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Lessons learned from this year’s Cannes Festival

By: Michael Scher

Lessons learned from this year’s Cannes Festival

As some of you are aware, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity has just wrapped, the world’s biggest celebration of creativity in communications. Beyond all of the hoopla, parties, red carpet events and celebrity sightings, it’s predominantly a communications platform where the most prestigious marketers and advertising professionals from around the world gather to share and build a home of great ideas. Ideas that spark innovation, creativity and most importantly, reshape the future of our business moving forward.

Among all of the great insight shared, here are some key lessons that will transform the course of communications in how we work and operate:

  1. Dare to be different. You have to push past your comfort zone in order to really create change,” said Evan Spiegel, CEO of SnapChat. He sees his company as “really trying to understand the world through people’s eyes.”
  2. The importance of rebuilding. Have power to silence your doubters and have emotional intensity to back it up.
  3. As marketers, it’s our job to lead by compassion. “People make brands. If people are compassionate, brands will be compassionate in return. We can lead each other to be a more compassionate, more empathic place. We can help change behavior. We can all learn from our mistakes and be more resilient. And we can, together, make a society where the sometimes distancing effect of technology doesn’t remove our fundamental humanity,” said Monica Lewinsky on her panel on Public Shaming.
  4. Explorations of technology, data, artificial intelligence, and collaboration, these were all common themes at this year’s event and panels. Pharrell Williams, Artist and Music Producer Extraordinaire, shared his insights on baking intention into the creative process and endeavors as the secret ingredient to one’s success. “In music, millennials know that you don’t really mean it when they can’t hear the intention – and that raises the stakes; it’s like when you see a film that looks good and has all the right actors, but there’s no intention there.” In essence, understand the goal of the objective of a campaign and/ or project, and fuel significance and meaning behind it. Consumers will trust your intentions if they’re authentic and if they’re not, you’ll be overlooked quickly.
  5. To Lead through Inspiration. “The importance of brands has not changed. Nor has the importance of ideas. The nature of leadership is also unchanged. In order to lead oneself, you need to have a dream, the passion to pursue it, the persistence to see it through, and the creativity to do it all over again. Leading others–, a learned skill, not a bestowed title—depends on sharing your vision and values while helping others grow and keeping them inspired, said Keith Reinhard, Advertising legend.
  6. Social Media to Become More Transactional. Rather than solely focus on traditional social media factors such as engagement, awareness and building an active community, marketers will elevate their communications to be more transactional; a place for consumers to shop and click.
  7. Data and Creativity Intersect. Despite what some may think, data and analytics are being used to encourage creativity. With new emerging platforms on the rise, marketers are using data to uncover insights about their target audience where they can connect with their consumers in unthinkable ways.
  8. The Everyday Will Become the New Normal. One-off events that drive massive traffic and eventually tail off are being described as a ‘lighting strike’ by industry elites. For instance, the Oreo moment where the brand capitalized in real time the Super Bowl blackout event, generating major buzz online. Unfortunately, more brands are following lead, but are only gaining short term value. Therefore, the focus should be on more everyday events and occurrences to build more common connections and relevancy with their audiences.

What inspired you from this year’s Cannes Lions festival? If you were a brand, what brand would you be? As always, if you like what you read, be social and share.

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How to be a Better Blogger

By: Lara Michelle Greenberg

Many people think that the hardest part about blogging is getting started, but that part is easy. The hardest part is staying active and gaining interest. With immense amounts of content being circulated each day, how do you break through and create something that’s worth reading? Here are a few tips that can help you become a better blogger.

  1. Find your niche

The blogging sphere is a very busy place and without a niche it’s hard to stand out in the crowd. Running a blog means that you need to create regular content about the topic so you want to make sure that you don’t run out of things to say or lose interest. Find something that you are passionate about. Whether you are writing about travel, business or basket weaving, if you write about something you love, content will flow freely.

  1. Headlines

No matter what the subject is, chances are it’s a great headline that catches your attention and earns your click. A great headline will help your content spread further.

