It is that time of year again… South by Southwest (SXSW). Once again, our company will be hosting some awesome events leading up to (and slightly overlapping with) SXSW Interactive. For those not familiar, SXSW is a giant conference/festival comprised of three parts: Interactive, Film and Music. Given the importance of Interactive or “digital” to our clients’ business, we take this opportunity to invite many of our clients and partners to town to learn, network and celebrate.
Recap video from our awesome 2015 events
Our signature event, the PreCommerce Summit, takes place on Thursday, March 10 from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM and is packed with speakers from well-known brands like Bayer, Hewlett Packard, Best Buy, Medtronic, Intel and Overstock.com. We will also have thought leaders from companies like Techonomy, Politico, NewCo and Crowd Companies providing a look at what the future holds in store. This event focuses squarely on innovation and its fast-paced formats (10 to 20 minute TED-like talks, power panels and pithy fireside chats) allow for learning on steroids. And of course there is the networking.
This event will be attended by about 450 plus customers, partners and other industry thought leaders. A cocktail reception will follow with special WILCO side project, Autumn Defense. The event is complementary, but invite only. If you are interested in attending, please email us at email@example.com. In that email, be sure to provide name, title and company. We will also be live streaming the event if you can’t physically be there. Registration is open to the public.
In addition to PreCommerce, we also host a digital brunch at our swank offices located in East Austin. If you like food trucks, cold-brewed coffee, music, cocktails, cool demos and lost of interesting people, you will enjoy this. We have also ordered sunny weather so this is a good opportunity to work on your tan.
Every SXSW, we do our best to cover “what’s next” in the world of business. This year, we’re planning to host an event called “Movers and Shapers” (formerly GeekFest) on Saturday at CB’s (the new VIP event space at Stubbs) from 10:00 A.M – 2:00 P.M. Speakers include senior level marketers and thought leaders from companies like Intel, AbbVie, Galderma, Techonomy and Bayer. Featured speakers will include Ray Kerins, SVP Comms. & Govt. Relations at Bayer and Robert Scoble, Futurist at Rackspace.
In addition to these three amazing events, we will also host our seventh annual Geekacue Saturday night at iconic Stubbs BBQ on Red River. This year, we’ve booked Red Bull Sound Select artist, Not in the Face along with new festival darling, Black Pistol Fire(check out their video below).
Roundtrip shuttle available from the Stephan F. Austin Hotel starting at 4:45 PM
As you can imagine, space is limited at these events so please make sure to RSVP soon. And if you do RSVP and decide after that you can’t make it, please be courteous and let us/me know that your slot is available.
With this quote by Jack Welch, Bob Pearson finished his talk at the W2O PreCommerce Summit in London today. The President and Chief Innovation Officer at W2O Group, encouraged the audience to remain nimble to be able to adapt to future trends and changes and shared some of his insights into tomorrow’s world of brands, customers and media.
As described in his book PreCommerce, Bob sees the biggest value for brands in decreasing the distance to their customers and focus on pre-commerce phase vs. the actual point of sale: Only those who are able to listen, will be able to respond and adapt to market needs – maybe even before those needs actually exist.
The digital age definitely enabled brands to be much closer to their target audiences than ever before; however, the structures, relationships and stakeholders, as we have known them for years, will no longer exist in the future. Bob Pearson summarizes this development in four key game changing trends:
Our Definition of Audience Is Changing
If we look at the 1-9-90 model, we can clearly see the former content creators and outlets are no longer as relevant in the online conversation as the 9%, which we define as brand advocates, those who spend their time inside social media channels, who are part of strong peer groups and, who add their views to existing content, that will share the future of your brand’s or company’s story. With this development, the audience is now more important than the outlet.
The PESO model is flipping
As the 9% grow in importance, so does earned and shared media. This requires us to integrate a new media planning model that defines an insight-driven social media channel and influencer strategy, which roles out into campaigns, content and experiences. As part of this model, paid media amplification remains an important part to break through the “noise”, but it will follow conversations and communities more than news.
Markets Don’t Wait for Campaigns Anymore
Digital conversation is dynamic and to be able to participate, brands need to be agile. Providing customers with what they need, where they need it and when they need it, is a challenge that includes our creative approach. Those brands who are able to use data and respond to trends in real-time, with content dynamically changing based on interest, will make the 365 campaign become real.
Micro Segmentation Replaces “Personas”
Or in Bob’s words “We always knew that top-down persona-driven segments of “five audience types” was wrong”. With each person and each audience having their own media ecosystem, the roll-up of these ecosystems defines the media network. In order to customize content to their target audiences, brands need to understand how the audience and their attention are fragmented. Therefore, the future media leaders will excel in audience architecture.
