Women and Technology, a Play on Words

Girl Boss a Pro or Con

Recently the team attended a Women in Wireless event featuring three top female reporters, Sarah Buhr, TechCrunch, Katie Benner, New York Times and Maghan McDowell, Women’s Wear Daily. While the overarching theme focused on their cawomen in wireless sfreers and experiences as women in tech, one topic of conversation brought forth some interesting points of view. The topic #girlBoss.

Girl Boss is a term made popular by Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso, it’s also the title of her novel. From there the term caught fire, becoming a platform for inspiring women to “lead deliberate lives” and a term women rallied around. The disconnect between this seemly popular rally is that not all women see it as a term of empowerment. Unanimously the panelists asked the question — why can’t women simply be a “boss”?  

So which is it? An oppressive term or as the panel moderator shared — empowering because adding “girl” highlights what women have had and continue to overcome to be considered a boss.
To our community we ask you to share your voice and tell us what you think about the term #girlboss. Does it empower women or does it further oppress? Cast your vote below and feel free to share your reasoning in the comments.

 

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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.

Making a Social Media Splash at a Conference (When You’re Not the One Attending)

CalebAs we kickoff 2016, many of our clients here at Highwire are already thinking about the major industry events of the year. Our consumer teams have just finished up an exciting Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the digital health practice is preparing for Healthcare and Information Management Society conference (HIMSS) and the security practice is already starting preparations for about the biggest security conference of the year—RSA.

With social media now such an integral part of the corporate identity, it has become an increasingly important tool for making an impact at a trade conference. However, often times those running these social channels aren’t actually ATTENDING the show.

So, how can you make a social splash at a conference when you aren’t physically present?

Before the conference

Do your research

Before anyone steps foot on the conference floor, there is a good amount of groundwork to be done ahead of time to ensure on-site time is well spent. For instance, as the social media manager, your first responsibility is to identify any hashtags that are tied to the show. If you are attending RSA, you’ll want to know which hashtag will be the most popular—will it be #RSA2016 #RSAConf or #2016RSA? Are different target audiences using a particular  one? Make sure you keep an eye out for any shifts  in hashtag usage throughout the show. To do this, there are great social media tools like Hashtagify that can help you monitor for what is trending.

In order to make the show a success, you’ll also need ambassadors on the ground feeding you information and images. Find out which of your team members will be on the conference floor and who will be attending which sessions and connect with them ahead of time. Ask that they send you content throughout the conference—photos, videos, interesting conversation topics—that will help you stay in the conversation although you aren’t physically there. Be sure you have their direct contact information, and give them yours! Remember that these team members are likely busy running around the expo floor, so don’t be afraid to remind them to send you content throughout the event.

If your team is looking to connect with media who are attending the conference, you’ll want to investigate who will be there before the conference starts. Additionally, be sure to follow them on Twitter and other relevant social channels. This will make it easier for you to monitor Twitter and other feeds to see if a reporter is focusing on an area of mutual interest, attending one of your talks, or is looking for commentary from vendors.

Tease out your participation

Make sure you let your followers know that you plan to be at the show, and let them know where they can find you. Share your booth number and the dates and times of any talks your executives may be giving. Are you planning to give away any swag? Hosting a contest? Share this with your followers in a timely manner so that they know what to expect. If you have a regularly scheduled email newsletter that goes out to customers and prospects, make sure to include a mention of your participation in the editions preceding the event.

Social media can also help you make an impact beyond traditional PR and gain you new followers. Find out from your team what your key target verticals are and do some research to see if any potential customers may be at the show. If your sales team is looking to make a connection you can help by engaging with potential customers over social media. Be sure to check the list of conference sponsors before the show begins and connect with your team to see if there is anyone on their target list that you can start to monitor.

BlackHatClientsDuring the conference

Monitor for any changing trends. Keep a close eye on the conference hashtags and make sure you adjust your social posts according to what is trending. For example, perhaps #BlackHat2015 started out with the most traction, but by the end of the conference conversations may have switched to #BHUSA. Your social content should also make that switch.

Keep your eyes peeled for any breaking news or especially popular conference hashtags. If Twitter is suddenly talking about the researcher who hacked into a satellite, a keynote talk by Alec Baldwin or the Stagefright exploit that rocked Android phones, you don’t want to miss out on chiming in. .

It’s important to engage in social media conversations, not just push out promotional messages. Work with your team on the ground to share interesting topics or their opinions about interesting talks, and connect with reporters who are looking for commentary on any new stories. If your company is giving away free gear, promote to attendees using social media to encourage them to come talk to your team.

Since you are not at the show, staying in close communication with those who are on the ground is extremely important. Be sure to ask the team early and often for photos, quotes and videos that can be shared across your social channels. Visuals can add variety and extra personality to your feed. Remember, don’t be afraid to share photos of your team having fun! Photos of employees sharing a drink, talking with other influencers, or speaking on a stage at industry events frequently outperform your typical corporate content.

