Fighting Market Disruption – It’s All In The Data

Jim Harenchar - featuredBy Jim Harenchar, President & CEO, Response Marketing Group

Much more than just a buzzword, disruptive marketing is changing the way we react to, understand and accept companies and their advertising. From a business standpoint, disruptive marketing represents a key shift in an era where promotional strategies update as fast as the technology that carries them.

Apple didn’t change music—it changed the way consumers shop for music with a disruptive service that revolutionized the industry. Netflix has revolutionized media consumption. Tesla has disrupted the auto industry by creating direct-to-consumer purchasing pipelines that break from the traditional dealership model and give consumers a way to interact with a car brand that’s familiar to their experiences in other categories. When you look at Airbnb — and also Uber, for that matter — it’s clear that many of today’s disruptors are focusing on the social aspect of consumerism. There’s something more attractive to today’s customer about purchasing a product or service from a person as opposed to a large corporate brand. Airbnb accomplishes this by connecting people to people. This peer-sharing aspect is what’s allowed the company to grow so quickly.

Whereas disruption turns an industry on its head by offering customers something that previously didn’t exist, innovation merely makes an existing value offering better, cheaper or faster. Marketers who focus on building relationships around good products will be rewarded, while fake fast followers with shabby products and poor service will be ostracized.

Follow The Leaders

Financial services companies were some of the first to embrace data mining and customer analytics. It has been used as a tool for customer acquisition, retention, cross-selling and Onboarding for nearly 20 years. Other industries have followed that lead and begun to apply similar methodologies for their business applications. We believe two industries that can benefit greatly from applying data-driven marketing are hospitality companies and health systems.

As outlined in a recent study conducted by Deloitte Consulting, hospitality companies are data-rich but insight-poor. To truly understand their customers’ needs and deliver an outstanding experience, hospitality companies should be able to access and leverage the right information at the right time–not an easy task. In fact, many hospitality companies struggle to turn the disjointed data they have into useful information, and valuable insights to enhance the experience. Others have difficulty determining what information to collect, how frequently it should be collected, or how best to distribute it to internal and external stakeholders.

Within the healthcare sector, an evaluation of the marketplace by McKinsey & Company revealed that more than 200 businesses created since 2010 are developing innovative tools to make use of available health care information. The good news is that the proliferation of electronic medical records and mobile devices, enhanced computing platforms and infrastructure, new data sharing and mining tools, and other recent technological advances have dramatically increased the ability of health care providers, payers, and their affiliates to generate, aggregate, store, and analyze health information. As market leaders like Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins develop strategies to leverage existing patient and prospective patient data, we’re seeing more interest in embracing data to improve marketing effectiveness and measurement.

Whether you’re a brand activation agency fine-tuning a creative brand campaign or an ecommerce business analyzing customer-buying behavior, data analysis plays a huge role in brand disruption. Data-driven marketers are using both unstructured and structured data to discover valuable trends, opportunities, and consumer insights. New analytics tools make it possible to analyze sophisticated text-based data, which can include anything from online customer reviews to emails. Brands that invest in data analytics can easily spot customer behavioral trends, identify areas for improvement in products and services, and glean insight about what their customers want. In other words, data analytics is a gold mine for identifying disruptive market opportunities and capitalizing on them.

We believe the basic principals that we have applied to customer and prospect marketing in other verticals translates to success in hospitality and hospital marketing and advertising. We would also advise you to look no further than your existing data as a starting point for implementing a data-driven marketing strategy in 2017.


About the Author: Jim Harenchar is the President & CEO of Response Marketing Group, a consumer-data focused marketing agency in Richmond, VA. The 12 person independent agency, offers branding, marketing strategy/planning, data analytics, measurement and management of multichannel marketing campaigns. The agency serves a number of clients in the financial services, hospitality, healthcare, and real estate development sectors. The firm can be reached at Jim Harenchar can be reached at 866-574-7665. 


You Think 2016 Was Rough? You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet

jack-monsonBy Jack Monson, Director of Digital Strategy, Qiigo

Trump. Clinton. Bernie. Obamacare. Make America Great Again. Black Lives Matter. Email servers. Putin. Benghazi. Wikileaks. Fox News. CNN. Trumpists. Snowflakes.

If you’re paying attention on Facebook and other social media outlets, you know your friends’ opinions on many of the above subjects.

Some may think that with the election behind us and the inauguration happening this week that the heated debates are done. I think it’s just warming up.

The New (Ab)Normal

Just a few years ago, the public sharing of so much political nastiness was simply not done. At least it was not done by adults and professionals. But after the past year of raw political argument, we have lost all filters.

The incoming President of the United States has forsaken all filters including media editors and his own spokespeople in favor of instant Facebook posts and real-time Tweets. Love him or hate him, we’re now all doing the same thing.

Swapping Positions 2009 to 2017

An interesting change between those on opposite ends of the political spectrum is happening in 2017, and I don’t mean the residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. There’s a role reversal happening in the poli-social space.

In the US and much of Europe, Liberals are now taking over the role of opposition to the Conservative’s new position as the establishment.

5 Ways To Move Your CareerFor the past 8 years, Conservatives have played the role of the rebel alliance fighting the big-government empire. Think of that timeframe: for most of the lifespan of social media, or at least the lifespan of marketing and massive use on Facebook, Republicans have been on the offense in social media messages while Democrats have had to play defense. When President Barack Obama took office in January of 2009, the Democrats also had control of the US House and the US Senate. The Republicans used social media to attack that establishment. Eventually the tide turned back in their favor.

Now with the GOP in the White House, retaining the Senate, holding the House, and growing their lead across most state governments, it’s the Democrats’ turn to go on offense. This may lead to a great frenzy of counter-culture activity on social. We could be seeing the dawn of a new of 1960s style protest movement, although a sterile digital version where you don’t actually have to leave your phone to participate.

More #FakeNews

How do some respond to news that they just don’t like? Call it Fake News. Be prepared to see about half of the content shared on social media to be called fake news by someone. Caution: the more that label is used, the less of an impact it has.

I personally plan to save the fake news moniker for so-called established news sources that publish false news and ignoring the phony sources that pop up.

More Unfriending = An Opportunity for Marketers

On my own personal Facebook account was unfriended by just one friend, but unfollowed or hidden by an untold many due during the 2016 election. Once some people start trimming their friend lists, it’s easy to continue. This could be the start for many Facebook users to scale down their list of friends to their real friends, or more likely, those who share many beliefs.

Here’s where my marketing friends (the real and the Facebook kind!) can find an opportunity in this mess —

Friends’ posts in the newsfeed rank higher than anything from brands or publishers since a June 2016 Facebook update. More unfriending means more prime real estate for your brand’s content on a fan’s newsfeed! Don’t give up on organic Facebook posts quite yet. After a divisive year, there may be a lot of holes to fill!


About the Author: Jack Monson is the Director of Digital Strategy at Qiigo. He has been helping global brands, enterprises, and franchise systems with Digital Marketing for nearly two decades. He blogs at Social Media Workbench and is the co-host of the weekly Social Geek Radio program and podcast. Reach him on Twitter at @jackmonson.

#PRGENOME Project: Key Digital Trends for 2017

pr-genome-project-january-19Ogilvy PR’s Marshall Manson and James Whatley kick of the PR Council’s 2017 #PRGENOME Project on January 19th with a trend report outlining both where they believe the digital and social landscape is headed and what brands and agency partners should do about it. This webinar is free for PR Council members, $100 for nonmembers.







marshall-mansonMarshall Manson

CEO UK | Ogilvy Public Relations

Marshall took the reins at OPR London in 2015, after two years as EMEA MD of Social@Ogilvy. He’s got a diverse background that includes experience with corporate communications, brand marketing and politics. He is a worldwide board member of Ogilvy Public Relations.




james-whatleyJames Whatley is Digital Director at Ogilvy & Mather Advertising, London.

