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If tweets were referendum votes then, come June 23rd, the UK would be departing the EU. Looking at the period beginning early 2016, spanning the official launch of both the ‘Brexit’ and ‘Bremain’ campaigns, and culminating in the London mayoral election, it is clear that the latter, #StrongerIn Bremain campaign enjoys a small but significant lead in the number of unique accounts pledging support. However, it is the Brexiters that appear more ardent in their beliefs and more vocal in their call to arms, tweeting roughly twice as much as their Bremain counterparts.

To try to gain a greater understanding of the distribution of Brexiters and Bremainers throughout the UK, the socioeconomic context in which they exist and the correlation (if any) between Twitter activity and actual referendum outcomes, we have created a model that combines the absolute number of tweets, the number of unique accounts and the total populations for each local authority district (LAD).

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LADs known to have concerns regarding high levels of immigration and demonstrating above average support for UKIP, the country’s Eurosceptic and right-wing populist party, were (somewhat predictably) Brexit strongholds. Burnley, Eastbourne, Hartlepool and Bournemouth all ranked highly in Brexit ratios and all fit this profile. However, UKIP voting alone was not a definitive predictor of Brexit performance.

Clacton, Boston, Thurrock and Rotherham all recorded high levels of UKIP support in the 2015 election but do not appear at the forefront of the Brexit campaign as fewer residents utilise Twitter and those that do tweet with low frequency.

Brexiters also tended to lean Conservative and showed strength in traditionally Conservative strongholds such as Woking (one of the safest Tory seats in the country), Northamptonshire South and West Dorset. The results for Manchester, however, ran counter to this idea of traditionally more conservative populations favouring a departure from the EU. An ultra-safe Labour seat and beacon of multiculturalism, its inhabitants had relatively more unique Twitter accounts and total numbers of tweets in favour of the Brexit campaign – though, admittedly, the number of the Bremain accounts was also high.

The #StrongerIn camp was, in general, more predictable, led by university towns with a strong base of Labour support (Oxford, Cambridge, Cardiff and Exeter were frontrunners). Scottish urban centres also leaned in this direction. Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scotland’s most populous cities, showed a predominance of support for the remain campaign by unique Twitter account numbers but almost even number of tweets for both camps.

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These results come from a preliminary analysis of the data and it may be that as the volume of referendum-related Twitter content increases in the approach to June 23rd, so the results shift. Of the top seven most populated places in the country, only one – Manchester – sits definitively in either camp. The other six remain undecided but with strong showings from each camp. It is in these large urban centers where the Twitterendum will be most intense, and we expect this to be highly contested in the coming weeks.

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Of course, tweets are not votes. Twitter users do not reflect the UK population as a whole. Twitter users account for roughly a quarter of the population (23%) and tend to skew young and urban. Perhaps most pertinently, Twitter may be less representative of the British because of something inherent to Britishness. Twitter is very much a public soap box and, for a nation so often aligned with a strong sense of propriety, it is not everyone’s cup of tea.

So, while the Twitterendum results should not be used as an analogue to real voting attitudes, these observations can still provide an interesting barometer through which to measure the winds of sentiment sweeping the nation. As the debate heats up in the coming weeks and traditional media becomes saturated, we’ll continue to turn to this model to see what further insights we can glean, so please join us for regular updates of our Twittterendum coverage!

Lucas Galan headshot

Lucas Galan currently serves as the Head of Analytics Productization at W2O Group’s London office. Connect with him on LinkedIn!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Most of us agree that trust is one of the foundational elements of strong relationships – and we seek it earnestly. That’s also true for brands.

The great democratizing effect of the Internet age has provided many benefits for all of us as consumers. Brands and businesses have enjoyed benefits too and many are realizing the opportunity to develop genuine consumer relationships.

If you live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, join WCG and other business leaders from the Twin Cities on May 7th for a thought provoking event that will highlight ways you and your brand can effectively develop credibility with your audiences.

Our panel of experts from well-respected Fortune 500 companies will share their view of the power of influence and how they are transparently enhancing consumer trust, in contextually relevant ways.

