There’s no denying that video is the hottest form of content right now, especially with the emergence of live broadcasting that’s sweeping the internet through Facebook LIVE and Periscope.

It can be time consuming and expensive for companies to create video, but that’s only half the battle. The fact that you have a video is not as exciting to other people as it is to your internal team. So how do you make sure the right people actually see your video?

It comes down to two things – optimizing your video on YouTube so people can find it and distributing your video in the right way in the right places. Here are a few highlights for both of these areas.

Optimize video descriptions

Optimize Your Video

  • It’s important to identify your target audience for the specific video and what problem they are trying to solve by watching your video.
  • Research keywords for your video listing by using tools such as Google Keyword Planner, Google Trends, Google Web Master Tools and YouTube and Google suggest.
  • Structure your YouTube channel as a homepage for your video content, with your playlists as your category level pages and your videos as your product or keyword level pages.
  • Optimize your YouTube video summary using key words, with a strong title and robust summary. Link to your website using the full URL address and include a subscribe link.

Right length for video

Distribute Your Video

  • Create a dynamic end screen where people can click through to your other videos and subscribe.
  • Ask viewers to subscribe to your channel three times – in your video, on the end screen and in the summary copy. When recording videos, reference other videos you’ve made that your audience may be interested in.
  • Consider YouTube paid advertising to target your specific audience when they are watching. YouTube has a number of paid options including video pre-views, side bar listings, overlay in-video ads and display ads.
  • Share video on your web site, blog and other social channels, paying close attention to the optimal lengths per channel. Videos will have higher reach if uploaded directly to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. However, LinkedIn and Pinterest both allow you to share YouTube links and still feature them prominently.

To dig deeper into these areas, take a look at the slides we co-presented at the PR News digital conference last month, “Become a YouTube Distribution Star for Your Organization.”

By Missy Berggren and Sri Nagubandi

Is your brand only skin deep?

We often think of corporate brand as a company’s public face — be it a logo, a product or an ad — something a person can touch or see. In reality, a brand is the sum of the entire organization — its values, operations, policies, decisions, operating principles, work environments and more. It’s about behaviors, not messages.

In our latest Common Sense for the C-Suite report, we explore the significance and complexity of branding in the age of influence. Give it a read, and let us know what you think.


A lot of my recent work revolves around helping clients get employee advocacy efforts off the ground. Brands are thinking about activating employees and for good reason. They understand that potential customers trust information from employees they know personally more than when it comes from executives or from the brand itself. But brands that focus on pushing content are missing the best part: developing and empowering the internal subject matter experts (SMEs).

Enlisting employee advocates to share content is a good first step. No question that it helps drive awareness and attention to content that brands produce. But in my experience, the real benefits happen when brands take the time to identify their own internal SMEs and empower them to connect to topic influencers outside the company. In other words, while all employee advocates are valuable, not all are created equal. No question sharers make up the biggest base of employee advocates. But, there is value in moving employee advocates up the hierarchy.

Employee Advocacy Participation Distribution

Here are Rules of Engagement I had worked to establish when Dell started doing social outreach back in 2007. Though I made some tweaks over the years, these have remained largely intact. One unlisted rule is to go where the conversations are happening.

Rules of Engagement

So, what does it take to formalize a process? Both brands and employees have a part to play.

The Brand’s Role:

  • Identify strategic topics
  • Identify internal subject matter experts
  • Identify the external topic influencers and build ways for your SMEs to follow
  • Develop training that empowers your SMEs to connect with those topic influencers (RSS feeds, Twitter Lists)

The Subject Matter Expert’s Role:

  • Check with your social team to understand your company’s social media policy (there may be some training or compliance classes you need to take)
  • Follow the topic influencers you already know and those identified by your company
  • Read their content on a regular basis
  • Share their content (add your own context and make sure you give them credit when you do)
  • Add value to conversations via replies on Twitter, comment on their blog, Facebook or LinkedIn groups – wherever the conversation is happening.

I know it is easy to say “add value to conversations.” But what does that really mean? For me, it’s about adding valuable context. Doing it right means you will share knowledge you have in a way that’s helpful to the conversation. It’s about digging deeper into a topic.

To illustrate context, here are three NPR stories:

  • Preview of the Boston Marathon: This was a preview story that ran a week before the Boston Marathon in 2014, a year after the terrorist attack. Rather than just reporting another story about additional security precautions, they brought it to life by profiling a runner named Carol Downing and her daughter Erika Brannock. Erika was near the finish line to watch her mother finish the race. When bombs exploded, Erika was severely injured in the attack. Doctors had to amputate her right leg above the knee. Erika’s still working to recover. But she attended the Boston Marathon a year later to cheer her mom on again.
  • Productivity, Technology and UPS: This makes a mundane topic of workplace productivity a lot more interesting for a geek like me. UPS trucks are loaded with sensors that measure up-to-the-second data for the smallest details. It collects that data in a black box at the back of the truck and sends it to Paramus, New Jersey for analysis. According to Jack Levis, the person responsible for making sense of the data, saving one minute per driver per day saves the company over $14.5 million over the course of the year. All these efficiencies have increase the average number of deliveries a driver can make from 90 to about 120 per day
  • Lab Girl – Hope Jahren: This is a story about Hope’s new book called Lab Girl. Hope Jahren defines a leaf as a “platter of pigments strung with a vascular lace.” She also touched upon the challenges she’s faced as a woman on science. What I liked most about Hope is her ability to communicate scientific terms in terms a non-scientist would understand. Though she’s in a completely different field, Hope reminded me of the work that Danah Boyd and Michael Wesch do. This story is the reason I currently follow Hope on Twitter and have I told others to do the same.

I’m not saying you need to write a blog post for every conversation, but do not be afraid to go deep in a topic you’re an expert on. In a conversation, it may mean several comments in a dialog. The key is to pull in insights from your experience, third party research or articles from others to in an effort to educate and serve folks who are part of the conversation. It may mean you spend more time doing research. That’s a good thing. If you do it right, you will be adding value. Adding value to conversations is the key to becoming an influencer in your area of expertise. Do it consistently, and people will notice.


Our goal, every day, is to build a next generation firm that routinely exceeds the expectations of our clients.

We can measure our journey via campaigns, launches and problem solving of all types on a weekly basis.  But at the same time, we often wonder if we can do better.  Could we have been more insightful or more creative or more strategic?  The answer is always the same.  Yes, we can.  And we will.

We feel fortunate to work with some of the most innovative client teams in the world.  They push us, challenge us to create new models and constantly stay on our toes.  We love that.

We are equally fortunate to work with some of the smartest and most dedicated people in our industry.  We really enjoy working together.

And this gets us to the Holmes Report and how we know we are “growing up” as a firm.

W2O Group was started in 2001.  In 2011, while we were named WCG, we were honored with the Global Healthcare Agency of the Year Award.  We were humbled and realized that when you win an award like this, it means you have to try harder, work more efficiently and see where you can go next.