He leads social creative and strategy across the business for multiple clients and spends his days helping deliver campaigns that are loved, shared, and talked about by millions. In his spare time James enjoys healthy obsessions with the Internet in general, amazing cinema, and frisbee. You can find him on Twitter @whatleydude or at

PR Council Learning & Development: Becoming a People Manager (Workshop)

becoming-a-people-managerAbout the Workshop

In this workshop, participants will gain skills and perspective and be introduced to the practical techniques needed to transition into a managerial role at a communications agency.


  • Go from star individual to successful manager
  • Credibly transition from peer to manager
  • Manage millennials as a millennial manager
  • Drive smart, innovative and on-time results
  • Engage in tough conversations about issues impacting individual, agency or client-relationship success

This Learning & Development program takes place in New York City on January 25th. Tickets for PR Council members are $395 with a group discount available, and nonmembers are $795.

About the Instructor

Beryl Loeb has worked within or consulted to agencies for over 20 years and has a deep understanding of the firm culture and demands of a client-service business. She has created on-going professional development programs for agencies, served as an in-house professional development advisor for fifteen years at a global PR firm, and has been brought in to lead workshops and coaching for advertising and web marketing agencies.


PR Council


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AI...Friend or Foe? – Is Your Agency Ready?

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AI…Friend or Foe? – Is Your Agency Ready? (Webcast On-Demand)

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PR Council Stop Working for Nothing (Workshop)

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Big Little Truths & Lies: PR Council SHEQUALITY Roundtables

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PR Council Annual Dinner & Diversity Distinction in PR Awards

PR Council’s Q2 Quick Survey

Aug 17, 2017
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PR Council’s Q2 Quick Survey

Aug 16, 2017
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PR Council Critical Issues Forum

Executive Briefing Email


Guidelines for Planning Your 2017 Content


According to a recent research report by the Content Marketing Institute, Sixty-two percent of B2B marketers say their organization’s overall approach to content marketing has been much more successful now versus last year. Attributed to this success are two factors: doing a better job with content creation (85%) and developing or adjusting their content marketing strategy (72%). As we approach 2017, are you adequately preparing your content to drive more results? Here are five things to consider when planning your 2017 content:

  1. Carefully analyze your 2016 data and derive insights that you can use for 2017. Which channels performed the best? Was there a specific content topic or thought leader that you can correlate to spikes or dips in your analytics? Also take into account the timing of the content you published in 2016 – was there a high-performing month, day of the week, or time of day that particularly resonated? Replicate what caused those spikes, and remove content initiatives that didn’t hit the mark.
  2. Take into account emerging channels. By now, you’re well aware of the tried and true channels: emails, direct mail, phone, search, review sites, social media, press releases, website and blogs. Which of those channels receive the greatest response rate from your content? Is there a network that has been dwindling in engagement or response? That may mean that your community is migrating to another network. Look at new social media networks, apps or even events. What about influencers – are you utilizing those relationships as a channel to share brand messages that may resonate more? This channel is proving to be one of marketing’s most popular tactics today.
  3. Look outside the norm, especially when it comes to dates and events. Using an editorial calendar to map out your content strategy can help ensure that what you’re distributing will be as effective as possible. Once you’ve planned content around your usual seasons or holidays, start researching events, milestones or even months that celebrate causes that may relate to your brand. For example, if you’re a women’s health brand, you’d want to plan content around Breast Cancer Awareness month, or if you’re a non-profit that helps the homeless or displaced, you may want to run a campaign in February because it’s National Canned Food Month.

Continue reading here on BEYOND PR.




Greatest Public Relations Hits and Misses of 2016

david200By David Hlavac, Group Account Director at Bellmont Partners

In a year dominated by celebrity deaths, hacked emails and the rise of “fake news,” 2016 proved that the power of public relations to shape opinions and guide consumer behavior is stronger than ever before. For marketers, the perennial debate over the re-emergence of advertising and the fall of public relations as favored marketing tactics has cooled considerably.

Today’s marketing decision-makers now understand that a healthy mix of reputation management, social media promotion and clever storytelling  – employed as complementary strategies – can elevate brands to new heights. However, brands that failed on any one of these fronts in 2016 experienced swift backlash and reputation damage, as ill-conceived campaigns were often met with strident ridicule from an ever more skeptical public.

Here are a few of this year’s greatest hits and misses that will undoubtedly become next year’s success stories or cautionary tales for a new generation of marketing leaders:

Greatest Hits

Sweden’s “The Swedish Number” cultural awareness campaign celebrated the 250th anniversary of the country’s landmark anti-censorship law by connecting curious international callers with ordinary Swedes. Created by the country’s tourism board, the phone number yielded nearly 200,000 calls in its 79 days of operation and received worldwide media attention for its uniquely interactive approach to forging cultural connections and global understanding.

Emirates Airlines First Class Cabin. This international airline known for luxury service redesigned the first class cabins on its Airbus 380 and Boeing 777 aircraft to provide VIP customers with an unprecedented level of privacy and pampering. While the $20,000+ price tag puts these seats out of reach for most frequent fliers, the airline enticed the general public and built plenty of goodwill for the brand by giving prominent travel bloggers exclusive access to the suites, which were hailed by one blogger as “the greatest travel experience of my life.”

REI’s #OptOutside campaign drew praise last year for its refreshing honesty and connection to brand. The company was among the first national retailers to close all of its stores on Black Friday – the busiest shopping day of the year – as a statement of support for greater work/life balance. REI built on its successful 2015 launch by partnering with nonprofit organizations, government agencies and select like-minded companies and inviting millions of consumers to “go out” with REI by spending Black Friday enjoying the outdoors.

Greatest Misses

Microsoft’s Twitter bot “Tay,” a much-hyped attempt to showcase the company’s artificial intelligence technology, was removed after just one day when users prompted the bot to repeat racially insensitive language. Marketers should not rely on untested and un-moderated AI technology to communicate key brand values. Even technology companies should employ a “human touch,” both for predictability and consistency of message.

Iceland masquerading as Rhode Island. Tourism officials in “Little Rhody” faced a big embarrassment when a video touting the state’s unique cultural attractions featured a clip of Reykjavik, Iceland. Despite the ubiquitous apologies and an immediate correction to the video, the damage was already done when news stories seized on the blunder. Authenticity matters, particularly for multimedia content, and shortcuts should always be thoroughly scrutinized to guard against any reputation damage.

Ill-conceived celebrity death tweets. 2016 will be remembered for its seemingly endless parade of celebrity deaths in the news, as well as an avalanche of untimely brand marketing failures disguised as condolences. Some efforts fared better than others, with both Cheerios and Hamburger Helper deleting tweets commemorating iconic Minneapolis musician Prince. Footwear brand Crocs got suitably trampled for its now-deleted David Bowie-themed tweet. Yet, candy brands received little criticism for Gene Wilder (a.k.a. Willy Wonka) remembrances, and Chevrolet earned widespread praise for its “Little Red Corvette” tweet in honor of Prince, proving that companies with high risk tolerance on social media and a brand-appropriate connection to the deceased will continue to be viewed favorably by followers.  

What do this year’s greatest PR hits and misses have in common? Successful PR initiatives prioritize people and human interaction over publicity for its own sake.

Communicating intrinsic brand values – and staying true to those values across the marketing continuum – will always be more effective than trying to grasp a small piece of “flavor-of-the-month” momentum, even in today’s milieu of rapid-fire news and hair-trigger social media reaction.

