Investing in Our Future: Corporate Social Responsibility

24768808535_f121f2914e

Investing in Your Brand — What You Need to Know

What draws you to a brand? Is it their logo, their name or their values?

For most, it’s brand awareness fueled by a personal connection to the brand and company. Apple, Lego and the Walt Disney Company are examples of companies who exemplify this personal connection. What each also has in common is a sense of corporate social responsibility (CSR) at their core.  A CSR program touches everything from products to business decisions, serving as the glue, solidifying customer loyalty.  If you are thinking about launching your own CSR campaign or trying to reinvigorate the connection your business has with its customers, here are the reasons why 64 percent of CEOs are increasing their investments in corporate social responsibility this year.

Community Impact and Engagement: A CSR program can mean many things–supporting causes, exerting positive societal influence, and displaying environmental responsibility to name a few.  Salesforce and Highwire client InsideSales.com for example have a 1-1-1 model, where each company dedicates one percent of their product, revenue and employees’ time to impact lives for good. Whether by volunteering with local nonprofits (think about the causes that matter to your employees) or funding programs such as education and technology innovation, these investments make a large impact on both the local community and employees, fueling brand perceptions and recruiting efforts. InsideSales.com and its Do Good Foundation was recently recognized by the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce for not only succeeding in its industry but also making an impact in the local community, giving back to its roots and having a positive effect in the region.

Build Trust – Invest in Your Company’s Future: CSR builds trust with employees and customers. It also creates more engaged employees and employees that are 38 percent more loyal.  When thinking about how to inspire your employees and build trust think about the initiatives that you can take on that map back to who you are as a business. How does your founding story inspire who you want to become and how you want to be perceived? Answering these questions will help your business build trust organically and authentically.

One great example is Highwire client Twilio. From the beginning, Twilio’s origins centered around nine core values that touched every part of the business from building products to running the business. As a company built by developers, Twilio likes to celebrates the doers – those people and companies within their community that are using technology in awesome ways. So in 2013, Twilio launched its nonprofit arm Twilio.org to give nonprofits access to the same technologies Fortune 500s are using. The result is a growing number of nonprofits that use Twilio’s cloud communications to solve some of the world’s problems. Examples include the Polaris Project rescuing victims of human trafficking, Doctors Without Borders building better care programs for tuberculosis patients and even reducing disaster response times by 50 percent for the American Red Cross. For Twilio, staying true to its roots and its core value helped it to launch an initiative that will not only help grow its business but also create a company that employees can feel proud to work for.

Value Enhancing: Consumers are demanding more from brands, increasingly rewarding companies whose services and products are both good for them and good for society. This demand also occurs in the workplace as prospective employees look for companies whose core values match their own. A CSR program helps with this outward perception, improving how outside third parties think about a brand. If you need more convincing, a recent Harvard Business School study found that investments in sustainability issues are “shareholder-value increasing” – meaning communicating your CSR program will impact your bottom line.

Have you successfully launched a CSR program? What’s your story?

RSA Preview: In 2016, Security Policy is Front & Center

Next week, much of the security industry will again converge in Highwire PR’s hometown of San Francisco for the 2016 RSA Conference. With our security practice constantly adding new clients and welcoming new faces, RSA is an exciting time for all of us.

11159457_10152768333602116_1266236881653969431_nLast year, security entered national consciousness on a new level. This year, it has entered the stratosphere, with debates such as the need for consumer privacy versus national security reaching a fever pitch due to the role encryption has played in high profile cases like the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. The convergence among the worlds of lawmaking, politics and cybersecurity is reflected in two of the biggest names on this year’s agenda, keynote speakers Attorney General Loretta Lynch and White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Michael Daniel.

With five full days of programming, here’s a sample of key themes, important sessions and other things to anticipate at this year’s conference, courtesy of a few folks in our security practice:

  • Bill Bode, Account Director, San Francisco: The talk I am looking forward to most is the keynote, from United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Why? In the wake of Apple’s move to publicly defy the FBI by refusing to allow backdoor entry into a cell phone involved in a major investigation, US cyber policy will be at the forefront of conversation, a topic Lynch will surely address. The Attorney General’s talk should stimulate a thoughtful (and possibly heated) discussion highlighting the differing opinions between what the government and Silicon Valley thinks could be the future of fighting cyber crime- or a dangerous new precedent.
  • Lindsay Bubbico Ciulla, Account Director, New York: I’m looking forward to seeing what comes out of a panel discussion on “Roles of Industry and Government in Cyber-Incident Responses.” Given the election year and the increasing role of security in our everyday lives, I think it’ll be especially interesting to hear from the panel on the role of government and industry during a major security event.
  • 10444656_10152768332977116_647562636317943578_nMegan Grasty, Senior Account Executive, San Francisco: I’m amazed at the continued implications surrounding our connected world. Also at the lack of understanding around the need for security in everything that is connected to the Internetfrom smart toys to planes to cars. I’m looking forward to attending “Our Brave New Connected World: Is it Already Too Late?” to hear experts discuss the security challenges associated with the connected world.

And, of course, we’re excited to see the epic parties and stunts that punctuate the show!

Beyond our Natoma Cabana San Francisco 03party on Tuesday night, we wouldn’t miss vArmour’s Monday night punk rock throw down, ForeScout’s Wednesday night bash featuring one of the world’s Top 5 DJs, Trusona’s VIP launch party at Mourad or Veracode’s annual gathering at Ruby Skye. What are you most excited to see? Share your hot topics and party tips in the comments below. See you there!