About Bob Pearson
Bob Pearson is President and Chief Innovation Officer at W2O Group. Bob has a unique combination of social media, marketing and communications skills acquired during nearly 25 years at three Fortune 500 companies and a major consultancy. In 2011, he published his book “Pre-Commerce: How Companies and Customers are Transforming Business Together”, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. He is currently working on his next book, which will be available in March 2016. “Storytizing” will focus on the importance of creating a compelling and at the same time relevant narrative for your brand.
It would be nice if every PR professional could confidently state that nothing goes wrong when we pitch a journalist. But that’s about as realistic as the likelihood of a lengthy book about Donald Trump’s humility. A more fruitful exercise is to examine what most frequently gets in the way of a successful interaction with reporters, editors, writers and producers.
One thing I know for sure – beyond 1980s pop culture references – is that journalists are flooded with emails and phone calls from PR people. Many of those emails and phone calls are horribly targeted, as you can find out from one of my guilty pleasures, PR Newser’s “Pitch Please” blog.
The blog’s cheeky writing prompted me to start asking reporters about the pitches they received.
A reporter covering science and medicine for a southern daily newspaper told me she’d received five pitches that day before 9 a.m. She too received misdirected product pitches. “I had one chewing gum pitch that drove me nuts,” she said.
A Wall Street Journal reporter covering the pharmaceutical business said he gets 40-50 email pitches a day. “I probably consider three to five per day that are worth pursuing or at least learning more about,” he said.
A Washington-based reporter who covers health care policy says she kept getting pitches for “healthy flavored water” among the 30-40 pitches a day she would receive.
The most stunning answer came from Julie Rovner of Kaiser Health News. She receives up to 150 emails a day, about five of which she considers worth a reply and another 10 are worth considering as potential parts of larger stories. Lest erstwhile flacks think Rovner’s answer means we should start calling her instead, she said, “I hate phone calls even more…Phones should be reserved for actual breaking news.”
Email, calls and what really works
Email, at least according to one survey, is still the way most journalists prefer to get pitched. But beyond knowing that, the actual lessons from my informal and not scientific survey are:
Some of you are ruining it for the rest of us. It’s so much harder to convey a client’s news if PR people are clogging inboxes with eye-rolling off-target pitches that wouldn’t be sent if just a little time was spent on research.
Relationships matter. Please work at understanding what makes news to a particular journalist. That doesn’t mean every pitch leads to a story – I wish! – but it certainly increases the chances of success if you aren’t seen as a total waste of someone’s time.
Realism is best conveyed to clients early. The ranks of journalists are dwindling and the ones still in the business are busier than ever. Even the most properly directed pitches are increasingly likely to not yield immediate success.
A key solution to the volume/clutter problem is for more organizations to take advantage of additional ways to engage with customers, influencers and allies. So many of them have great stories to tell, so they should be using the PESO (Paid, Earned, Shared, Owned) strategy. This is true even for those on small budgets, as they can develop owned and shared content without waiting on the results from that perfect email pitch. W2O Group president Bob Pearson built out the potential for owned content in June in PR News here.
Of course, we’re always going to pitch reporters. A PR agency’s clients expect it, and more importantly, a story by a credible journalist matters. That’s why it’s worth the time invested to develop better relationships and equally valuable to give counsel to clients about the right – and wrong – targets for stories.
We all know it will never work perfectly. Some reporters are going to complain about PR pitches no matter what happens. And, if we’re lucky, we will run across an approach like the one employed by a UK-based reporter, who replied, “I love you” to pitches he received. After all, doesn’t the world need more love?
When reflecting on the past year, so many emotions come into play that it is impossible to adequately put them into words. What I will say is that the words of the late Steve Jobs were incredible markers for me as we progressed during the year.
We started 2014 with an intense focus on strengthening the bottom-line – improving margins and profitability — and we ended the year exceeding both of those goals with strong momentum going into 2015.
Probably even more importantly, we got back to what made this firm so successful: We put our clients first as well as the work we do and results we deliver for them.
We also refocused on a core set of priorities and investments — people and technologies that matter, and are truly aligned with our strategy to “disrupt the status quo” – clarifying our Software as a Service as a Service (SaaS Squared), positioning and introducing new offerings in Analytics, Corporate and Strategy (Crisis, Change, Reputation), CCX and Media and Engagement (PESO).
As Steve Jobs once said: “I’m as proud of the many things we haven’t done as the things we have done. Innovation is saying no to a thousand things.”
We made improvements in Infrastructure and expanded our footprint with new offices. And of course we continued to do what we do best – partner with world-class organizations and brands – to transform the way they connect with customers, engage employees, beat the competition in the marketplace and forge new pathways to the future.
None of this could have been accomplished without YOU. I’m most proud and humbled by all of you – the dedicated professionals comprising our firm. There is not a challenge, a roadblock, a problem or an issue that you can’t overcome. There’s not an opportunity or a change that isn’t embraced by you.
