UNLOCK25  Highlights from the first sessions 

When Weber Shandwick’s Chief Strategy Officer, Gen Kobayashi kicked off our UNLOCK25 event last week, he asked an important question – what is the importance of value?


Simply put, if you want people to buy from you, invest in you, believe in you and even trust you then you must contribute value to their lives. And since COVID, our concept of value has changed.


What consumers value today is far more personal and less societal or social. We are now living in a world where ‘me’ is more important than ‘we’.


This affects the decisions that impact all of our communications. Most people make a decision based on the impact it has on themselves and things connected to them.


As our keynote speaker Jamie Bartlett, writer and journalist behind hit podcasts such as The Missing Cryptoqueen and The Gatekeepers, observed, many organisations have been slow to respond. Understanding this change in consumer mindset is vital for comms and marketing teams aiming to craft campaigns that resonate with today’s audience and ultimately drive impact.


Take social media. As Jamie explained, social is an emotional medium where stories matter, where there are often ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ and where simple, clear narratives cut through faster than more complex, nuanced facts. Add to this how social media has enabled people to build personal brands, curate their feeds and be more personally responsible for what they deem important, and you see how this has cemented a sense of personalised value.


So, in our panel discussion we asked the panelists if this indicated a self-centred perception of what is important.


There was considerable pushback on this simplification.  Sophie Mac Cue, Public Relations Manager, Lingo  recognises the benefit of individuals taking a more constructive approach to their future health. The Lingo app harnesses this proactivity to help people take the initiative in addressing future health issues. For Lingo, this has been an opportunity to genuinely understand its audience and provide a service that will fundamentally improve the future quality of life of its consumers/customers. Transformational.


For WhatsApp’s Josh Breckman, Communications Director, EMEA, a rarely-discussed aspect of social media is its ability to bring communities together, creating shared campaigns and galvanizing previously underrepresented groups –  often where other channels have been less  effective.


Catherine Johnstone CEO, The Royal Voluntary Service, articulately explained how this worked in practice, sharing the story of an army of NHS volunteers, created at a time of crisis and tragedy, that quickly mobilised to provide  much needed support to vulnerable and isolated members of society.


As John O’Brien MBE, Chairman, Anthropy, added that it often takes a big event to put into perspective what truly matters – and that doesn’t always have to be a crisis. The majority of people do want to be part of something greater than themselves but to create more meaningful engagement, it needs to be relevant to them. You must understand what value you contribute to their lives for them to truly listen.