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Register here to join W2O Group president and Storytizing author, Bob Pearson, as he shows you real world examples of “storytizing”.

Thursday, August 4th | 2pm-3pm CT

StorytizingWebinar_SocialCards_1200x628_Loop

You will come away with:

  • How the marketing model (paid, earned, shared, owned) is pivoting due to the birth of audience architecture.
  • How to best target, identify, and architect specific audiences.
  • Trends in the ever-changing digital world and what you can do to stay ahead in marcoms.

There will be a live Q&A session. Can’t make it? We’ve got you covered. Sign up here and we’ll send you a recording of the webinar as well as the accompanying slides.

Austin means music, tacos, and innovative new ideas (AKA “weird”), and our SXW2O events definitely incorporate all of these. But when it comes to great local music in particular, our Austin office employees are passionate fans. To make the perfect local playlist, we asked these local music experts to curate their favorite tracks from Austin artists.

spotifyCheck out the Geekaque playlist on Spotify here.

 

We’re also beyond excited about our 2016 SXW2O artists (some local, all awesome) we’ve lined up for our events:

  • At our annual PreCommerce Summit Reception, we were lucky enough to hear some mellow tunes from The Autumn Defense, a side project for WILCO band members Pat Sansone and John Stirratt. Thanks to our premier sponsor Bayer for bringing them down to Austin!
  • Texas’s “original recession era string band” Hot Nut Riveters provided some Southern Hospitality at our Digital Brunch, led by Guy Forsyth.
  • We’re especially excited for tonight’s Geekacue lineup featuring Black Pistol Fire and Red Bull Select band Not in the Face, both of which cnall Austin home. Email info@w2ogroup.com for an invitation!
  •  lionelLionel Menchaca – Director, Corporate & Strategy
    Artist: Willie Nelson, Song: Whiskey River
  • How long have you lived in Austin? Hard to believe, but I’ve been here just over 25 years.
  • What is your role at W2O? I work with our team to help clients implement digital tools in everything from internal communication and collaboration, external communication and issues management, and how to empower employees through advocacy programs.
  • Why did you pick this song/artist for our playlist? It’s Willie. He’s a Texas legend who calls Austin home. I chose that song because it’s the one that makes me think of Willie more than any other. There’s a reason why he uses it to start the set of his live shows.
  • #WhyAustin? So many reasons. The great live music scene, the cool outdoor options, great events like SXSW, Austin City Limits Music Festival, the food: Franklin, La Barbecue, Fonda San Miguel to name a few favorites, and the people.
  • Favorite Taco: Hard to list a favorite, but Taco Deli is my go to place for tacos. Hard to go wrong there.

darron

Darron Davis – Art Director
Artist: Shapes Have Fangs, Song: Dinner in the Dark

  • How long have you lived in Austin? 9 years
  • Why did you pick this song/artist for our playlist?: This album reminds me of the time I volunteered for SXSW in 2010. I saw them play at a tiny venue on Red River called Beerland. They were insanely loud and enjoyable.
  • #WhyAustin? Austin is a progressive city where you can still carry a pocket knife without getting side-eyed.
  • Favorite Taco: The Smoked Brisket Taco at Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ

angieAngie Gette, Senior Director Strategy & Insights
Artist: Wood & Wire, Song: Anne Marie

  • How long have you lived in Austin?: 8.5 years
  • Why did you pick this song/artist for our playlist?: Tons of energy and pure folk spirit.  Love seeing this band live. Check them out!
  • Favorite Taco: Migas from Veracruz- can’t believe how good they are!

colleenColleen Hartman, Group Director, Social Commerce
Artist: Tameca Jones, Song: Hot and Bothered

  • #WhyAustin? For me personally? As a child, I spent a lot of time each summer with my grandparents in Dallas. They took me all over Texas and loved the unique culture. After living many places in my adult life including a stop in Waco home to Baylor University, my family unanimously wanted to move to Austin. As a then W2O client, when the opportunity came to join the agency, I was thrilled especially with the opportunity to move to Austin. The rest is history with my new “forever hometown.”
  • Favorite Taco: The steak taco from Veracruz All Natural’s food truck. It’s hard to eat other tacos once you’ve had anything from Austin’s best taco spot. (Migas and fish tacos are amazing too.)                                                                                                                    

bob pearson___
Bob Pearson, President, W2O Group
Artist: Black Pistol Fire,  Song:  Suffocation Blues

  • How long have you lived in Austin? We’ve lived here for ten years. I told my daughters when we moved here that when we reached ten years, we could start to call ourselves Texans.  In our case, we say we’re “Jersey Texans”, a rare breed.
  • What is your role at W2O? I spend most of my time with clients discussing what is important to their business or working with our teams to talk through how we build or refine our models. The role is President, W2O Group. My mission is to ensure our clients build unique advantage and succeed and our team members at W2O learn and grow professionally every day.
  • Why did you pick this song/artist for our playlist? Black Pistol Fire is symbolic of Austin. Originally from Toronto, now splitting time between Canada and Austin.  Austin just has a magnetic draw for innovators to head down here and never leave.  And, I love rock ‘n roll and these guys know how to have some fun.
  • #WhyAustin? I came here to work at Dell and our family fell in love with Austin. I love how supportive the community is of each other, whether you are an entrepreneur or you have fallen on hard times.  Austin is a city with a soul.
  • Favorite Taco: There is a small stand one block from our office behind a building that has amazing breakfast tacos. Few know it is there. Small stand. One woman who runs it. Amazing tacos and the hottest sauces around.

Less than a decade ago, we experienced an explosion of new social media channels. This led to the birth of the social media listening industry. In the early days, if we could just capture what people were saying, we were thrilled. We stared at pie charts and looked at graphs and learned the basics of what our customers were really doing online.

Fast forward to 2016 and the world has changed. Social listening doesn’t cut it. Audience intelligence is replacing it.

We all know in real life that listening is valuable only if you are listening to the right people. We don’t treat all opinions as equal or react to every comment unless we want to drive ourselves insane. Instead, we are moving toward an ability to identify the exact audience that matters so that we can listen to what our audience cares about and we can know what content it prefers, which channels are its favorites, what time of day its members go online, what their patterns of behavior are and what they mean to our brand.

