Creating convincing media messages and stories which tap into the inner emotions of a consumer is no easy task, but don’t tell that to Dylen Postnikoff. Quickly climbing the Canadian marketing and entertainment ladder after earning her master’s degree in political science, Postnikoff earned the respect of her colleagues at the CBC through her ventures while managing its entertainment portfolio. We had the opportunity to ask Postnikoff about her journey, accomplishments, and plans for the future.
As Head of Entertainment and Content Marketing at the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, you obviously have learned a thing or two about marketing along your career journey. Has your approach or mindset towards marketing effectively changed from where you were five, ten years ago?
Dylen: This is an interesting question. At its core, the fundamental principle of marketing hasn’t changed; marketing is about providing value for your customer. An effective marketing strategy should pique someone’s interest enough to ultimately prompt an action, whether this means sampling your product or service or advocating on behalf of your brand. What has changed is how we tell a brand’s story using data and insights and on what platform you reach and engage your audience. Taking that one step further, if you can personalize your brand’s experience for a specific demographic within your target audience, you’ll have a greater likelihood of creating a campaign that will resonate with your consumer.
In entertainment marketing, my job is to get people to consume content. To do this, we need to get people excited, we need to build fans and we need to cut through the clutter of a very noisy landscape. Last year in the US alone there was over 450 scripted original series and this doesn’t include reality programming. This wasn’t the case ten years ago. While great shows existed, the competition and vying for audience attention to consume content across multiple platforms (on multiple devices) did not.
Because of this, what story we tell, how we tell it and on what platform has become increasingly important. The need for research and data, audience insights and A/B testing, is key to building any marketing strategy along with the ability to pivot or iterate, as needed.
How have you reached success in finding the emotion behind marketing stories and messages? This seems like it would be one of the more difficult aspects of the job.
Dylen: Although this is one of the more difficult aspects of the job, it’s an area that very much interests me. Great work is being done in the field of cognitive science to better understand how the brain processes feelings and elicits an emotional response – at both the conscious and subconscious level – when making a decision. In its most simplistic form, we know that to generate action you have to generate emotion. To do this effectively, a brand must first understand both their audience and their brand identity to engage in authentic storytelling.
Regardless of whether the emotion is happiness, sadness or anger, by creating a story that resonates authentically, there is a higher likelihood for a brand to connect emotionally with its audience. When thinking about authentic storytelling, the key to this process is drawing on universal themes that your audience can relate to. This allows the brain to connect at the subconscious level. On top of that, one can’t ignore the impact of visually compelling content. Without it, it’s difficult to generate any sort of emotion in your campaign.
What role did you play in transforming CBC’s previous marketing approach into a 360-marketing approach?
Dylen: When I first started at the CBC, it was a pivotal time as the network was at the onset of transitioning to a digital-first strategy. In fact, it was at a time when the entire industry was changing. We saw an increase in TV audiences migrating to the digital space to discover and sample new content. This is not to say that audiences were abandoning their traditional viewing habits but it was how and where we reached the audience that had shifted. Opportunities began to expand beyond traditional marketing tactics to drive viewership and implement campaign strategies that incorporated both digital awareness and social engagement. For example, CBC was the first broadcaster in Canada to launch a new show with a customized Snapchat lens. This allowed audiences to engage deeper with the show content while sharing the experience with their online community. Additionally, we also began to include digital media, mobile advertising, influencer marketing, Facebook Live, and VR into our promotional strategies.
What are some projects you’ve worked on that you are the most proud of and why?
Dylen: I’ve been lucky to work on some amazing campaigns. Most recently in Canada, we launched the television broadcast of the mini-series “Alias Grace” based on the book by Margaret Atwood. We had the opportunity to work with an incredible team of show creators, producers and cast who all played a part in delivering a visually stunning show that captivated audiences across the country.
A key driver of the marketing campaign was building early awareness with a strong word-of-mouth strategy.
Leading up to the TV premiere, to augment the traditional marketing tactics, we introduced a social media campaign and created the first immersive VR show-trailer experience in the country. This allowed audiences to transport themselves into the world of Grace Marks. The campaign generated significant press. The first two episodes of the series were featured in a pre-release screening at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Has social media changed your career path and/or industry?
Dylen: Admittedly, this is a loaded question. Social media has shifted – it’s not limited to one industry over another. As an entertainment marketer, social media has allowed for greater opportunities to connect with viewers. It has also created a community of brand ambassadors.
With access to data, brands have also become more targeted in reaching their audiences with greater opportunities to measure and uncover real-time analysis on what content and messaging works. This is especially helpful in promoting a new show. Through data and analytics, we are able to gauge audience interest by measuring time spent engaging with specific content.
Another significant shift is that social media sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat have also become distribution platforms where viewers are consuming TV shows as well as digital series. This has opened up an entirely new audience experience and will undoubtedly create further opportunities from both a content development and marketing perspective.
Within the context of your previous work, how have you capitalized on an ever-increasing digital world in regard to social media and consumer trends?
Dylen: Prior to my time at the CBC, I worked on several campaigns designed to reach the “millennial-mom” consumer. Knowing that millennial-moms over-indexed in time spent online and specifically, in engaging on social media sites, I was able to use research and data to identify the right platforms and create brand campaigns that resonated with the audience through the story they told. Factored into the research were insights on social, economic and ethnic diversity that informed the process in developing value-based content that moms could relate to. This meant steering away from stereotypes and traditional notions of the nuclear family. Through access to online data, brands can now connect deeper with their audience both holistically and authentically.
Are there any specific goals you have over the next five years?
Dylen: Ultimately, I want to continue to innovate and push creative boundaries. I am passionate about this industry and my goal is to continue to inspire audiences by bringing forth the best in entertainment content.