'Visuals to dominate over text' in the wake of Kony 2012

The PR industry will have to change its focus away from text to visuals as the media landscape changes, says a senior figure in digital comms.

Switch of focus: GolinHarris' Neil Henderson (left) and Edelman's Marshall Manson
Switch of focus: GolinHarris' Neil Henderson (left) and Edelman's Marshall Manson

In the wake of the huge success, and subsequent fallout, of the Kony 2012 online campaign, the PRWeek podcast casts an eye on the future of broadcast.

For Marshall Manson, MD of digital, EMEA, at Edelman, the huge popularity of the campaign and the development of the visually-led Facebook timeline pointed to fundamental shifts for the world of comms.

‘If we're trying to think about how our clients and how comms professionals should help business and brands reach people, we’ve got out use video and visuals effect and it seems to me those need to become the primary means of communication, interaction and engagement with our audiences. It’s absolutely essential,’ he said.

Kony 2012, created by charity Invisible Children, sought to spread the word about Joseph Kony, head of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda.

It has attracted more than 84 million hits on YouTube to date, but also attracted a backlash believed to have led to the breakdown of charity head Jason Russell.

Manson, who called the campaign ‘stunning’, added: ‘We are going to have to challenge ourselves to become much more about the visuals we produce and much less about the text we write.’

His words come as the latest edition of PRWeek engages with the issue of whether brands should become media owners.

The piece picks out current work by brands including Red Bull and Marmite, as well as a warning story from Audi, which closed down a branded channel on Sky in 2009 after a four-year run.

During the podcast Neil Henderson, executive director of media at GolinHarris, said that clients with a ‘1980s’ mindset needed to be educated about the benefits of using broadcast.

PR was in a great position to make the most of the situation, he added.

‘Brands have got money and TV companies need that revenue, and with Sky Plus and Freeview one can speed through the adverts. So PR is in the strong position to say to clients "why you should pay for television programmes that you can control editorially and put your brand into those programmes".’

To watch the podcast, click here.

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