Once again, Steve Jobs’ words resonate: “I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.”
An important symbol of that mentality was the formal restatement of the firm’s Values. The very essence of what make us, well, us. These Values were forged at the beginning – when I first embarked on what has become an incredible personal and professional journey — battle-tested and honed over the years. And these Values truly reflect the set of principles and beliefs guiding our behavior.
When I talk about Values, I’m also speaking about career development and growth. We will continue to support and expand W2O University and I’m asking all of our leaders to recommit to content and facilitation of specific programs and courses to build our individual and collective competency and confidence. Our Center for Social Commerce at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University is a premier example of what a modern academic-business partnership is all about – we are training the next generation of marketing and communications professionals.
From a Thought Leadership standpoint, our efforts at JP Morgan, SXSW, Page, CES and IPR, to name just a few, are increasingly strategic and precise in terms of ROI and reach. Adding to this was our first-ever European-focused Social Intelligence Summit hosted by our London office and attracting both a significant on-site and Webex presence extending our Brand throughout a region still less familiar with us and what we can do for them.
One of the more impactful aspects of 2014 was the realization to continue our growth and globalization aspirations, the opportunity to partner, acquire or join up with another organization must be considered. To that end, we held numerous discussions with a variety of larger global players who could provide capital, footprint and resources if we were to choose such an option. However, my priority in doing something like that rests with having the confidence that such a partner is compatible with our culture and respectful of our people.
At this point, my belief is that we can continue to do what is necessary ourselves – given our strong leadership, incredible staff, improving financial position and operational infrastructure, and, most importantly, our unique culture of entrepreneurialism, innovation and collaboration. If, at some point, we identify the right partner or partners, and it feels right, we will explore the validity of such a move.
To quote Jobs again: “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me . . . going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful . . . that’s what matters to me.”
From where I sit, I could not be more proud and excited about where we are. And after 13 years, it’s safe to say our journey is just beginning. There are three things that I ask you to think about often during the coming year: 1) Be interested, not interesting; 2) Think Big, but act in small, focused and effective ways; and 3) be creative by being curious.
Thank you all very much for all you do . . . from my family to yours, have a healthy, prosperous new year!
And to paraphrase Steve Jobs once more: “In 2015, let’s put a ding in the universe.”
Although plenty of studies support the claim, most good marketers just know intuitively that Earned media and WOM (word of mouth) are more impactful marketing vehicles at the individual level than paid advertising… You are significantly more likely to try something because your friend recommended it than because you saw an advertisement. The challenge with Earned media is that it’s hard… You have to rely on someone else (journalists, bloggers, etc.) to buy into your message and convey it effectively. That makes it difficult and unpredictable. It also rarely scales like Paid advertising. Occasionally the story is so compelling that it can scale, with hoards of influential media writing about it. That’s rare, though.
WOM suffers from the same issue of predictability, but is infinitely more scalable. While there are a limited number of influencers you can Earn media from, anybody can become a vessel for word of mouth. Importantly, both Earned media and WOM also suffer from a problem with Measurement. Whether Paid advertising is actually all that measurable is a debate for another day. Earned media and WOM are clearly “less” measurable than Paid media.
Enter Shared media. Shared media is a slight but important pivot on social media, and refers to any marketing channel in which brands participate on an equal footing with their external audiences. It’s important to differentiate Shared from social media because most leading social media sites have elements of all PESO media formats (Paid, Earned, Shared, Owned). Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or the top blogs, you can buy ads, build proprietary apps, pitch top influencers, and also engage on an equal footing with your audiences.
Why is Shared media so important? Because it finally brings three critical (and missing) components to the Earned / WOM conversation:
Scale. You can have conversations with millions of people in a cost effective way.
Predictability. You can build an audience over time and continually engage with them.
Measurability. The data here is real – not estimated based on circulations or panels.
Many marketers are beginning to understand the value of Shared media for these reasons, however, very few have effectively combined all PESO approaches to leverage the benefits of each. Below is a chart that outlines the various PESO media formats and their associated benefits.
If one thing needs to happen in 2014, it’s that brands must get content right. Content is the lifeline into the digital ecosystem. It’s how we reach consumers, break through the clutter and change their behavior. It’s pretty obvious, I know.
What’s not so obvious though is that we need to elevate the conversation beyond just the content marketing insanity.
Content marketing by nature, is tactical. It can easily be done in a silo. If you work for a large brand, there is absolutely nothing stopping you from creating, aggregating, and curating content and then posting it up in social media channels without having a strategy.
You can hire consultants, agencies, and even third-party journalists and bloggers using platforms like Contently, Skyword or eByline to create content and campaigns on your behalf. And, it’s fairly easy to use valuable platforms like Newscred to help augment your content marketing initiatives.
