Diversity in the Newsroom

A look into the “diverse” landscape of today’s businesses.

This past week a few Highwire employees escaped the office and headed past Market Street to the PPR Worldwide building for a de-brief on all things diversity.

PRSA and PPR held a joint panel to discuss the topic of diversity, specifically in today’s Silicon Valley tech scene. The conversation focused around the lack of diversity inside tech companies, LGBTQ rights, the gender pay gap, race-related campaigns like Black Lives Matter and Oscars So White, and ageism. It was an opportunity for the panelists to share their thoughts and views on how organizations can combat lacking diversity and what the media could do as an integral part in shedding light on these issues.

The event’s panelists included:

  • Raymond Ray, Smart Hustle Founder and entrepreneur (Moderator)
  • Salvador Rodriguez, Tech Diversity Editor, Inc. Magazine
  • Connie Guglielmo, Editor in Chief/News, CNET
  • Michelle Quinn, Columnist, Mercury News
  • Venise Wagner, Associate Professor of Journalism at San Francisco State University and Writer
  • Caroline Fairchild, New Economy Editor, LinkedIn

The conversation started of a with a general discussion on what diversity means to each panelist, some panelists focused on gender equality while others focused on age and race. No matter which sub-topic a panelist discussed one thing was certain—tech is severely lacking in the diversity department.

While it’s great that businesses have realized there’s huge disparity among employees, very few seem to be breaking down those barriers. Instead, organizations are just throwing money at diversity programs, hoping that fixes the problem. But they’re wrong.

According to the group, companies should be pushing for a cooperative effort from management and senior-level executives to build out a diversity program from the top down. Connie Guglielmo, CNET said it best, “Ask your CEO, are they part of the solution or are they the problem?” If your company can’t answer that question, you might want to rethink your diversity plan.

Michelle Quinn from The San Jose Mercury News discussed the disparities among age in the tech industry, noting there was little effort instilled from tech companies to retain employees over the age of 30 (crazy right?). One key point she shared on the topic of ageism included the lack of effort from businesses to implement and build out programs designed to encourage and retain older employees like a returnship program.

If one thing is certain on the topic of diversity, there continues to be a huge gap among the tech industry and in Silicon Valley. Senior management and the core leadership team needs to make a larger effort to create and follow through with a diversity plan. Leaders need to realize that without diversity, businesses won’t succeed.

What do you think makes a company diverse?  

How to Create Buzz Around a User Conference Show

Prepping for a Big Event

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User conferences are a great way for technology companies to engage with their customers, partners and the broader IT ecosystem, as it provides a forum for exchanging ideas, sharing best practices and having fun together. They are also great venues for engaging with analysts, bloggers and journalists following a market. But all the activity means nothing without inciting the right kind of interest and maximizing its impact.

This spring we experienced this first hand as we worked with Confluent on the inaugural Kafka Summit and with Twilio on the fifth annual SIGNAL conference. Below are some of our key lessons learned and best practices around creating buzz before, during and after an event.

Before the Big Day

Planning and prepping for user conferences like Kafka Summit and SIGNAL should always begin with strategic thinking and an end goal in mind. Our approach typically begins by thinking about what we can do to track back to the business goals of our clients. For example, are we trying to help drive enterprise sales or downloads, strengthen and cultivate partnership relationships or raise awareness to help recruit top talent? Having a clear understanding of the team’s goals means that we can map out specific ways to support those desired outcomes.  

The Elements

In helping reach those goals, the following elements are crucial to the game plan:

1. Engagement: A conference brings together a unique community and it’s important that you communicate with all audiences. Here are a few ideas:

  • Capture Presentations, Insights and Interviews on Camera: Live streaming keynote presentations and other talks is a great way to broaden the reach for both your event and the experts on stage. If you can’t execute on that, at least capturing all the presentations on camera provides shareable content to use after the event. Further, we recommend hiring a separate video team (or two) in order to also record show floor interviews with customers, partners and other experts onsite. It’s an economical way to secure a large volume of interviews and also provides an interesting backdrop for B-roll footage you will need down the line. Don’t forget to bring video release waivers to get signed on the spot to help expedite approval for posting videos online.
  • Create an Event App: Offering participants an app to help them navigate your event and provide real-time feedback will keep them engaged. Solicit input on speakers, sessions, the food, the venue, registration process, and associated events like a hackathon or after party. Best of all you will receive immediate input on what resonated with your community and areas to improve on next time. The app also makes it simple to recap the event and share insights each day or at the close of the event.
  • Host a Party: Bringing everyone together after a day of sessions offers participants the opportunity to network in a casual environment. At Twilio’s SIGNAL, the two-day conference ended with a carnival-style bash where attendees could partake in coding challenges
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    Twilio SIGNAL $Bash attendees playing robot Jenga.

    turned into games. Winners collected points that could be turned in for a variety of prizes. Additionally, participants were playing for the opportunity to join an elite group of Twilio developers that would get the first opportunity at hacking the technology behind Magic Leap.

