ASCO profile on Periscope
ASCO profile on Periscope

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

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

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

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

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

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

FIRST: It’s all about your audience.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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For most of us, the idea of “big data” is either terrifying, utterly overwhelming, or both. What does big data even mean? How are we supposed to make sense of infinite amounts of information? Once we’ve made some sense of it all, how can we make cents from it all? Stop. Take a deep breath. Let go and let analytics.

Here at W2O, we have an extraordinarily talented analytics team working hard to answer the big questions. We’ve built an industry-leading team for a few very important reasons. We believe a creative brief is not enough. We believe building content strategies on foundations of analytical data is a more intelligent approach. We believe the evolution of digital data provides us an opportunity to develop programs that identify the right audience, understand their interest areas, and reach them with the right content, at the right time, in the right channel. Do you know what else? Big brands believe as well. In fact, the smartest brands are stepping their content marketing up a notch by finding needles in giant haystacks of data because they’re asking the right questions and making sense of the data first.

Analytics Information


At W2O’s event with Sprinklr on Monday in Santa Clara, executives from major companies in Silicon Valley will discuss how they’re using analytics to deliver more innovative content experiences to their current and potential customers. The panelists will explain their greatest challenges in reaching their audience with content that matters and what they’re doing to overcome these challenges with the power of data.

If you’d like to attend the event, register here. See below for our esteemed list of panelists – we hope you’ll join the discussion.

Greg Eden – Vice President, Brand & Communications, Autodesk

Judy Yee – Executive Vice President of Marketing, Crystal Geyser Water Company

Stacey Wu – Vice President, Marketing Operations, Analytics and Automation, Avaya

Niki Hall – Vice President of Marketing, Polycom

Jack Richard – Director of Marketing, Customer Experience & Storytelling, Hewlett Packard

Michael Brito – Head of Social Strategy, WCG, a W2O Company


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“You have to get your on-base percentage (OBP) up, or else you better be making every single play defensively.” – New York Yankees Announcer.

When I heard this quote during a Yankees game, I couldn’t help but realize Major League Baseball (MLB) and W2O Group firms approach their “sports” similarly.

We both leverage analytics to identify, assess and “recruit” people to enhance our offensive capabilities.

While the MLB recruits top athletes to build winning teams, WCG, tWist and Brewlife use analytics to “recruit” active and trusted industry thought leaders who share a topic of interest with our clients. We analyze online conversations and trends that are relevant to our clients’ businesses to understand who is contributing to dialogue and influencing the most people on the subject. As a result, this informs our decisions and strategies with the intent of building relationships to form a winning “team.” Answers to key questions help us build the best team, including:

How active are these thought leaders on social channels? What is their reach and relevance? What types of content do they create and share? How many people share their content, or value them as thought leaders?

Our goal is to find and subsequently build relationships with people who are respected in a particular field and may be interested in engaging with and sharing content we develop with our clients. Their support positively impacts overall company performance and, over time, its corporate reputation. We refer to this process as influencer engagement, and use it to hit homeruns for our clients.

For a recent influencer engagement program, our Analytics and MDigitalLife teams compiled and leveraged data to build a team of online thought leaders (including physicians) among specific areas of health: epilepsy and mental health. Over a three-month timeframe, our Media & Engagement team built relationships with them via Twitter by engaging with their content and sharing program-specific content on behalf of the client. The influencers eventually engaged, which opened relationship opportunities for the client. Results of this program exceeded key performance indicators, such as number of identified influencers who engaged, and content reached thousands of relevant followers, including physicians. The most rewarding moment, however, happened when the chairman of the Department of Neurology at a major medical center retweeted our content; that was like having the Derek Jeter of our sport hit a homerun!


Just like baseball teams look for a return on investment from their players, we (as well as our clients) strive to provide a return on engagement from identified thought leaders. In other words, the more players or thought leaders that the MLB or W2O Group firms respectively can “get on base,” the more OBP or engagement will increase.

