At a time when digital communication is rapidly evolving and social media is one of the biggest sources of new, it is increasingly important to distinguish fact from fiction. Choosing the right channel to convey a positive lottery message can be a challenge but also an opportunity. The objective of this year’s EL Seminar was to focus on ‘‘the good, bad and the ugly’’ sides of communications.
Hosted by Lotto Bayern in Munich and moderated by Melanie Faithfull-Kent, CEO of Hill & Knowlton Strategies in Belgium, the seminar touched upon themes such as successfully communicating a lottery message or campaign, overcoming the noise and ‘’ugly’’ side of social media and managing crisis communication from minor to major incidences.
Melanie set the scene by highlighting the power of good communication, focusing on key questions such as ‘’who do we trust?’’ and ‘‘how do we find new ways to engage with our audience?‘’ As a result of multi platforms, individualism and new technology there is a rise in the spread of fake news. This is something that should be addressed, also in the lottery world.
Melanie outlined the need to be accountable for what we say, actively listen to others, be authentic, relevant and timely and bring something new to the conversation. With changing definitions such as the word ‘’media’’, we should consider not only the message and channel used but also the role of earned, paid, owned and shared content across multiple platforms. This was a key take-away not only from her opening presentation but from the Seminar in general.
As one of the aims of the Seminar was to showcase innovative ways to communication a lottery message, Yasmin Keshavarzi, Partnership Manager at StoryMe addressed the question ‘’How can video strategy help you achieve your business goals?’’ during her keynote presentation. As video strategy attracts attention and is ultimately how people communicate online, it is important to include it as part of a communication plan. Yasmin showcased interesting example of lotteries interacting with their customers online through the use of video: Staatsloterij Oudejaarstrekking Freddie and 25 Years of the UK National Lottery). Based on relevant data, videos can produce powerful tailored and personalised messages.
What struck Yasmin the most was the fact that every lottery has different regulations regarding how they can communication about their games, the good causes they support and how they minimise potential harm to society. As lotteries all face challenges in how they communicate to their customers, together they must take the thin line between the “goods” and the “bads” that people perceive when thinking of the lottery.
‘’As a video marketer, I constantly encounter different types of industries and sectors, each with their own challenges. The EL Seminar has opened my eyes to the difficulties that lotteries around the world experience when it comes to communication. ‘When communicating online, always keep the social media rules in mind such as adjusting the format and story hierarchy to the channel’’. – Yasmin Keshavarzi, StoryMe
Several case studies from EL Members followed, focused on successful communications for campaigns and events and how to communicate a responsible gaming message.
Caroline Vangoidsenhoven, Corporate Events & Public Relation Management, Loterie Nationale, Belgium first took to the floor to reflect on the communications for the 2019 EL Congress in Antwerp ‘’The Success of Chance’’, hosted by the Belgian National Lottery. She highlighted the importance of the collaboration between the communications team of the National Lottery and EL, and the need to streamline branding and marketing for a big event in order to achieve the best results. The communication plan focused on a closed and targeted audience with the key objectives to recruit participants, inform, interact and build interactions and connections with and between them. Touchpoints included a dedicated website, social media channels, newsletters and magazines.
Lessons learnt and top tips for a successful event include having a rewarding theme, diverse and relevant content and using humour and emotion to convey your message. In order to incorporate the full theme of the Seminar ‘’the good, the bad and the ugly’’, Caroline also highlighted some challenges faced, including time, multiple social media channels working in parallel and some negative reactions from a whistle blower on Twitter.
‘‘I’ve attended the EL Communication Seminar for the second time and every edition I learn interesting new things from the best practices from other lotteries, their case studies and the interactive workshops of the seminar. It is also a very interesting seminar to attend as you can network with other communication specialists and exchange ideas.” – Caroline Vangoidsenhoven, Loterie Nationale
Zsófia Banhegyi, Marketing & Communication Director, Szerencsejáték Zrt., Hungary then gave an inspiring presentation on their Super Concert to celebrate 20 years of the “Scandinavian” lotto – one of the country’s most popular lottery games. With more than 70,000 people, Bryan Adams and one of the best-known Hungarian pop bands Wellhello, the event was supported by a 360 degree four-weeks integrated campaign with a special focus on using social media tools.
