June Recap: Fire Phone, Silicon Valley and Why Facebook is Creepy

This month’s news had us looking past June gloom and towards the radiating landscape of product announcements, weird findings and hot rivalries between corporate giants. Before we all jump on the boycott-Belgium-waffles bandwagon, let’s take a look at the top trends from June and reminisce on Ann Coulter’s random hate for soccer.

The rivalry between Apple and Google continued to heat up at this year’s WWDC Conference, where developers duked it out with competing product announcements and software updates. With the healthcare market estimated to reach a $20.6 billion by 2018, both platforms seem to have their hands full with fitness trackers, like HealthKit, and health apps designed for widespread adoption. Significant developments in Android L and iOS8 were also shared, providing an opportune moment for Sundar Pichai to take a stab at Apple’s late integration with custom keyboards and widgets. And while Google drew back the curtain on its new Android Wear smartwatch, there was no mention of the heavily-rumored iWatch smartwatch, a misstep on Apple’s part given the increasing popularity of wearable tech in consumer technology.

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Speaking of Google developments, more than a million people tuned in to the opening day presentation at Google I/O in San Francisco. Aspects of the keynote covered the company’s interest in mobile platform integration and customizing applications to fit the needs of human interaction. In other words, Google is developing technology for devices to determine when a user is at work or home. Based off of this data, apps will create a more connected environment experience. However, talk of Google Glass was left out of the big picture, as the product continues to receive  public criticism. The glasses were recently banned from UK cinemas over rising piracy fears and privacy violations.

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Meanwhile, Amazon rolled out its very own Amazon Fire Phone, aiming to compete with the top products in the smartphone market. The phone has an exclusive carrier contract with AT&T and in terms of alluring features, boasts a bigger display than the iPhone 5S and comes with a Mayday option for customers. Given Apple and Samsung’s widespread dominance, Amazon’s idea was to target the 42% of American adults who don’t own a smartphone and a younger, tech-savvy audience not specifically committed to an Apple or Droid ecosystem. So how did the Fire Phone fare? Currently, it sits at #61 in terms of top-selling electronics according to the company’s own rankings, a disappointing result despite the phone’s anticipated success. That’s okay Amazon. We still love the Kindle Fire and are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Kindle Fire TV.

 

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Social media continues to get creepier and Internet users are not happy about it. The results of a Facebook psychological experiment, conducted in 2012 using what’s called an “A/B” test, were published this month in the National Academy of Science academic journal. An A/B test is when an online company manipulates the web experience for a small division of users. Companies like Google and CNN have conducted tests like these see what headlines are generating the most clicks. For Facebook, the goal wasn’t totally clear. According to findings, users were shown more negative or positive content to affect their range of happiness for a full week. The result? Those who were shown more negative content were likely to produce negative posts and vice versa. Thus, the social media website has proven itself a powerful controller in the emotional state of its users. Even better is that the testing is permitted in the terms of service and there’s no indication subjects were asked about their interest in participating. Needless to say, we have all been lab rats at some point in the growth of the Internet.

In case you missed it, David Muir is to replace Diane Sawyer in September as the anchor of ABC’s “World News.” Sawyer is stepping down to concentrate on other areas of news, including specials and interviews. Although the move was Sawyer’s decision, her departure marks a rewiring of past traditional broadcasts, where all ABC evening news broadcasts will currently be anchored by white men. Still, she remains optimistic about her future position in prime time news. Go Diane!

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To conclude the news roundup, our guilty pleasure mockumentary, Silicon Valley, wrapped up its first season this month and has been renewed for a second. For the high-tech junkie, the warped story line is a goldmine for humor and promises more than a few socially awkward moments in each episode. “Most start-ups are a soap opera but not that kind of a soap opera,” as Tesla CEO Elon Musk put it in an interview after the premiere.  It’s a hilarious parody of the tech community that can’t be taken too seriously. HBO has not announced when Season 2 will premiere, but it’s guaranteed to be another unique experience.

 

Native Advertising Excellence: Top 10 Tips from Our Expert Panel

Native advertising is in its early days, but there’s no denying its impact — and allure — as the practice that blends owned, earned and paid media.