And guess what? You can do all of this without actually talking to anyone else in your company.
Don’t get me wrong. These platforms are all valuable and very much needed as a part of your content initiatives. But without a vision or a holistic strategy, the content itself might not be as epic as planned or change any specific consumer behavior.
The reason why many of us struggle with content, storytelling, and being able to scale our content operations is because we tend to look at content from a very elementary point of view. Content isn’t a box you check, a bubble you fill in, or a bullet point in a new business capabilities presentation. It’s more than search, more than real-time content and so much more than spitting out buzzwords like “content marketing.” And you can only learn so much about content from clever-link-bait blog titles like “10 Proven Tips to Do This” or “5 Smart Tricks to Do That.”
Content must be considered a strategic imperative for your brand. You must become a content organization if you want to take your business to the next level.
Just as there is an art to storytelling; there also needs to be a strategic and operational plan that can help you create and distribute content; integrate it across paid, earned, shared and owned media; and measure it effectively. As a marketer, brand manager, or small business owner you must move beyond the content marketing buzzword and commit to building a content strategy that will allow you to execute your tactical content marketing initiatives flawlessly and at scale.
Here’s how I see this playing out; and let me introduce 4 pillars of content strategy.
Brand Goals: This is obvious but worth mentioning; and it’s critical. You must decide very early on what your specific content goals are? Are you trying to increase sales of a specific product or change perceptions about your brand? In either case, having documented goals that are aligned to your business/marketing goals and supported by your executive team is kind of an important thing to do.
Brand Narrative: Too many of us jump right into social media channels without understanding the story we want to tell; and then we get frustrated when we run out of things to say. The narrative exercise should be done early on and consider several factors – brand positioning, audience interests and affinities, media/community perceptions of the brand, historical content performance and search. From there, a good narrative coupled with storytelling principles and an editorial framework will give birth to a highly successful “gives-you-wings” type of story.
Content Operations: Believe this when I say that successful storytelling requires a significant amount of operations in order to actually work. Newsrooms create thousands of pieces of content daily and it’s not a free for all. Establishing a content supply chain (workflows that facilitate content ideation, creation, approval and distribution) are needed to build consistencies in brand storytelling and controls to avoid inconsistencies. Identifying roles and responsibilities, internally, are also important especially if you are mobilizing employees to help tell the brand story. Also, building and operationalizing customer/employee brand advocacy programs is a smart thing to do and requires an investment into a technology platform (i.e.Branderati, Dynamic Signal, Influitive).
Media Integration/ Distribution: Consumers need to interact with your content 3 – 5 times before they actually believe it. The concept itself can be compared to the “learning by repetition” theory that was taught by ancient Egyptian and Chinese educators thousands of years ago. And, when you consider the fact that there is a content/media surplus and consumers have an attention deficit, you can understand how difficult it may be to reach them and then make even a sliver of an impact. This is why it’s important for you to tell a consistent story across every channel – paid, earned, shared and owned.
In order to do this, you must prioritize your storytelling principles and content and then map them specifically to various digital channels. It’s also a good idea to deploy converged media models (the integration of paid, earned, shared and owned media) simply by promoting relevant/resonant content on Facebook and Twitter or use platforms like Outbrain and OneSpot that can also deliver converged media models. You can then decide whether or not you want to launch a real-time command center operation in this post-Oreo era to capitalize on news and recent events. Not critical but it’s an option.
Analytics and measurement will undoubtedly play a critical role in each pillar – determining a consistent measurement framework, KPIs, measuring real-time content performance, audience research and establishing benchmarks that will help you determine when to use paid media to amplify organic content.
In the wake of Twitter’s I.P.O filing, Nielsen, the industry standard for TV ratings measurement, announced Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings, the “the first-ever measure of the total activity and reach of TV-related conversation on Twitter.” The timing of this announcement is no coincidence. Nor is yesterday’s announcement of a first of its kind Twitter/Comcast partnership.
According to the New York Times, the prospectus for Twitter’s I.P.O mentioned television 42 times. It’s safe to say that after testing the waters the past couple years, Twitter is jumping right into the shark tank with the television networks, each hungry for more and more of the chum that is advertising dollars.
As an advertiser, it’s great to have access to more and more data about consumers, but you always have to ask the same question “When do I feed the sharks and what do I get in return?”
In the majority of reporting on this news, there is a significant point made: social TV ratings do not equal broadcast ratings. The Wall Street Journal included this informative visual in their article:
This is not new information. In fact, to take one step back, Nielsen is not the first to report social TV ratings; they are just the most established company to do so. Approximately five years ago, social TV measurement companies like Bluefin Labs, Trendrr, GetGlue, and SocialGuide started appearing. (Twitter has since acquired the first two, and Nielsen acquired the last one.) During that time, I was working on the digital side of the television industry, so I have personal experience with the data that was generated.
