The past 18 months have been undeniably challenging for the media industry, where fostering relationships of trust between media owners, media agencies and brands is crucial. Six leading industry figures from partners at this year’s MOST Awards, share the key strategies they’ve employed within their sales environment, and the most valuable lessons their sales team have learnt.

Within a matter of days in March last year, The MediaShop enabled 142 employees to work remotely so as to preserve client focus and provide reassurance.

Dashni Vilakazi, Managing Director: Johannesburg for The MediaShop admits there was no blueprint formula on how to work, so they designed a new way for clients by creating bespoke packages for each brand, where effective communication, turnaround times, strategy and planning were tailored.

They also implemented a long-term plan for staff that included loaning or renting office equipment and furniture to ensure a comfortable work-from-home environment; subsidising monthly fibre costs; and supplying generator/inverter installations for power back-up.

MOST valuable lesson learnt: Empathy, compassion and consideration towards employees, suppliers, clients and their direct consumers (the target audience) is crucial. Also, WhatsApp, Netflix, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook have also earned their place as vital services – on par with water and electricity!

Jane Ruinard, Commercial Manager at Jacaranda FM says the station endeavoured to be more agile, innovative and flexible. They created the ‘JacaGivesBack’ campaign to assist their clients, especially small businesses, during the initial level 4 and 5 lockdowns.
More recently, Jacaranda FM has launched the national 3-4-1 campaign that gives advertisers an additional two airtime spots in the same time channel as the first one purchased.

MOST valuable lesson learnt:
Applying agility and innovation. In June this year, Jacaranda FM hosted the first virtual online gaming experience with Tracker as a headline partner, making it a radio, brand and global first.
“Retaining high levels of personal connection and ensuring that staff were able to communicate impactfully was and remains a key priority,” says Cindy Diamond, Chief Financial Officer for Mediamark.

Mediamark utilised a myriad of digital forums and disruptive campaigns to create engagement with clients and stakeholders. They also held regular virtual team meetings and check-ins to share information about the business and to keep track of how everyone was coping both personally and professionally.

MOST valuable lesson learnt: Remember the importance of Purpose, Praise and Practicality. Purpose requires each day to start with a ritual that defines intent. Recognition and reinforcement – praise – are key to business success. Being practical and realistic allows you to retain focus and complete tasks that will energise you.

Sian MacGregor, General Manager of Sales at Primedia Broadcasting also says an emphasis was placed on equipping staff to work from home and minimise disruption. Employees were also offered support through a helpline for those needing to speak to a trained health professional.

From a client perspective, MacGregor says: “We analysed data and listened to client’s needs, often changing focus and offerings to match what was needed. We met virtually with clients to keep top of mind and get a sense of where they were at.”

MOST valuable lesson learnt: Communication is key to minimizing confusion and ensuring everyone is on the same page when working from home. Client relationships have been key over this period, where innovative interactive and fun ways to virtually engage with clients to break up the Zoom fatigue were really well received.

“Our key strategy was to keep our clients updated with new offerings and innovative ways in which to engage with their target audience,” says Kenneth Molefe, Head of Sales at YFM.

YFM re-evaluated their offerings and came up with packages that were relevant to the market and offered long term value during this period. They also introduced a client newsletter to keep them up-to-date and in touch with new opportunities and campaign results, while highlighting innovative ways to engage with their target audience during the pandemic. Molefe says their social media received increased engagement.

MOST valuable lesson learnt: Nothing is guaranteed. You have to be innovative and nimble in response to needs of both audiences and trade. Effective communication via any means available has become key to ensuring our success.

“Because we knew the market was very competitive over this period, we made sure to stick to two main points of difference, namely Agility and being focussed on our clients’ Return-On-Investment. Even during tough times, if you are showing a positive ROI, it really highlights your value to clients,” says Mercurial Media’s Managing Partner, Nicola Wright.

MOST valuable lesson learnt: Beyond the commercial benefits, the power of relationships with clients, partner agencies and media owners help to boost morale and keep you motivated.

Winners across 21 categories of the MOST Awards – which includes awards for individuals, media owners, marketing services, and media agencies – will be announced in a hybrid, live-streamed awards event on 8 September 2021 at 16h00. Register for your online spot here.

Sponsors of the 2021 MOST Awards are Jacaranda FM, Primedia Broadcasting, Carat, DStv Media Sales, Mercurial Media, Mediamark, The MediaShop, ViacomCBS Africa, Black Media Outdoor, YFM, Nalesa Media, Torque Media, Malfy Gin and Thirst.