I can’t think of a better year to have kicked-off our inaugural Marketing Sciences summit, given the data-driven marketing cross-roads we’re at. On the one hand, many speakers at the summit recognize that advances in ML and AI allow us to find patterns in huge volumes of data, far surpassing our capabilities just a few years ago (Jaime Punishill’s presentation on ML techniques like word2vec is a great example). On the other hand, many also recognized we have a lot less of the “right” data to analyze than we like to admit. While many companies have amassed huge volumes of marketing content and related targeting information (e.g., data lakes), this is rarely organized in a manner that lends itself to fast and meaningful analysis. Increased regulatory pressure and public mistrust has also led many advertising platforms, particularly Google and Facebook, to further restrict the data they share with us in the first place, leaving us to wonder what the data landscape will actually look like in the coming years.

In other words, it’s best of analytics times and it’s the worst of analytics times.

The speakers at the Marketing Science Summit addressed these difficult questions head-on. Three key ideas kept emerging, if we all followed, would make us both better data stewards and better marketers:

1. Be Intentional About Use-Cases for Data Collection and Analysis

Before building (or re-building) massive data warehouses, focus on the use-cases first. Currently, many companies are collecting as much marketing data they can and then develop hypotheses to test. This means a lot of time and resources have gone into creating massive, agile databases that aren’t close to being fully leveraged. The risk in this latter approach goes beyond inefficiency– you also risk not being able to make a clear connection between the information/privacy that a customer has entrusted you with and any value that the customer gets from sharing that information. Joerg Corsten and Jeet Uppal’s conversation on Data Lakes touched upon this topic nicely.

2. Focus on Data that will Actually Make a Difference

While the digital data explosion continues, many marketers feel that there is a dearth of valuable data, especially data that helps them understand their audiences or predict some sort of real-world behavior. A lot of the passive data that’s being produced by consumers is intriguing, but it’s most actionable when it’s being modeled against something of value. Sandra Matz and Greg Durkin spoke about this in some detail, specifically on how behavioral social media data can tell us a lot about how audiences wants to be communicated to, but that data has to be modeled against self-reported, psychographic surveys to make sense. David Hardtke also reflected on some of the missed opportunities he’s seen when clients don’t connect their sales-type data to the rich behavioral segments they see in media platforms such as Pandora. Ultimately, data needs a compass to make a difference at scale.

3. Always Ask, “Does the Data and Analytics Provide Value to the Customer too?”

This was one of the most consistent themes throughout the day, and it really should be the first question anyone asks before acquiring and using customer data. For one, it’s wasteful to do otherwise. Customers are quick to shut-out any content that’s not relevant to them. As an example, David Hardtke said it takes Pandora customers at most 5 seconds to turn off an ad they don’t like (even when in the car). Kevin Johnson’s panel with Mary Michael, Julissa Viana and Kieran Fagan also had several case studies demonstrating how analytics reveals what’s relevant to health care audiences including one that helped educate caregivers on detecting early signs of dementia.

I hope everyone left the summit feeling optimistic as I am about the future of marketing and how thoughtful use of customer data create value for everyone, from manufacturer to customer. I look forward to a great discussion on how the space has evolved at our 2nd Marketing Science Summit in 2019!

If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Analytics pages.

We were thrilled to present last week on how to sharpen insights with data science at the ICCO 2018 Global Summit. It’s worth noting that we were almost equally thrilled that the venue for the event this year was Clontarf castle in Dublin. There was a distinctly ‘Game of Thrones’ aura as PR’s global leaders discussed AI and the recent PR-marketing-straddling Nike ad sitting on throne chairs next to tapestries and suits of armour.

Conversations were buzzing at the summit this year as it’s a pivotal time for our industry. Both at the summit and increasingly across the wider marketing and communications community, there is a growing perception that communicators have a crucial role in the c-suite as businesses strive to make the right choices at a time when they are being forced to take sides on social issues. Barri Rafferty, CEO at Ketchum, delivered the keynote on day 2 and said this will enable us, as PR agencies, to redefine our swim lane. This is good news as extending outside what is normally called ‘PR’ means that new opportunities for growth are opening up and we can increasingly position ourselves as integrated agencies. We will be able to ‘get our swagger back’ according to Alan VanderMolen, president of WE Communications.