On Thursday, June 19, Bateman Group hosted a panel discussion about navigating this new frontier. Moderated by tech media industry analyst Sam Whitmore, the panel featured content marketing experts Eric Lai, director of content marketing at Blackberry; Stephanie Losee, managing editor at Dell; and Jason Miller, lead global content marketing solutions for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

Native advertising is an evolving concept, so how should we define it? Stephanie described native advertising as “content sponsored by a brand, published in-line.” Another way to think about it is “content in context:” Branded content, placed or syndicated to appear alongside the content that an audience is organically consuming.

According to the panelists, successful native advertising requires a combination of excellent content and reaching the right audience. Easier said than done, yes, but the discussion provided some great advice for brands looking to achieve this holy grail:

  1. Help, don’t sell. A big part of creating quality content is providing value to your audience. Think about building a relationship instead of selling something. An audience member from esurance gave the example of their company’s best-performing video: a tutorial on how to park on a hill. Not only is it helpful and non-promotional, but it answers a very specific, relevant question.
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  3. Follow the 80/20 rule. On a related note, 80% of your content should be informative or offer a point of view, and no more than 20% should be about your brand. If you are presenting information about yourself, it should be specific, helpful information.
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  5. Think critically about promoting. It’s not enough to have good content; you also have to promote it well. Select channels that will best reach your target audience, whether it’s LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, amplification services like Outbrain, or likely, a mix. Make sure you’re reaching people beyond your inner circle; while inbound leads are great, you should be extending your content further to make the most impact.
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  7. Create a steady cadence. A one-off campaign can be splashy, but success is often built over time. Consider syndicating your content through a sponsored blog, which will drive traffic and create a drumbeat of content.
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  9. Gate your content based on its value. Before you ask someone to provide their email address in exchange for a piece of content, consider whether it’s worth the inconvenience. If it’s a valuable resource, like a very educational white paper, you can expect your audience to provide you with some information in exchange.
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  11. Use video, but use it wisely. Videos are engaging, but they can be resource-intensive. Consider behind-the-scenes or how-to videos that will drive clicks without burning through your budget.
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  13. Don’t forget about your blog. According to Jason, the company blog is “the rug that ties the social media room together.” External channels are part of the integrated campaign, but your strategy is missing a crucial element if you don’t have a hub for your content.
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  15. Pay attention to the metrics that matter. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the different things one can measure in the digital marketing world. The metrics on which you decide will depend on your business goals, but if you are a B2B company, consider looking at referral traffic, engagement and lead quality.
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  17. Integration > fragmentation. There’s a reason native advertising works: It brings together different channels, practices and types of media. Similarly, your content marketing, social and PR teams should be working together to achieve a common goal.
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  19. Observe your own behavior. How do you like to interact with brands? Where do you like to get news and entertaining updates? You’re a consumer– examine the content that appeals to you and use that insight to be a better native advertiser.

It’s an exciting time for native advertising as branded stories are being distributed with unprecedented reach and measurement. With the right approach, any brand — content marketing novices and experts alike — can capitalize on the opportunity. Thanks to our expert panel for sharing their insights into native advertising excellence.

Q&A with Liam Hausmann — writer, PR practitioner and bon vivant

Liam dressed as rapper Macklemore at Bay to Breakers.

Liam Hausmann came to Bateman Group fresh out of college last summer. His infectious energy and thirst for life bring smiles to the office, but he’s also proven himself to have a mind for PR, a way with words and is quick to win the hearts of clients. Liam was happy to take time from his busy schedule to do this Q&A and share his story.

How did you end up in PR?

When I was a sophomore in high school, I had an English class taught by a woman named Ms. Zellner. In this class, we were assigned a list of vocabulary words, for which we were supposed to write the definition and a sentence using that word. I thought it would be fun to write all of those sentences as a cohesive story. I had a weird idea of fun back then.

Ms. Zellner found the “story” humorous and well-written given the circumstances, and apparently circulated it to some of her fellow teachers, because for a week or so I had faculty that I had never met approaching me in the halls. They would say things like, “Liam, I loved your story!”, “Liam, you’re creative!” and “Liam, you’re a good writer!” All of which are things you really shouldn’t tell an impressionable 15-year-old boy, unless you want him to grow up wanting to be a creative writer.