In 2012. 2013 and 2014, we were named Digital Agency of the Year for the Americas, as well as Specialist Agency of the Year in 2013.  Again, we were honored and kept raising our own bar, leading to becoming a finalist for Global Digital Agency of the Year in 2015

Last night, the Holmes Report recognized our firm as the North America Mid-Size Agency of the Year.  In  2016, we have now reached a new milestone and one we are very proud of and once again, humbled to be in the great company of the finalists for this award, all of whom have awesome companies.

A day later we wonder what’s next?  And at this point, we know the answer.

Our clients tell us every day what their unmet needs are.  We know what improvements and additions we need to make.  So we will and the journey will continue.

Back in 2011, we didn’t realize that The Holmes Report, in many respects, would provide us with a barometer of our progress.  We now understand it better and we’re going to work harder and smarter than ever to prove that we were a good choice.  But, of course, our clients will answer that one, ultimately.

Congratulations to our teams, who are amazing and our clients, who are the best. This is all a direct reflection of our work together.  Thank you.


Bob Pearson & Jennifer Gottlieb

You’re an emerging biotech company, healthcare start-up or medical device business. You believe in your vision and you’ve been talking to venture capitalists. But what keeps venture capitalists interested in continuing the conversation?

Paulo Simas, our chief business designer, hosted a panel on that subject as part of W2O’s annual Pre-Commerce Summit during South by Southwest in Austin. A key take-away from the panel was that venture capitalists, like many of our clients, are focused on how to make patient outcomes better and easier to attain.

“There is no greater time in the history of health and medicine than right now.”

Josh Makower, general partner at New Enterprise Associates, one of the world’s largest healthcare venture capital firms, and a Pre-Commerce panelist thinks “there is no greater time in the history of health and medicine than right now” and that “health tech” is stealing the spotlight among venture capitalists.

Innovations in technology mean that healthcare companies must focus on creating a fuller experience and continued relationship with the consumer. The next frontier of healthcare may be a more integrative approach to patient care. For example, with regards to patient adherence: in addition to developing and manufacturing a drug, forward-thinking companies will make sure the drug is easy for patients to access and administer, and provide tools that make self-care easier. Apps that help patients manage their medications and methods for providers to seamlessly communicate with one another about a given treatment are getting venture capitalists’ attention.

Colin Foster, managing director of Twist Marketing and leader of W2O’s Austin office (a.k.a. Silicon Hills, home to the BrewLife Austin office and where more than 80 W2O employees are based), points out that healthcare companies need to show venture capitalists that they are able to drive down cost for all parties.

“The cost impact of staying on your medicine can be huge – the actual health outcomes improve drastically if you adhere to a drug correctly,” Colin says. The fact that 50 percent of prescriptions are not correctly adhered to underscores this need.

Let’s say this describes your company – you’re harnessing the power of technology to ensure the best possible outcomes for patients and you’re a shoe-in for a meeting with a great venture capital firm. What else do you need to know?

“Venture capitalists want to hear that you have a clear risk mitigation plan, because every opportunity has plenty of risk,” Colin advises. “Be blunt and clear about the risk involved and how you’re ready to tackle it.”

You can view a recording of the full SXSW Pre-Commerce Summit here (the venture capital panel begins at 05:01).

Last week I introduced the first half of our amazing speakers from our Movers & Shapers event. This is my final blog post in this series — please enjoy learning from the second half of our phenomenal speakers!

  • Kyle Flaherty, VP, Solutions Marketing, Rapid7
    Kyle used his time to talk about The New World Order and focused on the threat landscape from a marketer’s point of view. Marketers now represent one of the most visible threat landscapes on the horizon. He kicked things off on a bit of an ominous note: while technology has enabled all of us to work faster and smarter and has brought so many benefits to all of us, the downside the security risks it creates. Kyle reminded us that the bad guys outnumber us, are much better funded, are better trained and are way more motivated to get at your data than security companies are to protect your data. That reality impacts billions of dollars for companies and can sometimes cost lives.  Based on Rapid7’s research, most of the hacks we read about against today’s corporations boil down to one thing: compromised credentials. In other words, we have your user name and password. How do the bad guys get it? through social engineering. Kyle spent a minute talking about the pride that some of us take in our marketing (technology) stack for good reason: according to Gartner, by 2017, marketers will have more budget to spend on technology than CIOs. Crazy when you think about it… But with more technology comes more potential vulnerabilities. Kyle then showed an example of how attackers used technology to attack a published marketing stack along with a little business research to create a fake LinkedIn account for the company’s CEO to ultimately gain access to the company’s website.  So, what can marketers do? 1) Ditch PassWORDS for PassPHRASES. 2) Enable two-factor authentication everywhere you can. 3) Use tools like TinEye for reverse image searches via your browser. 4) To check about the safety of an attachment or URL, check out VirusTotal. 5) Use a tool like Okta for single sign on…  You can check out Kyle’s session right at the the 2 hour 26 minute mark of the Movers and Shapers livestream.

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  • Josh Kampel, President, Techonomy
    Josh joined us to talk about the Techonomic Future of Business. The whole idea behind Techonomy as an organization is to understand technology’s broader impact on business and the world in general. To understand that, Josh and others on the team (like Founder and CEO David Kirkpatrick) travel the world to interview business executives about technology’s impact on society. Before joining the Techonomy team, Josh had business experience with two industries facing disruption: first the music business in 1999. Napster began the disruption in 2001, he stayed in the industry until 2004 when he made the move to another industry about to be under siege at the time: newspaper publishing. 6 months after starting, Craigslist burst onto the scene, decimating newspaper classified ads… one of their most important revenue streams. His real-world experience of living through disruption has positioned him well to look at innovation within companies and recognizing disruptive forces and how companies can change to be part of it instead of a business casualty. Josh then walked the audience through examples of disruption where upstart companies forced big, established players to change business models. You can check out Josh’s session right at the the 2 hour 38 minute mark of the Movers and Shapers livestream.

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  • Chuck Hemann, Director, Digital Analytics at Intel
    Chuck is another person I have an immense of respect for. He led much of W2O’s analytics efforts when I joined the company almost three years ago. Fast forward to today, and he’s been heading Intel’s analytics’s efforts for the last 18 months. He sat down with our own Aaron Strout to discuss the topic Global Data Supply Chain and its impact on Intel. Regarding Intel’s journey, one of the first steps Chuck took to help move Intel forward was to invest heavily in their marketing stack. The goal for them was simple: to assemble a set of technology tools so they could put marketing metrics into the hands of marketers to let them draw insights from the data for their area of the business. In making that transition, Regarding their marketing stack, Chuck said it’s not the Field of Dreams. For Intel, it was a case of if you build it, they don’t necessarily come. What they quickly realized is how sophisticated the technology is doesn’t really matter. People are the engine that really make things run. To execute on their analytics vision, Intel asked the questions, “Are we measuring the right things? Do we have the right frameworks in place, do we have the right teams in place? Can we do this outside the United States? That led them to remaking many of their analytics’s frameworks, hiring more people with diverse skill sets, standardizing all their reporting and establishing reporting cadences so marketers knew when they would receive insights on a regular basis.  Now, 18 months later, having that infrastructure in place helps Chuck’s team provide marketers with insights information on complex campaigns around the world (like like Gaga’s recent moving tribute to David Bowie during the Grammys). When Aaron asked Chuck to talk more about the importance of people in the midst of so many data measurement tools, he had this to say…  data is only going to get more plentiful, it’s only going to get cleaner and more  accessible. As that technical reality happens, the importance of people in the equation is only going to grow. To that end, Chuck liken’s his team as insights consultants who sit in between the technology and the marketers trying to make sense of all the data. That person’s role is to be the himan face of that data. You can check out Chuck and Aaron’s discussion session just before the the 2 hour 59 minute mark of the Movers and Shapers livestream.

