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The CEO’s role in a brand crisis

brand crisis ceo

In the middle of a crisis for your brand, who do you want facing the public and weathering the storm? The instinctual answer might be your CEO. However, even in the midst of an exceptionally terrible time for your brand, someone other than your CEO could be a better option to help communicate with the public. There are a variety of factors to consider, and the planning for these scenarios should happen long before a crisis occurs.

The debate

As the head of your company, the CEO probably already has a public presence. Whether or not they’re always the best spokesperson for your company, however, is up for debate.

Public perception of business executive duties and roles is one of the strongest arguments for having your CEO step up to the plate in a crisis. As the highest-ranking executive, consumers expect them to know what’s going on, care about finding a solution, and figure out how to implement this quickly. Especially with corporations, where CEOs are often well-paid, consumers assume CEOs are adept at managing their businesses and place a high priority on customer experience. In a brand crisis, having the person highest on the executive chain publicly address it can go a long way in quelling public upset. A CEO who appears absent (or worse, isn’t good with the media) can prolong the crisis.

On the other hand, however, certain crisis situations can benefit from having the CEO be present, but not serving as the “mouth-piece.” Interacting professionally with the media and public isn’t a skill that comes naturally, and a CEO not prepared to defend their brand while keeping public perception in mind can create a long-term brand reputation issue. Additionally, a CEO doing rounds of media interviews may appear to be doing nothing more than talking; if they’re always on TV, are they jumping in and doing any of the hard work to solve the problem? In some cases, it makes more sense to have the CEO on the ground, visibly working to solve the issue, and leave the speaking to a lower ranking executive or official spokesperson.

Preparing for a crisis with your CEO

Whether or not they’ll be the spokesperson, a CEO needs know the crisis communications plan inside and out well before an issue arises. Plans to address a crisis and the role top executives will play should be developed to address a wide variety of potential problems, and should be revisited and updated often. Key things to keep in mind:

  • Transparency and authenticity above all else. “No comment” is not an option. Brands and their spokesperson need to be ready to be transparent about how the problem happened and what they’re doing to solve it. The response needs to show concern for the customers affected, authentically – don’t have a Tony Hayward And if your CEO does slip and make a statement like Hayward’s “I want my life back,” make sure they’re not photographed on their yacht a few days later.

 

tony hayward BP

Tony Hayward, former BP CEO

  • Media training. Even if they won’t be doing the press rounds and will be focusing on being hands on, media will likely still approach and cover the CEO’s activities during the crisis. CEOs should be fully media trained, with refresher courses frequently. Beyond speaking to journalists in person, this should include how to present themselves in public in case of any photos, and how to handle their personal social media channels.
  • Understand the level of response required. Not all crises are 5-alarm fires. Adidas’ recent flub with their Boston Marathon congratulatory email was bad, but the majority of the public understood the intern. It didn’t require a groveling press tour from the CEO, and their response was quick, open, and authentic. United Airline’s recent troubles, however are definitely a serious crisis that requires the visibility of the CEO.

 

In times of crisis, the CEO certainly has a role – it just might not be that of spokesperson. As United Airlines’ Oscar Munoz has shown recently, this can backfire – and Munoz and the airline are both paying for it. Whether or not the situation calls for the CEO to be the spokesperson, the key thing to remember is that planning for a crisis can often avert one before it starts, and save your brand a lot of trouble.

Let it go: don’t worry about control on social media

brand voice social media

Brands put a lot of work into fine tuning their voice, and can understandably be protective of their image. Companies want their audience to talk about them a certain way, and marketing, advertising, and public relations all work together in the hopes of achieving positive buzz and brand loyalty. However, brands often have trouble getting their social media platforms to “play nice” and stay in control. The conversation on social media is tough to control, but brands should embrace this fact rather than fear it.

Social media channels don’t function the same way an advertising piece does, where the content is tightly controlled and distributed. You can put in hours of work into a piece of content, just to have it turn into an unflattering, viral meme. Social media moves quickly, and brands can struggle to keep up. However, companies shouldn’t bail on social media entirely or resort to a corporate, sterile voice on these platforms. Instead, brands should jump into the deep end with both feet and utilize social media platforms for what they are – customer experience tools, not a brand megaphone.

