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IPR’s Global Organizational Clarity Study Makes the Case for Stronger Internal Alignment around Business Strategy and Individual Performance Organizational Clarity

This week, the Institute for Public Relations (IPR) Commission on Organizational Communication released a Signature Research Global Study – “Organizational Clarity: The Case for Workforce Alignment and Belief” – delving into the company/employee dynamic involving comprehension and activation around business strategy. (In full transparency, I’m on the Commission and co-lead the development and execution of the study)

The study indicates employees in the five countries examined are confident they understand the core purpose of their organization and find meaning in their work, but believe organizations have much work to be done in prioritizing and communicating strategy internally.

A summary of key takeaways includes the following:

  • In today’s social/digital reality, there is more content than attention resulting in misalignment between strategy and employee performance.
  • Organizational Clarity appears to be strongly correlated with performance and can act as a leading indicator of future performance.
  • Strategy and clarity connect when employees calibrate thinking, action, and behavior. People are inundated with information today and often work with the volume “off,” so to speak, relying on organizational behavior and action to connect the dots for them on vision, strategy and direction.
  • Strategy alignment and clarity starts at the top, and “disconnect” with employees must be eliminated among leaders.
  • A disconcerting reality from the research is that some organizations do not have a solid understanding or real-time knowledge of the workforce as it exists today — a significant barrier to Organizational Clarity. One reason for this failing is the lack of integration and alignment among C-Suite, HR, and Communications functions within the workplace.
  • Building on three key dimensions — Job, Strategy and Market — the “Organizational Clarity Clock,” a new measurement model emerging from our research, was constructed that shows clarity is increased when employees understand the marketplace as seen through the lens of the company’s strategy.
  • Based on survey results gathered among more than 1,500 respondents working across six economic sectors and five countries, the best to worst performing countries in terms of Organizational Clarity are India, United States, China, Brazil and the United Kingdom.

The comprehensive report – more than 1,500 employees in five countries— United States, United Kingdom, India, Brazil and China—were surveyed about how well they think their organization connects to three dimensions in terms of employee alignment: JOB, STRATEGY, and MARKET. Each country received a grade ranging from “A” to “F,” based on the mean responses from their employees. The best to worst performing countries in terms of Organizational Clarity were India, United States, China, Brazil and the United Kingdom.

For practitioners, this is a most opportune piece of data identifying the elements for breaking through the clutter of today’s modern corporation and having a mechanism—dimensions, scorecard, market difference, techniques—focused on clarity to measure progress in real-time. The report also includes specific considerations for improving clarity and engagement within companies.

In companies throughout the world, employees are inundated with information today and rely on organizational behavior and action to connect the dots for them on vision, strategy and direction. In addition to the research findings, the study also offers takeaways and suggested actions to improve Organizational Clarity and drive performance. Clarity is the new engagement for internal communications.

All of us involved in communications should find this research relevant and useful in navigating the environments we operate in.

Kudos to Tina McCorkindale, Ph.D. President of IPR; Dr. Sarab Kochhar, Ph.D. Director of Research/IPR; Keith Burton, Chairman, Commission on Organizational Communications/IPR; and the Commission members for a truly ground-breaking study. Additional kudos to the sponsors of this effort – AT&T, General Electric, Hormel Foods, Shell, Southwest Airlines, Standard Chartered Bank, USAA, and Bruce Berger, Ph.D.

For a full report please visit the IPR at instituteforpr.org.

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Last week, W2O Group won one of the most prestigious awards in marketing research: an Advertising Research Foundation Ogilvy Award. These awards are unique because the entries are judged on the basic fundamentals: the insight, the creative, and the campaigns’ impact on an audience. It’s not about the bells and whistles that typically adorn other research and analytics award submissions. The “bigness” of the data doesn’t matter, nor the does the “advancedness” of the data analyses. All that matters is the research team’s ability to discover a novel truth about the target audience, and the creative team’s ability to execute a great campaign based on that knowledge.

At W2O, we believe one of the most important factors determining the success of creative execution, is the speed at which an insight is uncovered and made actionable by the research and creative teams. The speed of delivery is just as important as the correctness of the results. This is why we tend to favor social and digital data-driven insights in conjunction with panel-based survey data over slower research methods like focus groups and field-studies. If the insight is correct, it doesn’t matter if it’s delivered after the campaign has been executed.