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  • Kip Knight – President, H&R Block
    Keep didn’t join us as the president of US retail operations at H&R Block. Instead, he discussed US Marketing and Communications College (USMCC) Real World Case Study that he helped implement for the US government. In other words, he shared details about his efforts and role as a professor in the US State Department. Kip has been a marketer at big companies for more than 30 years. He believes marketing is one of the strongest disciplines we have. And it’s something we’ve seen can be used for good or evil. In 2008, Kip got a call from the Whit House. He was asked to meet with the National Security Council to look at ways to improve the US’s image abroad. He along with two other marketers presented to members of the National Security Council.  At the end of that initial meeting. Kip made it clear that he didn’t think anything they discussed would have any impact on things moving forward. When he was asked for a proposal, Kip recommended assembling a group of marketers from other US businesses with the goal of helping the National Security Council better understand how to communicate with key audiences. They agreed, and that’s when Kip worked to pull together a team to help establish a curriculum that ultimately became the foundation for the US Marketing Communication College. The goal was to assemble a team that reflected world-class marketing thinking made up from professionals from leading American companies to teach US government agencies in a way that would enable diplomats to tackle 21st-century communications challenges. They started the effort by introducing the ABCDE Communication model as a framework for the curriculum they established. A) Audience B) Behavioral Objectives C) Content D) Delivery E) Evaluation. Ultimately, the group established a 1 week curriculum that is among the highest rating series of classes in the State Department. Since 2008, they’ve used 10 US Marketing College Sessions to train over 500 diplomats. Kip then shifted to discuss what he called the ultimate communications challenge: How do you market against ISIS? The team is set to meet to discuss approaches to tackle that difficult challenge. Initial State Department efforts like #ThinkAgainTurnAway have received lots of criticism from the media. It’s not easy. It will take a collective effort from the best minds in the space. Kip asked Bob Pearson on stage. Bob mentioned the upcoming meeting later this week with the US Institute for Peace.  Bob put the call out to US marketers and social media teams.,,, if your company wants to help or even if you as an individual are interested in joining the coalition to assist with these anti-ISIS efforts, reach out to Bob via Twitter (@bobpearson1845) to discuss. You can check out Kip’s session right at the the 3 hour 46 minute mark of the Movers and Shapers livestream.
  • Jesse Knish Photography Jesse Knish PhotographySanjay Dholakia, CMO, Marketo
    Sanjay joined us to discuss Marketing Automation and the New Era of Engagement. He’s had tons of business experience along his career: from consultant to CEO of a public company to CMO. He loves his current role—as CMO of a company with lots of clients, he gets to talk to many smart marketers with the goal of working to help them make sense of the data streams from their marketing stacks. He learns more from the marketing folks working through that transition. All this data has changed all our expectations as consumers. He referenced Amazon as an example of a company that has moved things forward in a big way. Why? Because they’re the ones who’ve figured out how to use data in a way that serves us as customers. We all know Amazon goes way beyond basic demographic data that some marketers still use today. Example: when Sanjay goes to, his home page is filled with women’s clothing. Why? Because he inly goes there to buy gifts for his wife. Amazon knows that and adjusts his experience accordingly. They could try to sell him millions of SKUs based on demographic data, but they don’t. Bottom line, Sanjay argued that he buys a lot from because they’ve figured out how to become useful. Being useful  or helpful is the new baseline in terms of customer expectations. That’s why it’s something all marketers should strive to do. You can check out Sanjay’s session right at the the 4 hour  mark of the Movers and Shapers livestream.
  • Jesse Knish Photography Jesse Knish PhotographyBrian Solis, Author and Principal, The Altimeter Group
    Christopher Wilder sat down to interview Brian about his new book, X: The Experience When Business Meets Design. Chris asked him first what he means by “user experience.” According to Brian, a lot of things we do in business today are based on philosophies from the 60s or 70s. And many times we’re measured against those old standards. Brian says experience is human, it’s emotional. An example of getting at user experience: Asking a fellow attendee, “How’s your SXSW going?” When Brian set out to write his book he sought to answer the question: What is an experience between a company and a customer?  While there’s no single answer, Brian defines an experience as a human reaction to any moment. Companies have lots of ways to create moments with a potential customer: marketing information, buying an item in a retail store, contacting customer service, etc. For customers, the experience is really the sum of all of those individual moments. Besides some of those methods being used to create those moments are based on outdated philosophies, the other problem is that all of those moments on the company side are managed by different parts of the business that most like don’t talk to each other. All the tools are there for companies to start to fix that. You can check out Chuck’s session a little over the 4 hour 35 minute mark of the Movers and Shapers livestream.

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Matthew Zito, Chief Strategy Officer, Synthesio; Joshua March, CEO, Conversocial

Matthew and Joshua discussed the 4 Stages of the Customer Buying Cycle along with what brands can do from in terms of social engagement along all of those stages. Here are the stages they discussed:

1) Research – Information gathering stage.. may ask friends for recommendations, read Yelp reviews, a person may do basic Google searches.

2) Interaction – This is typically the stage where a customer reaches out to a brand, a merchant, or other customers seeking more detailed information.

3) Purchase – This is the point where a customer actually buys a product from a brand, merchant or reseller. It’s at this point that brands receive the most data about their customer, basic demographic data, etc.

4) Perception – This is the what do you think of the product? phase. It’s where the customer has gone through the purchase, setup or installation process, has formed opinions after some amount of using the product, and may begin to share more detailed opinions online.

Joshua made the point with today’s social tools, brands have the opportunity for social engagement during any of the four buying stages. Matthew reiterated that 80% of the customers who have solid social levels of engagement with that brand or more loyal to that brand. The other bonus for brands is that customers are sharing more buying intent kinds of conversations via social, and many of those updates are public data. Joshua mentioned the trend of public social engagement extending to the private side, where Facebook recently allows customers to reach out to brands privately through Facebook Messenger. Both Matthew and Joshua highlighted Facebook’s now enabling transaction purchase receipts inside Messenger, so customers can now have lots of information at their fingertips when they may need it down the road. According to Joshua it doesn’t matter where a customer buys a product, since they are more than likely social and mobile. That means they are taps away from tweeting a question, able to post reviews, etc. Both Matthew and Joshua recognized the increasing importance of prompt responses when customers do reach out for help. Matthew cited a recent study that shows brands who responded promptly and helpfully consistently had the highest Net Promoter Score (NPS) ratings when they responded to customers within 30 minutes. NPS scores trailed off pretty dramatically the longer customers have to wait. Both also agreed that that 30 minute response expectation from customers is getting shorter and shorter. You can check out the joint discussion session just before the 4 hour 16 minute mark of the Movers and Shapers livestream


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We kicked off our 2nd annual Movers & Shapers event (last year known as Geekfest) on Saturday here during SXSW. This one featured several people I’m lucky to call friends. As Bob Pearson mentioned, we chose this list of speakers because many of them are shaping the future of business in this digital age.