In 2016, the trend away from social listening and toward audience intelligence will be driven by five changes in how we view listening and its next-generation cousin, intelligence. They are listed here:

  • The Importance of Non-Verbal Listening: When we are in a sales situation, we know that as much as two-thirds of what we learn is non-verbal. The non-verbal equivalent online includes search queries, downloads, retweets and likes, shares and other non-verbal communications that are critical to understanding reality. We must account for behavior in new ways in our listening approach.
  • The Ability to Build the Right Profiles: There are many false positives in listening, ranging from spam to simply tracking the wrong information. Analysts today must be craftspeople who can build profiles that focus exactly on what you want to learn about. These profiles are highly precise and contain a range of keywords and phrases.
  • Measure the Conversation, Not the Instance: When consumers react online they often share and talk across multiple channels over a period of time. Our ability to identify their patterns helps us build the right trail of measurement. Think of a conversation starting in Twitter, going to Instagram and ending with comments on Facebook. If you measure Twitter only, or look solely at Instagram, you have just a partial picture. Consumers follow patterns, so you can see their trails over time. As we do offline, we tend to walk the same path over and over again.
  • Compare and Contrast Audiences: If you are tracking each audience, you can see how it differs on the same topic from another group. What are cardiologists saying vs. general practitioners? What are enterprise IT leaders in cybersecurity saying vs. your employees vs. CIOs? If you compare and contrast audiences, your ability to see new insights greatly increases.
  • Understand Your Data Sources: We need to ensure that the data we are measuring really represents where your audience is. Know what channels you are receiving data from so you can see if it matches up with the location of your customers. And be careful to determine if you are paying twice or thrice for the same data vs. different providers. It’s time for us to engage in de-duplication of data so we don’t overpay for the same data. After all, we need more resources to improve our audience intelligence.

This article originally appeared in the January 11, 2016 issue of PR News.

W2O Group president, my long-time colleague, former boss and mentor and now nearly life-long friend Bob Pearson was just inducted into PR News’ “PR People Hall of Fame” for “making communications matter in the marketplace” and “[setting] benchmarks of excellence in public relations.”

And there’s more.  He’s set new fashion trends in Hawaiian shirts and cowboy boots, lit up and riveted conference rooms with only a black marker at white boards all over the globe, logged more miles and left more voice mails than most business people will in 5 lifetimes and helped make Pre-Commerce and MEME household words and phrases.

His mindset (and W2O Group’s mantra) of never being satisfied with the status quo has driven and inspired many, including me, over the years.  While he’s broken new ground and gone against the grain, he never does it just for the sake of it.  It’s always practical and it always serves the business.

Whether being a master of the technology, healthcare and big brand businesses we serve or a Master of Ceremonies, Bob is unflappable.  He’s a thought leader who generously mentors others to lead, achieve, build and unlock.

He’s been an integral part of our industry for a long time but he started young.  People who get these awards usually get them when their career are sunsetting but sometimes it feels like Bob is just getting started.  And why not?

18766_260384295835_3586514_nThere are so many questions to answer, problems to solve, people to teach and learn from and new and innovative products and services to pioneer.  Though often ahead of their time, it seldom fails that the rest of us catch up and adopt the forward thinking ideas that Bob seemingly endlessly comes up with.

He keeps things interesting, challenging and never boring.  His perfectly matched wife, two amazing daughters and little white dog you can’t imagine him walking can attest to that.

Congratulations, Bob! This recognition is well deserved and I’m honored and grateful to be counted among your many admirers, followers and friends.  Here’s to What’s Next.

Jim

 

It would be nice if every PR professional could confidently state that nothing goes wrong when we pitch a journalist. But that’s about as realistic as the likelihood of a lengthy book about Donald Trump’s humility. A more fruitful exercise is to examine what most frequently gets in the way of a successful interaction with reporters, editors, writers and producers.

It’s volume. No, not the kind on an amp that goes up to 11, a la “Spinal Tap.”

One thing I know for sure – beyond 1980s pop culture references – is that journalists are flooded with emails and phone calls from PR people. Many of those emails and phone calls are horribly targeted, as you can find out from one of my guilty pleasures, PR Newser’s “Pitch Please” blog.

Survey Said

The blog’s cheeky writing prompted me to start asking reporters about the pitches they received.

  • A reporter covering science and medicine for a southern daily newspaper told me she’d received five pitches that day before 9 a.m. She too received misdirected product pitches. “I had one chewing gum pitch that drove me nuts,” she said.
  • A Wall Street Journal reporter covering the pharmaceutical business said he gets 40-50 email pitches a day. “I probably consider three to five per day that are worth pursuing or at least learning more about,” he said.
  • A Washington-based reporter who covers health care policy says she kept getting pitches for “healthy flavored water” among the 30-40 pitches a day she would receive.

The most stunning answer came from Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News. She receives up to 150 emails a day, about five of which she considers worth a reply and another 10 are worth considering as potential parts of larger stories. Lest erstwhile flacks think Rovner’s answer means we should start calling her instead, she said, “I hate phone calls even more…Phones should be reserved for actual breaking news.”

Email, calls and what really works

Email, at least according to one survey, is still the way most journalists prefer to get pitched. But beyond knowing that, the actual lessons from my informal and not scientific survey are:

  • Some of you are ruining it for the rest of us. It’s so much harder to convey a client’s news if PR people are clogging inboxes with eye-rolling off-target pitches that wouldn’t be sent if just a little time was spent on research.
  • Relationships matter. Please work at understanding what makes news to a particular journalist. That doesn’t mean every pitch leads to a story – I wish! – but it certainly increases the chances of success if you aren’t seen as a total waste of someone’s time.
  • Realism is best conveyed to clients early. The ranks of journalists are dwindling and the ones still in the business are busier than ever. Even the most properly directed pitches are increasingly likely to not yield immediate success.

