With content going increasingly digital, creators have a whole new set of tools to inspire and engage readers

April 27, 2020
SCMP Insights
The media landscape has changed so much over the last decade or so, and there are many implications for both content creators and advertisers - and they are very much all positive
Of my more than 15 years of experience in commercialised content, there has never been a more exciting time than now.

Perhaps the biggest game-changer in the media industry in recent years is the pivot to digital content. Fast-developing technology and online platforms have opened up multimedia opportunities we have never enjoyed before.

Also, the advances in data analytics provide us a clear picture of how a published article performs, allowing us to respond to it and up our game in the process. More importantly, there is no hiding of whether the content is popular among readers or not.

Why is it a game-changer?

For a content professional like myself, it has changed everything because I have results to show, both to myself and to the backer of the published article. It also illustrates that branded content has editorial value - if effort is put into making it a good experience, people will respond accordingly.

For the advertiser behind the content, analytics gives them a clear picture if the money is well spent. We can tell how many people are visiting the page and how long they stay on the page.

A whole new world of experience

Being someone trained in print journalism, another exciting aspect of the new age of content creation is endless multimedia possibilities. Technology has allowed us to go way beyond just presenting photos and video in an article, and each piece of content is better described as an “experience.”

Professionally, it means that I have to think of content beyond just the words. Here are a few examples.

Follow me on a tour, virtually

Last year, Macau’s Cultural Affairs Bureau inaugurated Art Macao, a festival that highlighted existing art events in the territory while featuring international artists through specially commissioned projects.

Through the Macao Government Tourism Office, Morning Studio was tasked with delivering a multimedia package to promote the festival and the city at large. The result was a six-episode series that included video stories, written articles, infographics, and even a virtual art tour of the special exhibition of renowned Chinese painter Chen Zhifo.

To put together the virtual tour, the whole team had to be involved in designing the experience. We wanted to offer an experience that was akin to being at the museum with the audio guide.

We created a multimedia page with subtle animation and sound clips accompanying the selected paintings, allowing the reader to, at their own pace, examine the master’s works and learn about his artistic journey.

Listen to the maestro, in his own voice

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) has been one of the longest-standing partners of Morning Studio. It supports local performing artists while bringing in notable acts from all around the world.

In 2018, we were asked to produce a series to bring more awareness to its biennial New Vision Arts Festival, which features interactive installations and performances that push boundaries.

Seeing that one of the featured artists is none other than Tan Dun – the Oscar-winning Chinese composer of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon fame – we made a recommendation to LCSD to highlight it with a podcast and styled photography.

The result was a content episode that allowed SCMP readers to hear this music legend explaining his artistic sensibility and journey in his own voice, and sense his presence through spirited images of the man himself.

The episode attracted substantial traffic and comments on social media, and we also put effort into making sure that the headline is search engine-optimised.

Making learning about a topic fun

Protecting the Earth’s biodiversity is one of global insurer MSIG’s most important corporate social responsibility areas, and last year, it partnered with Morning Studio for a three-part infographics-driven series called “Preserving life on Earth”.

Research, ideation and coming up with illustrations took some months before we had the multimedia microsite created, but it would still be many weeks of fine-tuning before we felt the written copy and infographics complemented one another well enough to create a fluent narrative.

The final result was a visually intriguing experience that allowed the reader to digest a trove of important information about a topic that affects all of us and our future. It has also generated vibrant engagement on social media.