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The recent Cambridge Analytica/Facebook crisis and expansive GDPR regulations are sending shock waves throughout the ad industry—particularly within pharma, where personal health information is especially sensitive, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. What do pharma brand marketers need to know, and what steps should be taken to ensure safety while still benefitting from the powerful …

The recent Cambridge Analytica/Facebook crisis and expansive GDPR regulations are sending shock waves throughout the ad industry—particularly within pharma, where personal health information is especially sensitive, and the stakes couldn’t be higher.

What do pharma brand marketers need to know, and what steps should be taken to ensure safety while still benefitting from the powerful technology? Spitz, our Practice Leader in Strategy, recently addressed these challenges at DTC National 2018.

Check out the summary or stream the presentation below.

You’re a superhero

Give yourself a round of applause! From deep marketing experience to vast clinical and regulatory expertise, market research to content strategy to multichannel activation, today’s pharma brand manager must know more and do more than ever before—and often with less: less budget, less time, and less security.

Every superhero has a nemesis, and yours is called “VUCA”—a world of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. Global competition, mounting drug pipeline, pricing, market access, and generics concerns keep you up at night. Everyday obstacles await each morning, including accessing HCPs and engaging patients as scopes shrink and the need to substantiate ROI grows.

These pressures build, making your commitment to emerging technologies like digital appear riskier. Although healthcare spend totals more than $3.2 trillion a year in the US and amounts to nearly 20% of GDP, digital ad spend remains at the bottom compared to other top industries:

Falling back on more comfortable yet less efficient channels results in lost opportunities and a suboptimal media mix. The challenge isn’t unique to healthcare, as Adam Cossman, our Chief Digital Officer has observed. Despite confusion and continued skepticism, the future looks bright for digital marketing, especially in healthcare and pharma, and here’s why.

Welcome to the digital marketing revolution

Many predicted flying cars and bases on the Moon, few foreseeing microcomputers in our pockets enabling instantaneous and global two-way communication.

The ability to receive and transmit data has made everyone a content creator and distributor, transforming entire industries and giving rise to on-demand services that have dissolved the traditional boundaries between brands and their consumers. From Amazon to Netflix, today’s top brands engage consumers demanding unprecedented convenience, immediacy, and personalization.

Bob Pearson, Chief Innovation Officer at W2O describes the inexorable evolution of advertising into Storytizing—where thanks to the power and ubiquity of digital, brands must now create and disseminate an ongoing narrative to consumers anytime, anywhere.

Managing Director Chuck Hemann also describes how on the back-end increasingly sophisticated digital marketing analytics not only help marketers deliver the right message to the right consumer at the right time, but enable precise modeling to optimize results, maximize spend, and substantiate investment.

How digital marketing and healthcare converge

That’s good news for digital marketers—and even better news for pharma marketers like you. Often overlooked and rarely discussed, the connections between digital marketing and digital health are deep and particularly meaningful.

From precision targeting to personalized engagement, predictive modeling to real time optimization, digital marketing has driven astonishing advances in identifying and engaging consumers—while digital health, evolving in parallel, has utilized similar tools, tech, and even lexicon to help in the next generation of diagnosis, management, prediction, and even the prevention of disease.

Eric Topol’s Creative Destruction of Medicine describes how digital tech and digital health have “super-converged” to precipitate a new era of the quantified self and transformative healthcare:

The super-convergence has also ushered in a new era of digital pharma marketing—where the necessary synergy of healthcare, communications, and technology expertise gives your brand the unfair advantage you need to succeed.

Privacy concerns and the deed for a trusted partner

The power of data has proven itself, but every action engenders an opposite reaction. The inverse relationship between privacy and convenience—alongside the aggressive monetization of personal data by Facebook and other platforms—recently exploded with the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Zuckerberg’s two-day testimony before Congress reassured stockholders but raised even more questions about data privacy, and what the government intends to do about protecting it. The EU has already expanded GDPR guidelines, triggering a cascading effect throughout the world, marketers beware.

Here at W2O Group we gauge our “Unfair Advantage” in how we ensure not only effectiveness for your brand, but our commitment to privacy, security, and reputation. Driven by data, integrating insights from analytics through activation, we’re an award winning partner dedicated to accountability, responsibility, transparency, and creative innovation.


If you’re interested in knowing more about W2O, check out our About page.

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This, and other takeaways and tips from the PR News Measurement Conference The W2O Group and I were grateful to have been asked to speak at  The PR News Measurement Conference recently. PR News brought together speakers, sponsors, and attendees representing a cross section of private and public-sector communicators, agency, academia, and research foundations for …

This, and other takeaways and tips from the PR News Measurement Conference

The W2O Group and I were grateful to have been asked to speak at  The PR News Measurement Conference recently. PR News brought together speakers, sponsors, and attendees representing a cross section of private and public-sector communicators, agency, academia, and research foundations for two full days of programming.  I spoke about the importance of influencers (identifying, understanding, engaging, tracking).  I also had the honor of helping to close the conference with a Baker’s Half Dozen observations, key moments, notable quotes and emerging themes.   I’ve adapted those here and added four more to round out a list of top ten takeaways and tips.