  1. Content

Now, onto the content itself: spend some time researching the topic you are going to write about and gather information from reliable sources. Following these two basic tips is very important because the content you write should be accurate and informative. A great blogger entices their readers by writing awesome and educational pieces.

  1. Proofread, proofread, proofread

Make sure you read through your blog a few times before you post. There is nothing worse than putting up a great article and realizing that there are several mistakes. Read aloud. Since your mouth has to voice each word, your ears will pick up the errors better than your mind distinguishing errors as you read silently. And if someone is around, have them read it over a few times for you. They might spot a few errors that you missed.

  1. Make sharing easy

To increase growth and readership of your blog, share your blog posts on other forms of social media and encourage your readers to share your writing. It will be easy for your readers to share your content if you have social sharing buttons. Make sure you place them wherever you think the reader would want to share the post (top of page/bottom of page/middle). You can also post the link to your blog on your Twitter, Facebook or Linkedin a few times per day so that people will come across it more easily. If you make it easy and simple for your readers to share, you will increase your social media shares in no time.

With so many blogs on the internet today, standing out isn’t so easy. While creating your posts, don’t be scared to let your personality show through. Writing in your own unique voice will really help you connect with your readers. There’s a lot to learn when it comes to making your blog more successful, but these basic tips will help you get started. As always, if you like what you read, please be social and share.

The 2015 NBA Draft: The First 5

By: Dallas J. Short

This year’s NBA Draft kicked off Thursday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. As the masses filled the stands, watched on tv or followed along on social media, the fan’s Christmas was about to go down. Would they get everything they wanted?

Here’s a quick look at the first five selected. The top four picks are all 19 years old, and number five turned 20 just a few months ago.

With the first selection of the draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves chose Karl-Anthony Towns, the former University of Kentucky center makes history by being the first Hispanic player to ever be the top pick. He’s 6 feet 11 inches and weighs 250 pounds, so the size is legit and like I had mentioned he is only 19. The T’Wolves are rebuilding nicely and while I’m unsure he’ll be a big impact player next season. This kid could be something special in the years to come.

Second up, after a shockingly disappointing season, the Los Angeles Lakers took D’Angelo Russell, from Ohio State. Another young choice, this year’s theme? With Kobe’s end in near sight, could he be their guard of the future? The Lakers better hope so or figure something out soon. I’ve been seeing a lot of purple and gold magically turn into red and blue. Good luck to the Laker Loyals as they work to reclaim their top spot in the West.

Three is the magic number. My Philadephia 76’ers picked up Jahlil Okafor, another big man at 6 feet 11 inches and weighing 270 pounds. I was surprised Okafor made it down to the third choice and a bit surprised the Sixers picked him up. We have two big guys already, Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid. I guess if we’re unsure if/how Embiid will play next year, then we might need Okafor. Plus, Okafor is great, lead Duke to the National Championship. However, before I start raising my 2016 NBA Championship banner, I remember that…we’re the Sixers and we will probably end up trading away anyone who starts to shine.

The Knicks, the Knicks, the Knicks. Easily one of the most passionate fan bases in the NBA. So when things didn’t go their way their way and Okafor didn’t fall in their lap and the team drafted Kristaps Porzingis, a Latvian forward, saying the crowd erupted into boos is an understatement and yep, the internet exploded too. Frank Kaminsky might have been a better choice, just off name recognition. Knicks fans are hating Porzingis, most with knowing nothing about him. The last time the Knicks had a draft pick this high, it was Patrick Ewing. The frustration is beyond real in the Big Apple. This kid will not end up with his jersey retired, but I think he will fit in and add to the Knicks.

Orlando Magic also went overseas for their selection, Croatia’s Mario Hezonja. I don’t know too much about him, except the Magic have been watching him develop for a while, he supposedly tiptoes that cocky/confident line and is a beast on the court. I haven’t watched the Magic (on purpose) since they got rid of Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick. I am a Nik Vucevic fan though, so hopefully this new addition helps him and Orlando out.

