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Friday5: 5 Reasons To Pay Attention To Product Hunt

As spheres of online influence evolve and shift, and social networks become more niche, it’s important to keep a pulse on all channels where influential individuals and general consumers are talking about your or your client’s product. Enter Product Hunt – a community-based website built as “a place for product-loving enthusiasts to share and geek out about the latest mobile apps, websites, hardware projects, and tech creations.” Users go to the site to browse recently discovered products, post discoveries of their own or join conversations about specific products. As conversations about brands and products continue to proliferate from mainstream social channels, Product Hunt and similar sites are increasingly important spaces to watch.

1. The Community

One of the great things about Product Hunt is the community built around these products. The platform marries the power of word-of-mouth marketing and peer referrals with the democracy of a forum style. Brands and corporations are marketing their products through a variety of channels and tactics, but Product Hunt removes the guesswork of investigating every product imaginable and surfaces the ones that are most relevant and intriguing to its community members. Furthermore, the Product Hunt team actively discourages asking or incentivizing others to upvote products on the site, which bolsters the credibility of the community promoting these products.

2. Product Launch Exclusives

Instead of launching a new mobile app by simply adding it to the iOS App Store or Google Play, marketers can release products exclusively on Product Hunt to offer first access to early adopters and get the conversation started. The people on the platform are fellow product-hunting consumers, makers, developers and members of the startup community, among others. Together, they constitute an influential community that could help get a new product off the ground. “Hunters” share their findings on social media, whether it’s a product they found themselves or a recent find from a fellow hunter.

3. Journalist Access

Product Hunt provides journalists unprecedented access to makers on the platform through a private messaging function. We know the rise and evolution of social media and shifting spheres of online and offline influence have changed the way journalism intersects with brands, and Product Hunt is ahead of the curve by providing a direct channel of communication. They know the product makers put their lives into their work and deserve recognition, so they make it easy to tell their story through news sites and other media sources. This could provide opportunities for earned media once somebody else adds your or your client’s product to Product Hunt.

4. Email Digests

Product Hunt knows and understands their site, while very active, is not the only place their users spend time online. Recently added products are sent in daily or weekly digests to their subscribers, meaning new products added to the site are constantly surfaced to their dedicated constituents on a regular basis – they don’t miss a beat.

5. Product Hunt Radio

The site’s blog is home to a weekly series called Product Hunt Radio. Often co-hosted by members of the founding team Ryan Hoover and Erik Torenberg, the podcast-like episodes include thought leaders in the tech and media industries and cover tech and Internet culture and new and emerging products. Their radio show, hosted on the audio streaming service SoundCloud, could be a great opportunity to have a client thought leader join the conversation and create compelling, amplifiable third-party content.

Image credit: Chris Devers

Friday5: 5 Predictions for GoPro As A Media Company

Media companies look and feel fundamentally different in 2015 than they ever have before. They’re real-time (for better, or worse), they’re social and they are content driven. But, in a world where, as Richard Edelman put it, “The reader is now also content creator and advocate,” they also don’t have to be made up of traditional journalists and reporters.

Take GoPro. It currently distributes its owned content on Virgin Airlines, LG Smart TVs and recently, announced the spring launch of a Roku channel featuring a combination of original and user-submitted content. Here are five predictions for how this move could change our experience with GoPro, as a brand, moving forward:

1. Behind the Scenes Revamp

GoPro already has partnerships with the National Hockey League and the X-Games, where GoPros capture close-up footage during games. With cord cutters on the rise—steering away from traditional TV and cable, and instead opting to consume entertainment through an Internet connection in the home—Roku channels are a prime source of in-home entertainment. GoPro’s ability to push live or near real-time behind-the-scenes footage from live events, even if they aren’t streaming the whole event, could allow them to capture a new frame of relevancy.

2. Content Creators Connection

Vine and YouTube have shifted traditional notions of popularity, creating new tiers of celebrities where anybody has the opportunity to reach mass audiences with their content. Through GoPro’s newest distribution channel, content creators have another avenue to share. And, it’s one built on a powerful community connected by a central element: the shared experience of using the same tools. We may see social layers built to allow creators to connect with one another, and even collaborate on future products.