Top Ten Takeaways & Tips

  1.  Make management a part of your measurement journey.  If there was a single most frequently recurring theme at the conference it was to do with senior leadership into whom communicators report.  Concern over what senior management expects, understands, aligns with and supports.  Panelists who raised this (and attendees that asked about it) all described themselves as being on varying stages of a journey.   Panelists and attendees both described a need to evolve their measurement to position communications less as a cost center and more as generating value for their organizations.  Communications is under increasing pressure to use data (the lingua franca of senior leadership) and scorecards (the visual vernacular of senior leadership) to help tell a c-suite, boardroom-ready story of progress.  In this context, measurement is best seen–speakers suggested–as improvement not justification.  And to improve, what we as communicators put in front of leadership has got to surface insights that lead to conversations about strategic and tactical adjustments.  Key to this, however, is support from management on and alignment with a rigorous approach to measurement that is mindful of objectives, regards a framework, includes multiple meaningful metrics and leads to a culture that is open to acting on the results.  It’s a journey W2O is helping clients with.
  2.   Start somewhere. What’s that saying about a thousand-mile journey beginning with a single step?  One delegate noted that the conference was like a giant support group with those further along on their journey comforting those not quite so advanced.  The tip here is to start somewhere, start small and evolve over time.  Test and fail.  Fail fast.  One panelist encouraged delegates to “pilot the seemingly outlandish and impossible.”  W2O client Aetna has been on a journey to get to an ever-more data-driven communications operation.  Kieran Fagan, VP of Communications at Aetna presented a case study ( How Aetna is Transforming its Communications with Consistent Metrics  ) that outlined a six-step plan.   1)  State your intent about shifting toward being data-driven.  2)  Answer the big question:  so what?  3)  Count what you can but don’t overdo it.  4)  Tie it to your story; your narrative themes.  5) Bring it to the business.  Socialize it.  Solicit feedback.  Acclimate to it.  6) Don’t run a victory lap as measurement is an ever-evolving journey.
  3. Start with the start in mind. It’s corny, but I like to say that KPIs are easy as pie if we’ve done the harder upfront work of clearly identifying objectives.  I was once a PRSA awards judge and noticed so many plans confused goals, objectives, strategies and tactics into one big aspirational slide.  That confuses measurement.  Clarity helps us measure by objective not tactic, nor channel.  It helps us put the audience at the center.  KPIs, scorecards, dashboards, and reports are far easier to design with that clarity.  A former colleague coined a hashtag that’s fitting here:  #YOMO:  year of the measurable objective.
  4. Embrace a framework. An audience, funnel, journey, path to (purchase or some other appropriate action and advocacy) can be enormously helpful in organizing objectives, KPIs, methods and data sources as part of a measurement framework.  And it helps PR align with colleagues in marketing.  There are many such funnels out there.  Some from the measurement-centric industry associations.  Many variations of which, conference speakers presented.  I was encouraged so many presented at this conference; many more that I’ve seen in similar conferences past.  At W2O we use a funnel (Awareness > inter-Action > Attitude > Action > Advocacy) to help challenge ourselves and clients to think about outcomes as much as output.  A framework encourages us to think more broadly and avoid thinking about a specific touchpoint or the effect of a single post.  Despite Kylie Jenner’s ability to drive down Snap’s stock value by $1.3 billion in a single day with a single Tweet, we’ve got to be thinking bigger.  The long-standing preference for measuring every individual touchpoint at a user-level misses the forest for the trees.
  5. Stop looking for a single, killer, ROI metric.  Nope, no thanks. Don’t do it.  It’s a race to the bottom.  It limits our thinking before we’ve even started.  Rather, let’s think about multiple metrics in each tier of the funnel, journey, path.  Let’s think about demonstrating multiple tiers of shift, progress, and value using multiple, increasingly sophisticated methods to do so.  Impressions were frequently cited at the conference as the most commonly used but most problematic and least popular metric.  One metric on a slide at the conference caused a bit of a stir and spurred a tweet from Katie Paine that sums up the challenge nicely: “for the record, re: impressions, there are 7.4 billion people on Earth. Less than half have computers, access to the internet or electricity. Even fewer care about your brand/message/product. So when you say you’ve reached 10 billion people, you have lost all credibility.”  No question the metric has a credibility problem.  I think impressions do have a place in measurement with two very important caveats:  1) that we look it as one among multiple metrics, not THE metric, and 2) that we look at impressions among very specific target audiences we want to reach (via audience/stakeholder/influencer-specific listening panels) and that we look at impressions for only those media outlets (and influencers) that matter to those audiences and that generating sharing.
  6. Embrace ever-more audience specificity. While there were occasional hints of this at the conference, I expected to hear and see more focus on audiences.  Delegates seemed, in principle, to recognize that the days of “spray and pray” are over and that we’re in a new era of focusing on who matters, who matters to them, what matters, how and where it will matter.  We’re seeing an acute shift from a coverage model to a community and conversation model.  But there seems to be a gap between acknowledging the challenge and addressing it.
  7. It’s time to face the fear. There were several moments and remarks at the conference that surfaced challenges with peers in marketing.  I think a certain amount of tension between the two can be healthy and productive.  I was a touch surprised not to hear more calls from either panelist or delegates to face the fear of marketing, fix the friction, embrace integrated marketing communications (as graduate degree programs did 20 years ago) and be comfortable in their new cross-PESO (paid, earned, shared, owned) context.  There was a surprising sense of us vs. them or otherness in the room.  It’s time to break through that.  It’s where the industry has been headed and where W2O has been headed for some time.
  8. Skill sets for the next generation communicator are shifting:  It comes up at every measurement conference typically as someone is asking one of the first questions of the day.  “I went into PR because I hate math.”  Those days are gone, in my view.  I’m not about to tell my six-year-old daughter that it’s OK for her not to worry about math if she wants a career in PR.  Major organizations are hiring staff into corporate communications departments at the director (or higher) level with a mandate of driving more data-driven communications.  They are auditing then augmenting headcount, staff skills, tools, methods, output and processes.  This theme came up several times throughout the conference with a call for hiring more resources with blended backgrounds, curiosity, critical thinking, a willingness to test hypotheses, a basic grounding in research methods, some knowledge of business intelligence tools.  We’re practicing that preach here @ W2O.  Out of our 600 agency staff, more than 100 are analysts, some of whom are account – analytics hybrids.
  9. Get to know your in-house market research folks. Some PR practitioners in large organizations haven’t met their own internal market research groups.  Agencies often play the role of matchmaker in suggesting that connection.  It’s commonly the case when you get these groups together and talk about wants, needs, challenges, and ideas that good things happen.  I didn’t hear as much on this as I’d have hoped at the conference and it is so crucial.  One example:  it’s important to align one’s media content analysis with the brand and reputation tracking studies that most organizations have running.
  10. Measurement isn’t a cost.  It’s cost-saver.  This, too, comes up at every conference.  The idea that a client can’t afford measurement.  And that if they did some measurement, it would mean less tactical programming.  Fewer releases, events, pitches, opeds, whitepapers, influencers engaged and so on.  That’s a justification not an optimization argument.  Most who do measurement for a living have evidence that suggests that measurement helps fine tune execution and that there’s ample room for both measurement and smarter, data-driven execution.  I always counter the “I can’t afford this” with “can you afford not to?”  Measurement helps keep and grow headcount, it grows budget and it helps communicators so no to tactical ideas that data shows isn’t optimal.