 

 

 

2. Social Media: Social media is one of the best ways to keep the buzz going during the event. Having dedicated staff scheduled to attend specific sessions and to live tweet during the presentations is a great wTweetay to share key insights with your broader community. To do so effectively, define a strategy for what you want to achieve through social media and establish rules of engagement to help orchestrate a nice conversation flow. Also assign other team members to retweet, respond to questions and engage in the conversation. This approach worked well during Kafka Summit and the show became a sustained trending topic on Twitter —impressive for an inaugural event!

3. Press and Analysts: Last but certainly not least, is the important role journalists play in making a conference a success. A conference is an opportunity to highlight the excitement around your company, from new partners to new products, and journalists play a crucial role in amplifying these messages. With press, the key is to start by building relationships months in advance to build familiarity. Once you get closer to the date, inviting press to attend the event, asking them to moderate sessions and sharing the news under embargo will help to drive awareness and give you the opportunity to highlight specific information. Another important element is to make sure your press collateral is in order—do you have spokespeople ready for impromptu conversations, have you connected with partners and customers about their interest in connecting with press and do you have images and stats ready to be shared? Finally, don’t forget about the visual stories and feel good stories you can tell both during and after. At Twilio SIGNAL, the children of employees using code to sell Lemonade was a huge attraction.

In all, by following our recommendations (and working with an awesome PR firm) you’ll be set up for success. To learn more about the success that comes through careful planning, you can read this InformationWeek article by Jessica Davis highlighting Kafka Summit’s success.

Share your story. What have you seen that’s worked well?

*This blog was written with help from Andrea Torres, senior account executive in Highwire’s San Francisco office.

Highwire Named 2016 Small PR Agency of the Year by PRWeek

Fast Growth and Direct Client Business Impact Separate Highwire from the Rest

We are pleased and honored to announce that Highwire PR was chosen as the 2016 Small PR Agency of the Year by PRWeek at the 17th Annual PRWeek Awards in New York.

As one of the industry’s highest honors given annually to the best corporate, nonprofit and agency teams—and the campaigns they produce—the award is a testament of the creative excellence, effective execution and tenacity of our agency.

Highwire strives to create a meaningful business impact for our clients starting with providing our team with the tools, support and environment needed to deliver on each campaign above and beyond the call of duty. As a result, our agency has enjoyed a momentous year, both in the growth of our team and client roster as well as our service offerings across content, digital and measurement.

We couldn’t be more proud for this recognition and the passionate, collaborative spirit espoused at Highwire that has gotten us this far. It’s the reason for this award and the force behind the successful partnerships we have with our clients.

This is the latest award for Highwire. Previous awards and accolades include the Inc. 5000, PR News’ Top Places to Work in PR, San Francisco Business Times’ Fastest Growing Private Companies in the Bay Area, Holmes Report Tech PR Agency of the Year and finalist for PR News’ Platinum New Award for a small agency.

To learn more about the Highwire team and the unparalleled work it produces, follow @highwirepr.

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.

Gearing up for Rock Health Summit: Digital Health Q&A with TechCrunch’s Sarah Buhr

Next week leaders in technology, medicine and policy will come together at Rock Health Summit’s digital health conference to discuss healthcare’s most challenging problems. In anticipation of the event, Highwire sat down with TechCrunch’s Sarah Buhr, whose inbox is flooded daily with digital health pitches from PR pros. Sarah is moderating the panel “Virtual Reality: Just What The Doctor Ordered?” and we asked her what she’s excited about leading into the show and what’s hot and what’s not in digital health.

What are you most looking forward to seeing at Rock Health Summit this year?

One of my passions is biotech. I’m looking forward to hearing about thSarah Burhoughts on genomics and how microorganisms are being used to grow different things. I also want to hear how creative people can get with pharmaceutical drugs and materials. I think another interesting topic is telemedicine, or how we can move medical care inside the home. Right now there are so many solutions where you can speak to your doctor and not go into the hospital, and I want to see how those solutions can evolve.

Are there any digital health industry trends that you expect to be big in five years?