3. The GoPro Gap

There is still a consumer education element to GoPro’s actions that is necessary for it to succeed. Too many people are unaware of the amazing content they produce. Introducing a Roku channel is a smart way to start putting it in front of people. Next, it would make sense to see GoPro expand partnerships with Smart TVs to feature content on a channel of its own.

4. Shoppable Video

GoPro’s Roku channel will feature content that allows viewers to “learn which GoPro products were used to ‘get the shot.’” Social channels are becoming increasingly shoppable, allowing users to find products and click-to-buy from almost anywhere. This channel may allow GoPro to test videos where users can break down the content, identify what products (accessories, mounts, etc.) were used and buy them directly through their Roku.

5. Accessories get Stylized

We’ve seen fashion become an important factor in wearable devices, with top designers such as Rebecca Minkoff and Tory Burch leading the way. Consumers need devices to fit into their personal style; we may begin to see an increase in products and accessories designed in partnership with brands like Nike or North Face* to incorporate GoPro stylishly into gear. Imagine a snowboarding jacket with a GoPro chest mount built in, a bag with a GoPro compartment — compatibility that makes producing content on a GoPro more accessible, convenient and naturally integrated with daily life.

There are many other directions GoPro could take next, from a full-length feature film created solely on GoPro devices, to its own Snapchat channel on Discover. What are your predictions for GoPro’s next moves?

*Edelman client

Image credit: wales_gibbons

Friday5: What was it about SERIAL that was so darn engaging?

Yeah, I mean, who else did it? They’re running out of suspects.”

If you’re like us, you’re one of the two million people that streamed each episode of Serial. Since it made its debut in October 2014, Serial, the new podcast spinoff of “This American Life” consistently topped the iTunes charts, spawned dozens of discussions – both online and offline – and made a lot of people anxiously excited for more each Thursday morning.

It’s been a month since the podcast ended and momentum around this is still running hot. The subreddit is constantly updated with facts, debates and discussion even after the series ended.  What was so engaging about the podcast? After we peeled the layers back, we realized it may be the intersection of three main PR pillars: content strategy, audience identification and platform selection.

1. The Story Itself

Audiences are captivated by stories that are emotional, encourage discussion and present mystery. For Serial’s inaugural season, they choose to focus on the real-life story of a 32-year-old man named Adnan Syed, who was convicted of murder at age 17 in Baltimore, MD. The story detailed the case that convicted Adnan, the fact that Adnan continues to profess his innocence, and the current interviews and audio of witnesses that lead to the police’s case.  Because the story touched on those areas, it created a sense of mystery that drove the audience to find the answers, to start discussions, to develop their own theory. The story turned audiences into Sherlock Holmes to solve the case. Serial was a success partially because the story kept the audience guessing and made them feel like they were part of the journey to find answers. We’re always told that content is king when telling a story, and while that is true, it’s important to consider how we interpret the story to fit how an audience will engage with it.

2. The Characters/Players

There’s no denying – people can relate to other people and characters. The podcast structure reproduces the conventions of classic novels; each episode unfolds the plot and characters from episode to episode. It was the way each character, including the narrator, became a storyteller that made Serial so engaging. The audience could either relate to life as a teenager or understand the struggle of recounting every moment of a day six weeks prior. We see the narrator take the role of main character in the story and the audience is driven to trust her as a journalist. Listeners ultimately connect with her as a narrator as though she is a friend. Character development is critical to creating an engaging piece of content. Infographics and articles were written just about the characters in Serial. Fans would rave about it to friends and family on Facebook and through word-of-mouth, celebrities tweeted about it, and a subreddit spawned more than 43,000 subscribers who discussed each character and their role at length.

