Airbus CEO Hammers UK Leadership on Brexit

Ronn Torossian, Founder & CEO, 5WPR

Some brands work very hard to stay completely out of politics, at least on the public policy level. Others seem to revel in a direct connection with policymakers, whether the support their efforts or oppose them. In the case of Brexit, many businesses that are based or very active in Europe have spoken out, offering clear and strong statements for or against the referendum that will remove the United Kingdom from the European Union.

One of the businesses that has been anything but shy about the nature of the company’s feelings on the subject of Brexit has been Airbus. CEO Tom Enders recently told reporters the British government had “no clue” how to successfully execute Brexit.

“The sun is shining brightly on the UK, the English [soccer] team is progressing towards the final, the RAF is preparing to celebrate its centenary and [the UK government] still has no clue, no consensus on how to execute Brexit without severe harm…” Enders said.

Now, apart from the fact that England is no longer in the World Cup, having been stunned by Croatia, Enders found a ripe audience for his comments. The British public remains divisively split on the subject of Brexit, with fewer people trying to find middle or common ground. Fears about what it will mean for the British economy already have political leaders talking about half-measures and partial steps leading to a not-as-complete exit from the EU as supporters would like.

Many believe Enders is speaking for quite a few British or EU businesses, who don’t quite know what their futures will look like after Brexit… This unknown has them worried, as the deadline for Brexit is set in just nine months. In addition to European companies such as Airbus (France) and BMW (Germany), British companies such as Jaguar and Land Rover have gone on record saying Brexit would be bad for their business. Given all these big-name brands speaking out about Brexit in such a negative way, they have to be relatively certain the political commentary will not damage their brand. Or, at least, that any damage to their brand will be offset by gains based on their perspectives.

That’s a tough calculus to figure out ahead of time, but these companies believe their math checks out. Enders, especially, has been outspoken about the British government’s handling of Brexit and the consequences those decisions could have for his company. Airbus is on record as saying if the UK leaves the EU without a trade deal in place it would be “catastrophic” for the company, creating “chaos” in production and, potentially, “threatening its future” in Britain.

Brexit, Presidential Elections, and Investing to Survive it All

Before the Brexit vote even neared, the Sterling Pound started to drop. On the day that it all happened, the formerly strong currency dropped to a startling historic low. This was predicted from the time the Leave Campaign started to gain its impetus.

The fears about economic stability in the Eurozone have only surged since the vote. The European Central Bank president, Mario Draghi, estimates a 0.5% drop in economic growth. This may look like a small number, but this is the entire Eurozone economy in jeopardy. This will translate to job loss and financial difficulty on a monumental scale.

Now, as the US Presidential election nears conclusion, America’s own economic situation has also been brought into question. Though the polls still show favor to Hillary Clinton, her Republican opponent is not too far behind. Thus there is no telling what the US economy is in for post-election.

Two of the biggest economies of the world are at their most volatile. This has left investors and average Joes alike scrambling to secure whatever wealth they have left.

Brexit, Presidential Elections, and Investing to Survive it AllWho Stands to Benefit?

Unsurprisingly, the biggest benefits are going to the miners. The prices of precious metals have skyrocketed, in particular gold. This, too, was predicted long before the votes. The spike has continued, as has the fall of the pound. Miners are not the only ones to benefit, however. UK companies that have had a majority of their markets outside of the UK are now benefiting as overseas customers find their goods cheaper to buy.

Over in America, general trends suggest that no first year of a new presidency turns out too well, at least at first, for equity markets. This is largely due to uncertainty. This is one of the reasons that presidential elections appear to have historically had a relationship with assets like gold.

Uncertainty in any economy can be offset with these precious metals. It is the best contingency for situations like in the post-Brexit Eurozone. For as long as yields are low and currencies are weak, precious metals will, quite literally, shine.

Investments to Secure Your Wealth

With all the chaos and uncertainty surrounding two of the most significant recent political events, it is hard to avoid being affected. Really, the only thing to do now is buy gold bars to protect your IRA. With precious metals doing profoundly well amidst this uncertainty, it seems that smart thing to do is invest before the global economy takes a deeper nosedive.

So why is investing in gold / silver coins and gold / silver bars important? For starters, these metals are on a record, historical upward trend. Gold alone has hit a surge that has not been seen since 2008, at least. Analysis suggests that the end of the year will see prices of close to $1,500 per ounce of gold

Silver has seen a surge of near double its 2008 values. Trends are expected to continue in these markets, at least for as long as political and economic uncertainty abounds. With a full Brexit not expected for the next two to three years, and the aftermath of the elections yet unknown, there can only be speculation.

Ultimately, the rush to invest in precious metals is set to continue, with very little slowdown thus far. Amidst the uncertainty, the only thing that is clear is that these metals may be what is keeping countless people out of financial ruin.

Author: Lear Capital

Lear Capital exists to help Americans attain a truly diversified investment strategy, pursuing portfolio protection in troubled times and growth during times of prosperity


Global Agencies React to Brexit

The Advertising & Marketing Independent Network Shares Global Insight on Brexit

Agencies across the globe continue to express their shock at the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. While there is growing concern for the challenges ahead, hope for a united future remains strong among global marketers.

AMIN Worldwide logoMost of us have considered the personal impact of the EU referendum outcome by now; like mortgage rates, pensions and the future of free-movement. As active members of the global agency network AMIN Worldwide, UK based advertising agency Thinking Juice started a conversation with their global partners on reactions to Brexit, and how this will ultimately affect the industry at large. Like the EU itself, AMIN was created in order to unite communities, encourage a sharing culture and facilitate unparalleled reach.

“There is a great opportunity now for brands that embrace the change promptly and determine what their long-term strategy will be. I suspect that British heritage brands that operate internationally will be able to capitalize on the separation by telling stories that continue to draw on aspiration, exclusivity and British prestige.” Fleurie Forbes-Martin, Business Communications Manager, Thinking Juice, UK. While Brexit may not have the same scale of impact on other European countries as it does in Britain, the agency counterparts reacted with a united opinion.

The intent for the exit was also questioned as Google recorded more searches about the consequences of leaving the EU following the result, then in the weeks prior. As such, skepticism was shared about whether or not a democratic vote was in the best interest of Britain as a whole.

AMIN global leaders are aligned thinking there were no boundaries to what could be achieved if Europe continued to stand together, united. “Whether it’s in relation to our environment, economics or immigration,” said Hans Vaneemeren, Mosquito in Belgium. It seems that belonging to a global body that continues to support European and global cooperation has been a source of comfort and encouragement.

Across the water, American agencies seem far enough away from the shock wave to see the wood from the trees. Does all change deliver opportunity? Doug Barton of Trone Brand Energy in North Carolina relayed that organizations with long-term investment who are willing to listen to their marketing leaders, are the ones that may be able to create opportunities. In contrast he argued that CMOs that continue to be driven by a “short-term ROI mentality in marketing strategy” will lose out.

Despite a vote to determine future legislation in an attempt to ‘centralize control’ in Britain in the future, an overwhelming desire to collaborate remains intact amongst agencies across the rest of the EU. With it is hope that business will benefit too. “Our commitment to remain connected and cooperate can only enhance our clients’ competitiveness around the globe,” added Beau Higgins of Wordsmith Advertising in Turkey.

 About the Author: The Advertising & Marketing Independent Network (AMIN) Worldwide is an alliance of over 50 independent marketing agencies across the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia Pacific. We increase the reach of members and clients through powerful local and global insight, extensive industry experience, knowledge of emerging trends, market-leading creative and results-driven work. Since 1932, AMIN has been providing award-winning solutions at greater value. See how we’ve helped companies reach their full potential at

The Isolationist Impact of Brexit

UK Businesses to Become Islands

Philip RookeBy Philip Rooke, CEO, Spreadshirt

As a British man living in Berlin, running an international e-commerce company since 2009, I understand the value of open borders to conduct successful business and embrace an agile workforce. During my tenure, we became active in 18 markets, available in 12 languages, began operation at 5 global production sites and last year shipped 3.6 million products to 180 different countries. We are successful precisely because we embrace a global market of sellers and buyers.

As a global CEO, I can see the profound business and cultural implications that my home country will be facing with this journey down this isolationist route, if Brexit goes ahead. There will be immediate consequences in the UK online business sector as investors choose to put their money into mainland European businesses rather than a UK business that may become a single market. A tighter border will make it much tougher for UK businesses as they will lose equal access to the EU Markets; even the current uncertainty is already slowing investment.

The UK has long enjoyed a role as the a global hub and stepping stone to globalization in the online market and many others, attracting American and Asian businesses who want a base in the EU, in an English speaking land with easy access to the EU market. It has also been the first stop for many EU businesses on their way to the USA.  This has made it a vibrant highly competitive market and rich with consumer choice. The UK will be turning its back on this opportunity and already I see companies heading to Berlin, Dublin, Amsterdam and other European hubs instead.
Alongside this global hub role, London developed a reputation for attracting the top talent. With people from all over the world being attracted to this market and opportunities; spending a few years in the London market has often been seen as a “right of passage” by European recruiters. London and the UK will now see this role diminish and talent disperse to other countries.

What the U.S. Election Cycle Can Take Away from Brexit’s MisstepsOur corporate headquarters in Leipzig, formerly East Germany, is a microcosm of the benefits of a dynamic inclusive workplace powered by open borders – we have more than 20 nationalities that work together. I am sad that many of the UK voters did not appreciate what this environment adds to the knowledge, skills and enjoyment from working in a mixed culture.

British companies will find it a lot harder to trade with the EU (their largest trading partner); currently 51% of all British goods are exported to EU partners. Many of the Brexit politicians say that the UK will be very similar to countries like Norway and Switzerland. But I can tell you now, as a German company working in 18 countries, that Norway and Switzerland are a lot harder for us to do business in due to additional paper work, taxes and delays. As a result, we put more investment in emerging ecommerce countries like Italy and Spain.  While the EU and its regulations were not perfect, it would have been preferable to shape the regulations rather than make it more difficult to conduct UK business by exiting the EU.

This is the risk the UK, my home country, is now taking. I know I am not alone with my “slightly devastated” response, which leads me to wake up every day hoping the UK will find a way back to it’s pre-Brexit global business roots.

 About the Author: Philip joined Spreadshirt in 2009. He was first in charge of the Sales and Marketing Departments, as well as the Product Team before becoming Chief Executive Officer in 2011. His contribution during his time with Spreadshirt has lead to an increase in turnover of over 300%, ultimately leading to the company’s sustainable growth. 

The Cybersecurity Implications of Brexit for Your Company

Venkat Rajaji, Senior Vice President Marketing, Core SecurityBy Venkat Rajaji, Senior Vice President Marketing, Core Security

Some analysts view the U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union as the catalyst for economic turmoil – from roiling the U.K. real estate market to the slowdown in various vertical markets.

While many implications associated with Brexit are being discussed, it may take years to see the long-term impact. That said, we already are seeing the initial economic impact and slumping investor confidence resulting from this political decision. Companies noting this global market volatility may be tempted to cut costs as a proactive measure. This may be the appropriate thing to do in some circumstances. However, it is critical to have a heightened sense of awareness around what Brexit means for your company’s information security policies. When evaluating the importance of information security, consider the following questions for your business:

  1. How does this politically motivated decision impact our business, and specifically, the information security of our business?
  2. Could we become more of a target as a result of this decision?
  3. If we are more of a target, where are our exposures?
  4. What should we be focusing on in terms of preventing and responding as quickly as possible to potential breaches?