With all the reactions and overreactions to this year’s selections, the saying “time will tell” rings loud and true. Don’t jump off the bridge or plan a parade just yet. Believe in your team through the ups and downs.

Here are some social media reactions from NBA players, sports writers and fans.

http://espn.go.com/sportsnation/post/_/id/13150030/joel-embiid-was-rather-amused-76ers-selection-jahlil-okafor-other-draft-reaction

http://www.oregonlive.com/nba/index.ssf/2015/06/nba_draft_2015_fans_media_reac.html

I know I have a lot of friends who had strong opinions about what their team did or didn’t do in the first round. How are you feeling about your squad’s picks and next season?

As always, if you like what you read, please be social and share.

The Credibility Killer

By: Dallas J. Short

Everyone knows that buying followers on social media is not a good idea, right? You would think by now, with all the facts, all the stories and the programs out there, this would be common knowledge. It still appears though, people will falsely increase their followers without concern of the consequences. So, let’s take a quick refresher course on why it’s a no no, not a win win.

Keep it Real. The followers you are buying are not real people, they do not have real interests, they do not even have real profiles and they will never be real customers.

Mid (social) Life Crisis. Ok, you have been on social media for a while and you are not getting as many numbers as others. You begin doubting yourself. You think having as many followers as your business peers will make you seem young and hip, but just like buying a Corvette or Mustang at age 50, you might go from zero to a hundred real quick but you will be in the same situation. Have confidence in your product and concentrate your efforts on being authentic. Yes, business is competition, but this is not the way to win. These inflated numbers are not liking or sharing your information. From a marketing perspective, you are purchasing a bunch of unqualified leads. If you were cold calling, you just bought a phone book of disconnected numbers. In business terms, the ROI on buying fake followers is $0.

The Man Behind the Curtain. This is not the Wizard of Oz and people will pay attention to the man behind the curtain, which is you and your brand. Your actual fans and followers will see this number boost and no increased interaction, this is not impressive to them and will be a huge turnoff. People do not like to find out someone or something they believe in is cheating, this goes for both online and offline activities. Facebook now only shows your post to a small percentage of your followers, a false increase in your audience dramatically lowers the chances that the people who actually care about what you have to say will be able to see it. So if you are paying for those fake numbers, you are risking having to pay even more money per update to make sure your legit fans see your posts and announcements.

High Diving Off the Wrong Platform. There are many different social media platforms out there on the internet but that does not mean you have to be on everyone. Research which platforms work best for your industry or which ones you can actually devote your efforts and energy too. If your company is not as suited for Twitter (or Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, etc.), spending money on followers is not only a waste of money, but even being on there as much as you are could be a waste of time.

Numbers That Matter. When you purchase fake followers, you are losing the relevancy of your demographic information. One of the most important things of being on social media is being able to know your audience, so you can figure out more ways to appeal to and engage with them. This will also hurt your sponsorship proposals as well as most of your marketing efforts.

It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye. You have all these faux followers now and you want to get rid of them? This is going to cost you even more time and money. You will have to go through and block or delete all of those you paid for. You might have to even end up hiring someone to do it for you. There goes more money out the window.

If the urge to buy followers arises or you have someone in the office telling you that you should, you shouldn’t. It is unethical and it is bad business. Social media, still new and growing, does not come with a cheat sheet for success or skip to the front of the line card. It takes work, it takes trial and error and it takes honesty and authenticity. Be creative and courageous, come up with new ways to engage your audience, build your digital community and allow them to grow with you. Those are the type of people that are truly worth having associated with your brand.

Have you seen a company buy fake followers? Has it changed your opinion on them? Did you buy fake followers and regret it? As always, if you like what you read, please be social and share.

Why Corporate Culture Matters

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The Glue Behind Your Organization’s Success

By Michael Scher

In the war for talent, an organization needs to do more than just offer high wage salaries and amenities. One way to help bring that to realization is via Corporate Culture. Corporate Culture is extremely important because it can make or break your company from being successful or its potential demise.