To achieve this effectively, we as an industry will need to do three things to better serve our clients:

1. Master Insights and Analytics

At W2O, we have long been advocates of this imperative and have invested heavily in these capabilities. We know that if we truly understand our clients’ audiences we will enable them to make bold moves that may appear to ‘sacrifice all’ but are actually based on a firm foundation of evidence. This investment in our insights capability enables us to be more credible with our recommendations and we are glad to see this view spreading through the industry.

2. Position Ethics at the Heart of Strategy

We need to help our clients present a human face to the world. During the current techlash sparked by privacy issues, looming automation and fears over data proliferation, protection and ownership, we must show our clients how to be their best selves in the eyes of their customers. This point came up time and time again at the summit and it’s a key point for our healthcare clients who aim to transform healthcare for better outcomes for all.

3. Develop Technology-Enabled Experiences

Technologies are changing the way audiences experience brands -from VR to micro-segmenting for virtually 1:1 personalisation and what is happening in China with WeChat and influencer-fueled ecommerce. We need to understand the opportunities that these new technologies bring because they will enable us to take engagement to a new level.

To have any hope of delivering on these ambitions, PR firms will need to think carefully about the skillsets they are hiring. Gone are the days when a PR company was a largely homogenous collection of similarly skilled people. As Elise Mitchell President of ICCO says, “We need to be better innovators, technologists, data scientists, creative strategists, anthropologists and most importantly, better leaders.”

To compete today, diversity of both perspective and skillset is essential. At W2O we are advocates of this approach and have found that it has paid off in terms of sustained growth. We believe that in these times of accelerated change, diversity is the key to gaining advantage as we are able to maximise opportunities as they emerge.

If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Analytics pages.

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We’re thrilled to be working with the latest Texas Medical Center Innovation Institute Accelerator (TMCx) cohort on building a powerful public presence.

On October 5, we’ll be on site for Building Your Brand and Digital Presence, a fast-moving, interactive session that will build the case for a strong social presence.

Using TMCx companies as examples, we’ll work through real-life strategies for public engagement that can be applied immediately at the end of the session. With a goal to motivate as much as inform, this session is always a lot of fun.

Here are a few of our takeaway points under discussion. These principles apply to anyone starting a new business, currently leading marketing/comms for their company or looking to build a solid public presence:

  1. It’s never too early to meet people. Every startup is focused on product. Of course, that’s important. But the day will come when you need to tell your story. Dig your well before you’re thirsty and begin building the basic elements of a public presence.
  2.  Create a realistic footprint. It doesn’t take much. When shaping a ‘map’ for your startup, start small. Share your successes and tell some stories on a LinkedIn page and a Twitter account and you’re off to the races.
  3.  Curate for a killer following. No followers, no problem. Collect and share the best of the best stuff you find. One great share a day offers just enough of the kind of value that will get the right folks listening and following
  4. To build an audience create value. As cold as it sounds, no one cares about your company. Deliver the stuff that serves the people you want to attract. Then when it comes to share your story you’ll be trusted and heard.
  5. Your face is more trusted than your logo. Trust is the currency of the information age. Between a branded and a passionate personal Twitter feed, I’ll take passion. For fun, here’s how Cook Medical makes its Twitter presence really personal.
  6. Conversation is good; content is better. Remember that there are only two things on the Internet: content and conversation. The ultimate move is to create the stuff that everyone’s talking about. Making is a taller order than talking, but something to aspire to. Think 2 to 3 original pieces of writing a year.
  7. Leverage surrogate blogs. (Surrogate blogs are digital properties that don’t belong to you or your company) Place your amazing thinking on someone else’s blog. TMCx has it’s own blog. KevinMD is very generous if you have something good to say.
  8. Visibility creates opportunity. I’ve taught and lived by this for a decade. Learn from it and make it your mantra for getting out there. You can bellyache about metrics and ROI but the value of remarkable opportunities can’t be measured. Try it and you’ll see.

There’s lots more where that came from. But we’ll hold it for our October 5 session at TMCx. Hope to see you there, and if you can’t join in person be sure to follow along on twitter via the #TMCx hashtag.

This blog was co-authored by Bryan Vartabedian, TMCx advisor and pediatrician at Texas Children’s Hospital/Baylor College of Medicine. He writes about medicine and technology on his blog, 33 charts.