In other words, “keep it real” should be more than a slangy buzzword; it must be a marketing mantra that holds true in any media environment.  

5 Retail Strategies for Providing a Wonderful Shopping Experience

antonia200By Antonia Renner, Principal Solutions Marketing Manager, Informatica

The holiday shopping season is in full swing for most people. NRF/ Prosper Insights found that almost 58% of shoppers had already started buying holiday gifts in November.

For retailers holiday season preparations typically start about six months in advance in order to get the best out of this time.

Besides early planning, retail organizations need a competitive end-to-end strategy, be agile, and streamline internal and external collaboration, workflows and omnichannel strategy. In short, retailers have to drive their digital transformation. In their 2017 predictions for worldwide retail, IDC says that by 2019, digital transformation investments will triple, drawing funds away from store capital and profoundly changing the retail industry. This also includes making the switch from a retailer selling products only to becoming a truly customer-centric organization owning the customer experience.

Here are five strategies to help retailers provide a wonderful shopping experience:

1. Provide a seamless customer shopping experience

Create a unique and seamless, consistent, and integrated shopping experience across channels, in-store, online, mobile or catalog. A simple example: A customer wants to purchase a promotional offer in your store, e.g. a Christmas dress, but the right size is currently not available. No issue, if the customer easily finds exactly the same offer in your online store, with current and complete product information and high quality images or videos of the dress. An easy and informed customer purchase journey enabled by a true omnichannel strategy and supported by product information management (PIM) helps sell more products faster.

2. Avoid supply chain disruptions

Imagine one of your most important suppliers is unable to deliver what you ordered for the high season. A nightmare or are you prepared? As a retailer, you need to take a strategic approach to supplier relationship management as the success of your business relies on your vendors. Missing supplier information, bad supply chain visibility and no trusted view of suppliers can lead to bad decision making, missed market opportunities, high costs, slow time-to-market, and increased manual workloads. Supplier relationship management applications can show you alternate suppliers in case you have a supply chain disruption with your standard supplier.

3. Great customer experience starts with great supplier product data

For a great customer shopping experience, you need to be able to provide great product data – data that you typically receive from suppliers. For a maximum of data quality and consistency and for streamlined collaboration with your vendors, it is crucial to standardize and automate operational processes, like data or supplier on-boarding. A master data-fueled self-service portal allowing vendors to do both, share company information and upload new product catalogs streamlines workflows and reduces manual and redundant workloads. Embedded data quality checks ensure the retailer always has access to the latest product information. For a trusted and consolidated 360 view of supplier and product information, leading retailers go for master-data fueled applications underpinned by multi-domain Master Data Management (MDM).

4. Trusted, secure and connected data is key

Whatever you do, trusted, secure and connected data is key. It starts with a customer email or postal address and ends with specific product attributes like an allergen. If you don’t implement data quality rules in your digital workflows and processes, you will be lost. Data quality checks help avoid issues with unhappy customers: Address verification and standardization helps ensure accurate and timely delivery of Christmas gifts. Embedding quality rules for complying with GS1 industry standards even help avoid health or legal issues that could occur because of missing allergen information on a chocolate bar.

5. Ensure agility and fast time to market

Business agility is critical to successful delivery of business value, cost savings and an important driver of competitive advantage in retail. Retailers need to be able to quickly react to changing market requirements and deal with demand volatility, e.g., handle the uncertainty of how consumers will behave during the Christmas shopping season and accelerate time to market to meet consumer demands. Strategies 1.-4. help your business become more agile and increase operational efficiencies – not only during the most important shopping season of the year.

It’s in your hands.  Wishing you a wonderful shopping time.

 About the Author: Antonia is a Principal Solutions Marketing Manager at Informatica writing about solutions and best practices that help organizations worldwide improve their data-driven supply chain management (SCM), digital transformation, multichannel and product information management (PIM), supplier relationship management (SRM), traceability, regulatory compliance, risk management, or Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN) activities. Antonia joined Informatica following the AddressDoctor acquisition, where she was running global marketing for the address verification software before she took over solutions marketing for MDM – Product 360 (PIM) and MDM – Supplier 360. She holds a double-degree in international business economics with a special focus on international marketing from the University of Applied Sciences in Augsburg, Germany and the ESCE International Business School in Paris La Défense, France. She’s based in Germany. 


How Brand Communicators Are Using Snapchat

brylee-kaye-featuredBy Brylee Kaye, Social Media Strategist, New York Institute of Technology

Snapchat and Marketing

Since its inception in 2011, Snapchat has managed to defy detractors who declared it yet another photo, video and messaging platform that parents and public school administrators should be concerned about. Marketers are now recognizing the influence that Snapchat has on a particularly important demographic.

Yet what makes Snapchat so enticing to core users and so vexing to marketers is its signature feature: posted content has an extremely short life expectancy. Private snaps persist for a maximum of 10 seconds, or 24 hours when posted to a user’s public My Story (similar to a newsfeed).

Why Snapchat matters

Snapchat has become a major player in the social media ecosystem, in large part to its sustained appeal among younger users, which hasn’t gone unnoticed by investors.  Snapchat raised another $1.8 billion in May 2016, bringing its valuation to $20 Billion. (source: TechCrunch)

So why is a company that only reported $59 Million in revenue in 2015 valued so highly? Snapchat boasts more than 100 million daily active users, and found that 60% of Americans between 13-38 fall into this estimate. For marketers looking to reach millennials, it’s the hottest property in town.

How do I work this thing?

Snapchat is a dream come true for creative marketers talented at capturing the element of spontaneity. Snapchat users’ interests are in the rawness of the moment. Marketers must recognize this and abandon industry-speak for an authentic tone of voice. If you’re agonizing over the perfect snap, you’re doing it wrong.

Despite Snapchat’s raw and candid nature, it’s important to plan your content.

Tell your story using Snapchat’s My Story feature, which allows brands to tell longer narratives by stringing together multiple snaps. Use this feature to show the playful and quirky side of your culture, products, people and customers.

Account takeovers are another great strategy to showcase culture in an authentic manner. NYIT has the advantage of access to a millennial student population that is more than eager to take the reins of a college’s Snapchat account for a day. One particularly fun takeover included an insider’s tour of NYIT’s Manhattan Campus hosted and narrated by Student Ambassadors:

As with all things in marketing, exclusivity rules. Providing content audiences can’t get elsewhere helps to attract followers. Some brands provide exclusive monetary incentives such as coupon codes to customers that snap photos using their products.

If YouTube normalized the “How-To” video, Snapchat has revolutionized it. Brands have used the “tap” feature to lead audiences through the step-by-step process as a story. This also works well to increase drama for product demos or big reveals.

Partnering with industry influencers can be a boost of adrenaline for brands. Influencers can help spread awareness among an often hard-to-reach demographic and can also enhance your brand by pure association alone.

Sell, sell, sell!

Snaps definitely need an audience to matter. Followers are crucial for successful engagement with your brand, so actively promote your account on other social media platforms, blogs, forums, and email lists.

Remember to customize your Snapcode, a unique, shareable and scannable image that makes adding people fast and easy. At NYIT, we’ve created a branded Snapcode that pays homage to the pride that we feel for our geek culture:

Despite its many strengths, Snapchat’s ability to measure engagement is limited. However, some key metrics can help you determine who’s listening.

Tracking follower growth can demonstrate whether your content is resonating with your audience. Stagnant growth may indicate that you’re not promoting the account enough, or that followers are not interested enough to talk about the content.

Another significant metric is the retention rate on your Stories. If your audience consistently drops off after 30 seconds, you may need shorter stories. If the timing of the drop-offs is inconsistent, perhaps reevaluate the characterization of the content itself.