The idea you may be more vulnerable as a result of a political decision, such as Brexit, is not new, but this does not make it any less real. Anytime there is opposition to a political action, businesses may be vulnerable to an attack, whether from a nation-state or otherwise.

While we don’t necessarily understand the motivations behind adversaries, Brexit could be a motivator for bad actors. For example, in 2014, Sony produced a comedic movie with a political statement about Kim Jong-un, and North Korea backlashed by hacking their network and releasing private emails.

So what are the precautions your company should take given this landscape? Three critical information security policies can lessen impact of potential attacks on your business.

  1. Manage privileged accounts, aka the keys to the kingdom. Privilege misuse was the second-most common cause of security incidents and the fourth-most frequent cause of breaches, according to the 2016 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR). Your business should continuously monitor privileged credentials to make sure they are not exposed.
  1. Manage user credentials and identities. The same Verizon report also found 63 percent of data breaches are associated with the misuse of legitimate user credentials. Businesses in all industries need to manage the growing universe of identities, devices and data employees require to do their jobs. 
  1. Understand your network vulnerabilities. Businesses must efficiently identify and prioritize vulnerabilities for remediation. You need to constantly work in protection mode to prevent attacks from penetrating your network.
  2. Conduct continuous penetration testing. Businesses should implement penetration testing and certification reviews to continuously validate your users and your network. These are vital best practices for comprehensive security policies.

The bottom line during this time of economic and investor uncertainty following the Brexit decision is that businesses must have a heightened sense of awareness around their cybersecurity. Given the controversy surrounding Brexit, investors and executives are wise to consider the cybersecurity implications for their company and understand why information security is not an area for cost cutting measures.

If you are a target, you should be aware you’re a target. Know that you cannot stop an attack on your network, but you can stop hackers from penetrating valuable data in your network. Your company needs to have policies in place to rapidly determine the root cause of a vulnerability and prioritize the correct mitigation action as quickly as possible.

About the Author: Venkat Rajaji is the Senior Vice President of Marketing and is responsible for business development and lead generation at Core Security. Venkat brings with him diverse expertise in marketing, product management, management consulting, finance, and presales. Before joining Core Security, Venkat was Vice President of Sales Operations and Customer Retention at Aptean. He also held product management and marketing roles with Infor and consulting roles with IBM and Accenture. Venkat received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Texas-Austin, master’s degree in Information Management from University of Maryland-College Park, and a Master of Business Administration from the Goizueta School of Business at Emory University.  

What the U.S. Election Cycle Can Take Away from Brexit’s Missteps

Olga DeMetriBy Olga DeMetri, Vice President, LEVICK

On June 24, 2016, Britain woke up to the news that Brexit would become a reality. As the shocking result set-in, politicians and analysts scrambled to decipher the full ramifications of the vote to exit the EU. Global stock markets plummeted and the pound fell to a near 30-year-low. All eyes turned to Britain in an effort to understand how this vote could have transpired, while experts grappled to understand the economic, social and political implications. It was certainly expected to be a close vote. The end result, however, stunned not only the British—but people around the world.

The ensuing days have seen Britain go through a roller coaster of upheavals, creating an unprecedented political vacuum and air of uncertainty. Though it remains to be seen how and when Britain will exit from the EU, it is certainly clear that the Remain campaign was an extraordinary failure. Given the surprising vote result, many are drawing parallels to the upcoming U.S. election. Indeed, the Remain campaign’s shortcomings bear many lessons for those across the pond.

What the U.S. Election Cycle Can Take Away from Brexit’s MisstepsFirst and foremost, the Remain campaign’s messaging and tactics did not resonate with voters, particularly those already disenchanted by Europe. Secondly, it failed to articulate a clear, concise and meaningful case for voters to stay within the EU. Instead of making a simple argument for remaining in the EU, the campaign centered its persuasion around a series of complicated points that were not understood by voters. By focusing solely on the economic reasons for staying in the EU, the campaign also lost the opportunity to promote Britain’s social, political and cultural ties to Europe. Remain did not adequately connect or create a vision of Britain as intrinsically tied to the Europe. Thirdly, it did not properly convey the significant economic risks of leaving—for, above all, the Remain campaign underestimated the sentiment of voters who feel disfranchised and disconnected from Europe.

The Leave campaign, on the other hand, pushed out a simple but strong case for exiting the EU. The effort effectively deployed its leadership, infusing energy and charisma into the campaign. The Leave side also focused on issues such as immigration, igniting emotions, and inciting voters into action. Failing to recognize the potency of the immigration argument and its impact in motivating voters, the Remain campaign did not adequately counter the xenophobic rhetoric. Additionally, the Remain campaign leadership, already facing public scrutiny, did not inspire confidence in voters. The resulting combination of lackluster messaging and uninspiring leadership did little to bolster the campaign’s resonance.

From afar, there are striking similarities between voter sentiment felt in the U.K. prior to the vote and the anti-establishment issues raised during the U.S. primary election. As the U.S. presidential race draws closer, Brexit lessons serve as a valuable reminder not to underestimate the electorate or overlook particularly angry voters. The anti-immigrant, xenophobic vitriol expressed in the campaign thus far is a powerful motivator that could have significant impact at the ballot box this November. If politicians, analysts and ordinary Americans do not want to be stunned on November 9, they must heed these lessons learned to separate rhetoric from reality.


About the Author: Olga DeMetri has 15 years of experience managing complex communications campaigns and policy programs across the globe. A specialist in strategic communications and public affairs, Ms. Demetri has leveraged her expertise in program management, policy advocacy, grassroots campaigns, media relations, and special event execution to achieve demonstrable results for clients in the U.S., Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East, and Latin America. 

Brexit: What Does It Mean For Businesses?

image014By Gordon Tredgold

Being UK citizen, I had the simple pleasure of being able to work in Belgium, Holland, Czech Republic and Germany during the last 20 years, thanks to the UK being part of the European Union. But with the referendum voting to end that agreement this could have a dramatic effect on businesses, both within the UK and Europe.

The exact solution that Britain will implement is still to be defined, and whether we go for something like the Norwegian option, where the UK retains access the single market and freedom movement, or whether there is a complete separation and new trade agreements need to be made is still up for discussion.

Businesses face several potential impacts from the Brexit vote including higher export tariffs, higher staffing costs, staffing issues and reduced or delayed investment, although these could be partly balanced by the drop in currency which could make UK products more attractive abroad.

Higher Export Tariffs

The UK Exports around 44% of its trade with the EU countries, and any increase in tariffs would have a direct impact on profitability and pricing, as it’s unlikely that the EU will give the UK the same deal as it has now.

Higher Staffing Costs/ Staffing Issues

Membership of the EU gave UK firms access to the entire European labor force, and many highly skilled workers migrated to take up work within the UK. Without access to these resources, staff costs will go up as demand for the UK born resources increases and it could lead to staffing shortages too.  There are over 850,000 Polish workers in the UK who took advantage of the opportunity to come here.

There is also the threat of a ‘brain drain’ as highly skilled British workers choose to move abroad now, to benefit from the opportunities, such as the ones I enjoyed.

Reduced/Delayed Investment

With a smaller workforce and limited markets is unlikely that the UK will be seen as a good investment opportunity for foreign companies. It could see this money go elsewhere, to countries which have full access to the EU workforce and markets. With the uncertainty over the solution, and what the long-term impact would be, I would expect any short- to medium-term investments to be put on hold until the situation becomes clearer.

For large international businesses, the impact could be mitigated by moving their offices abroad, which would have an additional detrimental impact on the UK economy.  But for many, given their international nature, it would be possible for them to move their offices to Paris, Madrid or Berlin, and consequently retain access to the markets.

The only thing certain for the UK for the unforeseeable future is uncertainty. Given the need to select a new Prime Minister, who will have to create a Brexit plan, and the possible departure of Scotland and Northern Ireland from the UK

Uncertainty is rarely good for business, and I expect tough times ahead for the UK.

About the Author: Gordon Tredgold is a Leadership Expert, Speaker, Mentor and Published writer. His experience ranges from 20 years in executive leadership practice, employment at large blue-chip companies, managing budgets of hundreds of millions of dollars and teams in the thousands. Tredgold has published three books on leadership practice in big business (most recently F.A.S.T.) and over 800 articles on the topic too, including being a contributing writer to The Huffington Post and Inc. Magazine. His thriving blog, Leadership Principles is considered one of the most successful leadership blogs and he has recently been credited as the top three leadership experts to follow on Twitter. 


The Social Dilemma: A Documentary and Big Tech’s Grasp Over Us


Wendy Glavin, Founder & CEO, Wendy Glavin Agency

On Wednesday, October 28, 2020, the Senate committee held a hearing with Big Tech CEOs Jack Dorsey of Twitter, CEO Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and CEO Sundar Pichai of Alphabet Inc., Google.

The hearing was called, “Does Section 230’s Sweeping Immunity Enable Big Tech Bad Behavior” which focused on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 says that “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider;” a legal protection against sharing third-party content.

Since Section 230 was enacted into law in 1996, Republicans and Democrats believe it should be modified to more closely represent where the industry is today. The key takeaways were divisive content, fact-checking, censorship, anti-conservative bias, data privacy, antitrust, the abuse of power, misinformation, local news, security and more.

With the election only five days away, several Democrats accused Republicans of deliberating holding the hearing so close to the election to impact it; while Republicans countered with the need to reign in Big Tech.

Top news organizations reported that it was “a sham,” that there were “few direct hits on these companies,” “this is nonsense,” and “have yet to result in anything concrete.” For more in-depth coverage, please go to Axios.

While there have already been several Congressional hearings about technology companies within the last several years, including in July 2020 and in October 2020 when The Department of Justice filed an antitrust suit against Google.

But, what has this all led to? If you watch two documentaries, “The Great Hack” and “The Social Dilemma.” you’ll gain a deeper understanding of what these companies know about us and how our data is being used against us. And, how everything we do is being tracked both online and offline, even when we’re sleeping. And, as I’ve learned, it’s scary.

How often do you receive spam calls? Do you worry that your smart devices and cell phones are listening to your conversations? Is your inbox inundated with ads? Are you concerned about the use of facial recognition technology and geolocation targeting?

While many agree that our personal data shouldn’t be used to track our activities or sold to advertisers without our knowledge, people feel data privacy is too scary to think about, too complex or just so overwhelming that there’s nothing we can do to change it.

In 2018, we learned about how Cambridge Analytica harvested data from millions of Facebook accounts, triggering investigations into the unethical use of personal data by Facebook, Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and the UK Brexit vote.

At that time, Ex-Cambridge Analytica staffer Brittany Kaiser’s documentary, The Great Hack, illustrated how our data is being tracked, harvested and used against us. One of the core themes is how we leave our data footprint for others to access and follow daily. Other documentaries on the subject include Screened Out and Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World.