A key solution to the volume/clutter problem is for more organizations to take advantage of additional ways to engage with customers, influencers and allies. So many of them have great stories to tell, so they should be using the PESO (Paid, Earned, Shared, Owned) strategy. This is true even for those on small budgets, as they can develop owned and shared content without waiting on the results from that perfect email pitch. W2O Group president Bob Pearson built out the potential for owned content in June in PR News here.

Of course, we’re always going to pitch reporters. A PR agency’s clients expect it, and more importantly, a story by a credible journalist matters. That’s why it’s worth the time invested to develop better relationships and equally valuable to give counsel to clients about the right – and wrong – targets for stories.

We all know it will never work perfectly. Some reporters are going to complain about PR pitches no matter what happens. And, if we’re lucky, we will run across an approach like the one employed by a UK-based reporter, who replied, “I love you” to pitches he received. After all, doesn’t the world need more love?

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)

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

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

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

All the best,

Jim Weiss and Bob Pearson

 

Snapchat has increasingly become a topic of discussion among brands in terms of driving business value and ROI. It has evolved since our initial evaluation of it in 2014, citing it’s lack of data tracking and its ephemeral nature, but it still has some gaps to fill. Our team has some strategic ideas around optimizing the platform currently and some that could hopefully come to life in the near future. You can view the complete list of insights here and below:

 

#1 If Snapchat can provide full transparency on users of their service, advertising can be done in an appropriate and highly focused manner. The data can be anonymized to respect privacy, while still achieving targeting goals. This data must be accessible to the brands advertising. It cannot be held only by Snapchat, since it is critical for planning.

  • IDEA — Open up a limited API, ala Facebook’s 30 days of data – brands must be able to access anonymized data to plan. Facebook has shown the way on how to do this and still preserve the integrity of the data.

#2 – Work with brands to develop relationships with Snapchat Stars – we all know the power of influencers. The stories feature of Snapchat is where influencers are emerging that have major impact for a brand. These stars are similar to what is occurring on YouTube, Vine, Instagram and other channels. For example, if BRAND X focused on beauty brands and emerging influencers for make-up tips, how- to’s for skin care and other related topics, this increases authenticity, supports the drivers of Snapchat traffic and helps your brand understand who has influence in Snapchat vs. other channels.

  • IDEA– Enable a brand to work directly with influencers in a category – this leads to more targeted earned and paid media; it helps the influencers gain additional influence; and it adds much needed authenticity for any advertiser. It is widely believed that advertising alone will not be accepted by the Snapchat audience, so new models of partnership are key to success.

#3 – Create a “Snap to Buy” feature – we need ROI. If Snapchat creates a “snap to buy” feature where users can purchase products or download important buying information for later use, we can better track funnel activity. This can work for a brand by partnering with emerging stars, “map” them discussing a topic, provide the option to buy direct (within the chat), and deliver directly or to a local outlet. For consumables, this scenario could generate simple couponing or co-marking opportunities.

#4 – Develop new content partnerships between talent, media networks and brands – a traditional ad won’t work in Snapchat. However, new models can open up opportunities. In other words, brands will sponsor other brands. Snapchat’s new media service called Discover, which will host branded propertieis for Yahoo, People, Cosmopolitan, the Food Network, Daily Mail, Vice, CNN and others.

  • IDEA – an example can be given for a TV show and a BRAND X brand. BRAND X works with the talent on a TV show. The talent on this show then Snapchats on a key topic that also includes the BRAND X brand. This would be a powerful way to integrate great content, keep the topic aligned with Snapchat user’s interests and work in a brand appropriately.

#5 – Innovate in geo-location – Snapchat is already innovating with picture filters automatically uploaded from your location.  Since interaction with geo-location based content is already accepted by Snapchat users, we think of new ways to build value.

  • IDEA 1– this is purely a matter of creativity.  We could create a contest based on geo-location use of certain backgrounds.  Once a certain level of use is reached, prizes are made available.  New filters that are highly topical could be provided by BRAND X brands, e.g. Olympics and any sports-related shots for certain sports, however the backgrounds feature the local athletes for that user to make it more personal. Or BRAND X sponsors Movember with idea that men are all shaving in the near future.  And on and on.
  • IDEA 2 – align Snapchat content from brands down to the store level.  If the retail networks of a country are aligned to geo-location, BRAND X can offer unique content and coupons/offers at the zip code level and you can snap to buy and it goes right to your closest store.

#6—Improve how “Stories” is handled within Snapchat – the “Stories” experience does not appear integrated with how users typically use the app, which is to interact with friends.

    • Stories are essentially paid content from brands in the Snapchat app
    • Most of the time, people use Snapchat to interact with friends
    • Stories do not appear “inline” when you interact with friends, but rather only if you go to Explore —> Discover in the app, which is a couple clicks off the beaten path
    • This is like moving paid content on cnn.com off the front page and into a section called “Paid Content”
    • If brands are having success, that’s what matters — but it’s an odd way to integrate paid

#7 – Partner with users to create a “brand studio” – populate the studio within Snapchat with brand content (images, video, quotes and other content) that can be used by anyone.  And encourage users to add their own ideas, make requests and participate in making each brand studio as cool as it can be.

  • IDEA – co-create content with communities directly.

Innovative ways brands are using Snapchat:

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

All the best,

Bob Pearson

We are excited to be participating in the NewCo tour and welcome folks into our offices to share a deeper look into who we are, what we practice and our philosophy. Bob will be sharing insights on trends within the digital marketing industry and how we fit into the ever-changing landscape. Below are some high level takeaways which he will discuss in more detail at the event.

Aaron: When building a website, we regularly hear how important “responsive design” or a “multi-device friendly approach to design” is. What is your view on how clients should approach “responsive design or responsive experience” for their owned content and web properties?

Bob: Most content today is consumed by mobile phone. This will only increase in importance, so our first impression matters more than ever. As a result, we are shifting from responsive design, which is old school, to responsive experience. We need to provide the right content the first time to the customer visiting our site, based on what we know about them pre-visit.

Aaron: You’ve talked a lot recently about the fact that “influencer relationship management is more important than traditional CRM to shape markets”….can you expand on that a bit more?

