"At Weber Shandwick, we believe what is most valued and most enduring isn't simply given or bought, it's earned," the agency's New York consumer brand practice lead and North America consumer brand practice growth lead Jackie Cox Battles tells Doug Simon.

"And when it comes to brands and corporations," she says, "that's no different."

That's where "earned first thinking" enters the picture. In a "complex and converged, media fragmented" environment, characterized by "overall apathy," Battles says that "earning value by contributing value" is key.

Communicating that value to consumers, she tells Simon, is a challenge. "The Harvard Business Review in 2022 actually claimed that 77 percent of consumers have absolutely no relationship with brands. So that means we've got a lot of work to do."

That challenge is complicated by the sheer amount of information that consumers have to contend with. "The average person scrolls through about 300ft of content a day. That doesn't count all of the other content that we've blocked out. That is really important to understand because people are opting out of being tracked. They're opting out of being marketed to. They're getting really smart about filtering their content and, paid targeting based on media personalities is just not as effective on its own."

The power of communications that are designed to "earn conversation" is also stressed. "We're talking about 50 percent more likely to drive larger business effects and almost half as more likely to drive larger profit growth."

Battles also talks about how "story telling" is being overtaken by "story doing" in effective messaging. "We really believe that there is a shift from storytelling, which is, in other words, like a one-way dissemination of a message to an audience, to what we're calling at Weber, story doing. And that's very intentional because that's story doing is a participation in culture."

Making the necessary connections, Battles says, is not a one-size-fits-all process. "It's about workshopping together as agency client teams. We also have products, we have algorithms and AI models that help our clients really identify what their move is in culture, but also doing that with precision."

But the main takeaway, she tells Simon, is still "really about looking at consumers. Adding value means you have to contribute value—that two-way street. And if that's the only thing you take away from this conversation, that will mean this time has been spent well."

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