Thursday, May 21st 2015

What Does it Mean to be Transgender in the Workplace?

Bruce Jenner, known for being an accomplished Olympian and a part of the “Kardashian” brand, is the subject of headlines following his decision to publicly address his gender transition. Bolstered by interviews with ABC’s Diane Sawyer and two special episodes of “Keeping up with the Kardashians: About Bruce” on E!, what it means to be a transgender person is now a worldwide conversation.

As these discussions unfold, I’ve heard many interesting questions from family, friends and colleagues. What is the day-to-day life of a transgender person like? Do they one day arrive in the workplace as the opposite gender, or do they brief their colleagues prior to the transition? It’s difficult to discuss major life changes with family and friends, so how does someone address such a personal decision with co-workers? What does it mean to be transgender in the workplace?

HR professionals are especially interested in these questions. The Society for Human Resource Management, a widely read and well regarded publication for HR and employment professionals, sought a legal expert for this topic. We recommended one of our clients, Nancy Puleo, a partner in the Employment Law and Health Care Practice Groups at Posternak Blankstein & Lund. Nancy counsels employers about employee management issues and provides legal guidance about compliance with state and federal laws, as well as harassment and discrimination complaints.

Using her legal expertise in these areas, Nancy was able to discuss the types of issues likely to be raised in a workplace that includes transgender employees. From the proper way to handle restrooms or even potential harassment from other employees, Nancy touched upon the ways office interactions can be expected to change and the legal protections that are involved.

We’ll provide a link to Nancy’s comments when the article is published in the Society for Human Resource Management  – we love seeing our clients in the news, even more so when we’re able to include them in an important national dialogue.

Follow us on Twitter (@SA_launch) to see more client news coverage.

Lauren Torlone
Director

Wednesday, May 20th 2015

Facebook Call Now, The Generational Divide in Advertising Preferences

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Small and large businesses alike use Facebook advertising to target their key audiences, increase brand awareness, and convert sales. The social media platform has taken advertising a step further by announcing the addition of the Facebook Call Now and Get Directions buttons to ads. These new features connect the dots between consumers and businesses and take an extra step out of the hands of the consumer – they’ll no longer need to do a Google search to find a location or phone number—it’s right in the ad.

This is a no-brainer for businesses advertising on Facebook. As part of Facebook’s “local awareness” objective, these buttons enhance opportunities for small businesses to gain online exposure through the ability to target ads to nearby users, making it easy for potential consumers to get in touch. Minimizing the number of clicks needed to access information can only help businesses – especially in a world where people expect information instantaneously.

It’s estimated that Facebook will see the largest growth in the 65+ age demographic from 2015 to 2016. This demographic generally believes in traditional advertising, although their use of digital media is growing in popularity. To non-digital natives, these call-to-action (CTA) buttons can save time and headaches by simplifying the process of interacting with businesses.

While these CTA buttons will certainly appeal to older Facebook users – Gen X and Boomers – the question is whether or not the iGeneration will find it appealing. iGens, or the those born in 1994 and after, are characterized by always having a smartphone in their hands. They’re big fans of using review websites such as Yelp! for information about a product or service, and are skeptical of impersonal brand messages.

Will iGens look past the fact that these new Facebook features are, in fact, advertisements? The words “sponsored” or “advertisement” are red flags for iGens who tend to avoid commercial brand messages. Will these features be enough for them to look past brands paying for the content?

As these ads roll out, it will be critical to monitor how different demographics respond to and use these buttons. How will the success or failure influence advertising strategies on other social media platforms? Will the iGens stick to their brand and advertising skepticism, or be lured into the ease of finding additional information on Facebook? Will older demographics begin to believe more in social media-based advertising and less in traditional advertising, as the demographic continues to grow on Facebook? We’re looking forward to finding out.

Danielle Gerard
Account Executive

 

Thursday, May 14th 2015

How Do Consumers Feel About the Apple Watch?

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Our research partners at Sentient Decision Science are experts in determining the unconscious emotions consumers feel toward products. (We know firsthand – they help us uncover consumers’ implicit perceptions on the top ten new product launches in our annual MMNPL survey.)

A new tech product has recently hit the market and caused quite a buzz. Many have questioned if consumers will feel strongly enough to integrate it into their everyday life. It’s the Apple Watch, and Sentient Decision Science got to the bottom of its long-term viability. In conjunction with the IIRUSA #FUSE15 conference in Chicago, Sentient Decision Science conducted a FUSE 2015 implicit study to show how consumers feel about the watch. Did the product win in terms of quality, connectivity, status, and attractiveness? Find out how the Apple Watch fared with consumers here.