Networking Cocktail Hour (4:00p-5:00p)

Panel Discussion (5:00p-6:30p)

  • Mike Fernandez, Corporate Vice President, Cargill
  • Michael Torres, Senior Director, office of PepsiCo Vice Chair and Global R&D
  • Kelli Carlson, VP, Social Engagement Leader, Wells Fargo
  • David Kersten, VP, Global Communications, Honeywell

Networking Cocktail Hour (6:30p-7:30p)

Click here to register for the event: http://mpls2015.eventbrite.com

 

Grandpa has a stomach ache.  He does not use the internet much, but Grandma does.  She even knows how to post photos of her grand-kids onto Facebook, much to the envy of her Bunco group.  Confident in her web savvy, she springs to the laptop.

If Grandma is like most internet users, however, she will only visit the top 10 returns following her search for “stomach pain” on Google (yielding M_Twainapproximately 15 million options).  And those coveted top spots are no guarantor of sound counsel.

In my last post I considered the overall quality, or lack thereof, to be found on the internet when querying health-related information.  The broad and somewhat intuitive conclusion; some of it is good, much of it good enough, and some of it dreadfully misinformed.

So how can one determine if what they’ve found is any good?

In the broadest sense a website is judged on three criteria: the accuracy of information, how current it is, and the completeness of that information.  A search of the professional literature reveals that a number of tools have been proposed to evaluate different aspects of these criteria using a variety of schemes; at least 273 such tools, and counting.1

The oldest of these tools is the Health on the Net (HON) Code of Conduct, an 8-point code of conduct established in 1995 by the Health on the Net Foundation.  Approved websites can display a badge that looks like this.  Rather than signifying accurate information, however, HON_Codethe “HONcode” certification means that a site adheres to a specific code of ethics in regards to such issues as content attribution and transparency.  It is better than nothing, and does speak to noble intent.

Another interesting tool, DISCERN, has been designed to help consumers of health information rate what they have found without the need for any specialized knowledge.  The site itself (http://www.discern.org.uk/) provides a stepwise questionnaire to help evaluate the quality of a webpage.

Across all of these tools, common themes emerge that may be used as a quick gut-check when perusing web-based health information:

  • Says Who:  Are statements or claims supported by referenced sources, such as a research study or an expert opinion?  Are those references listed somewhere (often near the bottom of the page)?  If you do not find citations, your confidence should be diminished.
  • Since When:  How old is the information?  Does the website give a date, or perhaps a date of last revision?  If there are references given, when were they published?  Content that is trailing many years behind the state of the art should be regarded with caution, as should something of indeterminate age.
  • Slant:  Does the content seem focused on the advantages of a single therapy, without any mention of alternative approaches?  Seldom is medicine one-size-fits-all, and well-balanced information should acknowledge gaps in understanding.
  • Hyperbole:  Claims of a 100% cure rate should immediately raise red flags, as should alarmist language.  If what you are reading seems designed to frighten you, or speaks to a secret that “doctors don’t want you to know!” it is probably best to find another source.
  • Looking Good:  None of the most accepted tools consider items such as layout and graphics.  It is a common finding that visual appeal of a site is no guarantee as to its relative accuracy, though in some cases it might lend unearned credibility in the eyes of the user.  Even site domains such as .gov or .edu are imperfect as indicators of quality.2

Concerns about health-related content on the web have been present since the days of dial-up, when sites were comprised largely of static text, and maybe a link or three.  Today, an internet user is bombarded with an amalgam of text, audio, video, photos, and newsfeeds, all of which combine to form a nearly impenetrable jungle of facts, conjecture, opinion, and ads.

Is it even possible to untangle all of that?  The problem seems intractable to the extent that some literature states, “The time has likely come to end our Byzantine discussions about whether and how to measure the quality of online health information.”2

That feels a bit pessimistic, but in a way, it also acknowledges a reality; that the quality of content rests firmly in the hands of its creators.  There is a singular layer of control, at the source, and ideally, a certain sense of responsibility ought to come with that.

As generators of content, particularly in the realm of healthcare, our standards for quality should be exacting.  The timeliness and rigor of our work must always be top-of-mind.

Anything less seems irresponsible.  After all, Grandma might be reading.

References:

  1. Fahy E, et al. Quality of patient health information on the internet: reviewing a complex and evolving landscape. Australas Med J. 2014;7:24-8.
  2. Deshpande A. Trying to measure the quality of health information on the internet: is it time to move on? J Rheumatol. 2009;36:1-3.

I wrote recently about the cancer conundrum patients and caregivers face as survival and cure rates increase.

This week, I’m taking a look at China to better understand global shifts in healthcare and how companies and organizations can address them.

