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When you reach a key milestone, it’s worth a moment to explain its significance.

Today, W2O Group, formed in January, 2012, hired a new president of WCG Chris Deri, who joins us from Burson, where he led their team in China. We’re thrilled, both for what it means to our clients and to our team inside WCG (Chris’s words on what this means can be found here).

For our clients, the drivers are very clear.

We are being asked to build an increasingly global agency that can provide strategic direction and insights for many of the world’s leading brands. We’ll do that in our own way. We believe that ideas and insights are borderless. The result is we need experts who understand 20+ languages and cultures around the world on our team. It is less relevant where they sit.

The C-Suite is in great need of innovation, ranging from how reputation is measured to how trust is built to how a reputation is earned, over time, whether it is for a company or an individual. Crisis and issues management are due for an overhaul in our industry. Public Affairs is still using many old school techniques with decreasing effect. The C-Suite, as it relates to our business, is due for a long-needed overhaul and we’re in the process of making that happen via our analytics, digital and corporate teams working together in unique ways. Our R&D pipeline is filled to the brim with client-driven, innovative ideas.

If we are going to be the best in health, technology, consumer and public affairs, we must be excellent at the above two areas. WCG is about to turn both into towering strengths.

Within WCG, this is an important step for us to let someone else lead WCG. It’s that simple, yet it’s meaning is far more important. When entrepreneurs are willing to let go, even if it is not all the way, it allows a firm to expand in new ways and set an even stronger course.
We’ve looked for someone like Chris for awhile who will unlock the amazing talent we have in our firm. Someone who will attract new and different entrepreneurs to our firm. Someone who leads with a people first attitude every day.

Our role is to serve Chris and his team. We’ll help them innovate, mentor talent and ensure resources are there for WCG to lead the way. We look at it as 1+1 =3, by letting the next generation form at WCG.

We welcome Chris and look forward to a great future for the entire WCG team.

Jim & Bob

 

“Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees.”

I’ve been working in the digital/social media space for twenty years now. The last seven have been mainly focused on social media. The reason I mention this is that social is something that is now second nature to me. Fortunately, it’s also something that is coming naturally to a lot of businesses as they hire teams of skilled professionals and employ agencies and technology partners that know what they are doing. However, I’ve realized recently that there are still a lot of very smart people who have tested the waters with social media but are intimidated by it. Not because they don’t see the value, but rather because they have a hard time with some of the basic blocking and tackling (including finding the right tools).

Rather than shake my head and take pity on these folks, I  I thought it might be helpful to put together a foundational post on overarching recommendations with the hope that I can do a series of other more channel (and content) specific recommendations. Obviously, there is a ton more I could add so feel free to keep me honest in the comments:

  1. Set up the right profile.
    A lot of decisions about whether or not someone follows you/engages with you starts with your profile. Yes, we learned at a young age not to judge a book by its cover but at the end of the day, we only have so much information to go on (including one’s updates, pictures, etc.). To that end, making sure you have a real picture of yourself, including a few items in your profile that you plan to talk about (BBQ, sports, marketing, music, etc.) gives those that are trying to decide whether or not to follow you a better idea of what your conversation will look like. If possible, it’s also good to include where you work and what you do professionally even if you have to disclaim that “these tweets/updates are my own.” What one does for work isn’t the only thing that defines them but it is a major defining factor. Also, don’t go too heavy on the hashtags (the words with the funny # in front of them). This can make you look spammy.
  2. Find the right filters AND the right tools.
    People tell me all the time that they don’t get Twitter. “I don’t know what value it has” or “I don’t know what I’m supposed to say” are two of the more common complaints. What I will say is that while Twitter (or any other social network for that matter) may not be for everyone, a lot of its value lies with the people/companies/news outlets one follows. A good place to get started with your following (on Twitter at least) is with some of the traditional news outlets like I have on this list here. Another smart option is to consider following co-workers, friends, speakers from conferences, agency partners, etc. One thing I strongly recommend is to not follow too many people too quickly. Someone that is following 250 people with 10 people following back gives the appearance that they are are either a) really new or b) aren’t interesting enough to get people to follow them back. To that end, don’t be afraid to update a dozen times — even if nobody responds — before following too many people. If you want to find people you don’t know that are interested in the same topics that you are, Twellow.com has users listed by category like computers & technology, government or health. In terms of tools, making sure that you have the Facebook app downloaded on your phone is helpful (allows you to keep track of what’s going on during the short breaks you have in your life). For Twitter, I strongly suggest not using Twitter.com or the Twitter app, only because being able to have a built in link shortener (so that you don’t take up 50 out of your 140 characters with a long form URL). There are lots of options out there but I tend to like Hootsuite (I use the Chrome extention). I also use Tweetbot on my iPhone. The key is, auto URL shortening and the ability to follow lists (this makes following more fun). There are some other options I collected here in a Facebook post I did today asking for which other Twitter management tools people used.
  3. Be Interesting | Give before you get.
    One of the main reasons people don’t engage in social media is that they don’t know what they are supposed to talk about. To be honest, it does take a little doing to find your stride. However, what people forget is that you don’t need to be a book author, journalist or well-known blogger to be engaging. You just need to be interesting to the people that matter. That could mean taking photos of a particular topic (food photos?) or finding the best tweets, pictures, blog posts, news articles etc. and letting your network know about them. But don’t forget to let people know why you shared them. That means that liking, commenting, sharing or curating others’ content is paramount. To that end, for every business related post I do about my company, a client or myself, I try and post 3-4 other interesting things (fun questions, pictures, useful links, etc.) As examples, ask people what their first concert was, what their favorite comfort food is, choice of album if they were stranded on a desert island, etc.
  4. Invest time to build your presence and engagement.
    This may seem like a daunting task but if you can invest 30 minutes over the course of the day (that’s 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes at lunch and 10 minutes in the evening), you can keep up with 2-3 different channels like Twitter, Facebook and Google +. It isn’t mandatory that you are on every channel every day but committing to being on your primary channels at least 4-5 times a week is a good idea. Conversations move fast and if you miss them, commenting a few days after a conversation has run its course is not only ineffective, it also looks like you aren’t paying attention. One quick way to build engagement and following is to try live tweeting (or taking Instagram pictures) at a conference or local meetup. Be sure you are tagging your updates with whichever hashtag is being used (ask someone at registration or a conference organizer if you are unsure what it is). The other opportunity is to live tweet a webinar or join a live Facebook or Twitter chat (usually involves a subject matter expert as a guest).On the curation front, if you go back to the news list I included above, regularly “retweeting” or posting links to articles found in those news outlet Twitter handles can make you more socially interesting, especially if you include a quick parenthetical as to why you are posting (e.g. “interesting” or “disagree” or “love item number 3”). This also shows a little “love” to whomever you are retweeting/reposting so be sure to incude their handle in your update to give them credit.
  5. Measure what you do — quantitively or qualitatively.
    Measuring anything that you commit time to always makes sense. And in this case, only you can determine how much you want to measure your success. But for some people, getting overly analytical can be a bit of a killjoy, especially as you are getting started. But keeping a Google document or even a notebook with notes about what’s working (“that Facebook update got a lot of likes”) or not working (“nobody commented on that controversial blog post”) can be helpful for seeing macro trends. If you want to dig deeper, there are measurement tools built into both Hootsuite and into link shorteners like bit.ly if you choose to use them. If you want to try out some more advanced tools to learn more about who your social activity and who you are connected with on Twitter and Facebook, be sure to check out SocialBro and WolframAlpha. A tip of the hat to colleague, Greg Matthews for sharing both with me.

No, I am not describing a recent crafting session for Michaels. Or asking the final bonus round question for our Olympic Trivia games.

I am referring to an article I read recently about an Exec who became CMO at a PR firm and left fairly quickly to get back to his roots at a well-known advertising agency he admired for years.

When asked why he did the “ad agency-to-PR-back-to-ad agency” thing he said that he missed the industry that he considered his craft and its distinct process of creation, expression, people, and way of thinking. While he met a lot of nice people at the PR firm that recruited him to re-invent it, he stated,  “ We were just not similarly wired.”   He went further to say, “I will look back on the venture as a bit of post grad work to expand horizons, globalization and respect for integrated communications.”  Culturally it was time for him to go home.

As someone who left the advertising world to join a company steeped in PR at its roots I admit that I read this article several times. The PR agency had no comment at the time the article went to press.  I really wonder what they thought of him?

Does the successful blending of advertising and PR together (so you cannot tell where one stops and the other starts) come down to wiring?  Is there a red wire and yellow wire and if they are connected just so the light goes on?  Or maybe an explosion goes off?

In the year and a half these two worlds collided for me I have seen the light (and some mini explosions).