David Ogilvy, who the award is aptly named after, was a huge proponent of “good enough” research. He used to say that many agency researchers favored slow, methodical perfection, over faster, sometimes sloppier, but directionally correct research methods. In his classic book On Advertising, Ogilvy argued that the later type of research was the only useful kind advertising since creatives can rarely wait four months for the research team to come back with insights about an audience. Most agency research needs to happen in a matter of weeks, if not days.

Ogilvy would have been pleased with the fast, directionally correct, and “good enough” research we conducted to win our Silver award in the “new audiences” category.

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The work was done for Western Digital, who was looking to increase awareness and consideration for its personal cloud storage product MyCloud audience segments beyond the traditional tech-savvy, IT-professional. Using social media listening and monitoring techniques (imperfect, but directionally sound), we found a valuable target of personal content “curators,” consisting of 60% women, with an average age of 42, and those who made household purchase decisions. Through research and analytics, WCG, a W2O company identified that this audience segment prioritized security and control when it involved their personal data – photos, videos and personal documents.

W2O’s creative team, led by Creative Group Director, Walt Whitman, created content that was visual, consumable and sharable by capturing life moments that our target audience would relate to personally, including imagery like the sexy selfie, awkward family photos and pet portraits. The #KeepItPersonal campaign was executed across multiple channels both online, and offline (you can see much of the creative content here).

The campaign was a huge success, exceeding targets for engagement with campaign content and conversion rates through e-commerce.

Fast, good-enough research was important 33 years ago when Ogilvy wrote On Advertising. It’s even more important today in a fractured media landscape where brand’s best chance of winning market share is through highly targeted, highly relevant, and timely content that works across traditional broadcast, social, and digital channels. The researcher’s luxury of arriving at insights in weeks or months is quickly becoming a thing of the past. As creative teams produce more content, far faster (and cheaper) than ever before, researchers will increasingly feel pressure to deliver insights at a faster pace as well. That’s exactly why social and digital data are at the center of the agency’s new research toolkit and why they’ll likely stay there in the years ahead.

 

It is with great pride that I introduce today’s guest. I’ve known John Hallock for over 10 years…back when it felt like we were the only two people in the free world working in health IT marketing and communications. Today, John is vice president of corporate communications for Imprivata. For those of you who know John, you know that he has a natural gift for storytelling.  As we were both waiting to fly back on the red eye from last week’s HIMSS, I seized the opportunity to hit him up with questions. He didn’t disappoint. Read on…

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What does your company do?

Imprivata is one of the largest health IT security companies in the world. We serve 1,500 healthcare organizations across the globe. Our technology allows providers to securely access, communicate, and transact patient information securely. As we see it, digital health is at an inflection point: It is no longer about driving EHR adoption, but about how we connect those EHRs and allow information to follow the patient. As more and more healthcare moves online, we are a vital ingredient.

Describe the role that you and your team play in advancing the company mission.

I oversee all corporate communications, which includes media relations, government affairs, analyst relations and some internal communications along with HR of course. It’s an exciting time. We went public 18 months ago. There is a lot of growth and the organization is scaling quickly. Communications – both external and internal – is critical for keeping everyone on the same page, setting expectations and explaining how we innovate and launch new products.

What is your biggest success in the last year and why does this make you proud?

I joined the firm about a year ago. The company wanted to increase focus on business media and national media and I had a lot of experience doing that at athenahealth and CareCloud. Over my career, I’ve primarily worked with healthcare technology companies. Unless it’s Apple or some wildly successful online service, you need to very quickly figure out how you can tie the company’s products to the issues that matter most to clients and the public at large. With most companies, you’re lucky if you have one or two products that can do that. Early on at athenahealth we had to work hard just to get people to realize how big of an issue medical billing was. At Imprivata, I am lucky to have three.

For example and right out of the gate, I focused on electronic prescribing for controlled substances. Why? Because our solution is designed to address a high profile and important issue – addiction to prescription painkillers, which has become a nationwide epidemic. Imprivata sells the security technology that allows physicians to securely send electronic prescriptions for controlled substances to a pharmacy. Replacing paper prescriptions with electronic prescriptions is seen by experts as a big step in preventing doctor shopping and drug diversion – i.e., when people with addiction problems go from doctor to doctor collecting prescriptions for painkillers and other controlled substances. We saw immediate national press and the opportunity for real thought leadership that educated audiences on the issue and made the case for change.