For the entire run of TBS’s Lopez Tonight (2009 – 2011), I was the New Media Producer. I am proud to see that the show was one of the most talked about cable shows on social media. At many points, we also rated higher in the social space then the kings of late night, Dave and Jay. Yet, in August of 2011, our show was canceled due to low broadcast ratings.
That’s why social TV ratings don’t matter. Here’s why they do:
Before social media, the best way networks discovered their die-hard fans was when they threatened cancellation of the show. Their mailrooms would then be filled with peanuts, Tabasco sauce, and eye drops, among other things. With the advent of social TV ratings, networks and advertisers now have access to the people who are most vocal about a show.
These are the fans that will participate in your sponsored sweepstakes to win a set visit, that will RT and show content branded with your product on their social channels, buy the branded apps, and engage with the show’s website that happens to be skinned with your messaging.
It was a month too late for Lopez Tonight, but in September of 2011, sales executives at TBS made this their major selling point for Conan. A tactic the CW network was already using for its youth-oriented lineup.
So, yes, social TV ratings do matter to advertisers. Like all big data, we must dig deep though, to find that killer insight that will match your messaging with the right audience in the right place.
I am very interested to see how social TV data lines up with streaming views but could not find that data. If you have that, please share.
Also, I would love to see a Freaks and Geeks reunion movie. Would you? If not, what canceled show would you like to see return? Tell me in the comments.
Do you remember way back to 2006-2007? What specifically do you remember about those two years? Where were you working and what were you working on? I remember working for a more traditional (I don’t even know what that means anymore) communications agency doing research for our media relations, crisis communications and investor relations teams. The primary focus then was on evaluating the performance of media campaigns and events using metrics like impressions, message resonance and number of mentions in key mainstream media outlets. There was some element of the role that required real-time analysis, but generally speaking we were evaluating those campaigns and events after the fact. It wasn’t bad. It is just what was common practice.
A funny thing happened as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube began to explode: The number of companies that were created to help brands and agencies understand what was happening on those networks also exploded. Companies like Radian6 and Sysomos were the industry leaders, and early pioneers of a new approach to gathering and analyzing stakeholder behavior online. They offered users the ability to track share of voice, keyword trends, volume trends, sentiment and influencers. If you were working in the digital marketing industry then and saw those tools you would have never guessed they would have grown to this point, or achieved the kinds of valuations that they now command. To be fair, both companies helped show us that there was more to learn about our stakeholders behaviors than we analytics pros were getting through the traditional tool set.
Fast forward six or seven years and the tool set has evolved tremendously. There are literally hundreds (probably thousands) of tools out there that companies and agencies can use to gather online data about its key stakeholders. We have evolved beyond relying on a social media listening tool to answer every question, albeit not far enough. There have been great advances in search, content and audience analytics over that time. There have also been great strides toward the integration of traditional market research and digital/social research. As quickly as a new social channel pops up, so too does a new tool that gives analysts the ability to harvest and analyze that data.
Because the industry is moving so quickly, I don’t think we take enough time to document where we want it to go and what we need from the tools. So, beginning today, I am going to document in two parts where I think the industry needs to move and what we need from the tools. Part one, or what you are about to read, offers a point of view from the analyst perspective. Part two, what you will read later this week (I hope), will offer a point of view from the marketers/communicators perspective. Here is where I think we need to go from the analysts perspective:
Cleaner data – Anybody who uses a social media monitoring tool can tell you that a lot of the output from these tools is spam. Now, part of that is a function of how much spam there is on the Internet but going through a dataset that is 75%+ spam (and we have seen higher) is a time consuming task. It distracts from the real job of an analyst, which is to interpret the data. It also makes it very difficult to analyze behavioral trends over time because the analyst is constantly wondering if the dataset is clean or it has been biased by the introduction of more spam. What analysts really need is a tool with a smart spam filter system that learns over time as data is collected.
Integrating data sources – Social media listening can tell us a lot about how consumers are behaving, but it does not tell us everything. What were to happen if key stakeholders were talking in limited volume? Would you be able to develop insights based on a few hundred conversations in a 12 month period? That is a very likely scenario if you represent a niche B2B brand today. We analysts need to be better at pulling data from all aspects of the data supply chain (content, audience, social media monitoring, search and influencers) to understand the complete picture of how our stakeholders behave online.
Truly understanding PESO behaviors – At W2O Group we refer to the integrated media landscape as PESO — paid, earned, shared and owned. What the tool set allows us to do today is understand shared and owned media activities very well. Unfortunately, the integration with paid and earned media analytics platforms is lacking. Point #2 and #3 here are related, and it is something we need the tools to deliver desperately. In the meantime, though, approaching research projects with the mindset of understanding behaviors across PESO is a helpful place to start.
