Tuesday, November 18th 2014
On November 14, CEO Joan Schneider presented the results of the “iGen Goes to School” study, conducted by Schneider Associates and The Pollack PR Marketing Group, to graduate enrollment managers at the fall New England Association of Graduate Admissions Professionals (NEGAP) 2014 Conference at Bryant University. The presentation stressed the importance of adapting enrollment marketing strategies to students born between 1994 and 2004, the true digital natives dubbed the “iGeneration” by Stefan Pollack, author of Disrupted.
In her presentation, Schneider shared ideas on how enrollment managers can attract iGen applicants, a cohort that will start applying to graduate programs in as little as two years.
Schneider shared key findings from the study, indicating that iGens only listen to iGens, tend to distrust brands and prefer personalized outreach over traditional, generic communiques. As the graduate recruitment and enrollment landscape faces a disruption, Schneider offered insight into strategies enrollment officers can use to reach this new generation of college applicants.
Attendees were encouraged to think about the enrollment process and funnel in new ways, as engaging with this emerging demographic demands integrated, personalized communications that are both digital and social.
According to Joan Schneider, “The success of both undergraduate and graduate admissions rests on how enrollment offices are able to attract and interact with the iGeneration. Enrollment management is a team sport and requires an integrated playbook.”
NEGAP focuses on providing its members with resources for professional development, networking and knowledge sharing related to the profession of graduate admissions. The organization’s annual fall conference covers trends in graduate admissions and current enrollment practices.
To learn more about the “iGen Goes to School” study, take a look at our iGen research.
You can also read the full press release in the Schneider Associates Newsroom. To learn about what iGens look for during the enrollment process, contact us to request an “iGen Goes to School” Fact Sheet.
Monday, November 17th 2014
“I’m here because I would like to be Olivia Pope after college,” an overly exuberant freshman named Becky informs her Intro to Public Relations class. The professor valiantly tries to stifle his laughter.
Olivia Pope is a fictional character portrayed by Kerry Washington in the hit drama “Scandal.” Pope is loosely based on Judy Smith, who served as the Press Secretary for George H. W. Bush and the crisis management representative for Monica Lewinsky during the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. Pope’s character has become a television icon, worshiped for her crisis management expertise and ability to mollify or avert massive political disasters.
“Ok…why Olivia Pope?” The professor has heard this before.
“Because, I want to be a gladiator in a suit! It’s amazing how she can spin anything that gets thrown her way.”
Exploring “The Dark Side of PR” in the Boston University course, “spin” was described as a type of propaganda accomplished by providing deceptive and manipulative explanations of events. PR professionals have often been called “spin doctors” and accused of selectively presenting facts to support their own agenda. Many efforts have been made to combat these practices. Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) has declared September “Ethics Awareness Month,” seeking to inform and educate PR professionals about continuing concerns regarding ethics – such as spin.
While spin is a widely debated practice among PR professionals; it seems that more and more people are engaging in the profession and espousing sensationalized views. Perhaps media is to blame? People watch shows like “Scandal” and think this is standard operating procedure for PR: concealing presidential love triangles, Capitol Hill murder plots, international bomb threats and top secret intelligence agency plans. These are not topics covered in the syllabus of the grad level crisis communication class.
Of course, shows like “Scandal” can’t be all fiction; but exactly how creative and unrealistic are the plots? Judy Smith herself has actively denounced assumptions about her career – so why do people still choose to believe it?
Perhaps glamorizing high-stakes, high-reward careers are what appeals to the masses. Olivia Pope with her endless supply of trendy hats and expensive designer white coats is worshiped by power hungry college kids and stay-at-home moms. They feed off the drama of Pope’s steamy affair with the President, while maintaining a kinship with his wife.
The average career of a PR professional will probably not include being held at gunpoint in the Oval Office or any of the other scandals that besiege the White House on “Scandal.” However, it is expected that PR professionals should have superior interpersonal skills, a sound knowledge of technology and media trends, work well under pressure, be able to meet strict deadlines and think on their feet. Creativity and a solid understanding of crisis management are also essentials.
So, to the Beckys of the world: pay attention in your writing classes, establish close working relationships with your professors, gain exposure in the PR industry and you’ll be on your way to a successful career in public relations. If you are interested in having affairs with elected officials or wearing trendy white coats, Hollywood may be your true calling.
Friday, November 14th 2014
A recent study, conducted by Worldcom Public Relations Group partners Schneider Associates and The Pollack PR Marketing Group, reveals that colleges and universities need to be concerned about marketing to a decreasing crop of prospective students who are significantly more critical of and less responsive to traditional marketing tactics.
According to the “iGen Goes to School” study, college admissions and communications programs are not resonating with today’s new cohort of digital natives. Dubbed the “iGeneration” by Stefan Pollack, author of Disrupted, iGens are those born between 1994 and 2004 and require “information on demand” with a professed inclination to trust the advice of “friends,” or strangers, who share their opinions freely on social media platforms.