Bob: You could have two million customers in a CRM database, but does this matter? What we are finding is that understanding who drives your audience (the 1% and the 9% of the 1,9,90 model) is the key to influencer relationship management. Volume isn’t the answer to gain the right reach. Precision of who you reach leads to the right volume/penetration of the market. A very simple and profound change in how we market is happening.

Aaron: The last trend emphasizes how one of our new processes – the creation of deeper audience insights through something we call audience architecture. Can you explain that a bit?

Bob: Audience architecture relates to how we identify and then listen to the right audience to understand what content we share, what keywords we use and what time of day we share content by channel. If we are tracking the right audience online, they will teach us what to do. The clues to success are right in front of us.

Aaron: Can you share an example of how audience architecture works?

Bob: Let’s say you want to find health conscious customers who are millennials, live in 15 specific cities and like to have an occasional burger. We can build a profile that leads to a panel of representative people online matching this group. We then watch what they do and say and can develop a highly targeted strategy. Basically, we’re starting to evolve how media planning and engagement occur.

Thanks for your time Bob. We look forward to hearing about these four insights and more at the upcoming event on Friday, May 29th 12:30-1:30.

 

I have always enjoyed reading what David Cassak, Editor-in-Chief of The MedTech Strategist, has to say about medical devices and innovation.  Recently, I participated in a column written by David that was published in the April 13th issue of The MedTech Strategist.  Enjoy, Bob

The Column

The argument that digital health proponents often make as to why they healthcare industry needs to step up its game – and quickly – when it comes to digital technologies is simply that if the whole work is incorporating digital technology into its day-today existence, how can healthcare not follow along? If virtually everyone on the planet has made smart phones and similar devices integral to every day functions, healthcare can’t help but become part of the phenomenon.

Can a similar argument be made for Social Media? If Facebook and Twitter have become major media of communication, shouldn’t healthcare companies find a way to incorporate those channels into their communications efforts as well? As the accompanying chart suggests, medial device companies – to take just one segment of the healthcare industry – lag far behind consumer and tech companies in their use of Social Media sites like Twitter and Facebook and generate dramatically fewer hits on Google and YouTube (See Figure 1). To be fair, more and more device companies are incorporating Social Media into a broader strategy that embraces a direct-to-consumer approach. Companies like sleep apnea specialist ResMed Inc., for example, diabetes company Dexcom Inc. or cold-therapy company MyoScience Inc. are not only aggressively using Social Media, they’re bringing on staff marketing folks who specialize in the media (See, “MysoScience: The Promise of Cold Therapy,” The MedTech Strategist, February 27, 2015)

Areas of online Influence

But effectively using Social Media isn’t simply a matter of racking up the most “likes” or hits. Bob Pearson, president and CIO of W2O Group, an integrated marketing agency powered by analytics, notes that all B2B and B2C populations follow what he calls “the 1, 9, 90 model” – i.e., “less than 1% of a population creates content, approximately 9% shares or moves content and 90% lurks and learns and benefits, via search mainly.” And he notes that device company customers – namely, hospitals and physicians – “are online, learning from each other today,” making it incumbent on medtech companies to begin to understand the 1% and 9% who create or share content “well enough to understand what [those customers] desire/need/ask about.” He says, “Patients, payors and other parties are often following each other and are learning form their communities.” More, he notes, providers aren’t just following providers. Thus the critical question Pearson poses is “What is the social media network that is shaping the market’s perception of a given device?”

Pearson insists that “it’s not all that important how many Facebook ‘likes’ a device company has.” That’s a nice metric, but largely irrelevant, he says. Rather, more important is whether device companies have “defined the exact audience that is shaping the market’s perception and activity related to a disorder or disease, a device or your company.”

Indeed, he says that while device companies are amazing at understanding which physicians are most important, how to train them and build relationships, nearly all such activities today are done in person and offline. “That same experience should continue online,” Pearson says.

But device companies can’t make customers and other influencers come to them. They “must become expert at Audience Architecture to identify, build and interact with their audiences in a highly engaging/content driven relationship.” In short, rather than just chasing “likes” or followers on any given social media channel, it’s about understanding your audience and how they’re participating in social media in all of its ramifications, and in particular, how that audience perceives and understands individual medical devices.

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

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

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

Key management promotions include the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to view the press release.

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

Here is a summary of highlights of their discussion.

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

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

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

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

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

Best, Bob

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

In case you weren’t able to livestream our 5th Annual PreCommerce Summit here in Austin, here is a quick summary of Bob Pearson interviewing “The Facebook Effect” author David Kirkpatrick.  Below David shares his thoughts on his very first impression of Mark Zuckerberg, his thoughts on cyber security and what he thinks China is doing right in mobile, technology and social networking.

David shares his thoughts about Mark Zuckerberg.

David talks about the recent Sony hack and claims that no company is actually safe.

David discusses why China is far ahead when it comes to mobile, technology and social networking.

Bob Pearson (President – W2O Group)

Bob Pearson, President W2O GroupBio: Bob Pearson is the president of W2O Group. Before joining W2O Group, Bob was the vice president of communities and conversations at Dell Inc, where he was responsible for developing an industry-leading approach to the use of social media. Prior to Dell, Bob worked for Novartis Pharmaceuticals as Head of Global Corporate Communications and as Head of Global Pharma Communications, where he served on the Pharma Executive Committee. Before that he was the President of the Americans for GCI and was previously Vice President of Global Public Affairs & Media Relations at Phone Poulenc Rorer (now Sanofi Aventis). Bob is also an author, “Precommerce,” frequent speaker and blogger on social media, as well an instructor for Rutgers center for management and development and the Syracuse Center for Social Commerce.