According to Harvard Business Review, “A company’s culture can have a powerful impact on its performance. Culture is the glue that binds an organization together and it’s the hardest thing for competitors to copy. As a result, it can be a lasting source of competitive advantage.”

Specifically, it’s a great way to define the DNA of your organization, the values and what you represent. In essence, it’s your organization’s personality which should ultimately set you apart from your competitors. Even more, it should represent who you are, and what you do. And above all, act as the guiding principles of the organization, the way a business should operate and reinforce to employees how they should communicate and interact with one another.

Having a robust culture empowers organizations to be ahead of the curve and can make a huge difference as a talent attractor. For instance, prospective employees look at organizations that foster an environment where one can enjoy, grow and most importantly, succeed. As the talent pool has become much more selective, this intangible asset will not only attract A-list talent, but shine a spotlight on your organization.

In the same way, having a robust culture can also be a talent retainer. In other words, how likely are your employees to stay if they’re unhappy, given the other alternatives and amenities being offered in the marketplace? What is your organizational culture doing specifically to keep those individuals motivated and their desire to stay put? There should be an inner balance between attraction and retention. Otherwise, risk high turnover, which is not only expensive, but extremely time consuming.

To stay competitive, this formula should help guide your employees and create a fun, and exciting environment from day one. From onboarding, talent and development, throughout their tenure, culture plays a vital role in an organization’s performance in achieving the best results

However, to ensure this transformation happens, an organization must develop a cadre of leaders, change agents and champions of culture to build excitement towards a unified vision. They should inspire others and serve as a daily reminder for success when working together toward a common, goal, objective, vision and strategy. By the same token, an organization should also empower others and allow employees from all levels, to share their voice and contribute to the culture as a collective unit, rather than a top down agency. Employees want to be part of something and look forward to working for a company that cultivates an intangible energy that makes coming into work fun. In essence, where work doesn’t feel like a daily routine.

In the end, Corporate Culture may be one of the most invaluable point of differentiations of your business. It’s the difference between sustainability versus lack of innovation. There is always a risk when it comes to culture, and failure to tackle this head on, will result in business implications and worse, your bottom line. If you don’t believe me, go ask your competitors.

In your own words, what does Corporate Culture mean to you and your organization? Moreover, what are you doing specifically to keeping your employees happy, active and engaged? And lastly, which organizations are going above and beyond the call of duty to creating an environment that empowers their employees?

As always, I welcome any and all comments and if you like what you read, be social and share.

15 Questions to Ask in an Informational Interview

By: Lara Greenberg

What most college students don’t realize is the power of the informational interview. Informational interviews are not necessarily geared toward acquiring a particular position but they can be a beneficial learning experience, help students in picking a major, set career goals or gain experience when talking to executives. While it can be quite frightening to initiate an informational interview, you never know what results it can yield. In order to make these interviews a little less scary, be sure that you are prepared. Dress to impress, bring a hard copy of your resume and a notepad and bring a list of questions to guide the conversation. Pay careful attention to what is said by the person you interview with and ask questions if something isn’t clear. You will find that people are often happy to discuss their positions and willing to provide you with an abundance of information. Here are some prospective questions to ask during your informational interview:

  1. Why did this type of work interest you, and how did you get started?
  1. How did you get your job? What jobs and experiences have led you to your present position?
  1. What does a typical day look like for you?
  1. How does your company differ from its competitors?
  2. How has your job affected your lifestyle?
  1. What kinds of challenges do you encounter?
  2. What is the one thing you spend the most time on?
  1. How well did your college experience prepare you for this job?
  2. What are the typical entry-level job titles and functions? What entry-level jobs are best for learning as much as possible?
  1. Where do you think the field is headed?
  1. How do you think graduation from a private or public university is viewed when it comes to hiring?
  2. How important are grades/GPA for obtaining a job in this field?
  3. What are the major rewards aside from extrinsic rewards such as money, fringe benefits, travel, etc.?
  4. Is there anyone else you suggest I talk to knowing my interests and skills?
  1. Is there any last advice you can offer me?