Considering the decreasing number of applicants, college admissions and communications departments are under pressure to reexamine their customary communications platforms and recruitment marketing mix. To be competitive, enrollment management strategies for the next generation of applicants will need a more personalized, multi-channel approach.
The two-part study consisted of four qualitative focus groups conducted in Boston, New York and Los Angeles, and a quantitative online survey of 130 current or recent college applicants. Findings indicated that iGens are dissatisfied with the impersonal nature of traditional college communications outreach, signifying a serious disruption in the higher education enrollment process, which includes a barrage of emails, view books, letters and other print communiques addressed “Dear Student or Applicant,” and are often deemed irrelevant to the audience.
Key findings from the study include:
- Students want to engage with schools on their own terms. Today’s digital natives are likely to use social media to learn about a higher education institution, with Facebook (67%) being the top social media channel. Of those surveyed, 92% of students said they used social media at least a little during the application process and 60% of applicants felt comfortable contacting schools through social media.
- iGens desire authentic, personalized outreach from people similar to them. Of those surveyed, 43% stated personal contact influenced their decision to attend a college or university, such as one-on-one communication with a current student or engaging content such as videos.
- Applicants place importance on program specialties and digital presentation. Participants indicated that course/program offerings (48%) and school reputation (44%) were critical influencers in enrollment. Also, of those surveyed, 38% said that a school’s website was the most trustworthy source when learning about a school.
The results of this study hold major implications for the future of college enrollment and communications programs. The goal is not to reinvent the enrollment funnel, but to find moments in time during each institution’s application, acceptance and enrollment process where marketing professionals can insert new ideas that resonate with iGens.
You can read the full press release in the Schneider Associates Newsroom.
To learn more about the “iGen Goes to School” study, check out our iGen research.
Contact us to request a fact sheet on iGen.
Friday, November 7th 2014
On Halloween, Schneider Associates brought together the dogs of Boston during the ‘Doggone Halloween’ Costume Parade presented by our client, the Downtown Boston BID, in partnership with the MSPCA. SA worked to promote the free event by pairing traditional media relations to local Boston outlets with a strong push on social media. Through a press release, flyers and word-of-mouth marketing, media coverage of the event included a segment on NECN and highlight on BostInno. The hashtag #DoggoneHalloween also created chatter – or in this case, “barking” – on Twitter.
Dogs of all kinds — and their owners – dressed up in costume to enjoy the Halloween festivities on Summer Street in the heart of Downtown Boston. The proud pooches strutted their costumes for the crowd and media, and outfits included a wizard, Red Sox player, taco, police officer, pirate as well as SA VP Don Martelli’s white German Shepherd as a “candy security guard.” Hosting the event was WCVB’s meteorologist Danielle Vollmar, who emceed the event with pizzazz with her dog Lucy in tow dressed as an elf.
Prizes were awarded to the scariest costume, cutest costume and best human-and-dog costume duo.
Search @DTownBostonBID and #DoggoneHalloween on Twitter to see more cute photos of the event, or visit the Downtown Boston’s Facebook album.
Monday, November 3rd 2014
At the beginning of the summer, talk flared surrounding Amazon’s new product launch. At a launch event on June 18, the Amazon Fire phone entered the smartphone market with skepticism. What would Amazon do differently to lure Apple- and Android-lovers to convert? In a Harvard Business Review article, Schneider Associates’ CEO Joan Schneider compared the Amazon launch event to tech giant Apple’s new iPhone introduction – both were eerily similar, except Amazon’s Fire phone did not ignite the same consumer demand.
Although the Fire has several unique features such as a scanning system called Firefly and cutting-edge 3D imaging technology, the Fire phone falls short of the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy. The product launch has recently been called a flop by the media – which is not what Amazon hoped to hear.
As of October 24, Amazon still had $83 million worth of unsold units in its inventory, unlike the Apple iPhone 6 which sold out in less than a week. With little purchasing fuel from consumers, Amazon dropped the price of its Fire phone from $200 to just 99 cents with a two-year AT&T contract. Coincidentally, this price reduction happened just days before Apple successfully unveiled the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
So why aren’t Fire phones selling like wildfire?
According to TIME, the phone is too expensive to create the incentive for iPhone and Galaxy users to make the switch, the app store is too small, the product was too late to the market and its features are not very interesting.
Back in June, Schneider said the launch event “fell short of the panache an Apple event typically delivers, and did not produce the kind of excitement this innovative device deserves” – and while the launch was effective enough to light a small spark in the marketplace, the product has yet to catch.
To read Joan Schneider’s Harvard Business Review article, Click Here.