Wednesday, May 13th 2015

Will Facebook Instant Articles Instantly Wipe Out Fun?

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Facebook launched Instant Articles today. It’s a way for publishers to push content through the billion-person network but do so instantly. Translation: you won’t have to visit an external site for the content to load, and said content will be dynamic. Check out this video from Facebook that explains it all.

As an integrated communications agency, our job is to help our clients publish content. The format differs for each client and per program. Sometimes it’s paid content on a site like BostInno. Sometimes it’s social media content on Twitter. Sometimes it’s digital billboards that allow us to change content on the fly and take advantage of trends as they happen. And sometimes, our content is wrapped around a construction vehicle.

With Instant Articles, Facebook is working with the New York Times, Buzzfeed, National Geographic, and other top tier publishers. It’s only a matter of time before this technology — once its truly perfected — will become available for other brands that aren’t labeled “media.” Envision being able to post your company news directly to Facebook with a suite of interactive tools that enhance the reader/viewer experience? Imagine not having to worry about formatting, HTML or other back-end issues that typically get in the way of user engagement, e.g. load times, tiny fonts and more.

The bigger question here is, how will Instant Articles impact the user experience and, of course, brands? At one point Facebook was fun. It was a place to peer into the worlds of the people around us. We could learn things. We could see things. We could connect with aspects of everyday life that before then, were only available in dusty library books. Now the network is a content machine. Will Facebook Instant Articles flood our feeds and force users to work hard at optimizing their news streams to get the content they really want, not the content Facebook wants you to read? Will content from Instant Articles force brands to abandon their own websites and blog to push content through Facebook, which could eventually kill websites as we know them? Will brand content be seen without paid support? All big questions that will be answered over the coming weeks as this new Facebook experience rolls out.

How do you think Instant Articles will impact the Facebook experience for both users and brands?

Wednesday, May 6th 2015

Harvard Business Review: How to Market to the iGeneration

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How should brands adjust their marketing strategies to reach the truest digital natives? In the second blog post of a three-part series for Harvard Business Review, CEO Joan Schneider shares her tips for communicating with the iGeneration – those born in 1994 and later. To learn what iGens want from marketing and branding, read the HBR article, “How to Market to the iGeneration,” here.

Like Millennials, iGens share constant connectedness – but this generation of digital natives is also fiercely independent about their digital decision-making, from how they use Snapchat to the products they purchase (read our first HBR blog about 10 social media product launch tactics.) Schneider Associates (SA) teamed up with The Pollack PR Marketing Group to uncover communication and marketing preferences through the “iGen Goes to School” survey.

Do you want to reach iGens with your marketing and branding strategies? Read more about the iGen survey, here.

 

Monday, May 4th 2015

Lead Conversion and Tinder Dating 101

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If you’ve ever tried to capture a lead and convert it to a sale, you know it takes a strategic combination of attraction, nurturing, persistence, and a bit of risk. Believe or not, the process is not so different from finding a date using Tinder (not that I’m speaking from personal experience). Here’s a step-by-step comparison between lead conversion and developing a relationship from the Tinder app.

1. Your “brand”

You have about two seconds to catch someone’s attention with your Tinder photos and description. If you don’t, you’re a quick swipe to the left into the abyss, never to return. (For those of you who “have never used Tinder,” swiping left means skipping to the next user.) Compare Tinder photos to company branding – website, logo and social media channels. Brand image is all about first impressions, and if you’ve ever witnessed bad, outdated branding, you know these companies are going to get “left swiped.” You could have a winning personality (or your company could provide world-class services) but if you chose a prom photo from nine years ago (a.k.a. bad branding) you won’t make it too far down the dating – or sales – funnel.

But maybe you don’t photograph well – or maybe you don’t have it in the budget right now to completely rebrand or launch a new responsive website. Rest assured, your clever Tinder bio may save you in winning over new prospects. Think of it as your company’s “About” page, pithy website copy, or engaging blog/social media content that provide an “aha” moment. Use your writing skills to tell people what you’re really all about.

2. The right swipe

The “right swipe” is the call-to-action or the lead capture. It’s the action you want your prospect to take to communicate with you and learn more about what you can offer. Think of the right swipe as a button at the bottom of an email or a form fill on a landing page – if your prospect fills that out, you’ve done enough to lure them in and spark their curiosity. If your profile photos and bio (marketing/branding) match up – you’ve probably scored a right swipe. Your prospect has taken the bait and you’re notified of their interest in you. Now what?

