Archive for March, 2011

Technology reigned supreme once again at one of North America’s largest and most influential annual interactive festivals, South by South West Interactive (SXSWi). Situated in sunny Austin Texas, the conference, which is often referred to as Spring Break for Geeks, is jam-packed with information and events including key notes, sessions, networking opportunities and an omnipresent diet of BBQ.

Strategic Objectives’ resident geek, Melissa Smich, put on her cowboy boots and joined the fun, and even led a panel entitled Naked Dating: How to find love in 140 characters or less. It’s ok if you couldn’t make it out to Texas, SO has you covered with Melissa’s inside-look at the technology and online trends that will affect marketing and PR in 2011.

Content

If content is king, then two key trends wear the crown this year: Curation and Context – and its not as simple as you think.

Curation

Imagine for a moment the cumulative content from the beginning of time until 2008. Now imagine that same volume of info being produced online every 48 hours. Imagine no more, it’s reality and the thought leaders at SXSWi believe we are now so overloaded with information, that we no longer search for content; rather, content is finding us. Hence our need for curation.

Curators are traditionally known for their vast knowledge in spaces like the arts, architecture and history. They are specialists in who sift through and vet all the junk, looking for the good stuff. Online curators find and share only the very best information, links, articles and videos in the digital space – which makes most of us are content curators, in some form or another. If you’ve ever tweeted or retweeted a link to a great article, shared a video with your facebook friends, or even written a blog post linking to your favourite stories of the week, consider yourself a curator!

I predict we’ll see content curation emerge as a high-demand online editorial role in the near future. Moreover, PR and marketing agencies will value content curators over content creators since curators will have higher clicks/visitors. This looming paradigm will have huge implications since the content creators will miss out on advertising impressions; forcing content creators to implement standards and boundaries for the sharing and repurposing of their original works.

Context

There’s no doubt the rise of social media has caused brands and marketers alike to fall in lust with new social tools and platforms that have propelled them to interact with individual consumers in two-way communications, otherwise unheard of in the past. For instance, could you imagine receiving an instant and personal response from a political leader a decade ago? With Twitter, this has now become reality and this unprecedented outreach is now renamed the humanization of the brand.

Little wonder New York Times bestselling social media author, Gary Vaynerchuck says, “If content is king, context is God.” In a world where we can tweet or write on the walls of our favourite brands and expect them to respond to us, context is increasingly important. How will your brand respond? Will you offer a canned or highly personalized response?

In the new social media world, consumers expect personalized responses from their favourite brands. We want them to get to know us, what we like and tailor their outreach to us accordingly. In the near future, companies will be expected to woo consumers individually and the brands who do so effectively will win their consumers’ loyalty for life. How are your brands preparing for this?

Mobile

Mobile media consumption is growing exponentially and is expected to eclipse desktop web browsing by 2015. This is NO passing fad – personalized device technology will change the way we consume media. Brands must be prepared for this shift, as it will happen quickly and suddenly. This is why we stress the importance of brands having agency partners that understand mobile technology and can help navigate you through those sometimes perilous waters.

This year’s biggest trends in mobile can be summarized in two acronyms: QR and LBS.

QR codes

It seems as though we hear the same thing every year: this is the year of QR (Quick-Response) codes. They’ve been around since1994, and while definitely popular in Asia, they have yet to reach critical mass in North America.

QR codes were my big prediction for 2010 and while their adoption by major brands this past year has shown promise, it hasn’t achieve mass popularity. Worse still, we rarely see companies doing it right, as detailed in my previous post.

While this may sound critical, I do see hope yet for QR codes this year — if Facebook adopts QR code technology as it has location-based check-ins. The possibilities of a seamless integration with Facebook are plentiful: you could scan to add new friends, scan to check in at locations, and much more.

Otherwise, I’m underwhelmed by QR codes’ lack of mass appeal and wondering if they’ll ever make it big in North America.

LBS

Location Based Services (LBS) are my BIG prediction this year along with Location Based Advertising (LBA). Mobile phones are the one device we use that’s highly personalized and truly our own. Unlike a personal computer that’s commonly share with colleagues, family and friends, your mobile device is with you every step of the way and is solely your own. The possibilities for personalization are endless for brand marketers!