3. The Delivery

The most engaged audience responds to an emotional connection to a story, andSerial is no exception. When we create content for our clients, we ask ourselves, “Will the target audience relate? Would they share it?” The delivery was successful in several ways. The installments of episodes, the website and even documents and maps that helped the audience understand each played a role in the success of Serial. While the story was told in weekly episodes, once the final episode was published, a resurgence of new fans emerged who binge-listened to the entire season. The story was not just told through the eye of one person, each character and the actual audio of interviews led to the success. Even the theme song for Serial was so unique that it would excite the audience every time they heard it. Serial was executed in a way that drove emotion and mystery to its audience and that delivery was optimal for audio storytelling.

4. The Medium

While podcasts have been around for about 10 years, Serial has definitely helped the medium gain popularity. So why now? We know content has something to do with it. As listeners waited for new episodes each week, they re-listened to the series. They savored the details and gained a deeper appreciation for the story. They turned to other outlets – news articles, blogs, Reddit, Twitter – to learn more.

At the end of the day, the podcast structure invited listeners to do their own investigating, leading to a shared experience – online and offline.

The truth is, podcasts are a very unique medium compared to television, film and even social media. We listen to podcasts during our commutes. We put them in our headphones when we’re going for a run. These entertainment sessions are much more intimate; typically podcasts are something we listen to alone and talk about with others later. With such an intimate experience, it’s very common for those who listen to quickly become addicted to them and think of the podcast hosts as friends. Even the sponsors become a part of your life; who can’t stop thinking about Mailkimp – er, Mailchimp?

We live in a world of rapidly evolving technology and our endless thirst for more content, however, to yield returns, sometimes we’ll need to harness the power of slow. Podcasts are the perfect medium for just that.

5.  Engagement: Bringing Online Offline

Social was always intended to be a way for people to connect along the lines of shared interests, but with a goal of finding each other and connecting offline as well. We’ve lost sight of that, and this content experience brings it back – revealing the true power of “social as social.” We recently hosted a brown-bag lunch in Edelman’s Washington, D.C. office to connect and discuss our varying perspectives on Serial. It was riveting and even more engaging for those in the room (and even via phone from Edelman’s London office) than we imagined it would be. We had a room full of colleagues, many of whom wouldn’t typically interact, but here we all were. Why is this, and how do we harness this magic for clients? We simply cannot underestimate the power of word-of-mouth marketing – creating and crowdsourcing viewpoints is the first step, but sharing these viewpoints with others and driving people to online discussion boards gets us to the real heart of social: engagement. Engagement is key. Content is the driver but when done right, the social engagement takes on a life of its own and evolves the content into something new and even more valuable. Something everyone feels some ownership stake in. This is when true engagement happens. This is the magic that moves the needle – for a community, for a courtroom, and for a client.

This post was written by Aimee Rose, Tatiana Posada and Aleena Hasnain

Image credit: shinemy

Friday5: How The White House Mastered Fractured Media

A version of this post was originally published on Medium.

It doesn’t matter where you land on the political spectrum: one can’t help but notice how the White House continues to master the ever fragmented media landscape. The White House knows to reach people where they are vs. relying solely on the traditional “mainstream” channels of its predecessors. Though however masterful it may seem at first glance — the principles the White House is putting into action can be broken down into a set of best practices.

1. Tapping the reach of internet celebrities

The notion of an “internet celebrity” was something many media and professionals once scoffed at — now it’s a multi-million-dollar industry with many of the top players who have built vast audiences on YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine laughing all the way to the bank. “Pewdiepie” for example is considered to be YouTube’s #1 highest paid YouTube star taking in an estimated annual income of nearly nine million dollars after YouTube’s cut.

Obama’s move to once again utilize internet celebrities to access their audiences and generate an amplified response is becoming a standard tactic in the playbook of marketers and communicators. The strategy is simple — in order to reach millennials, you have to be culturally relevant to them and traditional celebrities are no longer the only ones shaping cultural relevance. The internet celebrity not only offers a gateway to cultural relevance but also a potentially huge audience. One of the Obama Youtubers for example, has a channel subscription over eight million. For those of us however that don’t enjoy the clout of the White House — working with these influentials is largely a paid game. Get ready to carve up your media dollars.

