Telum webinar: Landing lifestyle coverage and brand building
Lifestyle brands and media have been hard hit by the lockdown measures introduced to combat COVID-19. Like many other sectors and publications, they have had to adapt to the new environment quickly. With restrictions easing in East Asia Telum Media hosted a webinar with four leading lifestyle journalists in the region and asked them how they are adapting to the ‘new normal’ and how communications professionals can best engage with them.
Our panellists were Tama Miyake Lung, Editor-in-Chief at AsiaSpa, Sally Victoria Benson, Founder / Editorial Director at Macau Lifestyle, Jon Wall, Chief Editor at Prestige Hong Kong and Jake Newby, Managing Editor at RADII.
Adapting to the new normal
AsiaSpa’s Tama said COVID-19 has forced them to delay their print issue until September. Instead her team has been uploading online-specific content every day onto their website. And with people diverting more attention to maintaining personal health and wellbeing, AsiaSpa has recently introduced a virtual wellness programme.
As the global luxury and hospitality market has been severely hit by the pandemic, Jon shared that Prestige Hong Kong is focusing more on covering local stories, particularly in the realms of fashion, beauty and cars. The magazine also recently launched wealth and property columns.
With travel restrictions still imposed by the Macau government and its border closed, online publication Macau Lifestyle has shifted its content strategy to support local businesses, such as sharing new operating hours for restaurants and hotels, the best staycation packages as well as information that promotes a remote and safe travel environment. Founder Sally Victoria Benson, who grew up in Macau, has taken the opportunity to focus more on historical and culture-related content, which was well received by international readers.
In Mainland China, Jake pointed out that live streaming has been growing in importance. “It was already a trend before the pandemic. But with people confined to their homes and staring at their devices, companies turn to live-streaming for revenue and to advertise themselves and sell tickets.” In addition, Shanghai-based Jake revealed that in Mainland China, there is also a renewed focus on spending quality time with family and taking short getaways and travels rather than celebratory breaks.
All four panellists shared valuable tips on how communicators can work with publications.
· Know your media. Sally and Jake stressed the importance of doing sufficient research on the type of stories the media outlet covers and its target audience before approaching with a bespoke pitch.
· Gauge people's mood. Tama advised that the PR's idea should address what people are concerned about right now, and that they angle their stories to suit those concerns. Jake added that, since not all countries have recovered from COVID-19, PRs should be conscious of tone and how it may come across to overseas audiences.
· Be upfront. Jake said that PRs should be as direct as possible. Name their client and what they want to do, and request to set up a call if it interests the journalist
· Product accessibility. Sally emphasised that before a PR asks a journalist to review a product or service, think about whether it is available or can be shipped to where the journalist is based, particularly given travel restrictions.
· Avoid sending in materials about virtual travel. Jon shared that people have begun to grow tired of virtual experiences over the past months and want to go back to "doing the real thing".
· Think before you invite. Under the current environment, tuning into an online event or press conference might be less demanding. However, Sally said, when inviting journalists to attend these web events, brands will still need to think why the journalist would want to join and how is it relevant to them.
How to make your message stand out
· Collaborate with local influencers. In an era when influencer and KOL culture continues to go from strength to strength, Sally recommended that brands should work with influencers in their region to promote their products and services.
· Incorporate videos. Sally shared that uses of audio-visual content helps support written content and drives visitation on websites; in particular, videos that are not overly edited get decent engagement.
· Power of social media. Jon recently appointed a new social media director to specifically lead video content being published on Prestige Hong Kong's channels, while Tama has also been focusing a lot on social media of late. Sally highlighted the use of live stories and posts on Instagram to attract views.
· Physical still trumps virtual. While the panellists concurred that virtual events and online launches do have their pros, Jon and Sally admit that a hands-on experience cannot be substituted and being in a physical place is essentially what people still look forward to.