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I recently traveled to upstate New York for a weekend at my family home via train, and I couldn’t help but notice the staggering amount of travelers using multiple devices (me being one). Travelers of ages, from what I estimate to be 8 to 65 years old, were using tablets, phones, and laptops (some were using all at once!). Among these multitaskers were businessmen and women conversing with colleagues on the phone (eavesdropping at its finest); clearly, they were finding it difficult to disengage from the office.

About a month ago, the WCG Corporate & Strategy team released its latest CommonSense… For The C-Suite outlining the overwhelming amount of messages today’s society is inundated with each day, and the effect this is having on work/life balance. Today’s workforce is constantly connected to email and always “on call” in case something pops up. While technology continues to make our lives more efficient, it’s making them quite a bit busier at the same time.

What we’ve seen

According to research conducted by the American Psychological Association, a majority of working Americans believe communications technology has a positive work_lifeeffect on their lives.

  • 56% said it allows them to be more productive 
  • 53% added it provides more flexibility

However, being plugged-in 24/7 isn’t all fun and games.

  • 36% of employed Americans believe communication technology increases their workload
  • 34% said it makes it more difficult to stop thinking about work

Office landscapes continue to evolve, and more companies are allowing employees to work remotely (or have axed the traditional office setting all together). Today’s technology is shifting employees’ day-to-day realities as they no longer need to physically be at their desk to accomplish the task at hand. More and more, we’re finding that the workplace is wherever we are.

While this allows us to add flexibility to our schedules, it also increasingly presents challenges for us to find time to unplug and officially “sign off” for the day.

Tips for maximizing your work/life balance, unplugging and making time for yourself

Be Realistic and Transparent

  • When setting deadlines for work, make sure that you have identified and set aside the proper amount of time to finish the task at hand. If you have other deadlines or engagements you have already committed to, make sure you voice this to your manager and team upfront.

Set Aside Time for YOU

  • You cannot work for 24 hours straight, every day. Set time aside on your calendar for you! Whether it’s a gym class or a coffee date with a friend, this time should be specifically reserved for something you want to do. Having this booked on your calendar each week (and well in advance) will ensure this time is always dedicated to you.

Create a Routine

  • Do you wake up at the same time every morning? Do you drink a coffee and read the news, or go to the gym? Whatever you may do, make it a daily “to-do.” According to research from Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, it takes exactly 66 days before a new behavior becomes automatic on average. By developing a routine, you can start every day off by checking off an item on your to-do list.

 

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Wow, it’s been a little over 90 days since we joined the W2O family. For any company that is getting assimilated, one of the keys to success is observing the organization and figuring out how you fit in and what you can contribute to the business as a whole. One of the things that attracted us to W2O, aside from the all-star team, was our keen focus on analytics and empowering our services via software. Essentially, we’re saying that we value the ability to be accurate and to scale how we service our customers. This is music to our ears (especially since we help power the software part) and, in my opinion, the future model of agencies (software + analytics + service). But what unites the firm under a common purpose across these three disciplines? Audiences. That is the common bond in our company and our purpose is to identify, understand, and engage with audiences. All kinds of audiences.

Audience

I feel like James Michener as I type this post… “it all started when the earth cooled,” but the reality is a little CRM and mass marketing anthropology is needed to understand the future. So to put things in perspective, the concept of communicating to an audience heralds back to the Egyptians who put hieroglyphics on papyrus to make sales messages or announcements. Soon after came the invention of the Phoenician alphabet to ensure messages were accurately delivered between traveling maritime merchants. The next big evolution of audience engagement didn’t occur until the advent of Greek theatre and politics, which might even be considered the earliest origin of mass marketing. It was there in those ancient amphitheaters that messages were disseminated to large or small groups of people through storytelling or one-by-one messages.