At the end of the day, analytics are the foundation of strategies and decisions across multiple organizations, beyond MLB and W2O Group firms. Incorporating insights that data reveal can be the difference between successfully building a winning team and failing to accomplish this goal. Build your offense with the goal of reaching home plate to help shape your reputation before you’re forced to defend why you’re a thought leader.

As organizations become increasingly analytics-driven, how will you use analytics to hit homeruns?

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Let’s begin with an oversimplified summary of marketing macro-trends from the past five years. Advances in technology have led to rapid innovation cycles, an open door to startups, and greater competition in virtually every major industry. Increased competition places greater pressure on marketers to successfully position, target, and reach new (fickle) consumers, thus leading to increased budgets but greater scrutiny. Concurrently, channels of distribution and social media proliferation have reduced the overall effectiveness of traditional paid media (TV, radio, print). Investments in digital media continue to rise, but these tactics run the risk of becoming just another billboard until a standard measurement scheme is adopted…impressions no longer count, folks. Marketers find themselves faced with too many options but the same old dilemma…how to reach the right eyeballs with a relevant message to drive funnel activity? Relax, you don’t have to do it all alone…

Your Brand is No Longer Yours

As mentioned above, the proliferation of digital media has become an open invite for informal journalism and product critique. Consider your personal news feed, anyone with a Twitter handle, Pinterest page, or YouTube channel can pose as a resident authority for a given topic. Combine this with a human tendency to seek recommendations from trusted networks at the speed of “fiber”, and all of a sudden pay-for-play review services like Zagat, Forbes, and Michelin become a little less relevant. Similarly, a brand’s ability to tell their own story objectively is in itself oxymoronic. Consumers yield more power than ever in curating brand experiences for rebroadcast with greater organic reach than any single brand or network can provide. So how can you make heroes out of your customers and are you comfortable with passing the mic?

beck song reader site(ex: Beck’s Song Reader)

Never Discount Vanity

We are all a few clicks away from becoming professional storytellers, kickstarters, and journalists…and some clever folks make a pretty good living doing so. Since we all now have the ability to live in bits and bytes, we also own digital brands to build and protect. Consumers tend to curate the best of themselves in photo, video, and text, and if advocating your product or service can help them in their quest, you just earned more efficient advertising than you could ever pay for. Yes, altruism still exists and deep-down most of us share information with the hope of helping others. But there is also selfish pride in being viewed as a source of discovery for news, humor, products, or deals, which can double as brand sponsorship. Do you have the ability to locate your top advocates, make them feel special, and hand off something exclusive enough to share? Does this help them build their individual digital brands?

warby parker 2

(ex: Warby Parker’s Home Try-On)

Just Cause

If traditional media effectiveness is in perpetual decline, you no longer own your brand, and customers control their own path to purchase, how can you win? The most progressive brand marketers recognize that modern consumers, specifically digital natives, want to elevate beyond the transaction and require their share of wallet contribute to more than corporate profits. This can be a win-win for both brands and consumers, with corporate cause efforts (CSR) are perpetually constrained by resources and priority, when aligned with marketing they can build brand equity and also contribute to customer acquisition. As mentioned above, if this also helps consumers attach altruism to their digital profiles with minimal keystrokes, they will support your cause through commerce.


 (ex: Toms Improving Lives)

In the grand scheme of advertising, digital media is still in relative infancy. This is precisely why I find it so valuable to study patterns of communication and subliminal intent to predict behavior. One thing is for certain, no single brand can afford to continue feeding the diminishing returns meter, a.k.a. traditional paid media. In order to scale your brand message in the most organic way, you must enlist your customers (and their respective networks) to participate. Word-of-mouth still happens largely offline, but online sharing platforms are fertile ground for brand advocacy. However, this must be a true value exchange, whereas if a consumer offers you a piece of their digital real estate, your product or experience must deliver incremental value in their personal brand building campaign.

Google cause

 (SOURCE: LBGT Advertising, How Brands are Taking a Stance on Issues)


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One of the things I expected to miss when I made the transition from journalism to PR was the part of my job where I got to tell other people’s amazing stories in my articles. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so concerned — more and more companies are realizing they can, and should, do this themselves as part of their public relations efforts.

