Friday, October 31st 2014

Branding a Candidate: How Political Ads Can Shape an Election

Martha Coakley, Charlie Baker

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.

HannaHeycke NEW
Hanna Heycke
Account Executive

Wednesday, October 29th 2014

MMNPL Survey Insight #6: Consumers Use a Number of Channels to Discover New Products


image004Even 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.

image006Over 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

Blowing Marketing Budgets on BuzzFeed? It’s Possible with E-Commerce-enabled Branded Content

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 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.

Jamie Berman
Senior Account Executive

Monday, October 27th 2014

Tech Launch: Google Tests Video Chats with Doctors

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.

(Image source:

Wednesday, October 22nd 2014

6 Lessons about Community Management from “Pulp Fiction”

“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.


Noel Fisher
Content Marketing Supervisor

Tuesday, October 21st 2014

Product Attributes Affect Purchasing Decisions: MMNPL Insight #5


MMNPL-insight-#5-graphicIt’s a no-brainer that consumers want to stick with products from brands they already know and trust. Consumers are highly influenced by trusted brands because the act of liking a brand becomes part of the consumer’s identity. When consumers can identify with a product, we call this emotional connection brand affinity. Connections develop after a consumer has multiple consistently positive interactions with a brand over a period of time.

Product attributes, such as brand trust, are powerful sales drivers when it comes to influencing purchasing decisions. In our survey, (You can download the ebook with full data here) “Trusted Brand Name” came in first at 59 percent- the highest rated attribute by today’s consumers.

image006We’ve heard tech geeks refer to themselves as “Apple people” and Diet Coke lovers identify with the product as part of their livelihood; not only do these consumers love the product, they have come to associate themselves with the brand. Launch-master Apple is no stranger to developing brand affinity. When the technology giant launched the more travel-friendly iPad Mini, it was a safe bet that the already loyal consumer base would purchase the latest product.

Another key theme to emerge over the last few years is product origin. This trend began during the recession when American manufacturing and outsourcing were common topics in the news and political discussions. Let’s go back to Apple – remember the Chinese factory scandal? The tech company came back quickly, promising the new Macbooks would be made in California, and emphasizing this fact in new advertising.

The lesson here? Cultivate a loyal consumer base through repeated positive consumer interaction and service, evaluate if other attributes (such as location of manufacturing) would either damage or strengthen your brand.


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 sixth insight, the multi-stream experience and how consumers are receiving their media from multiple channels.

Wednesday, October 15th 2014

Product Launch of the Week: Pepsi True

To keep up with its rival Coca-Cola and ride the “green” wave, Pepsi announced its first mid-calorie soda last week, Pepsi True. With a combination of real sugar and the plant-based sugar substitute stevia, Pepsi True has 60 calories per serving and 30 percent fewer calories than regular soda.

As soda sales decline in the U.S., the food and beverage industry has seen a recent push toward natural, fewer-calorie ingredients. Last month, Coca-Cola launched its naturally sweetened soda, Coca-Cola Life, after seeing success in the U.K. and South American markets. The success was despite the fact many consumers have been apprehensive about converting to stevia as an alternative to sugar due to an unpleasant aftertaste –Vitaminwater fans flooded Coca-Cola Co. social media channels with complaints when the company substituted 1 gram of sugar with stevia.

Rather than launch at grocery, Pepsi announced the brand would roll out the soda exclusively on Amazon later this month in 24-packs of 7.5 ounce cans. An intriguing consumer marketing strategy, launching the product online gives Pepsi the chance to gauge consumer reaction before spending time and resources to put the cans in stores.

Accompanying the new product launch is a one-minute video with unconventional aesthetics for a soda commercial. The spot plays on the “natural” theme of the new product, depicting people hiking and spending time outdoors.

This will be an interesting launch to watch as the product becomes available online and potentially in stores. It comes on the heels of notable failed mid-calorie sodas over the decades (remember Coca-Cola C2 and Pepsi Edge?). Is it possible this natural, stevia-sweetened soda will lure in a generation of millennials who are not soda drinkers?

(Image source:



Nicole LeLacheur
Account Coordinator

Tuesday, October 14th 2014

When Purchasing a Product, Coupons Have Influence: MMNPL Survey Insight #4

MMNPL Masthead 2014_Final_Insight4

MMNPL insight #1 graphic_v2_2

Although they don’t have much impact when finding out about a product (17%), coupons are a major source of influence on consumers’ purchasing decisions. In 2012, we saw a dip in coupon significance when consumers realized how much of a difference coupons could make on their budget. Plagued by oversaturation when TLC’s “Extreme Couponing” debuted, many stores and brands scaled back their coupon programs after facing an overwhelming number of deal-savvy consumers – this has made the coupons that do arrive in mailboxes or inboxes far more enticing.

With a heavier focus on big data, brands have revamped their coupon strategy; this time, taking a more personalized approach and pinpointing the consumers who they wish to receive a coupon. In our most recent MMNPL survey (You can download the ebook with full data here), we found that with this new approach coupons jumped in influence, coming in right after recommendations from family and friends (78%).


Take Vaseline Spray & Go Moisturizer, the number seven most memorable new product on our list. It’s rare a beauty product makes our top ten, so the company must have done something special for this launch. Pairing social media and coupons, Vaseline coined #SprayItForward as the campaign’s hashtag for savings and offered various printable deals on the company’s Facebook page. Incorporating a social engagement aspect and allowing brand ambassadors to do the personalizing, the company gave out additional coupons to users who shared the deal with a friend.


Even though a coupon may not always inform someone about a new product, it most certainly influences purchasing decisions. By coupling targeted savings with social media, marketers are sure to see results.

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 product attributes and the need to frequently evaluate consumer values.


Thursday, October 9th 2014

CEO Joan Schneider Speaks at Worldcom Partners Meeting

Joan Worldcom Meeting
Sharing ideas with thought leaders and her partners in the marketing and public relations industries, CEO Joan Schneider spoke at the 2014 Worldcom Partners meeting in Chicago about the latest techniques in business-to-business marketing.

On a panel about innovative B2B tactics, Schneider presented a fresh take on using blogs as a marketing strategy to generate business. To attract the attention of media and business prospects, Schneider discussed the agency’s proprietary methodology called MediaLEAD, which is a planned content marketing strategy combined with traditional and social media relations that drives business and engagement among key prospects and the media.

In her presentation, Schneider answered the question: How do PR and sales professionals attract media and prospects in the digital age? In both media relations and business, it has become harder than ever to gain the attention of reporters and prospects. That’s why it is important to create original blog content that is newsworthy and relevant to potential customers and stakeholders.

To learn more about how MediaLEAD can work for you, click here.

Thursday, October 9th 2014

Lauren Torlone Joins Schneider Associates as Director

Lauren Torlone

Schneider Associates is pleased to announce the hiring of Lauren Torlone as Director.

Torlone brings more than 10 years of experience in national news including working as a producer for “America’s News Headquarters” at Fox News Channel, a News Assistant at CNN and most recently as a producer for C-SPAN’s flagship political and public affairs program, “Washington Journal.”

Torlone has produced segments about a variety of topics across the U.S. and internationally, including breaking news, politics, foreign affairs, education, health and entertainment stories. At SA, Torlone works with clients and staff to develop and execute media relations strategies and marketing programs for the agency’s consumer, corporate and education clients.

Torlone earned her Bachelor’s degree in Media Studies from Catholic University and holds a master’s degree with a focus in International Affairs from Georgetown University.