Google’s Marissa Mayer spoke at SXSW about Location, Location, Location – and let me tell you, Google LOVES location. Google Maps for Mobile has amassed an amazing150 million users, meaning a whopping 40 per cent of all Maps usage is mobile.

Riding high on the location wave, Google also recently introduced Hotpot – a Yelp-like feature to integrate with your Google Maps searches. It features reviews and check-ins from your friends on the side bar of your Google Maps search, as long as you are logged in to your Google account.

This connection between location, search and your social graph is a big deal in the social world. Location based services allow us to identify exact demographics, in precise locations and based on accumulated data on that user’s behavior and browsing history, and allows us to then reach out to them with highly targeted messaging. There is no question location will be a powerful tool to leverage in future mobile and integrated marketing campaigns.

In the much further future, I am excited by Mayor’s statement that she envisions a day when your mobile phone will know everything. This signals Google may be working towards a singular web, where all devices are intelligently interconnected, the way Tim Berners Lee originally intended the web to function, way back when.

In Conclusion

What do Curation, Context, Location Based Services and QR codes all have in common? These trends seem to fall into two key areas of growing importance: Data (collection, analysis and sharing), and Personalization (messages, advertising and social media). We will see the rise in humanized outreach from brands; and brands will increasingly depend on our consumption data to successfully target us. Brands will need to quickly find their sweetspot in mobile outreach efforts so as to not be intrusive, but rather personalized and valuable as more people turn to their mobile phones for media consumption.

Our Strategic Objectives team will be hosting a Lunch and Learn on these topics, so please check back here next week for the video!

You can find more on SXSW here and to learn more on QR codes, click here.

By Melissa Smich. Consultant at Strategic Objectives

 

Public Relations has awesome power to reach into the hearts, minds and wallets of targeted consumers.

Never has this been more true than now, in the social era, when everyone has the right to be their own publisher and to spread info they/we believe is important, relevant and engaging for our audiences.

My work in Marketing Public Relations began back in the 80’s when I co-founded our national, full-service PR firm, Strategic Objectives, with my sister and partner Judy Lewis. Both former TV and radio producers with CBC, CTV and Global TV networks, we’d been on the receiving end of copious off-target PR communications for many years. We knew there had to be a better way to share and spread brand information and to harness the value of credible third party endorsements from key influencers, the media, stakeholders and consumers.

Looking back now, more than 25 years hence, I am reminded of the French saying “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,” – the more things change, the more they remain the same!

Yes the world has become much, much smaller with the advent of the fax machine, PC, cell phone, camcorder, digital camera, laptop, smart-phone, tablet and social networks – all devices and platforms that allow us to communicate instantly. But the basics of results-driven communication and the practice of PR remain the same as when we started Strategic Objectives back in 1983.

  • Craft a solid, reliable, relevant story
  • Tell it to the right audiences that need/want to hear it
  • Be honest and real; show integrity with everything you do
  • Be innovative, integrated, inspired and inspiring
  • Be proactive, reactive and follow-up meticulously
  • Be prepared for issues/crisis management
  • Be consistent and true to your brand –
  • Be cautious, the internet forms a permanent record –
  • Be nimble, seize the day and every opportunity –
  • And most importantly, love what you do!

At #SOSlam we’ll discuss the brave new world of social sharing and networking; and the profound impact it has on the way we see, do things and conduct business. But it’s important, at the same time, to remember that social media is a tactic, a tool and sometimes a weapon. What it is not, is a strategy, a foolproof path that will take us directly to the fulfillment of our personal and professional goals.

Social media is an awesome new avenue that, like most technology, allows us to do more for ourselves, faster, easier and more independently. It is also uncharted territory, an ever-evolving landscape that challenges, titillates and provokes us with the thrill of the unknown, not-yet-mastered and still unconquered.

I look forward to learning more about social media with you at #SOSlam and to meeting the awesome tweeps who will converge on Knoxville from 12 States and Canada (pick me), on Wednesday, April 13. See you there. Can’t wait!