I’ll leave off where we began and that is to suggest, that, like happiness, measurement is a journey not destination. Are you on a measurement journey?  Where are you on your journey? We’d love to hear from you.

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Our strategic partner, Techonomy, kicks off Techonomy NYC today, where leaders from across industries are discussing the fast-moving trends transforming business and society. You won’t want to miss out the content! Tune into the conference via the livestream below as experts dive into artificial intelligence, media, government and policy, sustainability, social media, financial tech, the …

Our strategic partner, Techonomy, kicks off Techonomy NYC today, where leaders from across industries are discussing the fast-moving trends transforming business and society.

You won’t want to miss out the content! Tune into the conference via the livestream below as experts dive into artificial intelligence, media, government and policy, sustainability, social media, financial tech, the future of healthcare, corporate social responsibility and so much more.

The two-day conference will look at the technologies driving change in both business and society, the progress these technologies can create, and the potential peril that comes from missteps and unintended consequences. This year, talks are framed by the United Nations’ Global Goals for 2030: how can tech and business drive responsible growth.

The full conference agenda with panels and times can be found here.

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Don’t miss an episode! Subscribe to our podcast. W2O Group Founder & CEO Jim Weiss is widely seen as one of the foremost innovators on the communications landscape. He ranks among the 500 Most Influential People in the Global PR Industry, according to PR Week. He was named one of In2’s Top 25 Innovators in …

Don’t miss an episode! Subscribe to our podcast.

W2O Group Founder & CEO Jim Weiss is widely seen as one of the foremost innovators on the communications landscape. He ranks among the 500 Most Influential People in the Global PR Industry, according to PR Week. He was named one of In2’s Top 25 Innovators in 2014. He’s also a founder and sponsor of the W2O Center for Social Commerce at the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

I sat down with Jim hours after he got off the plane back from SXSW. We talked about everything  from top SXSW takeaways for 2018 to the trends we should be watching across the communications sector over the next year to fly fishing in Hawaii (something I know nothing about). We also talked about W2O Group’s recent announcement of unprecedented, double-digit growth over the last 16 years. Really something.

Jim is candid, frank, and sharp as they come. You won’t want to miss this one.

P.S. If you’re curious to learn more about our firm and our journey check out Jim’s latest blog post.

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(If you haven’t already, be sure to read our recaps from Day 1 & Day 2 of #W2OSXSW) The key characteristic that sets SXSW apart from other conferences is the convergence of seemingly disparate subjects and speakers into exhilarating discussions on topics relevant to us all. This unique convergence was on display during Thursday’s #W2OSXSW …

(If you haven’t already, be sure to read our recaps from Day 1 & Day 2 of #W2OSXSW)

The key characteristic that sets SXSW apart from other conferences is the convergence of seemingly disparate subjects and speakers into exhilarating discussions on topics relevant to us all. This unique convergence was on display during Thursday’s #W2OSXSW sessions as speakers ranging from Intel, Dropbox & JNJ to Barstool Sports, Bell Flight & The NFL Players Association came together to expand the audiences’ minds and challenge our long-held assumptions.