The idea came from Alice G. Walton’s great Forbes post summarizing two studies (abstracts here and here) in The Lancet that document the increase in non-communicable diseases – including dementia, heart disease, and COPD – the country is seeing as its economy and wealth explode. This is even more amazing when you consider that China is pushing for 250 million of its citizens to live in an urban setting in just 12 years.

The fact that this data shows the leading causes of “loss of health” in China have changed so drastically in only 20 years is remarkable. Just look at these stats:

  • Neonatal and infant mortality decreased 59% and 80%, respectively
  • Communicable diseases such as lower respiratory infection and childhood mortality from diarrhea decreased by 90%
  • Life expectancy is up, from 69.3 to 75.7 years, rising 8%. This is even more incredible when you consider that:
    • U.S. life expectancy is 78.64 years and has only increased 10% over the last 50 years
    • Life expectancy for men and women in the U.S. is getting shorter, and recently was ranked lowest and second lowest of 17 developed countries, according to the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine
    • Chinese people lost the fewest years of life to disability of any of the G20 countries

As Ms. Walton wrote so well, this means that in China, people’s individual behaviors, not the spread of contagious diseases, are the biggest threats to their health over the long term.

It’s clear that better access to care in China has played a role in diminishing horrible diseases and conditions like pre-mature births and congenital anomalies. But similar to the challenges created by longer cancer survival rates, as China and other developing nations gain better incomes and urbanization, they face new health challenges. These will be made more difficult by the fact that many health issues, such as heart disease, take years to develop, often lack noticeable symptoms, and are based heavily on diet.

So, how can companies and organizations engage health stakeholders in China? I asked Chris Deri, WCG president, to weigh in. Chris spent nearly three years working with major companies in Beijing. Here are four ideas on changes that organizations can affect:

  • Remember your audience, and keep it custom: High cholesterol, stroke, and obesity may often be newer concepts for Chinese compared to the U.S., where they’ve been drilled into our consciousness for years. Therefore, unbranded disease education and awareness campaigns are very important. Organizations willing to engage on a local level and develop custom education and engagement strategies for this massive market will stand to benefit as access to care continues to improve. Organizations also need to help Chinese patients understand that modern medicine doesn’t mean miracle pills. Health literacy is urgently needed.
  • Show patients why physicians matter: Healthcare spending is increasing at an incredible rate. As of 2011, Beijing planned to up its per-capita funding for basic health services to 25 yuan, or $3.8, per capita, up 67% from a year earlier. Yet patients have never been angrier about healthcare and the difficulties of accessing it. It’s even resulting in patients committing terrible violence and crime, including murders, against physicians. Organizations that help provide continued training for physicians and make patients more literate about modern diseases, can make a big difference in better, safer care for all.
  • Get mobile: As of 2012, China had at least one billion mobile phone accounts. Providing health information on mobile platforms – both via text messaging and via richer content such as apps, will be a crucial way to reach patients and physicians.
  • Eliminate the stigma: Partner with organizations that can help decrease stigmas associated with these new diseases. This is particularly true for dementia and Alzheimer’s, which affect 9.19 and 5.69 million Chinese respectively. In 1990, the numbers were 3.68 million and 1.93 million, respectively. South Korea’s already done a good job with this, as demonstrated by this remarkable program. Some companies are already doing great work in this area, whether it’s partnering with national mental health organizations to improve patient care or contributing much-needed research dollars to further advance scientific innovation.

China’s prosperity will clearly affect its citizen’s long-term health. Organizations willing to engage on a local level and develop custom communications strategies for this massive market will stand to benefit as access to care continues to improve.

 

Every time I land at Heathrow, I feel the energy of London-town envelope me – my trip this week was no different. Yes, the weather was gray and cold despite the season, (hello, it’s London!) but the vibe was crazy cool – especially when entering our offices at 16 High Holborn, our burgeoning global center of excellence.

I was lucky enough to be in the office yesterday when the UK PR Week Leagues Tables came out, to join the team in celebrating: we moved up 31 places, to number 56!

It’s no easy feat to be amongst the top 150 UK consultancies after a mere five years of existence and to continue on the growth trajectory we’ve set for ourselves. It is thanks to an incredible team that makes it happen every day by believing in the WCG vision, themselves, each other and our clients. The ranking is a celebratory milestone – one we’re quite humbled by – but it is the day-to-day courage, camaraderie and collaboration that continues to amaze me.

