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At this year’s ASCO meeting, thousands of abstracts were presented demonstrating both foundational and pioneering research that will no doubt advance our understanding of cancer.  However, we still don’t have a cure and there is more work to be done. Great scientists, companies and institutions are working every day to help discover new treatment approaches and pathways – from activating the body’s own immune cells to understanding how combination therapies could exponentially improve outcomes for cancer patients.

Over the years, W2O’s Social Oncology Project has profiled some of the most influential physicians, advocates and patients engaged in the oncology conversation online. The key finding in this year’s report was that while the conversation volume continues to grow, there have emerged clear communities that own the dialogue and serve as trusted resources for professionals and patients alike.  These influencers are responsible for helping us cut through the clutter of hashtags and facilitate productive discussion to drive the next breakthroughs in cancer.
The Cancer Research Institute is an organization founded on harnessing the immune system’s power to conquer all cancers. Their work helped to pave the way for one of the most foundational shifts we have seen in cancer treatment today – the field of immunotherapy.  However, their influence goes far beyond facilitating research: CRI was one of the 4 most-shared domains for both patients and advocates in the online cancer conversation this past year.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Jill O’DonnellTormey, chief executive officer and director of scientific affairs for CRI and ask her about the future of oncology research and the important role research plays across the oncology ecosystem – from physicians, advocates, patients and the company’s invested in this area.

What do you see as the biggest challenges and opportunities facing oncology research today? 

Advances in technology, as well as exponential growth in our fundamental understanding of human biology and cancer biology, have helped to accelerate research and discovery, enabling scientists to do much more, more quickly, than ever before. This has produced significant leaps in cancer treatment, particularly in the area of immunotherapy or immuno-oncology, and has initiated a shift toward personalized medicine based on individual patient profiles. But as the field achieves greater magnitudes of complexity and sophistication, the challenges increase. Scientists must wrestle with the bounty of opportunity, developing keen tools to help them prioritize research directions, so that from the near infinite number of possible therapeutic strategies that are emerging today, we pursue the ones that are most likely to produce the greatest benefit for cancer patients.

What role does the broader oncology community play in supporting cancer research?

Physicians, patients, advocates, and media understand the importance of research, particularly clinical research. Physicians who are treating patients understand that they’re able to do so thanks to advances made possible through research. And those who are conducting clinical trials are themselves integral to the research process. Patients, especially those whose cancers are unlikely to respond to standard treatments, look to research in hope that something new and untried might benefit them. And, of course, patients are essential to carrying out clinical research. Advocates help in many ways, such as encouraging their communities to seek out and participate in clinical trials, shaping broader research agendas to help meet unmet needs, and effecting policy changes to facilitate patient access to promising treatments. The media also play an important role, educating the public about advances in research, as well as the challenges involved in changing the cancer treatment paradigm.

What is one of the most successful collaborations you have seen in oncology research? 

Collaboration is a cornerstone of the Cancer Research Institute’s strategy to make immunotherapy an effective treatment option for all cancer patients. Our multi-year partnership with Stand Up To Cancer to co-fund the CRI-SU2C Cancer Immunology Translational Research Dream Team is one example of how CRI leverages its expertise in cancer immunotherapy and its fundraising power to speed the translation of laboratory discovery into novel cancer therapies and diagnostic tools. SU2C’s Dream Team model has demonstrated its power to bring diverse, multidisciplinary, multi-institutional researchers and supportive roles together and align them along a shared research mission. Our Dream Team united two of the most promising areas of cancer immunotherapy research today: checkpoint blockade and cellular therapy. Experts in these areas are working together to rapidly develop new treatments that harness not only the strengths of each therapeutic approach individually, but also the synergistic effects that can be produced through smart combination strategies. SU2C has applied this Dream Team model across different tumor types and patient demographic categories, and has done so in collaboration with many nonprofit partners. It’s a model that is to be commended.

What would you like to see media who follow oncology reporting on in cancer research?