With that, I’ll skip the lengthy introductions and jump straight into the meat of the panels. To give you an idea of what we learned, I’ve included the session titles, speakers, key learnings & top tweets from each panel:

Digital Playbook: Connecting Brands Fans & Athletes

Speakers:

Watch the Full Discussion Here

Day 3 kicked off with a focus on connecting brands and the athlete influencers they work with. To give you an idea of the session, I’ve called out three things that I took away from the conversation:

  • Programming & Cadence
    • Paul and Deirdre reiterated the importance of excellent programming published at a consistent cadence. Whether you are a media outlet publishing news content or a YouTube influencer sharing videos, you want your audience to become accustomed to when your content is released and begin to look for it at that time.
  • Authenticity
    • Authenticity was a theme we heard throughout the day’s panels and was identified as an absolute must for any brand-influencer Authenticity of both the athlete representing the brand and the media outlet authentically transferring their brand value to the brand partner. From the athlete’s perspective, Paul recommended having the influencer explain why he/she is endorsing this brand to establish authenticity. The influencer having a conversation with the audience they connect with daily can make a huge difference.
  • Workflow & Measurement
    • Two key aspects of athlete influencer activation are workflow logistics between the brand and influencer and measuring the value of the partnership. Bryant explained how Slyce addresses measurement by ingesting every social post an athlete makes online and analyzing the content to identify the brand’s earned media value from the partnership. Regarding workflow, Slyce streamlines communication and asset sharing between brands and influencers to drive performance and efficiency.

To close out the session, Paul asked each panelist to give their top recommendations for social influencers to follow:

News Integrity: Advocating for Quality Journalism OR “Can We Save The World from Fake News?”

Speakers:

Watch the Full Discussion Here

This was truly a fascinating topic and discussion expertly moderated by David Kirkpatrick of  Techonomy. To give you an idea of the sometimes contentious (in a good way!) session, I’ve called out three things that I took away from the conversation:

  • Journalism is essential to democracy.
    • The panelists reminded us that journalism is essential to democracy and though some may try, we cannot unlink the state of journalism and the state of our democracy. To put it succinctly: the media’s job is to inform the people; people who are informed are more likely to participate politically; participating politically is a good thing. If our democracy is to continue as designed, the citizens must participate politically.
  • What is the state of truth?
    • Trust is at an all-time low. Fake News (or misinformation as our panelists decided was a better term) is more popular than truth. A recent Science Magazine report proved this by showing stories that are not true can achieve as much as 100X the retweets as a true story on a comparable topic. The obvious next question then is how do we combat fake news? By focusing on solutions, not problems. Dr. Chen spoke of the University of Texas’ Knight Center for Journalism that is working to study discreet questions by creating research projects to try to solve problems for media outlets. One example, she gave was of a recent project to help a news organization understand how to improve their comments section, always a dangerous place to venture into.
  • Local news trumps national news.
    • When you ask people “do you trust the media?”, they say no. But when you ask if they trust specific journalists or local news outlets they say yes. KUT editor, Matt Largey, pointed to the NPR business model which is built on trust and partnerships with local outlets. And as an Austinite, I can confirm that I turn to KUT for trustworthy local news far sooner than CNN or other outlets. The panelists also pointed to Facebook’s recent shifts to include more local news sources as a positive step to improve trust in the media.

Honestly this panel had so many great discussions, I couldn’t come close to covering them all in this summary, so I recommend watching the full session via the link above.

Breakthrough Innovators Who Are Changing the World

Speakers:

Watch the Full Discussion Here

We did this one a bit differently, giving each panelist 10 minutes to outline the innovations they are working on and then followed it up with a conversation about innovations that are changing the world. I’ve outlined my key takeaways from each presentation below:

Melissa Schilling, NYU Stern School of Business

  • Melissa shared insights from her recently published book, Quirky – The science behind the traits and quirks that drive creative geniuses to make spectacular breakthroughs, which explains the traits that really distinguish the people who literally change the world. Interestingly, of the 8 innovators she studied, the only 2 living members (Elon Musk & Dean Kamen) attended and spoke at SXSW this year. If that doesn’t make you want to attend SXSW next year, then I don’t know what will.
  • For more on her book, read this glowing review in The Financial Times and watch this catchy 1 ½ minute video overview on CNBC.

Komal Ahmad, Copia

  • Komal is inspiring. She is literally feeding the world’s hungry with food that would otherwise be thrown away. After hearing her talk, we all left wanting to change the world. As a student at UC Berkeley she started Copia, a for-profit platform that matches unused food to people who are hungry. And since this group came out of Silicon Valley, of course they built an algorithm to efficiently match food donations to non-profits and seamlessly run all the logistics of transporting the often-perishable food to the folks who need it. Here are a few stats to give you an idea of the impact they are making:
    • At the Academy Awards they gathered unused gourmet food to feed over 1,100 people
    • At the Super Bowl they gathered 14 tons of food and fed 23K people
    • This year they will feed over 2 million people.
  • As Komal ended her session she channeled her internal Muhammad Ali to remind us “Impossible is Nothing”, and I, for one, believed it after hearing her.

Scott Drennan, Bell Flight

  • If you don’t think of Bell Flight (Formerly Bell Helicopter) as an innovative company, then you are wrong. Bell’s Director of Innovation, Scott Drennan, wowed the audience as he overviewed the new era of innovation at Bell. Driven by his CEO, Mitch Snyder, they have transformed from a product company into a technology company. With that in mind, Bell is innovating how we fly by building amazing machines like the V-280 Valor, which is a hybrid aircraft that uses tiltrotors to take off like a helicopter and fly like a plane (for more on the V-280 check out this WIRED article).
  • On the consumer side, they are partnering with Uber and others to build electric-powered urban air taxis that will eventually allow us to hop on an aircraft on the roof of a skyscraper in downtown and get home in a matter of minutes. I had a chance to experience their VR activation (check it out here) showing how this would work and I have to say I was wowed. I immediately thought of that scene in Star Wars where ObiWan & Anikan are jumping through flying cars to catch the bounty hunter. Thanks to folks like Scott, the future of air taxis is closer than you may think.