We are about to take a similar, but more lighthearted approach to helping rid the medical profession of pagers. We also have a great deal to say about patient identification with our new Palm-Vein biometric patient ID platform. It plays directly into the interoperability discussion underway across the industry right now.

How many years have you been going to HIMSS and what’s changed the most?

This was my 12th. In terms of what’s changed the most, two things come to mind. First, security has become a leading topic. That was overdue and I’d like to think Imprivata has had something to do with getting people talking about it. And second, I would have to say…Allscripts’ colors. Every year I look forward to seeing what Allscripts’ new corporate colors are going to be as they pretty have much covered the spectrum at this point.

Outside of work, what are your favorite things to do?

I played golf in college and recently got back into it. One thing I can’t quite figure out is…based on the way most technology folks swing a club, it is a mystery as to why they would ever want to go near a golf course, much less sponsor the sport. Mind you, that’s not a commentary on my boss or CEO – they hit em straight every time (chuckle).

When I’m not on the golf course, I’m evaluating talent for the upcoming NFL draft. Belechick and Tom have me on retainer so this time of year I’m either breaking down film or I’ve got a stop watch and clipboard in hand. I’m only half joking – I do these things, but the Coach knows nothing about it. Also, I am proud to report that I no longer get into Brady/Manning debates with strangers at airport bars.

How do you empower and motivate your employees to do their best possible work?

Early in my career, I worked at a few big agencies — writing, doing media relations…the usual stuff. If you’re lucky, you get exposed to some bosses that show you how to be part of a team. It’s always great to be singled out as a top performer, but your impact will always be limited if you don’t learn how to collaborate with all the folks on your team. When I went to athenahealth, I tried to build and run a team that gave everyone the support they needed and allowed them to do their best work – and I had some success and failures on that front for sure. We are doing the same here at Imprivata. Once you become a manager, your job is to set others up to be successful. That can take some people a long time to learn — it certainly didn’t happen overnight for me. Of course, I still like picking up the damn phone and calling a reporter or producer and getting the big hit as well.

If a PR/Marketing God exists, what would you like to hear that God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? (my spin on James Lipton’s famous last question from Inside the Actor’s Studio)

If I can get there, and that’s very much up for debate, I would want to hear…”Listen, you did really well for a kid who never really learned to type. You told some stories that changed the healthcare system and impacted peoples’ lives. Kid from Worcester, so all things considered, ya done good.” Something like that. I am still working on my book “Travels with Johnny.” You are in it Rob, but don’t worry…I left out the shenanigans at HIMSS’08 (smile and chuckle).

As each year passes, graduating classes of Millennials continue to join the workforce, bringing with them their media and technology focused minds and experiences. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Millennials are on track to make up 44% of the workforce by 2025. To say that Millennials and technology go hand-in-hand is an understatement. Luckily, they bring that insight to the PR industry day-by-day. With this in mind, we went to the movers and shakers themselves to discuss how the Committee of Millennials at W2O group believe that Millennials are shaping the industry and what is ahead for this “disruptive” generation.

Culture and Balance

First and foremost, office culture has drastically changed since we joined the workforce. We’ve said goodbye to the strict 9-5 and hello to connecting outside of the office. Now, thanks to social media many coworkers are able to connect outside of the common cubicle; and thanks to Mark Zuckerberg, offices across the nation as well as with our neighbors across the pond, are able to stay connected through Facebook groups, and up to date on the activities occurring throughout the company, regardless of location.

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Office culture overall has become more laid back, casual and many offices include an open floor plan to encourage collaboration and communication among coworkers. Additionally, Millennials are more focused on developing friendships with those they work with in comparison to Gen X or baby boomers. There is a large push to establish and maintain office culture through fun events throughout the year, outside of the typical annual office holiday party.