If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About and Healthcare page.

Want to chat? Drop us a line.

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At W2O analytics powers everything we do, it informs every piece of strategy from ideation to execution. It’s the driving force that allows us to help our clients build unfair advantage — in short, we’re data geeks and we’re proud of it.

We’ve decided to host a one-day event surrounding our love of analytics with our inaugural Marketing Science Summit on Oct 4th in NYC. You’ll hear from pioneers in the market research, social analytics and digital marketing fields on the latest trends in marketing science, with a focus on the healthcare and tech industries.

Below you’ll see a high-level overview of what we have in store. If you’re in the NYC area, we would love to see you there.

Join us for our inaugural Marketing Science Summit


Keynote: Three Big Myths about Emotion, Health and Brains

Lisa Feldman Barrett, neuroscientist, psychologist, author and TED Speaker, will discuss three myths about the brain that tech companies and marketers are particularly susceptible to, including implications for AI/ML to detect feelings and emotions in humans.

Panel: Data Lakes: Why Companies Need to Own Their Data

On this panel, Joerg Corsten (Roche), Jeet Uppal (BMS) and our own Laura Mucha will dive into why first-party data is increasingly important to organizations, how to ensure that data lakes are being built for actionability and how privacy, particularly how GDPR and the CCPA impact how we collect and store useful audience data.

Fireside Chat: The Ethics of Data Collection and Usage

This discussion between Sandra Matz and Greg Durkin will focus on new psychological profiling techniques that marketers can use today, why these techniques work better than many of the behavioral targeting techniques that marketers use, and the ethical issues surrounding psychological profiling and and micro-targeting.

Debate: Can Data Really Inspire Creative Strategy?

In ad agencies, analytics teams and research is often used to understand the marketplace and measure campaign success—but can they really be used to inspire creative campaigns in the first place? Two chief creative officers – Paulo Simas of W2O and Helayne Spivak, formerly of Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness will discuss whether data can ever be inspirational and how they use data-driven insights to create the “big idea”.

Fireside Chat: Robust Analytics Powering Influencer Engagement

This discussion will focus on best practices for identifying, ranking and engaging influencers. During this fireside chat, SVP of Citi, Karen Curry and W2O CMO, Aaron Strout ,will also talk about Citi’s influencer program, what’s worked and where she is focused today.

Fireside Chat: Attribution Modeling in a Multi-Device World

In a post-GDPR, post user-ID world, cross-channel attribution is an increasingly complex issue to solve. David Hardtke of Pandora and Bob Pearson, Senior Advisor of W2O, will discuss best approaches today and how we can prepare for a time when we can’t make direct connections between an individuals’ devices and their engagement with brand content.

Panel: Employing a Data-Driven Approach to Maximize Marketing Investment

As marketers, we are constantly being asked to do more with less — whether it comes to paid media campaigns, email marketing or creating world-class websites — so how do we maximize our return on investment? Visa’s Jessica Williams and W2O’s Adam Cossman and Chuck Hemann, and share proven strategies and illustrative case studies focused on employing data-driven approaches to maximize return to your marketing investment.

Lightning Talks: Living Case Studies: Translating Insights into Actions

Hear from three leaders in healthcare analytics on strategies they use to mobilize their teams to use data and insights in a scalable way. Julissa Viana (Celgene), Mary Michael (Otsuka) and Kieran Fagan (Aetna), will share studies on how data and analytics have made substantial impact on healthcare marketing and communications initiatives will be.

Fireside Chat: The Use of Alternative Data for Market Research

As marketing analytics vendors consolidate under a small number of platforms, (e.g., Adobe, Salesforce, etc.), there is relatively little differentiation between the methods and technologies what the Fortune 100 companies use to identify and target audiences and measure campaign performance. George Gallate, former CMO of Merkle, and I will discuss how marketers are starting to look to “alternative data” that has been a mainstay in investment communities, such as geolocation data, satellite data, and credit card data, to gain audience novel audience insights use analytics for a competitive marketing advantage.

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The Digital Health universe held its 12th annual gathering in Santa Clara, CA last week, led by Health 2.0’s inimitable co-founders Matthew Holt and Indu Subaiya.