Gutenberg PressIt took the mid 1400’s and the invention of the Gutenberg press for another major transformation of audience. Now the ability for ideas to spread and for knowledge to democratize was a function of ink and paper. The ability to get a message en masse became an art form, but was still limited by time and distance. It wasn’t until the 1800’s, the proliferation of newspapers, and then industrial revolution, that we saw the incarnation of mass communication and mass marketing. The science/art of marketing and PR were born to leverage these new tools to reach and influence as many people as possible. Using these blunt instruments of push marketing, they sold products, changed opinions, moved markets, and educated the masses. The science of demography was adopted so that better targeting could be applied to getting the messages to the right audiences, but again, very wide swaths of understanding people. Not until the internet, and especially the invention of cookies and social media, have we had tools that truly help us narrowly understand individuals, but then be able to group them by common behaviors and affinities.

The path from understanding and connecting to blasting messages is irrefutable. But the science of audiences intrigues me and the whole W2O family. With technological advancements we have an unprecedented ability to truly understand people at scale as individuals, and against specific , not a crude clustering based on broad terms. For James and myself, creating the toolset that helps us discover, understand, and engage with audiences is an incredible challenge. Audiences are amorphous entities and vary tremendously between four key factors. The lenses required to hone in on those factors remind me of the tools used by optologists to determine your requirements for glasses.

Optologist

The first key mechanism for understanding audiences actually start with you, the viewer. Depending on your position within an organization you interpret your audience very differently than your colleagues, despite you working for the same company.  Here are some key examples within our team:

  • Brandon Farley, our community manager, views his audience as all of our users.
  • Guy Peluso, our sales director, views all wineries not using our software as his audience.
  • Glen Parker, our happiness engineer, views wineries that are not optimized as his audience.
  • Ani Araya-Byrd who runs PR views press as her audience.
  • Marisa Massie, finance, views the people that have their credit card on file as her audience.

It’s easy to see that the audience originates from the eye of the beholder.

The second key mechanism for understanding audiences is how the audiences are being clustered: time, location, behavioral affinities and interests (e.g. wine), someone’s relationship to a brand (customer, advocate, fan, detractor), relationship clusters (friends, family, co-workers, etc.) and more.

The third key mechanism is business intent: how are we trying to get the audience to activate? You look at audiences differently depending on what message you want to deliver so, how you want to engage, what do you need to activate/convert, and/or what do you want to learn?

Graphic for Paul's PostThe last key mechanism is actually my favorite, which I’ll call chiaroscuro audiences. Chiaroscuro is an art form that uses strong contrast of light and dark and is sometimes expressed as “bringing light from the dark.” The art was brought back and represented in the comic book and movie series Sin City. Chiaroscuro audiences are the missing audiences – These are the ones that are not visible, and understanding them is equally important. For example: I launch a new skateboard and I analyze all the audiences. Through my analysis, I find that only men between the ages of 30-45 are buying the product, which means the chiaroscuro audiences of young skateboarders not buying it become the audience we need to analyze, and understand their lack of affinity for my skateboard.

By creating a tool that can adjust all those lenses singularly or in tandem we empower ways to see and understand audiences unlike any firm in history.

When we look at millennial habits, social networks have become a remarkably important part the Millennials’ digital life.

We all know “The Facebook” first started as a community platform for college students. Today, the social network has over one billion registered users that connect and share information on a global scale.

Similarly, Twitter began as a source of ‘microblogging’, in which users could send out 140-character blurbs on anything they wanted. It has now transformed into one of the fastest and most viral opportunities to communicate breaking news and information.

A new source of information

Social media is becoming more than just a place for people to connect. It’s a reason for discovery, it’s a way to absorb knowledge, it’s shareable.

A survey conducted by the American Press Institute measured the use of several social networks as pathways to news-like information. Interestingly, they found that each social network is now considered a news platforms my proper definition.

Eighty-eight percent of Millennials surveyed stated that they occasionally got their news from Facebook, while Pinterest (36 percent) and Twitter (33 percent) were close to follow.

More often than not, Millennials engage more actively with news that’s already on social networks than developing their own social content. They tend to click on regularly read news that has been shared or viewed by people they know, which is ironic, since the original purpose of social media is to provide users the opportunity to connect with people to see what they’re talking about or interested in.