In The Know

Say what you will about Millennials being fully absorbed into their phones and social media, but in the PR industry, it is increasingly helpful for those to be “plugged in.” According to study conducted by the American Press Institute, 88% of Millennials use social media, specifically Facebook, as their primary source of news and check it regularly. In this industry specifically, there has been a shift from traditional practices to incorporating more digital media strategy and encouraging a larger presence on social media for clients. Being “plugged in” has us on the frontline of all things tech and consumer based, and with that we are able to suggest different platforms and ideas on how to expand a client’s reach to a different audience in a fresh, new way.

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However, we argue that it is more than just our strong connectivity that puts us at the cutting edge. Rather, it is our desire to question common practices, to ask and learn more, which sparks yet another difference between us and other generations. Millennials love to contribute and suggest new ideas so a company that promotes that kind of participation is key for prospective jobs.

What We Look For

 When asked, “What attracts you to a job,” or what made our Millennials choose W2O Group, many of us reported that the opportunity to communicate and bring ideas to the table is a huge attraction in a potential workplace. Overall, many noted that when interviewing, they highlighted that having strong and natural conversations with interviewers was something that they took into account when choosing a potential workplace. In this day and age, it is no longer only about a skillfully crafted job description and a decent salary, but rather the work / life balance and culture a company supports that this generation is looking for.

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Gone are the days where an entry level employee is discouraged to share their thoughts and ideas. Where previously, they would have to go through their manager and then their manager’s manager to get an idea pitched at a meeting. Now, we are encouraged to contribute wherever possible and at all times. Many also suggested that it was a lack of “red tape” at W2O that drew us here and what we saw was a company that recognizes the flexibility to do what is needed to get the job done.

Moving Forward

Regardless of the daily criticism Millennials receive, whether it be for being too self-involved, too out of touch with traditional concepts or pushing back more than some would like, this generation is shaping not only the workplace, but the public relations industry as a whole. We don’t claim to know everything and our tech savviness will soon fade with newer platforms emerging every day, but until then we will continue to ask questions, remain “plugged in,” and look forward to what is yet to come.

 

Every quarter, investor relations professionals spend hours preparing press releases and conference call scripts to provide updates on their company’s recent milestones and financial status. Sometimes even that is usually not enough to tell the whole story, with most public companies also conducting a Q&A session during their quarterly calls. With all of that work going into fine tuning your messages and providing a comprehensive vision, how can you possibly be expected to condense that story into a 140 character tweet?

The short answer is, you can’t. As an upcoming SXSW panel (140 Characters, Zero Context) will discuss, the character limitations on Twitter can make providing context to your story difficult, to say the least. But since you can’t just ignore a channel that is rapidly being adopted by the media and investors alike, you need to find a way to work within those limitations to make sure that more than just your stock price gets shared.

In starting this conversation, the first question I typically get from CFOs is, do investors really care about social media? The answer to that has been shown to be unequivocally yes. You could easily look at the number of followers of major financial media (Jim Cramer from MadMoney has nearly 1 million followers) for an answer but recently there have also been some studies showing how investors use social media and the impact that it can have on their behavior and opinions.

Greenwich Associates conducted a survey of 256 investors from the US, Europe and Asia and 80 percent say they use social media as part of their workflow. Nearly a third of these investors stated the information obtained through social media directly influences investment decisions. The other interesting tidbit from this study is that while investors use Twitter to track breaking news and company updates, LinkedIn is the most popular platform for work-related purposes.

This may lead to the question then of why even bother with Twitter, why not just move to other platforms that are less restrictive. There are several reasons why Twitter should not be ignored. First, it generates a significant volume of conversation. So far this year, Gilead ($GILD) has been mentioned in nearly 50,000 tweets. Even smaller companies can see a lot of traction on Twitter. In a nod to SXSW, let’s look at an Austin-based company – Luminex ($LMNX), a small-cap company that develops and markets biological tests has been mentioned on Twitter over 1,100 times so far this year.

The second reason not to ignore Twitter is that even with the character restrictions, Twitter is one of the best ways to engage directly with your audiences. You can convey a sense to trust and transparency and truly build a relationship with people in 140 characters. This is supported by a study from the University of Illinois that showed that when a tweeting CEO shared negative news from their personal handle, 46 percent of investors perceived the poor financial results to be a one-time event, compared to those who learned of the information from a CEO letter on the company website (eight percent), from the IR portal on the company website (nine percent) or through an IR or corporate twitter handle (12 percent). Having the CEO engage in what felt like a personal level on Twitter was shown to actually help buoy the company’s stock price during difficult times.