While startups continued to jockey for attention, large companies commanded more of the spotlight as they transition from curious onlookers to major players in the digital health space. Representatives from Wal-Mart, Microsoft and Salesforce shared the stage with unicorns Lyft and Oscar and with startups who had just launched their first product.

What became clear from the three-day meeting was the industry is maturing – and quickly.

Here are some quick takeaways:

1. Gettin’ Real

For those of us of a certain age, MTV’s The Real World was a defining show of our teenage years. Every episode started with the tagline, “what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real.”

At this year’s Health 2.0, the speakers stopped being polite and got real. One of Monday’s main stage sessions had startups demonstrate their technology, and expert panelists gave their feedback. At most conferences, tepid feedback is often minimized as not to embarrass the founders. That wasn’t the case at Health 2.0. While I’ll spare the company and founder further discomfort by not naming names here, the feedback was clear – there was no market for this technology.

This showed that the digital health industry has long transitioned from a collection of gee-whiz technology divorced from real world applications, to one where a product has to provide usability and value. To paraphrase Sean Handel, senior vice president of product at Proteus Digital Health, successful new digital health products have to fit into “life flow, work flow and funds flow.”

2. Where’s the Value?

In health policy circles, the term “value” has become associated with the cost of a treatment or intervention vs. the benefit it provides the payer. Recently, that discussion has started to broaden to include value to a provider and value to a patient, and that continued at Health 2.0. Speakers repeatedly described not just the problem they set out to solve, but how others in the system would benefit from the intervention. For example, David Watson, CEO of Akiri, spoke passionately about how the network-as-a-service’s trusted data network would benefit patients, providers, payers and others through increased peace of mind, streamlined and secure access to patient data reduced infrastructure costs.

For those using the traditional definition of value based care, more companies are taking it to the next level. Take Meru Health for example, a mental health startup tackling depression and burnout. In one of their initial contracts, they don’t get paid unless their product is effective.

3. What if Patients Don’t Want to be Engaged?

There’s been a zeal about providing digital health tools that give patients more control over their health. If only they knew what their blood pressure or heart rate was at any given moment, maybe they would change their behavior, goes the thinking. But is that true? A competing school of thought has emerged.

People want less engagement, not more, argued Livongo CEO Glen Tullman. People want technology to handle problems. Nobody needs to be engaged to use a smartphone or Google. (Related: Listen to Glen discuss empowering people to lead healthy lives on W2O’s What2Know Podcast.)

This disagreement reveals a true conflict in the digital health universe, one that I think we’ll see play out for many years to come.

4. Learn to Unlearn

In some sage advice to attendees in the opening keynote address, Rasu Shrestha, UPMC’s chief innovation officer, posed a proactive question. We all come to conferences to learn things, he started. What are best practices? What’s hot and new? Rasu asked what we should be unlearning? Are we doing something that has lost its usefulness? We should all continually examine what we do and why we do things, and eliminate what’s no longer necessary. (Related: To hear a longer discussion of the issue, listen to Rasu on W2O’s What2Know podcast.)

At a conference filled with new gadgets to fill your life with more information about your health, given how busy our lives are these days, learning to unlearn might just be the most important piece of advice shared on stage.

If you’re interested in learning about W2O, check out our About or Healthcare page.

Curious about our work in digital health, check out this post.

Don’t miss other episodes of What2Know from the Health 2.0, subscribe to our podcast on iTunesStitcher or Spotify!

Want to chat? Drop us a line.

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The recent Cambridge Analytica/Facebook crisis and expansive GDPR regulations are sending shock waves throughout the ad industry—particularly within pharma, where personal health information is especially sensitive, and the stakes couldn’t be higher.

What do pharma brand marketers need to know, and what steps should be taken to ensure safety while still benefitting from the powerful technology? Spitz, our Practice Leader in Strategy, recently addressed these challenges at DTC National 2018.

Check out the summary or stream the presentation below.

You’re a superhero

Give yourself a round of applause! From deep marketing experience to vast clinical and regulatory expertise, market research to content strategy to multichannel activation, today’s pharma brand manager must know more and do more than ever before—and often with less: less budget, less time, and less security.

Every superhero has a nemesis, and yours is called “VUCA”—a world of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. Global competition, mounting drug pipeline, pricing, market access, and generics concerns keep you up at night. Everyday obstacles await each morning, including accessing HCPs and engaging patients as scopes shrink and the need to substantiate ROI grows.