Like I mentioned, biotech is exploding – specifically in the areas of genetic manipulation and gathering data. In the future I think we’ll be able to pull insights out to identify the things that contribute to cancer and testing for diabetes in your genetic makeup. Right now nothing really does that and there are so many problems and cures to find.

What trends are you tired of hearing about?

I’m not interested in B2B enterprise SaaS solutions or HIPPA compliance. Right now everyone is trying to create their own platform rather than fix the bigger problem.

What’s the biggest challenge in digital health?

One of the biggest problems is that people don’t have enough information on medical costs or medicines that might be better for them. Basically there isn’t enough information shared with patients from doctors.

Do you see any rising hotspots for digital health innovation in the U.S?

There is no other place like Silicon Valley. Think about it, there are scientists, programmers, inventors, investors etc., all at “ground zero” for innovation. However outside of Silicon Valley other hotspots that are on the rise include San Diego and Boston which both have a booming biotech scene.

If you’re attending Rock Health Summit make sure to say hello to our Highwire folks on the ground and let us know in the comments what you’re excited to see at this year’s conference.

Written by Morgan Mathis, an account director in Los Angeles and Lauren Kido, a senior account associate in San Francisco

Minimizing Your Public Speaking Anxiety: 4 Top Tips I’ve Learned from Toastmasters

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In the world of PR, public speaking is critical for success. You must be able to speak eloquently and professionally with your coworkers, clients, journalists and other professionals in the industry. But the reality for most of us is that public speaking is terrifying. In fact, the fear of public speaking (glossophobia) is the No. 1 ranked phobia above fear of death (necrophobia) and fear of spiders (arachnophobia). According to the National Institute of Mental Health, glossophobia affects nearly 75 percent of individuals. However, overcoming this fear and minimizing the anxiety of public speaking is achievable, no matter your age or what stage you are in your career. 

Earlier this year I had the privilege of joining a Bay Area Toastmasters group, and it has been a beyond-amazing experience. Toastmasters is a group of local professionals who get together on a weekly basis to practice and build their public speaking skills. Through a sense of camaraderie, practice and feedback, we are on a mission to feel confident and comfortable when faced with the challenge – or really, opportunity – to speak in front of an audience.

Initially, joining the Toastmasters group was a bit intimidating. But after a few meetings, I realized this was a great selection of undeniably supportive individuals that were going to help me succeed. I’ve been going to Toastmasters for almost six months now, and looking back I’ve realized that the experience has taught me more than this post can fit. But in an effort to share some of the best takeaways, here are a few of my top tips:

Start with a structured storyline: Whether you’re writing a pitch, press release or even just an email to a client, everything should have a structured storyline: intro – body – conclusion. Being able to speak or write with a framework in mind will keep your audience engaged and allow them to effectively follow your key messages

Keep it short and sweet and you’ll succeed: If you know anything about PR, you know it’s a fast-paced industry. Your time is precious and so is everybody else’s!  So stay organized and concise. In Toastmasters, the longest speech is a maximum of 8-10 minutes, with most between 5-6 minutes. When speaking with somebody on the phone or in-person—whether it’s a client call, pitching a journalist or talking to a coworker—be mindful of their time and get to your key points quickly. They will appreciate your consideration and you’ll free up time to get back to what’s at hand.

Like, minimize your.. um.. filler words: Let’s face it, we all use the common “like” or “um” on occasion, but try to minimize the frequency of them as much as possible. At every Toastmasters meeting, we have an assigned grammarian, whose role is to monitor and count each person’s use of filler words (e.g. like, um, but, so, etc.) And trust me, the people you’re talking to will notice them much more than you notice yourself. The next time you’re talking to a friend or coworker, pay extra attention to your use of “likes” or “ums.” By cutting these filler words out of your speech, you’ll appear much more professional in any setting.  

Own your mistakes – you’re only human: Our Toastmasters group is made up of everyday business professionals. Nobody is an award-winning public speaker or is there to criticize your every word. This made me realize that everybody makes mistakes, in Toastmasters and in life in general. Everybody stutters, pauses and says the wrong word on occasion, whether it’s you, your boss, a journalist or your client. So don’t get hung up on your mistakes, because your audience has most likely made them too. Just own them and move on.

All in all, I’m incredibly happy with my decision to join Toastmasters. Not only does it help you improve your skills and confidence in public speaking, but it also offers some great key takeaways that can be applied to any personal or professional situation—especially PR. Ready to take your public speaking to the next level? Use the “Find a Club” feature on the Toastmaster’s website to find a club near you.