Assist colleagues in seeing the value of digital/social data beyond the communications context – Ken Burbary and I originally met in 2008 after we started a Twitter exchange about the value of digital and social data to the entire enterprise. Five years later we wrote a book together, and five years later we are still talking about the need to expand. It is one thing for the analysts among us to deliver insights on key communications questions, but is is another thing entirely to deliver insights that may help product development, customer service, HR or sales. Even if we aren’t asked for it, that is what we need to deliver more consistently.
Understanding audience segments at a deeper level – One of the questions analysts are often tasked in answering is understanding how a company’s social community is behaving. When we are asked that question we often approach it from the standpoint of understanding that behavior on the company’s shared and owned properties. That is only one part of the equation. The other part is understanding what ELSE those people care about. You, the analyst, already know that they have liked your page. Do you know what else they care about? At W2O Group we call this forensic analytics, and I think we analysts need to take the next step in understanding consumer behavior at a deeper level.
Training the next generation of analysts – Many of the people who work in digital and social analytics today came from the traditional research realm because they saw an opportunity to advance their career in a new, and interesting area. Because analytics has become so hot there are a number of people now entering the industry who don’t have as much context as they will need as their career unfolds. It is on us analysts who have been in the space for several years to develop a rigorous set of standards that can be followed by the next generation.
What else? What else do we analysts need to do to ensure the industry is evolving and keeping up with communicators’ needs? Again, later this week I will offer up a perspective on where the analytics industry needs to go from the marketer/communicator perspective, but in the meantime I look forward to hearing from you.
As part of our continuing growth strategy to build strength in our digital and analytics offerings, to meet the needs of our clients in EMEA, we’re pleased to announce that Refreshed Wellbeing, a digitally based creative communications agency for health & pharmaceutical brands has joined the WCG fold.
With a background in both consumer marketing and professional healthcare sector expertise, Refreshed Wellbeing has extensive expertise in delivering integrated pan-European digital marketing campaigns working for clients such as – Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol Myers Squibb, Grunenthal, Johnson & Johnson, LEO Pharma, Mentolatum, Pfizer and Roche. Additionally the acquisition brings digital creative, together with media planning and buying capabilities that further enhance our insight led strategic approach, combined with 360 engagement, as well as additional regional knowledge that will support the work we do in more than 50 countries.
We’re also pleased to announce that as part of the deal, Refreshed Wellbeing co-founder, Carl Engelmarc, a well-known digital strategist and integrated branding communications expert will be joining the WCG EMEA management team. He has over 20 years marketing experience in Rx, consumer health and FMCG.
This is another exciting milestone for WCG in Europe. Earlier this year, Holmes Report named us as the Digital and Specialist Agency of the Year. And in March 2013 leading analytics group, Mettle, joined us to enhance our predictive analytics capabilities. This acquisition of Refreshed Wellbeing augments our strategic and creative capabilities, as well as providing additional strength to our engagement offerings through the PESO (Paid, Earned, Shared, Owned) model.
We look forward to creating “what’s next” with our new Refreshed Wellbeing colleagues.
– Annalise Coady, Global Practice Lead – EMEA WCG, part of the W2O network of agencies, is an independently owned and operated full-service marketing services organization. What sets us apart is our uncompromised belief that analytics (re)empowers brands to make more insightful, better decisions, eliminating the “guesswork” of traditional marketing services.
Despite Edelman’s recent announcement that the PR firm is going to stick with what they’re best at (PR / Earned Media), there is no doubt that most agencies are converging their offerings, crossing swim lanes and aiming for the “integrated” value proposition. As a smaller firm (425 employees is relatively small in the agency world), W2O Group has been able to pivot and grow in this direction more quickly than others. Rather than hearing, “Oh, you’re the PR firm,” or “You guys are the digital agency,” we’re frequently hearing, “Where do you guys fit? Who are your competitors?” For us, this is a great place to be.
As we made the transition from a PR heritage, there is a critical but often overlooked mind shift that accompanied this change. This is the mind shift from people asking, “Can I Do It?” to instead asking, “Who Is the Best Person to Do It?”
Traditional public relations is inherently a “jack of all trades” or generalist discipline. Although things have evolved and become increasingly specialized in recent years, traditional PR firm staffing charts really showcase only one kind of talent – “Account” people. These people may be better or worse in different areas, but for the most part are responsible for planning, monitoring, writing, executing, client service, measurement, etc. In this sort of agency structure, people are rewarded for “wearing many hats” and being able to get things done on their own. In a nutshell, when a project comes in, they learn to first ask, “Can I Do It?” and if the answer is no, then look for help elsewhere.