These pressures build, making your commitment to emerging technologies like digital appear riskier. Although healthcare spend totals more than $3.2 trillion a year in the US and amounts to nearly 20% of GDP, digital ad spend remains at the bottom compared to other top industries:

Falling back on more comfortable yet less efficient channels results in lost opportunities and a suboptimal media mix. The challenge isn’t unique to healthcare, as Adam Cossman, our Chief Digital Officer has observed. Despite confusion and continued skepticism, the future looks bright for digital marketing, especially in healthcare and pharma, and here’s why.

Welcome to the digital marketing revolution

Many predicted flying cars and bases on the Moon, few foreseeing microcomputers in our pockets enabling instantaneous and global two-way communication.

The ability to receive and transmit data has made everyone a content creator and distributor, transforming entire industries and giving rise to on-demand services that have dissolved the traditional boundaries between brands and their consumers. From Amazon to Netflix, today’s top brands engage consumers demanding unprecedented convenience, immediacy, and personalization.

Bob Pearson, Chief Innovation Officer at W2O describes the inexorable evolution of advertising into Storytizing—where thanks to the power and ubiquity of digital, brands must now create and disseminate an ongoing narrative to consumers anytime, anywhere.

Managing Director Chuck Hemann also describes how on the back-end increasingly sophisticated digital marketing analytics not only help marketers deliver the right message to the right consumer at the right time, but enable precise modeling to optimize results, maximize spend, and substantiate investment.

How digital marketing and healthcare converge

That’s good news for digital marketers—and even better news for pharma marketers like you. Often overlooked and rarely discussed, the connections between digital marketing and digital health are deep and particularly meaningful.

From precision targeting to personalized engagement, predictive modeling to real time optimization, digital marketing has driven astonishing advances in identifying and engaging consumers—while digital health, evolving in parallel, has utilized similar tools, tech, and even lexicon to help in the next generation of diagnosis, management, prediction, and even the prevention of disease.

Eric Topol’s Creative Destruction of Medicine describes how digital tech and digital health have “super-converged” to precipitate a new era of the quantified self and transformative healthcare:

The super-convergence has also ushered in a new era of digital pharma marketing—where the necessary synergy of healthcare, communications, and technology expertise gives your brand the unfair advantage you need to succeed.

Privacy concerns and the deed for a trusted partner

The power of data has proven itself, but every action engenders an opposite reaction. The inverse relationship between privacy and convenience—alongside the aggressive monetization of personal data by Facebook and other platforms—recently exploded with the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Zuckerberg’s two-day testimony before Congress reassured stockholders but raised even more questions about data privacy, and what the government intends to do about protecting it. The EU has already expanded GDPR guidelines, triggering a cascading effect throughout the world, marketers beware.

Here at W2O Group we gauge our “Unfair Advantage” in how we ensure not only effectiveness for your brand, but our commitment to privacy, security, and reputation. Driven by data, integrating insights from analytics through activation, we’re an award winning partner dedicated to accountability, responsibility, transparency, and creative innovation.

If you’re interested in knowing more about W2O, check out our About page.

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This, and other takeaways and tips from the PR News Measurement Conference

The W2O Group and I were grateful to have been asked to speak at  The PR News Measurement Conference recently. PR News brought together speakers, sponsors, and attendees representing a cross section of private and public-sector communicators, agency, academia, and research foundations for two full days of programming.  I spoke about the importance of influencers (identifying, understanding, engaging, tracking).  I also had the honor of helping to close the conference with a Baker’s Half Dozen observations, key moments, notable quotes and emerging themes.   I’ve adapted those here and added four more to round out a list of top ten takeaways and tips.