The media could play a more direct role in advancing cancer research by featuring the nonprofit organizations that are making possible this research and the cancer treatment advances that result. Immunotherapy is one recent example, and one that is of course central to the Cancer Research Institute’s mission. Here we have a field of research that has garnered significant interest and enthusiasm thanks to some dramatic successes seen in treating patients. But, this is only the beginning, and a tremendous amount of research needs to be done if we are ever to realize the full potential of immunotherapy in more and eventually all types of cancer. Public support is the lifeblood of nonprofit organizations like CRI, and most of these organizations can’t afford expensive PR campaigns. Media are in a unique position to raise public awareness of the role of nonprofits and, hopefully, stimulate new interest in and support for these organizations so that they can continue carrying out their lifesaving work. Including the nonprofits in the story isn’t just good journalism; it’s also good corporate citizenship.

How will the future of cancer research help us better define the value a treatment or treatments can bring to patients? 

Value is a complex topic, especially when talking about patients’ lives. What’s the worth of an extra month, an extra year, an extra five years of life, or a complete cure that a treatment might give you? What’s the quality of life a patient will have during and after treatment, and how do you quantify the value of that? That’s an important topic of conversation and one that we believe needs to discussed among all the stakeholders: patients, physicians, insurers, pharmaceutical companies, and patient advocacy organizations. The role of cancer research funding organizations like the Cancer Research Institute is to find the treatments in the first place. Our singular focus on funding the best science is the only thing that has enabled us to contribute so significantly to the body of knowledge that has made today’s treatment breakthroughs possible. Value isn’t within the scope of what research organizations do. But it is an issue that they can affect. Through smarter application of technology and knowledge, we can help to minimize the financial risks associated with drug development by creating treatments that convey optimal benefit on patients—that is to say, a return to a normal, long, cancer-free life. That’s the return on investment CRI seeks, and it’s one we can make possible with continued research.

Are you seeing blended interaction from different communities in oncology when it comes to oncology research and what impact has that had on advancing oncology research?

One of the most remarkable developments in oncology community interaction has been—at least for those who have been in academic research over the past several decades—the willingness that academic and industry entities now have to work together more closely. It’s a willingness borne of necessity, which itself springs from the increasingly complex and nuanced drug discovery and development landscape. Nonprofit organizations have found a new role in brokering relationships between academic and industry agents. CRI’s Clinical Accelerator is a perfect example of this. It harnesses the power of industry and academia to drive innovative clinical research that seeks to answer the most pressing scientific questions, while also delivering the most promising treatments to cancer patients. Speaking of patients, they and their advocates, have become much more proactive in inserting themselves into the clinical research process. The emergence of patient-centered outcomes research, which includes patients, caregivers, clinicians, and other healthcare stakeholders in the process of planning clinical trials, is testament to the increasingly influential role the patient community plays in clinical research.

What’s next in cancer research?

There are many avenues of cancer research, but since my view skews to immunotherapy, I can share some thoughts on that. Much has been made (and deservedly so) of the remarkable clinical responses immunotherapy has produced in some patients. The question before us now is a simple one: why does this patient respond, but that one doesn’t, and what is different about them? To answer this, we will need to analyze tumor and blood samples to determine the biological mechanisms that influence patient response. This is already done in some medical research facilities, but it needs to be done everywhere. Tremendous hurdles stand in the way, but they aren’t insurmountable. Optimizing accuracy of assays that measure important biological variables associated with cancer treatment and patient response is one key hurdle that we must overcome. But even that is a small hurdle compared to the greater challenge of finding a way to get the scientific community (on both the academic as well as industry side) to embrace the power of Big Data and its potential to uncover untold new insights into the immunological control and cure of all cancers at the personalized level. Big Data only works when there’s data to be mined. Getting access to that data, especially data controlled by pharmaceutical companies, will require us to develop new incentives for data sharing. It’s an uphill climb, but it’s attainable, as long as we all remember the reason we’re doing this: to save more lives through the development of more effective cancer treatments.