Thanks to our clients, partners and sponsors and W2O employees who made today (and our other #SXW2O events) possible. Below are a few highlights from each of the speakers.

  • Javier Boix, Senior Director, StoryLab, AbbVie
    Javier discussed activating a storyline paradigm (see his pre-interview here). When he and the team thought about how to move AbbVie in the storytelling realm, they knew they had to approach things differently. That’s why they created StoryLab.  For AbbVie, StoryLab = Content Development + Media Relations + Digital + Measurement. Tune into the Movers & Shapers livestream at just over the 9 minute mark to see Javier’s session.

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  • Michael Jarjour, CEO, ODH, Inc
    Michael joined us to talk about how Data is Improving Mental Health. He sat down with our own Bob Pearson to discuss Michael’s passion, how we transform behavioral and health. Key challenges in behavioral health are resource constraints and highly fragmented data. Mentrics is a tool that combines ODH’s risk assessment data along with data of the complex care patients to find out which patients are most at risk.  From a data perspective, payers are the most important component. How does the risk stratification process work? Michael explained that the ODH team had worked on the solution for four years. It identifies the high-cost patient population to track cost drivers over a year. The goal is to help health care providers figure out which patients are at risk and provide insights into the kind of treatment that can best affect outcomes. It’s about identifying 1) which patients need the most help 2) what kind of help do they need? 3) How can we help? Tune into the Movers & Shapers livestream at about the 23 minute mark to see their discussion.

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  • Amber Naslund, SVP Marketing, Sysomos
    I’ve known Amber a long time. She’s someone I’ve always had a great deal of respect for. Now even more so after hearing her talk about embracing imperfection. Everyone talks about transparency and authenticity. Amber nails both. She lives and breathes social engagement and analytics. Much of her talk centered around Impostor Syndrome. It refers to “high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as “fraud.” In 2011, she was riding high when Radian6 was purchased by Salesforce, she had a successful book and was well-known for the social engagement work that she was a part of. During her next step is when she starting struggling those negative feelings of self-doubt. Especially as so many of her peers in the social space appeared to be at the top of their game. That period led her to do research on the topic. She quickly found in her interviews that Impostor’s Syndrome affects everyone… men, women, all ages, etc. Even extremely successful people like best-selling author Stephen King. Bottom line, Amber’s currently focused on making this topic as her next book. I hope she’s successful on that front and applaud her for having the courage to share with the folks here at our event.  You can check out Amber’s session at about the 39 minute mark of the Movers and Shapers livestream.
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  • Ray Kerins, SVP Head of Communications & Government Relations, Bayer
    Ray’s topic of discussion was the Criticality of Intellectual Property. Ray did something I wasn’t expecting. He made a talk about IP pretty lively and engaging. He started his session by acknowledging that most people’s eyes glaze over when they hear about patents and IP. He defined IP as the set of laws that protect individuals and companies who have created a unique product or thing. It’s important to all of us because it protects innovation. Ray cited one of the most difficult aspects of IP is the un-evenness of laws around the world. While those in the United States are decent, several countries outside the US have very weak laws, and in some cases, those laws can be difficult to enforce. Ray is a board member of the US Chamber of Commerce and he’s also a member of the Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC). GIPC’s sole responsibility is to make sure the IP laws around the world help protect innovation created in America. According to Ray, IP creates job. He referenced several reports compiled by GIPC. One such report is the International IP Index, which ranks the world’s countries in terms of levle of IP protection. In other words, to track the places where counterfeiting is the biggest problem. Surprises? Venezuela is the country that currently ranks the highest on that list. India is #2. Another surprise? China currently ranks  17th on the list. Ray attributed China’s going down on the list (improving) to the Chinese government’s active efforts to strengthen their IP laws and enforcing those laws. You can check out Ray’s session just about the 50 minute mark of the Movers and Shapers livestream.
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  • Michele Skelding, SVP Global Technology and Innovation, Austin Chamber of Commerce
    Michele’s topic was The Next Big Thing? Disruptive Innovation in ATX. Michele has lived in Austin for the last 20 years and has worked in technology for most of that time. She joined the Austin Chamber of Commerce about three years ago with the goal of bringing her tech expertise to the city. Michele mentioned that the average age in Austin was 33. The city has a population of about 1.9 million people, of which 415,000 are students. What’s one of the most important things the city can do to keep those students here? Create jobs that they’ll want to stay here for. As a city, that means we have to be on target with our business benefits. Add it all up and Austin is expected to be one of the fastest growing cities until 2025. Michele ended with a plea for those of us in Austin to get engaged in terms of the future of the city. Along those lines, she mentioned recent headlines where Austin proposed city ordinances are creating barriers for companies like Uber and Lyft to operate in this city. One more thing: Thanks to Michele for making the introduction to Hugh Forrest and making that PreCommerce fireside chat possible. You can check out Ray’s session just about the 1 hour 27 minute mark of the Movers and Shapers livestream.

