Blog

Column published in the November 23, 2015 issue of PRNews

It’s relatively easy to anticipate macro trends in technology for 2016.  It is much harder to predict how those trends will change the communications profession.  Based on work with large brands and entrepreneurs of all shapes and sizes, here is a list of top trends that will matter most for the Chief Communications Officer and his/her team.

  1. Audience Architecture Starts to Replace the Coverage Model: We now can see exactly who our audience is online (all social media channels and mainstream media), so we can listen to its needs, align our story with its desires and measure our success in reaching the target market for our brand or topic. Getting coverage is only one piece of this puzzle. Why? Blogs and Twitter drive 2/3s of content flow. Mainstream media has become a catalyst that blogs and Twitter drive. Think of the audience as becoming more important than the outlet. When you get coverage, the PR pro’s job is just beginning.  He/she needs to ensure that this coverage reaches the audience; the job calls for sharing it via social channels so it gets to the right people.  The end game used to be coverage itself. No more.
  2. Responsive Experience Replaces Responsive Design: Since more than 50% of content is consumed via phone and that figure will rise to more than 75% in three years or fewer, we have to provide the right experience the first time our customer looks for it online. If we direct people to a website and make them hunt for the desired information, we will lose most people and they won’t come back. We have to deliver the exact content right away.  Since people tell us what they want via search, e.g. “company x, product y pricing”, we can deliver this exact content on the first visit.  The search words serve as a trigger for the right content, which you have pre-packaged, to show up.  Imagine preparing for ten types of customers to visit your site.  Once you know who they are via their search terms coming into the site, the content changes to meet their needs.  This is simple technology we can all use today.
  3. We are Entering the era of the 9%: In the 1,9,90 model, fewer than one percent of people create content, approximately nine percent share the content and 90 percent lurk and learn, benefitting from the 1 and the 9. The first ten years of social media have been about the 1 percent. Now, technology advance has made it super easy for the 9 percent to share content, add comments and continue the conversation in any channel and on any device.  This is the second sales force for a brand.  We must know who they are and start building far better relationships with the 9 percent.  They are the best friends of the one percent and should be of us as well.
  4. We Have Fewer Than Three Seconds to Make an Impression via Video: Facebook boasts 8 billion video views per day, so it knows a thing or two about how users react to video. Its data show that we have fewer than three seconds to grab the viewer’s interest. The result is how we produce video must change. We need to create a strong first impression and should be investing in a wider range of lower cost video, not longer, expensive video.  Disagree? OK. But I usually avoid arguing with what we learn from 8 billion views per day.  That’s a big enough focus group for me.
  5. Internal Communications will Start Learning from External Audiences: We have long made the mistake of examining only internal metrics to measure internal satisfaction of our employees. Now, we realize via new models that we can identify what matters to specific employee groups by analyzing their external activities: where they hang out (social channels, forums, blogs), talk, share and learn from each other.  The answers to how better align with employees can be found outside of our walls and inside their tribes.
  6. The Full Story of a Brand Must be Delivered to the Customer: We can now use technology platforms to deliver the full story of a brand (think 4-6 articles and 2-4 links) directly to our customers in any social channel. We can then watch what they like, what they share and dynamically change the content in all channels in seconds. Interactive storytelling is emerging as a new discipline, since we can deliver content anywhere, any channel, anytime.  It’s time for us to go to the customer, not ask him/her to visit us.
Read More
Kelly Jeffers
“I think the most valuable motivator is simply providing individuals with new opportunities and showing them what might be possible.”

Greetings fellow technophiles! Today, we are launching a new series of client interviews designed to showcase marketing/communications thought leaders who are making big waves in tech. For our first “Thought Leaders in Tech Marketing & Comms”, we had the pleasure of interviewing Kelly Jeffers, vice president of corporate communications for Surescripts. Kelly gave us some fantastic insight into the world of health information technology, and how she and her team work together to ensure every communications opportunity is maximized to its fullest potential.

Q: What does your company do?

A: Surescripts is a health information network that connects doctors, pharmacists, health plans and others, so they can communicate and share information with each other to deliver better quality and more efficient care to patients.  We’re an enabling technology – similar to the network that connects ATMs and banks. Because we move information around at such high speed, I’ve heard users of our network refer to us as the “Intel inside” the US healthcare system.”