 

David Kirkpatrick (CEO – Techonomy)

David KirkpatrickBio: Founder, host and CEO of Techonomy, David Kirkpatrick is a journalist, commentator about technology, and author of the bestselling book “The Facebook Effect: The Inside Story of the Company that is Connecting the World,” published in 32 countries. He spent 25 years at Fortune, and founded and hosted its Brainstorm and Brainstorm Tech conferences. Inaddition to writing to Techonomy, he contributes to Forbes and Vanity Fair. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

 

 

 

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

In2

Last week I had the pleasure of attending The Holmes Report’s In2 Innovation Summit in San Francisco, “a global network of events that explore innovation, disruption and evolution that has — and continues to —redefine influence and engagement.” That’s a lot to take in, right? “Redefine influence and engagement.” What does that mean? Well, here’s three things I took away from the conference:

– Storytelling is alive and kicking, but participation is key. Daina Middleton, head of global business marketing for Twitter discussed how today we are in the age of participation. In her book, “Marketing in the Participation Age,” she discusses how now is the time to evolve from the traditional marketing methodology developed over 50 years ago to one that embraces how people engage in conversations today. The world has become smaller and more complex. It’s not a competition in who can be the loudest. There’s so much content available and people are now choosing how, when and where they spend their time consuming content. Daina discussed how the key for customer participation is to activate all three elements of the framework:

  1. Discover: The human desire to continually learn, and the satisfaction of becoming competent at something. In what ways are you inviting participants to learn more about your product/brand?
  2. Empower: Inviting someone to have a meaningful contribution to the brand and/or product. Do you invite participants to connect with the brand: provide feedback, offer tips and suggestions, and help to create the product itself?
  3. Connect: Humans love to interact with others in meaningful ways. Brands often only think of creating environments that allow Participants to connect with the brand, but do you build environments that foster relationships with others who may share the same interest?

– Chief Marketing Officers are under pressure to show ROI. We heard from some of the biggest brands this week: Starbucks, MasterCard and one of my favorite brands, Method. These leading brands are all on the cutting edge of engaging in a more participative conversation with their customers. I am a brand advocate for Method. Why? I tell everyone how much I love their laundry detergent. I also proudly have their hand soap on my sink counter vs. in a soap dispenser that matches my bathroom decor. Why? I am proud of my decision to bring a brand into my home that is socially responsible. That’s all great and fine, but how does that translate into sales? Despite all the chatter around mobile and the term “big data,” many chief marketing officers (CMOs) are at a standstill in reaching digital and data-focused marketing goals. Why? Internal silos, resistance to change within their companies and limited expertise with emerging technologies and solutions. Here’s the Oprah aha moment: Companies can’t keep up with the pace of consumer adoption. How do you fix the problem? Baby steps. First, ensure you’re CEO is supporting the cause. Are business objectives clear and do they align with marketing objectives? Second, CMOs must get all functions of the marketing organization to talk to their finance and IT departments. The idea is to find an approach that works for all functions and to slowly identify ways to measure the connection of marketing to sales. That approach can include the use of CRM data, scan data from supermarkets, insights from digital conversations and/or measurement of influencer engagement, to name a few.

– Analytics and Insight – no longer just an afterschool special! During the conference, I heard one of our leaders Bob Pearson at W2O Group say that companies are starting to develop insights through analytics, but then they stuff it in their pocket and move on with their regularly broadcasted TV program. Worse yet, if they do use analytics, the insight is elementary… learning of “likes” and “RTs” is not a strategy. In the course of the conference, there was a panel discussion entitled, “Speaking CEO – The Next Frontier in Measurement & Analytics.” It was clear that the panel participants, including Seth Duncan from W2O Group, are on the forefront of analytics and insights. The idea is to actually use insight to help make strategic business decisions, not just communications decisions. Overlapping market segments with an understanding of where customers spend their time online, plus insight into what their passions are could be incredibly lucrative. It means not just counting the numbers, it means understanding human behavior. Once you do that, it’s not just about holding onto that data, it’s about identifying how to align with business objectives. It’s about creating the right conversation, identifying the right channels online and offline and it’s about having an engaged experience with your customers. Not only that, do it fast, be agile and evolve it over time.

So, you can see that the market is ready for us to redefine the way we influence and engage. It’s about participating in a conversation. It’s about understanding how people behave, what gets them excited. Where are they spending their time? It’s about finding ways to engage all parts of your organization to identify opportunities to link marketing to sales. Finally, it’s about taking those insights and turning it into action – FAST!

Diane Parrish, Group Director, WCG World
Diane Parrish, Group Director, WCG World

14 Posts to Take You Into 2014

A year ago my colleague Aaron Strout did a nice wrap up of the most interesting/appealing posts of 2012 on this blog. As Aaron noted, reviewing which posts resonated over a period of time can be informative to better understanding the interests of customers/employees/followers. By collecting the top performers in one place, I’m hoping to provide you with some relevant content you may have missed during the year. Like last year, you’ll notice some themes here – rankings, how-to’s, and analytics-based posts, in particular, continue to resonate.

In 2013 we’ve seen a marked increase in the frequency and number of colleagues contributing to this blog, which is great. And, with 50+ posts having over 2,000 views each, we had to be more restrictive with this wrap up than in the past. As a result (and with a goal of keeping it to less than 15), this year’s list is ranked based on the number of post views – with a minimum of 3,600 views required to make the cut. Of course, there are a ton of other great posts and I encourage you to go back and read these from Bob Pearson, Jenn Gottlieb and Jim Weiss. (Selfish plug, you might also want to read my post-ASCO blog post.)

This year’s list brings us some familiar faces – like Chuck Hemann and Brian Reid as well as some new comers to Common Sense such as Michael Brito and Michael Westgate.

So here it goes – our top posts from 2013 to take you into the New Year:

And the number 1 post of the year – with over 35,000 views…

#SXSWPickUpLines by Aaron Strout (35,847 views!)

I hope you’ve found this list helpful and that you’re looking forward to more engaging content in 2014!  What do you think? Are there topics you’d like us to cover? Interviews you’d like to see?  If so, please let us know in the comments below.

  • The Real Value of PR to IR (published inPR News November 4, 2013)

I recently wrote a new Money Matters column for PRNews.  I like how Matthew Schwartz is leading PRNews.  The tips and how to nature of the publication is always worth a read.  I thought I would share the column with you on our blog, as well.  Enjoy. 

I’ve worked alongside some of the best investor relations professionals in the business.  They are smart, focused and often jaded about the value that public relations can bring to the party.  And in many cases, quite frankly, they are right.  Too often, PR is simply serving the role of echoing the messages of the quarter or year.