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  • Robert Scoble, Entrepreneur in Residence, UploadVR
    Robert is another person I’m fortunate to know pretty well. Robert’s book Naked Conversations (that he co-authored Shel Israel) had a big impact on me when I was gearing up to take the reins at Direct2Dell back in 2006. Robert’s one of the best in the business about what’s next in technology. Look at his other books as an example. Age of Context focused on how sensors and big data will continue to impact business. He and Shel are currently working on their third book called Beyond Mobile. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality is not surprisingly one of the main topics that book will cover. Fresh off the news that he’s joining UploadVR as their Entrepreneur in Residence, Robert dove right into the topic of virtual reality and augmented reality. He discussed companies like Magic Leap and Meta that will play a part in the future, as well as other established tech companies like Facebook, Microsoft and Google. This technology is already showing up in our world… self-driving cars use sensors and tons of data to map the world around them. Heavy machinery company Caterpillar is already using AR to help train mechanics on repairs. According to Robert, augmented reality (where we interact with virtual objects superimposed on top of real-world objects) is going to have the biggest impact. We’re still 3 – 5 years away from the truly ground-breaking stuff that will occur has hardware gets smaller, faster and cheaper. It’s coming though, and in my opinion, there’s much to look forward to. You can check out Robert’s session at about the 1 hour 38 minute mark of the Movers and Shapers livestream.
Jesse Knish Photography
  • Patrick Moorhead, President and Principal Analyst, Moor Insights & Strategy
    Patrick’s topic was The Future of Healthcare is Closer Than it May Appear. Before becoming an industry analyst, he spent over 20 years in the tech business, focused on things like product management, product marketing and strategy. For 15 years he served on the board of St. Davids’s Medical Center and the Austin Heart Hospital (where he also chaired the board for five years). Besides sing the bureaucracy first hand, he was struck by the number of people so passionate about helping others. He mentioned that we spend over $3 trillion dollars in Healthcare annually. An estimated 90% of that goes toward chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. And an estimated 80% of those could be prevented with better healthcare along with personal responsibility. He also said the biggest issue in healthcare is the disconnect between payment and service. During the session, he called out that Moor Insights was welcoming Yuri Teshler to lead the Healthcare vertical  You can check out Patrick’s session at just over the 1 hour 58 minute mark of the Movers and Shapers livestream.
Jesse Knish Photography
  • Natanya Anderson, Sr. Marketing Director, 365 by Whole Foods Market
    Natanya talked about the Mandate to Innovate, which is a good topic for her given how much she has done inside the walls of Whole Foods before taking on the charter to expand their 365 effort. She touched on disruption and called out Whole Foods’ recent investment in Instacart as an example of how Whole Foods is working with innovative companies instead of against them. Figuring how to innovate inside a big brand was something she struggled with at first. Her light bulb moment came when she spoke at the Foresight & Trends Conference about 18 months ago. She spoke to many people there who were part of innovation groups, or in some cases, even innovation business units. Many of them spent time analyzing trends to help figure out what areas lend themselves to innovation within their respective companies. That’s when it hit her. Instead of thinking, “How do I get that (innovation) job?” She realized the better question was, “How do I make innovation part of my job?” She started by establishing a mandate to innovate for herself. That’s when she starting actively looking for places where Whole Foods could innovate. Then she extended the that intention to innovate to her entire team. She found that some people on her team were more receptive to it than others. The tipping point was when she tied innovation to the team’s goals overall and they worked as a group to figure out how to measure the innovation part of their efforts. Hint: It wasn’t ROI. You can check out Natanya’s session at just over the 2 hour 14 minute mark of the Movers and Shapers livestream.
Jesse Knish Photography

Check back soon to learn more from other speakers and what amazing insights they offered at Movers & Shapers!



Lionel Menchaca currently serves as Director of Corporate & Strategy at W2O Group. Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn or reach out to him on Twitter at @LionelGeek!


Learn more about W2O Group:  About  Work  Contact.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On February 16th, W2O Group had the pleasure of sponsoring/speaking at the Holmes Report’s 3rd Annual In2 Summit in San Francisco. The event focused on bringing together “the industry’s most innovative minds to explore the future of influence and engagement.” [You can read our agency-wide recap here.]

At this years’ event, BrewLife was honored with the In2 SABRE Award for “Use of Social Media or Analytics for Audience Insights or Influencer Targeting” for our Tejava Tea social media campaign – an award we are extremely proud to receive.

BrewLife partnered with Crystal Geyser’s Tejava Tea last summer to help raise awareness and increase sales for their summer tour in LA. Tejava would be giving out samples at outdoor concerts and along the Santa Monica Pier, sponsoring events, and running billboard and radio ads throughout the area over a six week period. Our agency was tasked with developing a cohesive and consistent voice across all of Tejava social media platforms, which included Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Lifestyle ChangersWe kicked off the project the way we always like to: by tapping the W2O Analytics team to help identify Tejava’s target audience in the LA area. This was done through a SocialGraphics analysis, a proprietary analytics tool that identifies key interests and affinities, demographics, and the most important product features to our target persona. After looking at the results, we deemed our target segment the “Lifestyle Changers,” people looking to make healthier life choices – like switching from soda to Tejava’s zero-calorie, unsweetened tea.

We then completed a conversation-based analysis which highlighted all of the conversations “Lifestyle Changers” were having on social media over the past year. The results allowed us to identify groups with common characteristics, which we could then target throughout the campaign.

We used Tejava’s unique spin on unsweetened tea and all-natural elements to come up with the #PerfectNothing campaign, celebrating the moments of “nothing” in life. Our creative team showcased the #PerfectNothing lifestyle through candid posts showcasing the simplicity of Tejava’s unique fans’ healthy lifestyles.

Social PostsFor two weeks leading up to the LA tour and then six weeks throughout the tour, we posted 2-3 social posts per week. Once the campaign was underway, we tracked performance and adjusted our strategy to optimize each post. For example, analysis showed active imagery and group shots performed better so we adapted the creative to maximize on these insights.

Additionally, we worked with our Analytics team to identify social influencers and place paid ads to target them specifically. Our SocialGraphics and conversation-based analysis allowed us to place ads and use social influencers that would come in contact with “Lifestyle Changers” through common page likes, conversation topics, and more. This was a great way to increase awareness as well as visibility across social channels.

This award means a lot to us because it demonstrates the added value of working with BrewLife, a W2O Company. Not only do clients get the insights and intelligence of the BrewLife team, but they also get the input and analytical capabilities from our long hallway at W2O. The Tejava #PerfectNothing campaign is a great example of how collaboration across various teams allowed us to create and launch a successful (and award winning) campaign!

This summer, BrewLife celebrated the successful completion of its first hospitality engagement with the grand opening of Hotel Zephyr, a one-of-a-kind hotel property in San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. BrewLife collaborated with Zephyr’s management organization, Davidson Hotels & Resorts, for a little over a year to create this fresh, irreverent and standout hospitality brand.

BrewLife kicked off our engagement by using our proprietary social analytics to understand the interests and behaviors of both visitors to San Francisco as well as global travelers who have indicated a preference for visiting boutique hotels. Results from this analysis helped shape customer personas as well as key elements of the brand and guest experience.

Identity design came next, with our talented designers creating a playful and colorful logo for the property that both represents the hotel’s cargo ship design narrative and its centerpiece amenity, “The Yard, ” a 10,000 square foot adult playground. Your standard hotel logo this is not.

Zephyr Logo

With our baseline look and feel established, BrewLife moved on to creative campaign development. Also diverting from the usual, the property’s launch creative campaign, entitled “Twisted”, challenges preconceptions about what constitutes an upscale hotel stay through hotel scenes and characters that have surprising twists related to the Zephyr story. From a bellhop with a fishtail sticking out of a suitcase to a prim and proper maid with a raucous sailor tattoo on her arm, it’s apparent that things at Hotel Zephyr are just a bit different. The creative campaign has made an appearance on Hotel Zephyr’s website and across collateral.

In the months leading up to the hotel’s launch, BrewLife’s PR team worked to raise awareness of the property, engaging national and local travel journalists and influencers through press releases and trend pitches. At project wrap-up, our team had secured over 50 placements, including features in the digital or print editions of Travel+Leisure, The Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Business Times and Hotel Chatter. These placements garnered a cumulative 45 million media impressions.

At BrewLife we often talk about the fact that our clients outside the healthcare space provide a fertile experimentation ground that allows us to explore tactics and technologies that might be a few years away from mass adoption by our biotech, medical device and digital health clients. Hotel Zephyr has certainly been one of those projects.

