Behind the Headlines With Angela DeRusha
Today’s consumers aren’t interested in hearing your brand shout at them. Instead, they want their voices heard first, so your brand can address their needs.
Angela DeRusha, vice president of advertising services at French/West/Vaughan, believes understanding your consumers is key to effectively communicating with them.
In this interview, Angela discusses how consumers have evolved over the years, how to improve your brand’s advertising campaign and why maintaining authenticity is so important.
How did you get your start in advertising?
I got my start in advertising back when I was a high school senior and I took a job as an intern at Barber Martin, a full-service consumer agency in Richmond, VA. I stayed on with them through college summer breaks and holidays and eventually went to work for them full time in the account service department.
My four years with BMA exposed me to true agency life, late night creative sessions, big pitches, client demands and earning your stripes. It is where my love of branding started.
What do you see as the biggest challenges facing brands today? How can they overcome them?
I believe the biggest challenge facing brands today is the “consumer of today.” Today’s consumer is smarter, quicker, more accessible, more demanding and more engaged than ever before.
Gone are the days of brands shouting at consumers for brain spaces. Today, brands have to understand the mindset and anticipate where their consumer’s lifestyles will go next so they can be the first to cross into that space as if they have owned it for years.
What are some of the key components of an effective ad campaign?
Advertising campaigns today have to be so many things. It is not enough that they make a claim, deliver on a promise or try and differentiate themselves from the competition.
To be effective, campaigns have to have a deep understanding of the consumers likes and behaviors, be able to predict their future needs as well as scan the industry for the next big thing.
But more than any of this, brands today must be adaptable to changing perspectives, cultural shifts, fads and the fickle consumer. It is kind of sad that the trend in some successful brands means those brands have walked away from their authentic self in order to move product.
Digital has transformed the way we communicate. What opportunities does digital present for advertising? Is there a downside?
Digital advertising has contributed greatly to this growing shift in brand culture. The digital age has produced a consumer and marketing place where if you don’t resonate you are easily replaced. To me, the digital space is a catch-22. Evolution of the way we engage and grow as brands is a must but at a cost to authenticity.
What are the biggest ways the advertising industry has changed over the years? What has remained the same?
Everything has changed! The consumer, the landscape, the competition, the mediums, you name it…it has changed.
But the biggest thing that has changed is the relationship. The relationship between consumer and brand has evolved the most. It used to be a very one-way relationship. Buy my product, pick me.
Today, there has to be an effective dialogue back and forth where consumer listening is key. Because ultimately, today’s consumer determines the success of your brand.
What is one thing most brands aren’t doing but should?
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned throughout your career?
Like in business and in life, the landscape is always changing.
Rapid Fire Round
1. My hobbies outside of work include…working out, cycling, a great bottle of Malbec and traveling.
2. If I was stuck on a desert island, I’d…die when my iPhone does.
3. My guiltiest pleasure is…a sweet corner bakery in New York City. Their sea salt chocolate chip cookie is to die for.
4. I laugh most at…myself.
5. One thing most people don’t know about me is…I am obsessed with the Food Network but don’t cook.
6. My dream vacation would be…a bungalow villa over the ocean in Tahiti.
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