The fact that more Millennials are looking to social networks as a trusted source of information makes social media an extremely powerful tool.

More Millennials are getting their news

Social media is a powerhouse

In addition to being a resource for news and information, social media has also exposed Millennials to different opinions and views. This generation is constantly looking to social media for insights into purchasing decisions, political views, and social views.

Goldman Sachs Data Story on Millennials found that 34 percent of people aged 18-35 turn to their online networks when making purchasing decisions. Unsurprisingly, this generation tends to do more online shopping than in the store, and brands that have little-to-no social presence are often overlooked when making purchasing decisions. If they aren’t being talked about online or among their social network, people will move on to brands that have a presence.

In recent years, political candidates have seen the impact social media has on Millennials’ lives and they have started to use that in their favor. President Barack Obama is one of the first presidents to have an active social media presence, in which he uses Twitter to inform and connect with his supporters.

Snapchat is a social platform that has seen a fast growth among the younger audiences, 71 percent of its core user base being between 18-24. Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, recently joined the social messaging app in a move to reach this audience, those who will potentially be voting for the first time in the 2016 elections.

Most recently, we have seen social media set the stage for social activism. Many Millennials are now looking at social networks as a way to raise awareness of philanthropic efforts and initiatives, because they can reach a larger audience, at a faster rate.

In 2014, NBC correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin was taken out of Gaza for reporting the killing of four Palestinian boys by the Israeli Defense Force. The lack of media reporting on these issues in Gaza was quickly noticed, and the hashtag #LetAymanReport was developed to alert the world of the situation. Within 24-hours, Mohyeldin was back in Gaza and continued reporting on the whole story.

Similarly, events such as the death of Michael Brown and Eric Garner have sparked movements like “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe” to shed light on issues of racism and police brutality in our country. Millennials have the ability to voice their concerns and opinions like no generation has before them and social networks give them the power to do so.

Also notable is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which took to social media to raise awareness around amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive disease marked by degeneration of the nerve cells that control voluntary movement. The social campaign, which encouraged people to dump a bucket of ice water on themselves, raised $115 million last year. It was so successful that the ALS Association has partnered with major organizations, like Major League Baseball, to implement the challenge every August until a cure is found.

Millennials have the power to inspire, facilitate change, and illicit choices.

Millennials are a force to be reckoned with and they don’t plan on slowing down. Social networks give them a platform to connect, learn, share, and educate. Their affinity for technology and their passion to have a voice has reshaped the way they view and use social media. In a time where you can Tweet, share a status update, Instagram, Vine, or Snap thousands of people at any moment, the Millennial voice is more important and impactful than ever.

As summer interns working at W2O Group, we have the privilege to work on various accounts, develop analytical skills and work with the most innovative leaders in the industry. In addition to these opportunities, we were required to team up for the intern project and develop a marketing campaign to drive awareness for a local non-profit and increase the level of donations made by millennials. Over four weeks, our team collaborated across all offices to research our client, gather analytics and present our campaign to W2O employees and leadership. Initially, the project was intimidating. By the end, we all held a deep appreciation for the extensive work put in and insights gained.

As millennials ourselves, we encountered both advantages and disadvantages as we set out to create a campaign targeting millennials. As we researched various types of millennial campaigns, we quickly realized that our generation appreciates the opportunity to self-broadcast and personalize an experience with brands and organizations. Leveraging this, we decided our campaign needed to satisfy this expectation, while still communicating the organization’s mission in an interactive and compelling way.

We strategized methods to engage and increase donations from the “digital natives”, which encouraged us to reflect on our individual digital and social habits. We considered our inherent skills and relationship with technology to decide which social media platforms would best complement and drive our campaign.

“It’s hard to pinpoint what a millennial will like or engage in down the road because our likes and dislikes change so rapidly.” – Taylor Murphy, Digital Technology Intern

Clearly, our team was composed of only a small segment of the millennial generation, limited between the ages of 20 to 22. While our age range may have seemed like a disadvantage at first, it forced us to combine hard evidence with our individual experience to further our analysis. This allowed us to set aside our biases and expand our research to identify the universal characteristics that define millennials.