From the credit card swipes we make, to the identities of our friends and families, to our pictures, videos, online activities and more, Big Tech companies track users’ behavior to target ads to us. If you’d like to learn more about the basics of data privacy, please read, “In Our Digital World, You Are Being Followed,” from September 2019.

A new Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma was released on September 9, 2020, featuring the Center for Humane Technology’s founders, advisors and technology leaders. The opening screen shows a quote from Sophocles, “Nothing vast enters the life of mortals without a curse.”

Without giving away any spoilers, this movie differs from the others mentioned in that insiders from the technology industry who worked at Facebook, Instagram, Apple, YouTube, Google, Twitter, Palm, Mozilla Labs, Pinterest, the developer of Google Drive, Gmail Chat, Facebook Pages and Facebook’s Like button, among others, speak directly about their experiences.

The dialogue is raw, with executives who appear to be hesitant when answering questions. Their descriptions are apologetic and honest about why they chose to leave these companies. They express ethical issues and concerns that tech is no longer being used for the good of society among other problems.

Tim Kendall, CEO of Moment and former President of Pinterest and former Director of Monetization of Facebook, said, “It’s easy to forget today that these trolls have created meaningful systemic changes happening around the world because of these platforms that were positive. I think we were naïve about the other side of the coin.”

While he was at Facebook, Kendall was hired to come up with the business model for the company. He and his monetization team decided, “Advertising was the most elegant way.”

When the narrator of The Social Dilemma asks, “What is the problem?” there are hesitations. These are hard answers to articulate, some of which include:

  1. Fake news
  2. How social media is negatively affecting children
  3. How we’ve gone from the information age to the disinformation age
  4. How capitalism has come to shape our politics and culture in ways that people don’t understand and didn’t anticipate
  5. How to handle the pandemic in the age of fake news
  6. How social media has eroded the fabric of our society

Tristan Harris, co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology and former Google Design Ethicist, says we need a new agenda for technology. “If you ask people what’s wrong with technology, they’ll reference, scandals, grievances, tech addition, data being stolen, fake news, polarization and hackers.”

“The problem should not just be privy to tech people, but to everyone. The tech industry has lost its way. Never before in history have 50 designers, 20-35-year-old white guys, made decisions that would have an impact on two billion people,” Harris added.

Aza Raskin, co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology, former head of User Experience at Mozilla, lead designer of the Firefox browser and inventor of the infinite scroll said, “Advertisers are the customers; we’re the thing that’s being sold.”

In November 2018, I wrote my first column for Equities called, “Has the ‘Public’ Lost Trust in Big Tech Companies?” I called some friends on Wall Street who spoke about the FAANG stocks.

After a random survey of roughly 200 people at the time, only one person said, Google is a tech company. Other respondents said Google (owned by Alphabet) is a search firm, Facebook is a social media platform, Amazon is for online purchases, Apple is for purchasing phones, computers and other devices, and Netflix is a streaming service.

It was remarkable that so few consumers seemed unaware that these were technology companies at heart.

Consider Amazon as a primary example. In its quarter ended June 30, 2020, the company reported net income of $5.243 billion. That wasn’t just from books and Prime subscriptions. Amazon Web Services, the not-so-humble cloud computing platform subsidiary, generated $3.357 billion of the bottom line — 64%!

The public at large got one of the first glimpses behind the curtain during the daylong testimony by CEOs in the Big Tech antitrust hearing before Congress on July 29, 2020.

Listening to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law grill Apple’s Tim Cook, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Google’s Sundar Pichai was disturbing. If you didn’t watch or read about it, the core issues were market domination, whether Big Tech should be broken-up, the need for Federal antitrust regulations, privacy protection, data collection practices and efforts to thwart competition.

On July 31, 2020, two days after the hearing, a survey by Harris Poll for Fast Company of 1,020 American adults revealed that nearly half of 18 to 34-year-olds said their perception of tech giants improved and 63 percent said that their usage of the companies’ products and services increased.

Overall, however, Americans are still extremely uncomfortable with the Big Four’s business models, which are built on the backs of user data. Though nearly all Americans (86%) use services like Amazon and Instagram, and 75% access them daily, only 9% feel that it is “completely worth it” to give up the personal demographic and preferences information that these companies sell to marketers.

In my article, In Our Digital World, You Are Being Followed, I asked the same questions of you: Armed with this knowledge, what are you going to do? Start reading the terms and conditions? Delete apps? Stop using Facebook? Debate the need for personalized ads?

You do have control, but the decision centers around what tech conveniences you’re willing to give up versus protecting your privacy.

As for me, I’ve turned off Alexa because I know my device is listening to my conversations. I’ve removed myself from many Facebook Groups and barely post on Facebook or Instagram. I turn off the news except during important world events. I continue to use Google to search, but am selective about the publications I read.

I stay updated on business and industry trends by reading industry websites, Twitter and Facebook posts, but I’ve set boundaries for COVID-19 updates since the information is constantly changing. I feel more in control and less stressed. While my actions are limited, even small changes do make a difference, and I sleep better knowing that Big Tech isn’t watching me around the clock like Truman Burbank..

#SXSW - Wendy GlavinAbout the Author: Wendy Glavin is Founder and CEO of Wendy Glavin, a NYC full-service agency. Wendy is a 30-year veteran of corporate, agency, consulting and small business ownership. She specializes in B2B2C marketing communications, executive writing, PR and social media advisory. Her website is: Contact her at:

CommPRO Introduces Startup, News Direct to Agency Leaders

CommPRO Introduces Startup, News Direct to Agency Leaders


Wendy Glavin, Founder & CEO, Wendy Glavin Agency

CommPRO hosted an internal roundtable discussion with PR and Communications agency leaders about the future of communications.  This event was sponsored by the new service, News Direct, and moderated by its CEO and founder, Gregg Castano, former president of Business Wire.  At that time, the roundtable discussion included topics like Brexit, the impeachment hearings, the upcoming election cycle and the Super Bowl. These issues (except for the 2020 election) are behind us.

In December 2019, The World Health Organization’s China office said it began receiving reports in late December of a mysterious virus behind a number of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, a city in eastern China with a population of roughly 11 million people.

How to Manage and Build Brand Reputation

We’ve moved beyond the initial reports with the coronavirus dominating the news cycle hourly and in real-time. An example of a brand managing its brand reputation is Corona Beer. “Since the emergence and spread of COVID-19, there has been a steady stream of memes tying the virus with Corona beerCorona has avoided making any public comments or acknowledgment of the name similarities on social media. For the last 15 years, as social media has grown, brands have been told that they need to participate in the cultural conversation around their brands. 

Perhaps the most valuable asset that any marketer can have is earned media—coverage and brand promotion achieved via free coverage and conversation whose value far outstrips any official media investment. Corona has found itself the unintentional beneficiary of perhaps the worst kind of earned media a marketer could imagine. Saying nothing goes against just about every natural instinct of any marketer. In this case, the silence is as refreshing as a beer with a lime in it.” — Fast Company, March 2020.

The Importance of Messaging

Global, national and local issues highlight the need for brands, agencies, the C-Suite, and the public to stay ahead of current news, industry and business trends to ensure their messaging (or content) is targeted to the right people, in the right way at the right time.

Beyond IT, companies need to break down departmental silos and democratize data throughout organizations beyond for employees to understand new business models and offer training for employees to be more agile and up-skill.

Gregg Castano, Founder and CEO of News Direct and former President of Business Wire moderated the event to understand:

  1. How agencies use digital communications
  2. How digital has changed our jobs and how we operate
  3. What are the most effective tools to use?
  4. How has public relations changed?

How Do Agencies Use Digital Communications

Attendees shared their various strategies, but all agreed that digital is “what we do” and that the lines have blurred between PR, advertising, marketing, social media and more. Traditional public relations was originally based on obtaining earned media in print and broadcast through press releases, media kits, direct mail and other collateral materials.

Now modern communicators use public relations which encompasses “paid media,” or advertising, “owned media,” such as, websites, blogs, company newsletters, videos, email marketing, social media, apps, and “earned media,” or editorial coverage.

With multichannel strategies, including, television, social media, direct mail, surveys, live chat, SEO, messaging, data analytics, CRM, multi-platforms, USG (user-generated content), podcasts, AI, machine learning, personalization, data privacy and more, the agency leaders agreed that focusing on the customer is key.

Throughout the last five years, the advent of new and existing technologies have has placed more pressure on companies to manage their data. Many try to do so in-house but find it complex, costly and difficult to scale.  

Since marketers are focused on personalization, transparency and understanding  the meaning of the data, insights can’t be derived from a single data point. Instead, marketing professionals use Key Performance Indicators (KPIs); specific marketing metrics for companies to use, track and measure defined goals.

For example, are you measuring website visitors, operations, sales, customer retention, marketing-to-sales leads, conversion rates, customer lifetime value, cost per customer, online marketing ROI, organic search, social media reach, mobile traffic and more?

Often, individuals who are not tech-savvy find it difficult to determine the most effective measurements. Companies need to break down departmental silos across functions, communications, the board, the C-Suite and junior staff to ensure the data is understood throughout organizations. Successful digital transformations are achieved when company cultures are built to embrace change, adaptation and adoption.

What Are the Most Effective Channels?

Gregg asked attendees participants what channels do they use? The answers centered around understanding the customer and the audiences, before determining the tools, platforms and channels. 

According to Gartner’s Annual CMO Spend Survey 2019-2020, 76% of marketing leaders say they “use data and analytics to drive key decisions,” but many still struggle to get this right. You need the right data to make smarter decisions. For example, Gartner found a “bias for volume metrics over value metrics.”

Volume or vanity metrics include counting followers, engagement and shares. But, metrics don’t offer actionable insights. Instead, brands need to analyze qualitative and quantitative data (value metrics) to obtain a deeper understanding of their customers behaviors, interests, needs and the impact of those metrics on the business as a whole.

Most clients want publicity, but public relations and strategic communications have morphed into a broader management function. PR is more of an art that includes storytelling, messaging, relationship-building, identifying compelling, original, educational, thought-provoking and/or entertaining content; the value of which comes from people rather than technology. 

“Thirty-five years after Robert Waterman’s observation in “ In Search of Excellence “ found that companies were “data rich and information poor,” little has changed. For sure companies are “data richer,” having exponentially more data at their disposal. But they are still information poor, even as leaders have implemented a wide array of programs aimed at exploiting data. 

Most still struggle to build data into their business strategies and, conversely, to align their data efforts to the needs of the business. There are a host of reasons, from lack of talent to unreasonable expectations to culture. Solving these problems is essential for those that wish to unleash the power of data across their organizations.” — Harvard Business Review, March 2020

“Owning” the Strategy and the Story to Shift Perceptions

Often, clients, particularly in tech, don’t understand the differences between marketing, PR and social media so agencies are taking on more of a consulting role. Also, are brands placing a disproportionate value on one type of media versus another?

Gregg asked how the use of press releases has changed? 

Some say that press releases are dead. Others say, it’s the distribution and content that’s changed. Instead of writing a pitch and sending out an email blast, it’s about custom-targeting journalists. To do so, PR professionals need to read and research what is of interest to editors, then find a way to pitch a newsworthy story, offer a CEO interview, background information for editors to use in the future, and more.

