Why we need a new approach to communications

Born in an era of information overload, Orchestra is purpose-built for today’s complex and evolving media landscape.

by Jonathan Rosen

It’s never been harder to break through. 

Every day, YouTube grows by 720,000 hours (more than 82 years!) of video and 34 million new clips are posted on TikTok. Every month, 70 million blog posts are published on WordPress alone. And every year, podcasters release nearly 30 million new episodes. As the cost of generating new content — text, audio, images, and video — approaches zero thanks to generative AI, the era of information overload is poised to take a quantum leap forward. 

But making stuff is different than having an audience. A recent study showed that more than 96% of online content gets no traffic from Google, still the web’s dominant traffic driver. Reaching anything resembling a meaningful audience with podcasts is equally difficult: Among the more than 120,000 podcasts hosted on one popular platform, half get fewer than 31 downloads in their first week. 

The vaunted long tail may be getting longer, but it is ratty and fraying. And for good reason: Much, if not most, of what’s in it is of low interest or poor quality, leading to an earsplitting noise-to-signal ratio.

At the same time, the institutions people have long relied on to serve as information gatekeepers — the media — are going through their own tectonic shifts. While a handful of publications like The New York Times are booming, overall newspaper circulation has declined 80% since 2005. While some established journalists are finding success with new formats such as newsletters, layoffs at even the most renowned publishers continue to thin the profession’s ranks. And television audiences are in a five-decade decline, with broadcast and cable viewing falling below half of total TV usage for the first time in 2023.  

New world. New rules.

In other words, we’ve entered an era of unprecedented upheaval in media and communications, one with new rules, new players, and new ways of engaging people. It requires a mindset shift — both from agencies and clients — away from tactics and channels and toward repeatable strategies to attract, engage, and retain audiences. As focus is increasingly fragmented into bite-sized increments across myriad platforms, PR and marketing must merge or at least learn to dance together toward a common goal: earning and keeping attention. 

How do we get there? In today’s world, a great story well told remains the primary currency of the communications business. If anything, the cacophony has raised the bar for quality. Faced with nearly infinite choice, people will gravitate only to what’s interesting and relevant to them. Thumbs move fast. Ads can be skipped. Making clear that your story is the one that’s worth their time is the key to unlocking consistent engagement across channels and to driving success — repeatedly — for clients.

Yet in a world of information overload, even the best story will struggle to get attention. To succeed, every company, every client needs to also hold itself and its partners accountable for reaching its target audience and inspiring them to act, wherever they are. 

That means continuing to work through traditional gatekeepers with broad reach and credibility. But it also necessitates getting messages out in an aligned and coordinated way through a diverse set of digital, social, influencer, and paid channels, and increasingly by publishing and promoting the most important stories directly through owned channels. 

“In today’s world, a great story well told remains the primary currency of the communications business.” 

Why Orchestra

Orchestra was born in the midst of this information upheaval. Created through the combination of BerlinRosen, Brightmode, Derris, Glen Echo Group, Inkhouse, M18, Message Lab, and Onward, we were designed from Day 1 to help clients thrive in this new, more complex environment. As we set out to build the company, we were guided by a vision and a model that was purpose-built for today’s new rules. The imperative of owning both the narrative and its distribution is baked into our DNA.

Whether it’s earned media, branding, SEO, thought leadership, paid promotion, crisis management, or public affairs, Orchestra's experts and strategic thinkers partner with clients to craft the most compelling ways to tell their stories. They work closely with audience development specialists focused on understanding who our clients are trying to reach and what makes that audience tick. We’ve also assembled a team of veteran journalists, visual designers, and videographers who excel at combining incisive reporting and narrative storytelling into editorial experiences that audiences want to engage with. 

We built Orchestra to help our clients navigate between the worlds of mass communication and direct delivery. We help them connect with audiences through earned, shared, and owned channels. We know how to capture and sustain people’s attention across all of these pathways. And we combine these capabilities with expertise in dozens of industries, including consumer, tech, climate and sustainability, education, financial services, sports, social impact, the arts, real estate, travel, and hospitality.  

Results-driven communications

To hold ourselves accountable, we have developed a set of proprietary tools that we use to measure what works and what doesn’t. When our assumptions and tactics are validated, we lean into them. When they somehow miss the mark, we’re able to iterate quickly until we can show our clients’ messages are reaching their target audiences. 

Orchestra is a new kind of communications company, guided by a philosophy about what it takes to succeed in an ever-changing media world. By bringing an unprecedented set of relationships, skills, expertise, tools, and tactics under one roof, we can help our clients reach their audiences more effectively and with more certainty and precision than ever before.