The quality and consistency of audience engagement are also important. Are users actively participating with your content, taking advantage of your promotions, or following your calls to action?

The takeaway

Building brand interest and loyalty among audiences is a constantly evolving process. Snapchat is a perfect case study of how a platform’s unique characteristics can encourage brands to be more authentic in marketing to audiences.

About the Author: Brylee Kaye is the social media strategist and an adjunct professor of communications arts at New York Institute of Technology. She has more than 13 years of marketing and communications experience implementing social and digital media plans in order to to build brand awareness, familiarity, consideration and preference, engage stakeholders, and help institutions distinguish themselves from their competitors. 




Beyond PR 101: 3 Truly Unique Pitching Tips

Frank StrongBy Frank Strong, Founder & President of Sword and the Script Media

If PR professionals understand what it means to re-purpose content, it might be because there’s a new “pitching tips” blog post or article at least every week.

Many of these cover the basics, for example: do your research, know the reporter’s audience, and pitch a story, not a product. This is all sage advice, but it’s the minimum barrier to entry in effective media relations, and yet it gets recycled and re-polished on a continual basis.

There’s probably a good reason for that. The volume of bad pitches has long been out of control, and though I contend SEOs account for much of this, there seems to be a genuine need for a continual stream of PR 101 level content.

That aside every now and again there are some tactical tips that are truly unique. While I’ve curated three article below and pulled out one salient point from each, I encourage you to read each piece in its entirety.

1) Building Relationships with Content

I really like that Nadya Khoja emphasizes relationships rather than pitching in her piece How to Build Relationships With Visual Content Marketing.

You can absolutely build relationships with content, and content marketing absolutely plays a role in media relations. But Nadya takes this a step further by tackling pitching rejection too:

“You find yourself getting rejected by influencers you reach out to, with little or no improvement.”

“This need for original visual content is the perfect opportunity for you to build relationships with influencers and as a result, boost backlinks. And that will in turn increase your SEO rankings, and eventually lead to an increase in organic traffic. Meaning an increase in revenue, as well.

And the way you can build those connections and backlinks are with infographics. By creating original infographics for influencers, there is massive potential for higher rankings and better relationships.”

I absolutely love this idea; it’s brilliant influencer marketing. It’s mutually beneficial. Brands that truly do their research, that set out to find influencers with values that align, will find lots success in this tactic.

2) It’s Not What You Know…

When PR people talk about “relationships” with journalists, I always get uncomfortable. Save for perhaps a handful, relationship isn’t the right word and yet it winds up in sales presentations and worse, clients buy it.

A good story is a good story, no matter who pitches it — full stop. That’s also what I take from Michelle Garrett in her pieceMedia Relations is Not about the Pitch – it’s about WHO You Pitch:

“Can you send the same pitch to more than one reporter? Sure, but you need to customize it for each reporter. This is why sending the same canned pitch out to hundreds of reporters isn’t a good idea. They can smell this type of tactic a mile away. The chance of them reading a pitch like this is slim. And really, it could be considered spamming them.”

Customization and personalization – those are recurring trends in marketing; in PR these are essential.

3) The Best Pitch is no Pitch

In pitching, I like to aim for the unconventional:

  • When press releases go through a hack job of 10 corporate revisions by committee, this usually means the first draft is a solid pitch.
  • When everyone else on the team says short pitches work best, try a long one, but make sure it’s good.
  • Don’t follow up on a pitch, it didn’t work; write a new pitch!

And that’s sort of what I mean when I said the best pitch is no pitch, as Zoe Blogg of ICS Digital captured in her round-up piece titled, Pitching Tips for PR Professionals.

“Reporters are people too, so instead of pitching, have a conversation. Conversations build relationships.”

Do you have a unique insight about an article you read? An angle that wasn’t covered? Send the reporter an email with meaningful insight – and with zero expectations. You’ll be surprised what happens when you don’t pitch.

About the Author: Frank Strong is the founder and president of Sword and the Script Media, LLC, a veteran-owned PR, content marketing and social media agency in greater Atlanta.

Adobe Data Shows Black Friday Breaks Online Sales Record With $3.34 Billion

adobeA Commpro News Update

Today Adobe released data for the 2016 online shopping for Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day. Results showed that $5.27 billion was spent online by the end of Black Friday, a 17.7 percent increase year-over-year. This was a new record, surpassing the three-billion-dollar mark for the first time at $3.34 billion while Thanksgiving accounted for the remaining $1.93 billion. Black Friday became the first day in retail history to drive over one billion dollars in mobile revenue at $1.2 billion.

The five best selling toys were:

  • Lego Creator Sets
  • Electric scooters from Razor
  • Nerf Guns
  • DJI Phantom Drones
  • Barbie Dreamhouse

The five top selling electronic products on Black Friday were:

  • Apple iPads
  • Samsung 4k TVs
  • Apple MacBook Air
  • LG TVs
  • Microsoft Xbox

Adobe’s Black Friday report is based on aggregated and anonymous data from 22.6 billion visits to retail websites. Adobe measures 80 percent of all online transactions from the top 100 U.S. retailers, more than any other technology company**, and uses its proven predictive model powered by Adobe Sensei to forecast online sales and trends. Seven dollars and fifty cents out of every 10 dollars spent online with the top 500 U.S. retailers goes through Adobe Marketing Cloud. The tremendous volume of data puts Adobe in the unique position to deliver highly accurate, census-based online sales totals, pricing and product availability trends.

“Shoppers hit the buy button at unprecedented levels as conversion rates were up nearly a full percent across all devices in the evening hours on Black Friday,” said Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst and director, Adobe Digital Insights. “With the full day total coming in at $3.34 billion, Black Friday may have just dethroned Cyber Monday’s position as the largest online shopping day of the year. Shoppers are still buying at higher than expected levels in the early morning hours of Small Business Saturday.”

Additional findings for Black Friday:

  • Mobile performance: Conversions improved over holiday averages, with smartphones at 2.4 percent, tablets at 4.6 percent and desktops at 5.5 percent (compared to holiday averages of 1.3, 2.9 and 3.2 percent, respectively). The average order value (AOV) on iOS smartphones ($142) was higher compared to Android smartphones ($130).
  • Out-of-stock items: The products most likely to run out-of-stock include Nintendo NES Classic, PlayStation VR bundle, PlayStation 4 Call of Duty Black Ops bundle, Beats Solo, Nintendo 3DS XL Solgaleo Lunala Black Edition and Xbox One S Madden NFL 17 Console Bundle for electronics in addition to Hatchimals, Razor Hovertrack 2.0, Kurio Smartwatches, Lego Star Wars Advent Calendar, Lego Star Wars, Paw Patrol Jungle Tracker’s Cruiser Vehicle and Little Tikes Princess Horse & Carriage for toys. Out-of-stock messages were at 10.5 percent, 1.5 percent less than levels seen in 2015 and 1.9 percent higher than on Thanksgiving Day (8.6 percent). Products under $300 were 20 percent more likely to be out-of-stock.
  • Most popular products of the season: For the entire season so far (Nov. 1 – 24), PlayStation 4 is the best-selling video game console, followed by Microsoft Xbox One. Pokémon Sun and Moon leads in video games, followed by Call of Duty. Samsung 4K TVs lead in televisions, followed by Vizio 4K TVs.
  • Discounts: The highest price drops were seen for tablets (average discount of 25.4 percent), televisions (23.2 percent), toys (15.0 percent) and computers (11.6 percent). Video game consoles were sold for higher prices (3.2 percent) compared to Thanksgiving.
  • Top promotion drivers: Retailers saw an increase in sales coming through Shopper Helper Sites like RetailMeNot and CNET (16.5 percent share of sales), email (17.8 percent), display (1.2 percent) and social (0.9 percent). Traffic coming from search ads (38.3 percent) decreased by 4.3 percent from holiday averages while direct traffic (25.3 percent) decreased by 9.6 percent, although both remained the largest contributors to overall sales.
  • Thanksgiving Day: Consumers spent $1.93 billion, 11.5 percent more than in 2015, with an average order value that was relatively flat at $160, compared to $162 in 2015. Mobile accounted for 57 percent of visits and 40 percent of sales ($771 million). Smartphones drove twice as many sales as tablets, at 27 percent and 13 percent, respectively.