One attendee said PR is the crown jewel.. For example, if you see an ad for a car, you’re likely to ignore it (unless it’s coming from a large company or during a big event, like the Super Bowl). Most of us watch the Super Bowls ads to be entertained rather than choosing to purchase the products.

In comparison, if you read an article in Forbes about a company, product or service,  this provides third-party credibility (earned media). As a 30-year marcomms professional, I know the value of obtaining earned media for global companies, SMBs and startups to raise brand awareness, build and strengthen relationships, obtain partnerships, grow and generate revenue.

Using social media, we build communities, learn about the trends, and broaden our reach. But, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. It takes time, experience, in-depth research and strategic analysis to identify the most effective marketing strategies for clients.

We need to guide our clients by telling them the truth about what’s working and what isn’t by going back to the basics: Who is the client? What are their values and mission? How do they differ from the competition? Who are the target audiences, including shareholders, employees, customers, prospects, influencers and the media? And, how do we reach them?

In the end, it’s all about the story and making an emotional connection.

CommPRO Introduces Startup, News Direct to Agency LeadersHow News Direct Can Help

News Direct’s custom-built news and content distribution platform was designed to meet the demands of today’s strategic communicators, investor relations and corporate communications professionals. 

The company is launching its service on May 1, 2020 with a pre-launch for “early adopters” and to obtain beta testers that is being called “Early Access”.  Any approved organization that enrolls between May 1 and June 30 will be able to distribute an unlimited amount of content, at no charge, for a 30 day period. In addition to bringing traditional news release distribution to the next level, News Direct will be introducing other ground-breaking features including:

  • Distribution of standalone multimedia
  • Automated workflow for increased efficiency and productivity
  • A secure environment for seamless collaboration that enables users to share and review content with key stakeholders within the platform while maintaining total document control
  • Flexibility to select distribution options that are segmented into distinct categories such as geographic media, online news, disclosure, and trade media, without impacting cost
  • Transparent rates with no length, geographic charges or surcharges
  • Annual subscriptions calculated on a flat rate per asset basis and tied to the volume of assets purchased
  • Live chat and 24/7 customer support
  • Enhanced metrics including earned media pickup, stock performance data, social media activity and qualified traffic numbers for original content that auto-publish on wire feeds

News Direct founder Gregg Castano said, “Our team of industry veterans have  decades of experience-based insight into content and news distribution. This provides our team  us with a unique insights perspective on into the seismic challenges facing our business, and the inspiration and vision to solve overcome modern workflow and content distribution obstacles.

We’ve systematically reimagined every step of the process—content formats, the  user experience, security, pricing, customer support and analytics.

During these uncertain times, more people are working virtually. As we all try to adapt to the current environment, use the time to learn about new resources that can help you stay ahead of the curve.

Wendy Glavin - Everyone is Not a Journalist – Think Before You Hit PrintAbout the Author: Wendy Glavin is Founder and CEO of Wendy Glavin, a NYC full-service agency. Wendy is a 20-year veteran of corporate, agency, consulting and small business ownership. She specializes in B2B2C marketing communications, PR, social and digital media. Her website is: Contact her at:

3 Public Relations Stunts and Campaigns That Will Inspire Any Brand

Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR

In public relations, promoting and protecting a brand is essential. Speaking out may be golden but, in some cases, it can be deadly to a brand’s reputation. Deciding when or how to speak out or stay silent defines a real PR pro.

In the past, some amazing brands pulled off inspiring PR campaigns. Here are 3 of them:

#1. Carlsberg’s Probably Not Campaign

One of the most successful PR campaigns ever was run by the Carlsberg beer company. Through a genuine but bold move, the brewer inverted its “probably the best beer in the world” motto to “probably not the best beer in the world.” Not only did the company invert its brand’s motto, but Carlsberg Pilsner also rebrewed its beer in the UK and introduced a new pack that reduced plastic use by 50%. While at it, the company ran an ambitious and honest campaign that explained changes the company was making to remedy the “probably not the best beer in the world” tag. The result was that it drove conversations. Worth noting, within the first four months of the new ad, the brand advertising awareness among UK consumers doubled. Specifically, the brand’s awareness on YouGov BrandIndex doubled to 10.5.

#2. ‘Take Back Remote Control’: Channel 4’s Brexit Bus Stunt

Channel 4’s ingenious PR stunt involved parading a bus similar to the one used in the 2016 Brexit referendum. The aim was to promote the Benedict Cumberbatch-fronted drama that delves into the murky issues around the EU referendum, Brexit: The Uncivil War. Christened “take back the remote control,” the PR stunt subverted the leave movement’s “take back control’ narrative used before and after the 52% vote in favor of Brexit. To drive conversations, the bus toured London, Nottingham, Manchester, Leeds, Leicester, Birmingham and Bristol. Research showed that since 2016 (when the Brexit poll took place), there have been over 180 million tweets mentioning Brexit in the world. Two-thirds of these tweets came from the UK.

The result of the creatively crafted campaign: more than 1.3 million people tuned in to watch the Benedict Cumberbatch-fronted drama.

#3. AeroMexico trolls Texans

AeroMexico’s commercial adds a hilarious twist to middle America’s enmity and distrust towards Mexico. The irony in the ad is that Americans have Mexican roots but memories of their American-Mexican heritage have been lost to history. In an attempt to encourage more flights to Mexico, AeroMexico offers “DNA discounts” to all Americans with a Mexican heritage. Travelers are awarded discounts based on the percentage of their Mexican roots.

With its slogan “there are no borders within us,” the ad rides on the popularity of the promise of the American administration to build a border wall. Apparently, those in the ad that qualified for discounted fares could not hide their joy. In one hilarious instance, an elderly man responds with profanity when informed of his 22 percent Mexican heritage.The ad was a success in terms of starting conversations and has gone viral. Put into perspective, the video has received tens of thousands of likes upon posting on different twitter handles.

Ronn Torossian - How PR Firms Can Lead by Example with Diversity and InclusionAbout the Author: Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR agency.

With Global Alliance, an International Network of Tech Public Relations Agencies, Launches

Founding Members include Affect (North America), With (UK), WEdge (China), Ideosphere (India), Bold (Singapore)

CommPRO Editorial Staff

Affect, a public relations agency specializing in technology, healthcare and professional services, and European tech PR and marketing agency With, announced today the creation of a global network of technology public relations agencies, the With Global Alliance. The With Global Alliance is launching with founding members Affect (North America), Ideosphere (India), Bold (Southeast Asia), With (UK) and WEdge (China), spanning 4 continents and serving 18 countries. 

The With Global Alliance is designed specifically to support technology businesses and the founding members all have deep expertise in the field. Experience across the Alliance includes AI, blockchain, cloud, cybersecurity, and spans sectors including martech, fintech, cleantech and edtech, among others. 

Founding members are already working together on global accounts, providing strategic counsel as well as expert in-country execution. Experts from across the With Global Alliance members are working together as unified, global account teams to offer clients consistent delivery and streamlined reporting as they scale their communications across markets. Members are active in the U.S., Canada, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, India, China, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand.

Members were identified after a detailed due diligence process and face-to-face meetings with shortlisted agencies in their markets. In addition to the tech focus and media expertise, key criteria were an integrated approach to marketing and communications, impeccable client references, long-term growth and profitability and leading-edge client servicing standards. All members are owner-managed agencies with hands-on senior teams and previous international agency experience. 

“Being a European agency, we have always had a multi-market offer at our heart,” comments Debbie Zaman, CEO and founder of With. “But as an Alliance, we are now uniquely well placed to support technology businesses as they scale, whether they are looking to enter new markets or grow existing ones. Global business is changing exponentially, whether it is trade deals, M&A or Brexit related, and our aim is to redefine how agile global PR and marketing delivers on that.” 

Sandra Fathi, president of Affect, added, “As a trusted partner and advisor for our clients, we have always sought out like-minded agencies across the globe that have both the domain expertise and the skills to consistently deliver stellar tech PR programs. The formation of the With Global Alliance provides us with proven, vetted partners to service client needs in 18 countries and counting, that share the same commitment to client service and results. The Alliance has already benefited our individual team members, our agency and our clients.” 

The With Global Alliance has already soft-launched with integrated global work for three different tech clients on projects including investor relations, events and traditional media relations. Joanna Derain, VP International at With, is working alongside With agency Founder and CEO Debbie Zaman on the delivery of global client work under the Alliance. Zaman becomes the Global President of the Alliance with an executive committee formed of the founders of Affect and Ideosphere as well as Derain as Global Company Secretary. 

Rebecca Rosborough, CMO for MiQ, a Sunday Times Tech Track rising star, said “The Alliance has delivered exactly what we needed: agile but expert comms in the UK, US, India and APAC. The combined team knows the media we need to know, creates killer content that suits local markets and is helping get us in front of both customers and partners. They bring us proactive ideas that work both globally and locally. We are very excited for what we can achieve in 2020.” 

Due diligence is already underway with potential partner agencies in Eastern Europe, South America and the Middle East. Any tech agencies interested in joining the With Global Alliance should contact


CEO Confidence Plummets Worldwide, Global Study Finds

Confidence in United States Down 51 Percent; China Down 21%

CommPRO Editorial Staff

The confidence of global business leaders plummeted in 2019, according to the second annual Worldcom Confidence Index (CI) from The Worldcom Public Relations Group (Worldcom), the leading global partnership of independent public relations firms. In an analysis of online content from more than 58,000 chief executive and chief marketing officers, the overall confidence among global CEOs and CMOs is down more than 20 percent, with the most significant drops in the United States (51 percent) and China (21 percent). Japan bucked the trend, moving from last to first in the Confidence Index, with a rise of 74 percent.

“High levels of uncertainty globally, including talk of trade wars between the United States and China, have not helped assuage the fears of business leaders, and our research shows that global trade agreements and tariffs are undermining confidence,” said Roger Hurni, chairman of the Worldcom Public Relations Group. “Since our last Confidence Index in 2018, leaders have also encountered Brexit, protests in Hong Kong, the proliferation of global warming, famine, and the re-emergence of diseases such as measles. This combination of factors may help explain why confidence levels have fallen so dramatically over the past year.” 

This year, Worldcom engaged Advanced Symbolics Inc., a market research firm that uses artificial intelligence to track and interpret publicly available social media content. This year’s report examined data from nearly 60,000 business leaders, showing how their opinions and intentions have changed over time.

“Worldcom used artificial intelligence to perform important market research for this year’s confidence index, showing that they are innovative and understand the key benefits AI provides PR firms and professionals,” said Erin Kelly, chief executive officer of Advanced Symbolics Inc. “Our AI tracked a sample of nearly 60,000 business leaders from 15 different countries – a big increase from previous years.” 

Along with global confidence, the report measures the importance of reaching specific audiences and the confidence levels that c-suite executives have in reaching those audiences. In 2018, CEOs were most concerned with reaching customers, but respondents in the 2019 research report are most concerned with influencers, which grew 160 percent from 2018 to 2019, followed by customers and employees. However, CEO confidence in reaching influencers remains quite low. Leaders are more confident in their abilities to reach shareholders, customers, suppliers, and even government officials. 