Plan, and then let it go

Social media still requires planning and knowing your brand voice inside and out before starting to post. Companies should make sure their brand voice and image is unified across all the channels they’ll be using, and have a set of guidelines in place for tone and style for whoever will be posting on their behalf. Know what your brand would say and would never dream of saying before beginning. Make sure posts are edited before going live.

Once the content is out there, it’s in the hands of your audience. Brands must be ready to “let it go” to a certain extent after this point, as the engagement that happens may not be what you expect. Whatever the response is, take it and run with it rather than try to change it. It’s bad practice to delete negative comments; instead, use them as a customer service opportunity (or a humor opportunity, if it’s right for your brand and the complaint being made). Engage with the positive responses too, and shine a spotlight on the users responding. In some cases, you can even take advantage of user generated content in response to what you post. It might not be the quality or style your marketing department would have chosen, but it makes an authentic connection with your audience, something an ad rarely does.

Choose transparency over control

The days of “no comment” in response to a crisis are long gone thanks to social media. Social media users have no tolerance for slow responses, no response, or robotic corporate responses. When a brand crisis arises, it will be talked about on social media. No matter how appealing it can be to state “no response” or stay quiet until you’ve had ample time to come up with a polished statement, this is rarely the right choice.

While having a few days to think and present a response spears to give a company the chance to get a handle on the situation, they’re losing valuable time with an audience that is already discussing it. Transparency is far more important than an illusion of control on social media. Sometimes it’s even fine for a company to say “we’re aware, and we’re taking some time to collect our thoughts” rather than avoid posting for a few days and then attempt to look like they were always in control. Honesty with your audience (and even admitting you were blindsided) can go a long way with social media users.

Social media is a PR tool, not a marketing one

Marketing and public relations departments must work together to achieve success for the brand, and social media is no different. However, given the inherent lack of control with social media, PR professionals are better positioned to drive these efforts. Public relations is a two-way conversation, as is social media. Marketing is a brand megaphone; great in certain circumstances, but not really a fit for social media. Social media users have an extremely low tolerance for ads, and have high expectations for authentic communication from the brands they follow.

Public relations should work with marketing to ensure that the brand voice on social media is up to par, but marketing should be comfortable with PR leading social and communicating with their audience without several rounds of content approval. Conversations on social happen at the speed of light, and the key to success on these channels is listening and jumping in quickly. When a brand remembers that social is more about their audience than their company, they’ll be able to stay on top of conversations while getting comfortable with letting go of control. The rewards of social media can be numerous when brands let go – for both companies and their audience.

#ThisHappened – 2016 in Twitter & YouTube

twitter

Major social media platforms are truly a global community. If the Twitter Year in Review and YouTube’s 2016 Rewind video are any indication, this community connects on big issues like social change, elections, and human rights – but also undeniably fun carpool karaoke videos. 2016 has also shown just how powerful brands can be on social media, and that there’s right and wrong ways to create or jump on digital trends.

Twitter’s top hashtag this year was #Rio2016. Even in digital form, humans enjoy coming together for a common cause, and the friendly, global competition is always a time for us to consider how much we have in common with our neighbors around the world. #BlackLivesMatter was also among the top ten hashtags this year, along with #Election2016 and #Brexit. While all of these hashtags certainly had positive and negative tweets, their popularity shows that Twitter isn’t just a time-waster. The third most re-tweeted post this year came from Hilary Clinton’s account during her election concession speech. Social media channels continue to be a place where important discussions happen, and information on major events is distributed.

The top hashtags highlight other topics social users like to connect on, including a big focus on entertainment. Number ten was #GameofThrones, where multitudes of the show’s avid fans theorized and commiserated together (often accompanied with #HoldtheDoor and a crying emoji). #RIP was a trending hashtag several times this year as the world mourned the loss of several beloved celebrities including Prince, David Bowie, and Muhammad Ali. The #Oscars was a popular event on social, and an example of brands falling over themselves to jump on a trending hashtag to boost impressions without putting enough thought into their content. Total Beauty, a fashion site, was one of the worst offenders when they misidentified Whoopi Goldberg as Oprah in a tweet during the red carpet pre-show.

