The Evolution of the Communicator in the Inter-Pandemic Era
Our Managing Director and Founder recently participated in the Luxury Communications Council’s Fireside Briefing, which took place at the newly opened penthouse at Nobu London Portman Square.
At Mercury Communications, we have always prided ourselves on being a public relations agency, which supports with business development – rather than purely focusing on brand awareness and positioning. In this inter-pandemic era, it has become even more imperative that we take on this role as a ‘business accelerator’, driving growth and revenue.
In the past eighteen months, we have been smart with budgeting and redefined our priorities, becoming laser focused and creative with our campaigns. Adept at changing direction and reacting to the news agenda, we always ensure the strategy remains relevant and offers maximum ROI for the current circumstances.
We are thrilled that communicators are increasingly indispensable and have an important seat at the boardroom table – we are undoubtedly becoming more of a leading force in the integrated sales and marketing mix. We hope to be the last person at the table with the CEO to talk about the most pressing issues, and that we can have a significant impact, not only on the revenues of a client but also its purpose. Read on to find out how Mercury has adapted to the new inter-pandemic era:
DRIVING LEAD GENERATION & PRODUCT INNOVATION
We demonstrated that we are commercially aware and drive lead generation through partnerships with like-minded brands, whose databases we’re aiming to access and whose brand equity we aim to benefit from – whether this be an introduction to a family office network for Institut auf dem Rosenberg, or connecting Firetree chocolate to Christie’s auction house, a fashion brand Rixo or the watchmaker Blancpain. We become an extension of the sales team, so much so that we see ourselves as innovators involved in product development, often through collaborations to create something never seen before which is what every trendsetter seeks. Limited edition runs are in vogue, whereas personalisation is becoming old hat.
DISCOVERING THE NEXT GENERATION OF WEALTH
We are increasingly working with the end user, and a changing breed of HNWIs. We are no longer solely focusing on the traditional yacht, jet, or private bank and family office market; it is about delving into tech or entrepreneur-orientated events to discover the next generation of wealth. We are looking towards Silicon Roundabout, alternative niche titles that don’t normally feature on PR databases, and always more podcasts with relevant personalities behind them.
MAKING THE RIGHT INTRODUCTIONS
As an agency, we have had to become fluent in everything, from traditional marketing through to introductions to ‘new school’ digital marketing and running events. In terms of providing a true 360-degree offering, we sometimes even support with capital introductions and fundraising.
We don’t look at influencers in a traditional way either, and although we are all glued to our screens more than ever, clients are keen to make in-person connections to real people who can bring their relevant networks of potential buyers and clients to ‘money can’t buy’ occasions. There is increasing appetite for the intimate dinner for eight with a private banker, who is a key opinion former and tastemaker, rather than a social media influencer.
Turning towards a more international brief, PR has to also be hyper-localised, so we support by hiring the best freelancer or agency in different territories, in addition to pitching to all the key tier one English language titles across the world. Whilst in London, which we call a “global village”, we also have very targeted strategies for different tribes. Due to halted travel, we have all shopped locally, giving rise to repatriated spending and birth of the new ‘locavore’ luxury consumer.
FINDING THE BEST EVENT
With events starting up again, we are focused on wealth hot spots such as magnet resorts that attract the wealthy, for example Courchevel 1850 during the winter season or the upcoming Monaco Yacht Show, which we will be attending with sister brand Mercury Yachts. To get a brand noticed, without creating all the infrastructure, we look to collaborate with existing roadshows and event infrastructure such as our client British Polo Day – an invitation-only global platform to build relationships with some of the world’s most dynamic and interesting individuals, through distinct experiences hosted in iconic destinations in Asia, Middle East, US and Europe.
IDENTIFYING WHAT MATTERS TO THE LUXURY CONSUMER
High-net-worth individuals are also looking for something different now – there is such pent-up demand and even higher expectations for the money can’t buy experience, offering a more emotive, self-fulfilling, simple, disconnected escape. There is a move-away from all the tech-enabled marketing tools too. Yes, we can now virtually shop, have a gamified virtual experience and use AR and VR, but nothing can replace personal touch. This is an ethos that our travel and lifestyle client Knightsbridge Circle advocates – offering no app, but a physical personal manager, who only looks after five clients. Having said that though, we are now certainly seeing the rise of the ‘phygital’ event, where there is the option to be there, or to join by video link so that people have options to suit their lifestyles.
Covid-19 has also been the catalyst to drive activism and interestingly communicators have been at the forefront of putting this on the agenda for the board. ESG has gathered significant momentum, and we’re looking at purposeful, charitable and philanthropic endeavours, as well as people’s physical and mental well-being. It can’t be a box ticking exercise anymore, it has to be a longer-term, honest commitment to a cause, that is weaved into the product and the PR around it. Consumers are also buying less but better quality, and as communicators we’re having to redefine value and affordability with added benefits, rather than the price which risks a product becoming too ubiquitous.