“Influencers were an audience in decline in 2018 but leaped to the front of the pack in this year’s report,” said Hurni. “The growth of this audience could suggest that leaders feel they need the support of influencers to help them navigate their way through turbulent times.”   

Upskilling Now a Major Focus in Battle for Employee Engagement and Retention  

Another issue CEOs and CMOs are managing is the retention of current employees. Leaders have low confidence in their abilities to retain talent. Firms in the United Kingdom and the United States rank last and second-to-last respectively, in their confidence to retain employees. This is just one of five employee-related issues that feature in the top six topics discussed globally. Economic migration is a cause for concern globally – most notably in the U.S., which had the lowest Confidence Index score. The number one topic aired by leaders is upskilling and reskilling employees. The U.K. had the lowest score for this topic, and Japan the highest. Improving skills is just one of many areas leaders are exploring to keep employees loyal and engaged.

“Just like last year, what is keeping CEOs up at night is retaining top talent. This year they also want to ensure employees have the right skills in an evolving and dynamic workplace,” said Hurni. “What’s also clear from the report is that employment benefits need to be a part of a retention and attraction strategy.” 

The Worldcom Confidence Index highlights concerns/confidence across 23 topics and six audiences. We have outlined the top 10 findings in what we call, “The Worldcom Confidence 10.” 

The Worldcom Confidence 10

#1 Confidence levels implode – down 21 percent

  • The United States is the biggest faller (down 51 percent) and Japan the biggest riser

#2 Influencers become #1 audience for leader attention but have the second-lowest Confidence Index score

  • The impact and role of the media has the lowest CI score

#3 Employee related topics dominate leaders’ agenda

  • Upskilling and reskilling the most discussed topic
  • Employee related topics take five out of the top six topic places
  • The Worldcom Confidence Index score for employees lowest of all audiences

#4 Leaders have concerns about their corporate image and brand reputation and their ability to protect it in a crisis

#5 Global trade agreements and tariffs undermine confidence

#6 Confidence declines in the ability to satisfy customers – especially in the U.S. – but remains higher than other business topics

#7 Global Worldcom Confidence Index scores show that events that affect us all, like global warming, trigger very different reactions in our leaders

#8 Government and legislators getting much more attention and their changes are a cause for concern

#9 A marked shift in attitude to the impact of the way political leaders communicate on social media

#10 Cybercrime no longer a global cause for concern but a big issue for South American leaders


The study was able to operate at this scale, and in nine different languages, because the data was captured using a breakthrough approach powered by artificial intelligence (AI). The chosen research firm, Advanced Symbolics Inc (ASI), has developed a patented method of building representative samples and then capturing information with their AI tool. 

“We are delighted to be the first organization to use AI in this way and on this scale,” said Hurni. “It’s further proof of the way Worldcom partners around the world use innovative solutions to deliver immediate results and lasting solutions for clients. We chose ASI’s approach because it’s proven to be incredibly accurate. Only last month, they were the only research firm to accurately predict the outcome of the Canadian elections by using their AI tool. We will be adding to this research over the coming months to deliver invaluable insight to our clients in particular and business leaders in general.”

The full report and other media assets can be downloaded here.  

Live Social Video Streaming

D S Simon Media at the West Digital Client Summit


How can brands and non-profits make the best use of live social video to grow their organizations? Douglas Simon, CEO, D S Simon Media presented survey findings on live video streaming and spoke with Ben Chodor, President of Digital Media Solutions, West Corporation. The two of them demonstrated live multi-channel video streaming for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.

HOST: So let’s get started up again. I don’t know about you but I’m pretty full now so I either need a nap or something really interesting. So we’ll go with the latter. Up next for us is a session featuring Doug Simon who is the CEO of D S Simon Media. He’s here to talk about social streaming, something we’re doing today at our Summit and something that we’re all really passionate about here at West Digital Media Solutions. Content strategy for Social how that differs between different platforms and the power of creating your own social video channel. Doug welcome, over to you.


DOUG: Thanks so much for coming here today and I know there’s been some great information so far, what I want to try and do is connect the dots on how you can use these tools to earn media. Get coverage for your organization and make the best use of all these different tools. I know you’re into data. So I’ve got a bunch of different stats. What’s interesting is the power of live streaming and how it’s growing. Brand Live Stream did a study, more than 80 percent of consumers said they would prefer to watch a live video than read a social post or a blog. What’s also changing is 67 percent said the quality of the video was a key reason for them to choose to watch something. So that’s actually good for myself- what West is doing with a high-quality production that fits what you’re trying to accomplish. We have our own surveys couple of one on brand authenticity and another specific to social media video. So, when we get to brand authenticity first look journalists are getting their stories. So are you using your social channels to get coverage? Do they have a journalistic voice or is it marketing fluff? You’ve got to be strategic about the content that you’re creating. Video-huge opportunity, clearly a theme of this whole show and also the idea of bringing live. 83 percent of journalists will use your video content as you produce it. So it’s a huge opportunity for message control. A couple of other fun ones are you getting your CEO out there? 83 percent of journalists say an accessible CEO makes you more authentic. Anyone in the audience? I know it’s good to exercise a little after lunch. Show of hands-want your CEO leadership or brand to be more authentic? Anyone want that? Got a couple. I don’t have to reverse it and say keep your hands down if you want to be more authentic. But it’s something we’re all trying to accomplish. Live video is a key way to make that happen. Quick overview on video for journalists the different formats that they’re taking it, interviews, news packages, cut content, live events, they will watch-you can get them to watch your live events and take that content and then use it on their different channels. So we’re also going to take a dive into what’s the kind of content you can create to make it resonate with them and how you can be effective. So communicators, were doing an OK job, 57 percent of us already are providing live video to social sites. Interestingly they’re starting to get their CEO out there using this format. Numbers are only going to increase next year more than 80 percent- whether you’re an agency whether you’re in-house come over 80 percent or increasing live social video next year. 57 percent increasing the CEO video they’re getting out live, and you guys can hear me OK still? It’s all working? Great. So the data rush will be over soon. We’ll get into some content thing, but I’ve got this one more. We asked communicators what are the most popular platforms that they’re using when they’re sending out programs on live video streaming as you can see Facebook at the top of that, Twitter was surprisingly low to me. LinkedIn is coming back specially for the B2B audience. So a couple of choices, and it gets to the production quality. Are you going to go with your phone or are you going to do broadcast quality content? The phone can work for some applications, behind the scenes, if you already have a huge social following. The downside-you tend to be limited to one social platform when you go phone, audio can be a challenge if you’re in a loud area, you need some special additional equipment as the mic because the mic can be far away from the scene you’re trying to shoot. Most positive thing, easy to be on location and it’s low cost. So broadcast qualities you’re seeing here. This is a three-camera shoot. They’re streaming it live it looks professional they’ll be able to take pieces from this share later, they could send out my portion I’ll put it out on my channels all the other speakers can get their portions. It can get segmented and distributed. So it’s a very positive piece, has a lot more flexibility and use to it if you want content that journalists will use you tend to need to make the broadcast quality step up. If they’re going to be putting on and that doesn’t just include television that includes online journalists as well. They need a reasonable level of audio and video quality to want to post your link. And as we said before, a bunch of them are willing and interested to do it. You can go studio or on location with that. A couple of tips if you want to do it yourself. Three pieces of equipment not necessarily expensive. The dude from Brooklyn can be fairly costly, but if you want to go out of a camera, all you need to buy is this black magic mini converter, cost about 125 dollars you can plug your output in and it allow you to convert it to go into a laptop for potentially streaming it to a website. We use the OBS Studio. This is the one a I mentioned, my producer Mike O’Donnell who was very willingly let me refer to as “Dude from Brooklyn”, he does live there for authenticity. He knows the back-end to put stuff together. Let’s take a look at some of the specifics of the different channels and feel free to question me, interrupt me etcs. It’s all it’s all good, I want to hear if you’ve got questions or if I’m not being clear. So you know, for brand awareness-Facebook if you’ve got a strong following, generating leads, increasing interactions with followers, and it’s versatile as the sites to work with. They’re really encouraging it, they make it easier to do broadcast quality, to go to Facebook channels. There’s also a lot of influencers that you can partner with that have strong Facebook following. Simply by following them and having them involved in the content, you’re bringing your content to a larger audience. Just what was being discussed in that last segment that was so powerful. Lot of benefits to Facebook. Twitter-media themselves are using it for major events, and you can use it yourself to piggyback on a major event. Think episodic and this can also be cross platform. If you want to build followers, maybe it’s twice a month or a weekly show but you’ll have an appointment show at a specific time on a social channel, that you can create a following for with information that’s relevant. So, it is a regular piece it’s something that can grow. You’re not necessarily going to do the first show, and without major promotion or major celebrity or major brand follow and expect to get huge numbers of results immediately-though they can be very well targeted. So think of building an audience as you go along and have a strategy to do that. Work with influencers, again as we mentioned. Twitter is also very effective to promote live events that you might be holding on other channels, because again you can access different followers of multiple people who can share info about the upcoming event driving them towards the link where folks can watch it. YouTube easiest to embed, so you can get the highest quality video and place it within your website within your press room, multiple locations that can be shared. Also, they make it easy if you want to go live on LinkedIn as we’ll note they take the YouTube URL on the LinkedIn channel and that’s a way to get out on LinkedIn with high quality video. So, for LinkedIn you need that YouTube account. If you’re going to go live. The other way LinkedIn can be used is put a link to wherever the live show is happening on your LinkedIn and you can write an article about the subject you’re talking about to your followers will see it and then when they get there they can click to where they can watch and be involved in the live programming. So that can make a big difference to encouragement. So, I know I’m throwing a lot your way now. Instagram-they don’t allow broadcast connectivity. One of the folks I work with said his son figured out a way to hack into Instagram, but if they did it they’d probably just shut down the site. So it’s not worthwhile. Your story will last 24 hours. You can later load one-minute clips or post that video from your camera roll to other social channels to get it out there. So, one of the big things that we’re excited about is why be limited to just one channel? We’re going to have a demo here. I’m going to bring Ben out and we’ll have a quick discussion and show how easily can be seen on multiple channels at the same time which hopefully will be pretty fun. This was an event for Lincoln where they were revealing the prototype of their new car. They wanted to send it to their entire internal audience, to be able to watch live from the New York Auto Show and changes in technology have made that much simpler instead of a satellite truck we brought a backpack to the location and were able to get the signal out-without having to spend, you know, fifteen thousand dollars for the Javits Center internet or similar crazy costs, have electricians run the wiring and connect and have the crews there couple days in advance. Thought I’d let you see a couple of case studies-how brands are using it. Typically, it’s for thought leadership, so I’ve got four different examples. In a couple of them you’ll how influencers are partnering with-but let’s take a look and listen and then we can get some of your feedback on that.