Q: Describe the role that you and your team play in advancing the company mission.

A: At Surescripts, Marketing is solely responsible for the company’s brand. Our primary focus is on raising awareness and visibility for our brand among a broad set of constituents – doctors, pharmacists, technology partners, hospitals, health plans, etc.  Our business has evolved pretty drastically over the past few years, so we’ve been really focused on broadening people’s understanding of the role we play in connecting healthcare and the value we add to the healthcare system as a whole.

Q: What is your biggest success in the last year and why does this make you proud?

A: There isn’t a single campaign or initiative that I’m most proud of, but looking back, I’m pretty overwhelmed by the sheer volume of content we created. We have a small team with limited resources, but we really maximized every dollar and every opportunity to its fullest.  What I’m most proud of this year is the transition we’ve made as an organization, from an old-school, analog approach to marketing, to a “digital first” mindset that has come to life not just in the tools we use or the processes we follow, but ultimately in the work we delivered. The age of the paper brochure is officially over. And we now have some really impressive digital capabilities and content that I think is really forward-thinking.

Q: Where do the great ideas come from in your organization?

A: One of the things I love about my job is that I’m so plugged into the entire company and am always getting input and feedback from my colleagues, whether they’re in Customer Support, Legal, Product Innovation, or IT.  We get great ideas from everyone, and we make a point to take them all into consideration.  You just never know when a brief conversation by the water cooler is going to turn into your next great campaign.

Q: Outside of work, what are your favorite things to do?

A: For the past 15 years, I’ve traveled to Honduras to work with girls who have been abandoned, abused or otherwise neglected as a result of being born into abject poverty.  For one week, I’m disconnected from technology and focused on helping them become stronger, smarter, and more successful young women.  We do this by taking the time to play games, do crafts, go to the movies, and cook meals together.  It’s a good reminder of the value of being present in other people’s lives and finding your own small way to make a big difference.

Q: How do you empower and motivate your employees to do their best possible work?

A: Most of my career highlights have been the result of seeing other people succeed – especially the individuals and teams I’ve lead over the years. I think the most valuable motivator is simply providing individuals with new opportunities and showing them what might be possible. I’ve found that most team members will rise to the occasion if you just point them in the right direction. In doing so, they learn to look for new opportunities themselves, which is so refreshing and ultimately motivating to me as well.

Read More

Data and its accompanying insights are having a profound business impact on the value and efficacy of both marketing and corporate communications.

The real benefit is that analytics provide a roadmap for more precise communications – i.e., identifying influencers, including media as part of a larger ecosystem connecting emotion with purchase behavior. Or, moving internal communications from a Broadcast model to a Conversation model, one in which employees can actually make the argument themselves through a more engaged environment, based on dialogue, discussion and debate. Or, predicting new areas to pursue or issues to avoid.

collaboration

Digging deeper, the real impact of analytics is how it’s reshaping the relationship between the CEO and the Chief Communications and Marketing Officers (CCMOs). No longer considered running a function, CCMOs are now pivoting to become more of a systems integrator.  That is, they are expected to turn information into new thinking to better enable behaviors that both prepare and sustain leaders, managers, employees, customers and the marketplace for what’s next.

The following reflects how we at W2O Group are learning and leading the transformation of today’s CCMO.

Essentially, we are experiencing seven distinct areas where CCMOs are incorporating data and insights to forge new, strategic relationships with CEOs.  In doing so, they are challenging historical norms, eliminating useless tactical interpretations of effectiveness, and employing unique analytical models to clearly see the organization.

1) Customer Acquisition

“How can I find the next generation of customers?” is a common question we hear from CEOs.

New models designed to identify where potential customers are migrating and how they are behaving can better pinpoint communications and marketing expenditures, helping to cultivate relationships and dimensionalize brands, products and services.

The key is to target analytics models across channels and networks of influence, encompassing the consumer’s decision journey.  Finding, understanding, engaging, and sharing with customers and influencers online, helps uncover nuances, behaviors, interests, and bias concerning brands, companies, products, services and policies. Recognizing the power of advocacy in purchase behavior and where it has the most influence not only better targets programming but more importantly, helps capture the next generation of potential customers before they even recognize the need or want.