7 Traits Every Great Content Marketer Must Have

josh200By Josh Ritchie, Co-Founder and CEO, Column Five

Developing and promoting great content is no easy game. It takes a lot to run a good operation—and the most important aspect is the people in that operation. Beyond their skill sets and knowledge base, good content professionals exhibit particular qualities that contribute to their success.

Whether you’re a one-person operation or a CMO in charge of a large department, work to cultivate these seven qualities in yourself and the people around you to improve your content marketing efforts.

1) Patience

Content marketing isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon without a finish line. Being comfortable with this reality is hugely important. While it’s frustrating to see tactics that used to work become less effective, or experiment with new things that fail, it’s imperative to understand that patience really is a virtue when it comes to doing content right for the long-haul.

Cultivating this mindset will help you avoid burnout when things don’t go the way you’d like. In working with large brands and tiny startups at my agency, I know there’s a learning curve for everyone. If you want to master content marketing (or anything), you need to be willing to spend time required to get good.

As we know, Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours to master anything. Truthfully, I’ve been active in marketing for over 10,000 hours myself, and I still feel like there’s so much to learn—in large part because things are always changing.

Remember that no one who’s doing this work well and making a name for themselves as a leader started yesterday. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Good things take time.

2) Good Listening Skills

Good content marketing isn’t about doing what you want. It’s about serving your customers first. (If you’re an agency, this means your customers’ customers.) This is where empathy comes into play.

To create excellent content marketing, you need to get inside your customers’ minds, understand what they struggle with, and look for ways to help fix their troubles. To do that, you need to listen more than you talk. This means both listening to the challenges they face in their day to day—and listening to their feedback on your product or service, no matter how harsh it may be. This outsider perspective is the key to moving in the right direction.

And customers are not the only ones you should be listening to. Pay attention to anyone and everyone who’s doing great work. Soak up their knowledge like a sponge. As Brandon Mull says, “Smart people learn from their mistakes. But the real sharp ones learn from the mistakes of others.”

While opportunities to listen might not always easily and organically present themselves to you, regardless of your role, clients, or business model, make it your responsibility to create these opportunities. I find that emailing people to ask for feedback not only works well but is relatively pain-free—and it scales.

3) Curiosity

If you’re bored with what you’re doing, it shows in your content. The antidote? Get inspired and mix it up. Curiosity will serve you well here. (Interestingly, creativity guru and author Elizabeth Gilbert encourages people not to look for their passion in life but to follow their curiosity.)

You should always be interested in learning new things, expanding your skill set, or trying a different approach. In content marketing, an always-changing field, resting on your laurels is death.

Always assume that there are better, more interesting, and more effective things you could—and should—be doing, then go out and find them. Make curiosity an intrinsic part of your nature. I promise you will tap into some seriously awesome stuff.

4) Humility

There is little room for ego in content marketing. In fact, the more willing you are to be humbled, the more successful you’ll be. The more you experiment and fail, the more you improve—even if it feels humiliating.

Humility makes you a better team player and allows you to put your customers and brand before yourself. You become more open-minded and willing to engage with others (aka listen!), which helps both personally and professionally.

I’m a big proponent of the “strong opinions, weakly held” approach to doing things. Adopting this mentality also allows you to encourage and accept constructive feedback—and sometimes even help from others when needed. In the long run, this only helps.

5) Confidence

While you should be humble, it’s also important to build your confidence in your content marketing skills.

Confidence is the key to not letting an epic failure eat you alive—and to getting back up and trying again. Rewards don’t come to people who give up before they even try; they come to those who are not willing to let their failures define who they are. As Randy Nelson of Pixar says, “The core skill of innovators is error recovery, not failure avoidance.” The ability to recover, he says, not some innate ability, is the mark of a creative genius.

Building confidence in yourself and your team requires boldness and courage. The good news is the quicker you bounce back from obstacles, the more your confidence grows. And the more confident you are, the more likely you are to pitch that crazy-but-brilliant idea that just might bring your team to the next level.

6) Discipline

Maintaining quality and consistency are vital to a successful content marketing operation, but it takes a lot of diligence to maintain. This is why discipline is the key to keeping the engine running.

Creating and promoting content can sometimes be like going to the gym: four out of five of the times I don’t want to be there, but I power through my workout and 100 percent of the time I’m glad I did.

Even when it gets hard, frustrating, or confusing, know that the content still needs to be created.

Now this doesn’t mean you should focus on quantity over quality simply to maintain discipline. It means you should work to strategize and follow through.

Remember: The only way to track your content’s success (and learn what to do better next time) is to have something to measure it against.

7) Sincerity

You’ve heard about the importance of authenticity a couple million times by now. That said, there are some common traps that brands fall into in this quest. I’d advise you against the following:

Unnecessary trend-jacking: Do you really care what your medical provider thinks about Kanye West on Twitter? No. If it’s a natural fit, you can consider it. But far too often this just ends up backfiring.

Copying other brands: So Apple came out with a great new campaign? Let them have it and come up with something of your own. Copying other brand’s voices or tactics looks hacky at best and sleazy at worst.

If you approach content marketing with an honest and sincere desire to do good and provide value to your readers first and foremost, you won’t go wrong. Don’t try to be authentic; just be.

Always Check Yourself

When working with customers or fellow content marketers, you will find many opportunities to demonstrate these qualities or practice cultivating them. If you find some more difficult than others, that’s OK. That means you’re aware—and that’s a great first step.


About the Author: Josh Ritchie is a Column Five co-founder and the co-author of “Infographics: The Power of Visual Storytelling.” He also teaches a course on Visualization of Information at Columbia University. 


Crowdsource Your Content

Jill Kurtz

By Jill Kurtz, Owner Kurtz Digital Strategy

You want to create connections to key audiences with your online content and there is no better way than to get those very people to help create it.

This is sometimes called “participation marketing” and the concept is simple and brilliant. People prefer experts over brands. They relate to and connect better with people than impersonal sources.

You can tap into this preference by changing the way you approach content development.

Here’s how:

  • Define the goal or topic you want to present
  • Develop questions related to what you want to cover
  • Pose the questions to specific people by phone, email, face-to-face and other means.
  • You can also post the questions on social channels, but specifically asking people for input is generally more effective.

Compose your content by aggregating the input of the people who provide answers. Attribute the content to your sources.

Now you have content that is backed by a community of experts who are the very people that you want to engage. They are invested because they have contributed and are more likely to read and share the results.

Win-win, no?

About the Author: Jill Kurtz founded Kurtz Digital Strategy to help clients see the communication potential of the newest trends and technologies. She is an expert at website strategy and redesign, social media planning, and developing exceptional content.

America’s Core Values and the 2016 Presidential Election

LeslieGrossmanLeadership2By Leslie Grossman, Author, Leadership Coach and Courageous Collaborator,

The election is over and Donald Trump is the incoming President.  In the spirit of transparency, I am a Hillary Clinton supporter and believe she was the best choice. Now that this ugly campaign is behind us, my biggest fear is that American core values may be swept under the rug and we will live in an unruly society where bad behavior is pervasive and accepted.