After our presentation, Bob Pearson, president & chief innovation officer at W2O Group, asked us, “Would you share this?” A question that resonated with us, we realized that as millennials, we are prominent drivers in the online space that want to share ideas and be heard. Pearson provided us with a takeaway that tied our analytics findings to our campaign ideas. With four simple words, he was able to sum up what our team’s main advantage was—we know millennials because we are millennials.

Aside from learning more about our own generation, we also learned about the dynamics of working on an agency team. Here are five takeaways for future interns working on this project:

Time management is a must

Agency life is characterized by the hustle and bustle of being billable. This is something you realize on day one. When our team was introduced to the intern project in the middle of June, we already had our own client work to keep up with. The juggling of everyone’s busy calendars during this period made Outlook’s Scheduling Assistant our best friend. It was necessary to find the balance between getting work done separately and as a group—two completely different dynamics, but equally important.

Working in a team spread across the country is hard

W2O Group has offices all over the world. If a person on your team works from London, you need to take into account a five-hour time difference or risk calling him or her in the middle of the night. Although we had no one working abroad, our team still had to navigate three different time zones. This was something that was difficult at first, but we eventually used it to our advantage. When team members could not finish something in the New York office, interns in the Austin and San Francisco offices could often pick up the slack.

“The project ended up being a valuable learning experience as we had to take responsibility for our roles and figure everything out ourselves, making it an exciting process.” – Mackenzie O’Holleran, Insights & Strategy Intern

Don’t limit yourself to a title

When teams are assigned the intern project, they receive a project brief and are told to assign various “leads.” There’s an analytics lead, a media and engagement lead, a creative lead and more. Something our group learned quickly was that, overall, a collaborative approach works the best. We produced our best work when we had a cross-over of people working on parts that weren’t necessarily their responsibility. This created a true sense of integration throughout our presentation and prevented us from appearing disjointed.

Everyone’s opinion matters

Disagreements were common during the intern project, but this was not a bad thing. If there were no disagreements, chances are our team wouldn’t have been taking the time to analyze ideas in the first place. Our team’s disagreements demonstrated that everyone really cared about producing quality work rather than making rash judgements and rushing into a decision. Although disagreement was common, we strove to foster an environment where everyone’s opinion was a valued piece to the campaign puzzle.

There will always be people willing to lend a hand

Do not be afraid to ask for help. The sheer number of employees that took time out of there busy days to help us with this project truly speaks to the great people that work here. These employees truly are an untapped resource to utilize for this project, and so much more. Expanding your network at W2O Group is essential and the intern project offers participants the perfect vehicle to do this.

The intern project not only gave us real-world experience working on an account, but it also taught us about the current media world we live in and how we, as millennials, can make an impact. We learned that our age and life experience are not setbacks but advantages. As both interns and millennials, we took advantage of our social media expertise and applied it to a campaign that would target a specific audience. Overall, the intern project taught us lessons that we will take with us as we advance in both our careers and the world at large.

– Andrew Petro, Olivia Zucosky, Danielle Hay

Intern Team Includes: Michael Capone (Digital & Analytics), Olivia Zucosky (Planning Lead), Danielle Hay (PMO), Tania Soto-Lopez (Analytics), Andrew Petro (Account Lead), Daniel Ayersman (Analytics), Mackenzie O’Holleran (Analytics), Dylan Stuart (M&E) and Taylor Murphy (CCX)

Something about changing one’s environment — whether it be in a different city, state or country — always has a way of impacting perspective. It could be the architecture, the food, the temperature, different dialects or foreign languages. Some of it is psychological as we are bombarded with new stimuli that our brain isn’t used to. Often it is a combination of things but at the end of the day, it can lead to new breakthroughs.