(Video Plays)


DOUG: So some questions when you’re thinking about interview, we saw a couple with influencers the country music artist, Maggie Rose, partnered on the first one. You saw broadcast from the studios discussed during the IR discussion pre-produced content, there was a music video that was created. We were able to roll that into the live program. Of course, there can be audience interaction, you can be in a remote location for excitement. Some of the channels there that went through, you can actually create a mix of earned and paid for channels in addition to your own. And that will be something that you want to tie into your promotion as well for that. We saw the demonstrations are a popular topic for it. You guys have any questions about those? Should I try to be less thorough to stimulate questions? No? Interest? I see you’re paying attention, so I appreciate that! So you have to think of your live event as a television show because that’s what it is. It’s being watched in a different format. So is it a scripted show. Is it natural? Do you need to rehearse? What’s the opening? When we talk about talk shows there are a couple of elements of talk shows and that make it easier. One of them is your guests. What else is another part of a talk show? Almost every talk show has it. You’ve got guests and the host. Yeah. There you go. So who’s the host for this broadcast? And even if it’s a live event that’s something that has to be thought of. When LEGOLAND was doing that opening fun event-how was the audience that was just tuning in online cannot understand what was going on? So, we had a representative from there give about a 30 second intro about what they were doing what was happening and get ready to take a look, so the online audience was up to speed. Now your audience can also be journalists, it can be influencers, it can be prospects, it can be partners, and they can also be the participants which is really cool. So, what’s the format of your show and how are you planning it? We tend to find the sweet spot is like the 25 minute or so, you don’t want to go much longer than that, but there is data from Facebook. Viewers go much longer on live content than pre-recorded content they say three times the engagement. Also remember a live content isn’t just live content. It ends up as pre-recorded content after the fact, if you’re being strategic about it. Another question that comes up who’s within the show? Is it an event, is something fun going on, is it just two people having a conversation? Do you want to invite people to join say via Skype? How are you going to take questions to get the audience involved? And journalist is a key audience for a live broadcast. Do any of you tend to schedule press conferences, where you invite journalists to come and if you are doing fewer of those than you used to… maybe see a show of hands. You guys are doing more? This is a superstar audience. I just have to put this out there. But the reality is it’s tougher to count on journalists to get up show up and be someplace. We had an event that we were doing for a major client in the food industry. They were announcing a whole new approach to how animals were going to be treated on the farms that they were working with for their product-was pretty major. We had talked with them about doing it digital to make it available to media. They just said well we’ll do the phone call we’ll invite journalists here it’s a big story. They did the event on a Monday which wouldn’t have been bad except the Friday before it was the Brexit vote. So how many business journalists do you think came to that event to cover it? So I think when you have announcements to make you want to be providing live video which can include the pre-produced elements content to journalists if you expect them to cover it, sitting at their desks or in some cases at their laptops, at home, in their home office, because journalists media they’re everywhere. So you’ve got to feed the content to them. Make it available if you want to get the major results. Let’s also take a look at how you’re distributing it which platforms we touched on which ones again what influencers are you partnering with. Can you use those platforms? Are there media outlets that would be interested in covering it? Also can you combine it with other production? Any time you have someone on your team that you want the world to know about are key audiences to know about and we are shooting the video with them. You’ve got to be thinking, who else would I want to see this video? Often we keep things to silos will do external communications pieces, media tours, we’re on the leader of a company and when we tell them you know “do you think the leaders should actually record a message to send as part of your internal newsletter and communications about what the heck they’re doing and what they’re saying” and the people they are like “Oh yeah great idea. But we’re not yet wired to be thinking synergistically a cross platform” so hopefully one of the top takeaways I want you to get from this is-we’ve got to be thinking synergistically both in terms of where it goes, and also in terms of what we’re recording when we’re getting content and who it goes to. Now we’ve got a chance to bring Ben up. I’m going to roll up my sleeves and this is very exciting. What’s interesting about these sites is we’re doing a live demonstration of how Social Media LIVE™ can work streaming to live multiple channels. So, if you want to check on your mobile device you can take a look at these and I’ll have a brief conversation with Ben because we’re going to be carrying this video on all of these sites right now.

Just as a quick demo.


You’ve had this passion and you know one of the things I think it’s so wonderful is how you bring your personal feeling and experience to what you do, I’d be remiss in saying I remember my first live streaming event was in 1984, two locations multi-camera stage, we charge the client sixty five thousand dollars. That’s called the good old days. But you know why do you believe that such an important way to proceed?


BEN: There used to be the whole concept was, you’re going to create content and you wanted to bring an audience to a location. Right. I want to go back to my website. I want to go to a destination, in today’s world it’s about syndicated content and going where your audience is. If you want to watch on Twitter, which I think is where most will get their news. That’s great if you want to watch on Facebook. That’s great. If you want to watch on YouTube, it’s great. If you want to watch in a gated community, if you want to watch on my website. Our job is to bring content, that’s sort of what you know West’s mission is, we want to deliver mission critical communications digital solutions, to where audience is. We don’t care. Everything is mission critical for our customers. It’s all about delivering it. If you don’t, if you think you’re going to do content and build it and they will come, you are so sadly mistaken those days are so gone.


DOUG: Yeah and it’s I’ve got a slide up here just a little bit to share how communicators are using video and this is sort of a little troubling to me that 86 percent of them are using it for social, great, wonderful, but 43 percent are using it to increase media coverage. So what that says is you’ve got the video, you’ve got this great content but you’re not even bothering to share it with the media. I know a core element of the overall company is getting communicators information to journalist people can cover it.


BEN: If you think YouTube is a social destination, and all your content should live on YouTube. You are even more sadly mistaken in thinking if you put content on your website that it’s the destination right. YouTube is a syndication point. It is not the syndication point, plus keep in mind every time you put something on YouTube, your contents here. All your competitors’ content is here. You’ve got to be smart with your content but what with your earned media ratings. How do I want my audience to see my top and earned media? You got to think about it, it’s not just when I say syndicated content- it’s not just throw it out there.


DOUG: Right. Yeah, also there are ways to make it interactive. One of the things that stopped a lot of people from getting out there- I’ll call it the Sarah Palin phenomenon because this was 10 years ago when she had her Katie Couric interview. And you know the mistake wasn’t Sarah, and I don’t know you ever get this from your boss “we want to be in the Wall Street Journal, we want to be on CNBC or we want to be on network news” and they’ve done nothing. And they expect to be able to go from zero to being ready. So one of the opportunities you have with live streaming and other media outreach is give them a chance to find their specific voice, find their comfort level, see what messages are resonating, and do it in smaller safer groups. My take on the Sarah Palin thing-putting politics in a box for a moment-I know that’s hard to do these days, is that they would have been much better off putting her on a local morning newscast, similar to a satellite tour as the start with the anchors would have been thrilled saying oh how are your kids doing and what impact is this having on your family? And she would have gotten a free ticket to make multiple points, gotten so much more comfortable, had so much more content to talk about, when she went to the big leagues. So, I got a quick audience test. And obviously the easy answer is “the map of the U.S.” but can you tell what this is a map of? Ben, if you want to throw some ideas?


BEN: Red states vs. non-red states?


DOUG: Red states vs non-red states is a not bad guess. Anyone else want to throw something in? It’s actually how Trump became president. These are the Sinclair Broadcasting markets, across the country. Interestingly enough I happen to know the political reporter (that’s not the interesting part) but I to speak to him for Sinclair who’s at ABC in Washington D.C. not an ideologue from either side. And he was telling me that he was begging Hillary to let him interview her, because he said you know you need votes in these areas of the country. Her team refused. Trump on the other hand aggressively went after these markets with their message, so you know, if your leadership is questioning whether they should be doing that…I know there’s a question that came up earlier about you know “what if they don’t want to do it?” “How do you convince them?” clearly what your competitors are doing is a hugely compelling thing, but the idea of writing off any audience in general, for your organization is a mistake. You’ve got to be reaching them and live streaming video for journalists it’s a way for you to give specific types of content to specific audiences that you’re going to cater to, and as you develop this and grow this it becomes somewhat self-selecting. Because people aren’t going to sign up and watch stuff they have no interest in. Journalists aren’t going to report on things that aren’t in their bailiwick. Clearly from the earlier discussion you don’t offend them by just blasting stuff that’s completely unrelated to them. But if you do your homework and reach out properly to the influencers, to the right journalist, for the right types of stories they’ll be a pathway, and I think this is a key message that you’ve got to share with your leadership about. They’ve got to be getting their content to our audiences and it’s our job as communicators to figure out what’s the right content, what’s the message, what puts them in a good position, and let them play a little bit in the minor leagues before they want to hit the home runs and get on these major outlets because guess what they might not be ready. And you know every once in a while you will get an example where you’ve got a leader, that’s you know ready for show. And that’s good. So here are some of the takeaways. Go live. Engage your CEO. Get that person involved. Use social video to earn media, reach out, let the media know what you’re doing, that’s appropriate that can follow. We did a campaign about truth on trial for the communications area. And Ty Cobb who was formerly President Trump’s White House counsel was on it shortly after he left. We ended up with the number one story on Politico for about eight hours. When he talked about McGahn recusing himself from the Russia investigation, that hadn’t been public news and it came out and the Politico reporter were like oh you want broadcast video of it boom. That clip is still on POLITICO. So when you’re creating content and sending it to these journalists not only does it go there. You talked about the example of sharing earned. You can send out a clip of a link to the positive video that you yourself created that another journalist posted and share with all relevant audiences so you’re getting that influence.


BEN: And this slide that you have up here makes me think this is one of the reasons why we are the next boom. Is one of the reasons so excited about the space because go live with quality right broadcast quality, why we bought it, reasons people at the company engage your CEO and engage your audience. Another reason why syndicator content is a platform enables us to syndicate the channel. It’s what it’s all about and promote your event which there’s no better tool than our pure distribution. So, I love this.


DOUG: Yeah and promoting is a key part of it. I wanted to just touch on as a last thought you know plan that in advance of the event. Twitter recommends a week out and start promoting it. You can do a mix of paid on the channels, where that content will be featured., but also what are other media outlets that might be interested in the story. Hey Will they be willing to cover the live thing? Should you do paid with them to get them to cover the live stream on their channel? These are all opportunities to get broader reach from everything if you guys have questions for us can throw them out otherwise we’ll let you continue with this fabulous event. Hopefully you got something you can take with you and put into action immediately.

Is Your Measurement Methodology Monkey-Proof?

Beware sudden changes to algorithms or source material that can throw a monkey wrench in your analysis or give you a false sense of achievement.

Is your measurement methodology monkey-proof?Jesper Andersen

Last Friday, Facebook announced that starting this week, the company will only count viewable impressions for pages’ organic reach. The move will make organic reach more easily comparable to Facebook’s ad reach, which has always been calculated using viewable-only impressions.

Up until now, organic reach has been calculated using the number of times a piece of content was loaded into a user’s news feed. But the content did not have to appear on an actual screen to be counted as an impression.

The consequences of Facebook’s changes, according to social media professionals I have spoken with, could be a drop in the reported organic reach of Facebook pages by as much as 20 percent, but will likely wary greatly from page to page.

Following Facebook’s latest changes to their algorithm, which deprioritised branded content in favour of interactions with family and friends on the platform, this latest news could be seen as adding insult to injury. However, it is important to remember that Facebook’s new calculation of organic reach is actually more accurate and that the old inflated reach numbers were never ‘true’.

Adapting your measurement methodology to the ‘X factor’

The recent changes to Facebook’s algorithm and the way it calculates organic reach is a perfect example of the dilemma that constantly faces communication professionals, when we do measurement and analysis.