The real value of PR to IR is actually quite different.  PR brings tremendous value to the party to help build value for the corporate brand.  It may not be recognized as valuable “this quarter”, but as we all know, great brands are in business for hundreds of quarters, not just one.  Here are six of my favorite ways to ensure PR becomes an indispensable partner of IR.

Identify Your Corporate Influencers – we want the right people to be telling our company’s story to the world.  With today’s algorithms, we can identify the exact influencers, in order, as it relates to each aspect of the corporate reputation.  We can know who matters for sustainability vs. financial strength vs. pipeline.  There are never more than 50 influencers who drive the majority of share of conversation for the largest company in the world.  For sub-topics, there are usually less than 20 people who really matter.  Who are they and what is the right list of people who should be telling your story vs. what you have today?  Hint: your media list is not on target today.

Understand How Search Impacts Reputation — most analysts are not allowed to speak publicly and, if we are honest, most of their coverage of companies looks the same.  It’s pretty generic.  So how are they learning?  One way is via the IR team.  Another way is via search when they aren’t calling anyone.  We need to determine the exact search queries that an investor would ask a search engine to find out more about every key aspect of your company.  Make that query yourself, look at what you find and ask yourself if you like how your story is being told.  Chances are that you are not thrilled with what you see or you’ll see that the basic information is there, just not the real insights needed to shape thinking.  Hint: take your questions from your Q&A, shorten them and use for search queries to get started.  

Share Content 365 – now that you know who has influence and you know what people search for, it is a matter of you sending out the right content into the earned media world, along with the right keyword tags.  For example, if you want to ensure all investors know about your pipeline, then send out an update on a different aspect of your pipeline every month.  As you do this, keep using the same 10-15 keywords related to the search queries your investors are making.  The result, over time, will be that your full pipeline will start to show up in a more uniform way.  Hint: your “corporate speak” is not using the right 15 keywords today.    

Track Issues Differently – more than 90% of issues are known in advance for a company and its brands.  There are few surprises in life.  If you set up the right tracking system, in advance, you will be more knowledgeable about any issue an investor could bring up.  You’ll never be surprised, you’ll know if the issue is real or just a flash in the pan, and they will realize you treat your corporate brand with respect.  When you are surprised, of course, it has the opposite effect.  Investors start to think you are not on top of things.  Hint: create a spreadsheet and list out every issue you can imagine for any product or topic for your company.  Share with a multi-function team to complete. You’ll get to 90% in no time.

Expand Corporate News Flow – we work with hundreds of brands in all industries.  We know, from experience, that a healthy brand has 2/3 of its content flow driven by blogs and twitter.  Mainstream media is a catalyst and blogs and twitter carry that news further.  Your twitter account for your corporation should be following the exact network of people who you believe will care and share your news worldwide.  You can and should set a goal of expanding your corporate news coverage by 25% next year.  You can do it if you have the right followers on Twitter and the right mix of coverage.  Hint: Spend your time on twitter learning who has real influence in sharing corporate news.  Algorithms help.

Know Your Rankings – when I was at Novartis awhile back, we evaluated all rankings with importance to the global corporate reputation.  It turned out that there were 43 rankings at that time (2003), of which 22 were quantitative and 21 were qualitative.  We couldn’t impact the quantitative rankings, since those are based on results.  However, we did dig deeper into the qualitative rankings, some of which we were not even on, and figured out, over time, how to build the most relevant position for our company.  The key is that we took the time to figure out what mattered….and, equally, what was a complete waste of time.  Hint: the majority of rankings have nearly zero impact on your company’s reputation.

There are many more ways to create value for your corporate brand that will help build long-term value.  If you stay focused on how to impact hundreds of quarters while IR works their magic for the current quarter, you end up improving the reputation of your company and enhance its value.

It’s certainly good to partner with IR for the quarter’s news, but just keep reminding yourself that this is not unlocking the real value you have for your company.

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Sidebar

Become a Storytizer

I believe that Storytizing will replace advertising in importance over the next 3-5 years.  Storytizing relates to how we can share our full story directly to the person we are targeting.  We live in an era where we don’t need to “wake people up” with an ad, move them to a site and then hope they can navigate to the right information, once they are there.

Today, we can already deliver our corporate story directly to our target audience.

I know that when we talk with Wall Street, we talk with PowerPoint.  If we didn’t have slides, we would probably forget how to walk and talk at the same time.  For better or worse, that’s how we roll.

When we talk with Main Street or the larger investor audience that could not make the presentation or call, there are new ways to share our full story directly to our target audience.  One example that we make is the Content Capsule (www.nextworks.com).  Imagine discussing a new addition to your pipeline.  You have a video from the presenter, surrounded by FAQ’s, key slides, text with further insights with links back to your website, a white paper and images of how the product works.  All of that can be provided directly to an influencer or the general public via an email, Facebook post, your website or even a banner ad.  Here is an example from our work with BMC Software.

We can also liven up our websites.  Your IR colleagues know how to tell the company story.  Listen to what they say and then take your images on your website and liven them up.  For example, imagine you have a photo on your site of a new product you just launched.  When you touch the image on your website, you get additional information via embedded links right in the image.  You are now giving a virtual tour of the product without making the audience do much work at all.  Here is an example for a new book.

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As part of our continuing growth strategy to build strength in our digital and analytics offerings, to meet the needs of our clients in EMEA, we’re pleased to announce that Refreshed Wellbeing, a digitally based creative communications agency for health & pharmaceutical brands has joined the WCG fold.

With a background in both consumer marketing and professional healthcare sector expertise, Refreshed Wellbeing has extensive expertise in delivering  integrated pan-European digital marketing campaigns working for clients such as –  Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol Myers Squibb, Grunenthal, Johnson & Johnson,  LEO Pharma, Mentolatum, Pfizer and Roche.  Additionally the acquisition brings digital creative, together with media planning and buying capabilities that further enhance our insight led strategic approach, combined with 360 engagement, as well as additional regional knowledge that will support the work we do in more than 50 countries.

We’re also pleased to announce that as part of the deal, Refreshed Wellbeing co-founder, Carl Engelmarc, a well-known digital strategist and integrated branding communications expert will be joining the WCG EMEA management team. He has over 20 years marketing experience in Rx, consumer health and FMCG.