Download The Social Oncology Project 2016 here.


Learn more about W2O Group:  About  Work  Contact

I’m excited to share that W2O has partnered with The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF) with the first–of-its-kind fellowship targeting ethnic minorities pursuing careers in healthcare communications. It’s a $50,000 three- year commitment which will fund the Future Leaders in Healthcare Fellowship Program, placing 2 fellows per year in a 10 –week paid fellowship in one of the following offices: San Francisco, New York, Austin, Boston or Minneapolis.

W2O_TLFPartnership_1024x512

More than ever, we need to diversify our workforce and continue to help you, our clients, increase diversity in your communications functions. This is a win – win for everyone. It gives men and women something to aspire to and allows a venue for stellar, diverse talent.

When I started this company in 2001, it was grounded in healthcare PR, and the reason I’ve been in healthcare communications for so long is because it fuses two of my passions – communications and health. Now that W2O group has expanded into additional verticals (Tech, Consumer, Auto, Entertainment), I think it’s important to continue to leave a positive impact and I think this partnership is the perfect venue for that.

View this interview with Kim L. Hunter, The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF) Chairman & CEO, Dr. Rochelle Ford, a professor in Syracuse University’s School of Public Communications, and myself for additional insight.

I’m proud to partner with The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF). We’re going into our 15th year in business and I couldn’t think of a better time to team up with an organization like TLF which aligns with our principals of excellence and progress within the marketing and communications industry.

View the press release here for more details.

All the best, 
Jim

Professional service firms, specifically those in marketing, PR, communications, consulting and digital, are finding it critical to recalibrate their value proposition in today’s social and digital reality.

Why?

Simply put, the lines are now all blurred.  The swim lanes no longer distinct.  The delineation of work and expertise between outside counsel and internal management not as clear.

This self-awareness moment for CEOs of such firms is causing a very important question to be raised.  One that strikes at the heart of a firm’s efficacy.  One that must be answered by everyone in the organization.

So, what is it that we do exactly?

At W2O Group, a network of complementary, progressive and multi-faceted digital, marketing, and communications counseling firms, of which I founded and now serve as Chairman and CEO, we are right in the middle of this new world and actively answering this important question.

The following is a brief overview of the discussion we are having internally:

“What is it that we do?”

Well, some may say we are an integrated communications or PR firm.  Others a creative or advertising shop.  Still others a social and digital agency. Possibly an analytics and insights organization.

Guess what?  You’re all right!

And you’re all wrong.

It’s certainly true that we as a firm provide all of these services and capabilities.  But at the end of the day our real value lies in something much bigger.  Something much more profound.

As the CEO of one our clients said recently, our value is to help organizations “maintain relevance in a distracted world.”

Think about it.  Living and working in a content rich, influence-oriented, attention deficit world where consumers snack on information and form knee-jerk opinions while employees turn off the volume better to watch what leaders do than listen to what they say, is taking a toll on organizational and brand relevance.

This is what keeps CEOs up at night and Boards from enjoying their weekends.  It is also what keeps W2O Group a central and important part of the marketing and communications mix for our clients.

What does it take to remain relevant today?

Here’s a start:

1)      Meaningful Purpose – Is what you do important and meaningful to the audiences you care about and the world in general?

2)      Adaptable Culture – Are your employees and your systems agile and empathetic to the environment?

3)      Nuanced Comprehension of Customers, Stakeholders – Are you incorporating data and insight into your thinking and programming to ensure precision?

4)      Personal Stories –  Do you communicate in a manner that drives interest and conversation that aids learning?    

So, the question is simply this:  How are you making our clients relevant in a distracted world?

Think about it.

I am…!

(Note:  Engaging in such a provocative discussion with staff is producing some incredible thinking and ideas.  Ultimately, clients determine value and bringing the discussion inside raises the bar on performance while solidifying efficacy)

Jim

Also posted on LinkedIn

Annalise_Coady_CMYKThis is a full manuscript of the opening keynote at our 2nd Annual PreCommerce Summit in London, 2015.