Let’s look at the bad behavior we witnessed during the last 12 months. While both candidates were accomplished – Trump in business, Clinton in public service, each exhibited unacceptable behavior that was not in line with America’s core values.  After making comments insulting Muslims, Latinos and women, Trump was charged with racism and sexism. His language and tweets exhibited bullying tactics. A videotape also revealed Trump’s predatory sexual behavior. Clinton was dogged by voter mistrust stoked by her handling of classified State Department information on a private email server and there were charges of potential influence on behalf of the Clinton Foundation. If you think the behavior of our candidates was fine, then stop reading now.  However, if you are concerned about retaining America’s core values – those beliefs  which help people to know what is right from wrong, read on.

American core values are the values most of us teach our children at home and they learn at school.  We expect our employees, co-workers and managers to live by these values.  It’s how we treat people with respect. Living by core values enables us all to live happily in the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave.”

America’s Core Values and the 2016 Presidential ElectionThere are many lists of American core values in books and on the web.  Here’s my take on the core values, which we are most in danger of losing, following this horrible election campaign:

Equality.  America is an open society that treats everyone equally; all people must be treated fairly and with dignity and be able to embrace opportunities for education, economic success, political involvement, and a fulfilling life.

Individualism. This value is committed to independence, self-sufficiency, private initiative, and personal economic growth. Individuals must be in control of their own lives and be able to make decisions without undue influence from society or government.

Diversity. America’s belief to respect and embrace the fact that all people are unique and important no matter what their race, culture, age, heritage, socio-economic status, physical appearance, disadvantage or disability.

Trust.   The ability to be open, consistent, honest and reliable; make others feel safe physically and emotionally; and fulfilling promises and commitments.

Volunteerism. Belief in promoting goodness or quality of life to those in need   altruistically and not for financial gain

Optimism. Belief that everything is possible

Here’s a challenge for you personally and in your work: How will you ensure America’s core values are preserved moving forward into 2017?  To get you started, here’s one idea: Make core values a topic you discuss with your family over Thanksgiving dinner.  While we show gratitude for living in a Democracy, share the values we want everyone in the family, community and business to live by. – Leslie Grossman

About the Author:  Leslie Grossman, author of “LINK OUT: How to Turn Your Network into a Chain of Lasting Connections” (Wiley), is a Vistage International Chair in New York City.  She was CEO of Communications/Marketing Action and Women’s Leadership Exchange and is a leadership and business development strategist, speaker and coach at Leslie Grossman Leadership.   Leslie can be reached at






Business Wire Releases 2016 Media Survey Findings at PRSA International Conference

By CommPRO Editorial Staff

Business Wire’s 2016 media survey sheds light on how leading journalists and reporters view today’s communications, creating a blueprint for the journey news takes from source to audience. The data was released today during the start of the PRSA International Conference, where thousands of attendees will connect with more than 150 industry experts from all career levels, sectors, work environments and industries for three days of practical insight and networking.

The "Media Blueprint" for News Distribution and Online Newsroom Best Practices Desired by Journalists

The “Media Blueprint” for News Distribution and Online Newsroom Best Practices Desired by Journalists

As technology continues to evolve and push the digital age further, the question of how journalists seek out the news they present for public consumption has never been more important. The industry’s redeveloping identity, traditional models of news delivery and encroaching new platforms create a wide variety of communications’ tools and outlets for brands to consider when issuing a news release.

“Keeping current on the state of the media landscape is critical for Business Wire and our clients. The tempo of the change in the digital media space brings both challenges and opportunities for organizations as they look to share their news with the key audiences they need to reach,” said Scott Fedonchik, vice president of marketing at Business Wire. “Our new ‘Media Blueprint’ provides a great resource to communications professionals to help them better target, time, create and distribute news information in order to make sure their news is widely seen.”

A glimpse at the findings

In an interesting reversal from last year’s survey, this year 50% of respondents, the majority, perceive The New York Times “traditional” style of media as being the future of news media, while the BuzzFeed “interactive” model came in second. When analyzing the data further it was revealed that the BuzzFeed model does lead among the Generation X demographic, however, the emerging journalists in the Millennial age bracket lean towards Reddit.

Key questions were asked regarding journalists’ use of newswires. Journalists that use a newswire do so daily (54%) with nearly a quarter using one several times a day (24%).

Online Newsrooms

While pitching the media and issuing a news release constitutes outbound media relations, it is just as important to have an inbound resource, an online newsroom and investor site. Our questions to the media regarding their engagement with online newsrooms will help companies and organizations determine if their website is properly organized and fully utilized to meet the needs of journalists and reporters. Our findings relay the blueprint for constructing a newsroom that the media wants and expects.

“An organization’s online newsroom is the centralized digital communications platform that houses all news, brand articles and press materials that both media and consumers expect to access immediately,” stated Ibrey Woodall, vice president of web communications services at Business Wire. “Proper functionality within an online newsroom also enables communicators to distribute targeted email alerts desired by registered journalists.”

One expectation is that over 50% of media surveyed want between a minimum of 1-5 years of historical press releases available within the online newsroom, while almost 30% want the organization’s entire archive.

Download the free 2016 Business Wire Media Survey

The report and analysis are from a Business Wire survey of more than 600 members of the media from more than 40 countries – our largest study yet.

The survey covers multiple topics including:

  • Integrating more interactive multimedia online
  • Press release elements most beneficial to reporters
  • The role of long form and short form news produced by platforms such as BuzzFeed and The New York Times
  • Reporters’ increased usage of video


Trump and Clinton Doubling Down PR Messages As The 2016 Race Heads Toward the Finish Line

Andy-Blum-headshotBy Andrew Blum

Now that we’ve had the final presidential debate, what are the last-minute PR and marketing tactics we should expect from the candidates and their parties? If I had to bet, I would say for the most part, they are going to keep doing what they’ve been doing. That’s not necessarily what their advisers and voters may want them to do.

Gonzo journalist Hunter Thompson is spinning in his grave. If he was still alive, Thompson might have used a favorite phrase of his to describe the presidential campaign: “When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”

Thompson would barely scratch the surface of the intensity and perplexing game-changing characteristics of 2016 as Donald Trump has rewritten the rules of running for president and communicating his message.

In the third debate it was pretty much more of the same – but this time Hillary Clinton sent a few zingers in Trump’s direction.

Between now and November 8, I think Trump should make real apologies for all his insults. He won’t. And Clinton should tell the public that, yes, she is sorry for her mistakes and that she is flawed but she knows how to govern. Who knows, she might.

Trump and Clinton Doubling Down PR Messages As The 2016 Race Ends

(Photo Source: Twitter)

What Trump seems to be missing is that PR and TV are all about perceptions of the person by the audience and he comes off horribly in a PR sense. Trump should avoid talking like a sexist creep; Clinton should avoid being wonky and keep the “When they go low, we go high” mantra borrowed from Michelle Obama. Clinton as the first woman nominee of a major party has almost seemed like a footnote at times in 2016 to Trump’s bluster. Yes, she has a PR message but it has gotten lost from time to time. Maybe the first debate fallout and the Trump income tax issue finally started to overcome some of her negatives. In the week after the first debate, her PR team won the battle as Trump self-combusted attacking a former Miss Universe.

The 2016 campaign has focused on an unrelenting torrent of criticisms by Trump of everyone and everything including debate moderators and the media – which by giving Trump so much coverage in the primaries helped him win the GOP nomination.