This leads us to the foundational reason why having a comprehensive social media strategy is so important: the channels are used differently. Even when you cannot tell the full story, Twitter can be an extremely effective channel to provide quick updates and teasers to where to find more information, to guide people to blogs, webcasts or LinkedIn posts where you do have the real estate to provide context beyond 140 characters. Think of Twitter as the guy on the airport tarmac directing planes where to go. You are guiding your audience to another platform where they can read about your whole story rather than just see the most recent update on your stock price. But Twitter is also an excellent opportunity to humanize your news, to build trust with your investors. By showing that your management team is invested in building the best company possible, you are providing that intangible context that doesn’t always shine through in a press release or investor presentation. That context can be just as valuable as anything beyond 140 characters.

Working with influencers has been a hot topic in the PR and marketing community for a number of years, yet it still feels like a mysterious topic and “nut to crack” for many companies. In fact, it’s the number one topic people want to chat about when they ask to meet up with me for coffee – how to find influencers who might be interested in their brand and how to actually build meaningful relationships with them. As someone who works with clients to build influencer campaigns, and as a blogger myself, this is a topic I’m very passionate about and love exploring.

At WCG, we work with global brands to identify influencers who are relevant to their business and engage with them in a meaningful way. Key word = meaningful. One of the biggest keys to working with influencers is to think of building long-term relationships, rather than a quick way to get someone to mention your product or company online.

This means doing your homework to find the right people who might want to engage with you, study them and get on their radar (begin building that relationship) before you pitch them. Do they talk about topics relevant to your brand? Search for your company name or product within their blog to see if they’ve covered your company or anything like it before.

influencer define 2We look at the Reach, Relevance and Resonance of online influencers to determine if they are appropriate for a specific brand. Most people start and end with reach – how many people follow the influencer? But that’s just the beginning. If they aren’t talking about topics relevant to your brand, then they likely aren’t a good influencer for you. Resonance is how often their content is shared – do people engage with and respond to the influencer? You want to work with someone who has a passionate following who will help spread the word.

Once you’ve identified your target influencers, it’s important to study them for some time and get to know them before you ask them to do anything. Engage with them online – “like” a tweet here or there. Ask a sincere question about something they’ve written. Retweet them from your personal and/or brand accounts if you genuinely feel it’s good content and will appeal to your readers.

The most important question to consider before reaching out to any influencer is, “What’s in it for them.” Unlike journalists who are constantly looking for news topics to cover, bloggers are typically only interested in talking about topics they are truly interested in and passionate about. This requires a lot of thought on the brand’s part – discover how your company aligns with the blogger’s passions and then connect the dots for them.

Here is a link to a presentation on SlideShare I recently created which delves deeper into this topic and shares some specific tools and best practices.

Interested in talking more about your influencer goals? Feel free to reach out to me via email or on twitter @MissyVoronyak.

In 2015, marketers set the bar for memorable brand experiences, from the hi-tech U.S. Open American Express Fan Experience to Disney’s show-stopping Star Wars premiere.

As we head in to 2016, brands continuing to put more dollars behind event marketing. In fact, a recent study by the Event Marketing Institute predicted a 5 percent increase in experiential marketing budgets last year. It’s easy to see why once you realize that 74 percent of participants who purchase a brand once are likely to become regular customers after engaging with the brand at an event, and 93 percent say events are more effective marketing tools than television commercials.

As we ring in a new year filled with major national and global events including political conventions and the Olympics, there’s no better time to look back and highlight the biggest event marketing trends from the past year, and what’s on the horizon. Check out our key learnings from the past year that will continue to drive event marketing, and what we’re most excited to see in 2016.