Photo Credit: Simon Ling, W2O Group
Photo Credit: Simon Ling of W2O Group

Recently, I had the luxury of spending the better part of two weeks in London. For several of those days, I worked out of our 45 person London office. While I had met most of the folks from the office at least virtually and another handful in person, I had never had the chance to hunker down and interact with them in their native environment. Nor had I had the chance to break bread with them, drink coffee with them, visit clients, grab a pint, sit through team meetings or listen in as they tried to explain to one another the exact meaning of American phrases like “navel gazing.”

While I knew that the team there was exceptionally smart and hard working, I didn’t realize to what degree this was true until I had the luxury of invading their space. Fortunately for me, they were kind hosts and went to great lengths to make sure I was able to get the most of my trip there. The good news is I did… and then some.

If you’ve been to London before, you know just what a global city it is. Our office is a true reflection of that. With members from Spain, Lithuania, Netherlands, France, Germany, Russia and a dozen other places I’m leaving out, there is a real international feeling to the office. Most of the conversation happens in English but occasionally you can hear French, German and Russian spoken — sometimes to colleagues, often to clients. I occasionally caught myself listening in… not that I could catch much of what was being said (my french is decent as is my Russian but I only know about 20 words in German so I was dead in the water there). It was fascinating.

During my London stay, there were numerous lessons learned. Some were inferred from my time in our London office, others were taken from interacting with clients, friends and colleagues while I was there. In no particular order, here we go:

  • If you work in London (or EMEA for that matter), you work a long day. While the mornings may start off a little more casually than in the States, people are generally in the office between 8:30 and 9:30 and then are often expected to be on calls until 8:00 or 9:00 PM at night to accommodate New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. It gets worse if one’s book of business includes clients in Asia.
  • To the last point, there ends up being a weird lull in the first third of the day in between the 30-45 minutes of email cleanup in the morning until about 2:00 PM when the east coast starts to come on line. It took a couple of days to get used to this lull but once you do, it is an incredibly productive time that can be used for local meetings, client work and thought leadership. The closest thing I’ve seen to it is on the west coast around 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM where ET and CT have wrapped up and the UK still sleeps.
  • I mentioned the international piece before when I was describing our office but I am truly amazed at how international London is. And it’s not just tourists. Business people on the Tube, street vendors, waiters. You hear a dozen different languages and can see from the clothing, hair styles and culture that you are living in a true melting pot. I know NYC is similar to this but to me at least, it feels like more of this is driven by the service industry and its natural employment of so many immigrants. If you want to be global, a London presence is a must have gateway into EMEA.
  • The Subway or “Tube” as it’s called is the lifeblood of the city. While NYC is similar in its dependence on public transportation, I was amazed at the profound impact the Tube strike had on my first couple of days in London. Part of the problem is that the roads in London are so narrow, traffic is bad even with most of the commuters using public transport. When one of the major people movers shuts down, traffic grinds to a halt. Worse yet, estimates show that the shutdown causes £50 million in lost business revenue. Ouch!
  • Due to the “global” first approach (particularly in our office), better thought through frameworks and processes seem to arise. This is a necessity as any work done needs to potentially scale into dozens of other markets and languages. If the process is flawed out of the gate, it only gets worse through iteration and repetition. A great example of this is an easy to understand statement of work (SOW) template that my colleague, Laura Mucha, put together that clients love AND it contains a staffing plan making it easier for teams to kick off new projects.

There are easily ten other things I picked up on my travels but these were a few of the more obvious ones. I should be back in the UK in September so keep your eyes open for more observations then.

PreCommerce Summit London

The W2O Group PreCommerce Summit London 2015 on Monday 14 September in London’s City Hall will focus on how we live, work and create in the digital world, and the challenges of the generational digital divide. With technology at our fingertips, we are living in a time where having multiple online personas is normal; work, life and play meaning that we have never been more empowered to control what information we want, when we want it and how we want it. But is being connected making us more disconnected?