Friday, October 31st 2014
If you’ve turned on your TV, opened a newspaper, or scrolled through social media news feeds, you’ve seen the numerous political ads telling you why – and in the case of anti-ads, why not – Martha Coakley and Charlie Baker are the best fit for Massachusetts’ next governor. Both candidates have endorsements from powerful Massachusetts influencers. Current Massachusetts governor, Deval Patrick, has campaigned for Coakley
and the Boston Globe
announced its endorsement of Charlie Baker
Just how important are these ads in influencing a political victory?
According to data from the Boston Globe, political ads are important. From the day after the primary election, September 10 through October 19, Charlie Baker and his supporters aired more than 3,700 individual spots on Massachusetts broadcast television, spending a total of $5 million. Over the same period, Martha Coakley and her supporters aired about 2,400 individual spots on broadcast television, spending $3.6 million.
But not all ad spots are created equal. Advertising time is generally more expensive the closer it gets to Election Day, and a single TV ad during a widely watched program such as a New England Patriots game or “American Horror Story” can create considerable traction.
What does this discrepancy indicate? It means Baker has had more success in fundraising, enabling him to afford even more ads, and in more sought after places. From September 16 through October 15, Baker and his running mate, Karyn Polito, raised a combined $1.6 million. Over the same period, Coakley and running mate Steve Kerrigan raised a combined $830,000. According to analysts, Charlie Baker has reached significantly more viewers than Coakley, a gap which can have meaningful implications come November 4. For the majority of Massachusetts residents that tune into politics in the month or two prior to Election Day, candidate visibility is key to success.
As of October 24, Baker held a 9-point lead over Coakley, 45 percent to 36 percent – a sharp move up from the 38 percent support he held in late August. According to Boston Globe pollster John Della Volpe, Baker’s growth came almost entirely from voters who have made up their minds since the beginning of September, when Baker’s political ads dominated the air.
So for those skeptical of the power of political advertising or critical of the money politicians are willing to spend on campaign ads, this is why: political ads work. We may not have the definitive statistics to tell us how influential they truly are, but election results do not lie. While political ads should not be one’s sole source of candidate information, the best way to educate yourself is to get educated before Election Day. To learn more about Charlie Baker’s platform, click here. To learn more about Martha Coakley’s platform, click here.
Don’t forget to vote at your polling location on Tuesday, November 4.
Wednesday, October 29th 2014
Even though television is still the top source for new product launch discovery, according to our survey (download the ebook with full data here), the multi-stream experience is taking over the way we consume media.
Despite its use as a source for learning about new products, the decrease in influence of TV advertising and news can be attributed to the shift in how consumers watch broadcast media. While our survey shows that 68 percent of consumers still learn about new products from commercials and 42 percent of those are influenced enough to try the product, it’s getting harder for commercials to win consumer attention with the advent of smartphones, tablets and other devices.
Another interesting takeaway: nearly 60 percent of consumers surveyed reported they browse the Internet while watching TV at least some of the time- the multi-steam experience.
Over 30 percent of Millennials say they search online for products they’ve just seen on TV and 20 percent of Gen Xers do the same. Brands need to take advantage of this, whether it’s boosting search terms, videos or reviews from customers, tips and tricks from a spokesperson, or images from social sites of the product. Some brands are already displaying short links or search phrases during the commercial to lure consumers online. Others are using more complex methods, promoting apps like Shazam, which conducts a search based on the audio from the commercial and can produce an online destination for the viewer.
The moral of the story is integrated marketing –and we think this trend is here to stay.
The Most Memorable New Product Launch survey identifies strategies and tactics that brands use to motivate consumers to try and buy new products. Conducted by Schneider Associates and Sentient Decision Science, the Most Memorable New Product Launch survey identifies trends, tracks national product launches and reveals how consumers respond to traditional and new media.
This year we developed an e-book about the 2013 Most Memorable New Product Launch survey. We’ll be sharing our research findings and insights each week, so be sure to check back! Next week we discuss our seventh insight, gender equality in marketing and how it impacts purchasing power.
Tuesday, October 28th 2014
BuzzFeed is an integral part of any 20-something’s Internet search history; it’s the go-to source for snarky “list-icles,” GIFs and animal pics. A few weeks ago, the site whose content always seems to go viral began experimenting with e-commerce-enabled branded content.
The first post incorporating buying capabilities is a sponsored post from L’Oreal’s Makeup.com titled, “11 Vintage Hairstyles Anyone Can Pull Off.” The post is exactly what one would expect from BuzzFeed: GIFs galore; pop culture references and links to third-party sites where you can teach yourself how to get that fancy ‘do.’ New to the party is a link beneath each photo caption which exclaims, “Get the tools for the look here,” and links to a L’Oreal webpage where readers can purchase the products used in the article to build the look.
