The 2nd half of 2013 brings a lot of changes to digitaldiplomacy.ro. We initiated recently the series of interviews, opened by the Dutch Ambassador in Romania. In parallel, we are also opening a series of guest blogs, where we will invite special guests to talk about their vision of digital institutional communication. The aim of all these initiatives is to offer you excellent quality content and inspiring stories from public sector personalities who use social media both personally and officially.
Our first guest blogger is Alexandru Giboi, the Director General of the Romanian National Press Agency Agerpres. In his post, he presents the importance and impact of digital technologies on institutional communication and how Agerpres has adapted to these new challenges.
Thank you, Alex, and we wish you great success!
A new era of journalism. Adapt or disappear.
We have reached a point when the days in which we used to buy the newspaper from the corner shop, unfold it and „enjoy” it over a cup of coffee are simply nostalgic memories. The people that still prefer the feel and smell of freshly printed paper are already perceived as being eccentric. The truth is that right now there are 4, 3 billion people on Earth using mobile phones, out of which 1, 08 billion use smartphones. Ignoring this fact of life would be pure stubbornness. The audience has changed, has evolved and has become more demanding, and the institutions are forced to keep up.
We are in a time when the world is changing, and the digitization of services is compulsory. However, the process is difficult, especially for the entities with a long history in the world of offline, as is the case of Agerpres. Change, of any type, even positive, faces reactive forces every time, whether they come from individuals, institutions or rules anchored in the realities of the past. Nevertheless, we have begun a complex procedure for organizational change and I am prepared to make every effort to align all these elements in order to achieve a result that will be beneficial for the interest of the institution I am leading.
The re-branding and re-positioning of AGERPRES took place in 2013, and, thus, the visual identity of the agency has changed. In addition, the layout of the website was reconsidered completely so that it would measure up to the demands of the news consumers. We started from this point because I strongly believe that the website of a press agency is one of its most valuable assets. This is the “virtual” place where all our target audiences meet and where we deliver to them our most prized product: the news.
The new online platform of AGERPRES was created having in mind the behaviour of the visitor, who needs quick access to information. Therefore, regarding usability, the visitor interacts with a friendly interface that offers easy access to information. Regarding accessibility, the new AGERPRES website is created as a strong platform, with an adaptable graphic implementation, which delivers to the user an interface adapted to the device he/she is using.
The effects of these developments became visible very soon, and the number of unique visitors increased five times in just a few months. Besides the structural and accessibility adjustments of agerpres.ro, our efforts were supported also by a coherent strategy to maximize our presence on social networks. Hence, AGERPRES has social network accounts that spread information content like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Youtube, as well as instruments integrated directly in the website for social network users. These allow social authentication, an easy distribution of information and direct comments to articles from the user’s accounts.
In addition, we are currently working on the final details for the launch of AGERPRES mobile applications for Android and IOS. This way, the approximately 2, 5 million users of smartphones in Romania will have shortly the AGERPRES news at their fingertips.
The AGERPRES example clearly shows the advantages of a well implemented online strategy for an institution. We are, without a doubt, living in an information era, and because of the high level of access to information, the loyalty of consumers starts to fade if you are not able to keep up with the latest technological trends. Equally obvious is that whoever fails to find its identity in this new social reality will disappear. In the following years there will be a selection done by the audience, which will choose only those institutions that understood how to use the new communication channels and how to provide them with the information they need in the most efficient way.