  1. If it isn’t on social, your event didn’t happen. Unless you’re planning events for a secret society, one of your event goals is most likely to spark social conversation about your brand. It used to be that events allowed for a high-touch brand experience, but only reached a small audience. Social media has completely opened up the potential for an event’s reach, providing a greater ROI for marketers. However, it’s not necessarily enough to expect that people will post about your event just because they were invited. Brands must create an environment that will inspire guests to share their experience, whether that’s designing a visually evocative display that ties back to your brand’s narrative, or providing an opportunity for guests to create their own share-worthy content. When we partnered with DigiFest – the world’s largest social media festival – to target Gen Z on behalf of a new teen-centric brand, our key priority was to make our activation share-worthy. By incorporating fun, eye-catching designs that referenced the brand and an interactive GIF booth for attendees to create content, SOV about the brand among our target audience skyrocketed.
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  2. Attendees vs. Participants. At this year’s BizBash Live conference, the leading meeting for planners from around the country, a key theme heard from more than a few presenters is that attendees are no longer passive. As with other forms of media, control is shifting from marketers to guests who can shape the event by streaming and creating content. For brands that are up to the challenge, this is a good thing. Seek ways to make your event attendee-centric at every turn.bizbash
  3. The infiltration of influencers. It’s all about the influencer in marketing these days, and the same holds true for events. Brands are bolstering their events’ reach by incorporating influencers – paid or organically. Sponsoring a live event? Consider negotiating influencer content as part of your deal. Oh, and remember those shareworthy moments we discussed? Those are even more important when your guest list is comprised of high profile influencers who are building their own brand. If you’re goal is organic engagement, make sure to emphasize the details. Personalize, surprise and delight in a way that influencers can authentically share your brand’s message with their audiences. As with any successful influencer program, key word = AUTHENTIC. Check out some more insight on influencers from my W2O colleagues here and here.
  1. Want to reach millennials and Gen Z? Plan an event. It may sound counterintuitive when thinking about marketing to the most digital-savvy and tech-innate generations, but despite the ubiquitous nature of digital, these groups crave interaction with brands in real life. For millennials, the economy of chessexperience trumps material things, so brands that seek to create unforgettable, shareable, bespoke experiences first and foremost before selling a product will succeed among millennials. In its second year, Bud Light’s Whatever, USA takeover garnered 1.7 million entries (5 percent of the millennial population) for a chance to participate. The weekend-long festival offered hundreds of unique experiences that had nothing to do with America’s favorite lager, including #UpForWhatever events and classes like hula hoop workouts, life-size chess and an improv comedy performance based on attendees’ own social media accounts.
  1. Focus on health. From corporate meetings to branded activations, companies are finding ways to add health and fitness into live events. For the past few years, hotels and caterers have increasingly offered a wide array of healthy food and beverage options to keep conference attendees feeling energized and meet ever-evolving dietary requirements.  Brands are now getting fit too – in some cases, even building product launches and events entirely around wellness experiences. Take Reebok for example: the brand partners with wellness companies to bring fitness-based experiences to its target consumer is known as the “Fit Generation,” or Fitgen: stylish twentysomethings who view working out as a social activity.
  1. Event data at the forefront in 2016. You may know that everything we do at W2O Group is deeply rooted in analytics, so it’s not surprising that one of the event trends I’m most excited about uses biometrics to take the focus on health and data to a completely different level. In 2016, expect to see more companies using wearable and RFID technology to get feedback in real time to improve attendee experience. Take that a step further… and turn that data into event décor and content through imagery, reactive lighting, music and more. (Confession: I totally geeked out when Lightwave’s Rana June spoke about this topic at the BizBash Event Innovation Forum).biometrics

Tell us: what was your favorite brand event from 2015 and what 2016 event are you most looking forward to?

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In my old reporting days, I’d get laughed out of the newsroom if I wrote a lede missing at least a nod at Why, or any other W/H. It’s no different now that I help companies build marketing and communications strategies. Miss one and the story remains untold.

I was reminded of this recently during a conversation around the role and importance of analytics. The ask was to discover influencers only, rather than uncovering the context around their influence. It was Who, but not What-When-Where-Why-How.

Looking through the lens of all five W’s and the H helps us better understand influencers and how we as marketers can tap into them. It also underscores the role research plays in developing a tight, spot-on strategy.

Who:

Knowing “who” allows us to build part of an influence map. Who informs us of the players. Who puts a face on what’s being said, shared or created. Who are the most influential physicians?
What is their clinical sphere of influence? Who can give us insight into the other W’s and the H, but if we go further than that, they collectively become a hunch. With tight budgets, marketers betting on a hunch are few in number.

What:

A deeper step. What combined with Who gives us insight into behavior, but not the underpinnings of behavior itself. What alone is merely a fact: Jane (who) ran (what). But it’s an important fact which, tied to Who, gives us direction.