It’s interesting to note that BuzzFeed toned down the volume after a few days. A view of the button as of Friday, October 3:
(Image Source: Wall Street Journal)
And on Monday, October 6:
(Image source: BuzzFeed)
BuzzFeed is hardly the first site to foray into e-commerce; Facebook announced in July that it would begin experimenting with “Buy” buttons on sponsored content, even going so far as to allow users to complete the purchase without leaving Facebook’s platform. Twitter is taking a more cautious approach, handpicking 26 nonprofit organizations and recording artists, plus two brands – Burberry and Home Depot. These special few can use the button, but their sponsored posts will only be visible to a sliver of Twitter’s users in the U.S., as the site is being cautious with a slow roll-out.
BuzzFeed and L’Oreal will continue to pinpoint uses for the “Get the tools for the look here” button into early 2015. It should be an interesting marketing strategy, especially given the e-power of beauty bloggers and YouTubers. These web mavens are everyday people, which is exactly what makes them so powerful; they speak to the average person, not the super-famous or über rich, so their recommendations resonate with viewers and readers.
According to BuzzFeed Chief Revenue Officer Andy Wiedlin, DIY and how-to articles see the most shares, so it’s not difficult to envision how BuzzFeed will repurpose the button to benefit other brands in the DIY, design or food spaces. Only time will tell when it comes to quantifying the business impact of e-commerce in BuzzFeed’s sponsored content.
Senior Account Executive
Monday, October 27th 2014
We’re all guilty of doing it – an ache, pain or slight cough sends us straight to Google to search our symptoms. But what if you could actually consult a doctor and get the answers right away, all from the comfort of your living room?
Google recently began testing live video chats with real doctors to a select number of users. The trial service is offered through Google’s Helpouts video chat application, and if it catches on with users, could potentially become a paid service through Google Wallet. For those looking for quick advice, paid online visits with a doctor could be cheaper and more expedient than booking a trip to the doctor’s office.
This launch follows Google’s typical approach with a beta test – a smart move on Google’s part to get reactions from users before rolling it out to the masses. With busy schedules and technological advances, could paid live video chats with a doctor become the norm? Does this new virtual healthcare model pose greater benefits or risks to the current healthcare system? In any diagnosis, it will certainly be interesting to watch.
Wednesday, October 22nd 2014
“Pulp Fiction” is known to be full of blood and a lot of four-letter words, but I’ve realized it’s also full of a lot of great lessons about community management.
“Be cool, Honey Bunny.”
Things can get hairy on social media. If a user is complaining about a terrible experience with a brand, or comments on a post start to get offensive, it’s important to stay calm. If you try to respond while you’re panicked or angry, chances are you’re just going to make things worse. The best way to remain calm in these situations is to create a crisis management plan beforehand. Develop a response protocol for how complaints and other negative comments should be dealt with.
“I’m tryin’ real hard to be the shepherd.”
As a community manager, it’s tempting to want to take snarky or nasty users to task. They might not have all the right information, and you’re in a position to give it to them. Use that power for good. Strive to be helpful, informative and, most of all, incredibly kind. Sass only works if it’s a well-known part of your brand voice.
Asking questions and starting conversations is the bread and butter of community managers. However, you need to be in tune with your audience and know what questions and conversations to avoid. We know all too well the #McDStories debacle and other hijacked hashtags and comment threads. Know what your brand’s pain points are, know what the most common complaints the brand receives, know the sentiment of your audience and plan accordingly.
“Just because you are a character doesn’t mean you have character.”
Being funny is great, but when it comes to community management, put customer service first and comedy second. It’s great when you can inject personality into your brand voice, but jokes can get in the way or sometimes make people think you’re not taking their feedback seriously. People will always choose a brand that actually helps them over a brand that’s just good at being witty.
Butch: “I’ll be back before you can say Blueberry pie.”
Fabienne: “Blueberry pie.”
Butch:” Okay, maybe not that fast. But pretty fast, alright?”
Timing is everything in community management. We always strive to keep our response times down to at least a couple of hours. People use social media to have real-time or quick interactions with their friends, so they’re expecting the same from brands. We create community management schedules and response protocols so that we can respond in a timely matter to anything that comes in over our channels. Of course, sometimes you have to contact your client or someone on the team before you can respond. Be sure to let the person who contacted you know by replying something like, “That’s a great question. I’m looking into that now and should have an answer for you soon. Stay tuned!”
“I’m here to help. If my help’s not appreciated then lotsa luck, gentlemen.”
Every community manager is going to encounter trolls or the person who cannot be pleased. Always try your best to be helpful, but have your team come up with protocol so that you can determine when it’s best to bow out gracefully. If the person cannot be specific in their complaint or is using language or behavior that can’t be tolerated, give them fair notice, and then block, ban, or report accordingly. This is always your last resort, and it’s usually a rare case.
Content Marketing Supervisor