Visiting San Francisco sometime soon? Book a room at the Hotel Zephyr at

There is one universal fact when it comes to hosting a party: no matter how well you decorate or where the music is playing, everyone inevitably ends up standing in the kitchen. The draw of the kitchen is like gravity, an inescapable force that brings everyone together for a shared experience and a shared conversation. So, how do companies capture that same effect? How do they engage their community and share in a lively conversation? At BrewLife, we partner with companies to bring this concept to life. Every brand will have its own definition of success (Who is in the kitchen? What are they talking about?) as well as its own approach, but really the underlying process is the same.

First things first, you need a kitchen.

The kitchen represents your company’s platform, where you want to bring people together. And it shouldn’t just be a single location. In this digital and social age, a company’s platform may consist of interlinking social channels, an unbranded awareness website, a corporate blog, and several other touchpoints. The point is that these elements must be coordinated, easily findable, and simple to navigate.

Start the conversation.

As people start to trickle into the kitchen, it’s important to engage them in conversation before they get bored and wander back off. To pique and keep their interest, your platform needs to be populated with content that is relevant to your audience. Serving steak to vegans isn’t going to get you very far and neither will using highly scientific terms and complex concepts while talking to a non-expert, patient audience. It is vital for you to know who your guests are and what matters to them so you can continually steer the conversation to what is most interesting and timely.

Work the room.

While parties are a great place to meet people, it’s easy to fall into familiar patterns and only talk to the people you arrived with. A good host needs to work the room, introduce people with common interests and make connections. Similarly, a company must always keep an eye out to expand their conversation and introduce new voices. This can be posting the CEO’s perspective on an industry issue on the corporate blog, creating a documentary to shed light on a little-known condition to help share personal stories and unite the community, or as simple as helping connect a patient with a reporter to share the real-life impact a disease can have. While the company may be coordinating these efforts, the community is always what remains at the center of the experience. The goal is not to have the company dictate all communication, but to connect people with one another and help them engage in conversations that matter. This isn’t just a two-way dialog, but a lively and passionate conversation between a dozen people crowded around the cheese plate.

Remember, it’s never goodbye.

In this analogy, at some point the party must end and your guests will head home. But if the party was a success, your guests will have exchanged numbers or maybe they are heading out somewhere else to continue the conversation. This means that strong connections have been made and the dialog will continue beyond what is being driven by the company. But, keep in mind that interest can wane over time so it is critical to never say goodbye to your guests. Always have a plan to see them again, to evolve the conversation, and remain aware of their changing interests and needs. And always be thinking and planning for the  future, it’s easier to make plans to see someone next while they are standing in front of you rather than waiting until they are gone and playing phone tag to re-connect. A strong engagement plan is well-thought out in advance with specific touchpoints. It doesn’t always have to be a big bash, but remember to at least send a text now and then to stay in touch.

And if you get a new recipe, or remodel the kitchen, be sure to throw another party!

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of visiting a few BrewLife clients who were exhibiting at the American College of Gynecologists and Obstetrics (ACOG) conference, one of the largest conferences for women’s health professionals.

Acessa TMWhile at ACOG, I caught up with Halt Medical, the company behind the Acessa Procedure, a safe, effective and minimally invasive procedure that’s seeking to replace hysterectomy as the standard of care for fibroid treatment. Many women prefer to avoid hysterectomy because it’s a significant surgery with long recovery times and a track record of post-procedure complications.

BrewLife began workiAcessa1ng with Halt Medical over a year ago to ready the Acessa brand for a two-market test campaign focused on raising awareness of the procedure among women with uterine fibroids. This included developing strategic positioning and messaging, a creative campaign, a new website, and marketing collateral in both digital and print formats.

Starting at the beginning of 2015, BrewLife’s “A Woman’s Story” campaign has rolled out across a variety of marketing channels in the two markets, and despite the campaign’s young age, there has already been an uptick in the number of procedures being performed.

“A Woman’s Story” highlights the physical and emotional toll that fibroid symptoms, and the decision to seek treatment, take on women. Told through the first person, “A Women’s Story” focuses on a particular woman, her struggle living with a specific fibroid symptom and the positive impact Acessa has had on her quality of life post-treatment. The friendly and empathetic tone, colorful infographic style and use of stylish avatars instead of generic stock photography sets Acessa apart from any other campaign currently in the market in this therapeutic area.

Acessa2The campaign rollout encompassed an integrated array of tactical components including:

  • Website Development
  • Testimonial Videos
  • Patient Directed Materials
    • Print Advertisements
    • Digital Advertising
    • Social Media
    • Print Marketing Collateral
  • Physician Directed Materials
    • Print Advertising
    • Print Marketing Collateral
    • Trade Show Graphics
    • Practice Development Materials

At ACOG, I was proud to be associated with clients doing such important and innovative work in women’s health and to see our marketing materials drawing a crowd to Halt’s busy booth.

In addition, the Acessa Procedure was recently featured on The Doctors, to learn more about the procedure, click here.

Rare Disease Day 2015

As a W2O company, BrewLife undoubtedly has adopted the commitment to a true network of care, healthcare that is. While we certainly serve a breadth of clients, we pride ourselves on supporting the biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical device industries. It is these industries and our clients that make days like February 28, 2015 all the more special. To many it is just another day, but to us, Rare Disease Day® is an opportunity to show our solidarity and support to the network we directly effect.

Rare Disease Day raises awareness amongst the general public and decision-makers about rare diseases and their impact on patients’ lives. Launched by EURORDIS and its Council of National Alliances in 2008, the campaign has become a progressive phenomenon recognized by as many as 84 countries.

Rare Disease Day LogoJoin us and become a friend of Rare Disease Day by completing the form here and utilizing your social channels and/or website to raise awareness. There are no costs involved, just your time and effort. #MakeItHappen by using the hashtag #RareDisease and take a look at three ways you can get involved:

  1. Post Your Event – Whether you’re an individual or an organization viewing this post you can get involved. Post your event using this form on the Rare Disease Day official website.
  2. Raise and Join Hands – This symbolic gesture can be done before the Day or on it to show solidarity with rare disease patients around the world. Record the action and upload it to the Rare Disease Day website here.
  3. Tell Your Story – Whether you are living with rare disease or caring for a loved one or friend who has one, we want to know your story. Upload a photo, video or written story here.

Pledge your support and make your mark on Rare Disease Day, February 28, 2015. For more information, visit Together we can put rare diseases in the spotlight!

Super Bowl Ad Review


The Super Bowl audience is 46% female according to Nielsen data, and something like 85% of all consumer purchases are made by women—so you’d think that advertisers paying around $4.5 million to run a 30-second spot, would have figured out long ago that they’d want to appeal to us. Or, at the very least, not alienate. Well, the message may finally have gotten through.

This year’s ads were more inclusive than in the past, likely in large part because of the NFL’s terrible year as regards to scandal, abuse and sexism. Brands advertising in the Super Bowl were particularly sensitive to not seeming to endorse any of that bad behavior. (The NFL donated airtime for a gripping “No More” PSA addressing domestic violence.)