3. The initial outreach

You nurture that lead, and you do it carefully. The next part is very important, so please take note: Do not scare your prospect away. If your initial follow up outreach is too aggressive or overly persistent, your prospect will either ignore you or flat out reject you. On the other hand, if your messaging is unclear or indirect, you’ll never convert to a sale (or get a date.) Either way, to get to the next level your lead nurturing has to be completely bulletproof. The best way to follow up with an interested prospect? Be natural and show the person on the other end that you’re a real human being. Generic one-liners won’t get you anywhere.

4. The conversation

You got the right swipe and you’ve reached out, but that doesn’t mean your lead nurturing is complete. Now you have to converse with your prospect, show them what you can offer, and essentially win them over enough to lock in a phone call or in person meeting. Organize this through organic, two-way conversation. Avoid talking only about yourself and your services (no one likes that) and ask questions. Get to know the person; ask about their accomplishments and pain points. This is where you build the necessary trust to take the next step.

5. The date

Congratulations! You’ve done everything right and made it to the bottom of the funnel. Your prospect has agreed to go out with you and you’re picking them up at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday night. Remember, your work isn’t over. If you want this encounter to turn into a lasting relationship with a puppy, two-car garage, and Netflix, you’ll need to provide continuous, topnotch personal attention, moral support, and live up to what you promised.

Disclaimer: Avoid using Tinder to find new business leads.

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Nicole LeLacheur
Account Executive

 

Wednesday, April 29th 2015

Are You a Good PR Pro?

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If you work in the media and communications industry, you very likely took a college course or two (or ten) in “Communications” – but now that you’re out in the world, are you an effective communicator?

Thanks to smartphones, you’re no doubt a whiz at posting pithy commentary on Twitter and Facebook, but what about when texting isn’t enough? How successful are your interactions with the media and others in the public domain? For nearly ten years, I worked in national broadcast news in Washington, D.C. before moving to my home city of Boston late last year. It’s not necessary to have worked on both sides of the proverbial media fence to “get” what journalists want; or conversely, what is to be gained from solid relationships with good PR people, but both sides need to understand one another and do their homework.

The communications field is often divided into two camps: The “us,” which in my case is now a PR or social media professional working with the media, and the “them,” meaning the traditional or digital media editor or reporter who is being pitched.  There are a myriad of reasons for this divide, and one of them is because members of the media (often rightly) believe (almost always from one bad experience) that “PR people” don’t understand how to help them.

As a producer, I had the occasion to work with many fantastic PR professionals. Some were former journalists, others were good collaborators who followed the news I was covering. For example, they were cognizant that stories which might have been a fit for me while I was at one network would not be an automatic fit when I moved to another. Why? Because I was covering different types of news and different beats at different networks.

From my experiences, there are several qualities that help make a successful PR pro:

 

Location, Location, Location.

Being a PR professional who pays attention to a reporter’s location is key. Yes, the Internet melts distance, but a big story in Boston or New York City may not even register in D.C., especially on a day when the government is nearing a shutdown, or a key piece of legislation is being voted on. I always appreciated (and frankly came to expect) that PR pros pitching me had done enough research to know which stories were likely to be a fit.

What day and time are you pitching?

As a general rule (notwithstanding breaking news which breaks all the rules) the beginning of the week was the best time for me to receive pitches. This is because many stories require research, planning and logistics (setting up interviews, arranging crews, booking studio time, etc.) A pitch stands a better chance on a Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday versus later in the week when other stories have already started to take shape and resources have been assigned and allocated.

As for what time of day to pitch, I loved morning pitches. I didn’t mind phone calls as long as they were brief and to the point, and if I was interested I asked for follow up details in email. A 4 p.m. pitch was never my preference. I very well may have read it, but circumstances of the news cycle often meant the next day’s show was already booked. (Now, if you’re pitching something incredibly timely and breaking news, pitch it no matter what time of day it is.)

You’re pitching the news, so read it.

As a journalist, I didn’t care if you were planning to send out a specific pitch on a specific day at a specific time for the past year. If important news breaks, pay attention so you’ll be able to avoid spamming reporters. I say “spam,” because even the best pitch is worthless on a day when the news is dominated by a topic that has nothing to do with your pitch.

Breaking news happens.

It’s your job to communicate with your client and explain why a segment was canceled, despite the fact they’ve already been made up and are sitting in the network’s green room. It’s also your job to accept when this happens and let the journalist get back to covering breaking news. Trust me, no one likes canceling guests; it’s something I did many times, and all that is required of you as the PR person is a quick acknowledgment of the cancelation. You should feel free to follow up at an appropriate time to see if your guest can be rescheduled.