Despite slip ups, brands in 2016 saw the value of reaching out to the social media community and connecting with them where they “live.” Brands are the most dominant “community” on YouTube according to The Verge, and produced most of the platform’s top videos this year. Some of the most viewed videos mirror the Twitter trends – there’s Donald Trump’s interview on John Oliver tonight and a pre-Olympics video by Nike featuring some of soccer’s biggest stars. But the entertainment category wins out on YouTube, with Adele’s carpool karaoke version of “Hello” racking up an amazing 135 million views. The YouTube Rewind video references many of the similarly goofy viral videos that were popular this year.

So, what can brands learn from this? First and foremost, companies need to be very careful about using trending hashtags. Plenty of brands could have a good tie in to #Rio2016, but few if any would have an even remotely appropriate reason to use the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag. Social media is often a place for silliness, but serious conversations are happening on these platforms that most brands should shy away from.

Second, “virality” isn’t a strategy. Some of this year’s trends make sense, and some don’t. There’s not one type of content that rules on YouTube. Although none of his videos were the top ten most viewed, PewDiePie was the highest paid YouTuber this year, bringing in $15 million from his video gameplay channel. His content wasn’t always the most viral, but it brings in money. Brands shooting to be a viral sensation will likely be disappointed.

Lastly, social media users love cat videos, but they also highly value authenticity. We’re facing what might be called a “post-truth” world, and the digital community wants to be engaged with in an authentic, personalized manner more than ever. Every trend isn’t right for every brand, but there are ways companies can join the conversations in a realistic an appropriate manner. It takes a bit of research and understanding that social media is a powerful tool, but the rewards can be much longer lasting than those from a one-time viral video.

How Can PR Combat Fake News?

HOW CAN PR COMBAT FAKE NEWS?

On Sunday, December 4, a man carrying an assault rifle walked into a family-friendly pizza shop in Washington D.C. and fired. He was there to “self-investigate” a disgraceful conspiracy theory that accused Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager, John Podesta, of running a child sex slave operation out of the pizzeria. Instigated by a false news article, the story had spread via social media several weeks before. The restaurant’s owner, its employees, and even their children had already been subjected to death threats and online harassment in recent weeks.

A media and culture crisis

This terrifying incident is only the latest crisis fueled by fake news sites and online rumor mills. The untrue, vile abuse story and the social media users who perpetuated it are a tiny piece of a much larger problem plaguing our media and our culture. With the proliferation of fake news sites during the 2016 presidential election, politicians and pundits are despairing at the possibility of a “post-factual world,” – and wondering what role legitimate media outlets can play in combating it.

HOW CAN PR COMBAT FAKE NEWS?

How PR can combat fake news?

The implications for PR are vast. In addition to the stupefied media, this issue has created a whole new kind of brand disaster – one beyond the experience of even seasoned crisis managers. How can we protect a neighborhood pizza shop whose online reviews include such slander as “They rape children” and “Shady cover up going on here. INVESTIGATE. INVESTIGATE. INVESTIGATE. shut em down ppl!”?

So how can PR combat fake news? Here are a few takeaways that businesses and their PR teams should keep in mind.

  1. Trust in the media is at a record low, and it is getting lower. Ensure that you and your clients are represented honestly and transparently in traditional outlets. Be prepared to argue your case in other ways, like social media and community advocates.
  2. Be vigilant in monitoring your social media and online presence. When a false story is written, time is of the essence. Contact legitimate media outlets, and ensure that customers know that the story is false. In addition, alert news aggregators and curators like Google and Facebook, who are under increasing pressure to stop false news.
  3. Take extra care to work only with legitimate news sources. Efforts to benefit from false news sites will certainly come around to bite you in the rear end.
  4. Avoid picking fights with trolls and online commenters.
  5. Don’t participate in the sharing or spreading of false news, in business or your personal life. It reflects poorly on you and your brand and perpetuates a major social ill.

 

This contagion will continue to assault our culture, our politics, and our public safety. Do your part in stopping the spread of these lies, and take precautionary measures to protect your interests. You never know who will be the next victim.

 

A version of this article was published on Spin Sucks.