The PR Week announcement has allowed us to reminisce – we certainly had a stellar year growing with our long-term clients and adding 5 new clients to our roster, as well as a fantastic collection of new team members. Interestingly, though, I was in London this week to look ahead, or in WCG vernacular, to “Go Ahead.” We spent time talking about where we’re headed in 2013 and beyond, and it became overwhelmingly clear that in our quickly evolving industry, our team is making its own way and taking calculated risks to deliver “next practices.”

Our 12 new analytics colleagues are working with our strategists and marketing experts to develop new models to guide our clients. Our digital team is creating new ways to evolve relationships via apps, sites and two-way communications. Our communications team is implementing advocacy work that, in many respects, is re-writing the patient/consumer decision journey.

WCG London isn’t having a strong finish as rankings often suggest…it is merely getting started. We’ve found our calling!

 

Jim Weiss and I are are happy to announce that Lionel Menchaca, Dell Inc.’s chief blogger, has joined our global media and engagement team in Austin and senior communications strategist, Annalise Coady, of Fleishman-Hillard (High Road), has joined our global technology practice based in London.

Lionel, one of the first corporate bloggers in the Fortune 500, is re-joining me (Bob) here at W2O Group. In my view, Lionel is the best corporate blogger in the Fortune 500. He will immediately help our clients because he combines a deep understanding of enterprise technology with a customer mindset and the skills of a publisher that can think and communicate clearly in multiple languages.

Annalise was most recently interim President of Fleishman-Hillard’s High Road Communications, an integrated digital firm in Canada. She has led teams in the Middle East, North Africa and throughout the EMEA region and has expertise ranging in all aspects of B2B and B2C technologies. She also has led and conducted exceptional work for some of the world’s leading brands outside of technology.

We are investing in and building our companies so they can provide ‘next practices’ to our clients. Annalise and Lionel represent our commitment to create a leading integrated global technology team and expand our worldwide offering and capabilities for all brands.

Learn more about Lionel and Annalise and why they joined at W2O’s CommonSense Blog here and here.

Thanks,

Bob & Jim

With all of the hiring W2O Group/WCG have done recently, we wanted to take a little time to let our partners/customers/employees get to know some of these new employees better. To that end, we are kicking off a blog series that asks each of our new employees to answer five questions — some straightforward and some that show our more playful slide. Via this process, we’re hoping to give our readers a little better sense of who we are.

The second interviewee in our series, Annalise Coady, brings a strong global flavor to the W2O Team. Located in our London office, Annalise leads our European technology practice and will play a valuable role driving international business and global technology expansion.

  • [Aaron] Annalise, welcome to the W2O Team. We’re looking forward to working with you. For our first question, talk a little bit about your past experience.
    [Annalise] Thanks Aaron. I was most recently interim President of Fleishman-Hillard’s, High Road Communications.  Prior to that, I led teams in the Middle East, North Africa and throughout EMEA which helped round me out from a global perspective. On the technology front, I have expertise ranging in all aspects of B2B and B2C technologies and have been fortunate to work with some of the world’s leading brands outside of technology.
  • [Aaron] What is your “super power?”
    [Annalise] My superpower is celebrity spotting. Most recent, Rory Macllroy. Most embarrassing, Stephen Fry. Most wanted, Mark Harmon.
  • [Aaron] If you could work with any company as a client, who would it be and why?
    [Annalise] Everton Football Club (soccer) with David Moyse (now ManU) because of the way he used data to make them the “Moneyball” team of the Premier League (and I’m a Toffee).
  • [Aaron] How do you stay up to date on latest trends/industry news?
    [Annalise] BBC & Sky News (all formats), Timesonline, @nytimes, @TimHardford, @om and sadly dailymail.com (my guilty pleasure)
  • [Aaron] Finish this sentence… “The agency of the future is ____?”
  • [Annalise] …still the brand guardian, increasing sales and loyalty as well as building and protecting reputation of organizations. However we’re at a massive inflexion point where to survive agencies have to evolve their structure to remain relevant to the ongoing business environment. Cutting to the chase, agencies essentially have to become social businesses. Borrowing shamelessly from the views of IBM and Paul Holmes, the key foundations elements of the “agency of the future” include:
    1. Data driven insight
    2. Insight that drives strategic approach and meaningful creativity
    3. Understanding the essence of how people engage
    4. Understanding that managing reputation is about more than just communicating reputation
    5. Becoming real brand journalists
    6. Being truly channel neutral
    7. Eliminating internal barriers
    8. Recruiting differently
    9. Creating new career paths
    10. Making sure it matters, so it pays off in business terms

As a bonus, Annalise asked me to include this funny (and telling) quip from Austin favorite/local, Hugh MacLeod.