A couple months later, I was studying for a driver’s education test with a cute girl in my class when she asked me what I wanted to do with my life (which I later realized was startlingly forward for that age). I had in my lap a copy of Entertainment Weekly, for which I had received a free subscription when I got a GameBoy DS for Christmas.

“I want to be a film critic!”

She thought that was cool, another thing I later found startlingly off-base. So when she signed up for Ms. Zellner’s journalism class the following year, I had no choice but to do the same.

That one-two punch of influence set me on a course that led me to pick Arizona State University’s Cronkite School of Journalism for my undergraduate degree, where the most common theme of my writing classes was that starting a career as a journalist in 2013 would inevitably end in tears. So when I asked my advisor about Public Relations, a specialization within the journalism school, she told me I could work with cool companies and still focus on storytelling. That was enough to convince me.

Besides playing office DJ, what do you do at Bateman Group?

As an associate at Bateman Group, my job is essentially to just nerd out all day. I work with Xamarin, which (among other things) lets developers code in C# and convert it to native code for mobile platforms, Pure Storage, which makes datacenter storage infrastructure, and other interesting accounts.

What’s the best part of your job?

Part of the job of anyone in PR is to be super aware of the things going on in the industries of their clients. My clients happen to be in very high-tech industries, so my job is to read about some of the most cutting-edge developments driving business and society. To be great in PR you really have to be excited about the companies you’re talking about, so the fact that I have been a nerd pretty much my whole life helps a ton.

Is PR what you expected it would be?

Definitely not, but not in a bad way. I knew PR would be a lot of collaborative work and fast paced. But no amount of coursework can prepare you for the stress and workload of high-caliber PR. Thankfully my college program was pretty hands-on and required me to take multiple internships before getting a degree, so I had some experience before entering the big leagues with Bateman Group. Once you can get accustomed to the pace and workload, you find yourself in a job that’s not only stimulating, but exciting every day. Hard to say “no” to that.

When you aren’t at work, what do you like to do?

I’m still pretty new to this part of the world, so just exploring what San Francisco has to offer has been taking up most of my free time. Besides galavanting around the Bay Area, I enjoy playing soccer and trying out the weird stereotypical SF yuppie activities like yoga and indoor rock climbing. Both have been pretty addicting so far.

What makes you tick?

People in my generation grew up being told that you had to do well in high school so you could get into a good college (where you were told to study whatever your heart desired, even poetry, just follow your dreams!) in order to get a job after college and then you’d be “stable.” Now, I think a lot of us are getting out of college and finding out it’s not that simple. Even if we manage to get a great job in a growing field in a great city, there’s still a lot of uncertainty inherent in just being young and on our own; “stability” is one of the last words we’d use to describe our lives. I think I’m just one of many people in my situation trying to figure out what makes the world tick, and how I fit into it. Thankfully I’ve been lucky, and quickly found something I love doing in a place I love living.

How are you dealing with the upsets to your World Cup bracket?

This has already been an insanely exciting World Cup. The upsets are the best part. No one could have honestly predicted Spain being the first eliminated team in their group, and the USA has had two totally epic games! I ran out of the office yelling when the final whistle blew against Ghana, and yesterday’s game against Portugal was a roller coaster of emotions. I really wanted us to be the team that eliminated Cristiano Ronaldo. He’s so smug. Those two games were about as excited as I’ve ever gotten for sports. After the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl, of course.

Tell me something about yourself that would surprise us.

I got to study abroad in England when I was a senior in college, and for a couple of months played with the University of Manchester Ultimate Frisbee team, including traveling around northern England for tournaments. That was one of the crazier experiences I’ve ever had. Tons of people see London, but really miss out on a huge part of English culture by not visiting the north. It’s a whole different world up there. I’ll leave it at that.

 

PR Summit Recap: Top 10 Content Marketing Tips

Bateman Group’s director of content and media strategy, Scott Martin, led a panel at the PR Summit exploring why content marketing needs to be driven by big ideas. The all-star panel included John Rampton, writer at Fast Company; Drew Hendricks, writer at Forbes; and John Boitnott, contributing writer at USA Today. As a former USA Today journalist, Scott brought his expertise to the group by posing questions about the current and future state of content marketing, unveiling the top trends and best practices journalists are seeing in the field today.