Thank you all very much for coming. I hope that on the way in, you had a chance to look at the art we have up, which owes a great debt to the Belgian surrealist painter René Magritte, who blew minds back in the 1920s with a painting of a pipe and the caption “Ceci n’est pas une pipe”: this is not a pipe.

Magritte was making a statement about art and about reality, and how the two shouldn’t be confused. A painting of a pipe is not a pipe. It’s a representation. It’s only shorthand for something real.

It’s fun to imagine what Magritte might have thought if he was born a century later and was coming of age during the digital revolution we’re living through. I like to think he would have come up with concepts like the ones we have on display.

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We’re one step further into the surreal. The art of photography used to require hours in the darkroom, film and artist both marinating in noxious chemicals to modify an image to bring out this color or that detail. Now, we tap our phone to capture an image, tap again to add a filter, tap again to send it to the gallery that is Instagram. Is that art? I’d like to know what Magritte thinks.

And what of love? Does old-fashioned courtship have an analogue in swiping right on Tinder? Clearly there is an overlap between love in the Jane Austen sense and love in the Tinder sense, but app-based hookups? Ceci n’est pas l’amour.

The list goes on and on. AirBnB isn’t a quite a hotel company. Uber isn’t quite a cab company. Buzzfeed isn’t quite a news company. N’est pas. N’est pas. N’est pas.

Many of you who are younger never knew how perilous the telephone was. Back when communication was carried by wires, talking, especially with those in other countries was exorbitantly expensive and difficult to arrange. I spent time abroad with my family as a child, and the telephone calls back to the UK had to be booked a week in advance, and still might not necessarily go through. Connectivity was a luxury and precious.

Flash forward to my life as a young professional, when I was living abroad. But rather than paying pounds-per-minute, I was talking using Skype, broadcasting not only my voice but my image across thousands of miles. For free. Is Skype a 21st century telephone? Almost, but not quite. N’est pas.

The point of all of this is that we’re limited in how we think about digital because we don’t have the language yet to describe the new world. Like Magritte, the best we can come up with is shorthand, using old words and concepts that almost, but not quite, describe reality. Shorthand for something real.

This can be a liability, because it hides complexity and often hides the darker side of technology. Those who took the easy route and assumed Uber is just a next-generation taxi company probably failed to see the lawsuits coming. There is now, particularly in the United States, mounting pressure to define the status of Uber drivers as something other than free agents with cars. What, exactly, is their labour status? It’s a question worth billions.

What’s clear is that the digital tide is not receding and will not recede. There are more active mobile connections now than there are people in the world. The average consumer engages with 18.2 pieces of online content before making a decision, which is both amazing and potentially paralyzing.

And HR Zone says three quarters of employees have seen their role or career change as a result of technology in the last 12 months. Let me repeat that: three out of every four people have had their job changed by technology IN THE LAST YEAR. It is a wonder we feel off balance with reality constantly shifting.

Please do not misunderstand me. The digital revolution has made us smarter and more productive, and it has connected us in ways that are nothing short of extraordinary. But handling, profiting and thriving in this environment requires careful thought and precise language, so we can tell the pipes from the paintings of the pipes, so to speak.

And that’s part of the reason that I’m so excited to have such an incredible range of presenters today. All are individuals who are grappling not only with change, but ways to ensure that we understand technology so we can minimize risks and maximize gains.

Our afternoon is split into 3 sections, and we’re going to start with the good news and look at how digital has influenced the wellbeing of society from a handful of different angles, including the ways we can use new tools to improve human health and accelerate aid efforts to the world’s most vulnerable. To help us wrap our heads around that, we’ll invite to the stage:

  • Dina Rey – Head of Digital Group at Roche,
  • Anna Gruebler – Data Scientist and Software Engineer at Altviz,
  • Jessica Federer, Chief Digital Officer at Bayer
  • Anita Yuen, Global Head of Digital Fundraising at UNICEF.