What Public Relations Professionals Can Be Thankful For This Year

thanskgiving public relations

For Americans, November is often considered a month of thankfulness. We’re thankful we get a day or two off work for Thanksgiving, we’re thankful to see family and friends, and we’re thankful to have the opportunity to over-indulge on comfort food while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It’s a time to reflect on the past year and remember what we have to be grateful for while we look ahead to the new year.

For me, this extends to my career in public relations. The last year has provided a lot for PR pros to be thankful for amidst a sea of changes that will mean big things for the field in 2017. Here’s the three things I’m thankful for this year as public relations professional.

The Shift to “Micro”

Not too long ago, social media programs were seen as successful when you’d amassed thousands or millions of followers on each channel. It was a way to prove reach, and thus usefulness. This made it hard for smaller businesses to justify social media programs. Now, we’ve come to learn that having a ton followers doesn’t mean, well, much of anything. Especially with Facebook’s ever changing algorithm, followers don’t always translate to reach. The name of the game is now engagement.

Garnering authentic engagement from the followers you do have is proving to be much more worthwhile. “Micro” influencers in your industry, who may not have one million followers on Instagram, are a useful tool in reaching your target audience and creating engagement. As a public relations pro, this opens the door to creativity. When we’re not focused on creating messages for the masses and instead considering the individual, we can craft compelling, personal experiences that leave a lasting impression.

Work Life Balance

The “Mad Men” era of public relations and advertising is finally beginning to fall away. PR, marketing, and advertising used to be known as fields that dominated your lifestyle and required insane hours. Thankfully, this attitude is changing, and work-life balance is becoming an integral part of agency culture.

With the new Department of Labor overtime rules going into place December 1st, PR agencies that relied on a “churn and burn” culture among junior level staff will need to change course by either raising their pay, or paying overtime for those all-day-Saturday work days. PR still isn’t necessarily a 9 to 5 job (crises don’t happen on a schedule), but flexibility is now desired.  Quite a few agencies, especially those led by women, have already begun fostering a culture that encourages time away from the office and productivity over 80-hour work weeks. I’m thankful to work at A.wordsmith, where we prioritize hard work, but also time for our families and ourselves.

Snapchat Spectacles

Virtual reality in daily life might be commonplace in the next few decades, but we’re not there quite yet. However, 2016 made major strides toward this future, my favorite of which has been Snapchat’s launch of Spectacles.

Spectacles have been referred to as a cooler version of Google Glass, even if they’re not quite as extensive. The sunglasses come in colors and a shape that are right on fashion trends, and let wearers Snap “from their eyes” instead of their phones. When saved to the Memories feature on Snapchat, users can relive events in their life as they saw them before, rather than through a picture or video. There’s some privacy concerns with Spectacles, and they probably won’t do away with selfie culture, but the sunglasses could mean exciting things for how brands use social media and how important video will be in public relations plans. I’m thankful to be in an industry that will only become more important as we head into the future of digital.

I’ll be even more thankful if the Spectacles Bot vending machine decides to make an appearance in Portland so I can snag a pair.

Round Up: How Businesses are Using Pokemon Go

pokemon go

Earlier this summer, Pokémon Go hysteria swept the globe. Fueled by nostalgia and one of the first widespread iterations of augmented reality, the app became the most downloaded app in a first week ever. Groups of Pokémon trainers traversing the streets, phone in hand, became a common sight in many cities, and many families found a fun activity together that involved exercise and heading outdoors.

Businesses quickly took notice of amazing marketing opportunity. While the app as taken a downturn in usage due to some botched updates, there’s still a great chance for businesses to capitalize at little to no cost, and have some fun in the process. In the future, Pokémon Go will likely have opportunities for businesses to pay to become a PokeStop or a Gym location, making it even easier to draw in players. Until then, here are some examples of businesses using the app in unique ways to boost sales and their reputation that you can steal ideas from.

