5 Lessons From Netflix’s Public Affairs Strategy

Image of Netflix logo on black background
Image of Netflix logo on black background

The online streaming industry is a competitive one. With big-time players such as Apple, Amazon, Paramount and Disney competing in the space, the DVD rental-turned-online streaming giant Netflix has its work cut out for them. So how does the company stay ahead in an industry where their competitors are fast catching up with them? 

In this blog, we look at Netflix’s points of action in moulding their public affairs strategy. By developing a global culture across different markets in managing their public affairs, Netflix is staying relevant more than ever in the context of a changing media landscape.

Table of Contents

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Disrupting the Entertainment Industry

Changing the way people watch films and television is definitely the most significant factor of Netflix’s success. The company transformed how people consume media by handing over the ability to people to choose what, how and when they wanted to watch. Netflix disrupted the power of Hollywood studios and the now-defunct Blockbuster Videos had over consumers and offered a plethora of entertainment choices.

Content on Netflix allows people to watch their shows instantly, whenever they want. They can also binge-watch their favourite shows. Netflix gave viewers what they wanted — a way to have control over what they were watching. There is a world of content online, and Netflix helped to create a way to search for it all. There are also no advertisements interrupting programmes, which is how it makes it unique to the traditional way of watching TV. 

By constantly innovating and always offering a unique proposition, Netflix continues to retain their customers and make them stick to their service. The company recently launched gaming apps only available for their customers. This culture of innovation is a driving force behind why the company is doing so well, which is to always produce services and content that is always putting their customers first.

Image of Netflix gaming app on mobile phone

Addressing Public Concerns Quickly & Openly

Like every other organisation and company, there will always be issues that may bring an adverse reaction to their brand. Netflix is a global company with an international audience. There is so much information and opinions being shared online about the company and their products. Any issue can become viral if it is not addressed and may gradually grow to a problem which becomes associated with the brand.

Recently, famed American comedian Dave Chappelle was embroiled in a faceoff between his work and the transgender community. His comedic set was brandished as derogatory and harmful to the community. The comedian retorted that his set was against free speech and the prevalent cancel culture was setting an agenda against him. 

Amid protests and resignations, the company’s Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos apologised for the way he handled the issue, but defended the comedian’s work on grounds of creative freedom. Throughout the whole process, the company has remained open and transparent on the reasons behind their decisions. The company’s global audience of 213.5 million subscribers can then make their own informed decisions about how the company handled their public affairs.

Image of cultural diversity on pink background

Advocating Diversity and Inclusion

This brings us to Netflix’s well-known public affairs strategy of diversity and inclusion. The streaming service’s programmes are all about featuring diversity. They have an amazing selection of programming that spans different genres, with global themes that are rooted in culture. Due to their international reach, they have a diverse range of programming that aims to promote the multicultural content of the world. 

Netflix pushes this agenda by building a team that is dedicated to ensuring that their programming accurately reflects different opinions, creativity, religions, cultures, races, gender expressions, sexual orientations, and identities. They also make sure they are conscious of the depictions of these different groups. With such diversity in their content, the wider the audiences they can reach out to.

Advocating for diversity is Netflix’s way of making sure everyone has the opportunity to be themselves and they are represented in the media landscape. This move is not about making people different so that the content becomes more interesting, it is about letting people be themselves. Advocating for inclusiveness is crucial to making sure everyone’s voice is heard. It’s about making sure everyone has a voice in how they choose to live their life.

Image of hands of different cultures holding speech bubbles

Promoting Global Cultures and Content

Netflix may have started their journey as an American company, but with the focus on diversity and inclusivity, the company has evolved into a global one. As Netflix grows its network of subscribers, it is spreading awareness and knowledge of different cultures. This is the first time audiences are seeing so many international programmes being produced and all housed in one accessible platform. Undeniably, this has been a huge development for global cultures as a whole.

Two examples are in-house Netflix productions — South Korea’s mega-hit Squid Game and the Spanish thriller Money Heist. The horror series Squid Game proved to be hugely popular as audiences around the world were gripped by the relatable themes of moral conflict and humans’ instinct of survival. The Spanish caper Money Heist dealt with issues of greed and betrayal, relatable themes to make it a hit show. 

By establishing different cultural genres of entertainment, Netflix developed a stronghold in various communities and backgrounds. While at the same time, this promotion of multicultural content directly resonates with the wide range of nationalities and ethnicity. Netflix has gone on to create extensive catalogues of streaming content from different regions and continents, bringing along the audiences within them.

And with its move into regional content, the company has also boosted investments into the local entertainment industries. From Southeast Asia to the African continent, Netflix has expanded its content with cultural diversity based on its geographical location. The company is also providing a new platform for filmmakers and artists to express themselves while boosting their industries in the region.

Image of employee advocacy contributing to brand growth

Employee Advocacy of its Culture

Many of those who work in Netflix have vouched for the company’s open and expressive structures. In fact, the company encourages their employees to constantly check on each other and ask questions. Notably, the most interesting mantra in Netflix is to avoid rules. With such a bold directive, the company backs its employees to embrace the culture to promote innovation within its ranks.

The best way to build your brand is through your employees. People want to work for companies that have a great culture. This is why it's so important for employees to feel good about the company they work for, because their happiness will come through in their work. With employees doing their own versions of brand advocacy, its culture is key to success in many industries. 

Netflix employees are the company’s best brand advocates. The company’s tactics are different, but still effective. So, that is why Netflix actively connects employees with the company. They have turned their employees into everything from customer experience agents to recruiters, and the best part is they are all satisfied with this unprecedented level of transparency.

The internet has changed everything, and it’s important to stay up to date with changes in the industry. How companies interact with their customers and the public is vital in developing their business. A lot of companies are not doing a good job of this and limiting themselves to the traditional methods of communications. Companies that operate in the public domain need to interact with the public, state authorities and the media, to gain an advantage. 

Public affairs and the responsibility of companies is a part of business that is often overlooked. With the future of media changing shape and the environment changing as a result, it has become more important to be aware of what is going on across the world. Organisations like Netflix are standing up to take responsibility for their actions. Businesses should be looking at public affairs as an integral part of their strategies because what might seem like a small decision now could have a big impact on the future.