Coinciding with London’s Social Media Week, our event convenes industry leaders, senior marketing and communications professionals, entrepreneurs, influential journalists and bloggers from across a broad range of industries and interests. Our distinguished panel includes:

·         Marvin Chow, Senior Director at Google

·         Jessica Federer, Chief Digital Officer at Bayer

·         Anna Gruebler, Artificial Intelligence specialist

·         Dina Rey, Head of Digital at Roche

·         Kriti Sharma, VP Data Strategy at Barclays

·         Simon Shipley, Marketing and Innovation Manager at Intel

·         Anita Yuen, Global Head of Digital Fundraising at UNICEF

We will be sharing more information about our panel, new members, as well as event highlights and topics in the coming weeks.

The event is by invitation only, so to reserve your seat, please do so early at W2O events.

See you on 14 September!

I recently published a post on LinkedIn that charted my career path from Archaeology major to Chief Blogger. Along the way, I spent the vast majority of my 18 years as a member of Dell’s Communications organization. What really helped me forge a path was infusing so much of my Comms work with my passion for hardware, software and web technology. Thinking that way made the transition to digital communications a natural one. Especially these days, if you want to stand out as a member of the Communications team in your organization, applying a bit of technology can go a long way.

A few caveats:

1) Before you embark on sharing company-related content or engaging customers (or reporters) online, make sure you are aligned with your company’s social media policy and training guidelines. Many companies these days have a training or certification process that you’ll need to go through. Make sure you take care of compliance issues first.

2) Don’t think of traditional comms and social or digital communications as two opposing things. Like I’ve said before, they are complementary.

3) Just start somewhere. I’m not suggesting you have to become a technologist to be successful. You don’t have to become an expert in all things digital. Pick even a couple of things you can start doing to connect with reporters or make more informed contenet for your customers.

Whether you spend your days maintaining relationships with reporters on the corporate side at some of big media outlets, or if you maintain connections for a specific part of your company’s business, the good news is there’s never been more ways to build those relationships. There will always be a place for ongoing phone calls (or emails) with reporters. That doesn’t go away, nor should it. In my view, digital tools offer multiple ways to increase touch points with reporters.

Where are the best places to interact with reporters online? Twitter and the comment section of their blogs in my opinion. In my experience, starting on Twitter will lead you to their blog posts. My advice, check their tweets. Most reporters these days have to care about personal branding. And that means when they publish someting, they’ll tend to promote it via Twitter, LinkedIn or elsewhere. Read the links they share to get a sense for what interest them. Pay attention to the context they provide in their tweets. Share the articles they publish when it makes sense. @ reply them when you have some perspective to add, or questions to ask. If you have more to say about a post they wrote, take the extra step to comment on their blog posts. And be thoughtful when you do comment. Add to the conversation instead of trying to force your agenda down their throats.

So, what if you are starting from scratch? If you don’t have a Twitter account, create one. Then follow all the reporters you need to stay connected to. Even though it’s a painstakingly manual process, spend time to create Twitter lists for all (or at least the main reporters you interact with). Though it’s the most manual process, I still recommend taking the time to do it for all the reasons in the paragraph above. You can start small, then add reporters to your list over time. Once you’ve created your list, bookmark it in your browser.

Another option is following reporter lists maintained by top tier media outlets (see point #3 in a previous post). To find these lists, all you have to do is find the outlet on Twitter, like the Washington Post for example. Then click Lists. Scroll through the page and you’ll see general lists like Post people, and beat-specific lists like Video / Photo/ Design, Post World, Post Business and op-ed writers at Post Voices. Then click the Subscribe button. If you’re ready to go deeper, looking at a service like Muckrack.com might make sense. Beyond basic Twitter lists by outlet, they can help you keep track of interactions with reporters over time, campaigns, organize your reporter lists in ways that work for you, etc.

Beyond connecting with individuals, some tools can help you keep up trending stories. If you’re in the tech space, bookmark Techmeme.com now. I’ve mentioned it several times before, but still feel it’s one of the best tools to see what tech stories are moving the needle in the blogosphere. See screenshot below. Newest stories appear on the right hand side, and Top News shows the most impactful articles, with the main story featured with an accompanying image. The More section shows related stories from other outlets. The Tweets section underneath highlights significant tweets related to that topic. Just spending a few minutes looking at a trending story and related conversations around it  gives a good sense for the context and the sentiment around that  topic.