A new way to explore the Denver Zoo

Soon after the app’s release, the Denver Zoo jumped at the chance to use it to boost attendance during their typically slow July weekends. Armed with $380 of in-game lures (a tool in the app that draws Pokémon to the area it’s dropped in for a set period of time), the zoo’s marketing team offered a $5 admission to guests who showed the app at the ticket window, and then spread the lures throughout their grounds. During the July 22-24 weekend, the zoo brought in $58,000 in revenue from Pokémon Go players and beat attendance projections by 5,000 people. Guests enjoyed catching the virtual creatures while also learning about the real life animals that live at the zoo and the organization’s conservation efforts.

mobile game apps

Board the Pokémon Express in Cheyenne, Wyoming

After a staff member of Visit Cheyenne noticed that there were around 40 PokeStops along the city’s historic trolley route, the tourism organization knew they’d hit a goldmine. They created a Pokémon Express Tour for two days in July. Participants paid $10 to take a slightly altered version of the trolley’s route, which included extended stops at particularly active PokeStops. The tours sold out quickly, and the organization offered four more in August and one in September, citing the great marketing opportunity for local businesses along the route.

A Michigan bank offers a social media contest and gift cards

Monroe Bank and Trust in Michigan put together a Facebook contest that nearly any business with a store front could copy. The bank announced in a post that they’d be dropping lures at select ATM and bank locations. When participants found the location and caught a Pokémon there, they could take a picture and share it on the bank’s page for a chance to win a variety of gift cards.

Doing good while catching Pokémon

There have been several great stories about Pokémon Go players finding ways to use their hobby to do good while they level up. An animal shelter in Muncie, Indiana teamed up with local players to walk their adoptable dogs while they played the game. A local news crew filmed a segment on the story which was then featured nationwide and provided a huge boost to the shelter’s Facebook page. Players have also organized groups to pick up trash in their cities while playing and simultaneously used other apps while on the hunt for Pokémon that donate to a selected charity based on how many steps you walk. Nonprofits have a unique chance to connect with local players by offering them the ability to play the game while volunteering.

T-Mobile offers free data for Pokemon Go trainers

T-Mobile jumped on the Pokémon Go bandwagon early with offers for their customers that included free, unlimited data for the app for a year and free Lyft rides to popular PokeStops. While the unlimited data portion of this plan is controversial due to how it may or may not set a good net neutrality precedent, T-Mobile is an example of how nearly any type of business can participate and connect with Pokémon Trainers.

What’s Next

For cities heading into winter, it’s possible that the app will see another down turn in usage thanks to players staying inside out of the weather for a few months. Still, since participating is relatively low cost for businesses, it’s still worthwhile to consider how your organization can use the app in your marketing. Inc. has a handy guide for jumping in – take advantage of the opportunity to connect with your customers authentically and try something new!

Influence Used Right: Big Brands Demand Diversity from Agency Partners

Take a look at this picture of 2014’s most senior leaders at the top 13 PR agencies by revenue, and the top two agencies by revenue growth in 2013:

Credit: PRWeek

Credit: PRWeek

Zero minorities. And just four women in a field where 65-70% of the workforce is female.

A lack of diversity has plagued ad and PR agencies forever. But as of last week, several major clients aren’t staying quiet about it.

Because last week, HP’s CMO Antonio Lucio sent a letter to HP’s five ad and PR agencies insisting that they improve the diversity of their workforces within the next 12 months, as first reported by The Wall Street Journal. Lucio’s letter called for agencies to increase the number of women and minorities in creative and strategy roles, with 50% of their workforce to be made up of women, to match HP’s own advertising department makeup.

“Including women and people of color in key roles is not only a values issue, but a significant business imperative,” Lucio said in the letter. Women buy 53% of personal computers and 45% of printers, Lucio told the Journal. HP’s three ad agencies, which includes Omnicom’s BBDO, Fred & Farid, and Dentsu’s Gyro, have 30 days to submit a plan or face a possible rejection.

The HP directive should not come as a total surprise. In 2013, HP CEO Meg Whitman is said to have expressed outrage during an agency review after four shops in a row presented all-male leadership teams.

General Mills is also insisting on more diversity. Last week, the food giant announced that agencies competing for its creative business have to have a staff of at least 50% women and at least 20% of color, according to AdAge.

“We can’t control agencies, but [with] the kind of budgets we have in marketing and PR, we can influence with the spend we have,” Karen Kahn, HP’s chief creative officer told PRWeek. “The best way we can have impact is to change ourselves and work with our agencies to change.”