Buzzfeed was a hot topic of conversation throughout the panel. With its speculated $200 million funding round and reported 160 million unique visitors last month, the site has built a powerful content platform enviable by every writer, PR pro and journalist. Whether it’s discussing the latest pop culture fad or recapping the must-know facts about foreign affairs, Buzzfeed’s catchy headlines and easily digestible list format appeal to audiences everywhere and have set the bar high for content marketing. Scott and the panelists dove into the depths of content marketing to address the burning question on all of our minds: How can content marketers emulate Buzzfeed’s success?

Key takeaways from the session included speculation about the future of Google+ (no, it’s not dead) and the requirement of content amplification programs to get the most bang for your buck. To take a closer look at what your content marketing program might be missing, here is a list of top takeaways from the session.

  1. Connect with people. Based on firsthand experience, John Rampton shared an example of how breaking news laid the groundwork for a viral campaign. When Steve Jobs died in October 2011, John built a website on Fast Company to commemorate his life which was eventually shared across social channels by CNN, The Wall Street Journal, NBC and even Apple.

  2. Be helpful. If you want to relate your company to your audience, write an amazing story that will first and foremost help your audience.

  3. Spend a third of your total time on the title. Buzzfeed writers reportedly spend 30-40% of their time writing an article on developing a catchy headline. Clearly, it works.

  4. Be a citizen of the internet. According to John Boitnott, successful content marketers will lead by example, keeping up with the latest social media sites and searching the internet for interesting and informative content.

  5. 99-1 rule. As a best practice for gaining trust and readership, write 99% about other people and 1% about yourself.

  6. Invest in content amplification. Companies spend hundreds of dollars writing posts and often neglect to put in extra time and money in social promotion. Scott cited Outbrain as a valuable way for companies to boost their content and ensure it is worth the investment.

  7. Tag your content. Aside from SEO and internet marketing best practices, aim to tag your content with 5-8 keywords to ensure people will find it.

  8. Establish credibility with Google+. Drew shared that while people might say Google+ is dead, it will ultimately influence reputation and credibility because it has the ability to link everything. He likened it to the yellow pages, in which every business and individual must have a presence in order to be searchable.

  9. Continue experimenting with new tactics. Tap into your own experience, discuss ideas with peers, investigate and always be on the lookout for the next successful tactic.

  10. Lead conversations. As John Rampton eloquently stated, “I don’t like to find customers. I like to lead conversations on social media.”

 

BATEMAN GROUP’S CLIENT SPOTLIGHT 6.20.14

It wasn’t Facebook’s release of Slingshot that dominated the news cycle in the social messaging space this week. Rather, it was that Yo secured $1 million in funding from angel investors. As its name might suggest, Yo is an app that lets users send the word “Yo” or “YoYo” to their contacts, and nothing more.

So what else was happening in the world of technology this week? Bateman clients had news of their own: Clari announced Series B funding, securing coverage from TechCrunch and others, Virtustream’s xStream 3.0 was featured in Network World, and App Annie garnered coverage in PandoDaily for its report on apps’ iOS revenue.

The Revolution Hidden in the Apple Health Kit,” Forbes – In his article on Apple’s HealthKit, Haydn Shaughnessy of Forbes prominently featured commentary from David Waite, principal client services architect at Ping Identity, and Paul Madsen, senior technical architect within the Office of the CTO at Ping Identity.

Mobile-First Predictive Sales Tool Clari Raises $20M More to Widen its Big Data Net,” TechCrunch – Clari’s Series B funding announcement garnered excellent coverage, including this piece by Ingrid Lunden. The news was also covered by Forbes, VentureBeat and Dow Jones, among others.

Virtustream Takes Aim at Complex Cloud Migrations,” Network World – Virtustream released its xStream 3.0 product, which offers industry-leading features such as geofencing and support for OpenStack. Brandon Butler of Network World took an in-depth look at the news and recent company momentum, citing Virtustream as “one of the most successful – yet least well known – public, private and hybrid cloud computing vendors in the market.”