Seema Kumar, Johnson & Johnson

  • JNJ continues to impress me with their innovative breakthroughs across pharma, med-device and even business models with their JLABs initiatives. Seema embodied JNJ’s innovative spirit while reminding us there are many healthcare problems in the world and what we need are breakthrough innovators to uncover the next life-saving cures. Importantly, Seema reminded us that innovators are not soloists, they are “masters of an orchestra of people.” It takes an entire team to bring about change and JNJ is doing an amazing job of compiling those innovators across their organization to bring the changes the world needs. I can personally attest to that after spending time with many of their team members inspiring us all at SXSW this week.

Engaging Society via Life-Changing Innovation

Speakers:

Watch the Full Discussion Here

Another fascinating session punctuated by powerful personal stories of science impacting patient’s lives for the better. To give you an idea of the session, I’ve called out three things that I took away from the conversation:

  • Scientific stories are hard to tell.
    • Perhaps I’m stating the obvious here, but the panel made it abundantly clear that it’s difficult to explain complex technologies like 3D printing and the scientific aspects of clinical trials to the average person. However, doing it well and in a way that is relatable is absolutely critical to make patients and advocates aware of potentially life-saving scientific advancements.
  • Personal stories make it real.
    • By telling a person’s story we can make complex topics relatable to an audience. Katie demonstrated this by telling the moving story of twin boys born conjoined at the head and successfully separated using advanced 3D modeling & printing technologies. Her story won over the audience and set the tone for the rest of the panel.
  • Involve the patients & advocates!
    • Partner with these groups to authentically understand their situation and needs so you can accurately tell their story and communicate to them in a way that is relevant & relatable. Patient inspired communication is a positive trend in healthcare. Jim pointed out “In our best cases, we have co-developed the narrative with the community. When you do that you really nail it.”

Last Advice from the panel:

  • Katie: Healthcare is personal. Just like our treatments are personal, so too should be our marketing communications.
  • Sandra: It’s ok to not be mass. What we need are understandable, actionable communications to our patients.
  • Jim: All PR is local. You have to know your audience.

Evolving Business Models: Finding Next-Gen Customers

Speakers:

Watch the Full Discussion Here

We wrapped up our day of programming with a conversation between major brands converging to find next-gen customers. To give you an idea of the session, I’ve called out three things that I took away from the conversation:

  • Telling Great Stories
    • For Dropbox and Intel, their products are largely invisible. You often can’t see them even though they power numerous projects and devices. To get their message out they have to market through stories. They tell the stories of amazing things that are being created with their platforms. For example, Liz shared about their recent collaboration with Steve Aoki to
  • Authenticity & Transparency
    • Nothing is more important than authenticity & transparency. Alyson pointed to Intel’s use of their drones in the Olympics opening ceremony as an authentic use of their technology to reach their target audience. Liz referenced Delta providing consumers access to their data via their new mobile app. Delta has always had this data, but now they are sharing it with customers to improve their travel experience. Marcus explained how Adecco works closely with their customers to figure out what they need, their requirements, their desires and then builds them. As an example, he pointed to Adecco’s new YOSS platform which links freelancers to international companies looking for the services they offer.
  • Convergence
    • Let’s end where we started. Just as SXSW is distinguished by its convergence of interactive, film & music (among others), this panel gave significant conversation to the idea of a convergence of our personal and professional lives. This all started with the advancements in personal technology that drove us to demand the same tech and experience at work. Alyson pointed to people bringing their own Devices and illegally using them on the network which led Intel to realize this was something their customers wanted. We also learned that Dropbox is based on convergence. For example, Liz discussed customers driving the creation of Dropbox for business by repeatedly asking for business solutions, which led to the creation of a UX allowing users to toggle between professional and personal Dropbox accounts.

Final Advice from the panel:

  • Liz: If you aren’t engaging influencers in marketing I would recommend doing so. Today’s consumers are very savvy and won’t take your word for it. They trust their peers.
  • Marcus: In order to evolve business models, you have to understand your customer today and your customer in the future. Co-create with them and bring them along the journey.
  • Alyson: Inspiration. The most important thing is inspiring your target. Knowing who you are trying to talk to and inspiring and showing them the outcomes or benefits of your technology, not just the product itself.

And last but absolutely not least, I want to say thank you again to our sponsors who helped make the entire #W2OSXSW track possible: Bayer, Dynamic Signal, Proof, Lilly, & .Health.

Now we start planning for SXSW 2019!

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On day two of W2OSXSW, it was Pi Day! Quite appropriately, our featured panelists spanned the gamut of discussion on how technology and digital are impacting industries. From innovation in healthcare, to the implications of AI and how diversity has become a business imperative for organizations, our experts covered ground. In short, there’s no shortage …

On day two of W2OSXSW, it was Pi Day! Quite appropriately, our featured panelists spanned the gamut of discussion on how technology and digital are impacting industries. From innovation in healthcare, to the implications of AI and how diversity has become a business imperative for organizations, our experts covered ground.