If we want to accurately benchmark our work and its results over time, we need to take into account not just our own efforts but also the surrounding circumstances. These are elements, which may be beyond our control but whose impact we nonetheless must include in our analysis to get an accurate result.

Some typical examples include:

  • The volume of your media coverage is increasing nicely despite no extra effort on your part. It turns out to be the result of a gradual increase in the number of media outlets being monitored by your service provider.
  • The number of readers you reach with your print media coverage is dropping, despite the same number of articles as the year before. The explanation could be an actual drop in print readership or print media outlets going out of business.
  • Changes in your social media reach or engagement can be the result of algorithms changing.
  • A drop in your share-of-voice can be caused by your competitor getting embroiled in a crisis or shitstorm, generating a lot of negative coverage, and so is not necessarily a bad thing for you.

4 key questions to ask yourself

When analysing your data, before you draw any conclusions, always ask yourself these questions:

  1. In what ways have the fundamentals changed compared with the last period we are benchmarking against? Are we using data based on the same source material (e.g. list of media outlets)? Have we experienced a noticeable increase or decrease in social media following?
  2. Are we aware of any significant changes to the media eco-system that may help explain what we are seeing in our analysis? For instance, the introduction of an online pay-wall causing readers to drift to other (free) news outlets? Or changes to social media algorithms that affect the calculation of user statistics?
  3. Have any competitors entered or left our market and upset the previous status quo? In what way?
  4. What are the major public agendas currently (think #MeToo, Fake News, climate change, Brexit etc.) and could they be having an impact on our results, good or bad? How do we allow for these issues when benchmarking one period against another?

Once you take these questions into account, you will have a much better understanding of how different factors may or may not have skewed your analysis, leaving you better able to determine the true outcome and impact of your communication.


About the Author: Jesper Andersen is a strategy advisor and international keynote speaker specialised in communications measurement. He runs his own consultancy, Quantum PR Measurement. 

What Comms Pros Should Expect in the Year of the Dog

Kevin Akeroyd Chief Executive Officer CisionKevin Akeroyd, CEO, Cision

Fact vs. Fiction: Marketers and Media Find Common Ground with Big Data

Media has always defined the context within which marketing works and that context is in flux. The explosive growth of new channels and publishing platforms has fundamentally changed media consumption patterns and threatens to render traditional media models obsolete. And we’re only getting started, folks.

As a new generation of innovations, such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT), continue to go mainstream, an ever-expanding ecosystem of traditional and digital media channels will emerge. Think cars, watches, home appliances, pets and even people. These innovations are powering new types of publishers and now, every individual has the capability to be their own publisher/influencer. However, with this capability – and a premium being put on “speed” to be first with content – the line between fact and fiction is being reshaped. The full impact of this evolution is still to be determined, but one look at our last Presidential election or Brexit illustrates the impact of these changes. This tsunami of technological and societal change has resulted in a dramatic and rapid shift in the way marketers work with media. It has forced marketers to rethink traditional media strategies and broken down existing silos. In the coming year, a higher demand will be placed on a more programmatic, data-driven approach to media investment and execution.

What Comms Pros Should Expect in the Year of the DogThe New Marketing and Media World Order Will Explode

Marketing’s response to this shifting media landscape has been an ongoing process. First it was “paid” media with innovations in ad tech. Then came “owned” media with the emergence of marketing automation solutions. Social media quickly followed. But despite all the progress and innovation, marketers still have a HUGE multi-billion dollar blind spot: earned media.

Communications teams at global brands invest billions in earned media programs yet they still rely on dated engagement metrics and what’s worse, have not been able to measure its true impact on business revenue. Instead, vanity metrics still reign supreme in PR departments across the world. This makes zero sense. Consumers trust earned media more than any other form of media and trust is more valuable than ever in today’s media environment. Why?

Today’s media environment is at the mercy of the ever more-empowered customer. Empowered by digital technologies, empowered by today’s culture of experimentation and empowered by almost unlimited media choices in a real-time world of Instagram and Twitter where they can access anything, from anyone, instantly and consume it anywhere. The customer is king and the need to understand their influence will be paramount in the new year.

The Media Puzzle Will FINALLY Be Solved

Lastly, my crystal ball tells me that 2018 is the year that very expensive blind spot of earned media is eliminated. Just as customers are getting more savvy with the plethora of technologies at their disposal, so are marketers who have struck gold with marketing and PR tools they are using to break down the silos between the different types of media to better reach and engage their audiences.

To do this, marketers will turn to new data-driven technologies that will for the first time ever, enable communication professionals to connect earned media content to consumer action and demonstrate the true return on investment. How? By applying data and measurement at the same level as ad tech. This involves marketing tools that leverage the industry’s leading media data and audience management providers to track any piece of earned media content as well as audience data about the people consuming that content.

All that said, enabling communications professionals to apply data and measurement at the same level of ad tech is just one part of the puzzle. The game changer for next year will be the ability for marketers to gain a holistic view into the performance and impact of media investments across paid, owned, social and earned channels.


About the Author: Kevin Akeroyd oversees the Cision executive management team across operations globally. He has more than 25 years of experience in reshaping modern digital, social and mobile marketing globally. Prior to Cision he was general manager and senior vice president at Oracle Marketing Cloud. Akeroyd and Oracle created the Enterprise Marketing Platform category and led it from the onset. Prior to Oracle, he held senior leadership positions at several companies, including,, RR Donnelley, and Jigsaw. Akeroyd holds a degree from the University of Washington, Michael G. Foster School of Business and attended the EPSO program at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. 


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PRIME Research UK Reigns at AMEC Awards

PRIME Research receives multiple accolades, including overall ‘Grand Prix’

CommPRO Editorial Staff

PRIME Research collected five commendations at this year’s ‘Global Summit for Measurement’ including the event’s highest honor for research on behalf of SKODA, the European auto maker. Facilitated by AMEC, the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication, PRIME Research was recognized for research excellence by a jury of its peers for two initiatives, SKODA Goes Off-Road: Using Measurement to Conquer a New Market Segment and UK Coverage of the EU Referendum with the Reuters Institute.

SPRIME Research UK Reigns at AMEC AwardsKODA Goes Off-Road: Using Measurement to Conquer a New Market Segment revealed how the car maker applied PRME’s media analysis research to develop the strategic cross-marketing launch of a new SKODA vehicle, KODIAQ. Commenting on the win, PRIME’s founder and president Dr. Rainer Mathes recognized the PRIME/SKODA team effort. “Working in close collaboration with each client, PRIME acts as a research-based communications consulting partner. In the case of SKODA, this strong alliance resulted in an extraordinary outcome where our research demonstrated PR’s ability to make a meaningful contribution to a positive business outcome.”

The AMEC awarded PRIME Research in the following categories:

  • ‘Grand Prix for the Most Effective Media Intelligence, Research & Insights Company Campaign” – Platinum, for SKODA Goes Off-Road
  • ‘Best Measurement for a Single Event’
    • Gold, for SKODA Goes Off-Road: Using Measurement to Conquer a New Market Segment
    • Silver, for UK Coverage of the EU Referendum
  • ‘Best Measurement of a Public Sector Campaign’– Gold, for UK Coverage of the EU Referendum
  • ‘Best Measurement of a Consumer Campaign’– Gold, for SKODA Goes Off-Road

PRIME Research UK Senior Account Manager, Dan Fanshawe, commented on the SKODA win, calling it “a great reflection of how a brand can use PR measurement to develop and track a product launch that speaks to the entire business.” One judge deemed the SKODA program “a fantastic case which shows how well-planned measurement demonstrates the value of communications.”

UK Coverage of the EU Referendum, which analyzed and reported on the extent to which British media influenced BREXIT, was the result of collaboration between PRIME Research and the Reuters Institute. Diego Bironzo who led the PRIME Research UK’s Referendum report team, expressed his excitement with the organization’s performance, saying, “The AMEC awards are testament to PRIME’s in-depth understanding of public policy, our insightful approach to content analysis and our fruitful partnership with the RISJ.”


PRIME Research equips the world’s most admired companies and its most valuable brands with the tools, talent and technology they need to maximize the return on their public relations and communications investment. From eight international offices and in 90 languages, PRIME Research helps communicators prove value and improve performance. The firm integrates, examines and evaluates media performance across all channels – social, digital, print and broadcast – to deliver actionable insights and strategic guidance for better communications and business results.

To learn more about PRIME and either one of these reports, visit https://prime –

Truth: The New Digital Divide

Gary Goldhammer, Creative Director, Hill+Knowlton Strategies

In Wonder Woman, the new summer blockbuster from DC Comics, Diana Prince uses her “Lasso of Truth” to ensnare the bad guys and make them come clean. Her lasso is the ultimate weapon – nonviolent yet all-powerful.

The world could use that lasso right now.

“Truth” will be a recurring theme throughout this year’s Cannes Festival of Creativity, with sessions on “fake news” and related topics dotting the seminal meeting of the marketing minds. But truth is not just the latest buzzword or trend de jour – truth itself is under attack.

Thanks in part to social media balkanization, a growing rejection of experts and data-driven consumer targeting, a new “digital divide” has emerged – not a divide of access to technology, but of access to the truth. This divide is a pernicious wound, one that’s been torn deeper by our ever-insular online habits and the predilections of those who wish to keep us at odds.

Truth, Lies, and Bullshit

The truth has always had a certain amount of pliability, otherwise known as bias. There’s a difference, however, between good old-fashioned bias and today’s “post-truth” world of outright bullshit.

Bias is the truth bent toward a point of view. Lies are the opposite of truth. But bullshit, as philosopher Harry Frankfurt once noted, is an unapologetic, wholesale rejection of the truth for personal, professional or political gain. We are so mired in bullshit today that telling lies would actually be an improvement.

Author Nicolas Negroponte tried to warn us in 1995, long before the polarizing Brexit vote, the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign and the entrance of “post-truth” (aka bullshit) into our lexicon. He feared the possibility of customizing our digital feeds to the point of excluding any information we didn’t like or agree with, thereby creating our own realities.

Negroponte couldn’t have been more prescient. Instead of mass media, today we have a mass of micro media. And while a micro media world might be great for marketing, it’s not so great for rational discourse.

The Wall Street Journal’s “Blue Feed/Red Feed” Facebook tool, for example, puts this ever-widening truth divide on full display, showing how the same story can either be “reported” completely different or, in some cases, ignored altogether. And as a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found, flooding our feeds with facts just makes the divide wider:

“Facts can only do so much,” the study’s authors said. “When people’s beliefs are threatened, they often take flight to a land where facts do not matter. In scientific terms, their beliefs become less ‘falsifiable’ because they can no longer be tested scientifically for verification or refutation.”

Closing the Divide – the News Media May Have a Solution

It’s been said “the truth will set you free.” But if the online news business is any indication, some people are now willing to put a price on that freedom.

New research from the American Press Institute indicates that consumers will in fact pay for news if it’s high quality and on specific topics they value:

“Those who pay for news rate their sources as highly reliable,” the report found. “Subscribers are clearly signaling that publishers cannot cost-cut their way to growth — attracting subscribers requires investment in premium content.” In other words, being reliable (and yes, truthful) is how to rise above the cacophony of media noise.