A few weeks ago famed Washington Post journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran announced he was leaving the newspaper after 20 years to form his own production company, partnered with coffee giant Starbucks. In an interview with Columbia Journalism Review, Chandrasekaran said he would focus on long-form “social-impact content,” such as documentaries on veterans. The collaboration sprung out of a book about veterans he co-authored with Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz , “For Love of Country,” published last year.

Chandrasekaran says in the interview he’s not going to do “PR or marketing work.” If the goal was anything but tell good stories, then it wouldn’t likely work anyway. People don’t flock to sales pitches; they want to be sucked into something they can’t look away from.

Credit: The Economist —

Blue chip companies, such as SAP, IBM and GE have realized this as well, which is why many of them employ “Chief Storytellers,” or people who’s main job it is to ferret out internal stories worth sharing externally. GE, in fact, was doing decades ago — in 1947 it hired a young journalist with a scientific background to hunt around their Schenectady facility for good stories to tell. That reporter was Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Kurt Vonnegut, third from left, is taking notes during a VIP tour of GE’s Schenectady plant. The photo was preserved by Mary Robinson:

Vonnegut described his gig as “visiting the scientists and talking to them and asking them what they were up to. Every so often a good story would come out of it.”

Companies are waking up to the fact that the traditional approach to media relations — put out a press release, wait for coverage — isn’t as effective as it used to be. There are fewer journalists who cover much of the route business announcements that would have likely been picked up by some poor wire sod (like me) in the past. The Associated Press now has robots covering financial news; it’s a recognition that while these things are important to record in some neutral fashion, they don’t attract many readers (media outlets know now because they can count the web clicks). Better to have reporters focus on features, scoops and hot breaking news items.

Corporate storytelling shouldn’t replace legitimate reporting by independent journalists. But it can help a company earn more coverage by virtue of demonstrating it has something interesting to say.

A good example of this is Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, which started writing its own “brand journalism,” or articles with helpful info for patients. As a result of this effort, the hospital started getting much more attention from media outlets from bloggers to broadcast, according to Christine Kent, writing for Ragan’s PR Daily.

“We’re averaging nine times the media placements we’d get several years ago — but we’re also hearing from national media looking for sources on news that we haven’t pitched to them,” said Pam Barber, Nationwide’s director of media relations, according to Kent’s article. “That tells us that they’re seeing us as a trusted source.”

Since this is one of the goals of media engagement — raising your profile, gaining the trust and attention of journalists — it only makes sense that more and more companies will expand their storytelling efforts.

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Daina (1)

As I mentioned in our set up post for our PreCommerce thought leader series, we will be interviewing several of our speakers in advance of our events the week of March 9. Next up is Daina Middleton, Head of Global Business Marketing at Twitter. For more information about our events during SXSW, go here.

Prior to joining Twitter to run global marketing, Daina was the CEO of Performics, the performance marketing division of Publicis Groupe. A pioneer in the digital marketing space, Daina is known for creating “participant marketing”. Prior to joining Performics, she served as SVP of Insights, Trends, Innovation and Research at Moxie.  Prior to that, Daina spent 16 years working at Hewlett-Packard in key marketing positions across the company, and was running advertising for HP’s $28 billion global Imaging and Printing Group immediately prior to her departure. Daina serves on the boards of Marin Software, Healthwise, and the Teton Valley Community Foundation.  She is a regular industry speaker.

And now on to the interview:

[Aaron Strout] I’ve heard you have a slightly unorthodox major/minor combination. How did this come to be?
[Daina Middleton] Yes, it’s true. I have a journalism degree which has been more beneficial than you might think — especially in today’s world where there seems to be an overabundance of communication. My skills there help me digest and sort through what’s relevant and what’s not. The “unorthodox” part you are referring to is my minor which is in fisheries and wildlife. The back story there is that while I was at Oregon State, they required a technical minor. I had so many credits from different technical fields, including archaeology, zoology and many others — even computer science.  Finally,  I decided to pick a minor by counting the area where I already had the most credits because I could not decide.