2) Productivity and Engagement

“How can I ensure my employees’ get it?”

Further, deploying your workforce as your most potent sales force through a programmed Advocacy effort is a true differentiator in a crowded, distracted marketplace.

However, to engage employees today requires a granular understanding of how people are finding, assimilating and sharing information about the business.  Analytics provide a forensic study of employee traits in this regard. Employee View is proprietary analytics tool that captures workforce archetypes, in order to better engage employees in the business.

One CCMO from a global enterprise is meeting monthly with his CEO and reviewing a report on employee behaviors related to the company’s key imperatives.  The report identifies employee retention of important information, sentiment of executive messaging as well as tone, cadence and context.

3) Relevance 

“Are we relevant today?”

In our social/digital world, Relevance is the new Reputation.

But how can an organization measure Relevance?  In multiple ways actually.

Every industry possesses its own criteria for comprehending relevance and as such we have designed analytics models to discern what’s important and where a brand or company is viewed on that continuum.  Relevance means organizations are connecting on multiple levels with key stakeholders in areas that are meaningful to them, but also correlate to the business’ core purpose.

4) White Space

“What’s Next?”

CEOs, as we know, are often measured by current results and future prospects.

Our Landscape Analysis/Conversation Blueprint uncovers the anatomy inherent in predictive behavior in a particular category and regarding a specific product or brand.  Knowing where the game is going to be played positions CCMOs as partners in strategy formulation.  White space may result in a brand extension, new product launch schematic, a messaging platform that clarifies a product benefit, a migration of interests, etc.  Discovering such a place keeps the business agile and leaders awake to the possibilities.

5) Strategy Alignment

“How can we get people to hear us again?” Strategy and priority overload afflict every company.  Breaking through is critical if companies are to succeed in a distracted, highly volatile market.  But how?

The Narrative: More often than not, C-Suite leaders are not seeing the business in a clear, coherent manner.  Such a misaligned picture at the top of an organization causes incredible dysfunction at the middle and lower levels resulting in poor decisions and, even worse, paralysis.

Analytics and the insights derived from the right data can lead to an accurate portrayal or narrative on the business from an outside in, and an inside out, perspective.  The narrative aligns messaging and conditions behavior to accurately reflect the business’ current state so as to better navigate the right path.

Refreshing that perspective regularly drives the CEO’s agenda in a more disciplined and pragmatic fashion.

6) Efficiency (The PESO Model)

“Why are we spending our money in all the wrong places?”

In today’s communications and marketing mix, Paid, Owned, Shared, and Earned Media must work in concert with the customer journey. Earned media consists of media relations, influencer marketing and advocacy. Owned media is viewed as any type of media for which you have complete control.  In contrast, Shared media consists of content relationships, in which control is shared with your audience.  Paid media is an accelerator of earned, shared and owned media that deserves larger reach, and as a way to test the market in low-cost ways. Organizing, strategizing, and operating in a cohesive fashion across all communications and marketing platforms optimizes investment.  Orchestrating PESO via analytics achieves precision in both effectiveness and efficiency. The fuel for this journey is analytics and insights.

7) Risk Mitigation

“Are we able to handle a potential crisis situation?”

Nothing keeps a CEO up at night more than a business crisis. Avoiding and/or deftly managing a situation that can potentially damage an organization’s ability to operate is essential to a CEOs fiduciary responsibility if not his/her tenure.

Inception™ is a proprietary software and analytics platform designed to simulate issues and their trajectory toward crisis in an environment where the organization can learn, test its collective agility, judgement, collaboration, and response in a social/digital reality. The result is a more confident, integrated and progressive issues management protocol that maintains relevance and protects reputation.

A New Relationship Emerges

For today’s progressive communications and marketing leaders, analytics and insights are forging a pathway to greater influence and impact on strategy and direction.  This is leading to more sophisticated discussions on business outcomes versus tactical outputs.

For Chief Communications and Marketing Officers, the time is here to fundamentally reshape the relationship with your CEO and other C-Suite leaders through a more data-oriented, disciplined approach to both the marketplace and the workplace, systematically forging insights that lead to new choices and strategies designed to achieve organizational excellence.