Top Ten Takeaways & Tips

  1.  Make management a part of your measurement journey.  If there was a single most frequently recurring theme at the conference it was to do with senior leadership into whom communicators report.  Concern over what senior management expects, understands, aligns with and supports.  Panelists who raised this (and attendees that asked about it) all described themselves as being on varying stages of a journey.   Panelists and attendees both described a need to evolve their measurement to position communications less as a cost center and more as generating value for their organizations.  Communications is under increasing pressure to use data (the lingua franca of senior leadership) and scorecards (the visual vernacular of senior leadership) to help tell a c-suite, boardroom-ready story of progress.  In this context, measurement is best seen–speakers suggested–as improvement not justification.  And to improve, what we as communicators put in front of leadership has got to surface insights that lead to conversations about strategic and tactical adjustments.  Key to this, however, is support from management on and alignment with a rigorous approach to measurement that is mindful of objectives, regards a framework, includes multiple meaningful metrics and leads to a culture that is open to acting on the results.  It’s a journey W2O is helping clients with.
  2.   Start somewhere. What’s that saying about a thousand-mile journey beginning with a single step?  One delegate noted that the conference was like a giant support group with those further along on their journey comforting those not quite so advanced.  The tip here is to start somewhere, start small and evolve over time.  Test and fail.  Fail fast.  One panelist encouraged delegates to “pilot the seemingly outlandish and impossible.”  W2O client Aetna has been on a journey to get to an ever-more data-driven communications operation.  Kieran Fagan, VP of Communications at Aetna presented a case study ( How Aetna is Transforming its Communications with Consistent Metrics  ) that outlined a six-step plan.   1)  State your intent about shifting toward being data-driven.  2)  Answer the big question:  so what?  3)  Count what you can but don’t overdo it.  4)  Tie it to your story; your narrative themes.  5) Bring it to the business.  Socialize it.  Solicit feedback.  Acclimate to it.  6) Don’t run a victory lap as measurement is an ever-evolving journey.
  3. Start with the start in mind. It’s corny, but I like to say that KPIs are easy as pie if we’ve done the harder upfront work of clearly identifying objectives.  I was once a PRSA awards judge and noticed so many plans confused goals, objectives, strategies and tactics into one big aspirational slide.  That confuses measurement.  Clarity helps us measure by objective not tactic, nor channel.  It helps us put the audience at the center.  KPIs, scorecards, dashboards, and reports are far easier to design with that clarity.  A former colleague coined a hashtag that’s fitting here:  #YOMO:  year of the measurable objective.
  4. Embrace a framework. An audience, funnel, journey, path to (purchase or some other appropriate action and advocacy) can be enormously helpful in organizing objectives, KPIs, methods and data sources as part of a measurement framework.  And it helps PR align with colleagues in marketing.  There are many such funnels out there.  Some from the measurement-centric industry associations.  Many variations of which, conference speakers presented.  I was encouraged so many presented at this conference; many more that I’ve seen in similar conferences past.  At W2O we use a funnel (Awareness > inter-Action > Attitude > Action > Advocacy) to help challenge ourselves and clients to think about outcomes as much as output.  A framework encourages us to think more broadly and avoid thinking about a specific touchpoint or the effect of a single post.  Despite Kylie Jenner’s ability to drive down Snap’s stock value by $1.3 billion in a single day with a single Tweet, we’ve got to be thinking bigger.  The long-standing preference for measuring every individual touchpoint at a user-level misses the forest for the trees.
  5. Stop looking for a single, killer, ROI metric.  Nope, no thanks. Don’t do it.  It’s a race to the bottom.  It limits our thinking before we’ve even started.  Rather, let’s think about multiple metrics in each tier of the funnel, journey, path.  Let’s think about demonstrating multiple tiers of shift, progress, and value using multiple, increasingly sophisticated methods to do so.  Impressions were frequently cited at the conference as the most commonly used but most problematic and least popular metric.  One metric on a slide at the conference caused a bit of a stir and spurred a tweet from Katie Paine that sums up the challenge nicely: “for the record, re: impressions, there are 7.4 billion people on Earth. Less than half have computers, access to the internet or electricity. Even fewer care about your brand/message/product. So when you say you’ve reached 10 billion people, you have lost all credibility.”  No question the metric has a credibility problem.  I think impressions do have a place in measurement with two very important caveats:  1) that we look it as one among multiple metrics, not THE metric, and 2) that we look at impressions among very specific target audiences we want to reach (via audience/stakeholder/influencer-specific listening panels) and that we look at impressions for only those media outlets (and influencers) that matter to those audiences and that generating sharing.
  6. Embrace ever-more audience specificity. While there were occasional hints of this at the conference, I expected to hear and see more focus on audiences.  Delegates seemed, in principle, to recognize that the days of “spray and pray” are over and that we’re in a new era of focusing on who matters, who matters to them, what matters, how and where it will matter.  We’re seeing an acute shift from a coverage model to a community and conversation model.  But there seems to be a gap between acknowledging the challenge and addressing it.
  7. It’s time to face the fear. There were several moments and remarks at the conference that surfaced challenges with peers in marketing.  I think a certain amount of tension between the two can be healthy and productive.  I was a touch surprised not to hear more calls from either panelist or delegates to face the fear of marketing, fix the friction, embrace integrated marketing communications (as graduate degree programs did 20 years ago) and be comfortable in their new cross-PESO (paid, earned, shared, owned) context.  There was a surprising sense of us vs. them or otherness in the room.  It’s time to break through that.  It’s where the industry has been headed and where W2O has been headed for some time.
  8. Skill sets for the next generation communicator are shifting:  It comes up at every measurement conference typically as someone is asking one of the first questions of the day.  “I went into PR because I hate math.”  Those days are gone, in my view.  I’m not about to tell my six-year-old daughter that it’s OK for her not to worry about math if she wants a career in PR.  Major organizations are hiring staff into corporate communications departments at the director (or higher) level with a mandate of driving more data-driven communications.  They are auditing then augmenting headcount, staff skills, tools, methods, output and processes.  This theme came up several times throughout the conference with a call for hiring more resources with blended backgrounds, curiosity, critical thinking, a willingness to test hypotheses, a basic grounding in research methods, some knowledge of business intelligence tools.  We’re practicing that preach here @ W2O.  Out of our 600 agency staff, more than 100 are analysts, some of whom are account – analytics hybrids.
  9. Get to know your in-house market research folks. Some PR practitioners in large organizations haven’t met their own internal market research groups.  Agencies often play the role of matchmaker in suggesting that connection.  It’s commonly the case when you get these groups together and talk about wants, needs, challenges, and ideas that good things happen.  I didn’t hear as much on this as I’d have hoped at the conference and it is so crucial.  One example:  it’s important to align one’s media content analysis with the brand and reputation tracking studies that most organizations have running.
  10. Measurement isn’t a cost.  It’s cost-saver.  This, too, comes up at every conference.  The idea that a client can’t afford measurement.  And that if they did some measurement, it would mean less tactical programming.  Fewer releases, events, pitches, opeds, whitepapers, influencers engaged and so on.  That’s a justification not an optimization argument.  Most who do measurement for a living have evidence that suggests that measurement helps fine tune execution and that there’s ample room for both measurement and smarter, data-driven execution.  I always counter the “I can’t afford this” with “can you afford not to?”  Measurement helps keep and grow headcount, it grows budget and it helps communicators so no to tactical ideas that data shows isn’t optimal.

