At ICS we work across more than 50 countries and 100 languages and are always expanding into new territories and sectors. As part of the Digital Partnerships Team, this international outlook shapes my role in a huge way.
In this blog post, I will talk about how FlexHub helps us build relationships with publishers all over the world and help our clients acquire editorial placements, media coverage and links.
FlexHub is our community of digital specialists bringing together hundreds of people across different countries, languages and skills, helping us to deliver on our client’s priorities as well as helping FlexHub members grow and develop.
If you want to know more about FlexHub and check out our current opportunities, have a look at our launch blog, or read on here to get the Digital Partnerships Team’s view on why it is more important than ever to have local knowledge when your goal is to build meaningful marketing relationships.
As Digital Partnerships Manager at ICS-digital, I am responsible for our team of Digital Partnership Assistants who work within FlexHub to build relationships with publishers small and large all across the world.
This requires a level of confidence as well as the requisite knowledge to identify and be able to build those media relations
I also have several years of expertise in building relationships in the DACH as well as the UK market.
Drawing on the experience of both myself and the wider team at ICS, we have built a highly skilled partnerships team within FlexHub that is intrinsically aware of cultural nuances and has expert knowledge across a diverse range of markets such as Japan, Spain, Italy, France and the Netherlands, to name but a few.
Of course, you can try and build media relationships without local expertise - and there are a lot of tools that can help you with that. AI language, writing and translation tools are widely available and evolving constantly.
However, whilst it is important to have an awareness of these tools and explore how they can help you, they can not replace local expertise and personal, human insights. This was the key message from the expert panel we held as part of Leeds Digital Festival last month - ‘Careers and Campaigns in the Age of AI: The Importance of Human Expertise’. As our Head of Content, Matt Chappell, noted:
These tools are just that: tools.
They (currently!) require a thoughtful human to prompt them to do something useful.
Their output then, again, needs that human to understand whether the output is useful, and how much it needs tailoring to the end use.
When using these tools, we need to draw on our experiences both in life and in the industry. We need to think about what makes something effective and what would resonate with the intended audience.
Don’t shy from creating things yourself, thinking about who you’re creating for and what they really want and need.
Think about what you’re saying, and how it can be different from the current conversation - not necessarily in a contrarian way but more to display a difference. How are you adding to the conversation?
Without thoughtful application, human quality assurance and critical thought around the output, you’re going to fall short of a great final product if you expect these tools to do the job for you.
For example, an AI tool might be able to write me an email reaching out to a publisher to enquire about a potential collaboration, but will not be able to strike a meaningful conversation by referring to a specific piece of content relevant to our clients for instance. Context and personalisation are key.
However, it’s local expertise that can really elevate the conversation, particularly once a publisher has engaged with your initial communication.
As someone who has built a lot of relationships with publishers across the DACH region and the UK, my approach is very different depending on who I am talking to.
For example, if I am talking to someone running a football blog in the UK, I am likely to be more casual off the bat and maybe refer to a recent match of their team. This helps build rapport and establish common ground.
In comparison, it’s likely a more nuanced approach would be required for publishers in Germany. While an informal approach would work for some, being overly friendly may be perceived as insincere by others, so it is important to strike the right balance.
I am also likely to approach someone working for a local newspaper in rural Bavaria very differently to someone working for a publisher in Berlin that mostly targets young adults. The former would probably require a more formal approach, whereas the latter is much more likely to be interested in building a working relationship based on a casual conversation.
These differences might seem subtle, but this tailored approach has helped us build numerous media relationships and successfully deliver for our clients.
As a company with a lot of experience working with clients in highly regulated markets, having local knowledge across so many different countries also helps us to avoid any publishers that might be hosting unsuitable content, and prioritise publishers who are aligned with the requirements of our clients.
We’re proud of the strong team we’ve built over the years and the wealth of experience within our Digital Partnerships Team.
This growth shows no signs of slowing down - the launch of FlexHub will allow us to continue adding to our team with some of the very best experts from all over the world.
If you would like to join our vibrant and diverse team, take a look at our careers page for current opportunities. Or, if you would like to chat to us about how we can propel your brand on a global scale then contact us today.