Super Bowl tweetsMany female creative directors, including myself, participated in a live Super Bowl Tweetup organized by The 3% Conference using the hashtags #3percentsb, #mediawelike and #notbuyingit. (The 3% Conference, founded by Kat Gordon & Rebecca Rivera, builds the case for more female representation in advertising leadership.)

The general consensus seemed to be satisfaction that there were only a few egregiously offensive ads. (Yes, we’re talking to you Carl’s Jr.) There weren’t many ads where women were portrayed as half-dressed eye candy (Ahem, Victoria’s Secret.) Even GoDaddy was a non-offender with an understated ad that made its point. There were noticeable efforts toward more equal representation of men and women (WeatherTech showed women working as equals next to men), challenging of clichéd gender stereotypes long outdated by real life (Dove’s Men+Care), more multiculturality and inclusivity (Toyota and Microsoft featured a Paralympic athlete and an active little boy with prosthetics. Dodge featured older people, and not purely for comedic relief. Loctite Glue had a diverse mix but were we laughing with them or at them?) I also enjoyed the realistic father-daughter relationship in Toyota Camery’s “My Bold Dad”.

That’s not to say that an ad is great just because it presents a more positive and realistic view of women. But great creative can’t afford to only be relevant to half its audience.


#LikeAGirl • The empowering “Like a Girl” spot from Always/Procter and Gamble got the hastag #LikeAGirl trending. Jet Blue quickly joined the conversation, tweeting a photo of two female pilots flying.


Fiat Super Bowl Ad• Fiat’s “Pill” was a well-played twist on that little blue pill that engaged both men and women, and strongly communicated the product benefit.



BMW• BMW’s “Newfangled” was humorous and charming, but next time Katie should drive and ask Bryant if he can twerk. (Women are responsible for 65% of new car purchases.)



Nationwide_Mindy• Nationwide Insurance has a gem in “Invisible Mindy”. Who hasn’t looked around the conference room and wondered if she was invisible? The execution was great but the line that tied it to Nationwide flew by so fast I almost missed it—Join the Nation that sees you as a priority. Nationwide. On your side.”

Coca Cola

• “Download Happiness” from Coca Cola admirably took on bullying and hate speech, changing mean messages into positive ones.


View all the ads here:

And tell me what you think…

Las Vegas Sign: Go. Ahead in Health

Earlier this month, W2O Group invited 150 employees in our collective healthcare practice to the second annual “Go. Ahead In Health” summit in Las Vegas. Usually I stick to the idea of what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but in cases like these, it needs to be shared.

This two-day event is evidence that W2O Group is committed to continuing to build a best-in-class, analytics-driven, integrated global offering serving a diverse set of clients from start-ups to world-leading brands in health.

Individuals from our “Long Hallway” shared exciting case studies of integrated work we created for clients. Our very own thought leaders presented industry insights and led informative panel discussions on trends in healthcare. It would have been impossible to leave the summit without a refreshed and more knowledgeable outlook on our business — but that wasn’t the best part.

Featured guest speakers and experts were hands down the highlight of the summit. They left our team enlightened and pondering what was next. Below are quick synopses with links for more information about two panels and our key note speaker that I am sure will also leave you with a sense of ahhh.

ePatient Advocates

ePatient AdvocatesWe know that patient advocacy has evolved. During this panel, we heard from real life patients turned advocates who have brought their journey online and created followings in social media.

The panel gave real-world perspectives on creating change and activism through social channels and explained how social activation of patient advocacy is changing the game and affording our clients with more opportunities to partner and socialize their messages as well.

Check out these ePatient Advocates and the causes they lead:
Sara Nicastro (@saraknic): diabetes patient advocate and founder of
Wendy Campbell (@bandedwendy): LAP-BAND patient and founder of WLS Success Matters
Adam Pick (@heart_valve): health valve patient and founder of

The Activated Social MD:

Understanding, engaging and activating physicians online is the premise for W2O Group’s MDigitalLife. At the summit we heard straight from two MDigitalLife doctors. They shared their experiences and journey becoming media entities, not that they considered themselves as media before. But W2O’s Greg Matthews’ new eBook Missing the Forest for the Trees, now has us looking at them as Media Influencers.

Activated Social MDBoth doctors agreed that Twitter has become not only a tool for news, but a critical piece of the puzzle in treating patients. Dr. Attai said it best: “Patients often don’t tell the whole story at the doctor visit – social media allows us to hear the patient’s voice.” She has found, when talking to breast cancer patients in-office, for one reason or another, patients hold back. On the flip side, when patients go online they open up to the world. Using social media allows her to get the whole picture on how patients in general are dealing with their diseases and can use that information when talking with her patients.

Both doctors are leaders in women’s health and are great examples of thought leaders growing through social media:
Deanna Attai, M.D. (@DrAttai): Breast Surgeon affiliated with UCLA Health Burbank Breast CareLinda Pourmassina, M.D. (@LindaP_MD): Internal Medicine Physician, Women’s Health Columnist with the Seattle Times and Co-Chair ACP Washington Chapter Women in Medicine Committee.

Keynote Speaker:
Hiding in Plain Sight: The Future of Healthcare
Joon Yun, M.D. and President, Palo Alto Investors

Have you ever thought of aging as a disease? I never have. Dr. Joon Yun presented a very intriguing argument and is leading the effort to recognize the science to hack the aging process.

Dr Joon YunDr. Yun is a renowned investor and Managing Partner and President of Palo Alto Investors, LLC, a hedge fund founded in 1989 with over $1 billion in assets under management. He is also the Benefactor of the Palo Alto Longevity Prize, a $1M Life Science competition that challenges teams from all over the world to “hack the code” that regulates our health and life span. The idea behind adaptive homeostatic capacity will make you think.

If you are ready to have your mind blown, check out the video at Palo Alto Longevity Prize. It will have you thinking about what is next and jumping to invest more in your 401k.

Another topic he discussed that will get you thinking is the idea of Second-hand Stress. Read his blog post and tell your chronically stressed-out co-workers to take a chill pill.

In a recent article I proposed that the role of Investor Relations should, to a significant degree, focus on providing information that clarifies a company’s risk and uncertainty profile while not engaging in communication practices that could adversely alter that profile for investors. I concluded that this goes a long way towards supporting a fair valuation of a company’s securities. In follow-up, I’d now like to propose a method of implementing Investor Relations communications.

I’ve named the method “TACTful communications™.” TACTful communications are those that are Transparent, Accurate, Credible and Timely.

–   Transparent communications provide complete information about a company’s business (to the extent reasonably allowed by business and legal considerations), including its strategy, markets and products.

–   Accurate communications provide information that is correct and not subject to change or interpretation.

–   Credible communications are trustworthy, often borne out by reliability over time.

–   Timely communications relay information without undue delay.

These factors are consistent with established best practices. Communications encompassing all four elements, and communicated effectively in a public manner, will create an arena where investors will have equal access to information needed to make informed investment decisions.