Write Good.

Ok, a little humor, but being a skilled writer is critical. It doesn’t matter if it’s print, online, a script or a tweet; quality writing is a calling card of all the great journalists I know and respect. These writers have an appreciation for well written pitches. Please note! That doesn’t translate into long pitches. One of the trickiest things to do is send a well written, succinct pitch (300 words or less) that provides all of the pertinent information. A pitch that is longer than a couple of paragraphs (that’s two) is too long in my opinion. If you have a complex story to tell, send the short introductory pitch and say you are happy to provide more information. Trust me, if the reporter is interested, you will be contacted.

Reporters are people, too.

Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and have a friendly chat or meet them for coffee. Yes, there are breaking news days, but there are also days when reporters have time to explore pitches and story ideas. To be a valued source, you have to earn that position, and that often takes relationship building. Get out of your office and meet the people you pitch!

Bad PR people can be annoying.

It’s true, and the unprepared PR people make our jobs as PR pros more difficult. But YOU are great at your job.You’ll be able to maintain existing relationships and create new ones with the media when you understand what is newsworthy or interesting to one reporter may be of little interest to another. A pitch far outside of a reporter’s beat is likely to damage your relationship with them. That’s not to say don’t ever take chances, just make strategic decisions.

The team here at Schneider Associates is proof positive that being effective PR professionals yields results. We have great relationships with the media. We go out of our way to stay on top of breaking news and trends and follow reporters across a variety of beats — and go to the newsrooms to meet the reporters and editors we work with on a daily basis. We are always striving to improve our communications because we understand the media is constantly changing and we need to change with it.

 

Lauren Torlone
Lauren Torlone
Director

Friday, April 17th 2015

Harvard Business Review: 10 Tactics for Launching a Product Using Social Media

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How can brands be creative and nimble when using social media during a new product launch? Joan Schneider, CEO of Schneider Associates, provided Harvard Business Review readers with “10 Tactics for Launching a Product Using Social Media.” To find out which 10 tips made the list, read the HBR article, here.

Over the past decade, the way new products are launched has changed drastically. Schneider Associates, an expert agency in launching products, services, organizations and institutions, has witnessed this shift in the launch landscape firsthand, from the days of an embargoed launch date to the highly integrated launches we see today.

Do you want even more new product launch insights? Download our 2014 Most Memorable New Product Launch eBook.

Thursday, April 16th 2015

The Young SA Women in Digital Talk Marketing, Social Media and More

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Image source: http://www.youngwomenindigital.com

As young communication professionals, I can’t stress how important it is to get out of the office, network with others, absorb new ideas – and of course, communicate. At Schneider Associates (SA), we try to attend networking events at least once a month and make an outing of it. The women of SA recently attended the Young Women in Digital (YWD) “Case Studies for Success” event at Fiksu, a mobile marketing company in Boston, and heard from three young industry thought leaders about their work in digital.

Presenters included Maggie Hibma, product marketer at HubSpot, Lindsay Sutton, VP/Account Director at Digitas, and Kyla Jacobs, Senior Product Manager at Fiksu. Aside from the rock star case studies including product launches for INBOUND 2014, PUMA’s reactive social media community management, and marketing for a mobile athletic app, perhaps the most enlightening aspect of the event was that presenters were relatable. It’s inspiring to hear what other young women in our field are working on and accomplishing  at their jobs, and have the chance to share what we do as well.

Here are three takeaways from the speakers at the YWD event:

1. Have a Directly Responsible Individual (DRI) for projects.

With so much activity going on at an agency, company or organization, it’s easy for there to be “too many cooks in the kitchen.” Maggie Hibma shared how HubSpot uses a DRI to act as the point-person on a project. While teams are essential, a leadership role on each account or project is necessary – someone who can manage the time and action plan, see deliverables through and answer questions.

2. Be reactive on social media.

Driving social media engagement for clients and companies is more than simply producing content – how do you respond to trending topics and use them to your advantage? Lindsay Sutton of Digitas shared how her client, PUMA, latched onto the famous Chiellini World Cup bite and used a bit of humor on social media to create buzz around the players’ PUMA jerseys. The message to the audience was to think of reactive social media the same way you’d think of reactive media pitching in PR – what’s going on at a particular moment in time that your client can get in on the conversation?

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3. Sometimes you have to prove that a client’s strategy isn’t working.

We are our clients’ number one fans, but sometimes we have to give them a bit of tough love. Kyla Jacobs of Fiksu shared how her client, an athletic mobile app, could have been seeing more results – and essentially making more money – if they changed their strategy. It took some time and convincing, but eventually the client took Fiksu’s advice and profit grew exponentially. While it’s important to listen to what the client wants, as their consultant, it’s also important to offer a fresh insight into existing strategies and business goals if it means helping them achieve and surpass their marketing and sales goals.