Gone are the traditional outputs, structures, and anecdotal rationales that underpinned the function, but are now obsolete.

So, as a CCMO what are you talking to your CEO about?

Gary F. Grates is a principal at W2O Group and a recognized expert in strategic communications including change management, organizational communications, labor relations, corporate positioning, and M&A assimilation.

Read More

Tata, debatably one of India’s best known brand’s, boasts over 300K employees in over 60 countries. Pradipta Bagchi, VP and Global Head of Corporate Communications for Tata Consultancy Services, knows that internal communications through its digital channels is the most crucial way to maintain satisfied and connected employees.

In a discussion at the PreCommerce Summit with Lord Chadlington, Pradipta talked about his insights on the challenges and benefits of running internal communications on such a grand scale. His guiding principle is to always keep employees first, staying ahead of the news that affects employees and maintaining a rapid response to any issues.  Essentially, treating your internal communications just as you would your external communications.

For example, with India being a very hot country and many of Tata’s employees riding motorcycles to work, an employee discussion started last year about whether employees could be allowed to wear half sleeved shirts rather than the full sleeved shirts. This digital discussion on an appropriate internal platform led to a change in HR policy, allowing employees to wear short sleeved shirts.

This example shows how important digital is for employee communication and connection. Tata has given its employees a platform to discuss internal topics openly, offering a suite of apps that allows them to do their timesheets and expenses remotely, and offering a learning platform to continue their digital education, putting digital at the heart of the company’s global employee engagement strategy.

Lastly, Lord Chadlington asked Pradipta about how Tata mobilizes its employees as brand ambassadors. Instead of using the push method, Pradipta explained how Tata uses social media and its various networks to engage employees about things they are passionate about, such as fitness and family. When Tata reached its important milestone of having over 100K women employees last year, it asked for women working at Tata to post their selfies online and created a social media collage celebrating this milestone in it’s internal networks.

These examples and insights showcase how Tata is leveraging its digital tools to connect its vast network of passionate employees.

Read More

A Fireside chat with Simon Shipley, Marketing and Innovation Manager, EMEA at Intel and W2O Group’s Annalise Coady at the 2nd Annual #PreCommerce Summit.

Simon Shipley
Simon Shipley, Marketing and Innovation Manager at Intel

What is better: big data or small data?

According to Shipley, addressing this question is not so important, because the marketing campaign’s objectives have to be the same either way. At Intel, he points out, it is better to have a small set of data to extract the right insights. Overall, it’s about extracting the right data. Moreover, not necessarily owning the data, but having access to it can increase marketing efficiencies. Getting the right data means asking the right questions. As this is the hardest part, the challenge lies in having the right people and giving them the right training.

Are Marketers the New Technical Experts?

The digitization of marketing has changed the skillset required from marketers: They need to know marketing processes on a campaign level as well as technical aspects. They have to become technologist in their mindset, and they must be able to understand how tools can extract insights.

It’s a long process to understand what you want as a company, what customer behaviors you’re looking at, and how you can build it into something bigger that adds value to the business. It’s about finding out how tools and insights link to sales.

The Data and Tool Challenge

With data exploding, there has also been a constant rise in the number of tools to process and analyze data. Known to everyone working with data, there’s a general frustration with tools. In 2011, there were about 100-150 analytics tools. Now there are about 1800. Shipley explains that for Intel, staying ahead of the curve seems impossible. Instead, brands and company managers should get together and exchange best practices.

Data becomes meaningful when it works in our favor. This could mean not having to queue in front of a stadium or having to face traffic on the way home. This is especially important for Simon Shipley, a passionate rugby fan desperately hoping that England will win the world cup this year.

 


About Simon Shipley

Simon Shipley Simon is responsible for ensuring that Intel remains at the forefront of marketing thinking. He drives marketing innovation in EMEA, using the latest technologies in the service of one of the world’s most valuable brands. He has worked in a number of sales and marketing roles in the technology sector over the last 15 years. In the last 5 years he has managed a talented team that has helped build out Intel EMEA’s digital and social strategy across 25 countries, built an efficient and scalable digital infrastructure for locally relevant and curated content.