Image courtesy of Hugh McLeod aka @gapingvoid

Big thanks to Annalise for answering these questions. I can tell from her sense of humor that we are going to like her style.

Recently I have been having discussions with clients about how to enable knowledge sharing between employees, and enhance work productivity, which are common goals in large organizations. It’s pretty awesome exploring new solutions to existing challenges, particularly when it involves organizational change strategy. There are multiple layers of requirements, from behavioral research, technology solutions to adoption initiatives; it’s complex and for some clients, leveraging social technology for internal use is completely new territory. A question that I’m often asked, quickly followed by rationale to the question when in the early planning stages has been playing on my mind:

The question: Do you have any examples of other businesses that have developed an entirely new internal sharing platform?

The rationale: Simply, the need for assurance.

Have you ever worked on a campaign and your client asked you for examples of anything similar but didn’t have one at hand? How quickly were you able to track down a case study? A common need within businesses is to seek examples and learn from others’ experiences in order to reassure oneself with decisions made, particularly new ones. Knowledge sharing of experiences and expertise instills confidence in those embarking on something entirely new.  It’s natural human behavior to be uncertain in an area where you lack experience. In business, knowledge transfer is critical in areas like onboarding new employees, training, and sharing examples for colleagues to learn from each other. It speeds learning and enhances work productivity.

Sharing knowledge between coworkers isn’t a new concept by any means. One assumes we share knowledge through conversations regularly, at the office or wherever it is that we work, be it verbal or written. One assumes we share updates on progress, ask questions, seek examples, and advise each other. In reality, that doesn’t happen as often and as seamlessly as we’d like to think it does. Barriers to sharing include workload, time zone and language. In reality, it has been extremely difficult to measure whether this assumed knowledge sharing is actually happening.

Existing social platforms enable us to have a real time exchange, instantly connect with our friends, colleagues and peers around the world, at any time.  With social technology, businesses’ have the ability to facilitate knowledge sharing and communication internally on a much larger, measurable scale, i.e. how many employees have asked for help? How many people responded? How many people responded with something helpful? How many people posted their examples and experiences? How do these answers translate to employee insight? How do these insights inform future solutions? More businesses are moving away from assuming knowledge sharing is happening by implementing technology driven solutions to socialize their organizations, providing a platform for their employees to connect and learn. All the while leveraging measurable insights to shape future employee centric changes.

In saying this, I can understand why the question continues to be asked. When working on something new, examples from other experiences are reassuring.  Doing something different, making a change can be a lengthy process where proceeding with caution is common, because making a change can be nerving as the path ahead is potentially uncertain.

Therefore, in my opinion the question warranted a response that explains some guiding principles in establishing a new, employee centered social platform:

Learn from example:

  • Definitely seek learning and assurance through other examples.  However, use those examples as insight and benchmark only.

Take the time to understand your own employees:

  • Although businesses have operational similarities, the people are different; culture differs by organization, as well as structure, process, job descriptions, and goals. When embarking on creating an internal social platform, the internal insights will be most valuable in creating an internal solution that is applicable and relevant to you and your employees.

Turn insight into a tailored solution:

  • With the end user in mind, choose the right technology solution for your organization; define security requirements, features, functionality and content needs. Keep it simple, swift and valuable 

Define change and roll out strategy

  • At some point, you have to take a leap. Consider a phased roll out to a new solution. Start with a pilot and trial the new platform. This will uncover enhancement opportunities from real experiences, and start seeding larger scale adoption through usage and word of mouth. Change takes time, and people are more likely to try something new if others have already

In a nutshell: Developing an internal social platform is a larger scale solution to enable an age-old need for employee knowledge transfer, in a measurable way. It can evolve over time, and doesn’t have to be complicated.  Learn from others, understand your internal audience, and phase roll out to inform decisions and support your broader adoption strategy.

One of the examples I recently shared with a client during a planning meeting, was shared with me by a colleague of mine @W2OGroup. Thank you again, Greg Matthews!

 

Haifa Barbari, Director of Digital Strategy

Find me on Twitter: @Haifadelity

 

When you reach a key milestone, it’s worth a moment to explain its significance.

Today, W2O Group, formed in January, 2012, hired a new president of WCG Chris Deri, who joins us from Burson, where he led their team in China. We’re thrilled, both for what it means to our clients and to our team inside WCG (Chris’s words on what this means can be found here).