Advertising and digital agencies, on the other hand, are inherently specialized in their staffing mix. You’d never find a copywriter also doing the measurement report or executing a media buy, and digital agencies are required to work more collaboratively given the diversity of technical skills that are required. In these constructs, people are rewarded for efficiency in their tasks, fitting into the supply chain, and knowing their role. When a project comes in, they learn to ask, “Is it My Job?”
Over the last 5 years, W2O Group has transitioned from a PR firm into an integrated marketing leader in the digital world. Perhaps the most important learning has been defining the middle ground between the generalist approach of PR agencies and the supply chain approach of Advertising agencies. Successful integration requires a different staff mix and approach to the business than either legacy model. Three things stand out as being critical:
Having the right structure – if PR firms are a soccer team (anybody can score, defend, etc.) and Ad agencies are a basketball team (the Creative all-star with a team of supporting role players), the successful integrated marketing firm is a football team with a strong quarterback and a wide variety of players who are all excellent in their positions.
Having the right people – not everybody wants to be integrated or specialize in their position, and lots of people would prefer to pad their own stats rather than let somebody else carry the ball when it’s the right play call.
Having the right mentality – there are two mission critical perspectives. The first is to always start by asking, “Who is the Best Person to Do It?” and the second is to approach every conversation by first assuming your colleague wants to do the right thing.
It took us a while to first understand, then plan, and finally institutionalize these three success factors at W2O Group. And, as some people opted out for more traditional jobs, we learned that it wasn’t what everybody wants. But, as the fastest growing agency of our size for several years now, we’re pretty confident it’s what clients want, and where the market is going.
One thing Richard Edelman nailed in his AdAge interview – the marketing mix is going to be jostled over the next decade, and Paid Media will no longer eat like a King while Earned, Shared, and Owned fight over scraps from the table. We believe clients will need integrated partners to navigate this transition, much like Edelman believes they will need agencies who are good in their traditional disciplines.
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 conducting a blog series that asks some 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. In the sixth installation of our series, we talk to our newest Director of Search, Sri Nagubandi.
[Aaron] 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.
[Sri] I’ve spent 13 years in the digital marketing and analytics space, most recently at Razorfish where I led Organic (SEO) and Paid (SEM) Search and Social Optimization. Prior to that, I was a Director of SEO at Rosetta.
[Aaron] What is your “super power?” [Sri] My super power is making the complex simple and the simple understandable and actionable.
[Aaron] If you could work with any company as a client, who would it be and why? [Sri] Trek. Would have to be Warby Parker. They enter markets ripe for disruption, are willing to take risks, and they always give back while making a profit.
[Aaron] Finish this sentence… “The agency of the future is ________.” [Sri] The agency of the future is able to challenge clients, embraces change as a way of life and culturally entrepreneurial at the core.
Thank you Sri. To learn more about Sri, follow him on Twitter.
“It’s not about ‘best practices’ – it’s about ‘next practices’ “ as learned my new colleague Annalise Coady and I, when we excitedly touched down at the W2O Media and Engagement Summit in Austin.
We knew we worked with some forward-thinking people, but the depth and breadth of experience (along with general awesomeness) blew us away. Here’s a quick and dirty summary of some of the things we learned and plan to pioneer across the pond:
Media has evolved and PESO is the future: Day 1 kicked off with Head of Earned Media, Jim Larkin, demonstrating how media has evolved from the 1960’s, and how we as communicators have had to continuously adapt in order to connect with our audiences in new ways. Jim introduced the PESO (paid, earned, shared, owned) model – the integrated future of media engagement for W2O.
Relationship is king – know your influencers and tailor your pitch to suit: Ex-reporters Ryan Flinn and Brian Reid, along with Earned Media Director Peter Duckler and blogger aficionado Carla Clunis, shared their insights into ‘What Modern Media Want’. The clear message being we must become part of the community we want to influence and ensure we’re always approaching media with meaningful and relevant content.
Bring in the experts, right from the start: When you see an opportunity for our client to integrate, deploy our experts across digital, social, creative and media fields.
Jump in the pool: Your career at W2O doesn’t have to be linear. Do great client work and pollinate across the company, teaching account teams to do what you do.
W2O’s new search capabilities are awesome: Creating content that’s not findable in search is almost meaningless. W2O Search, championed by Greg Reilly and Sri Nagubandi, enables us to ensure we’re always producing content that meets the needs of our audiences – and most importantly, can be found!
Influence can be created – passion can’t: 92% of word of mouth still happens OFFLINE. We have the capabilities to execute outstanding WOM campaigns allowing us not only to keep track of what people are saying about brands online and offline, but also enabling us to insert ourselves into the conversation through the engagement of ambassadors to spread goodwill.