2. Showing Vs. Telling

Throughout the State of The Union address, there were live tweets as you would expect — but there was also a barrage of visual content ranging from infographics to nostalgic pictures of Obama as a boy riding a tricycle. On Facebook, videos were posted that split screened images and text that acted as visual aides to Obama’s speech — illustrating the main points and bringing to life his spoken word.

3. Publishing Direct – Mobile First

The White House made history as it bypassed the tradition of leaking the transcript to the media before making it public and published a copy directly to the mobile and social optimized Medium platform. By doing this, a precedent has been set, sending the signal that people are media as much as the media itself is. Also, it’s a nice win for Medium.

4. Owning Your Owned Assets

In this age of social savvy media upstarts, the general public and influencers who distribute your message, the White House still understands the value of the home court advantage and used various means to drive traffic to Whitehouse.gov/SOTU which directed users to a content hub where the State of the Union could be watched online as well as hosting several assets such as graphic and animated gifs. The owned property also does what many other assets cannot — it’s a CRM data acquisition strategy prompting visitors to share their e-mail and zip code which places them into “the system.”

5. Why It Worked

There’s much that can be learned from watching the White House pull the many levers now needed to reach audiences where they choose to engage. But many of the strategies and tactics are not new — they are simply planned and executed with the understanding that many efforts vs few now need to work in concert, and a message can be “controlled” more than you think if the right levers are pulled at the right time.

Image credit: Diego Camblaso

Friday5: 5 Reasons to Embrace Responsive Web Design in 2015

In 2010, Morgan Stanley released an 87-page report declaring that mobile would rule the world by 2015. Well, here we are five years later and while we might not have hoverboards yet, mobile has exploded as predicted. With the huge influx of smartphone adoption, device fragmentation, and mobile Internet usage, creating a responsive web experience for all devices is no longer an option—it’s a requirement.

What is responsive web design? The folks over at Froont have a great blog post with helpful visuals, but essentially, RWD is the belief that websites should respond to the needs of the users and the devices they’re using by changing the layout of the site based on the size and capabilities of the device.

Why is that important?

1. Mobile usage

As predicted, mobile usage did surpass desktop usage for the first time in history in 2014. Mary Meeker, the same woman who made the 2010 prediction, also reported that global mobile data usage increased by 80 percent from 2013 to 2014 and it doesn’t show signs of slowing. But that’s not all. According to Google, 77 percent of mobile searches occur at home or at work, places where desktop computers are likely to be present. Even when there are desktops available, people are on their phones.

2. User experience

According to mobiForge, 46 percent of mobile web users are unlikely to return to a website they had trouble accessing in the past and 33 percent of tablet users are less likely to purchase online from a company if they experience poor website performance. The goal of your business should be to solve a problem, not create one. The same should go for your website. You should strive to make the lives of your users easier.

3. Device fragmentation

Before responsive design, the prevailing practice was to create “Mobile-versions” of websites. Now, with almost 20,000 different types of Android devices (and countless other phones, tablets, TVs,) with varying screen sizes and resolutions, responsive design is more important than ever. How can you possibly account for all those combinations? You can’t. So you design an experience that gracefully expands and contracts to intelligently fill the corners of the device screen. If you’ve done your job correctly, your website should look as good on an iPhone as it does on a 40” flatscreen.

4. Multi-screen World

In August of 2012, Google released a study called The New Multi-screen World: Understanding Cross-platform Consumer Behavior. Without getting too deep into the behavioral findings of that report, the key insight here is that the device we choose to use is often driven by our context: where we are, what we want to accomplish and the amount of time needed. Often times tasks start on mobile devices and end on PCs and vice versa. To help users complete those tasks, we need to provide a seamless experience across all devices and that’s where responsive web design comes into play.

5. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

In December of 2014, Google announced that they would be giving preferential treatment to websites that they consider to be “mobile-friendly.” If responsive web design was a nice-to-have before, this change has made it a need-to-have. Before, it was a courtesy, now your site will be penalized in search results for not abiding by the new standard of the web. Wondering if Google considers your website “Mobile-Friendly”? Check out their free tool and see for yourself.