For the second part of this afternoon, we’ll look at how technology companies are evolving in this digital age. Or is it a matter of revolutionising. Our speakers will be:

  • Steven Overman – CMO at Eastman Kodak.
  • Kester Ford – Director of Product Marketing at Datasift.
  • Simon Shipley – Marketing and Innovation Manager at Intel.

And post our break:

  • A former CIA Analyst and the star of Channel 4’s show Hunted, Cynthia Storer,
  • VP and Global Head of Corporate Communications at Tata Consultancy services Pradipta Bagchi,
  • And our own President Bob Pearson will summarize how technology is impacting the way we live, work, and create in this digital world.

We’re also thrilled to have here with us Lord Chadlington and Steve Milton, who will participate in the programme along with my colleagues Colin, James and Gary.


I think the conversations have truly shown we are in the middle of the new industrial revolution and we need to remain fluid and open to new ideas and opportunities whilst yet being mindful and aware of the true impact on our lives, organisations and communities that digital technology can bring. We are still human and digital technology will not be the only factor in our future. Human nature prevails. La nature humaine est  prédominante.

Thank you to all our speakers as well as my wonderful colleagues for their fantastic moderation. I want to thank the W2O Team behind the event, you know who you are. And I would like to thank you all here today in London’s living room as well as those who joined us via live stream for your enthusiasm and participation. I am looking forward to connecting with you at the reception or in the digital world. Remember this is not a pipe!

We are living in a time where we are ‘always on’ with multiple devices providing us with information but also distracting us and exhausting our time. Technology has become a natural part of our daily life, where having different multiple online personas for work, life, and play is common. It has also become a source of angst.

With an influx of new information and online digital platforms almost daily, the digital landscape is evolving and consumers are now more empowered than ever. Brands can no longer fully control their narrative and need to find and understand the people who are most relevant to their future determining how they consume and share information as well as how they listen to each other as individuals.

This rapidly changing world can sometimes feel both like a massive headache and an incredible opportunity for marketers and communicators. C-suite leaders must be able to adapt to these changes if their organizations are to survive. Staying nimble and being able to predict how the industry will evolve before it happens is all part of the job. What we see from working with our clients and helping them stay one step ahead of competition is that regardless of which industry you are in or who your audience is, we are all facing similar challenges when it comes to digitalization. Being so imbedded in our client businesses is what allows us to build the community where innovators and leaders can come together and share their best practices and learnings.

Breaking away from your everyday routine and meeting those who are walking in the same shoes as you, is a proven method to generate new ideas or new solutions. Following on the success of last year’s Social Intelligence Summit we are excited to host our second annual thought leadership event – PreCommerce Summit London 2015.

The event, coinciding with London’s Social Media Week, will bring together experts from across industries to discuss how we work, live and create in the digital world. We will be considering the impact and opportunities of the mobile generation and will provide perspectives and host panel discussions with key leaders, such as:

I’m hopeful you are able to attend this important forum. Don’t miss the last chance to register to attend the summit on the 14th of September in London via livestream or in person!

More information on the event and the speakers can be found here www.w2oevents.com.

Navigating the future takes more than just educated guesswork. It combines knowledge, adaptability and a willingness to garner new inputs from new sources.

The W2O Group Pre-Commerce London Summit is your personal GPS to succeeding in the future!

We’re honored to be included in the 2015 PR Week Global Power book list, which represents a distinguished group of leaders in the digital marketing and communications industry.  The list made us take a step back to examine what we’re doing to stay ahead of the ever-changing digital landscape. The answer? Continuing to innovate and act as students of the industry, with a focus aimed a mile down the road. Here and below are some emerging trends that we think are reshaping the industry.