Our clients are looking for first class ideas, strategy and execution: As part of a panel discussion, ex-clients Jim Larkin and Lionel Menchaca shared what they look for in an agency:
Passionate and committed to the cause as they are
Know the ball park they’re playing in
Always offer strategy and counsel where possible
Constantly align agency work with client business objectives
W2O knows more about what physicians are doing socially than anyone else in the world: Sounds like a heavy claim, but our MDigital Life database has made it so – just ask Greg Matthews!
As a company at the forefront of innovation, we must continue to push the boundaries of conventional approaches; experiment and practice truly integrated planning for our clients, or as they say in Texas; “Always drink upstream from the herd!”
I’m excited. Earlier this week, it was announced that Twitter bought Bluefin Labs and plans to integrate it into their offering for quantifying the value of the millions who use their “second screen” devices when their favorite television shows / movies are being shown.
For quite some time, the stats have been staggering. According to Nielsen, 88% of tablet owners and 86% of smart phone owners are using their devices while watching TV. The growing popularity of apps such as GetGlue (which claims 3 million users) and Dijit (which recently acquired Miso) shows that people are talking about the programs regularly, and these companies believe it contributes to either increased viewership and/or attention to the ads within the app themselves.
In our work with analytics in the entertainment industry, I’ve seen first-hand how conversations happening online have correlated to sales and ratings increases. And, I’m a firm believer that Social TV has been largely responsible for bringing back “appointment television.” Don’t get me wrong. I love my DVR, but for many shows it’s just more fun to watch with a crowd and feels like a modern day version of the 50s when everyone gathered around the television set for a unified viewing experience. When that happens, I want to be watching live.
So the news that Twitter bought BlueFin Labs, along with their existing partnership with Neilsen is yet another positive step forward in validating what many of us marketers already know to be true, but have a hard time justifying – that social TV positively contributes to ratings’ success. Take for example Bravo which saw that last year, nearly a quarter of their audience base followed ousted “Top Chef” contestants onto “Last Chance Kitchen” and the episode where the winner was revealed became the show’s highest rated episode of the year.
Widespread adoption of these standards within the entertainment industry is the next hurdle, but it’s on the way. According to Forbes, this should start rolling out in this fall’s ratings. And hopefully, finally, the value of social media will be articulated and quantified for all marketers to gauge moving forward. Amen to that.
The paragraphs below are excerpted from my recently-posted article in PR Week:
I recently contributed to another PR Week OpEd that asked the question: What is the most important way in which the PR firm of 2017 will be different than the PR firm of today?
My answer was: The PR firm of the future will not be focused solely on earned/unpaid media. It will be a diversified firm that employs a variety of vehicles — digital, mobile, virtual reality — to deliver relevant content informed by predictive and behavioral data analytics to more precisely target customers, constituents and stakeholders and influence a desired action or decision. It will deploy a strategic mix of paid, earned, shared and owned (PESO) media that can be monitored and measured directly in real time.
When I first saw the question my original thought was to answer that it wouldn’t be called a PR firm anymore. But after more deliberation, I realized that was not at all the answer I believe. I’ve long held that PR is a fundamental business function and can serve as a guiding light and central organizing principle for any business or organization …
Recently, Flipboard and Levi’s partnered to release a social shopping experience just in Time for New York fashion week. the newly launched experience comes as part of a new brand push form Levis and has turned Flipboard from one of the best magazine readers, into a social shopping platform.
When Flipboard popped onto the app store a few years ago, It instantly became recognized as one of the most progressive takes on readers. With its wealth of content and social connectivity ( most notably Twitter favorites) it became a huge hit on iPad, but over the last year, things have changed for the upstart digital mag. Traditional print publishers have begun to see the toll that Flipboard’s free content has taken on readership, and many are beginning to restrict content to shorter articles or teasers. This coupled with the arrival of Instapaper and applications like Google Currents, have made it harder for Flipboard to maintain a top spot.
The partnership with Levis aims to change all of that.
By leveraging the popular platform and adding to it a digital magazine/lookbook/shopping experience. Flipboard now has a new chip to throw into the game. People can now browse through the interesting style visuals that Flipboard is known for and also have a chance to purchase the latest designs from Levis, in a format that they already know and love.
Flipboard is not the first application that has done this. Both Marie Claire and Elle magazines tried sell through their digital apps, but the biggest difference is that Flipboard offers all of its content free of charge and is completely customizable by the user – something that traditional digital magazine apps have struggled with. Add to that, the fact that Flipboard, originally only available for iOS is now available for Android, and you’re looking at some serious competition for digital magazines.
This new partnership will undoubtedly give other magazine apps like Google Currents something to consider as they look for ways to monetize their offerings beyond media. Many brands will also be watching closely to see how this venture fares as more consumers abandon traditional shopping destinations in favor of social and mobile shopping experiences.