Techmeme.com

Mediagazer.com works the same way. Like the name implies, stories there are focused on the media industry, and that includes a lot of articles about the changing state of journalism. If you care about that, bookmark it as well. And speaking of the changing state of journalism, Nieman Journalism Lab is my favorite site to keep up with. The For Immediate Release podcast is a great source for how social (or digital) and traditional PR mix. Shel Holtz is one of the best in my book at understand where tech and PR intersect. Besides Shel, other individuals who are great on this topic are Mathew Ingram, Jeff Jarvis, Josh Bernoff, Richard Binhammer and Scott Monty.

If you like to keep up with a list of media outlets, but want more efficient process than visiting each one manually, RSS feeds are a useful tool. I’ve blogged about Feedly, which is a great reader especially if you read a lot of articles on a tablet. If simplicity is key, I highly recommend Digg Reader. It’s great for tracking a handful of media outlets, and it makes it easy to add sources.

If you are in communications and have yet to jump into the digital side of things, take steps to change that. There’s much to be gained once you start somewhere. They key is to incorporate some of these activities in your daily routine. Doing it right will lead to more engagement with reporters about the stories they write, which results in better relationships. And regardless of how technology changes the landscape, building those relationships will always be essential to PR and Communications.

SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–In a move to further strengthen its global position in the technology space, PROI Worldwide, ranked as the world’s largest partnership of independent communications agencies with fee income in excess of US$615 million, has further established ties with PROI Partner Agency W2O Group. The 4th largest independent, integrated communications firm in the United States, whose technology clients include HP, Verizon, Intel, NetScout and INRIX, will become PROI Worldwide’s technology partner based in San Francisco and Silicon Valley.

“W2O represents the entrepreneurship which enabled PROI Worldwide to be rated fifth among global communications companies”

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“Technology is a key sector for our global agencies,” said Andreas Fischer Appelt, Global Chairman, PROI Worldwide and Managing Director of PROI’s German Agency fischerAppelt, one of Europe’s largest agencies. “W2O will assist us in further developing our global reach, positioning and strength.”

“Our partnership with PROI Worldwide will be invaluable as we continue to enhance our rapidly-growing technology practice and expand our footprint beyond the United States to other key markets in the rest of the world,” said Jim Weiss, Chairman and CEO of W2O Group. “Healthcare is our foundation and ignited our relationship with PROI, but technology is a key business pillar that will also drive future growth of W2O Group. We are delighted to join forces with such a distinguished, world-class network of agencies that share our passion for innovation and excellence.”

“W2O represents the entrepreneurship which enabled PROI Worldwide to be rated fifth among global communications companies,” said Allard W. van Veen, Founding Partner and Managing Director of PROI Worldwide which was established in 1970. “W2O provides added insight and leadership as the sector continues to expand.”

Technology is the second largest and fastest-growing practice within W2O Group. WCG President Aaron Strout and Twist PresidentAnnalise Coady lead a team of expert counselors who have a combined 200 years of experience working with the world’s leading technology brands and startups. Michael Brito, Adam Cohen, Rob Cronin, Michael Hall, Jen Long, Jon Maron, Kursten Mitchell, Madelyn Varella, James Morley and Diane Parrish are leveraging this expertise to drive rapid growth of the W2O tech portfolio across b2b, consumer and vertical markets. They exemplify W2O’s hands-on approach to working with clients on data-driven, integrated marketing and communications strategies.

“We’ve continued to expand our footprint in major technology business centers in the United States, including recent office openings in Boston and Minneapolis. Our focus now is on the West Coast — San Francisco, Silicon Valley, San Diego and Seattle — as it proves to be the greatest opportunity in the technology space,” said Bob Pearson, President of W2O.