You’re Invited: Highwire’s Second Annual RSA Happy Hour

Join the #HighwireHackers for cocktails, tacos and the smartest minds in cybersecurity

In a little less than a week, the world’s largest collection of CISOs, hackers, cyber policy makers and journalists will once again descend upon San Francisco to discuss the state of cybersecurity across the globe for the 2016 RSA Security Conference.

As such, Highwire’s bustling security practice will be bringing back what is quickly becoming one of our favorite annual traditions: the annual Highwire RSA Happy Hour. And you’re invited! To register, you simply need to code a new program that will pass our security-centric Turing Test, here.

Just kidding. To get on our attendee list just email us at HighwireSecurity@HighwirePR.com, or swing by Natoma Cabana on Tuesday, March 1 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. PT. Party details are below, we’ll see you there!

What: Highwire’s Second Annual RSA Happy Hour

Where: Natoma Cabana; 90 Natoma Street, San Francisco, CA (just two blocks from the RSA action at Moscone)

When: Tuesday, March 1 from 5:30- 8:30 p.m. PT

Who: Cyber thought leaders from the world’s most disruptive security companies, security journalists, Highwire Hackers, hipster barkeeps with delicious cocktails, mexican food thought leaders from the world’s most disruptive taco truck.

Why: You’ll hear about the latest trends in cyber and network with some of the biggest influencers in the space. Oh yeah, there’s an open bar.

Content is King: PR and Marketing’s New Focus

Content Becomes Lynchpin in PR and Marketing Programs for 2016

Those of us in content have been touting this claim for years, but it’s nice to come across data that validates content as king. A recent Marketwired survey of PR, IR and marketing professionals found the that content marketing is rapidly growing in importance.

Seventy-nine percent of survey respondents currently have a content marketing program in place, and a majority plan to increase (64 percent) or maintain (22 percent) those efforts throughout the year.

 

Other highlights include:

  • *  Blog posts (55 percent), images (29 percent) and news (24 percent) were identified as the most used forms of content.
  • *  Influencers and brand advocates are being used by 61 percent of respondents to amplify their content to reach new audiences and increase overall engagement.
  • *  At least half of respondents use visuals on a weekly basis, and an impressive 30 percent do so daily.
  • *  Visual content is most often shared on Twitter (75 percent), Facebook (73 percent) and LinkedIn (63 percent) with Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest being popular alternatives.
  • *  Most respondents do still believe that earned media efforts is a top priority, but owned media—like blogs, tip sheets, case studies, infographics, etc.—are a close second.
  • *  In all of this, seeing the returns on investment are important. As such 77 percent of respondents measure their content efforts—”what’s worth doing, is worth measuring.”

 

Ultimately, the survey validated the importance of content for PR and marketing campaigns, and key role in supporting overall business objectives. Quality content is rising to the top as more and more consumers seek out educational collateral that doesn’t sell them but helps them in their decision making process.

Are you telling personal brand stories, boosting customer advocacy and generating leads for your sales team with high-caliber content that attracts customers and keeps them coming back? If not, stop lagging and catch up because it’s ringing loud and clear: “Content is king!”

For deeper dive on the topic and survey, check out Marketwired’s infographic, “Will You Be A #ContentMachine in 2016?”

5 Takeaways from the Go-To-Market Leaders Product Marketing Panel

Last Wednesday evening, we had the pleasure of co-hosting the Go-To-Market Leaders San Francisco Meetup and Product Marketing panel with Akoonu. We were joined by TIRO Communications president and founder Patrick Spencer, Slack head of product marketing Harsh Jawharkar, Anaplan vice president of global product marketing Folia Grace and Jasper Wireless director of product marketing Theresa Bui Revon. These panelists discussed the role of product marketing in shaping conversations with prospects and in supporting sales.

Here’s what we learned:

Be a mini CEO. One of the GTM Leaders Product Marketing Panelchallenges of the job of product marketer is that there are no boundaries. It can be anything. The product marketer is the mini CEO of the product. It’s your job to raise awareness of your product and make sure all teams (customer success, sales, quality assurance, product marketing and content marketing) are aligned in their understanding of the product, message and business goals.

Keep your message consistent, but tailor your language. Your message should remain consistent throughout the sales and marketing process, regardless of the vertical you are marketing to. However, it is important to keep in mind that while the message should stay the same, the language should be tailored to match your vertical. The challenge for product marketing is to make sure you use a vocabulary that the customer is used to hearing—while keeping a consistent message.

Ask for feedback from your sales team. Product marketing is not solely about product design, it’s about experience design. And there is no team better than your sales team to understand what customers are doing, how they are doing it, and what they need from you (the product) to do it better. Feedback from your sales team is absolutely crucial to understand how you can tailor your product—and the experience you can give to your customer. Ask your sales team if they see any gaps in what you deliver and what customers are asking for.  And make sure both the marketing and sales teams understand how to tweak your messaging and content, which can be the most challenging part.

Appreciate the partnership between social media and product marketing.
The partnership between social media and product marketing is invaluable. Social media teams have the opportunity to monitor and track conversations in real-time. Conversations on social channels shift at an incredibly rapid pace, and your social media team should be updating product marketing to make sure that their messaging is in line with what’s trending. If your customers are talking about security and you aren’t, that’s a problem. Additionally, social channels can also add value to your customers’ lives beyond the product itself—especially for customer support.

Customer success is key. It can be a challenge to drive revenue from an existing customer. But with customer success, it makes this task a whole lot easier. It’s imperative to deliver value to your customer on an ongoing basis. It’s about understanding what the difficulties are from step 1, to step 2, etc. Customer success should be at the heart of what are you doing. And if your product marketing team isn’t talking to your customer success team, you have a serious deficiency that needs to be addressed.