How to Weather the Storm: Ryan Lochte-Edition

media storm

Crisis communication is a critical skillset for any PR professional. Having the knowledge to protect and defend an organization or individual who is facing a public-facing challenge can often mean the difference between life or death of a public image. Take the recent scandal between Ryan Lochte vs. the city of Rio at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. As you may remember, Lochte falsified information regarding an altercation between him, his teammates and a gas station security officer. Both sides screamed he said/she said, but in the end, Lochte was the one with egg on his face.

Had it not been for the camera footage revealing Lochte’s antics of busting an advertisement sign, peeing on the side of a building and bickering with a security office, this story could have easily come out different. But thank goodness for modern technology in this third world country. Days following the incident, the truth behind the lies started to come out, and Lochte was up against the wall without the proper PR training.

Ryan Lochte, Rio Games

Photo Courtesy of CNN

Had I been on Lochte’s communication’s team, here’s what I would have recommended to him:

Step 1: Know your talking points.

Once a crisis is recognized (ie, the video unveiling the truth is released), it is critical to develop the streamlined talking points. Who/what/where/when. This helps to keep the message on track and the rumor mill to a minimum. In Lochte’s case, his story wasn’t ironclad (because he was lying), and holes were immediately present. Obviously, it would have been smarter for Ryan to start with the truth, instead of his exaggerated version.

Photo Courtesy of si.com

Photo Courtesy of si.com

Step 2: Ensure your team is properly media trained in crisis communication.

If more than one person is involved in the crisis (which is typically the case), then ensure each person knows the talking points. And make sure they have been briefed before speaking with the media. Nothing is worse than being detained while boarding an airplane, all because your bonehead teammate couldn’t stay on message.

Step 3: Don’t veer off message.

I think this is very closely tied in with Steps 1 and 2. Once the truth behind the Rio incident began to come to light, Lochte’s story began to slowly change. And change again. And then again. With multiple versions of a story floating around, it makes the spokesperson less credible and the hype behind the crisis much larger. When in doubt, just stop talking.

Step 4: In times of crisis, leave the internet hype alone.

As the crisis begins to spiral out of control, the internet hype will typically catch up with it quickly. It can become overwhelming to want to jump in and do damage control by responding to social media comments, correct false rumor claims and release a different message than was previously approved. Keep in mind that this hype will eventually subside, and if you weather this storm with class, you will be able to keep your dignity on the other side.

Step 5: Keep your friends close, but the media closer.

Do you know what Ryan’s smartest move was? Scheduling a sit down with the television station that had spent the previous 72 hours throwing him under the bus. What do you do if an influencer publishes an unflattering story of you? You may be debating if you should you engage with them. Well, it may be a good idea – just as long as it’s done professionally and respectfully. And remember, “no comment” is still a story.

But what do you do when all else fails? Just like a bad breakup – continue to look forward, change your hairstyle, and join the next season of Dancing with the Stars. Crisis averted!

Women of the Olympics & the Telling of Great Stories

Over the weekend the Summer Olympics in Rio kicked off. Despite much worry leading into the Games over major issues such as safety, facilities, clean water and overall security, so far Rio is proving to be a respectable host. And in a time when it seems hard to find common ground, sports once again bring us together.

Breaking the glass ceiling

There are so many compelling athlete profiles and stories to be shared, but there is one trend in particular that is standing out.  The women.  Strong, powerful, beautiful, rule defying.  From iconic Olympic competition in the fields of gymnastics, track and field, and swimming to new favorites such as beach volleyball, tennis, fencing, air rifle and rugby, the women have it.

 An honest human representation

There is no stereotype these female athletes fit. From age, race, religion and upbringing – they for one, are a true representation of the country.  Yes, some are girly girls and love bling (Team USA is rocking 5,000 crystals per leotard); some are unapologetic (Ibtihaj Muhammad is the first U.S. athlete to compete in fencing while wearing a hijab); they don’t have time for cheats (Lilly King #fingerwag); others are unfazed (love her or hate her, Hope Solo has already made several amazing saves at the net while the crowd heckles her with chants of “ZIKA!”); and they come in all ages (Sydney McLaughlin is 16-years-old and competing in the 400m hurdles; Oksana Chusovitina is representing Uzbekistan in gymnastics for the seventh time at the age of 41 – and she’s not writing out 2020!).