Trump’s recent PR ploy that the election is rigged and that the media, Clinton and women accusing him of sexual misconduct and groping are ganging up on him isn’t working. He even lashed out at Alec Baldwin for portraying him on SNL. Huh?

Trump needs to stay on message. He could take lessons from his wife who defended him from the accusations by women; she repeated the same message over and over. He erupts in 10 directions.Clinton could take political and warmth lessons from her husband. Bill Clinton is a natural born politician. Hillary Clinton is not.

Like him or hate him, Trump has redefined politics and PR with his communications style. Damage control and rapid responses on steroids have become the PR norm here.
Can Clinton overcome this with her PR approach? Can she fight off Trump attacks on the revelations from Campaign Chairman John Podesta’s leaked emails? If she keeps pushing Trump’s buttons and pivots off the emails, she can.

But the question Hunter Thompson would pose at this point: is this a one-time wacky change in campaigns, media and PR or have things changed forever? Thompson is spinning in his grave watching Trump and Clinton and their PR spinners.

About the Author: Andrew Blum is a PR consultant and media trainer and principal of AJB Communications. He has directed PR for professional services and financial services firms, NGOs, agencies, families and individuals, and other clients. As a PR executive, and formerly as a journalist, he has been involved on both sides of the media aisle in some of the most media intensive PR crises of the past 25 years. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter: @ajbcomms

Examining the Role of Women in Wall Street

How the CEO of the Securities Traders Association is Addressing the Challenge

Silvia-Davi-150x150By Silvia Davi, Chief Marketing Officer,

At the recent 83rd Securities Traders Association Market Structure Conference in D.C., I attended the Women in Finance symposium at the conference and was pleasantly surprised.

The symposium was a celebration and acknowledgment of women in Wall Street–long needed in an industry still heavily dominated by men. I first attended the annual Securities Traders Association Market Structure Conference 16 years ago when I was working at a trading firm and later quite a few times while working at a global exchange and was always struck by the lack of diversity year after year at this major industry event. Having recently returned to financial services after a few years broadening my background in other industry sectors, it was a nice surprise to see progress at this former boys club event. Pushing the initiative forward is Jim Toes, CEO of the Securities Traders Association, who has been a great advocate for the women’s initiative. I recently spent time with Jim, who also happens to be the father of three daughters and has penned articles on “not being that guy”, about this year’s Women’s symposium at the annual conference.

Joe Toes, CEO of the Securities Traders Association

Joe Toes, CEO of the Securities Traders Association

EQ: What inspired the launch of the inaugural Securities Traders Association – Women in Finance Symposium after all these years?

Toes: Our Women in Finance initiative has been going for one year now. Ken Heath, former publisher of Traders Magazine, passed away last year. In 2011, Ken launched what would become a jewel in Traders’crown: Wall Street Women, A Celebration of Excellence. As a long-time media partner and friend, STA and I felt strongly about carrying on his legacy in honoring women. With his family’s blessing, we started the initiative.

EQ: Jim, you have been a vocal advocate for women and recently sent a direct message to the trading community, can you explain?

Toes: Yes, it was a response to a New York Times article entitled “How Wall Street Bro Talk Keeps Women Down.” I agreed with the author in that women’s groups offer many resources and are, in fact, a value add. Here’s an excerpt from my article, “Don’t Be That Guy”:

STA WIF acknowledges that more needs to be done and we see the “promulgation of diversity committees and women’s leadership summits” as described by Mr. Polk as resources which provide hope that the future will be brighter for women and minorities. These institutional-sized responses are sources of education on the value-add that diversity brings to organizations, and they provide training on recognizing and responding to sexism in the workplace.

EQ: What percentage of women make up the STA? What is the total membership?

Toes: 15% women – and looking to increase.

EQ: There was a terrific lineup of female speakers at this year’s annual Market Structure conference. Did you make a concerted effort to be more inclusive?

Toes: Absolutely. I have been making a concerted effort since my arrival at STA in 2013 regarding the promotion and advancement of women. It just seemed like the next logical step – to formalize the effort, adding a committee, mission statement and guiding principles.

EQ: What is the overall mission of the Women in Finance program and how can women in Finance learn more or become involved?

Toes: The Security Traders Association of Women in Finance supports and co-markets with other affiliate women’s organizations within the finance community. Together, we create a stronger presence, promote membership amongst all organizations, and establish a platform for women in finance.

I would say that the four main points of STA WIF are: Gender Equality; Advancement of Women; Mentoring, Coaching, Education; and Networking.

We are leveraging the established network, resources, and values of the Securities Traders Association to foster and create a culture of inclusion for women in finance.

About the Author: Silvia Davi is a seasoned global corporate communications and marketing professional with over 18 years of experience. Ms. Davi was recently Chief Marketing and Communications Officer for The Food Bank For New York City. Prior to that she was Vice President and Head of Strategic Communications and Marketing at Broadcast Music, Inc® (BMI®), a global music rights management and royalty distribution firm. Ms. Davi joined BMI after serving as Vice President and Head of Corporate Communications and Brand at Marsh & McLennan, where she was responsible for spearheading a new brand identity, as well as developing corporate responsibility and sustainability PR programs. Prior to that, Ms. Davi spent eight years at NASDAQ OMX as Vice President, Corporate Communications and Head of Global Broadcast Media Strategy, where she led the corporate communications for key business lines, while working with C-suite executives and overseeing the exchange’s flagship and broadcast studio in Times Square known as NASDAQ MarketSite. 


This article originally appeared on


Online Tool Reveals the Cost for a PR Campaign

CommPRONewsItemBy Editorial Staff

Business owners no longer need to guess the cost for a healthcare or tech Public Relations campaign.

Healthcare and tech PR firm, Macias PR, has just unveiled a new online PR tool that allows businesses to learn the cost for a customized media campaign with just a few clicks.

In the past, marketing teams needed to spend hours on the phone with a PR account executive before they could get an estimate for a campaign. This new online PR tool eliminates that frustration by providing users a few questions and clicks to calculate the cost for their media campaign.

“This PR calculator is perfect for business owners who have always wondered about the cost for a PR campaign, but didn’t want to be sold on a service,” said Mark Macias, the founder and owner of Macias PR. “No one – including myself – wants to speak with a sales guy who is trying to figure out the maximum price they can get out of you. This free online PR tool gives a customized and personal PR estimate based on the actual needs of the media campaign.”

The online PR calculator takes less than a minute to fill out, which businesses can try here.

Users answer questions, like: What is the purpose of your campaign? Which news outlets do you want to reach and is this a local, national, B2B or regional campaign? The submitted answers help the firm identify an estimate of resources, cost and even a potential media strategy for the PR launch.

“We’re hoping this PR calculator brings transparency to the PR industry,” said Macias. “We get calls all the time from businesses, asking for an estimate. It’s hard to give an authentic answer without knowing anything about their goals, business or the type of campaign they need. Our free PR tool eliminates that guesswork. Now, businesses can click on a few tabs, answer a few questions, and learn via email how much they will need for their own PR campaign.”

New Lessons on PR Tradition: Audience, Subject Lines & Newsjacking

Frank StrongBy Frank Strong, Founder & President of Sword and the Script Media

There are no experts in PR – only students.

It’s more than a snappy quote, it’s a philosophy. The expert that knows everything is prone to get blindsided by the unexpected on an otherwise idle Tuesday.

Public Relations is dynamic. Reporters swap beats and publications. Business priorities shift. Platforms and publishing tools change. Skills are perishable.

Learning, lessons and continuous improvement are fundamentals of good PR professionals. And that’s theme for this week’s Unscripted Marketing links (UML) roundup – new lessons on PR traditions: audience segmentation, subject lines and newsjacking

Below you’ll find three articles I’ve vetted and selected some points to highlight. As always, I encourage readers to spend some time reviewing the original sources I cite.