  1. We are unlocking the concept of Owned Media. If you create the content, you own it. Location is no longer a determining factor. This concept is practiced with our content capsules, which serve as “digital content libraries” and a content syndication tool. Our clients are able to deliver content in the form of videos, images and links in one package, and track the engagement rates. This “mini site” allows for them to own the content yet share it across social channels.
  2. What you “own” should align with what people “want” when they want it. This will only increase in importance, so our first impression matters more than ever. As a result, we are shifting from responsive design, which is old school, to responsive experience.  We need to provide the right content the first time to the customer visiting our client’s site, based on what we know about them pre-visit.
  3. Create and track your core audience to redefine how we listen, learn and act. Any discrete set of people can be identified and indexed which then informs us of their behavioral patterns. This parallels our analytics practice- we’re able to extract accurate, actionable insights from big data sets which is key to delivering the “right content” to our audience. Once we know patterns, we can figure out habits for a market.
  4. Decide “who” should tell your brand’s story. Influencer relationship management is more important than a traditional CRM to shape markets. You could have two million customers in a CRM database, but does this matter? What we are finding is that understanding who drives your audience (the 1% and the 9% of the 1,9,90 model) is the key to influencer relationship management.  Volume isn’t the answer to gain the right reach.  Precision of who you reach leads to the right volume/penetration of the market.  A very simple and profound change in how we market is happening.
  5. Small data (or “forensic analytics”) leads to smart filters. Smart filters leads to the right insights. If you’re able to apply the right filters onto digital conversations by brand or topic, you will uncover accurate, actionable insights for your brand.
  6. Your own earned media network will drive your market. Brands should think of themselves as media outlets with that level of power.
  7. Data-driven organizations will require a new insights operating system to be shared between analysts and client teams. The future is one of collaboration. More than ever, organizations that work in silos will no longer be able to deliver due to the nature of how data shapes decisions in real-time. Our data must be able to “talk” within data sets to tell us when we need to focus on certain influencers or topics or keywords.
  8. It’s time to become experts in “bad media”. More than ever, online security is an issue for brands and marketers. We spend all of our time on “good media” to promote our brand. However, at the same time, spam, malware, bots, fake reviews, and black hat search are also reaching the same customers.  When we think of improving the customer experience and protecting our brands, we have to become experts in bad media as well.
  9. We combine the best of research and social analytics to become more predictive. Who you follow to gain information matters. For example, if you are following the right influencers, you can see how their language changes 30-60 days before it changes in the mainstream.  That’s pretty valuable.
  10. Social Graphics will lead to new forms of media planning and research.  Social graphics is part of a larger concept we call “audience architecture”. This relates to how we identify and then listen to the right audience to understand what content we share, what keywords we use and what time of day we share content by channel.  If we are tracking the right audience online, they will teach us what to do. The clues to success are right in front of us.

Check out Bob’s previous blog post for additional global insights, specifically around the innovative Chinese market.

All the best,

Jim Weiss and Bob Pearson

 

W2O Group, an independent global network of leading marketing communications firms, today reported another year of growth and progress with a 10 percent increase in revenue to nearly $83 million in 2014 from $75 million in 2013. W2O Group companies, comprising WCG, Twist and Brewlife, now employ more than 425 people in 10 U.S. offices and a growing London office and EMEA presence.

W2O Group Pragmatic Disruption Ad copyThe company also announced key senior management promotions designed to enhance client service and delivery, foster continued innovation of software-enabled services grounded in state-of-the-art analytics and insights, and position W2O for future growth and evolution internationally. Exemplifying this evolution, the firm’s digital health ecosystem and insights platform, MDigitalLife, stores more than 500,000 unique digital footprints of the world’s doctors, patients and health systems. This resource is used by numerous global clients, including nearly 70% of the world’s top pharma firms.

“2014 was a purposeful year of well-managed, profitable growth that will enable us to further diversify and innovate with our clients on a more global scale,” said W2O Group Chairman and CEO Jim Weiss. “We focused on getting the right systems in place and people in the right positions to ensure that as we expand into new regions and industry sectors, our teams are optimized to deliver flawlessly for our clients and that our infrastructure is aligned to support international growth. The moves we have already announced in 2015, including the acquisitions of ARC2 and VinTank and the hiring of Dorinda Marticorena to lead our Entertainment practice demonstrate how we are continuously evolving the firm to partner with clients in the most productive way possible. We will do all of this while staying true to our foundational #GoAhead #MakeItHappen culture that values and respects quality results and achievement, intelligence, independence, curiosity, courage and a #ChooseHappiness mindset.”