[AS] Daina, you worked with Vyomesh Joshi (VJ) of HP while he was running the print division. Tell me a little about that relationships and what you learned from VJ.
[DM] I was running advertising while VJ was running Imaging and Printing. We were experimenting in measuring everything in marketing — these were the early days when analytics were more of a promise than a reality and pushing the envelope with partners, particularly Google who would produce a 200+ page report including data and insights every week. VJ was really fascinated with the idea of measuring marketing and I think he read every page every week.  I learned this because after I forwarded the report on to him he would give me a call and ask me a question from one of the charts.  I never knew exactly when the call was coming. After a few calls, I decided that I had better do my homework and understand the story behind the numbers, along with the business impact in order to be fully prepared when the phone rang.

What I didn’t know at the time was that VJ’s expectations and passion for data was setting me up for my  job running the largest performance marketing company in the world: Performics. My interactions with VJ were instrumental in insuring that I was immersed in all facets of the data and performance. To that end, I still passionate about data.  Mapping everything marketing does to direct business impact is just common sense.

As I said, we were working really closely with  Google at the time to break new ground in marketing analytics. VJ was on Yahoo!’s board of directors at the time and was so impressed with what we were doing with Google that he insisted I come along with him to one of the Yahoo! board meetings to explain to them how they were falling short.

[AS] Like a few of our other speakers, you’ve written a book. Tell us a little about, Marketing in the Participation Age, and what some of the key themes are.
[DM] Yes, I did write Marketing in the Participation Age back in 2012. It was a great experience. There are three parts to the thesis:

  • Traditionally we were all trained that marketing is about persuasion.  Today, persuasion is no longer enough.  Marketers need to understand participation.  Every customer has a computer in his or her pockets.  And the goal of marketing is to get that customer to take some form of action on your behalf.  We are all measured on these actions.   And actions are the manifestation of participation.
  • There is a science behind participation. It hasn’t been applied to marketing before now because there was no reason to do so. The science is based on intrinsic motivation or self-determination theory which has been applied to education and HR but hadn’t been applied to marketing, until now.
  • The last chapter of the book focuses on the idea that more fundamental changes within a company are required for success today.  Historically, all marketing metaphors have been based on war.  If we want our customers to participate, then I think gardening is a better metaphor, and if a company can adopt “nurturist” values they will have success in the Participation Age.

[AS] How are you using your philosophy to help evolve the way that twitter as a platform is experienced for businesses/your customers?
[DM] Numbers help us make decisions today and better prepare me/us for tomorrow. How do we prepare for tomorrow?

  • Explaining how and why Twitter is so much bigger than just a platform.
  • Knowing your customer, and using data in smart ways to REALLY know them and invite them to participate.
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mike marinelloAs I mentioned in our set up post for our PreCommerce thought leader series, we will be interviewing several of our speakers in advance of our events the week of March 9. Next up is Mike Marinello, Head of Global Communications, Technology, Innovation and Sustainability at Bloomberg.  For more information about our events during SXSW, go here.

Michael is a member of Bloomberg LP’s corporate communications team, currently responsible for a cross-platform positioning and reputation effort that he created for the Technology, Innovation and Design organization at Bloomberg (R&D and Office of the CTO). He recently also created and now leads Bloomberg’s Brand Integration efforts, working more strategically and pro-actively with the entertainment industry. Before moving to Bloomberg LP, Michael managed the brands and created the communications operations and social and digital platforms for both Bloomberg Philanthropies and the C40 Cities Climate Group (at the time Chaired by then NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg). Prior to that he was at Microsoft for four years, working in communications for Legal and Corporate Affairs (LCA), and then running communications and analyst relations for Office (enterprise).

