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Blinkbox realigns in-house comms teams to focus on shareable content

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By Jessica Davies, News Editor

March 26, 2013 | 5 min read

Tesco-owned Blinkbox is dropping traditional PR and social communications methods in favour of a more creative, story-led approach as it looks to distance its brand from rivals including Amazon’s Lovefilm and Netflix.

The service has restructured its content output, merging its in-house social, customer relationship management (CRM), editorial, and PR teams and appointing PR agency Taylor Herring to help it drive its new approach.

This will see it use topical news to underpin its content and communications output and create stories within its messages rather than centering on information about its products and services.

Blinkbox’s head of PR Ben Ayers told The Drum the move involves ditching traditional measurement methods for establishing social media value, such as number of followers or fans collected on social networks, in favour of metrics that focus on how well a certain piece of content has been engaged with.

It has also brought its paid social media in-house, using it to amplify activity where appropriate. It will focus spend initially on Facebook’s Sponsored Stories and Twitter’s Promoted Tweet formats but it is keen to ramp up its use of Vine too, according to Ayers.

“We have tested Vine and we think it has massive potential. We are operating in a very noisy environment in which there is so much information and people often want a quick hit. Vine is very simple and flexible and works perfectly for that. People are increasingly bombarded with content and if you can get something across in a punchy and visual way that’s pretty powerful,” he said.

Blinkbox is considering using Vine for promoting flash sales created to tie in with topical news.

It has thrown out the traditional PR model of spending big amounts of money and resource on one main PR "stunt" in favour of smaller creative initiatives that will have a longer burn and stronger viral potential, according to Ayers.

“In the past PR focus in general would often be on getting a lead page in a newspaper, whereas these days we are more interested in creating ideas that resonate in social media and then move on to mainstream media – so the other way around – really powerful resonance where the bubbling away happens over a few days.

“This is a very different approach to PR – we don’t want to bank everything on one hit. It’s about trying sparklers and fireworks and seeing which ones go off,” he said.

This approach involves having an editorial meeting every morning during which the teams discuss which topical news they can create content around in a way that fits with the brand’s tone of voice.

“We’ll be working with our agency to act more like a publisher, with a daily editorial conference and content planning. Taylor Herring will help power what we are calling our ‘story engine’ to generate shareable content and stories. We’ll continue to amplify communications with tactical social media advertising in house,” he said.

For example this week it created a piece of content based on the news that Ryan Gosling is to take a break from acting. Blinkbox released a piece of creative directing fans to the “Gosline”, a fake Ryan Gosling helpline in which callers could listen to a message from the actor taken from his film The Notebook.

Blinkbox tweeted: “To help console Ryan Gosling fans upset by the news he is taking a break from acting we’ve set up #TheGosline.”

“There is always some way that movies and TV can be connected with topical news. For example today it turns out there is a Gorilla on the loose in Dorset. We decided not to run with anything in the end but it is these kinds of fun, entertaining topics we can use,” he said.

Meanwhile it is also planning to develop a rewards scheme which will see it offer free Blinkbox credits to individuals who create brilliant and creative pieces of content. “it’s more of an acknowledgement and way of rewarding the creative community rather than and we want to develop that idea.”

The move is also aimed at driving service and brand differentiation in the fiercely competitive video-on-demand market in which Apple, Sky, Netflix and Amazon’s Lovefilm all operate.

Sky still dominates the subscription movie-on-demand rights window but Blinkbox is a pay-per-view (PPV) service rather than subscription service like Lovefilm or Netflix, therefore it can operate in the more flexible PPV movie rights window and gain more new releases as a result.

Ayers believes its content communications and marketing strategies should emulate the same sense of topicality and as its actual service. “We are about the latest movies without subscription so our comms has to reflect our proposition. The idea of having fairly pedestrian comms might belong more to the subscriptions services which have older content. iTunes, Sky, Lovefilm and Netflix – their comms is very functional and focused on price. What we are trying to do is get that emotional resonance and that creates a point of difference,” he said.

Blinkbox is also overhauling its eCRM system, creating a single customer view across its databases with the view to using the insight to help shape its future marketing and content strategies.

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