Here are a few additional tips when organizing for an informational interview:

Manage Your Time

Usually, informational interviews are brief, so concentrate on what questions you want to get answered. You could even highlight or place a star next to any important questions so you can find them easily when time starts to dwindle.

Follow Up

After the interview, verbally thank the interviewee. A thank you note should be sent within 24 hours of meeting your new contact. Be sure to keep in touch from time to time.

Remember, be professional, be confident and be yourself. As always, I welcome any comments and if you like what you read, be social and share.

Let The Binge Begin

By: Dallas J. Short

The third season of Orange is the New Black was set to be released on Friday, June 12th but it actually came out early on the 11th. So yes, I watched four episodes Thursday night (sorry NBA Finals, I had you on my phone,) and an episode Friday morning. 5 down, 8 to go. While I had already planned on plowing through the Netflix original this weekend, I might now have time to actually do other things and be productive (or finish my binge through Sense8).

Binge-watching, also called binge-viewing, is the practice of watching television for longer time spans than usual, usually of a single television show.

Netflix went through Harris Interactive to conduct this survey online, sticking to people in the U.S. surveyed in late November (2013). 3,078 adults aged 18 and older, of whom 1,496 stream TV shows at least once a week. Here’s a summary of some of the findings:

  • Binge watching isn’t an emerging trend or behavior: it’s mainstream and the new normal. 61% binge watch regularly. (2-3 episodes of a single TV series in one setting).
  • 73% viewed binge watching as positive.
  • Dispelling conventional wisdom–binge watching is actually moderate behavior (avg of 2.3 episodes/sitting). And it’s consistent across demographics—though 18-34 binge watches slightly more.
  • Viewers see binge watching as engaging and immersive, and TV improving in quality–2/3 say there is simply too much good TV to watch. Quite the evolution from a few decades ago when the then FCC Chairman called TV “A vast wasteland”.
  • 76% of TV streamers said watching several episodes at a time as a welcome refuge from the busy world we live in.
  • In a highly fragmented 140 character 24/7 world, viewers are seeking out longer form, complex storytelling.
  • The experience is better: 79% say binge watching makes the actual show better.

Since Netflix users have increased in the past two years and the amount of binge-worthy shows is currently at an all-time high (and only increasing), those previous stats could be a lot higher now.

There are some who advise against binge-watching and say it does not allow you to fully appreciate, interpret and process the show. I would disagree, but then again, I grew up rapidly flipping through Choose Your Own Adventure books trying to figure out the best ending.

Netflix is testing with the one episode per week original “Between,” and while it is a decent show – I don’t think it grips you the way most of their other original shows do, where you need to know what’s next or what’s going on with the characters.

I do not believe House Of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, Daredevil, etc. need to be binge-watched because of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), I think you binge because you develop a connection to the people involved through very well written scripts, settings and interactions.

Another reason to binge is because these shows do mean something to people and they are part of a cultural phenomenon. If you try to space them out, you also risk spoiler alerts from social media, work place, news and people in general.

I binged through all of Breaking Bad in two weeks, right before the final season air. I do consider one of my favorite shows, but not sure I could have loved that show as much on a week by week basis for the first couple of seasons. There are other series where people tell you “you just have to give it time.” Binge-watching allows you to digest the average appetizer episodes quicker, so you can get to the real meat and potatoes of it all.

In no order, (kind of one of those “I love all my children the same” lines). Here are 15 shows I have really enjoyed binging on Netflix. I could probably rattle off another 10-20 more after this too.

  • House of Cards
  • Orange is the New Black
  • Daredevil
  • Breaking Bad
  • New Girl
  • Brothers & Sisters
  • Friday Night Lights
  • Luther
  • Arrow
  • The Following
  • Archer
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • The Black Donnellys
  • Mad Men
  • Freaks & Geeks

How about you? Are you a binge-watcher? Do you have a favorite? Are you going to be like me and beast through Orange is the New Black this weekend?

As always, if you like what you read, please be social, share and no no no spoiler alerts.