Conceptually it is really a no brainer why you’d want these callings and all the related practices (social media, consumer, professional, medical education, digital, analytics and global) to converge.  Strategy, creative, platform, and communication streams can effectively and seamlessly saturate their respective ecosystems. When this connectedness happens, it is game changing for the client and the agency. Every discipline becomes modernized and the kinds of products, programs and services that are invented through this mash up are masterful and meaningful.

Who wouldn’t want innovation and value?

I do think that people are wired differently based on their experience set and the demands of the professional environments they grow up in.  Its like baby’s formative first years—we are all shaped by what we know and who our work parents were. I would have to say that the wiring comment is true on many levels.

PR is an intense singularly focused and highly scrappy endeavor where you are often reacting or “handling in the moment” with steadfast calmness and know how.  I liken it to an emergency room where the attending doc is stitching you up and telling you a story at the same time to distract you from the pain.

Advertising/marketing is a compilation exercise of intensive, sometimes protracted and circuitous planning with extended teams and highly (sometimes well) orchestrated building, bobbing and weaving.  Eventually you get this patchwork of programs and strategies and services that are stapled or duct taped together to have a semi-enduring quality about them but can be undone if necessary and reshaped using some other glue to get to goal should market dynamics dictate.

While I am sometimes frustrated by the differences between PR and MKTG/ADVTG, more often than not I am smitten with the resourcefulness, richness of ideas and calm problem solving approach.  I hope that my PR colleagues are equally smitten with the ability to cobble together the big picture story or create dimension and depth by bringing teams of people together who might not have found each other in another life.  I see it that we all live in a world that could be called RP:

  • Real Problem solving and Reaching People.

We collectively achieve RP in a place we cohabitate and call home by whatever means it takes— hard-wiring, stapling, stitching or taping.  It’s an evolving art; and a brave new world. To live and flourish in it you have to roll up your sleeves and craft well with others…

Marketing Girl in a PR World is part of a weekly series written by Laura Fusco, leader of our W2O Group’s Health 360 practice. 

Not too long ago, global for an agency meant having dots on a map all over the world.  The more dots, the better.   That was yesterday.

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Today, the online world is democratizing how we think, how we create intellectual capital and how we build our firms to make all of this real for our clients.

The meaning of “global” is now more about a firm’s agility and ability to understand how influence, content and channels integrate by language, region and country.  Knowledge of a marketplace is often more important than physical presence.  People in Austin, Texas lead global training sessions in Argentina or Switzerland.  Global knowledge trumps location.

In terms of our business, that is also changing.  In today’s world, issues jump languages and become global in seconds.  Brands that are focused on their global positioning realize that 10 languages reach more than 80 percent of people online.  As a result, if you are positioning a brand, you can reach the majority of the world with 4-5 languages, not 30 like we used to think.

Of course, if you are driving local behavior, expertise on the ground matters.  It always will.

The changes in our global marketplace are leading to opportunities for firms like ours to transform into global partners with our clients.  Our team members speak a variety of languages and more than a few have worked around the world during their careers.  But it is the rapid transformation of our online world that is now unlocking this “hidden talent” in firms like ours.

Top brands centralize strategy at the headquarters level and decentralize execution, so they need people who have worked globally, regardless of location.  It is less about “where” you live and much more about “what” you have learned during your career in all four regions.

Analytics and our ability to scrape public data anywhere in the world is making it “easy” to know what is happening anywhere in the world.  Insights can be evaluated on a global level in ways never done before. New products and services are being created that provide unique advantage to those companies who know how to interpret what is happening by language, country, region and globe.

Since ten languages reach more than 80 percent of people online, most brand positioning platforms can focus on 3-5 languages, rather than 20-30 to reach the majority of the world.  The cost-savings for programs will be intense in the years ahead as we learn how to leverage languages more effectively.

Regional work is becoming more about your “base”.  For us, for example, London is our European “base”.  We have a great team that will continue to build and we’ll probably create a few additional offices in the region with time.  But the days of us feeling compelled to have an office in every country are not there.  It is more likely that we will start to see partnerships emerge between “global firms” like ours and “local or regional expert firms” that provide clients with the best intellectual capital and capabilities available.

The future of our growth globally is exciting, which is why we are pleased to enter the top 30 (as #30) for the top communications firms in the world for the first time.  Ten years ago, we may have seen barriers ahead of us. Today, we see opportunities around the world.  It’s something that our team members who have lived in places like Switzerland and Argentina and who speak languages, ranging from Korean to Spanish, get pretty excited about.

We’ll do our part to redefine what global means for our clients and the world’s top brands.

All the best,

Bob Pearson | Jim Weiss