Key management promotions include the following:

Bob Pearson, President of W2O, will now also serve as Chief Innovation Officer to accelerate the firm’s software and technology offerings and facilitate and incubate new practices, offices and game-changing talent.

Jennifer Gottlieb, formerly President of Twist, which has more than doubled in size in the last three years, will become Chief Operating Officer and Head of Client Service for W2O Group and will run its three integrated marketing and communications firms.

Annalise Coady, who has run W2O’s London office and EMEA region, will become President of Twist, expanding the firm’s global footprint to accelerate and facilitate international expansion.

Aaron Strout, who has led the exponential growth of the Technology practice in the last few years, has been promoted to President of WCG. He is moving from Austin to the company’s Silicon Valley office to further focus and grow this area of expertise.

Carolyn Wang, who has been with the firm for over a decade, overseeing investor relations and corporate communications capabilities for life sciences and digital health clients, has been promoted to President of BrewLife to grow that firm in much the same way Jennifer Gottlieb led the growth of Twist.

Paul Dyer, who pioneered the firm’s social media, influencer analytics and digital capabilities, will become President of the firm’s centralized, yet-to-be renamed Analytics and Insights company and shared SaaS capability, which will serve W2O clients as well as its own client base. Seth Duncan, who has been integrally involved in creating the firm’s well-respected, industry-leading Analytics and Insights offering, has been promoted to Managing Director. He will work closely with Paul Dyer to enhance the current offering and develop a differentiated market research and influencer audience targeting sciences business.

Paulo Simas, formerly President of BrewLife, and Gary Grates, formerly head of W2O’s Global Change and Corporate Reputation practice, will now lead and grow a Global Business Design practice. That new practice will comprise those existing capabilities and expand beyond them to bring a differentiated branding and reputation offering to clients that will leverage the firms’ collective integrated analytics, insights, creative, digital technology and strategic media planning capabilities.

Mike Hartman, Chief Creative Officer of W2O Group, will expand the remit of that shared service to include strategic account planning and digital agency services such as customer user experience, e-commerce and social CRM planning and execution. He will also enhance the firm’s media and engagement and entertainment offerings with agile content development through W2O Group Films.

“Bob Pearson and Jenn Gottlieb will work together with this amazing group of people, who are stepping up into new roles and responsibilities, and their capable teams to deliver services, software and solutions that will exceed the expectations of our clients,” added Weiss. “We are expanding our healthcare offering, building technology into a practice as important to our future as healthcare, and developing our capabilities to create unique advantages for any brand in any industry. I have never been more excited about our future than I am today, and remain committed to making W2O Group the very best it can be for our clients and our people.”

Click here to view the press release.

When considering my next professional move, I did something fairly common in a search process – I took some time to identify in detail what somewhere between the “ideal” to “acceptable”  job would look like, feel like, and have to include.

I have been fortunate to work on some of the greatest brands and with some terribly talented professionals in the marketing, creative, publicity, operations, finance and legal spaces at the world’s leading consumer product and entertainment companies.  Sure, I wanted to continue to build great brands with great colleagues – that’s not unusual for a brand manager.  That’s “acceptable.” But the buzz words I began to think about and to say when  I discussed new opportunities that were “ideal” started to repeat themselves:  elegant disruptor, visionary and inspiring leadership, experienced yet energetic, creative and can-do people, lots of growth domestically and abroad.

Enter the W2O Group.  Constructive disruption was certainly a well-used term in the business press about a year ago.  How do you keep the business strategies and tactics that are still successful, throw away the tried-and-tested but now irrelevant noise, and be brave and open to radically new innovation be that new staff, agencies and partners, or go-to-business practices?  Bottom line, from my experience, it’s tough to constructively disrupt at a mid- to large organization or at a minimum, do it quickly.