It’s fitting that the news business help solve this problem since it bears some responsibility. The media’s failure to adjust to a digital-first model sent ad revenue into free fall, which resulted in fewer reporters. These survivors quickly found they could produce more content by being stenographers instead of journalists.

Before long we went from stories going unchecked, to fake news sites making up stories altogether. And because the Internet didn’t distinguish between the New York Times and a blog site someone started five minutes ago, after a while neither did the public.

Here’s the Truth – It Comes Down to Trust

It’s far too easy, as we saw in this past election cycle, to create “news” with a little digital sleight of hand, or to replace black-and-white truths with colorful yet bogus memes.

But politicians, as well as brands, need to be careful. If you play loose and fast with the truth – or ignore it altogether – you risk losing trust.

Trust is the ultimate bond; it’s difficult to gain and nearly impossible to earn back, especially among younger audiences for whom trust is paramount. Savvy consumers will eventually find out if you’ve been lying and they will call you out on it.

Brands and their agencies have a unique opportunity to cut through the digital morass and lift the common discourse. This is not the time to give in and create PowerPoint decks on “Marketing in a Post-Truth World” – this is the time to fight back. To make a stand. To be an activist, not an apologist. We have to close the divide before it separates and swallows us forever.

Call it bullshit if you like. But it’s the truth.

About the Author: Gary Goldhammer, Creative Director with Hill+Knowlton Strategies, is a former journalist with a passion for storytelling.

Privacy and Protection: Your Three-Minute Guide to VPNs

VPN 2Nathan Hughes, Secure Thoughts

In recent years, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have been gaining attention. As our work continues to digitalize, cybersecurity has become an essential practice for all businesses.

If you want to ensure personal safety, as well as privacy amongst your employees, then additional online systems are unavoidable. A VPN is one of the most efficient ways of ensuring security.

This comprehensive guide covers everything needed to transform your digital workspace and protect your business.

What Is a VPN & How Does It Work?

Once installed, your VPN mimics a private network and encrypts your internet connection. It allows you to hide your data, location and activity, making it the perfect tool for staying safe on shared networks. The application works by rerouting your connection via the VPN server before connecting to your ISP. This creates an initial tunnel that is impenetrable to third parties.

This added protection layer is formed using a range of algorithms, depending on VPN type. While some use cryptography to create a certificate of authentication, others use a tunneling tactic to connect a remote user with a private service. The latter is the most common option available. The use of a VPN is legal in most places, although some countries, such as Iran and China, try to put blocks on usage.

Who Can Benefit from VPNs?

There are numerous uses for a VPN; maintaining privacy, bypassing censorship and security from hackers are just a few advantages. For business professionals, there are many reasons to add a VPN to your arsenal. Not only does it keep all your company data safe, but it also means you can share work with remote employees without worrying about interceptions. It also allows you to overcome geo-blocking in countries with strict internet regulations—ideal when traveling for business!

If you are a larger company, corporate VPNs are perfect for creating a secure internal network. However, opting for a commercial VPN is the best choice for personal security.

Why Use a VPN?

There are endless ways a VPN can aid your success. They afford you a high degree of privacy from the government and ISP, as well as securing you from hackers on public WiFi. Add a VPN to your mobile device and log into your work domains on-the-go without worrying about sensitive data.

However, while this software provides a degree of anonymity online, it’s worth noting that the provider will still have all your details. Most won’t keep all usage data, but they will track a basic connection log—who you are, where you are and when you connected.

How to Choose the Right VPN

There are many factors to consider when choosing the best VPN. Price, speed and efficiency are all important. Some of the more expensive options offer a wide range of potential server locations and guarantee a constant and fast connection.

While there are free options available, what you get in value is lost in performance. These types of VPNs will often drop in and out, and you may even have to wait in a queue to get connected. Dealing with this is a potential nightmare for business owners who are already on a tight schedule.

If you want a more comprehensive explanation of differences, as well as reviews of some of the best options, this article covers all you need to know.

Are There Disadvantages?

Like all technology, a VPN is far from perfect. The few disadvantages aren’t enough to nullify the benefits, but they are worth noting. First, a strong encryption often leads to lower internet speeds. If you chose a low-quality provider, then this will only be magnified.

If you have strong privacy concerns, it’s also worth reiterating your VPN provider will still see your activity. Some companies offer an anonymous usage scheme, but it usually costs more. Similarly, it will not protect you from the authorities; no confidentiality laws protect you or your VPN company of choice.

In summary, a VPN is an essential addition for any business professional. Cyberattacks have become too commonplace not to take security measures. Plus, it provides the added benefit of allowing you to bypass restrictions and access websites when overseas.

If you have not yet investigated using a VPN on your personal or company network, then now is the time to do the research and see the benefits.

About the Author: Nathan is a technology blogger and internet privacy expert. Having worked as a marketer, developer and writer, he knows the ins and outs of internet businesses and promotes the importance of creating and optimizing online systems.

Andrew Faas on a Boomer’s Guide To Millennials: The A-B C’s of Leadership, D is for Dependability

andrew-faasAndrew Faas

This is the fourth in a series of articles on the A-B C’s of Leadership, outlining the characteristics for effective leadership.

“Only recently a prominent public man was criticized throughout the newspaper world as not having enough character to keep his promises. He had not the stamina to make good when to do so proved difficult. He hadn’t the timber, the character fiber to stand up and do the thing he knew what was right, and that he had promised to do. The world is full of these jelly-fish people who have not lime enough in their backbone to stand erect to do the right thing. They are always stepping into the spotlight in the good intention stage, and then, when the reckoning time comes, taking the line of least resistance, doing the thing which will cast the least effect on money regardless of later consequences. They think they can be as unscrupulous about breaking promises as they were about making them. But sooner or later fate makes us play fair or get out of the game.”

One hundred years after this was written by Orison Swett Marden in Making Life a Masterpiece, Boris Johnston and Nigel Farage, the main players in the Brexit debacle, got out of the game because they are “jelly fish people who have not lime enough … to stand up to do the right thing” and fix what they broke.

Someone once defined being dependable as, “it means that I do what I have said I would do when I said I would do it and in the best way I can.” I assert that this is too narrow a definition which was validated when I asked a number of people – ‘What do you consider the most important characteristic in others?’  Dependability outranked all of the others I highlight in this series of articles, by a huge margin. In probing this further I have found that, people view those who they consider dependable as also being, not only true to their word but; consistently loyal, empathetic, honest, reliable and responsible.

Sadly, when asked to identify at least five people (either people they know or know about) who they consider dependable, under the broader definition, most could not go beyond two people. This, I assert, is why I am experiencing the discontent in society today.

When I asked these same people whether others would describe them as being dependable, most responded with a qualifier – “depends on who you ask?” This question prompted many to volunteer that the different environments in which they live, work, learn play and worship influences how they behave and therefore how they are perceived. This reinforces the notion that we become products of our environment. Another major influence is having been disappointed by those they have entrusted with their confidence, causing them to be cynical, and distrustful of almost all they have to interact with or should be able to count on. Also for many, these negative experiences are used as rationalizations for their being undependable. This dynamic has normalized undependability and is giving rise to the various revolutionary forces I see playing out in almost every segment of our society.

I assert that the world would be a much better place if the golden rule – ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’, became more than just something that is recited in elementary school. This ethic of reciprocity should become a standard by which all are measured and entrenched in our cultures.

Andrew Faas on a Boomer’s Guide To Millennials-The A-B C’s of Leadership, D is for DependabilityA starting point for this should be self reflection on how dependable you are by asking to what extent do you:

  • over promise and under deliver?
  • arrive late or are a no show?
  • indicate you will get back to someone and don’t?
  • reach out to someone you know is having difficulty?
  • become a bystander vs being a witness, defender or resistor when someone is wronged?
  • turn on people because of political or social pressures?
  • take unethical or illegal actions to achieve something?
  • overcharge clients, customers and employers?
  • exploit employees, family members and friends?
  • deflect your mistakes to others?
  • take credit for what others have done?
  • sabotage the work of others?
  • discredit others?
  • not fix something you broke?
  • Lie
  • make fun of others?
  • assess people based on subjectivity, ambiguity and bigotry?
  • rely on your religion to gain trust and credibility?
  • suck up and kick down?
  • cheat?
  • cover something up?

It’s a rare soul who could honestly answer never to all of these questions, however based on people I asked who could not even come up with two people they considered dependable, it is safe to assume the majority of people, if they were honest with themselves would have to answer in the affirmative to many.

The next step is to ask yourself ‘When I am on the receiving end of these actions and behaviors – how would I like it?’ Unless you are a totally narcissistic psychopath, the answer should be: I HATE IT WHEN SOMEONE DOES THAT!!!!!

The third step is to establish a personal covenant, golden rules to guide your comments, actions and behaviors in every point of contact with others.

The Golden Rules

  1. Meet or exceed what is expected of you.
  2. Be accountable and take responsibility.
  3. Don’t compromise on your values and beliefs.
  4. Be respectful, open, honest, fair and direct in all of your interactions.
  5. Be kind, sensitive, empathetic, compassionate and supportive.
  6. Be a witness, defender and resistor vs a bystander when someone is wronged.
  7. Listen to and hear other points of view.
  8. Obey the laws of the land, established codes of conduct and terms of engagement.
  9. Embrace those who others shun.
  10. Minimize the negatives and accentuate the positives.
  11. Share your successes and celebrate the success of others.
  12. Be charitable to all.
  13. Fix what you break.
  14. Be loyal to your family, friends, coworkers and employers.
  15. Expose wrongdoing.
  16. Understand that “Right makes Might”.
  17. Understand how your comments, actions, behaviors and decisions might negatively impact others.
  18. Understand how those you interact with feel.

The plight of refugees, and various positions being taken on relief, immigration, nationalism and protectionism, really puts to test how dependable we are as nations and individuals. There is a deep divide descending on us, which unabated, has the potential of destroying our moral fibre and ultimately our freedom.  We are bystanders to repeating the events in the early thirties with the rise of Nazism and McCarthyism in the early fifties. This can and must be abated.

I believe that if the majority of our citizens step back from how they feel, gain the benefit of the feelings of others and apply what we learned as children – ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you’ – we can and will change the course of history.


About the Author: ANDREW FAAS (  is an author, activist, revolutionist, philanthropist and management advisor promoting psychologically healthy, safe and fair workplaces. Before becoming a philanthropist, he led some of Canada’s largest corporations for over three decades as a senior executive. He founded the Faas Foundation, which supports non-profit organizations concerned with workplace well-being and other personal health and research endeavors. Currently he is partnering with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence on a groundbreaking initiative, Emotion Revolution in the Workplace, which will revolutionize the way organizations operate, leveraging the power of emotional intelligence; and Mental Health America, to help reduce unnecessary stress factors at work and eliminate stigma around a condition that affects one in five adults. His latest book “From Bully to Bull’s-Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire,” reveals deep-seated dangers of bullying to everyone who works pinpointing the identifying characteristics of bullies and outlining how bullying undermines corporate profitability and value and how CEOs and boards can remedy it. 

Reprinted with permission of the author. Originally appeared on