In short, there’s no shortage of smart, inspiring professionals here in Austin this week. Check out some of the main takeaways I captured below.

An Insider’s View into Healthcare Innovation

Speakers:

We know that the current system isn’t working, but what does the healthcare of tomorrow look like? Our first panel discussed how integrating today’s digital tools and data (from emerging apps to genomics) to enhance organizational performance, operations and preventative health is both the opportunity and the challenge.

  • Digitally enabled healthcare will soon allow individuals go to any healthcare facility, in any location, with consistent access to their health information. We will be able to predict and prevent health issues before they even become a problem, engage with nurses and doctors from the comfort of home or work and at low cost, in real time.
  • Finding just one solution to completely overhaul the efficacy of healthcare is so challenging because it’s critical to think of the person as a whole. We can now use data to pattern and predict, but individuals have completely unique paths. Nutrition, lifestyle, environmental triggers and so much more are a part of health.
  • People should be afraid of how much google knows about them, but they give up that right because the utility of Google is so high. Developments like consumer genomics are accelerating because of the same idea.

Allies in Equality: How Diversity Shapes a Brand

Speakers:

Creating an environment where people can come to work and feel comfortable, welcome and safe is a lever for business success. Ben, Wade and Trisa shared their perspectives on the importance, complexities and impact of diversity and inclusion on brands today.

  • Research shows that diverse groups provide better service and outcomes. However, diverse groups in a non-inclusive environment provide worse service. The companies providing an inclusive environment are differentiated.
  • It’s about getting people to the table who have not been a part of the conversation in order to achieve shared power at a company, guiding not just thinking, but action. People have to DO something. And it needs to be personal.
  • Diversity must be a priority at the most senior levels. Organizations must have that kind of commitment to move the needle.
  • You need to be disinterested in being right (open to other points of view). People all have different histories and experiences.

Next-Gen Content Marketing: Reaching Digital Natives

Speakers:

Whether through visual search, social proof or audio (yes audio), our third panel channeled diverse expertise to provide insight into reaching digital native audiences. It’s not a layer cake content marketing approach, it’s about intent. Who is your customer? Where are they? How do they make a decision? And of course, what content does it take to win them over?

  • Content must be visually appealing, vertically oriented, worth saving and fueled by insights. Great storytelling is relevant!
  • Digital natives want the ability to control and interact with an on-demand environment.
  • If we can figure out first where your consumers have fear or pain, then we can determine what assets can make a difference in their end-to-end experience.
  • How to balance making advertisers and customers happy? Put dollars behind what’s making an impact, ground everything in your purpose/principles and conduct quick, iterative testing.

Synthetic Creativity: When AI Takes Over the Arts

Speakers:

What is beautiful? What tastes good? What is good taste? What makes a hit song? Will machines ultimately tell us? In a lively debate, our panelists tackled the implications of AI on creativity in 2020.

  • Must there be mind AND consciousness for there to be creativity? Humans synthesize, but so do machines. However, reducing humans to synthesis is perhaps vastly underselling us. Humans have free will.
  • It’s about augmentation, not necessarily replacement. Technology is able to process more information, faster and while we’re sleeping. It’s going to help us prioritize and be more productive.
  • Imagine what making everyone on the planet smarter would do. There is a good deal of fear mongering around AI eliminating job. It may, but the flip side is optimistic. We need to be setting up the structure for this new dynamic now, regardless.
  • Skills in this environment must include an equal balance of IQ and EQ. We need to treat technology like language.
  • Who owns AI generated art and is there an ethical obligation for people/companies to indicate something is AI generated?

Mastering Corporate Relevance in a Distracted World

Speakers:

We have more information today than we’ve ever had in history. It doesn’t mean we have the answers. We’re just able to ask smarter questions. Marci, Rob, Noreen and Gary shared their experience with how managing corporate relevance looks different across industries.

  • Today’s challenges for business are a result of (among other variables) a new age of transparency. It’s spurred a new corporate ecosystem with a new balance of power, where everyone has a voice. The result? A growing sense of distrust in businesses.
  • Reputation still matters, but relevance must work in concert with it for a business/brand to be viable.
  • What does corporate relevance mean? It’s the corporate engagement whitespace opportunities to cut through the information clutter at the intersections of business and society.
  • Organizations and leaders have to have a point of view today and it can’t be vanilla.
  • CEOS are a critical ingredient for relevance, as well as owned content, which can (and should) stand out for you to lead (i.e. from managing patient experiences in new ways to 150 beds on UT campus).

A big thank you to all of our speakers for bringing incredibly timely content to our program and for their candor! Stay tuned for more to come in W2OSXSW.

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One of the unintended, but extremely valuable benefits that has come from digital marketing’s explosion has been the creation of many conferences and forums. That might not be an intuitive statement, but one of the things marketers and communicators are often guilty of is not seeking outside perspectives. Many of the challenges that our industry …

One of the unintended, but extremely valuable benefits that has come from digital marketing’s explosion has been the creation of many conferences and forums. That might not be an intuitive statement, but one of the things marketers and communicators are often guilty of is not seeking outside perspectives. Many of the challenges that our industry faces are common across brands, and so having a place where peers can share those challenges and collective problem solve is useful.

