web. The renaissance of newsletters, which only five years ago were treated as relics of a past dating back almost to the times of internet forums, is the best proof of this, and “Spacerownik Artystyczny” – an online magazine published by the “Fundacja Artystyczna Podróż Hestii” [ArtisticTravel Hestia Foundation] – is the best example of the above. By the way, internet forums were also written off prematurely; they were revived in the form of Facebook groups some time ago.
“Artistic Spacerownik” is also an interesting case of how well-designed internal communication of a corporation can become an effective tool for external image communication. “Spacerownik” was created for the employees of the Sopot insurance company. It was to provide the leader of corporate art branding with up-to-date information on who-is-who and what-is-what in the world of contemporary art, to select the most interesting exhibitions and events from Poland and around the world, and also to provide a cross-sectional and factual summary of the APH Foundation’s activities. That is why in “Spacerownik”, alongside new, worth-seeing exhibitions or projects, you will find factual articles and materials presenting the profiles of the finalists of the “Artystyczna Podróż Hestii” [Hestia Artistic Journey] Competition. In addition to material on collections or the most interesting projects carried out by international institutions – it includes a selection of current topics recommended by the APH Foundation team.
What was created for internal communication has become an important company image tool. Available free of charge on the Internet, the magazine quickly gained readers from outside the corporation and is now read not only in the ERGO Hestia branches, but also – or perhaps above all – by art enthusiasts all over Poland. Why? First of all, today it is possible to drown in the flood of information on any subject, which is why we are increasingly looking for information selected by a trusted source. Secondly: although the magazine is extensive, it presents the material in a compact and convenient format. It does not bore one with curatorial texts, instead it provides information, gives references and links, brings out curiosities and anecdotes that would be easy to miss otherwise.
Trust and shared values do not go out of fashion and do not lose their worth. “Spacerownik Artystyczny” has been published in the same form (albeit with a different formula) for seven years. More than 70 editions (including special Christmas editions) have been published since 2014. Still – despite the online availability – each edition is sent to ERGO staff as a guide to the art world. It is still available free of charge to anyone who is interested to know, what is worth seeing. Even if recently the viewing has also moved online.
Communication channels are not dying with the migration of teenagers to a new social platform. TikTok won’t eat us, rather it will eventually be eaten itself by a platform better suited to the needs of the next generation, who will have a similar goal: to have a channel where there are no parents. In communication, the key is to follow your target audience (customer, fan, etc.) and to wonder “if it’s appropriate” for a politician, brand or institution to be present on a particular platform is pointless. The Uffizi Gallery in Florence proved that one of Europe’s oldest museums can operate successfully on TikTok, and Barack Obama showed that factual and rational communication on Twitter is possible. But in addition to following the target audience, it is equally crucial to be constantly present there, where the audience expects us to be and where it awaits us. You have to think about your own communication tools for years ahead, not just for a season.
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