Why the WHY Matters: Unleashing the Full Potential of Big Data

Consumer Insights have evolved from an intuitive, gut-based, “trust me” kind of discipline to a data-led, rational and programmatic one. It’s a welcome development, but there’s also a problem … Big Data has been hijacked by incrementality. It’s being used primarily in analyzing what is happening, in order to do “more of this” or “less of that”, but is not helping marketers understand the why: why something works, why it behaves the way it does, & why some brands become superstars while others wither away (click-to-tweet).

In other words, we are stopping short of discovering the causes for causality.

Here are two critical reasons why this story must be told:

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Influencer Identification: How To Make the Right Choices For Your Program

While the concept of leveraging influencers to drive successful communications programs is by no means a new one, I’ve noticed a significant increase in influencer programming.

And while I do agree that influencer-driven marketing can be impactful if done correctly, I’m often disappointed in the lack of rigor behind the process of identifying the strongest online influencers for a campaign – and less-than-satisfactory results of some of these programs confirms my concern.

Companies and brands that are choosing the influencers they work with based on the fact that they know them, or recognize them as a presence in their industry, or by the number of Twitter followers they have – are missing the boat. And if they’re paying these folks for their support, they are likely spending their dollars poorly. (click-to-tweet)

The wrong reasons to form alliances with influencers:

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FedEx Panda Express Takes Flight

FedEx Panda Express Takes Flight

FedEx carefully shipped pandas from China to zoos in Edinburgh and Paris on the FedEx Panda Express. Generating an estimated audience of 2.9 billion viewers and over 2,850 media clips, Ketchum and FedEx leveraged the shipments to expand brand identity in a highly visible, consumer-friendly way.

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#BlogHer15: A Call to Action!

With a #1 trending topic on Twitter, a parade of celebrities, incredible energy from thousands of bloggers and a robust set of sponsors wooing social influencers – BlogHer15: Experts Among Us delivered what I’ve come to expect from one of the biggest moments of the year in the blogosphere. The content was based primarily on input from the online communities, in addition to new areas of focus and interest infused by SheKnows Media, a digital media company that recently acquired BlogHer to form the largest, female-focused digital property in the world.

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5 Ways Seasoned Pros Are Changing With The Times

A few days ago I posted some thoughts on how a new generation of PR professionals is raising the bar for us all, and it’s gotten some nice traction. Particularly from those just starting out in their careers — grateful, as one put it in a private Tweet, “not to be completely dissed.”

However, in the same discussion, some have raised a counterpoint related to the evolution of a more established cadre of professionals, those who entered the business in its pre-digital days (which would include me).

Certainly, there is a surge of seasoned pros with a compelling blend of experience and transformation, combining wisdom accrued through hard knocks with a willingness to embrace new (even uncomfortable) ways of practicing the PR craft. So many, in fact, I have been able to discern a few behaviors that I think correlate with a high likelihood of success in our rapidly changing world.

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Camp Ketchum: The Future Is in Talented Hands

I recently had the privilege of being one of two Head Counselors at Camp Ketchum. This year the training program for 80 of our brightest professionals was held in my home country, Belgium, in an old but stunningly renovated locale, Abbaye de la Ramée. In 2002, I had the pleasure of being a Camper myself. Man, how I loved that experience! I still have that t-shirt and there is an unwritten household rule that it will never be washed or worn again.

I hope that the Campers who attended this year left with the same feeling I did all those years ago. It’s that unique mix of intense learning and a fearless client challenge – coupled with a fabulous location and delicious food that catalyzes sworn camaraderie among Campers. This year’s Camp also differed from mine in many ways. It was more global, diverse and stressed interconnectivity and utilized technology that simply didn’t exist 13 years ago.

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The PR Youth of Today Has Evolved

As Seen In…PRMoment

At the age of 25 I was all about having fun. I’d landed a decent job at an NGO in Washington, but I figured I had all the time in the world to build a proper career. In fact, it probably wasn’t until my mid-30s that I really knuckled down at work. What were you doing at 25? Do you remember that time you thought you were going to get the sack? How naive you were about business? The hangover sickies you pulled? The liberties you took?

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking today’s young pros are much the same as we were. It’s easy to assume they are going through essentially the same life journey as we did – in a similar environment, with similar strengths and weaknesses. After all today’s under 25s dress and talk differently, just as we did. They too are more tolerant, liberal and progressive than their predecessors. They too are (of course) at the beginnings of their careers so less knowledgeable about both our industry and office politics.

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One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Communications in Latin America

Companies continue to invest and strengthen their value proposition in Latin America, believing the long-term potential of the region outweighs recent lackluster economic growth. Looking at Latin America holistically, the population is close to 600 million people with a combined GDP of more than $5.5 trillion dollars — that’s three times India’s GDP and about half of China’s.

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Camp Ketchum: An Idea Ahead of its Time

Early Camp Ketchum group photo.

Prescient: To know beforehand; having foresight.

The original architects of Camp Ketchum 35 years ago couldn’t possibly have foreseen all of the dynamic change in our industry and how we work today. Yet the competitive team structure at Camp Ketchum, our week-long training program, is an ideal laboratory for the way we serve clients in today’s always-on, real-time marketing environment.

At Camp, the 80 Campers are divided into eight teams of 10 to address a real client brief and compete for the client assignment. Originally the intent was obvious: to train our people to be better at pitching new business.

Today that’s still one of the goals. But I think the greater benefit is that it is a rich context to improve our ability to work in our increasingly prevalent “liquid teams.”

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A Guy Walks Into a Bar…

I know, it sounds a bit like a setup to a classic joke, but we are actually very serious about what’s on the mind of the modern man. So serious in fact, that Ketchum held a special event at Ginny’s Supper Club at the Red Rooster, the 1920s-themed Harlem speakeasy owned by world-famous chef and entrepreneur Marcus Samuelsson, to discuss marketing to men in the 21st century. While we were at it, we also had a few delicious cocktails and a few laughs.

“A Guy Walks Into A Bar” was conceived to curate a lively, unscripted conversation with relevant thought-leaders on how marketers should think differently about engaging the 21st century male consumer.

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Sustainable Brands Conference: 3 Powerful Moments

Sustainable Brands is a conference we look forward to every year: the perfect intersection of brands and innovation, defining and communicating sustainability and social responsibility. This year’s topic was How Now? It focused on how we as communicators, sustainability experts, engineers, planners and stakeholders can take what we have learned over the past decade of corporate social responsibility advancements and apply it not only to today’s challenges, but the challenges we are sure to face in the coming years. Here are my top three most powerful moments from the conference and what we can learn from them. It’ll be like you had a front-row seat yourself…

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