Girl power ads

What gets me extra jazzed is that we know these stories through the power of excellent marketing. From tear-jerking ads to highly produced packages airing during NBC’s nightly prime time coverage, women athletes are getting the attention they deserve. The American Business Journals did a piece last week spotlighting what they deemed the 10 best girl power ads airing during these Games.

They are all great so it really is hard to pick a favorite (so I’m not, and instead putting in my top 4); however, I must agree with the writer who suggests you watch NBC’s “Salute” at least a few times, with the volume cranked up.

 

To remind yourself how anything is possible, watch “The Chant” courtesy of Samsung. For the first time, South Sudan is represented at the Summer Olympics by 400m runner Margret Rumat Hassan. This is her story.

If you need a good cry, watch “Doing Good” by Minute Maid – and then remember to tell your parents that they are #doinggood.

And finally, a story of strength by Under Armour in an ad profiling the USA women’s gymnastics team. It will make you wish you could fly just like those girls.

 

The Verizon-Yahoo Deal: What to Know

Verizon-Yahoo Deal

With headlines like “Yahoo Sells To Verizon In Saddest $5 Billion Deal In Tech History,” it would be hard to ignore last week’s news of Yahoo’s sale to Verizon after months of speculation. While the ink has barely dried on the Verizon-Yahoo deal, reporters and industry experts are racing to analyze the potential impact on advertisers, what this means for Verizon’s role in the future of mobile and what Marissa Mayer could have done differently during her role as CEO.

While the future of the companies is unclear, there’s no doubt the acquisition could potentially have huge implications across digital media, mobile experiences and privacy. For marketers, advertisers and PR professionals, here’s a look at the top three trends to pay close attention to as more details from the results of the Verizon-Yahoo deal emerge.

Digital Media

Verizon aims to merge Yahoo with AOL (which it acquired last year) to form a single organization that can compete with digital media giants Facebook and Google. (Remember that under the acquisition of AOL, Verizon also owns The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and a wide variety of digital video assets.) According to Fortune, the reason Facebook and Google have successfully made money on digital content is because they figured out a way to do it without actually getting into the messy business of producing new content. Verizon, on the other hand, is buying up assets that require huge resource investments in exactly that. Likewise, under Mayer, Yahoo poured millions into original content, hiring Katie Couric and producing television shows like Community. It’s an expensive investment and once it’s produced, there’s no guarantee people will watch it or advertisers will want to be associated with it, so it will be interesting how this plays out as Verizon races to catch up.

Mayer Verizon-Yahoo Deal

Image Credit: Reuters / Robert Galbraith

Mobile Experience

The combined scale of the two companies has the potential to reach billions of people. Yahoo brings with it an audience of one billion active worldwide users — including 600 million active mobile users, a host of influential consumer brand partnerships, a powerful programmatic advertising and data platform, and a robust editorial team. The potential benefits from the deal to both Yahoo/AOL and to the advertising industry are many. According to Jay Friedman, COO, Goodway Group, “this is the best outcome marketers could have hoped for in the industry. This acquisition puts AOL on solid ground as the third platform CMOs must take a meeting with behind Google and Facebook.”

Privacy

With access to vast amounts of user data, Verizon could have the ability to map a person to a specific journey on a mobile device with about 95 percent accuracy, including data from physical locations as well as the web. With all of this in-depth data, the more targeted ads Verizon can deliver, the better it can compete against the digital ad titans Facebook and Google. This presents a huge opportunity for advertisers while equally presenting new privacy challenges for Verizon. As with any company using customer data, there must be a delicate balance between offering personalized experiences without being creepy. Security experts have already noted the FCC and President Barack Obama’s administration “must ensure that deals like Verizon/Yahoo don’t further erode the little privacy Americans enjoy today when they use digital media,” signaling the opportunity to use the news as a platform for a broader conversation around digital privacy.

So what do you think – how will these trends play out after the completion of the Verizon-Yahoo Deal?