This is another exciting milestone for WCG in Europe.  Earlier this year, Holmes Report named us as the Digital and Specialist Agency of the Year. And in March 2013 leading analytics group, Mettle, joined us to enhance our predictive analytics capabilities. This acquisition of Refreshed Wellbeing augments our strategic and creative capabilities, as well as providing additional strength to our engagement offerings through the PESO (Paid, Earned, Shared, Owned) model.

We look forward to creating “what’s next” with our new Refreshed Wellbeing colleagues.

– Annalise Coady, Global Practice Lead – EMEA
WCG, part of the W2O network of agencies, is an independently owned and operated full-service marketing services organization. What sets us apart is our uncompromised belief that analytics (re)empowers brands to make more insightful, better decisions, eliminating the “guesswork” of traditional marketing services.

Over the past several years, the success of our Health Practice has enabled us to diversify and develop new practices, offerings, clients, companies and leaders.  Despite many changes and our continued evolution, rest assured, Health is central to the future of W2O Group.

It is my long-standing belief that there is nothing more important than one’s health and that the ultimate consumer products and services are those designed to improve it.

Its economic importance in nearly every country in the world is indisputable, and we don’t see that changing anytime soon with Obamacare coming and as the population ages around the world.

Whether it’s Consumer products (Nike Fuel), Technology (Health IT), Government (health exchanges) or a myriad of other industries, strength in Health will be a key differentiator for the firms in W2O Group.

While our business has changed in light of the technology and digital revolution over the past few years, the need for accurate, reliable information has never been greater in the age of reform, cost-consciousness and the “consumerization” of healthcare.  Education, access and advocacy are more critical than ever, and now we have the digital tools and technologies to leverage to reach those in greatest need more effectively and efficiently than ever.  It’s a great time to be in this business.

So many here have played an integral role in building out our Health capability and Practice over the years and we expect many more to join us as we enter this next stage and iteration of the Practice.  We have never had as many tools, talented people and expertise to tap to serve our clients than we do today and our commitment to and passion for this sector of our business remains as deep and robust as ever.

Now is the time to bring it all together and take it to the next level.

As a holding company in the best sense of that phrase, the W2O Group supports, nurtures and powers entrepreneurialism, innovation, talent and growth in WCG, TWist, BreWLife, NextWorks and future companies — from the ground up versus from the top down.

To maintain focus and leadership and to differentiate, compete and grow like we always have across our operating companies in this important area, I am going to be playing a more hands-on leadership role in Health.  Our President, Bob Pearson, will continue to be a major partner and driver in this essential business that is at his core, but we will divide and conquer so I can focus here while he focuses on building our Next Practices, partnerships, technology and innovation — all of which will further enhance our Health businesses, as well as our other mission critical areas of Technology, Consumer and Corporate.

I’m pleased to formally announce that Diane Weiser will also assume a new(ish) role as Leader, W2O Health, and join the W2O ET reporting to me to help accelerate, coordinate and facilitate the operational and growth aspects of our Health capability so that every client, company and practice benefits from it.  As she transitions, she will keep her direct reporting relationships and account assignments, although this is likely to morph in the future (as it always does).

To be clear, Chris Deri still leads WCG, Jenn Gottlieb leads TWist and Paul Laland leads BreWLife, reporting to Bob.  All those firms will have their own health practice/revenue stream leaders and client relationship leaders (CRL’s) reporting to them while they also build out other diversified practices and services.

In the meantime, Diane and I will be partnering (with many others across the long hallway from SF to LA to NY to Austin to London, Minneapolis, Chicago, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Wilmington, North Carolina and Lincoln, Nebraska) to “connect the dots” to truly Become the Best in Health — driving, supporting and coordinating optimal integration and collaboration; fostering business development that maximizes new business wins and organic growth (which rules); facilitating conflict resolution and coordination, and, above all, optimizing talent and career growth and development so that our Health clients get the best teams, services and innovation that we have to offer each and every time.

Not only does Diane bring a unique historical perspective that will be important as we continue to integrate and scale the Practice, but her passion for and knowledge of the business, strong relationships across our internal and external networks, and track record of experience partnering closely with me are key ingredients for success.

Diane already led an offsite of key leaders over the summer, and she continues to spearhead the Health business development process with colleagues across the firms.  We will also continue to partner with our innovators to adapt current and develop new tools and offerings to keep our Health clients happy and engaged and attract many new and exciting ones.

The continued growth and development of current and new offerings and business focus areas such as Pharma, Device & Diagnostics, Biotechnology, Digital Health, Clinical Trial Recruitment and more will benefit from focused support and leadership at the W2O level.  Diane and I in close collaboration with our operating company (WCG, TWist, BreWLife) and Practice (Analytics, Media & Engagement, Digital, Software) leaders will do just that to Become the Best and establish What’s Next in Health.

Our firms were built on a health-oriented foundation and these moves are meant to ensure our continued leadership and preeminent position in the industry and further improve our ability to develop and optimize all of your career opportunities, hire new talent and identify, create and build thought leadership, value-added strategic partnerships and client engagements.

We have and will continue to set up in-person meetings, office visits and videoconferences to answer your questions and go into much more detail on this in the coming days and weeks. Diane and I are always available to you to answer your questions by e-mail, phone or on The Hallway or W2O Haps.

Together, we will Go.Ahead and improve Health information delivery and access in the digital age.  Everyone is invited to join this movement as it takes shape!


The evolution of social media from something “your teenagers did” to something that brands use to connect with key stakeholders has been nothing short of amazing. As evidence of that evolution, take a look at the audience figures for the last couple of months for some of the most popular social networks

It is those latter two statistics that have brands buzzing these days. Regardless of what conference room we are in, or what client we are talking to, the conversation inevitably leads back to content marketing and the importance of visual content therein. Why do brands care? Sites like Instagram and YouTube are still seeing tremendous growth, while Facebook and Twitter have stagnated. Millenials, a key target for many brands are flocking to these sites in droves instead of Facebook or Twitter. Most importantly, sites like Pinterest are proving successful in driving people to websites where customers can ultimately make a purchase. ROI…ROI…ROI.  Bob Pearson, W2O Group President is fond of asking, “If we were to take away all of the written text about your brand online would the visual content still tell the story you want told?” In case you were wondering, the answer to this question is most often ‘no.’