There is no larger example of that trend than South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW). Tens of thousands of marketers and communicators from around the world descend on Austin in mid-March every year to learn, share challenges, problem solve and network, all while enjoying the city’s excellent barbecue. Many of the foremost experts in our business come and share their perspective over the course of a week, which makes SXSW an unparalleled learning opportunity.

W2O has been an unofficial part of SXSW for the last several years by offering additional educational content for its clients and employees, while also helping to further the city’s brand as an excellent source of barbecue. This year our events are part of the official SXSW programming, which brings an even larger group of marketers and communicators together for the aforementioned learning and networking. Our lineup of speakers over four days represents an incredible cross-section of thought leaders from a variety of industries.

Our first round of presentations was yesterday, and the content did not disappoint. The remainder of this post will recap the day’s activities, highlighting a handful of takeaways that I had from each session.

Concierge Marketing: Customer Experience 3.0

Speakers:

The opening session set the tone for the entire day and delivered a lot of actionable takeaways for the audience. There were three things that I took away from all three of the presenters:

  1. We need to start acting on behalf of consumers, as opposed to treating them as targets. One of the benefits of having a mountain of data on our target audience is we can artfully target a message or piece of content to those people. Sometimes, though, I think we go too far and miss that our primary function is to make our consumers lives easier.
  2. A related takeaway was the necessity of balancing the human touch and automation. The marketing and communications industry needs to continually be mindful of the emotional importance an audience might place on a particular topic or message.
  3. We need to be mindful of the top 5 questions consumers ask of our brand. Understanding those key questions is a foundational model that we’ve established at W2O, but it’s an often-overlooked step by brands.

Balancing Brand Building vs. Performance

Speakers

Our second panel of the day tackled an important topic, which was the tension between building the brand and focusing on performance. The topic is clearly top of mind for SXSW attendees because every seat was full, and the back of the hall was full of people standing and listening to the panel. There were three takeaways from this session from my perspective:

  1. The tension between brand and performance marketing will persist, but one consistent theme from each of the panelists was that whether brand or performance is the focus, all marketers need to be focused on delivering value to the business,
  2. A point made over-and-over by each of the panelists was that marketers need to focus on being business people first, marketers second. It’s a not-so-subtle shift, but an important one especially as marketing budgets continue to be scrutinized.
  3. A significant portion of the discussion centered around perceived tension between creative development and analytics. Each of the panelists talked, smartly, about the importance of analytics providing guardrails as opposed to dictating what should be created.

What’s Next After Advertising? The Jump to Content

Speakers:

At W2O we talk a lot about the role of Storytizing, a model that was codified in Bob Pearson’s book. The third session of the day highlighted a lot of fantastic thinking from CNN, Cadillac, Miller Coors and HP Enterprise. There were a couple of key takeays from this session from my perspective:

  1. The usage of analytics to optimize content has gotten increasingly more sophisticated as new types of assets are available to brands. As an analytics person, it warms my heart to see a focus on analytics to ensure we’re delivering the right content to the right audience(s).
  2. When a lot of brands hear about the concept of storytelling, they think it’s relegated to only consumer brands. Marissa Freeman at HPE spoke eloquently about how they use storytelling concepts to reach a more B2B audience. I think those sorts of learnings are what makes SXSW great. That the industry gets out of its comfort zone and embraces that a case study for HPE could be applicable across industry verticals. 

Evolution of Advocacy & Employee Communications

Speakers:

The panel on employee communications and advocacy featured singing, musical instruments and excellent insights. Employee communications and advocacy is an under-discussed part of the marketing and communications mix, especially because it does deliver value to the business. I took three things away from this session:

  1. Whether you work for a regulated industry or a large consumer brand, there is significant evidence to show that engaging employees and having them advocate on behalf of the brand delivers value to the business. All four panelists talked about the value they’ve seen from these sorts of activations and showed really compelling ROI.
  2. The usage of technology to scale is a fine line to walk. Many brands go too far with technology and make the message far less personal than it needs to be. Jennifer, Sean and Mary all talked about how they’ve used technology like Dynamic Signal to walk this line. Regardless of whether its advocacy and employee communications or some other discipline, it’s important to remember that technology’s role is to accelerate people and process. Technology’s role is not to be a replacement for people and process.
  3. Sean and Joelle shared some really interesting frameworks for employee communications, and one of my favorites took the audience from the creation of company news, outcome-centered communication, employee engagement and employee advocacy all while delivering valuable and interesting experiences for every employee.

Countering Hate: Understanding & Stopping Extremism

Speakers:

The second-to-last panel of the day highlighted the work Bob, Haroon and others have done around understanding how hate groups mobilize through digital (and other) channels. While not specifically about marketing and communications, it was incredible how many corollaries that could be drawn to the sorts of programs we build for clients. Three of the primary takeaways from my perspective:

  1. Whether you are talking about countering hate groups or brands executing a digital marketing campaign, audience architecture is still the key starting place. Without having a complete understanding of how the audience behaves, it’s almost impossible to activate any sort of programming.
  2. It’s always about the right language, at the right time and distributed over the right channels. Hate groups have adopted an approach that marketers have known forever, but often abandon in favor of a flashy execution.
  3. Our attention span as content consumers continues to diminish. Bob shared a statistic during his portion of the presentation that we have 2-3 seconds in order to get someone’s attention with a piece of content. It doesn’t matter if it is visually appealing if we’re not conveying a message in a concise way right as the person is viewing the content.