1) Even in Crisis, Focus on the Right Audience

“Don’t forget your target audience,” writes Owen Walker in an opinion piece titled What corporate PRs Can Learn From Activist Investors. He agrees this is basic advice, but also a lesson easily forgotten when things get thick. He says “it is easy to get distracted and lose sight of the most important constituents.”

The author of a newly published book on the rise of activist investors — Barbarians in the Boardroom – he provides this example:

“Hedge fund Starboard Value was lampooned on every late-night talk show in September 2014 over its 296-page detailed critique of the restaurant chain Olive Garden and its parent company, Darden. The following morning Starboard was inundated with emails and calls from angry diners who feared the hedge fund would end Olive Garden’s popular unlimited breadstick policy.

Yet Jeff Smith, Starboard’s CEO, told me he never regretted going into such detail as he felt it was necessary to win over the highly influential proxy advisers in his campaign against Darden. The breadstick furore [sic] died down and Starboard eventually took over the whole Darden board, with Smith installed as chairman.”

It’s a good reminder that business isn’t a democracy. There is no popular vote. It’s useful for the guardians of corporate reputation to remember the sentiment dashboard doesn’t necessarily tell you if you’re winning or not.

Mr. Walker has two more lessons worth reading in the full article.

2) Can you Newsjack with Class?

Newsjacking may well be an unfortunate term that describes what solid media relations professionals have done all along: tie story ideas to trends. Despite the (recurring) debate in PR over the term those that read the book will find some new applications that continue to be proven in survey research years after it was published.

There are also some new lessons to be gleaned. In a piece titled How to Leverage Newsjacking Without Being a Jerk guest writer Michael Georgiou offers handful including this one: “never just regurgitate the news.”

“Offer something new to readers, not just the same facts and details they can read in the major news outlets. Newsjacking is about capitalizing on the trending news, not re-reporting it. For example, you can explore leadership and marketing skills utilized during the 2016 election. Give readers some insight that only you can provide.”

3) Pitching? Subject Lines Matter




Most reporters believe PR pitches are “at least ‘slightly valuable’” according to Lillian Podlog of Fractl. They also get a lot of pitches, so if you want to earn their consideration for a story idea, the subject line really matters.

That’s not just opinion or experience, it’s data, as Ms. Podlog writes in a piece titled What 26,000 Pitches Taught Us About Securing Top-Tier Press.  She draws several conclusions worth perusing in their entirety; here are few that stood out for me:

“Nearly two-thirds of publishers determine whether or not to open an email based on the subject line. In subject lines, every word counts.”

And later:

“While writers might respond to humor and geographic ego bait, these tactics are secondary to a targeted pitch. More than 60% of writers agreed that great subject lines are tailored to a writer’s beat, but fewer than 20% agreed that humor is essential.”

In addition to calling out what works, this piece also found what doesn’t:

“Publishers are more likely to be interested if you highlight the content of the project rather than just its format. “Interactive, “data,” and “video” all showed low success rates (“map” was not far behind).”

Separately, Fractl has also done several studies of social media as well. Two were included in this UML post published previously: Social Sharing Fills Different Needs than Search; Unscripted Marketing.

About the Author: About the Author: Frank Strong is the founder and president of Sword and the Script Media, LLC, a veteran-owned PR, content marketing and social media agency in greater Atlanta.

Snowflakes: What Happens When the “Can-Do Kids” Meet the “Just-Wanna-Fit-In-Kids”

Ann FishmanBy Ann Arnof Fishman, President, Generational Targeted Marketing 

There are two waves of millennials, resulting in a great deal of confusion for marketers, politicians, and everyday people trying to understand this generation.

It is important to understand millennials because there are 80 million of them! They are  Americans born between 1982 and 2000. They make up one-fourth of the U.S. population.  There are more millennials than there are French people, Brits, or Spaniards.

Millennials grew up with strong support in the three areas society offers its young—family, religion, and government programs. A societal support system this strong during the formative years has given millennials a desire for empowerment and a feeling of entitlement. First wave millennials were told to reach for the moon, that they were “special,” that they deserved trophies for just showing up for team sports. Millennials became the “Can-Do” kids.

Then, there are the second-wave millennials. They, too, feel empowered and entitled for the same reasons. However, they have a need to be protected from all things potentially traumatizing. A New York Times article by Judith Shulevitz noted Brown University [Fall 2014] created a safe space for students who found a debate on rape culture troubling. To create a place to recuperate, a “room was equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies,” plus counselors trained in dealing with this kind of trauma. Today, safe spaces on college campuses abound.

Marketing to the Millennial WomanThere is also triggering. A reader of a blog entry may expect a warning called a trigger if the article might cause a negative emotion. As Jill Filipovic wrote in The Guardian, “Trigger warnings [may include]: the death penalty, gun violence, misogyny, calories in a food item, terrorism, descriptions of medical procedures, racism, dental trauma, snakes and vomit.”

Hold on, there’s more. In a 2015 article in The Atlantic, the “president [of Brandeis University] wrote an email to the entire student body apologizing to anyone who was ‘triggered or hurt by the content of the microaggressions.’” The email was in response to hurt feelings caused by an installation placed on the steps of an academic hall by the Asian-American Student Association to promote sensitivity.

Anna Rhodes for Heatstreet wrote, “The [Yale] faculty’s chair appeared to make concessions after calls for the compulsory course [Major English Poets] be ‘decolonized’ because it features too many white male authors. Students claimed they were ‘so alienated that they have to walk out of the room’ because of a preponderance of authors like Shakespeare and Chaucer, who ‘actively harm’ them.’”

Finally, according to a Pew Research Center study, “Four-in-ten Millennials say the government should be able to prevent people [from] publicly making statements that are offensive to minority groups.” What caused this difference between the second wave of millennials who needs to be protected from words that may hurt and the first wave of millennials who were encouraged to climb to the top of the jungle gym at every stage? Here’s what happened. America is morphing into a new generation, Generation Z, Americans born between 2001 to an unknown date in the future.

Gen Z is a highly-protected generation, for all the right reasons. They are protected at home due to kidnappings and Amber Alerts; at school, due to Columbine-type incidences; and, in society, due to threats of terrorism. They never will know what it’s like to go through an airport without security checks. Children who are protected to this extent during their formative years tend to avoid risks. Thus, as adults, they will become a generation of conformists, the “Just-Wanna-Fit-In” kids. Some of their generational characteristics will be a desire to please, a need to be conscientious, and a tendency to worry, all so Gen Zs can protect themselves.

What you’re seeing now in second-wave millennials are young people on the cusp between two generations. Second-wave millennials have the sense of empowerment of the millennial generation and the need to be protected of Generation Z. They are picking up some characteristics from both generations. History doesn’t turn on a dime, so that’s not unusual, but it is noticeable when the generations are so different. Empowerment plus protection are a powerful combination that’s confusing unless you understand what’s happening.

When two generations collide, it’s as if those trying to understand what’s going on are sailing through the rough seas of the Straits of Magellan where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet, each at a different level, and cause churning currents, turbulence, and a bit of seasickness. No need to be confused. Just build a better boat where there are more life preservers filled with increased knowledge of generational characteristics and the history that created them.

About the Author: Ann Fishman was awarded four U.S. Senate Fellowships to study generational trends and taught generational marketing at New York University. She is president of Generational Targeted Marketing, LLC, a specialized marketing firm providing insights into the preferences, trends, and buying habits of each of America’s six generations. Her book, “Marketing to the Millennial Woman,” was recently published.