These are exciting times we live in. Our clients rely on us to push them to stay ahead of the curve and best serve their customers. To quote Google’s Javier Perez, “Let’s ditch the pinching, scrolling and aimless tapping, and welcome the new wave of mobile-friendly sites.”

Welcome to 2015, the year of responsive web design.

Image credit: Google Mobile Guide

Friday5: Digital Predictions for 2015

It’s the start of the new year, and with it comes the yearly predictions of what’s going to be big and noteworthy in the next year. We spoke with five people throughout the network to see what they’re most excited about in the digital and tech spaces in 2015:

1. Aniz Ruda, VP, Insights & Intelligence, Chicago

With CES 2015 wrapping up, it’s hard to avoid the influx of wearable devices that are starting to become accessible in the market. As these technologies become increasingly popular, Aniz wonders what brands will do with the massive amounts of data that these devices will produce. What are the ethical and regulatory issues that will pop up in the year, and how will brands take action on them?

2. Matt Stanton, Partner Knowledge Manager, New York

Matt is interested in seeing how brands and entertainment companies will use micro-content to distribute high-quality messages on social channels and mobile messaging apps like kik, Line, WeChat, and Whatsapp, which have exploded in popularity and will likely continue to do so.  In addition, with phone screens growing in size, people can give more attention to short-form video content, opening up huge opportunities for brands, which might use mobile messaging apps to distribute them most effectively.

3. Sara Azadi, EVP, Group Head for Consumer and Digital, Bay

Sara predicts that 2015 will bring requests for better attribution of digital activities to sales. Historically, a CMO could roughly correlate TV advertising budget with fluctuations in sales. It is increasingly difficult to attribute one digital activity or channel to sales with the rapid proliferation of social networks, tools, platforms and channels. Sara has noticed CMOs are increasing their expectations of social ROI. According to Sara, communications marketing professionals will need to take a step back and look at communications more holistically to build an attribution model. Although clients might wonder how a single tweet or promoted Facebook post affects sales, we should be practicing measurement among the client’s entire digital ecosystem so we can skip the leap of faith inherent to TV advertising.

4. Marko Muellner, VP, Group Director, Digital, Portland

The internet of things has been gaining traction over the past few years and has shifted gears in a big way towards the automotive industry. Marko’s been thinking about the implications of connected cars for consumers and stakeholders in the automotive industry. Will we see a “data war?” Specifically, your next new car will include a data plan for entertainment and navigation, but will also stream diagnostics and other data to manufacturers, dealers, the telecom companies and tech companies like Apple and Google. 3rd parties like mechanics, tire centers and gas stations, for example, will be at a distinct disadvantage in the near term. Additionally, considering the size of the automotive industry, this huge cascade of data will enable major competitive advantage. These companies will become the new gatekeepers to deeper consumer relationships, will our clients be paying BMW to reach their drivers during drive time? Yes, yes they will.

 5. Brittany Dow, Account Manager, Digital, Toronto

Brittany’s on the lookout for evidence of “post-demographic consumerism” marked by the change of traditional status symbols in the digital environment, which required high income and therefore were restricted to older and more traditional demographics. Now, with experiences, lifestyles, personal connection all representing a new form of status, consumers will increasingly choose their products, brands and experiences outside of our traditional understanding of those products’ demographics. Brands who respond effectively to this melting pot will continue to succeed.

What trends are you looking out for this year?

This post was compiled by Josh Lieberthal and Chris Rooney.

Image credit: Keoni Cabral

Friday5: Thoughts on Communicating Data Breaches

If you’ve been following the news recently, you’ve seen the torrent of information about Sony’s recent hacking. Given the increasing prevalence of major data breaches in every industry, there are lessons for large organizations hidden among the public reaction. Here are 5 insights I’ve gathered:

1: Digital includes risk

The average employee sends and receives 30,000 emails per year (115 per day in 2013 * 260 workdays per year). That’s just email. Much of our lives have migrated online—banking, SMS, healthcare information, and so on. Consumers and companies alike should recognize two things: digital has made much of our daily activities easier and more efficient, but that convenience and connectivity includes some data risk—those databases remain (with all the less-than-thoughtful messages contained within), and perfect security is impossible. In the long-term, the risk of a breach happening is very high, and understanding this—for consumers and companies—is critical for being able to react to them.