Now onto the interview:

You’ve had an interesting journey career wise including stints working in politics and a VERY large software company. Can you tell us about your journey?
It has been an interesting journey. I never started out with a specific plan. Well I actually had one initially. From the time I was in seventh grade I wanted to be an architect. I took private study and all types of classes and went to Lehigh University as an architect major… But when I actually started to study to become one – for real – I didn’t like it at all. So I dropped it and moved to International Relations. Yeah, that was the last time I ever had a real defined career plan. But I digress… Seriously though, while my path does not look linear on paper, each experience led to the next either directly or indirectly. So for me it has felt like a natural career path from the US Senate, to a Microsoft consultant, to building my own agency practice at GCI and then head of Corporate Development, to starting the corporate PR function for Becton Dickinson, to being in-house at Microsoft and now my transition from creating and running comms for Bloomberg Philanthropies and C40 to my current job at Bloomberg LP. While not initially intended, the one constant has been creating, building, growing and expanding a communications operation. Those experiences have really taught me the business – and business value — of communications. Not a lot of people get that chance. But I have led a professionally entrepreneurial career, love that part of my work and have enjoyed (almost) every minute of it. My Mom once asked me why I do what I do, and I told her “because I get paid for being me.” Which doesn’t suck. (That was her response…)

Your talk at PreCommerce is going to focus on turning communications outcomes into business values. Can you give a preview?
Well, it goes back to what I was just saying. Having had a long history of building and running communications operations, I have learned great lessons about the business of and business value communications brings to a company, a brand or a client. And I think that gets lost a bit. I stumbled on it, so trust me I’m no genius. Maybe just fortunate to have learned it early. Our discipline – primarily those new to it – should think of ourselves as business units not strictly service centers. So I hope some of what I talk about will get folks – even if just a few – rethinking their approach to creating business value, not just communications outcomes.

What are your thoughts on the rising importance of Storytizing (using the art of storytelling via paid, earned and shared channels)?
Well you know me, and I have always been a huge fan of storytelling so it is not new to me or more important than say a decade ago. However, what is exciting to me is that we have so many different ways to tell stories and reach our audiences directly and unfiltered. That is exciting and something that constantly challenges me and my team – to be more creative and innovative in our approach because we now have so many tools and outlets to tell our stories. The trap to avoid however is telling the same stories on multiple channels, or at least trying to tell them the same way. What works on Twitter, might not work on our blog or Facebook, or it might work but it needs to be retooled for that audience and platform. That is the challenge we face every day – what’s the platform, what’s the audience, how do we tell the best story keeping both in mind…

How do you see the world of communications evolving over the next five years.
Wow. No idea. Really… What I’d like to see though in five years is a whittling down of social media platforms. There are too many right now, and I think there is a lot of noise and activity and not a lot of outcomes. So I’m hoping in the next five years we have a shake out of the platforms that really matter and those that don’t. Sure there will always be disrupters. I love that. But I just don’t want to see more of the same… Honestly though as practitioners –no matter the number of platforms– we still have to understand the different platforms and utilize the ones that are most relevant to us either because of audience or business objective. So even though I’m hoping to see fewer platforms (does that make me lazy? old? both?) our need to understand them and utilize them accordingly won’t change.

I know you attended SXSW last year since you were at a number of our events. What was your biggest takeaway?
My biggest take away – and I’m serious here – is that the Pre-Commerce event proved to be a great “community event” re bringing like-minded comms professionals together to listen to and learn from one another. That was great.  So I would love to see a “comms startup” community spur from this year’s event. Quarterly maybe? Bloomberg/W2O sponsored? Also, my biggest takeaway was that I should have paid more attention to the gaming thingy going on in the room. I paid no attention and ended up coming in like second place. Had I actually paid attention maybe I would have beaten that dude from Coke. Did I just say that? Is this mic still hot? Wow, I’m just riffing now and failing miserably at everything I ever taught in media training classes… Next question.

What is a trend that you expect (or hope) to see talked about most at SXSW this year and why?
Not sure, but I just pray it isn’t “Big Data” – I’m “Big Data-ed” out quite frankly…

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chuckAs I mentioned in our set up post for our PreCommerce thought leader series, we will be interviewing several of our speakers in advance of our events the week of March 9. Third up is Chuck Hemann, head of analytics at tech giant, Intel. For more information about our events during SXSW, go here.