For our clients, the drivers are very clear.

We are being asked to build an increasingly global agency that can provide strategic direction and insights for many of the world’s leading brands. We’ll do that in our own way. We believe that ideas and insights are borderless. The result is we need experts who understand 20+ languages and cultures around the world on our team. It is less relevant where they sit.

The C-Suite is in great need of innovation, ranging from how reputation is measured to how trust is built to how a reputation is earned, over time, whether it is for a company or an individual. Crisis and issues management are due for an overhaul in our industry. Public Affairs is still using many old school techniques with decreasing effect. The C-Suite, as it relates to our business, is due for a long-needed overhaul and we’re in the process of making that happen via our analytics, digital and corporate teams working together in unique ways. Our R&D pipeline is filled to the brim with client-driven, innovative ideas.

If we are going to be the best in health, technology, consumer and public affairs, we must be excellent at the above two areas. WCG is about to turn both into towering strengths.

Within WCG, this is an important step for us to let someone else lead WCG. It’s that simple, yet it’s meaning is far more important. When entrepreneurs are willing to let go, even if it is not all the way, it allows a firm to expand in new ways and set an even stronger course.
We’ve looked for someone like Chris for awhile who will unlock the amazing talent we have in our firm. Someone who will attract new and different entrepreneurs to our firm. Someone who leads with a people first attitude every day.

Our role is to serve Chris and his team. We’ll help them innovate, mentor talent and ensure resources are there for WCG to lead the way. We look at it as 1+1 =3, by letting the next generation form at WCG.

We welcome Chris and look forward to a great future for the entire WCG team.

Jim & Bob

 

“Sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees.”

I’ve been working in the digital/social media space for twenty years now. The last seven have been mainly focused on social media. The reason I mention this is that social is something that is now second nature to me. Fortunately, it’s also something that is coming naturally to a lot of businesses as they hire teams of skilled professionals and employ agencies and technology partners that know what they are doing. However, I’ve realized recently that there are still a lot of very smart people who have tested the waters with social media but are intimidated by it. Not because they don’t see the value, but rather because they have a hard time with some of the basic blocking and tackling (including finding the right tools).

Rather than shake my head and take pity on these folks, I  I thought it might be helpful to put together a foundational post on overarching recommendations with the hope that I can do a series of other more channel (and content) specific recommendations. Obviously, there is a ton more I could add so feel free to keep me honest in the comments:

  1. Set up the right profile.
    A lot of decisions about whether or not someone follows you/engages with you starts with your profile. Yes, we learned at a young age not to judge a book by its cover but at the end of the day, we only have so much information to go on (including one’s updates, pictures, etc.). To that end, making sure you have a real picture of yourself, including a few items in your profile that you plan to talk about (BBQ, sports, marketing, music, etc.) gives those that are trying to decide whether or not to follow you a better idea of what your conversation will look like. If possible, it’s also good to include where you work and what you do professionally even if you have to disclaim that “these tweets/updates are my own.” What one does for work isn’t the only thing that defines them but it is a major defining factor. Also, don’t go too heavy on the hashtags (the words with the funny # in front of them). This can make you look spammy.
  2. Find the right filters AND the right tools.
    People tell me all the time that they don’t get Twitter. “I don’t know what value it has” or “I don’t know what I’m supposed to say” are two of the more common complaints. What I will say is that while Twitter (or any other social network for that matter) may not be for everyone, a lot of its value lies with the people/companies/news outlets one follows. A good place to get started with your following (on Twitter at least) is with some of the traditional news outlets like I have on this list here. Another smart option is to consider following co-workers, friends, speakers from conferences, agency partners, etc. One thing I strongly recommend is to not follow too many people too quickly. Someone that is following 250 people with 10 people following back gives the appearance that they are are either a) really new or b) aren’t interesting enough to get people to follow them back. To that end, don’t be afraid to update a dozen times — even if nobody responds — before following too many people. If you want to find people you don’t know that are interested in the same topics that you are, Twellow.com has users listed by category like computers & technology, government or health. In terms of tools, making sure that you have the Facebook app downloaded on your phone is helpful (allows you to keep track of what’s going on during the short breaks you have in your life). For Twitter, I strongly suggest not using Twitter.com or the Twitter app, only because being able to have a built in link shortener (so that you don’t take up 50 out of your 140 characters with a long form URL). There are lots of options out there but I tend to like Hootsuite (I use the Chrome extention). I also use Tweetbot on my iPhone. The key is, auto URL shortening and the ability to follow lists (this makes following more fun). There are some other options I collected here in a Facebook post I did today asking for which other Twitter management tools people used.
  3. Be Interesting | Give before you get.
    One of the main reasons people don’t engage in social media is that they don’t know what they are supposed to talk about. To be honest, it does take a little doing to find your stride. However, what people forget is that you don’t need to be a book author, journalist or well-known blogger to be engaging. You just need to be interesting to the people that matter. That could mean taking photos of a particular topic (food photos?) or finding the best tweets, pictures, blog posts, news articles etc. and letting your network know about them. But don’t forget to let people know why you shared them. That means that liking, commenting, sharing or curating others’ content is paramount. To that end, for every business related post I do about my company, a client or myself, I try and post 3-4 other interesting things (fun questions, pictures, useful links, etc.) As examples, ask people what their first concert was, what their favorite comfort food is, choice of album if they were stranded on a desert island, etc.
  4. Invest time to build your presence and engagement.
    This may seem like a daunting task but if you can invest 30 minutes over the course of the day (that’s 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes at lunch and 10 minutes in the evening), you can keep up with 2-3 different channels like Twitter, Facebook and Google +. It isn’t mandatory that you are on every channel every day but committing to being on your primary channels at least 4-5 times a week is a good idea. Conversations move fast and if you miss them, commenting a few days after a conversation has run its course is not only ineffective, it also looks like you aren’t paying attention. One quick way to build engagement and following is to try live tweeting (or taking Instagram pictures) at a conference or local meetup. Be sure you are tagging your updates with whichever hashtag is being used (ask someone at registration or a conference organizer if you are unsure what it is). The other opportunity is to live tweet a webinar or join a live Facebook or Twitter chat (usually involves a subject matter expert as a guest).On the curation front, if you go back to the news list I included above, regularly “retweeting” or posting links to articles found in those news outlet Twitter handles can make you more socially interesting, especially if you include a quick parenthetical as to why you are posting (e.g. “interesting” or “disagree” or “love item number 3”). This also shows a little “love” to whomever you are retweeting/reposting so be sure to incude their handle in your update to give them credit.
  5. Measure what you do — quantitively or qualitatively.
    Measuring anything that you commit time to always makes sense. And in this case, only you can determine how much you want to measure your success. But for some people, getting overly analytical can be a bit of a killjoy, especially as you are getting started. But keeping a Google document or even a notebook with notes about what’s working (“that Facebook update got a lot of likes”) or not working (“nobody commented on that controversial blog post”) can be helpful for seeing macro trends. If you want to dig deeper, there are measurement tools built into both Hootsuite and into link shorteners like bit.ly if you choose to use them. If you want to try out some more advanced tools to learn more about who your social activity and who you are connected with on Twitter and Facebook, be sure to check out SocialBro and WolframAlpha. A tip of the hat to colleague, Greg Matthews for sharing both with me.

No, I am not describing a recent crafting session for Michaels. Or asking the final bonus round question for our Olympic Trivia games.

I am referring to an article I read recently about an Exec who became CMO at a PR firm and left fairly quickly to get back to his roots at a well-known advertising agency he admired for years.

When asked why he did the “ad agency-to-PR-back-to-ad agency” thing he said that he missed the industry that he considered his craft and its distinct process of creation, expression, people, and way of thinking. While he met a lot of nice people at the PR firm that recruited him to re-invent it, he stated,  “ We were just not similarly wired.”   He went further to say, “I will look back on the venture as a bit of post grad work to expand horizons, globalization and respect for integrated communications.”  Culturally it was time for him to go home.

As someone who left the advertising world to join a company steeped in PR at its roots I admit that I read this article several times. The PR agency had no comment at the time the article went to press.  I really wonder what they thought of him?

Does the successful blending of advertising and PR together (so you cannot tell where one stops and the other starts) come down to wiring?  Is there a red wire and yellow wire and if they are connected just so the light goes on?  Or maybe an explosion goes off?

In the year and a half these two worlds collided for me I have seen the light (and some mini explosions).

Conceptually it is really a no brainer why you’d want these callings and all the related practices (social media, consumer, professional, medical education, digital, analytics and global) to converge.  Strategy, creative, platform, and communication streams can effectively and seamlessly saturate their respective ecosystems. When this connectedness happens, it is game changing for the client and the agency. Every discipline becomes modernized and the kinds of products, programs and services that are invented through this mash up are masterful and meaningful.