Along with the above insights, a personal takeaway from the YWD event is to just get out there. It’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day tasks, but networking and hearing what others in your industry are doing will provide fresh ideas, challenge your thinking and help take your work to the next level.

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Nicole LeLacheur
@nicolelelacheur
Account Executive, Integrated Media

Wednesday, April 15th 2015

Neutrogena Goes Digital for a Memorable Social Product Launch Campaign

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Image source: http://naturals.neutrogena.com

In honor of Earth Month, Johnson & Johnson’s beauty brand Neutrogena partnered with the The Nature Conservancy to launch an all-digital marketing campaign on April  2 to promote the new Neutrogena Naturals line and eco-friendly makeup wipes.Celebrity spokesperson Kristen Bell kicked off the campaign with a video tweet, challenging her 1.75 million twitter followers to join the #WipeforWater movement, encouraging them to conserve water by cleansing with the eco-friendly face wipes instead.

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Neutrogena’s move from traditional advertising to a digital approach reflects a trend in millennial and iGen (those born in 1994 and on) marketing, and the #WipeforWater campaign demonstrates Neutrogena’s plan to have its advertising resonate more effectively with young consumers. According to Schneider Associates’ (SA) 2014 MMNPL survey data, brands can reach younger generations by building trustworthy, engaging relationships with them on social media. We found three reasons why Neutrogena’s latest campaign has the potential to make a lasting impression with younger generations:

1.) iGens and millennials are more likely to remember new product launches than older generations.

According to SA’s 2014 MMNPL survey, age is a significant determinant of new product recall. The younger a consumer is, the more likely they are to recall new product launches. The iGeneration (survey respondents ages 18-21) have a recall rate of 56 percent. Neutrogena’s campaign is built around consumer engagement using the hashtag #WipeforWater. The brand will also run paid media on Twitter, YouTube and the video advertiser, YuMe.

SA’s findings also show that connecting with young consumers through their technology is imperative for brands. In 2014, 72 percent of millennials used their smartphones to research new products online, according to SA’s MMNPL survey.

2.) YouTube reaches younger consumers most.

We learned through our MMNPL survey that last year, 49 percent of the iGeneration and 34 percent of millennials used YouTube to learn about new products. The ‘haul video’ phenomenon, which features consumers showing and sharing opinions of their most recent purchases, allows marketers to gain insight via consumer feedback. Also, since haulers and bloggers possess online credibility, these objective  reviewers provide valuable promotion for campaigns.

Perhaps this is why Neutrogena will be teaming up with one of women’s most-followed digital influencers, beauty vlogger Dulce Candy (whose reach extends to 4 million followers across her social networks) and bloggers El Diario de la Mode and Honestly Jamie.  These influencers will fuel the #WipeforWater campaign by using Neutrogena’s wipes for seven days in an attempt to save about 35 gallons of water per person, all while documenting the challenge on social media. This could be a major opportunity for Neutrogena to organically connect with its target market. SA’s survey found that 53 percent of those who use YouTube state the videos influenced their purchasing decision, as did 58 percent of those who follow video blogs or blogs.

3.) Millennials are more health-conscious than any other generation.

According to our 2014 MMNPL survey, millennials want to take care of themselves – and they also care about the environment. Adweek wrote that millennials are one of the most highly educated demographics when it comes to understanding the importance of environmental conditions, and according the 2014 Social Media Sustainability Index, brands that engage in sustainability communication can win over social media-savvy millennials with narratives about products and services that reflect sustainability.

According to Neutrogena, washing with soap and water wastes five gallons of water a day, and for every person who pledges to participate in the #WipeforWater campaign, Neutrogena will donate $1 to the Nature Conservatory – up to $50,000. Neutrogena Natural’s brand manager Simon Geraghty, believes the campaign “gets the conversation started about water footprints and how we think we may not be wasting water,” and that “it’s not always about putting the products front and center…it’s more about connecting with lifestyles.”  According to spokesperson Kristen Bell, the campaign is “a great way to educate people that water is not an endless resource.”

 

Do you think Neutrogena’s eco-conscious digital media campaign will impress young social media users and consumers? Or should the beauty brand stick to reliable traditional advertising methods? Here’s one way to know for sure: We’ll be looking to see if this product launch makes our 2015 Most Memorable New Product Launch survey.

 

Alexandra Powell
Marketing Intern