Blog

The W2O Group Center for Social Commerce is proud to announce its 2015 student Ambassadors. The Ambassador Program, now in its second year, gives at least two Syracuse University students the opportunity to take on a full-year leadership position within the Center. These Ambassadors are tasked with being our “boots on the ground,” helping promote the Center, its initiatives and its value to students, faculty and the industry. Along with their daily responsibilities during the Spring and Fall semesters, these two students will join W2O Group’s New York City office this Summer as interns. Along with their internship, both Ambassadors will attend W2O Group events at SXSW, an opportunity to truly integrate themselves in W2O Group’s thinking, and get quickly onboarded for their future responsibilities.

Please join us in welcoming our newest Ambassadors! Below, they’ve shared a few thoughts on what this position means to them:

Anna HodgeAnna Hodge

I’m so excited to be joining a digitally advanced team like W2O Group this upcoming summer as a Corporate and Strategy intern. As a junior journalism major at Syracuse University I first came across W2O Group when I was searching the web for articles related to journalism in the digital age. I stumbled across a 2013 W2O Group blog about the evolving journalism industry and the rise in paid online content. As a freshman, I maintained interest in the company and was excited to gain the opportunity to apply to W2O Group Center for Social Commerce program within the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. With a previous summer internship in corporate communications and on-campus experience in writing and social media, I understand the importance of conveying brand messaging.

As a journalism major, I am excited to use my abilities as a writer and social media producer to tell the stories of corporate clients and engage audiences on new and innovative platforms. When asked why I made the switch from journalism to public relations, I always respond that my passion for storytelling has evolved in to one surrounding a brand’s narrative. I’m excited to work with W2O Group in moving brands forward with the combination of new practices such as social media and the traditional practices of effective writing. I view W2O Group as a pioneering brand, molding the future of a more digitally advanced public relations industry, and am excited to be a part of such a progressive and innovative team.

Andrew PetroAndrew Petro

I am extremely excited to be joining W2O Group through the Center for Social Commerce Ambassador Program. It is wonderful to have the opportunity to be a part of such an innovative and forward-thinking agency. After experiencing Social Commerce Days, I can’t wait to give back to the cause that has already impacted me in so many ways.

Last semester, I took advantage of the impressive speaker lineup and other events that comprised Social Commerce Days. It was during those days that I learned exactly what the Center for Social Commerce really does. I learned how big of a resource it is for the students and faculty of Newhouse. I can’t wait to help promote and develop the center so that more people will be able to take advantage of all that it has to offer.

As a public relations and marketing dual major, I have taken an interest in the field of research. This summer I will get to spend 10 weeks interning at W2O Group’s New York City office. I cannot wait to get hands-on experience with analytics and learn from the industry professionals working for this agency.

Overall, I feel overjoyed to be in this role. I am eager to take on the responsibilities of the Ambassador Program and will work hard to take the Center for Social Commerce to the next level.

 

When reflecting on the past year, so many emotions come into play that it is impossible to adequately put them into words.  What I will say is that the words of the late Steve Jobs were incredible markers for me as we progressed during the year.

We started 2014 with an intense focus on strengthening the bottom-line – improving margins and profitability — and we ended the year exceeding both of those goals with strong momentum going into 2015.

Probably even more importantly, we got back to what made this firm so successful:  We put our clients first as well as the work we do and results we deliver for them.

We also refocused on a core set of priorities and investments — people and technologies that matter, and are truly aligned with our strategy to “disrupt the status quo” – clarifying our Software as a Service as a Service (SaaS Squared), positioning and introducing new offerings in Analytics, Corporate and Strategy (Crisis, Change, Reputation), CCX and Media and Engagement (PESO).

As Steve Jobs once said:  “I’m as proud of the many things we haven’t done as the things we have done.  Innovation is saying no to a thousand things.”

We made improvements in Infrastructure and expanded our footprint with new offices.  And of course we continued to do what we do best – partner with world-class organizations and brands – to transform the way they connect with customers, engage employees, beat the competition in the marketplace and forge new pathways to the future.

TheBestIsYetToCome

None of this could have been accomplished without YOU.  I’m most proud and humbled by all of you – the dedicated professionals comprising our firm.  There is not a challenge, a roadblock, a problem or an issue that you can’t overcome.  There’s not an opportunity or a change that isn’t embraced by you.

Once again, Steve Jobs’ words resonate:  “I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long.  Just figure out what’s next.”

An important symbol of that mentality was the formal restatement of the firm’s Values.  The very essence of what make us, well, us.  These Values were forged at the beginning – when I first embarked on what has become an incredible personal and professional journey — battle-tested and honed over the years.  And these Values truly reflect the set of principles and beliefs guiding our behavior.

When I talk about Values, I’m also speaking about career development and growth.  We will continue to support and expand W2O University and I’m asking all of our leaders to recommit to content and facilitation of specific programs and courses to build our individual and collective competency and confidence.  Our Center for Social Commerce at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University is a premier example of what a modern academic-business partnership is all about – we are training the next generation of marketing and communications professionals.

From a Thought Leadership standpoint, our efforts at JP Morgan, SXSW, Page, CES and IPR, to name just a few, are increasingly strategic and precise in terms of ROI and reach.  Adding to this was our first-ever European-focused Social Intelligence Summit hosted by our London office and attracting both a significant on-site and Webex presence extending our Brand throughout a region still less familiar with us and what we can do for them.

One of the more impactful aspects of 2014 was the realization to continue our growth and globalization aspirations, the opportunity to partner, acquire or join up with another organization must be considered.  To that end, we held numerous discussions with a variety of larger global players who could provide capital, footprint and resources if we were to choose such an option.  However, my priority in doing something like that rests with having the confidence that such a partner is compatible with our culture and respectful of our people.