When:

Putting communications in the context of time builds relevance where a timestamp is critical to the story. Think about how a market is shaped between anticipating FDA approval and when that approval actually materializes. When matters.

Where:

In our business, Where is channel. On Facebook. On TV. In direct mail. Understanding location/destination can reveal community, but community is more than where. Community is behavior, preference, Who-What. Combining Where with When gives us a timestamp with context.

Why:

Why often is the most difficult question to answer. Why gets to the root, but almost never stands alone: Sales of a drug dropped. Why? We increased our price, or we went off-patent. Why needs its friends to get by.

How:

How is tactical. We raised the brand’s profile. How? A combination of Paid and Earned tactics directed at the target. Ok. So that’s actually How-What-Who. Like its friends, How cannot stand alone. But without How, relevance is lost.

Next time a spreadsheet is placed in front of you, think through the 5 W’s and the H. Anything missing? If so, put on the brakes and assess. Then have a chat with your analytics and strategy friends.

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Kelly Jeffers
“I think the most valuable motivator is simply providing individuals with new opportunities and showing them what might be possible.”

Greetings fellow technophiles! Today, we are launching a new series of client interviews designed to showcase marketing/communications thought leaders who are making big waves in tech. For our first “Thought Leaders in Tech Marketing & Comms”, we had the pleasure of interviewing Kelly Jeffers, vice president of corporate communications for Surescripts. Kelly gave us some fantastic insight into the world of health information technology, and how she and her team work together to ensure every communications opportunity is maximized to its fullest potential.

Q: What does your company do?

A: Surescripts is a health information network that connects doctors, pharmacists, health plans and others, so they can communicate and share information with each other to deliver better quality and more efficient care to patients.  We’re an enabling technology – similar to the network that connects ATMs and banks. Because we move information around at such high speed, I’ve heard users of our network refer to us as the “Intel inside” the US healthcare system.”

Q: Describe the role that you and your team play in advancing the company mission.

A: At Surescripts, Marketing is solely responsible for the company’s brand. Our primary focus is on raising awareness and visibility for our brand among a broad set of constituents – doctors, pharmacists, technology partners, hospitals, health plans, etc.  Our business has evolved pretty drastically over the past few years, so we’ve been really focused on broadening people’s understanding of the role we play in connecting healthcare and the value we add to the healthcare system as a whole.

Q: What is your biggest success in the last year and why does this make you proud?

A: There isn’t a single campaign or initiative that I’m most proud of, but looking back, I’m pretty overwhelmed by the sheer volume of content we created. We have a small team with limited resources, but we really maximized every dollar and every opportunity to its fullest.  What I’m most proud of this year is the transition we’ve made as an organization, from an old-school, analog approach to marketing, to a “digital first” mindset that has come to life not just in the tools we use or the processes we follow, but ultimately in the work we delivered. The age of the paper brochure is officially over. And we now have some really impressive digital capabilities and content that I think is really forward-thinking.

Q: Where do the great ideas come from in your organization?

A: One of the things I love about my job is that I’m so plugged into the entire company and am always getting input and feedback from my colleagues, whether they’re in Customer Support, Legal, Product Innovation, or IT.  We get great ideas from everyone, and we make a point to take them all into consideration.  You just never know when a brief conversation by the water cooler is going to turn into your next great campaign.

Q: Outside of work, what are your favorite things to do?

A: For the past 15 years, I’ve traveled to Honduras to work with girls who have been abandoned, abused or otherwise neglected as a result of being born into abject poverty.  For one week, I’m disconnected from technology and focused on helping them become stronger, smarter, and more successful young women.  We do this by taking the time to play games, do crafts, go to the movies, and cook meals together.  It’s a good reminder of the value of being present in other people’s lives and finding your own small way to make a big difference.

Q: How do you empower and motivate your employees to do their best possible work?

A: Most of my career highlights have been the result of seeing other people succeed – especially the individuals and teams I’ve lead over the years. I think the most valuable motivator is simply providing individuals with new opportunities and showing them what might be possible. I’ve found that most team members will rise to the occasion if you just point them in the right direction. In doing so, they learn to look for new opportunities themselves, which is so refreshing and ultimately motivating to me as well.