About W2O Group

Founded and led by Chairman and CEO Jim Weiss, W2O Group is an independent network of complementary marketing, communications, research and development firms focused on integrated business solutions to drive change and growth through “pragmatic disruption” for the world’s leading brands and organizations. W2O Group’s networks includes WCG, Twist Mktg, Brewlife and W2O Ventures, with 11 offices in the United States and Europe. For more information, please visit http://sentw2ogroup.wpengine.com/.

About PROI Worldwide

PROI Worldwide was founded in Europe in 1970 and is the world’s oldest and largest partnership of independently owned PR and marketing agencies and is ranked fifth largest among global holdings companies and third largest when compared to multi-national communications companies by leading industry analysts, PROI Worldwide has more than 4,850 clients, 4,400 staff and 100+ offices in 50 countries on six continents, PROI agencies are the leading independents in markets from London, Paris, New York, San Francisco, Hong Kong, Frankfurt and Tokyo to Beijing, Brussels, Mumbai, Los Angeles and Sao Paolo.

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ASCO profile on Periscope
ASCO profile on Periscope

Last week 37,000 scientists, oncologists, PR pros and others attended the 2015 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago. It brings oncologists/researchers together to highlight more than 5,000 abstracts with over 150 presentations of ground-breaking data.

Among the groundbreaking data has been a commitment to groundbreaking use of social media in medicine. Over the course of the conference #ASCO15 has been tweeted over 65,000 times. And while photography and live streaming, however, have never been consistently embraced by medical meetings organizers in general, ASCO has often jumped in with both feet.

This year, the grand experiment was Periscope, the live-streaming app launched by Twitter this spring that allows users to broadcast from anywhere in the world with just a click of a button.

The brilliance is that within a live broadcast the audience can interact, ask questions and be a part of the conversation. The catch: If you don’t follow someone, you miss out on the instant phone push notification. Or you can catch the replay but only for 24 hours.

Periscope attracted a handful of “streamers” during ASCO 15, including ASCO, TheStreet.com senior columnist @AdamFeuerstein and CNBC reporter @MegTirrell.

And while the Periscopes number didn’t match the volume seen with Twitter, there was enough experimentation that we came up with a key takeaways on the Periscope game at #ASCO15:

FIRST: It’s all about your audience.

The first step is to build a large audience ready to engage. That’s easier said than done, but those who have pulled off the trick were successful at ASCO. Adam Feuerstein did well, in no small part because of his followership of more than 42,000 people on Twitter and Periscope combined.

Step two is remembering Rome wasn’t built in a day. You need multiple touch points with your established audience. On March 30 Adam announced via Twitter he was speaking with the ASCO folks about how Periscope could/should be used at the meeting. On May 12, Mandy Davis Aitken (@davisa20, Director of Annual Meeting and Conference Center @ASCO) confirmed via Twitter that all ASCO participants can stream on Periscope. Game on.

Step three: Execute. There were about 20 streams during the conference that included the #ASCO15 hashtag. Adam made up about a quarter of them, Meg Tirrell (along with her producer @jodigralnick) held her own with roughly 200 followers and four posts. The official ASCO handle totaled two streams and over 500 followers—not too shabby for their pilot year.

SECOND: It’s about quality, not quantity. Like any good piece of content, good Periscopes were rich, engaging and had a purpose. That’s the reason I and so many others tuned in to Meg’s and Adam’s streams. They weren’t streaming their coffee run; they put me at the center of ASCO. I could hear the presenters, see the posters, the packed conference rooms. It was absolutely fantastic.

THIRD: Keep your chin up. The human element was often the best and most “real” element of the experience. The awkward camera selfie flip and seeing Adam’s mug for three seconds, catching Meg mid-hair flip before the interview started, the camera shot turning down a bit because the person’s arm started to get tired holding their phone … that stuff is golden. All those moments strung together made for good entertainment.

Periscope use at medical meetings has potential to be the future of medical meetings. If you’re going to take the plunge and start streaming you need three things: the right audience, engaging content and the right attitude. After all, if you fall on your face while live streaming and it’s up for 24 hours… you need to at least have the good sense to laugh about it for a full 23 hours and 55 minutes.