How to put people at the heart of your marketing and communications

Speak to any great marketer and they will tell you of the importance of building human connection with your audience. Evoking emotions like aspiration, recognition, and respect; tapping into the art of personal storytelling; and drawing on those who wield influence can all enhance your organisation’s reputation. This all requires us to put people at the heart of brand marketing.

However, in today’s content-fuelled world, it can be difficult to harness the inspiring people and brilliant stories that have accumulated over the years, as well as ensure new imagery and other assets are developed week-in week-out.

Perhaps a new scientific or technological breakthrough has been made by your researchers or alumni. Or an industry CEO has been recognised, who years previously presented their final year degree project on your campus. Maybe there is fresh significance to a prestigious guest who previously visited your institution. One of your current students may have excelled nationally or globally. You’ll want to make the most of these types of opportunities.

University archives are full of wonderful material for marketers. But when these files past and present run into thousands and even tens of thousands of images and videos, how on earth can you locate what you’re looking for? If file names offer no clues, it can be time-consuming at best, or near impossible at worst, to find the image of an individual or event that you need. In fact, recent research found that a third of people working in marketing spend around three weeks per year searching for pictures, videos and other digital files.

Enter digital asset management

Provided by software companies like Canto, digital asset management (DAM) enables teams to work faster and smarter by streamlining the way they organise, find and share their digital content, including imagery and video. It’s transforming how university marketing, communications and commercial teams operate.

Tags, keywords and other metadata can be added to files when they’re uploaded. This is especially important for photographs and other images that don’t have searchable text. But in the age of automation, there’s no need to do everything by hand.

If your DAM library is equipped with facial recognition and image recognition, you can easily search images whether you’ve tagged them or not. Looking for photos of a specific faculty member, student, university leader, or VIP guest from years gone by? A library with facial recognition means you can find photos of one person among thousands in seconds.

Take the University of Hong Kong (HKU), for example. With a rich history spanning more than 100 years, HKU recently digitised assets from its long history including a century’s worth of photos, as well as an increasing amount of video footage from the past decade. The HKU Communications and Public Affairs department now has all of their content centralised and organised in Canto. They’ve increased workflow efficiency and now staff aren’t meticulously searching through assets or interrupting other team members to find assets.

Ensuring you have consent to use photographs and video

Finding the right assets quickly is vital, but what if you don’t know whether you have the right to use them for marketing purposes? This can also put the brakes on. Without a consistent approach, keeping track of photo permissions can be a real headache, and besides project delays, there is also an associated legal issue for using assets that you don’t have the rights to.

Not only does DAM help you to locate files, but it also provides a repository of information associated with every file. When it comes to photographs of people, usage permission can be confirmed when a file is uploaded, so that anyone in future knows that the person featured has given their consent and this has been clearly documented. Furthermore, digital rights management within DAM tracks any copyright licence details for media files and prevents infringement lawsuits.

Not forgetting security

With troves of people imagery and video, and in an age of fraud and malicious online attacks, it’s paramount that your content identifying individuals remains secure and accessible only to those who require it. With Canto, you can control exactly who has access, both internally and for use by external partners and agencies. You can even log who is downloading what, as well as set expiry dates on user access, folders and individual assets. With platforms like Canto being hosted on AWS (Amazon Web Services), you also have peace of mind when it comes to security and back-up of your library of assets.

A strategy that puts people at the heart of your marketing and communications involves trust. Staff, students and others must be comfortable that photos and videos will be collected and curated professionally. With this in place, you can focus on creating the most engaging content for your audiences, telling those human stories as they happen and by drawing from your archives.

DAM platforms offer a better way to unify and modernise content usage across your organisation. To learn more, watch our recent webinar:

Image is everything: Canto, in partnership with Education Technology and University Business.

Discussing why visual identity is key to student recruitment.


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