Read More
Tags:

W2O’s London #PreCommerce Summit is on a roll. We are being exposed to the brilliant minds of the world’s leading innovators, digital leaders and thinkers, as well as their thoughts on how we live, work and play in a digital age.

However for me, there is one takeaway that underlies all speakers’ presentations, but which was voiced most prominently by Cynthia Storer, a former CIA analyst and current star of Channel 4’s Hunted:

No matter what your venture or organisation is, you need to have the right people involved in order to extract the insights.

During her talk, Cynthia stressed the sheer amount of data she received to solve the ‘jigsaw puzzle’ of her mission when she was working as a CIA analyst. The organisation was collecting tonnes of data, all through the help of new tools and methods. Yet the question was how to go about figuring out what’s going on. According to Cynthia, the information she was confronted with, resembled a bowl of spaghetti. Not just spaghetti, but potentially unreliable spaghetti. For data science is still in its infancy and we cannot rely on it entirely. It seems to have a mind of its own, and to quote J.K. Rowling: “Never trust anything that can think for itself and you don’t know where it keeps its brain”

Cynthia stressed that an organisation needs a human subject matter expert in every step of the data analysing process an in the end, we DO need all the people, simply all of the people! We need folks who are primary source gatherers and digital data scientist, analysts and more. It is this synergy coming together, and in the case of the CIA, it is this synergy that gets you the bad guy! The work relies on humans and not technology.

Cynthia

Read More
Tags:

In 2014, Eastman Kodak Co. named Steven Overman @Stevenoverman, former Nokia Marketing Executive, Chief Marketing Officer and charged him with leading the global brand renewal of Kodak. In this new role, he led the strategic development of a brand that seemed to have missed the connection to the rest of the industry with the beginning of the digital era.

At the W2O #PreCommerce summit in London, he talked about the challenges to adapt long-term strategy to an ever-changing environment and the positive impact of increased connection on our behaviour in a fire chat with James Morley, Managing Director at W2O Group.

James Morley: The Kodak business understands more than most the impact of digital technology.  Can you give us an insight into the impact on Kodak and what it has done to adapt?

Steven Overman: If we go back only a few years ago, Kodak was actually one of the most valuable stocks and companies globally. And some did not want to believe it, but the digital revolution has actually challenged a business model that remained successful for many decades. While we are now looking at platforms like Instagram and how successful it is, we still wonder what the actual business model behind it is. Consumables, as the Kodak product from the past, have been substituted by technology and non-tangible platforms. In order to adapt to this development, we have brought back technology into the family and are now bridging with B2B offerings between digital workflows and analogue outcomes.

James Morley:  At WEF last week there was a lot of discussion about the importance of innovation within business.  How does Kodak deal with this issue?

Steven Overman: Innovation is a very interesting concept, because it is actually against human nature. Within our nature we have a strong resistance to change, and look for safety and stability. However, innovation is necessary to remain sustainable in the future and true innovative ideas only thrive in a culture that brings in fresh thinking and is willing to take risk. For us, we see a lot of innovation come to life by working with our scientists from the labs. They do have this natural curiosity that you need to be creative and think beyond of what already exists.

James Morley: What do you believe will be the biggest innovations for Digital in the next 2 years?

Steven Overman: I actually see one important trend that actually involves the past, the present and the future. When we look at how much our behaviour has changed by an increased level of connectivity, we can only imagine what impact it will have when the rest (64%) of the world’s population will be connected to the Internet. I believe that in the near future everyone will be connected and with this connectivity comes great power for everyone in the ecosystem. The digital revolution not only changed the way we live, work and create today, but also our increased connection creates a conscious and a growing shared sense of what is right and wrong, which impact the way we do business in the future, but also the way we act as empowered consumers, patients and marketers. 

FullSizeRender

About Steven Overman

Steven Overman was previously VP Global Head of Brand Strategy and Marketing Creation for Nokia, and is founder of Match & Candle, a brand strategy consultancy. In 2014, he published his book “The Conscience Economy: How a Mass Movement for Good Is Great for Business”.

 

 

Read More

Fireside chat with Bayer’s Jessica Federer and W2O Group’s Annalise Coady at the 2nd Annual #PreCommerce Summit in London.

