Digital delivery: Reaching consumers in a crowded marketplace

May 11, 2009

Copyright © 2009 PRSA. All rights reserved.

The following article appears in the spring 2009 issue of The Strategist.

The Strategist caught up with CNN anchor Campbell Brown, “Today” co-anchor Meredith Vieira and founder Dany Levy at the 2009 Matrix Awards in New York City on April 27. (The awards are presented by New York Women in Communications.) Here, the three share their thoughts on the changing face of the media and how to stay relevant and best engage today’s on-the-go consumers.

Campbell Brown
What trends are you noticing in broadcast news?
One of the unfortunate trends has been the movement toward extreme partisanship.

How is the evolving world of social media affecting broadcast news?
It’s changing all of us in terms of how we communicate and connect with our audience. You have to have more flexibility and be willing to try new things. You have to be willing to engage in real conversation with the audience. There’s no more talking at people. It has to be a participatory strategy when we cover news and when we’re on the air.

Are tools such as Twitter the best way to engage consumers now?
You have to explore every way of engaging your audience. You can’t limit yourself. You have to be on the Internet. And you can’t say no to Twitter. Our business has changed forever and there’s no way to go back to what we were doing before — and who wants to? It brings more people to the table and they’re interested and engaged in news because of these new outlets.  And we should be taking advantage of it.
Meredith Vieira
How is social media impacting the delivery of news?
I am the worst one to ask because I am a dinosaur. I wouldn’t Twitter. It’s just not my thing. I know this is a dangerous thing to say because it’s the future  — and the digital world is only getting bigger.
As for young people, I don’t think my son who’s in college ever turns the TV on. He goes to the computer in the morning — and he’s involved in politics and current affairs. But that is his source of information. That’s definitely the trend.

How will citizen journalism change the future of reporting?
Everybody can now be the communicator. We can all be reporters on world experience. The only thing that sometimes makes me nervous is the information you’re getting — how accurate things are. When you [had] freelancers sending you pieces, there was no way to verify the material — and you don’t know how slanted it is. So, that’s the slippery slope to me. They may get stuff out fast, but you always have to be aware of its accuracy.

Dany Levy
How is e-mail still effective in today's evolving digital world?
E-mail is familiar and one-on-one. It’s a personal space — your e-mail inbox — and it fosters a more intimate relationship with the reader. Whereas social networking and Twittering are more public and like “show, show, show,” this is a quiet space — and it has your name on it.

Are people more prone to respond by word-of-mouth?
Definitely. Word-of-mouth is the most effective marketing tactic. We’ve actually never marketed Daily Candy and we’ve grown to 2.6 million subscriptions sheerly by word-of-mouth. And those subscribers who hear about it from a friend trust it more. There’s a more genuine relationship that they have with the brand.

So with all of the clutter on the Internet, this direct-mail tactic is able to maintain that personal touch?
Yes, because Daily Candy is an opt-in e-mail service. I’m more likely to read an e-mail that I asked to receive rather than from someone who’s just blanketing me with Cialis. [Laughs.]

Amy Jacques is the associate editor of The Strategist. E-mail:



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