Mobile Monetization Report: iPad Apps are Where the News Bread is Buttered,” PandoDaily – Carmel DeAmicis of PandoDaily published a feature on App Annie’s Index for General & Business News. The report found that the iPad is the real money winner for news organizations, with 80% of the top ten news apps’ iOS revenue coming from iPads and not iPhones.

How Virtual Reality Will Change Life In The Workplace,” Forbes – Forbes contributor Joe Lazauskas discussed the potential possibilities of virtual reality in the future workplace. Mick McGee, co-founder of EchoUser, provided insight about his experience with virtual reality and explained how the body reacts against the fusion of the virtual world and the physical world.

Cloud-Based Analytics Offer Insight to All,” InfoWorld – In his InfoWorld byline, Tidemark CEO Christian Gheorghe explained how his cloud-based analytics platform offers insight to the whole organization.

CNBC Disruptor 50: Pure Storage,” CNBC – This week, CNBC honored Pure Storage in its second annual ‘Disruptor 50’ list, recognizing its impact on the enterprise storage industry. The list identifies the most promising private, venture-backed companies whose innovations are reshaping their markets. Pure Storage landed at #19, higher than Dropbox, Pinterest, AirBnB and Snapchat.

Fred Bateman talks Evolution in Data-Driven PR

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San Francisco’s Old Mint was bustling with marketers and PR pros for yesterday’s 5th Annual PR Summit Conference, a conference series of thought leadership and insight into the latest industry trends. Among some of the great sessions of the day was “The Evolution of Data-Driven PR,” featuring Bateman Group’s founder and CEO, Fred Bateman. He was joined on stage by fellow panelists Rebekah Iliff, chief strategy officer of AirPR, Andy Getsey, founder of Atomic PR and EVP of Grayling, as well as moderator and startup advisor Porter Gale. The main themes of the discussion ranged from the importance of measuring results, to the role of metrics in PR over the years, to the increase of good communicators across all industries. Below are some nuggets of wisdom offered by the panelists:

There is a prejudice that PR firms skew their own results to game the system and keep their clients. In the past 10 years, there has been a movement to ensure honesty and transparency when reporting metrics. – Fred Bateman

If data can’t give us insights and help us make better decisions, it’s really not worth our time. Data really is power only if you use it to give you visibility to inform your decisions. – Rebekah Iliff

Content has become more important as a service offering for PR firms. Journalists are helping to determine what content goes viral and what maximizes potential. This practice is still in its early stages but becoming commonly blended with PR. – Fred Bateman

It’s an extremely exciting time to be in PR because people really understand what tech can do for them and are leveraging resources to amplify their impact. – Rebekah Iliff

The PR tech space is ripe with opportunity. Marketing is converging with PR jurisdiction due to higher content creation and increasingly better communication between PR professionals. The value of PR is becoming more understood. In previous contexts, it has often been left out of discussion. – Rebekah Iliff

What’s more important is showing small companies and startups how to harness their own data to use it to propel their image forward. – Fred Bateman

This isn’t a war between media (magazines, broadcast, etc.). If your focus on stories and interesting things, that’s what will drive media. Metrics will measure that impact. – Andy Getsey

Summary

Everyone was in agreement that metrics and measuring impact — previously murky waters for PR — are increasingly important for proving value and ROI. PR firms often used to twist metrics to amplify their impact, causing stakeholders to question their true value. While this practice has undermined trust, the evolution of new technology and methodology is helping to bring transparency to how PR measures its impact.

When it comes to metrics, transparency and agility are key. Bateman Group often allows clients access to tools that show how their brand’s share of voice has progressed. Andy Getsey mentioned that he uses a custom, homemade metrics tool to track daily trends in relevant markets, informing his teams’ strategies and tactics.

The panel also addressed the trend of journalists working alongside PR professionals to help determine what content should be shared. Although this practice is still in its early stages, it is beginning to bridge the divide between paid and earned media. Together, the arts of journalism and PR can create compelling, newsworthy content. As Getsey pointed out, an interesting story is what drives viewership, not a world war between media channels.

All three panelists explained that the shift in measurement and transparency has caused the industry to be more aware of the value of PR. Communications programs no longer depend solely on inflated numbers, but on measurable market impact. With data, PR is becoming more effective and better understood across industries.