So how do brands start to answer ‘yes’ to the question that Bob is posing, aside from using channels like Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube? One of the ways brands can leverage multiple visual assets within unit is a Content Capsule. The Content Capsule is the brain child of Tim Bahr, CEO of NextWorks, a strategic partner of W2O Group. The content capsule is a unique platform for content delivery across the PESO model of media (paid, earned, shared and owned). Tim and I sat down to talk about the content capsule, and how it fits into broader content marketing program.

Why do you think marketers are showing such strong interest in Content Marketing?

Smart marketers realize that consumers are not interested in ads and promotional material; especially when they are online or on mobile devices.  A .01% click through rate on display ads pretty much tells that story. Online and mobile consumers, who are in a buying mode, are most often seeking information to help them make a buying decision.  Marketers now recognize this as a huge opportunity to provide valuable and relevant information on their products and services that can help people buy their products.  That’s exactly why content marketing is the top priority for most marketers today, and why many believe it will be the most important area of marketing in the future.

What do you think of the trend toward content marketing?

I think the move toward content marketing is a very significant advance in marketing and the entire business/customer relationship.   We are finally starting to recognize the intelligence of our audiences.  We can’t just talk at them anymore with promotional messages that they have not requested and have no interest in.  They can just simply turn those messages off.

To successfully deliver a message to an audience in the digital world, where the user controls the receipt of messages, the message must be informative, relevant and provide value.  That outcome of this new means of communicating will be greater engagement and stronger customer relationships.

What do you think is key to successfully delivering content to an audience?

First you should know what the audience wants.  Today’s social media analytics can give you those insights.  Then you need a distribution platform that can deliver content to the audience wherever and whenever that want to receive it in an engaging and interactive manner.  Finally, you must be able to monitor all interactions with the content so you have metrics that can help you continually update and alter content to meet the specific needs of your audience and ensure you remain timely and relevant.

How does the Content Capsule platform deliver this type of audience engagement and measurement?

The capsule platform is an interactive canvas that allows marketers to tell complete stories with videos, images, presentations, links and transactions in one self-contained, branded and highly sharable unit.  An audience can be taken on a journey from assessment through engagement to conversion without ever leaving a company’s content.  Capsules allow marketers to easily launch content campaigns across owned, earned, shared and paid media on all devices.  And, because every piece of content within a capsule is monitored and measured, a marketer can respond in real time to audience interactions and update content while a capsule is in distribution.  When content is updated, capsules embedded and shared across the digital ecosystem all update.  This creates an opportunity for ongoing programming of relevant content to multiple audiences across all platforms. Here are some examples of content capsule platforms we have built for other clients.

BMC

P&G

During this week’s Content Marketing World in Cleveland, Ohio Tim and the NextWorks team will be demonstrating the capsule platform for attendees. Make sure you stop by and check it out.

We are in the process of creating a next generation firm that provides software and services as a service to our clients anywhere in the world.  The result of building a firm like this is that we realize we need to have three important language skills.

We know that we need to be proficient in languages that humans speak and machines use. They are equally important.   We know that we need to speak ten languages to reach 82 percent of people online and closer to 27 to provide true global support in most key countries.  And we know we need to understand how words work together to shape behavior.  Here’s more on each of these skills.

#1 – The Big 3 of Human Language — for each language, we strive to have industry expertise, cultural knowledge and language fluency.   It’s not enough to translate language.  If we are to provide enterprise-level insights for the top brands in the world daily, our team needs to know the ins and outs of a country and a market category.  Industry, culture and language fluency…..

Today, our team speaks 21 languages and we’re rapidly building out the big 3.

#2 – The Top Machine Languages (and technologies) — We know that it is equally important to be fluent in programming languages that drive enterprise-level insights and effective use of big data.  Our growing team of 20 software developers and engineers are expert in many languages ( Java, Python, PHP, JavaScript, Perl, SQL and C++ to name a few) and key technologies/database/query tools, ranging from Hadoop to ElasticSearch to PostgreSQL to IQuery and NGINX).

It’s not enough to be a developer that simply works hard and cranks out code.  The big 3 apply.  Our team needs to understand the needs of the industry/clients we serve, understand how to integrate well with our clients (cultural fluency) and know the language or technology fluently.  Innovation and intimate knowledge of a client’s needs are related.  Our software developers are as important as the creative directors of any agency.  Both develop great ideas and solutions that we had never thought of before.

#3 – The Words that Drive Language – often referred to as natural language processing, it is time for firms like ours to build our own taxonomies that show patterns of word choice that are aligned with each phase of behavioral change online.  NLP does an excellent job of focusing on the choices of words in a sentence, ala how nouns, verbs and adjectives work together to make a statement.  We can now go well beyond this to see repeatable patterns of word and phrase choices associated with inflection points in a behavioral cycle, ala what the impact of a product review is on changing the dialogue or leading to a purchase.  Does the language towards a purchase accelerate due to a review?  When do we see an issue forming and why?  And on and on…..

We know that computer code knows no boundaries and neither do our ideas.  The only barrier to a firm like ours is the speed at which we can combine our expertise in human and machine language with our knowledge of which words matter.

The firms that know what is happening in locations thousands of miles away will be more valuable than the teams with people on the ground who are doing what worked yesterday.  Together, of course, these same two groups can team up and build advantage for clients, regardless of whether they are in the same firm or network.  After all, it’s the brand that matters, not the network of the agency.  And its why we are always willing to be the best partner with our client’s agencies.  Always.

Insightful knowledge is borderless.  It’s also not easy to achieve.  Firms that can intelligently speak with anyone, anywhere in the world about the insights they are seeing in a local market and figure out what it means together, will build partnerships that are game-changing.  When we can provide those same insights at an enterprise level, in the cloud, via any device, even better.

Through effective use of language and technologies, we are on a journey to unlock the full potential of today’s brand.

All the best, Bob