W2O’s founder and chairman, Jim Weiss, uses the term pragmatic disruption or “entrepreneurs in a state of “do” blowing up models one at a time.”  Now this makes a lot of sense to me because it’s not easy for any established, entrenched company managing heritage brands to quickly change their culture, or go-to-market tactics, or their org chart even with the best of intentions.  I think that a consulting firm that can deliver products and services that allow their clients to be pragmatic disruptors in an array of sectors is a firm that deserves to be positioned not only as pragmatic but as “elegant.”  Why? Because W2O’s client solutions must be both ingenious and pleasingly simple if they are to work, to be implemented quickly, and measured solidly. In other words, the W2O disruption needs to be elegant as well as pragmatic.  At W2O, we are fortunate to have a visionary and visible leader, blue-chip talent at all levels and with backgrounds from numerous sectors, incredibly innovative marketing and communications products and services in the influencer/social, media planning, corporate culture, and social analytics spaces.   And W2O’s significant growth over the last several years indicates that our clients agree that we and they are on the right track.

I am looking forward to building business  relationships, both with the superb W2O team and its clients,  that will last my entire career – that’s the only kind of relationship I know how to build.  I am also excited about using W2O’s outstanding analytics to develop fresh marketing strategies and messaging for outstanding brand-building, particularly in the area of multi-cultural campaigns. The definition of a  strong brand has evolved from a mere compelling consumer promise with a personality and a visual identity to all of those things plus an extremely close and dynamic relationship with the brand’s consumers, fans, audiences.  It doesn’t matter if the brand is toothpaste, chocolate, or a movie franchise.  I am probably most excited about taking classic brand management/cpg principles from the creative, communication, media, and promotions disciplines, and turning them all on their ear with the innovation that exists within this firm.

I’m really excited to be a part of the W2O family – it’s definitely “ideal.”

Jim Weiss (CEO and Chairman – W2O Group) and Cathy Baron Tamraz (CEO – Businesswire) kicked off this afternoon with a PreCommerce Talk about Business Wire, which is the leading global commercial news wire.

Here is a summary of highlights of their discussion.

Cathy talked about how Business Wire now uses Content Capsules to share visual content along with news.  She talked about the importance of Business Wire’s reputation, much in keeping with the philosophy of their owner, Berkshire Hathaway and, of course Warren Buffet.  It is clear that Cathy treats the news of its clients as a treasured asset to be protected at all costs.  Right on.

The press release, by the way, is now 101 years old, according to Cathy.  Jim asked if the news release is still as important as it has been in the past.  Cathy gave the example that Apple utilized Business Wire to introduce its new watch.  Great way to answer the question succintly.

Jim discussed how W2O is partnering with Business Wire via NextWorks, led by Tim Bahr.  Cathy said that Intel is using the capsule, as well as Xerox, Cigna and more.  The key is that people are staying on the site for more than five minutes on average, which is far more important than counting clicks.  This portable website allows people to consume content anywhere, anytime and get the full story without having to travel to other locations.

In the Q&A, Cathy was asked “what about small companies who no one knows…what do they do?”  Cathy said you should not make the assumption that no one is watching….a release can be a great idea to get the word out for small businesses.  In fact, Business Wire built its business serving small companies that have grown up over the years, such as HP.  Jim added in that you can also identify the right influencers and keywords, so you help people find your story, which is important for any size company.  So if you are building a company out of your garage, Business Wire is an important part of your arsenal.

Jim ended with discussion of the concept of Storytizing…..and emphasized it is really about what others say about you, not what you say alone.  This speaks to the 1 and the 9 of the 1,9,90 model.  Empowering our audiences to tell our story is always the most powerful way to go.  Business Wire gets the word out….and great stories take it from there.  The fundamentals remain clear and simple.  The hard part is creating compelling content.  That’s on all of us.

Best, Bob

For more information on our SXW2O events and our speakers, please visit our website: http://w2oevents.com