Jessica Federer, Chief Digital Officer at Bayer

At last year’s W2O Group’s London Summit, Jessica Federer talked about the origins of social intelligence and the need for Pharma to adapt to digital changes. Today, she shares insights of her one year journey in her new role as Chief Digital Officer at Bayer.

Bayer’s Biggest Transformation in 150 Years

In the last year, Bayer went through the biggest transformation in 150 years, incorporating digital into its DNA: a top-down, CEO-prioritized digital strategy. This change has been implemented with a digital council, a digital circle and digital transformation teams. According to Jessica, priorities lie with the creation of digital structures, enabling great people to do great work. In other words, the secret for digital transformation is money and people.

While not naming explicit inspirational companies, Federer highlights the impact of partnerships with big, established digital leaders that help Bayer find specific solutions. Equally important are cooperations with start-ups, such as “Grants4Apps”, an accelerator program by Bayer that gives start-ups a space for collaboration – currently one of Jessica’s favorite initiatives.

jessica bayer

Insider Goodies

Lastly, Jessica Federer provides two health-care insider treats; the first being the importance of reading The Economist and The New Yorker, but also Vanity Fair, as digital transformation is driven by society and cultural trends. As her second “audience treat,” Jessica spills the secret that despite strict healthcare regulations, talking to regulators will drive innovation, as they want to innovate just as much as you do. Nonetheless, it is crucial to “follow the rules”.

Stopping the focus on digital

Ultimately, Federer hopes to soon end this newly adapted focus on digital. She continues to explain this seemingly paradox statement: “What you do well, goes away,” meaning that digital transformation teams won’t be necessary once all marketing becomes digital and a natural aspect of Bayer’s business.

 


About Jessica Federer

Jessica Federer works at Bayer, a global enterprise of 113,000 people focused on advancing ‘Science For A Better Life’ through health care, agriculture, and high-tech polymer materials. Within Bayer, Jessica has held positions in Regulatory Affairs, Market Access, Communications and Public Affairs. She received her Master of Public Health degree from the Yale School of Public Health, and her Bachelors of Science from The George Washington University. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Jessica now lives in Dusseldorf, Germany. Jessica is passionate about translating digital developments into public health advancements, and is an avid supporter of global childhood education.

 

 

 

 

 

Read More

We are living in a time where we are ‘always on’ with multiple devices providing us with information but also distracting us and exhausting our time. Technology has become a natural part of our daily life, where having different multiple online personas for work, life, and play is common. It has also become a source of angst.

With an influx of new information and online digital platforms almost daily, the digital landscape is evolving and consumers are now more empowered than ever. Brands can no longer fully control their narrative and need to find and understand the people who are most relevant to their future determining how they consume and share information as well as how they listen to each other as individuals.

This rapidly changing world can sometimes feel both like a massive headache and an incredible opportunity for marketers and communicators. C-suite leaders must be able to adapt to these changes if their organizations are to survive. Staying nimble and being able to predict how the industry will evolve before it happens is all part of the job. What we see from working with our clients and helping them stay one step ahead of competition is that regardless of which industry you are in or who your audience is, we are all facing similar challenges when it comes to digitalization. Being so imbedded in our client businesses is what allows us to build the community where innovators and leaders can come together and share their best practices and learnings.

Breaking away from your everyday routine and meeting those who are walking in the same shoes as you, is a proven method to generate new ideas or new solutions. Following on the success of last year’s Social Intelligence Summit we are excited to host our second annual thought leadership event – PreCommerce Summit London 2015.

The event, coinciding with London’s Social Media Week, will bring together experts from across industries to discuss how we work, live and create in the digital world. We will be considering the impact and opportunities of the mobile generation and will provide perspectives and host panel discussions with key leaders, such as:

I’m hopeful you are able to attend this important forum. Don’t miss the last chance to register to attend the summit on the 14th of September in London via livestream or in person!

More information on the event and the speakers can be found here www.w2oevents.com.

Navigating the future takes more than just educated guesswork. It combines knowledge, adaptability and a willingness to garner new inputs from new sources.

The W2O Group Pre-Commerce London Summit is your personal GPS to succeeding in the future!

Read More