Over the last 10 years, Chuck has provided strategic counsel to clients on a variety of topics including digital analytics, measurement, online reputation, social media, investor relations and crisis communications. Prior to joining Intel, he was Executive Director, Analytics at Golin where I was responsible for leading digital analytics across the agency. Before Golin he was Group Director, Analytics for W2O Group where he was responsible for leading teams in New York and London, in addition to key client relationships with P&G and Verizon.

Now onto the interview:

[Aaron Strout] How did you end up in the field of analytics?
[Chuck Hemann] Probably like a lot of people in the field of analytics I ended up in it sort of by accident. My undergraduate and graduate work is all in political science, and during graduate school I did do some of that work both in DC and at home (Cleveland Rocks!). If you love the study of human behavior, you would love to witness the political environment every day. What I realized, though, is that profession had a limited shelf life for me. Twenty hours a day for weeks on end didn’t sound like much of an existence. When I moved back home I sent my resumes to a bunch of communications firms thinking there were some natural parallels between the political world and communications. During that process Dix & Eaton brought me in for an interview and said they were looking for a research assistant for their media research team and, because I needed a job, I took the opportunity. Two years later is when the social media listening boom hit and the rest as they say is history…

[AS] I’ve heard you’ve written a book. Tell us about that? Anything you would go back and change if you could?
[CH] It is true. I have written a book. Ken Burbary and I set out on the journey to give marketers an analytics book that they would feel comfortable reading. To that point most of the analytics books on the market were written for people like us and while they were valuable, they weren’t terribly useful for the marketer who wont be diving into Google Analytis and doing deep web analytics anytime soon. It’s a great question on whether or not there is anything we would go back and change. If I had to answer I would say there is probably two things in particular: 1. We had to talk about tools but discussing digital analytics tools in this sort of environment is a crapshoot. Most of the tools we talked about are still around but in varying degrees of stability; 2. I wish we would’ve talked more about digital media measurement. We do have a few chapters on it, but I think we could write a whole book on that subject – how to develop the framework, how often to measure, what should you measure, how should those insights be applied, etc… (No, before you ask, we’re not contemplating a book on this. My authoring days are over).

[AS] Your talk at PreCommerce is going to focus on going global and some of the challenges associated. Can you share some pre-session thoughts?
[CH] One of the big challenges that my boss gave to me was help drive the idea of being a data driven organization. Intel (like a lot of brands) has more data than we could ever reasonably use, but what we needed to start doing is figuring out how we got insights into the hands of people executing media programs on our behalf. And oh, by the way, do it across digital media, paid social, organic social, SEM, SEO and That’s not a small job in and of itself, but it was made even bigger when she said, “everything we do needs to scale to our geographies.” Crap. How do we go about tackling that problem? During the session I’m going to talk a little bit about that problem, a little about how we’re thinking about it, a little about what we’ve already done and a little about the challenges we still face. I wish I could talk more about these things, but I only have 10 minutes.

[AS] What are your thoughts on the rising importance of Storytizing (using the art of storytelling via paid, earned and shared channels)?
[CH] I’m not sure I would use the word “rising” because I think Storytizing is already here to stay. If you cannot tell your brand’s story across paid, earned and shared channels then your digital story falls flat. Integration in particular isn’t a “nice to have” anymore. It’s mandatory.

[AS] If you attended SXSW last year, what was your biggest takeaway?
[CH] I did attend SXSW last year and I think the biggest takeaway for me is similar to what many said following the event which was it feels like it’s getting more intimate. Events like PreCommerce are sprouting up all over the place, and I for one am not planning to spend much time at any big parties. I’d rather the networking be more focused.

[AS] What is a trend that you expect (or hope) to see talked about most at SXSW this year and why?
[CH] I would love to see the trend above continue as it makes for a much better event experience. To be honest, I’ve not been keeping up with the buzz around SXSW leading up to it (I’ve been busy scaling globally) so it’s a little difficult to answer… My guess though is we’ll see as much if not more chatter around the proliferation of mobile and the (seeming) retreat on the rapid expansion of catch all social platforms. There are new social platforms popping up all of the time, but the ones that are popping up are very niche to fit a very particular use case.