2: The math on security has changed

There’s no question that data breaches have increased in recent years. According to idtheftcenter.org, breaches across all sectors increased by an average of 25% per year between 2005-2013. These have included everything from emails, to user IDs, to credit card information to Social Security numbers.

Source: idtheftcenter.org

Source: idtheftcenter.org

Sony’s VP of security remarked a few years ago that it was a defendable business decision to hold off on investments in data security if it might cost more than simply enduring a breach. However, in this age of data security risk, the cost of a breach is more than just the value of stolen intellectual property and offering services to protect personal information. It also includes the cost of lost trust in the organization—trust that’s essential for maintaining a positive relationship with stakeholders. Trust might not fit on a financial statement, but it’s the currency with which a brand operates in the market.

3: Anticipate how the breach will be understood

When a breach happens, the reputational context in which it happens will determine how consumers react. Sony’s recent hacking affected employees the most—all blameless. Yet some of the public reaction included finger-pointing at Sony instead of the hackers, as if they’d invited it. Of course, no company (one hopes) would ever intentionally leak employee data or invite hackers to do so. But if the organization has a history of data security crises, some unfair blame is bound to be pointed towards the organization. It’s essential to have a well-communicated plan in place to improve your data security after it happens.

4: Reestablish trust with the right spokesperson

It’s important to consider who the organization chooses to represent them in a crisis. When it’s a data breach or other information-related crisis, a senior technical officer should take the lead in communicating the problem, the consequences, and the next steps the organization will take to protect its employees and customers.

5: Take care of the victims

When a data breach happens, how you communicate your reaction to the breach is essential. If your employees or consumers have private information exposed, immediately share your plan to protect them, in detail. If the victims lost identity information, employ services to help them keep track of their credit and identities. The initial costs may seem high, but the return in trust will be huge.

What has interested you most about the current discussions regarding data security?

Friday5: Why Email Marketing Rules

Do your clients want to reach people…and get them to do something? Then consider the power of email for consumer marketing, public affairs, and corporate campaigns. Here are five reasons why email rules.

1. Volume

The statistics of email use and ROI are mind bogglingly impressive. Every minute there are 204 million emails sent compared to almost 6 million combined social engagements on Facebook, Pinterest, Vine, Instagram, and Twitter.[i] But this doesn’t mean email is an oversaturated channel. In fact, email is the third highest medium for expected ROI by business marketers, behind organic search and CPC, and is well ahead of social media platforms.[ii] Customer acquisition by email (i.e. subscribers) has quadrupled over the past four years,[iii] which is solid evidence that the channel is trusted, preferred, and growing. For every dollar spent there’s a $40 return on email, compared to a $17 return for keyword ads and a $2 return for banner ads.[iv]

2. Permission-Based

Email is permission-based, meaning recipients have given you the green light to send them information about their product, service, or cause. They’ve bought in. Combine that with the primacy of smartphones and tablets and you begin to understand that people are always checking their email, making it the leading activity for people on their phones.[v] Customers who come to businesses via email are more likely to do what you’re asking them to do – whether it’s asking them to share something on Facebook, encouraging them to buy something, or asking them to make a donation.[vi]

3. Behavior

Individual behavior with email is, well, active. Email is a transactional medium. In consumer programs customers expect to get offers, to buy things, to do things. In public affairs, voters contacted by email are at least 10 times more likely to take the advocacy action they are asked to do versus their counterparts on social platforms. Email is direct to the recipient and unfiltered by social media algorithms and timelines. It provokes more direct attention from recipients because it allows you to make repeated, direct contact with an individual’s inbox. Simply put, email expects action.