For more info on SOSlam please check out: www.socslam.com

Deborah Weinstein, @DebWeinstein, is president of Strategic Objectives,

 

Our Strategic Objectives PR team was proud to welcome Marshalls, one of the world’s leading off-price retailers, to Canada this Spring! Marshalls, with more than 820 stores across the U.S. launched its first three Canadian stores in the Greater Toronto Area on Thursday, March 17, with three more stores set to open in Ontario this fall.

To get the media on board with the story our SO team hosted a media sneak preview on March 16, the day before the official store opening, to share news of Marshalls’ arrival with Canada’s national and Toronto-based traditional and social media types.

Canada’s fashionistas were thrilled to tour the new store; discover its enormous and stylish offering; learn how to find Spring’s hottest looks and brands at unbelievable discounts; and interview Marshalls spokesperson, Hollywood’s stylist to the stars, Phillip Bloch. Mr. Bloch has worked with celebrities ranging from Jennifer Lopez to Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry and Sandra Bullock and is the author of several books, including The Shopping Diet. Funny and friendly, he was happy to share tips on how to create Spring’s hottest looks on a shoestring budget at Marshalls.

More than 20 top Canadian media outlets made the pilgrimage to Marshalls’ sneak preview for the inside scoop on Canada’s hottest and newest fashion retailer.

“I made Canada’s first purchase at Marshalls!” says Rita Zekas of the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest distributed newspaper. “I bought a come-to-me-mama pair of shoes. They’re going to follow me home and get along with all the other shoes in my closet. I’m calling them my Gucci coup.”

The media was generous with its coverage. Please check out these great stories.

Toronto Star

Toronto Sun

Winnipeg Free Press Business

Winnipeg Free Press Lifestyle

Globe and Mail video

 

Strategic Objectives was delighted to partner with Marshalls  and celebrity stylist Phillip Bloch to build fame and fortune for the brand in Canada.

 

The reason marketer-backed “viral” videos never actually go viral is because today’s public can smell a fake, marketer-backed attempting-to-be-viral video a mile away. (Just ask Microsoft)

 

 

Here at Strategic Objectives we are always challenged by our clients’ and our own desires to create news that goes viral.  We are always pushing ourselves to create spreadable info that’s shareable, meaningful and relevant to the media and consumer audiences we relate to.

That’s why we’re SO stoked to see a video that gets everything right.

The smartwater video works because it owns up to the difficulties marketers face when trying to harness the power of social media, while effectively getting our attention, making us smile and achieving its goal – publicity!

Smartwater comes out and says it: we pretty much have no idea what we are doing with this viral video thingamajig.  But look at the cute animals! The double rainbow! Someone getting hit in the crotch! They took viral video memes, turned them on their head and used them for their own benefit, all the while pretending they were just bumbling their way through. Genius!

Jennifer Aniston turns out to be an amazing spokesperson, allowing smartwater to make fun of her former life as “Rachel” from Friends, her sex symbol status and even a very sly wink at all those tabloids that scream that Jen is “desperate for a baby.” She’s so desperate that they put dirty dancing babies in her video.

Well played smartwater. 2.5 million hits and counting. You took on the savvy, cynical consumers of 2011 and made us smile. It’s no David after dentist, but we are SO impressed.

By: Lori-Anne Isber, Consultant at Strategic Objectives Toronto

 

 

Last week I was interviewed by the awesome Michele Price (@prosperitygal) for the Women in Business Radio podcast. As some of you may know I’ve enjoyed an extraordinary adventure leading to where I am today, president of Strategic Objectives, Canada’s most award- winning PR agency (if not, please click here to see My Most Excellent Adventure video). Along the way I’ve learned many useful tips for the woman who wants it all. It was wonderful to chat with Michele and share my story of a true twenty-first century business woman who really does have it all (or SO I think).

Although we have been friends on Twitter for a quite some time, Michele and I met last summer IRL at the #Ungeeked conference here in Toronto.  We hit it off instantly and developed a strong virtual friendship.

I hope you enjoy our conversation. Please feel welcome to comment.

Deborah Weinstein (@DebWeinstein)