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Jye Smith

Regional Head APAC | 18 Apr 2014

The fundamental belief is that in today’s digital age, the media, consumers and brands have been transformed. For consumers, this shift has been most prevalent through social and mobile technologies. For brands, these external forces have meant that all organisations are now media companies in their own right.

Jye Smith is the Regional Head of Mediaco for Asia Pacific and is responsible for leading digital integration for Weber Shandwick in each of the 11 markets. The focus of this role is managing Weber Shandwick’s key service offering encompassing new areas in brand stately, editorial and content strategy, and oversees digital operations, including online communications, analytics and content.

Mediaco is Weber Shandwick’s new global division and service offering focused digital PR and creating, publishing and distributing content. The centralised specialist unit is built on the firm’s digital, creative and editorial experience, delivered through the in house web and content studio in 12 markets.

Based in Hong Kong and China, Smith has extensive in-market experience and specialises in online issues management, social media and organisational alignment. Previously, Smith was instrumental in developing Weber Shandwick’s content studio operations and business development for Asia Pacific.

Smith joined the firm in 2010 to lead Weber Shandwick Australia’s digital practice and held positions prior as head of social media for boutique firms in Sydney.

In conversation with exchange4media, Smith talks about his experience developing the APAC region for Mediaco, challenges in brand storytelling, and the diverse Indian market.

Q. How has the PR space in India evolved?

Like all markets, it is yet to reach its peak in terms of digital adoption – India is due to leapfrog in terms of sophistication. We’re going to see more dynamic and integrated content partnerships between publishers and brands, which means more compelling ideas for consumers and stakeholders alike.

Q. How do you perceive the role of traditional media in brand narratives in the future, particularly in the Indian context?

Traditional media will always have a role, especially here in India. Online press is still growing – and with such a diverse and beautiful culture like India, it’s so important that third party publications are relevant and vocal. There is little to replace the endorsement of credible, authoritative journalists.

Q. What challenges do brands face in terms of storytelling on social media?

Firstly, authenticity: to appear as themselves, and not generic, nor someone else. Secondly, resources and infrastructure: social media isn’t just a dialogue – it’s an ongoing dialogue. That requires careful management. And finally, bravery – it’s a new space. It needs to be approached that way – innovation demands risk.

Q. What is the fundamental thought behind the inception of Mediaco?

The fundamental belief is that in today’s digital age, the media, consumers and brands have been transformed. For consumers, this shift has been most prevalent through social and mobile technologies. For brands, these external forces have meant that all organisations are now media companies in their own right, we’re here to bring the notion of brand journalist to life.

Q. What is Mediaco’s business model?

Mediaco has meant a brand new service offering in research, brand strategy, editorial and analytics. These, on top of our five content studios in the region, have meant hiring teams of specialists and crafts people, not usually found in the walls of a digital agency, let alone a PR agency. It has been digital content publishing, driven through strategic editorial strategy.

Q. How has the experience of developing the APAC market for Weber Shandwick been so far?

In a word – dynamic. Asia Pacific is a diverse region, made up of 11 unique countries, each with their own set of challenges and opportunities. In addition, we’ve been surveying the media landscape – journalists and publishers – to quantify the change.

Q. How will Mediaco help the brand narrative in the Indian PR space?

Brands moving from the ‘what they do’ and ‘how they do it’ era to what they mean, what they stand for and how they’re working for the greater good. Mediaco is designed to launch brands into the psyche of India through intelligent ideas and creative communication.

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