Music as a Corporate Responsibility Platform

Speakers:

Our last session of the day incorporated music, communications and corporate responsibility in an extremely fun and insightful way. Much like employee advocacy and engagement, corporate social responsibility is a huge growth driver for companies. There were a couple of things that I took away from this panel.

  1. Ray Kerins spoke at length about the importance of authenticity when executing CSR campaigns, but I think it’s an important takeaway for any marketing execution. Consumers are hit with more content than ever, and because of that it’s important that they know the message is genuine.
  2. All three panelists talked about how important it was for companies to take a stand. They highlighted that it is important for companies to articulate a position, and then not waffle from that position. Again, consumers are becoming increasingly smarter about our brands, and have no issue calling out conflicting messaging.

In summary, it was an excellent first day. Each session was chalk full of nuggets that all attendees could take away for their day jobs. Exactly what SXSW is intended to be. We’re on to day 2!

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Earlier this month we spoke at, attended and sponsored the Holmes Report’s In2 Summit. Bringing together top communicators from brands and agencies, the summit is designed to address the critical issues impacting engagement, ranging from analytics, digital tech and content marketing, to big data, visual storytelling and new talent. This year there were an array …

Earlier this month we spoke at, attended and sponsored the Holmes Report’s In2 Summit. Bringing together top communicators from brands and agencies, the summit is designed to address the critical issues impacting engagement, ranging from analytics, digital tech and content marketing, to big data, visual storytelling and new talent.

This year there were an array of topics that our current industry is facing including the influence of micro-tribes and subculture , how CCOs should navigate and discuss change, the marriage between social responsibility and profitability, the role emotions pay in storytelling, and the connection between the #MeToo Movement and the marketing industry.

As communicators shaping the way the public interacts with the world’s leading brands, we hold an immense power in our hands. Despite the breadth of topics covered in the program – we at W2O pulled out a common theme that kept coming back to the forefront: responsibility.

As content creators, we have a responsibility to the influencers who are advocates for our brands and client’s brands to allow them to stay true to their voices.

As corporations, we have a responsibility to align and focus the causes for which we advocate.

As global citizens, we have a responsibility to balance profitability with doing the right thing.

As storytellers, we have a responsibility to use our platforms for good and inspire action.

As employers, we have a responsibility to serve as the conscience of the company culture and help break down barriers and support policies to allow a diverse workforce to flourish.

In perhaps the most intensely debated session of the day, our own, CMO Aaron Strout  moderated a keynote panel, The Future of Digital Transformation for Media, Brands + Politics, centering around the responsibility of media and technology platforms.  Joined by panelists David Kirkpatrick, Founder & CEO of Techonomy, Joanna O’Connell, VP & Principal Analyst of Forrester Research, and Teddy Goff, Co-Founder & Partner of Precision Strategies, Aaron led a passionate conversation on the future of digital transformation for media, brand, and politics.

There’s no doubt that today, technology platforms have an immense amount of influence and power – particularly in our current political and social climate. While some panelists had a more optimistic outlook on the change that major technology platform has had on society, some also acknowledged the downside. The panelists posited that consumer and regulatory backlash may build against platforms like Facebook as they struggle to monitor content and targeting techniques. Ultimately, the panelists agreed that marketers and communicators have a responsibility in ensuring that these platforms are used for good.

Check out a full of recap of the panel here.

 

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As a physician who spends his days taking care of patients, Dr. Albert Chan, chief of digital patient experience at Sutter Health, knows his colleagues are burnt out—and it’s not hard to see why. For every 3.08 hours of patient visits, physicians spend an additional 3.17 hours on a desktop machine, Albert told attendees at …

As a physician who spends his days taking care of patients, Dr. Albert Chan, chief of digital patient experience at Sutter Health, knows his colleagues are burnt out—and it’s not hard to see why. For every 3.08 hours of patient visits, physicians spend an additional 3.17 hours on a desktop machine, Albert told attendees at W2O’s 4th Annual Digital Health Luncheon on January 8, 2018, referencing a recent Sutter Health Study.

“Fifty percent of doctors have more than one sign of burnout,” said Albert, who shared the stage with a handful of health IT experts to discuss the potential for blockchain in healthcare. And while it might not be a panacea, as Ted Tanner, chief technology officer and co-founder of PokitDok, pointed out, he agreed with Tony Scott, former federal chief information officer and senior advisor of Squire Patton Boggs, in that blockchain is simply one of a number of building blocks that will change the way the healthcare ecosystem works.

Healthcare thought leaders also discussed what’s on the horizon for direct to consumer genomics and explored if AI is the key to freeing up healthcare’s state of friction. As Jonathan Bush, athenahealth’s CEO, told attendees, “Any time you have millions of examples and a relatively finite set of outcomes, you can use machine learning.” But as Jonathan also noted, the key to AI’s success lies in the availability of data, advising attendees to design their business so that there’s a lot of data flowing into the environment.

For more insights from W2O’s 4th Annual Digital Health Luncheon held during the J.P Morgan Healthcare Conference (#JPMHC18), please see below for video highlights and full panel replays, see here for the recap, and be sure to follow #W2ODH18 and @W2OGroup for the latest updates.

Highlights: W2O’s 4th Annual Digital Health Luncheon

AI: The Key to Freeing Up Healthcare’s Friction?

Blockchain: Healthcare’s Next Great Disrupter?

What’s Next for Direct-to-Consumer Genomics?

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