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mike edelehartAs I mentioned in our set up post for our PreCommerce thought leader series, we will be interviewing several of our speakers in advance of our events the week of March 9. First up is Mike Edelhart, CEO of Pivotcon.  For more information about our events during SXSW, go here.

If you don’t know Mike, he is the lead partner for the Social Starts moment-of-inception investment fund and CEO of the Tomorrow Project, producers of the Pivot Conference in NY. Mike is an experienced media and Internet start-up executive. Mike was Managing Director and founder of First30 Services, a launch accelerator for early stage companies. Mike has held CEO and executive positions at numerous start-ups including Inman News, Zinio,Third Age Media and Olive Software. Mike was a partner at Redleaf, a VC firm. Earlier in this career, at SoftBank, Mike directed content for the Seybold, Interop and Comdex conferences and launched new businesses.

Now onto the interview:

[Aaron Strout] What is innovation? How do companies adopt and scale within their companies.
{Mike Edelhart] We need to think about innovation on two very different scales. One is innovation within the norm: the better mousetrap. This happens all the time and can arise when companies pay attention to the details of what they do, solicit ideas for workers and best customers and operate obsessively at perfecting their internal processes. But there is a second, deeper kind of innovation. This is tech disruption. When fundamental new technologies–such as social and mobile today, and the IoT tomorrow–emerge, they create change slowly, but with inexorable force. Because they often negate long standing fundamentals, company’s can’t respond simply by being better at what they do; they have to learn to do something utterly new. That is the challenge companies face today: How can they strip down the house they live in and completely rebuild it in recognition of fundamental change, while still keeping the current business going? That is very hard and most businesses fail. Which is why tech change often ushers in new market leaders who approach what they do in radically different ways, ala Netflix and Uber. And we’ll see many more of those to come.

[AS] What do you do to keep your company fresh in the business?
[ME] We are an unusual business, being a moment-of-inception fund. Our job is to be out front of change. We compel ourselves to recognize that no company, especially a small one like ours, can understand everything going on in a complex, high-velocity world like ours. So we compel ourselves to radically focus and in our focus areas to see literally thousands of new companies, so we always have been context for making our decisions. The enemy is our personally held views of what the future will be. It doesn’t matter what we think; all that matters is what customers are doing and are likely to do. We need to stay single-minded on that.

[AS] What are your thoughts on the rising importance of Storytizing (using the art of storytelling via paid, earned and shared channels)?
[ME] Stories have been fundamental to human communication since we squatted in caves. They remain so today. In the old days, everyone was a story teller, but the range of impact of stories was quite small. More recently, stories could travel worldwide and have huge impact, but only at great expense and complexity, so the story tellers became a professional caste–TV and movie producers, authors and publishers, newspapers. Now, we see an era emerging where everyone can be a story teller again, the traditional mode returns, but with a worldwide impact that individuals have never hard before. We believe the impacts of this on media and marketing will be profound.

[AS] If you attended SXSW last year, what was your biggest takeaway?
[ME] I wasn’t there last year. But what I heard at a distance was that popularity has made the event so big and so noisy that only huge expenditure could get a company/product above the noise. I’ll be interested to see how this plays out this year.

[AS] What is a trend that you expect (or hope) to see talked about most at SXSW this year and why?
[ME] I hope to hear a lot about how companies now can and should interact directly with their customers/fan bases/employees in new ways. Value, in marketing, should flow directly to the people whose actions moves markets. The role of all the middlemen in the market–all media, all platforms, all channels–should be deeply re-examined. It can’t hold that a platform like Facebook can generate billions of value from the behaviors of its members, with none of that value flowing to them. That inequity must be changed and the rising generation of millennials seems determined to make that happen. Is business ready for this yet? I hope to get a sense of that from SouthBy this year.

We look forward to hearing more from Mike on March 12!

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