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The long-pending demise of the print industry due to the rise of the digital age seems to still be in the same state it was when it was first announced – pending.

It is undeniable that the decrease in advertising spend across board has resulted in there being ‘thinner’ versions of our most loved publications, which is an alarming and real indication of a shift that is occurring within the industry.

I believe that this is not the time for panic, but rather the beginning of a phase where adapting will ensure one’s ability to weather the change. One thing is undeniable, the rapid rate of change. This means shape shifting in an ever-evolving business of selling and managing the perception of brands.
In an era of blurring boundaries between traditional publishing, advertising and public relations, the most important thing that we as brand custodians should always be mindful of is the need to ensure we create memorable and compelling brand experiences for consumers. What will separate brands that stand the test of time over their counterparts is the ability to consistently deliver relevant, quality, relatable, trustworthy content.

Welcome to the era of humanised content. In the words of Michael Brenner, vice president of marketing and content strategy at SAP, which truly resonates with me: “The future of content is human. Emotional. Personal. Until now, most content marketers have been focused on utility and publishing practical value through things like presenting data in infographics, lists and ‘how to’ tips”. To differentiate themselves in future, successful brands will be those that tell stories that evoke strong emotions and make a connection with their audience.

Second to perception and reputation management, sharing ‘the brand story’ has increasingly become an underlying theme that we as industry practitioners should be on the lookout for in 2014. Our goal here, in addition to value adding content, is consistency.

The rise of the digital age has not at all eroded traditional content, but rather given content an extended life span. Brand message and content distributed via social networks serves an immediate audience, whereas print gives the same content longevity.

We certainly live in exciting times. Agility, adaptability, good storytelling and understanding audiences are the name of the game. Digital is a game changer but only if you know how to translate the trends and deliver relevance to your audience.

2014 is the year to make your brand story stand out from the pack.

Bulelwa Mtsali, Brand Director: Mikateko Media