Further, TACTful communications will support efforts to not only provide sufficient information to identify and handicap the company’s risks and uncertainties, but favorably impact its risk and uncertainty profile. For example, a company that is consistently timely in its communications increases an investor’s ability to quickly react, and generally make investment decisions based on current information. Or, consider a company that does not communicate accurately, but discloses information that ends up needing correction or clarification, befuddling the facts and confounding investment decisions. Further, where there are communications that are not credible, i.e. where the company sometimes does and does not execute consistent with its own guidance, uncertainty is created because there is no way to predict the reliability of the company’s statements.

Essentially, by communicating in a predictable manner a company can reduce the possibility of creating additional investment risk or uncertainty. These same communication practices will also support creation of management credibility, another important element that gets tallied into investment decisions. While other factors, including those external to the company such as price and economic climate, also influence an investment decision, TACTful communications—designed with an understanding around the need to address risk and uncertainty—create a basis upon which investors can more efficiently and fairly value a company.

David Walsey
David Walsey

The TACTful approach complements efforts to address risk and uncertainty, more broadly serves communication objectives, and is vital to effectively implementing Investor Relations best practices.

Investor Relations word cloud

Risk and uncertainty are important concepts to understanding the purpose and role of Investor Relations. They are central when determining what information to communicate, and consequently important to determining a fair valuation of a company’s securities.

The National Investor Relations Institute, the leading professional organization for Investor Relations practitioners in the US, defines Investor Relations as follows:

Investor relations is a strategic management responsibility that integrates finance, communication, marketing and securities law compliance to enable the most effective two-way communication between a company, the financial community, and other constituencies, which ultimately contributes to a company’s securities achieving fair valuation. (Adopted by the NIRI Board of Directors, March 2003.)

In practice, the role of Investor Relations practitioners is often described as providing company information to the financial community to enable informed investment decisions. Or, the function of providing investors an accurate account of the company’s affairs. All with the goal of contributing to a fair valuation of the company, consistent with the above definition by NIRI.

But what type of information comprises effective two-way communications between a company and the financial community? What is an accurate account of the company’s affairs, what information enables informed decisions? To state the question more specifically: what type of information should Investor Relations communications share and what educational objectives should be served by such communications in order to support a fair valuation of the company?

This is a central question in Investor Relations and a crucial element of effective communications that deserves further thought. So, while the above overview of the Investor Relations function is accurate as far as it goes, it’s an incomplete explanation.

Some clarity on this topic is perhaps best introduced through a quote by Seth Klarman, a well-known U.S. value investor. He stated: “Risk is not inherent in an investment; it is always relative to the price paid. Uncertainty is not the same as risk. Indeed, when great uncertainty — such as in the fall of 2008 — drives securities prices to especially low levels, they often become less risky investments.”

Klarman’s statement incorporates two important points for the Investor Relations practitioner. First, that risk and uncertainty are distinct concepts. Second, neither risk nor uncertainty is inherently good or bad for any particular investment.

Despite Klarman’s statement and the insights it imparts, when it comes to investing in public companies, the words “risk” and “uncertainty” are perhaps not given their due attention as they relate to Investor Relations. In fact, they are sometimes thrown about interchangeably although, as noted, they hold different meanings. It’s important for Investor Relations, and communications with other stakeholders generally, to understand the two concepts.

The word “risk” is generally understood to refer to a quantifiable unpredictable event. It’s an event with measureable probabilities, like throwing a dice. “Uncertainty” is an event that is unpredictable and not quantifiable. As such, it is an event without measurable probability, like an event considered an act of God – such as the 2008 stock market fall noted by Klarman. While risk can be calculated and allowed for, “uncertainty” can only be taken into account, perhaps, by human instinct.

Risk and uncertainty are important concepts to Investor Relations because they are key factors investors consider in understanding the potential profit (or loss) of an investment decision – and even in how to structure an investment. An investor’s superior identification and understanding of a company’s risks and uncertainties, in fact, can differentiate a superior investment decision. Thus, knowing the events with measurable probabilities and the events with unknown probabilities is important. As is an appreciation for the possibility of unknown events with unknown probabilities.

Consequently, neglecting consideration of risk and uncertainty in understanding the purpose and role of Investor Relations is an error. In large part, the role of Investor Relations should be to focus on providing information that clarifies a company’s risk and uncertainty profile while not engaging in communication practices that could adversely alter the risk and uncertainty profile of a company, or perception thereof, to investors.


David Walsey
Author: David Walsey

This is an underlying central understanding to effective Investor Relations communications and in large part should inform what information is important to communicate to the financial community and how that information should be contextualized within communications best practices. Doing so will go a long way towards supporting a fair valuation of a company’s securities.

David_Megan_NancyIt’s been an exciting month as BrewLife continues to grow in leaps and bounds.

We’re pleased to welcome David Walsey and Megan McCormick on the corporate communications side, as Managing Director and Account Manager respectively, and Nancy Hester as Executive Assistant to Brewlife president, Paulo Simas.

David will provide senior communications and investor relations counsel to BrewLife clients. He is well suited for the role with more than 15 years of experience leading communications functions for biopharmaceutical companies and 10 years as an attorney in private practice. David was most recently VP of Investor Relations and Corporate Communications at Optimer Pharmaceuticals.

Megan comes to us from Cytori Therapeutics, a global company focused on adult stem and regenerative cell therapies, where she was a Communications Specialist. Nancy brings skills honed at renowned enterprises like Novartis and Bayer, and will be located in our San Francisco headquarters.

BrewLife San Diego
BrewLife San Diego

Megan and David are lucky enough to be based in our brand new San Diego office at 888 Prospect Street. (It’s a stone’s throw from the water in La Jolla, in case you’d like a ‘business lunch’ at the beach.) This sunny outpost will strengthen the W2O Group’s presence in a market key to the growth of our health and technology businesses, and also reinforces BrewLife’s strong commitment to only open offices in cities with good tacos.

But wait, there’s more… If you linked directly to this post from social media, be sure to check out the rest of our revamped website. We’ve added robust case studies and more detail about our capabilities. It all just launched and still has that attractive new-site-smell. Please leave comments below to tell us what you like about it, what you don’t and what you have questions about.


Inspiring video from Adobe: Creative can change the world. I suspected so.

Aptus_corp_logoAptus Endosystems is a medical device company that is pioneering solutions to enhance endovascular aneurysm repair (EVAR). The company’s flagship product, Heli-FX, delivers a set of helical screws to anchor the endograft to the aorta to prevent endoleaks and graft migration.

Aptus printBrewLife was brought in to refresh the corporate identity, solidify the product brand positioning, and develop a creative campaign to highlight the product’s value proposition.

Our “Together ForEVAR” campaign debuted at the VEITH Symposium in November 2013 and was well received by physicians.

“Together ForEVAR” leverages a play on the classic phrase, “Together Forever” to highlight the long-term durability that Aptus EndoAnchors provide by locking the endograft to the aorta in EVAR (endovascular aneurysm repair). It also suggests the combination of forces coming together: EndoAnchors and physicians, EndoAnchors and endografts.

 The campaign rollout encompassed an integrated array of tactical components, including:

  • Website Development and Digital Promotions
  • Social Media Properties
  • Print Advertisement
  • Trade Show Graphics
  • Print Marketing Collateral