Who wouldn’t want innovation and value?

I do think that people are wired differently based on their experience set and the demands of the professional environments they grow up in.  Its like baby’s formative first years—we are all shaped by what we know and who our work parents were. I would have to say that the wiring comment is true on many levels.

PR is an intense singularly focused and highly scrappy endeavor where you are often reacting or “handling in the moment” with steadfast calmness and know how.  I liken it to an emergency room where the attending doc is stitching you up and telling you a story at the same time to distract you from the pain.

Advertising/marketing is a compilation exercise of intensive, sometimes protracted and circuitous planning with extended teams and highly (sometimes well) orchestrated building, bobbing and weaving.  Eventually you get this patchwork of programs and strategies and services that are stapled or duct taped together to have a semi-enduring quality about them but can be undone if necessary and reshaped using some other glue to get to goal should market dynamics dictate.

While I am sometimes frustrated by the differences between PR and MKTG/ADVTG, more often than not I am smitten with the resourcefulness, richness of ideas and calm problem solving approach.  I hope that my PR colleagues are equally smitten with the ability to cobble together the big picture story or create dimension and depth by bringing teams of people together who might not have found each other in another life.  I see it that we all live in a world that could be called RP:

  • Real Problem solving and Reaching People.

We collectively achieve RP in a place we cohabitate and call home by whatever means it takes— hard-wiring, stapling, stitching or taping.  It’s an evolving art; and a brave new world. To live and flourish in it you have to roll up your sleeves and craft well with others…

Marketing Girl in a PR World is part of a weekly series written by Laura Fusco, leader of our W2O Group’s Health 360 practice. 

Not too long ago, global for an agency meant having dots on a map all over the world.  The more dots, the better.   That was yesterday.

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Today, the online world is democratizing how we think, how we create intellectual capital and how we build our firms to make all of this real for our clients.

The meaning of “global” is now more about a firm’s agility and ability to understand how influence, content and channels integrate by language, region and country.  Knowledge of a marketplace is often more important than physical presence.  People in Austin, Texas lead global training sessions in Argentina or Switzerland.  Global knowledge trumps location.

In terms of our business, that is also changing.  In today’s world, issues jump languages and become global in seconds.  Brands that are focused on their global positioning realize that 10 languages reach more than 80 percent of people online.  As a result, if you are positioning a brand, you can reach the majority of the world with 4-5 languages, not 30 like we used to think.

Of course, if you are driving local behavior, expertise on the ground matters.  It always will.

The changes in our global marketplace are leading to opportunities for firms like ours to transform into global partners with our clients.  Our team members speak a variety of languages and more than a few have worked around the world during their careers.  But it is the rapid transformation of our online world that is now unlocking this “hidden talent” in firms like ours.

Top brands centralize strategy at the headquarters level and decentralize execution, so they need people who have worked globally, regardless of location.  It is less about “where” you live and much more about “what” you have learned during your career in all four regions.

Analytics and our ability to scrape public data anywhere in the world is making it “easy” to know what is happening anywhere in the world.  Insights can be evaluated on a global level in ways never done before. New products and services are being created that provide unique advantage to those companies who know how to interpret what is happening by language, country, region and globe.

Since ten languages reach more than 80 percent of people online, most brand positioning platforms can focus on 3-5 languages, rather than 20-30 to reach the majority of the world.  The cost-savings for programs will be intense in the years ahead as we learn how to leverage languages more effectively.

Regional work is becoming more about your “base”.  For us, for example, London is our European “base”.  We have a great team that will continue to build and we’ll probably create a few additional offices in the region with time.  But the days of us feeling compelled to have an office in every country are not there.  It is more likely that we will start to see partnerships emerge between “global firms” like ours and “local or regional expert firms” that provide clients with the best intellectual capital and capabilities available.

The future of our growth globally is exciting, which is why we are pleased to enter the top 30 (as #30) for the top communications firms in the world for the first time.  Ten years ago, we may have seen barriers ahead of us. Today, we see opportunities around the world.  It’s something that our team members who have lived in places like Switzerland and Argentina and who speak languages, ranging from Korean to Spanish, get pretty excited about.

We’ll do our part to redefine what global means for our clients and the world’s top brands.

All the best,

Bob Pearson | Jim Weiss