The concert exceeded expectations and Szerencsejáték Zrt. received praise for the outstanding quality of the concert, excellent technical delivery, marketing, promotion and the high degree of security. Sales were supported by four national mobile lottery stores and charity lottery ticket sales. In tune with CSR programmes, particular attention was paid to individuals with disabilities, providing them with a dedicated accessible stand in the audience.
‘‘I consider the new forum for the communication experts of the national member companies an excellent initiative; it allowed me to learn about the latest trends and best practices related to the sector. As the global magazine of the communication industry, the Holmes Report, also noted: “not only the PR’s role has grown, but it has also earned the rightful place in the boardrooms”. This trend is more apparent on the lottery market, since it has become clear even for the chief executives that consistent corporate communication is the foundation of a credible reputation’’. – Zsófia Banhegyi, Szerencsejáték Zrt.
Bjørn Helge Hoffmann, Chief Adviser Resp. Gaming, Norsk Tipping gave an insightful presentation on how to communicate a responsible gambling message. When preparing for the Seminar, EL wanted to create synergies between several of its activities and this was the perfect link between responsible gaming and communications. Bjørn outlined the importance of keeping a message simple, making it relevant, creating curiosity at the start of a story, having a good balance between humour and seriousness and to break away from traditional language.
As this was a new setting for Bjørn to be in a room of communication professionals, he had a very positive experience:
“This was an excellent seminar with a good balance between best practices cases and new challenges like how to better understand good communication in a world where social medias and the use of videos totally changes the way we interact. Very inspiring!” – Bjørn Helge Hoffmann, Norsk Tipping
After lunch, participants took part in an interactive session, facilitated by Ali Colwell, Head of Business Development at Clear Europe, focused on Breaking the noise on social media. The workshop allowed for exciting and challenging discussions around social media in a lottery context. Despite being from different countries, many participants had similar feelings on the topic, both positive and negative. They left with new ideas for how to approach social media content and how to rethink the ways they communicate with customers online.
Exercises during the workshop included thinking about more impactful posts on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and how to make the most of resources. Top tips included being consistent, find inspiration from others, use data to highlight success, be socially aware, start conversations and don’t be afraid to try something new.
“I had the wonderful opportunity to conduct a social media workshop with lottery communication professionals. But what was most inspiring for me was hearing from people of different cultures and backgrounds, all coming together around their love for their jobs and their passion for communication. It was inspiring and educational for me, and something I will take with me to my future training sessions.’’ – Ali Colwell, Clear Europe
The second part of the Seminar on day two focused on crisis communications with an inspiring presentation entitled ‘‘The $80 Billion Gamble – A True Crime Story’’ by renowned international speaker and author Terry Rich. This unbelievable story uncovers internal vendor fraud and how established checks and balances, and a little luck, helped crack the largest lottery fraud in US history. Key messages from Terry to identify this shocking incident include always follow the facts, not rumours, keep an official timeline of events, don’t interfere with a police investigation and it is important to let the legal system work. Participants were captured by this inside story of how a suspicious ticket, hot dogs and big foot foiled the biggest lottery fraud in U.S history!
“Good leadership is easy in good times. Great and successful leadership is judged by what happens in adverse times’’.
“The EL Seminar in Munich demonstrated the importance of having a good lottery communications plan in place. The exchange of ideas between members was open and useful for the participants. I was impressed with the organization of the event and the cooperation of the group to help others with specific issues. A valuable seminar for European and world-wide lotteries to attend.” – Terry Rich
The final session, a crisis communications workshop facilitated by H&K Strategies aimed to address issues facing lotteries, how to connect to public stakeholders and how to develop skills including learning to listen, focus on deeper engagement and how to deal with tough topics in tough situations. Participants took part in three role play scenarios focused on transparency, accountability, conflict, the use of funds and responsible gaming. This was a highly interactive and engaging session, with the opportunity to ask questions, listen and provide feedback to colleagues. At the end, participants were asked to write a letter to themselves about what they had learn.
To summarise the Seminar, there is always a good, bad and ugly side to communication – but we must learn how to deal with and manage all sides. We should continuously be creative, explore new and innovation tools and channels, ask questions, listen, be human, be aware and strike a good balance between humour and seriousness.
To close, Melanie highlights that “Communication should remain authentic, with a narrative that engages a wider audience, using localised, personalised messaging’’.