4. Measurement

Email can be measured in greater depth than any other engagement channel. Clients are looking for more evidence that our programs are working. The numerous opportunities to measure email performance and related recipient response means more quantitative and qualitative analysis for your client. Depending on the email service provider you use, the top 10 measurements and their value are:

image

5. Progression & Segmentation

Email data exposes distinctions about how much a consumer likes a brand or why a voter supports an issue – allowing you to customize engagement based on their profile so you can make the right ask of the right person at the right time. For clients this means a promise of cultivating bigger, better results through responsive, customized messaging.

Email communications have been successful in driving consumer campaigns for new products and services. They have been instrumental in state, federal, and international public affairs advocacy movements. And they are a significant part of any corporate employee engagement initiative. Obviously, I think email is the real thing, but I sure like the way Simms Jenkings, author of “The New Inbox: Why Email Marketing Is The Digital Marketing Hub in a Social & Mobile World” assesses email: “If you have just one bullet left in your gun to sell something, then email should always be that bullet.”


[i] Elite Daily, “More Than 204 Million Emails are Sent Every Minute,” March 19, 2013

[ii] Custora E-Commerce Customer Acquisition Snapshot – Q2 2013

[iii] Custora E-Commerce Customer Acquisition Snapshot – Q2 2013

[iv] Source: ExactTarget 2012 Channel Preferences Survey

[v] Forbes, “Why Email Is Still More Effective Than Social Media Marketing,” Oct. 1, 2013

[vi] Custora E-Commerce Customer Acquisition Snapshot – Q2 2013

Image credit: slgckgc

Friday5: Five Ways Brands Amplified Their Giving on #GivingTuesday

What comes after Black Friday and Cyber Monday? #GivingTuesday, of course! It’s an opportunity for brands and consumers to kick off the holiday season with good will and purpose. #GivingTuesday was founded in 2012 by New York’s 92nd Street Y in partnership with the United Nations Foundation. With the support of consumers around the world, campaigns activated by brands and organizations on this year’s #GivingTuesday raised nearly $46 million for nonprofits globally. With its increased popularity, #GivingTuesday has created a global conversation about how brands and consumers can give back to make a positive impact.

The Business + Social Purpose team would like to share best practices and examples from #GivingTuesday 2014 to show how a company’s significance is increasingly influenced by its ability to integrate social value into its business. Following are the top five trends brands employed during this global, digital donation campaign, including some from Edelman clients.

1. Engage your employees from the get-go: gather the voices of your employees to determine how to allocate funds on #GivingTuesday.

This year, CVS Health* used #GivingTuesday to recognize the volunteer spirit of their employees, as well as the impactful work of community-based organizations. CVS asked their employees to share their personal stories of volunteering, as well as nominate a local charity to receive a #GivingTuesday grant from the CVS Health Foundation. From these nominations, CVS chose 50 nonprofits to receive a total of $100,000 in grants as part of CVS’s #GivingTuesday initiative.

2. Strategically select nonprofit partners that align with brand values.

Southwest* is a company that believes #GivingTuesday should be year-round, but nevertheless joined the global movement this year and aligned their giving with what they value as a business: people and the planet. This #GivingTuesday, Southwest strategically selected 10 nonprofits that are meaningful to the company, donating $2,500 to each, ranging from programs supporting veterans to conserving the planet and education. They even encouraged travelers to show their generosity by lending a hand or giving a drink ticket to a seatmate.

3. Differentiate your efforts by promoting the use of a hashtag that is custom to your initiative, in addition to #GivingTuesday.

As part of an ongoing partnership with Conservation International, HP* elevated the power of the hashtag to generate donations for its partner’s new campaign, Nature is Speaking. The campaign is aimed at raising awareness that people need nature in order to survive. For each use or retweet of the custom hashtag #NatureIsSpeaking on Tuesday, HP has committed to donating $1 per tweet.

