News & Opinion

Shift North 2018: a view from the floor

Shift North 2018 was a morning filled with optimism around the future of news and print but also our future in general, writes Helen Poveda, planning and insight manager at Wavemaker North. 

Vanessa Clifford kicked off with how the "Redemption through Reading" scheme used books to broaden the perspectives of Brazilian prisoners.

Lorna Hawtin talked about the link between optimism and creativity, a particular challenge in uncertain times. However, research shows that in our personal lives, where we exercise more control, we harbour a much more optimistic view. Advertisers should be braver in their creative and allow the audience more autonomy in their understanding. And don't worry if you're naturally a Neggy Noo like me; optimism is merely a muscle that needs to be flexed!

Another theme was around the application of science to storytelling, be this applying behavioural science to marketing, utilising data and AI alongside creativity and human subjectivity, or merging the practical with the inspirational.

According to behavioural science, context, Richard Shotton explained, is twice as powerful as the content itself. We need to move away from our obsession with audience micro-targeting and look more closely at the environments in which the content appears, whether this be within a trusted news source or delivered at a time when the audience is more receptive.

Dr James Carney sought a way to marry human storytelling with AI. Both represent methods of data reduction for efficient consumption but, whilst storytelling fuels inaccuracy via human subjectivity, AI cannot go beyond the data, therefore independently neither can tell a true tale. 

Cue Thomas Rees-Evans who revealed how Halfords combined inspirational content with practical means to achieve it in their 'Gear up for Summer' campaign.

And what for the future? Jo Elvin defined print journalism as the "jewel in the crown" that makes everything around it possible. It holds its relevance and longevity through a reader-first approach as opposed to "naval-gazing influencers" as well as the credibility of experienced journalists who know their audience, and when and how to tell them a story.

A sentiment that was echoed in Laura Russell's pitch for the future of news. Laura envisaged a return to expert journalism: "The lighthouse effect", positioning print as the guiding light of the industry.

Emma Slater then brought the morning to a fiery end with her prediction around the importance of a brand voice. By using a simple narrative that landed the point with clarity and vigour, she won the crowd and subsequent vote. A reminder that simplicity in storytelling can often be the most effective.

by Helen Poveda 08/11/18

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