Written by Celina Poonamallee, an Account Executive in San Francisco.

 

Beyond Email: 9 Tips for Pitching on Twitter, the Phone and at Events

These days, most pitching, the backbone of public relations, starts with an email. You spend hours fine-tuning a pitch with your team, before sending it off to a reporter with your fingers crossed. Often it’s a hit, but sometimes it falls flat.

No responses to your initial email doesn’t necessarily mean that you made a bad pitch or that your announcement isn’t newsworthy. Whether you get a response or not often depends on factors that are out of your hands: a crowded inbox, a misread subject line, poor timing, etc.

Clearly, you can’t solely rely on email, because it isn’t a perfect communication tool. You have to reach the reporters where they are (always keeping in mind that some reporters prefer email-only interaction).

Below, are some strategies from Highwire Walkers on how they like to get in front of reporters, and what to do when you get ahold of them:

Phone Pitching — Andrea Torres, SAE

Public relations and sales have one thing in common – phone calls. Just like salespeople, PR people need to be friendly and get to the point quickly to do our jobs well. When pitching reporters, keep the following in mind:

Do your research: Have you taken the time to dig into your contacts? Have you read or at least skimmed recent stories? If not, stop what you are doing – you are not ready to pick up the phone. Before dialing, spend the time to know whom you are calling and what they are writing about. This step will make sure you make a good first impression and that you are prepared should you have to think of news angles on the fly.

Have a plan: Researching your targets beforehand is one thing, but it won’t get you very far if you haven’t gotten your thoughts and key conversation points organized. This might mean creating an outline to guide you or writing out an entire script. The takeaway is here is to set yourself up for success so to that you can get your point across.

Get to the point: If you want to lock in that briefing, don’t waste a journalist’s time; make your point quickly and concisely. This step is easier if you’ve followed step 1 and 2.

Be Nice: PR is all about relationships, so be nice. When talking to journalists on the phone, ask about their day and smile. It might seem odd, but smiling helps you relax and sound more pleasant.

Twitter Pitching — Ben Noble, AE

Twitter is a high-risk/high-reward platform that can help quickly catch a journalist outside their busy inbox. Journalists who frequently use Twitter are likely to engage in conversation and/or acknowledge posts from their followers. I recommend grabbing the journalist’s attention online with an eye-catching message and then shifting the conversation to email.

Don’t jump headfirst into a pitch: Nobody wants unsolicited pitches clogging up their timeline. Instead, offer insight into an article or post presented on the journalist’s feed. Share your perspective, ask them for their thoughts and offer counterpoints to topics of discussion. Building Twitter relationships starts with a courting process. Once you have a proper cadence of back and forth, indicate that you may have someone who can further address the topic (your client) and offer to send an email.

Avoid pitching several reporters at once. Twitter is an open forum and your tweets are public. Spamming journalists will be noticed and frowned upon.

Follow up – but not the same way as you would through email. If a journalist doesn’t reply to your first attempt at conversation, don’t be dissuaded. Feel free to follow up by prompting another discussion. Don’t remind the journalist of your initial post. Instead, start a new conversation to show that you are legitimately interested in the journalist’s perspective. Again, Twitter relationships involve courting. Prove that you are a committed follower rather than a one-off attention seeker.

Pitching In-Person — Lauren Kido, SAE

For PR pros, seeing reporters in-person is like a celebrity sighting: you usually know so much about them, have the perfect conversation scripted out in your head and are a little hesitant to approach them at first. But, whether the sighting happens at a networking event, conference, tradeshow or at your local coffee shop, here are a few things to keep in mind when pitching reporters in-person:

Make it a conversation: Meeting in-person is an excellent way to build relationships for your client, but it shouldn’t all be business. Strike up a conversation about non-work related topics, and if you’re following a reporter on social media, now’s your chance to ask about the new puppy or how relaxing that beach vacation was (just be sure first to note that you saw their tweet).

Ask questions: You’ve emailed, called and tweeted and now you’re chatting face-to-face! Use this valuable time to get a better sense of what the reporter is working on by asking what they’re interested in covering, tired of hearing about and what thoughts they have on industry trends. It’s also helpful to understand how they might like to be pitched in the future so you can pass this information along to the rest of your team.

Have business cards handy: Business cards should always be kept on hand at any networking event. Make sure to write your client names and websites on your business cards so reporters can easily jog their memory when they are sorting through cards at the end of a long night.

Pitching on Twitter, in-person, on the phone — it can all be daunting. But, with some practice, you get the hang of it, and the coverage will start coming in.

Happy pitching!