4. Focus all communications on a single initiative or program.

Focusing solely on a single initiative can be a great way for organizations to stand out and to rally support for their cause. Aligning with their partner Save the Children,  JOHNSON’S®* launched its new charitable platform “More Hands, More Hearts” to support the happy and healthy development of babies through the donation of essential resources, including JOHNSON’S® baby care kits and a special grant. JOHNSON’S® encouraged others to contribute to the cause by joining Jennifer Hudson and its own employees in creating baby care kits for families in need and generating further support via social media with #MoreHandsMoreHearts.

5. Go with the flow. Embrace the trends.

All brands want differentiation when it comes to philanthropic initiatives, but sometimes riding the big trend wave is the best bet. Playing off the ‘selfie’ craze, the #UNselfie challenged consumers to show their support for #GivingTuesday by posting photos and videos of themselves with evidence of how they’re giving back. Thousands have tweeted using the hashtag to show their support of worthy causes this year and to encourage others to do the same.

How did you participate in #GivingTuesday?

*Edelman client

Friday5: Five Phases of Filmmaking

From short films and branded documentaries to Vines and tabletop photography, production teams specialize in bringing big creative ideas to life.  We are made up of filmmakers, producers, animators and creative directors from all walks of the industry—from comedy writers to comic book illustrators to live show producers – and work in constant collaboration to produce video content.

When it comes to making videos, we get all sorts of questions, so we’re here to lay it all out and take you through the Five Phases of Filmmaking.

1. Development

“The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away.” –Linus Pauling

Before an idea can be developed into a script, there needs to be a creative vision—achieved by collaborating with accounts, creative, planning and other specialty teams to develop a focused insight about the audience and what you want to inspire in them through the content. It’s in this phase that we develop the creative brief and hone in on a treatment that will solve for it. We ask questions like: What’s the overarching story you want to tell? Who is that audience and what do you want them to do? Where is the content going to be consumed? Understanding distribution well in advance of production empowers the creative team to create the best concept for your client. Moreover, staying in line with the objectives outlined during this phase will be the guiding star throughout the process.

2. Pre-Production

“If I had nine hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first six sharpening my ax.”  -Abraham Lincoln

This is the time to get organized. In other words, planning, prepping and thinking of potential obstacles before they have a chance to materialize.  This is where we take everything from development and make the project a reality! From developing and locking the perfect script and laying out the full creative and narrative vision, to vetting directors of photography, to location scouting, casting the right talent and if the project calls for it, hiring a prop master and set designer– there is a lot to do! Filmmakers will tell you that pre-production is everything.

Shot lists and storyboards are essential to pre-production. These tools outline the camera angles and sketch out what each scene should look like before getting to set.

3. Production

“Filmmaking is a miracle of collaboration.” –James McAvoy
So it’s production time, when all the planning pays off and all hands are on deck—cast, film crew, the creative team, and even account and client teams. Everyone involved in production has an important role on set. From the director to the hair and makeup artist, to the script supervisor to the almighty gaffer in charge of lights – this is the moment where the professionals own their craft and we bring the script to life.

This video is a fun and easy way to remember who’s who on set and what they do.

4. Post-Production

“First you shoot the movie, then you make the movie” –Keenen Ivory Wayans.

Post-production is where the film comes together. A good editor helps tell a story by finding the best moments from the footage and working closely with the director and creative team to create a compelling narrative. This is also when a film can be fine-tuned with color correction, sound editing, motion graphics, 3D animation, and other finishing techniques to add magic to a piece. Licensing or composing the right music is also key, as most edits are timed and cut around musical moments. Having a skilled post-production team is essential to producing a project that wows.

5. Distribution

“No saint, no pope, no general, no sultan has ever had the power that a filmmaker has: the power to talk to hundreds of millions of people in the dark for two hours.”  -Frank Capra

So the video is picture locked and it’s time to amplify! Remember those questions from the development phase? Having the objectives figured out early on is key to the process and will be especially helpful when it comes to distribution. Thanks to strategic planning, paid media can now do the heavy lifting and effectively distribute the video where it will best be received—bringing the project full circle.

Voila! That’s the filmmaking process in a nutshell.

This post was written by Chris Walker, Natalie Batlle and Ryan VandenBosch.

Image credit: Luke Roberts

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