David Tinson

“Connecting with consumers has never been harder.”

With all of that opportunity to connect with our consumers, brands are really more like media companies now.

That’s David Tinson, Electronic Arts’ Senior VP of Global Communications. He says that since the way marketers reach consumers is no longer a one-way conversation, a lot of companies are led to believe marketing has never been easier.

“But really connecting, really engaging, and really driving it to a business result has never been harder,” he says.

He explains that to put the customer at the center of the marketing ecosystem, brands have to integrate social at the center of their marketing and communications efforts.

“With all of that opportunity to connect with our consumers, brands are really more like media companies now.”

In fact, David explains that with their social media presence alone, EA’s audience size for social content rivals the major media outlets they typically buy advertising from. And since media companies are powered by newsrooms, David saw an opportunity to invest in that infrastructure.

“Media companies like The New York Times have been around for 165 years. For brands to assume that we can take marketing, communications, and digital marketing people, and just start producing content at scale that’s relevant, engaging, and thoughtful is a hard concept.”

Instead, David says they focused on building a strong foundation first through standards and policies, listening, creating content, distributing at scale, and measurement.

Their standards and policies outlined three areas of governance: tools, alignment, and resources.

So often what marketers and communicators do is start creating content and then figure out where it should go after.

They started by getting everyone on the same page with a common set of listening, monitoring, and publishing tools. They also began holding cross-functional newsroom meetings to turn “hallway conversations” into disciplined alignment meetings between paid media teams, advertising, product marketing, and customer support. For their creative resources, David brought everyone together to create a standard for their brand voice and tone.

They also hired a healthy mix of people from different media backgrounds to bring different skill sets to the newsroom. David says around 80 percent had experience in areas like TV, print media, and content analysis.

To create great content, David says they began with listening.

“So often what marketers and communicators do is start creating content and then figure out where it should go after. The reality is that it had to start with listening,”

For EA, a brand with a social savvy, opinionated, and passionate audience, listening is a big job. In fact, EA clocks in at two mentions per second on Twitter and around eight million conversations a month.

One of their biggest opportunities for listening comes with people who are on the fence about buying the new version of a game. They have questions about if it’s worth it and how it compares to the old one. David says they’ve seen a lot of business value in creating content for this particular audience.

It’s allowed EA to do amazing things in terms of turning negative situations around.

For example, a glitch in their Madden NFL 15 game turned a giant Cleveland Browns linebacker into a one-foot-tall player. EA reacted quickly and embraced the mistake with an exclusive game, a blog post, and video content. David says by creating the content and the game for “Tiny Titan,” they earned their single highest day of revenue for Madden.

“We can spend a year building up to a campaign, and get to a situation like this, where we have to move fast to make a positive out of what would have otherwise been a negative.”

Learn more about how EA developed a content newsroom from David’s presentation at our Member Meeting in San Francisco. Find David on Twitter here and ask about his favorite game to play during meetings.


Get our free weekly newsletter

A short email packed with updates on what big brands are doing in social media.

Never display this again