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Making a noise: the power of audio in stories

Paula Cordeiro is a media entrepreneur and founder of Urbanista, a Portugal-based multi-media brand with a strong focus on audio. She explains how audio has given her a point a difference and discusses the barriers to audio becoming more mainstream…

Paula will speak at the 41st FIPP World Congress in London, 9-11 October, where she will share her expertise on the use of audio to create powerful brand storytelling. Discounted Early Bird registration for the Congress is currently available. Sign up here.

Tell us about yourself and the product…

I am the founder and author of Urbanista, a digital magazine of style focusing on social prejudice and self-love. As a passionate entrepreneur, I am building the business based on multimedia storytelling, with a specific focus on audio storytelling.

Paula Cordeiro ()

I have spent the past 20 years working with broadcasters, music and media companies, both as researcher, business consultant and keynote speaker. For the last 4 years of those, I acted as the ombudsperson for public radio at RTP (Rádio e televisão de Portugal). I have a PhD in interactive media, and have also authored books about radio and digital media and writes for several media – so Urbanista feels like a natural fit right now.

How successful has the business been at creating revenue and how competitive is the space?

Well the biggest problem of all is always driving revenues, isn’t it? And it’s been hard, it has been really, really tough, because most brands today care more about exposure than actually having a community and driving an interaction with that community – and focusing on great content that can actually help them positioning their brand. Brands are more into influencers with amazing numbers of followers, and blogs that have an amazing number of followers and shares. But then nothing happens, because that brand’s sales don’t actually grow that much based on that kind of strategy. But is being driven at the moment by Instagram and the growing number of Instagrammers or micro influencers on Instagram. My view is that it is better to have content that really matters, content that actually has an opinion.  

But that is harder to sell to brands than just exposing your outfit, talking about your shoes, posting your exercise routine or what you are eating, whether it’s healthy or not. So in terms of my view on driving revenue, you have to find a balance between what people are actually liking and sharing on Instagram and Facebook, and what matters in terms of having a point and being meaningful in society. It’s tough, but it’s possible if you find the right balance.  And I think that that balance happens through the way you tell the story. I really believe in the power of storytelling. If you actually tell a story and are able to bring the audience to the story – to make it relevant – you can get a successful blog or a successful podcast.

Urbanista ()

So is it your sense that the influencer stuff will help with brand awareness, make people more aware of you – but it is good content and good storytelling that will actually convert that into more money for your brand and more purchases?

Yes, I totally agree with that. I couldn’t agree more.

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How has your background in broadcasting and music helped you establish the business?

Well, definitely it helps, because I think that radio is the best school from which to learn storytelling – because when you are producing whatever content you are making, in radio you simply have to do it right. Everything in radio is about storytelling. Even in the news you have to tell people a story, because you can’t rely on the pictures. You have to make it meaningful to the people who are listening to your content.

The other thing it has done is to enable me to include podcasts in my blog and it’s not very usual for a blog to have that. That has given me a point of difference and made people pay attention to what I am doing. You have blogs and you have YouTubers, but you don’t have many people producing multimedia content in a blog.

What pushed me in that direction? It’s a combination of things. First, it was much easier for me to do it that way because it’s where I feel comfortable. I feel happy in the radio studio, interviewing people and creating a story. The other driver was the desire to have a point of difference. And another driver was that there was a window of opportunity here. Podcasting is growing by the day, but wasn’t happening here in Portugal.

FIPP World Congress 2017 | Meet the speaker: Paula Cordeiro, Urbanista

Where do you see audio content going from here? Do you feel it can become more mainstream?

There are a lot of opportunities for audio content and different kinds of audio services on a smartphone. I really don’t know why this isn’t happening faster. Maybe Google and Facebook are as well to blame because they don’t make it easy to share audio content online. So, if you want to search for a podcast, I have to use different kinds of words. I can’t search for audio on Google. If you post audio on Facebook and you don’t have an image, then nothing happens. And so maybe this is part of the problem – not exactly the real problem, but something that would help audio move more into the mainstream would be to have these huge platforms getting into audio more.

Urbanista podcast ()

But audio for them is just awkward. They don’t know exactly what to do with it and I think that audio people, radio people and the broadcasting industry should make a move into educating people from other industries, such as advertising industry agencies and brands, on how powerful audio can be to their story. 

Is there an area of opportunity opening up around voice-enabled user interfaces, such Alexa. What opportunities do you think we will see for content producers there?

I get the sense at the moment that, as things like voice enabled systems such as Alexa and so on are developing, that from a content perspective they’re really just trying to make the best use they can of existing formats. There’s not really content creation happening specifically for them as the primary outlet.  

Meet Paula at the 41st FIPP World Congress in London, 9-11 October, where she will share her expertise on the use of audio to create powerful brand storytelling. Discounted Early Bird registration for the Congress is currently available. Sign up here.

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