 

Written by Ben Levine, an Account Associate in San Francisco, with help from Lauren Kido, Ben Noble and Andrea Torres

Tomayto/Tomahto: Where US & UK PR Aligns

For the last two weeks I’ve been lucky enough to work on the other side of the Atlantic, in the New York offices of US agency, Highwire. Working in another country, with a different agency and unfamiliar sectors, I was expecting to feel like a doughnut in the big apple cart. What I wasn’t prepared for was quite how easily I’d fit in.NASDAQ

A few hours into my first day and it was already apparent just how many similarities there are between US and UK communications. The journalists and publications may be different, but the way we craft stories and target contacts is exactly the same; the media landscapes are shifting in parallel and clients round the world want similar outcomes.

So shouldn’t this be good news for businesses? After all, if communications can be executed globally, surely this smooths the path to achieving a global presence. And it seems that this is what businesses are looking for in 2015, as more and more organisations – from British retail stalwart M&S, to US streaming site Netflix – declare plans for overseas expansion.

But is there such a thing as cookie-cutter comms? Google “international communications blunders” and you’ll be flooded with eye-watering examples of company messaging gone awry – lost or worse distorted in translation at huge expense and embarrassment to those involved.

So while businesses are looking to operate in a global environment, they shouldn’t underestimate the importance of potayto potahto. Forging a strong, universal identity is one thing, but converting this into sales will be tricky without a dusting of market relevance. While many businesses understand that tailoring their communications is key to achieving this, if my search and the numerous results tell me anything, it’s that there’s room for improvement.IMG_9098

International execution is a challenge comms professionals face every day. While my time in New York may have highlighted superficial similarities, it’s also reinforced my belief that there’s no substitute for local intelligence; knowing your client’s audience in an area and how to communicate to them. It’s why global campaigns can be built centrally but are better executed locally – and are best when flexible enough to accommodate local nuances.

Whether you’re looking at the problem of global roll-out from a business or communications perspective, the solution is essentially the same; know your audience and listen before you speak – because there’s a world of difference between tomayto and tomahto.

 

Written by Polly Robinson, an account manager at Brands2Life, a London-based Highwire PR partner

Survey from Internet Retailer 2015 – The Buzz on eCommerce

We are already six months into 2015 and before you know it the holiday shopping season will be upon us. What is the status of the eCommerce industry half way into the year? Highwire scoped out Internet Retailer 2015, the leading e-retail industry conference held each year in Chicago, and took the pulse of the market to find out what leading brands have seen so far and what we can expect. Taking a quick poll of conference exhibitors, here is what we found out:

Holiday Shopping Optimism Prevails

There was a hopeful feeling in the air among exhibitors. In fact, nearly everyone we surveyed— 98 percent—expect eCommerce sales to improve during the upcoming shopping season compared to last year. While it may be no surprise that sales are expected to spike due to the rise of eCommerce adoption, there are a few unexpected things to watch for. For example, brands need performance with purpose and doing well by doing good might be more beneficial to your brand than you might think.

Thirst for Mobile Accelerates

Last year, analysts predicted that 2015 would be the year that most online retailers would offer customers a mobile eCommerce site. Our quick poll underscored this as a strategic priority. More than half of the companies we polled ranked mobile optimized sites, apps and content as their top investment priority this year. In light of the pick up in mobile shopping, the mobile payments market is also heating up and promising better support for retailers who want to accept credit cards through mobile apps. The jury is still out on how soon Apple Pay, Android Pay and a flurry of competitors (Samsung Pay, Square, Stripe) will become household names.

Drones Don’t Cut it: The Cool Kids have Digital Wallets

It’s hard to compete with the visual appeal of drones and the sci-fi thrill of imagining your next purchase being delivered to your doorstep by a flying robot. However, when it comes to actual long-term impact to eCommerce, industry insiders are placing their bets elsewhere. Specifically, Internet Retailer exhibitors were hot on digital wallets (61 percent), augmented reality (31 percent) and beacons (28 percent). While we will probably continue to see drones stealing headlines, savvy companies are putting slightly less eye-catching technologies to use.

No. 1 Way to Woo Customers – Give Back, Be NICE.

It’s official, a great product and excellent service are table stakes in eCommerce. Inspiring consumers to fall in love with a brand requires something more meaningful in 2015. When asked, “What makes you love an eCommerce brand today?” The highest rated quality was “doing well by doing good.” Although great and dependable customer service is still very important—22 percent ranked it as the second most important feature—taking care of employees and giving back to the community wins the most points with customers today.

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