I’ll leave off where we began and that is to suggest, that, like happiness, measurement is a journey not destination. Are you on a measurement journey?  Where are you on your journey? We’d love to hear from you.

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Our strategic partner, Techonomy, kicks off Techonomy NYC today, where leaders from across industries are discussing the fast-moving trends transforming business and society.

You won’t want to miss out the content! Tune into the conference via the livestream below as experts dive into artificial intelligence, media, government and policy, sustainability, social media, financial tech, the future of healthcare, corporate social responsibility and so much more.

The two-day conference will look at the technologies driving change in both business and society, the progress these technologies can create, and the potential peril that comes from missteps and unintended consequences. This year, talks are framed by the United Nations’ Global Goals for 2030: how can tech and business drive responsible growth.

The full conference agenda with panels and times can be found here.

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W2O Group Founder & CEO Jim Weiss is widely seen as one of the foremost innovators on the communications landscape. He ranks among the 500 Most Influential People in the Global PR Industry, according to PR Week. He was named one of In2’s Top 25 Innovators in 2014. He’s also a founder and sponsor of the W2O Center for Social Commerce at the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

I sat down with Jim hours after he got off the plane back from SXSW. We talked about everything  from top SXSW takeaways for 2018 to the trends we should be watching across the communications sector over the next year to fly fishing in Hawaii (something I know nothing about). We also talked about W2O Group’s recent announcement of unprecedented, double-digit growth over the last 16 years. Really something.

Jim is candid, frank, and sharp as they come. You won’t want to miss this one.

P.S. If you’re curious to learn more about our firm and our journey check out Jim’s latest blog post.

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