At this point, my belief is that we can continue to do what is necessary ourselves – given our strong leadership, incredible staff, improving financial position and operational infrastructure, and, most importantly, our unique culture of entrepreneurialism, innovation and collaboration.  If, at some point, we identify the right partner or partners, and it feels right, we will explore the validity of such a move.

To quote Jobs again:  “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me . . . going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful . . . that’s what matters to me.”

From where I sit, I could not be more proud and excited about where we are.  And after 13 years, it’s safe to say our journey is just beginning.  There are three things that I ask you to think about often during the coming year:  1) Be interested, not interesting; 2) Think Big, but act in small, focused and effective ways; and 3) be creative by being curious.

Thank you all very much for all you do . . . from my family to yours, have a healthy, prosperous new year!

And to paraphrase Steve Jobs once more:  “In 2015, let’s put a ding in the universe.”

Sincerely,

Jim

It’s no secret that our parent company, W2O Group, has deep ties to Syracuse University and their Newhouse School of Public Communications. It all started with our CEO, Jim Weiss, who is not only an alumni but who was also inducted into the Newhouse Hall of Fame last fall along with notables such as foursquare co-founder, Dennis Crowley and Sports Illustrated writer, Pete Thamel.

Given the synergies between our two organizations, Newhouse and W2O Group went ahead and launched a Social Commerce Center last fall and celebrated the creation of the new center with a Social Commerce Day” on campus earlier this spring. The purpose of the Center is for W2O and to Newhouse to train and cross-pollinate learning among professors, students and W2O employees and to ultimately impact the curriculum for future members of the school and to teach one another about the future of social.

In light of our relationship with the bright minds at the Newhouse School, we are excited about their recent announcement that they were now offering social media training via 15 self-paced lessons in partnership with social media engagement tool provider, Hootsuite. This is in response to the fact that so many companies — large and small — are in need of better skill sets for applying social media to their marketing and communication efforts.

The course is taught by Newhouse Social Media Professor, Dr. William J. Ward, and participants will have the valuable opportunity to engage directly with Dr. Ward through personalized feedback and assessments. Upon successfully completing the course, participants will earn a Advanced Social Media Strategy Certificate.

Course topics will include:

  • Situation and Environment Analysis
  • Strategic Planning Process
  • Content Strategy
  • Information Management and Threats
We here at W2O Group would like to congratulate Dr. Ward, Dean Lorraine Branham, Professor Maria Russell and Adjunct Professor, Kate Brodock and the folks at Hootsuite on this endeavor and look forward to growing our partnership over time.

This is truly a special day for my company, W2O Group, and my alma mater, Syracuse University. The reason why is because today I am proud to announce the creation of a new center for social commerce. The focus of this new center will be to impart industry-leading skills and acumen to the Newhouse School’s students, professors, staff, and clients in the emerging field of social commerce.

Over the last few years as the CEO of my company, I’ve watched the communications field undergo a sea change with the advent of social, online, digital and mobile media. This, combined with increasingly sophisticated and more precise big data, media analytics and technologies, such as those used successfully by the Obama campaign to microtarget voters in the 2012 presidential election, has led to an evolution and pragmatic disruption of how marketers and communicators are able to view, plan and execute upon traditional paid, owned, shared, and earned media models. The result of this new alchemy is the emergence of “social commerce,” which enables marketers and communicators to create demand and drive desired actions and/or revenues via online channels. Now more than ever, marketing and communications professionals (including our clients) are capable of building social commerce strategies that inform and evolve their overall sales and marketing strategies and more effectively position their brand, campaign or cause and tell their story online. In many respects, earned media is becoming the leading driver and will increasingly guide cost-effective and more precise and targeted use of paid media in the future.

As a Newhouse alumni (’87), my hope is that this partnership between the school and W2O Group will allow students and faculty to gain and share expertise in the area of social commerce. What excites me most is that this practice of using digital analytics to drive social commerce strategies and solutions is changing how companies, campaigners and causes reach customers, influencers, voters and partners. It also is changing how e-commerce is conducted online, which leads to new product lines and distribution channels. In addition to investing time and resources to this program, I am also helping to fund the partnership with an initial $100,000 gift to the school.

Newhouse faculty will collaborate with W2O staff to determine the full details of the new Center, which will include field placement at W2O Group offices for students and professors; interactions with experts in areas such as analytics and digital technology; guest lectures; and new course content in social commerce. While the Center will have its home in the Newhouse Public Relations Department, it will extend its teaching, research and applied practices within the entire School and throughout other schools at Syracuse.

This partnership will also provide opportunities for Newhouse students and professors to rotate through the various W2O Group offices in San Francisco, Austin, Los Angeles, New York and London, interact with the firm’s clients, and learn from experts in analytics, digital, social, corporate, technology and research areas. In return, senior W2O Group leaders will guest lecture at Newhouse and work with the University’s faculty to create new courses and update existing ones.

Before I forget, I would also like to mention that a number of the W2O staff also graduated from Newhouse including: Gail Cohen ’89; Jennifer Gottlieb ‘92; Gary Grates ’99; Joanna Cochran ’02; Kelli Raymor ’02; Scott Shadiow ‘03; David Fossas ’04; Mindy Huber ’04; Amy Pasqua ‘05; Joey Fleury ‘07; Allison Klein ‘08; Kendra Brogden ’10; Elise Trent ‘11; and Rachel Leslie ’11.

I’m at the Newhouse School today to officially announce this center. If you happen to be in the area, don’t hesitate to stop by!