#PRAwards 2021 highlight: How IMDA's Singapore Media Festival drew positive response from PR blitz

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) bagged bronze for Best PR Campaign: Government/Public Services at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's PR Awards 2021 for it success in building brand awareness for the Singapore Media Festival (SMF). Despite being hit by COVID-19, IMDA managed to pivot quickly and came up with a campaign together with Tate Anzur and Wunderman Thompson, which managed PR and creative and social media duties respectively.

Challenge

SMF is one of the renowned international media events in Asia hosted by the IMDA where the industry meets to discover trends, talents and content in Asia for film, TV and digital media. Since 2014, SMF has brought together the Asian Academy Creative Awards, Asia TV Forum & Market and ScreenSingapore, and Singapore International Film Festival among other associate events.

SMF, therefore, faced the challenge of continuously building the brand that Singapore is the gateway to the region’s vibrant media market and talent. According to IMDA, interest in strong storytelling from film, television to games is now higher than ever with the exponential growth in demand for content. As such, this was a good time for Singapore and IMDA to leverage and to encourage its media ecosystem to grow and strengthen its position as a media hub.

There was in-depth consideration on the potential challenges in hosting SMF in 2020 with travel and physical restrictions. That said, the ability to host SMF is still beneficial as it positions Singapore as a hub for deal-making and as a gateway to Southeast Asia; facilitates financing opportunities for Singapore and media companies; allows for collaborations between local and international companies including capability building; and offers a platform to showcase Made with Singapore content and talent.

The decision was to organise the seventh edition of SMF as the prospects of a hybrid SMF offered it the ability to broaden reach beyond Singapore, the opportunity for greater audience interactivity, and a positive signal that the authority is committed to supporting the media industry amidst the challenging climate.

Partners were challenged to reimagine alternative modes of event formats that will meet their requirements where AAA and ATF|SS opted for a virtual format while SGIFF adopted a hybrid format - virtual and physical film screenings. The campaign duration was also set for October to December last year and targeted media industry players in Singapore, region and international, and the general public.

According to IMDA, the campaign objectives was to raise awareness and create buzz around the festival’s line-up, highlight its relevance to the public, establish Singapore as the keystone in connecting regional players from the media and technology spheres, and position SMF as a valuable platform that supports the growth of content and talents within Asia’s media ecosystem during this challenging time.

Strategy

IMDA's main strategy was to bring together a strong and diverse selection of media events to reflect the range and vibrancy of the media ecosystem and branding them under a common, established one-stop festival, with a common narrative reiterated across all touchpoints and partners. The authority also planned for an integrated campaign encompassing PR, marketing, and social media touchpoints to maximise the reach to current, new, and unique audiences.

It was important to highlight the festival's role as a regional marketplace, IMDA said. Each year, SMF has established itself as Asia’s pre-eminent media marketplace and will continue to play a key role in opening new doors for businesses in gaining access to the region’s vibrant media market and talent.

IMDA was also keen to reinforce SMF's role through industry initiatives. Media-related announcements by IMDA and Minister for Communications and Information were made to shed light on efforts to prop up the industry. New partnerships and strategic directions were also timely opportunities to reiterate SMF’s role in spearheading the future of Asian content and talent.

At the same time, IMDA also had to find the right moments to establish thought leadership. According to IMDA, audiences and stakeholders in the industry are looking for guidance to adapt to the changes in the media industry, especially in this uncertain climate. IMDA said this was a good opportunity to profile and establish thought leadership through media moments to contribute to this conversation and sharing of insights into how the industry can move forward.

Key messages were also developed to capture the essence of SMF so as to cascade a consistent messaging to elements of marketing and social media plans.

To spread the word, IMDA tapped on media channels including local and regional mainstream media, local and international trade and film media, and lifestyle media. According to IMDA, these channels have been supportive and interested in SMF and are important relationships to maintain and cultivate.

For social media, the team sought to deliver value for its audience through the proposition of being the catalyst to connect across media industries in Asia amidst adversities through “Asian Storytelling, Reimagined”. The adopted approach has three pillars to engage with audiences.

IMDA created a thematic tagline and key visual to address the current challenging climate while having continuity from previous editions. The dark portions of the visual represent the adversity humans face. However, even in the face of this, humans' greatest potential still lights up and this light radiates as a beacon that is empowered with creativity, knowledge, innovation and hope. The key visual also puts the spotlight on profiles or personalities in the media industry and SMF. At the same time, the tagline also mentions Asia, which is a continuation of the "Asia is Now" theme from previous editions. The Singapore media industry and SMF "reimagined" because of COVID-19 and advances in tech.

Execution

PR, marketing, and social media efforts were activated over a period of two months.

1. Media efforts

In previous editions, journalist visit programmes invited overseas journalists to Singapore in an effort to cultivate face-to-face relations with key regional and international media. This was part of the overall strategy to generate publicity and raise awareness for SMF.

However, as IMDA was unable to host international media physically due to the travel restrictions, it pivoted its strategy to focus on strong one-on-one touchpoints instead. The PR team reached out to key Southeast Asia and international trade publications to gauge interest and provided a heads-up on SMF 2020’s offerings. Once interest was secured, they were invited to participate and cover SMF off-site by granting access to virtual events and virtual interviews with spokespersons.

2. Marketing efforts

IMDA's focused effort for marketing was planned across targeted channels for channelled reach. Out-of-home marketing was reduced to one channel in cinemas to tie-up with SGIFF. That said, the majority of efforts were concentrated on digital and international trade publications. Digital efforts were broad-based to reach out to varied target audiences, while reputable trade publications were selected for advertorial or advertisement placement for their reach and readership.

3. Social media efforts

IMDA developed a broad-based social media effort across owned, partner, and key opinion leaders' Facebook and Instagram platforms to engage new and existing audience for a wider reach.

Results

The wide international coverage and positive comments from international media, despite the lack of physical interaction, reiterated that IMDA's strong media strategy had successfully taken SMF beyond Singapore, and established Singapore and IMDA’s role in growing SMF as a valuable platform in supporting the growth of content and talents within Asia’s media ecosystem.

IMDA witnessed a growth in the overall reach of its marketing efforts, with an encouraging increase in fan base across platforms. The eDMs summarising key SMF highlights directly emailed to its audience database have unique opens performing above average which indicated that people were interested to read IMDA's collaterals.

Meanwhile, IMDA also said the overall engagement rates with its social channel posts exceeding the government benchmark. The long-form content articles, The Scoop and IMPact, also attracted good readership.