Social sharing shouldn’t stop at the official corporate channels either. Encourage members of the team to share, retweet and repost your content! With each share, the life of your content—and its reach—is extended.

After the conference

The booth may go down and the conference hashtags may be dormant, but your work as social media manager is not done. Be sure to share any potential leads you may have uncovered with your team. Most importantly, think about ways that you can extend the life of the great experiences, photos and quotes that you received during the event. Consider whether you may be able to craft a blog post surrounding key findings from the event or develop a series of visual quote cards with interesting takeaways to publish over time.

While it may seem daunting to be tasked with managing social media for an event you’re not attending, it is possible to do so successfully. All it takes is some pre-planning, and lots of team collaboration and communication.

How to Make Your Product Pop at Press Events

 

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Everything you wanted to know about running a successful tradeshow

For most, the majority of December is allocated towards quality time with friends and family. Except for those of us who work in consumer tech; for us, the holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year courtesy of the biggest consumer technology conference — CES.

The Consumer Electronics Show, which kicked off this week, features the latest and greatest in all things consumer tech. Once thought of as the only place to launch new products, several big-name companies have opted out of the conference in recent years in favor of a less crowded and expensive platform in which to announce their latest news (Here’s looking at you, Facebook and Apple). With that, many key media have announced their retirement from the CES stage as well, opting for more intimate press gatherings that focus on a select group of new products and participants.

Pepcom, ShowStoppers and the like allow companies to get in front of top tier media by organizing small mixers at startup-friendly prices. Although much more intimate than mega conferences like CES, it can still be tough to stand out in the crowd. That’s why the team here at Highwire suggests focusing on identifying creative ways to bring your booth to life in order to ensure you get the most value out of these shows.

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Develop Creative Ways to Stand Out

With a sea of booths on a showfloor, it’s important that you make sure your exhibits stand out and appeal to both journalists and consumers stopping by to check out your product. Consider doing something out of the box or unexpected to draw more people to your booth.

At CE Week this past summer, the Piper team rented a branded ice cream stand to raise awareness of the company and also treat attendees to an icy treat. Similarly, the Gyft team gave out branded cupcakes at Pepcom Holiday Spectacular, which was a great way for people to remember the company in the moment and later at home when they were enjoying their treat. In addition to food, show swag can also be a big draw to your booth at a press event.

Giveaways that relate back to your brand can be a big hit. For instance, at CES, Edyn gave away branded seed packets to tie into the garden theme of the product. At SXSW earlier this year, Piper sponsored an exclusive networking event and gave away a select number of passes on social media. Engaging the festival attendees created more brand awareness for Piper and allowed the company to garner a strong following at the event so they could learn when the next giveaway would take place.

 

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Engage Your Audience Through Interactive Demos

In addition to unique booth giveaways, companies should consider interactive demos to keep people at the booth and interested in the products. Take a cue from the Edyn team, who last year constructed an actual garden demo at CES complete with dirt, plants and their flagship Edyn Garden Sensor. The live demo provided a way for reporters to visualize the product and imagine how they would use it in their own gardens. At a recent Pepcom event, Gyft offered attendees the opportunity to sign up for Gyft on a giant tablet and send away a free gift card. Once people were able to walk through and try the app first-hand, they instantly saw how game-changing Gyft is and also got to keep a little something for themselves.

A great booth and creative giveaways don’t guarantee coverage, however, meaning that you’ll have to get out and mingle! Approaching strangers can be a nerve racking experience, especially when trying to sell a product. So nerve racking, in fact, that there are numerous books and classes focused on the art of pitching. As PR pros, we’re accustomed to pitching our products every day, albeit most often by email and/or phone. With the right preparation, however, anyone can tackle the aisles of Pepcom with pizzaz.

Practice Your Elevator Pitch

When on the show floor, you have less than 60 seconds to catch a reporter’s attention. Because of this, it is important that you are able to deliver a quick, digestible and on-message explanation of your product — on demand. Writing down, memorizing and practicing your elevator pitch in advance will help you come across clearly and articulately, while keeping you from any media mis-steps and showing reporters that you value and respect their time.

Have Your Product on Hand

A great elevator pitch can take you far, but when it comes to showing versus telling, a product demonstration will almost certainly take you one step closer to success. Having a product on hand, or nearby, is a great way to explain to journalists in real time how the product works to fulfill its dedicated use cases. If you can arrange for a live demonstration, like Piper coordinated at this year’s Emmy’s gifting suite, you’re almost guaranteed to seal the deal.

Location, Location, Location

Reeling the press in is a lot simpler if you’re in a location that drives a lot traffic, for example: a booth near the front entrance, a bar or food station.  Not only will you get a first look at who is attending, but you’ll be able to snag your favorite writer without having to hail him down from across the room. Who knows, you might also bond over your love for gin and tonics.

What has your experience been like at trade shows? Connect with us on social or share your comments below!

 

 

post co-authored by Rebecca Buttle Peri, Account Executive.

Rebecca Buttle Peri is an experienced public relations manager and media relations specialist with expertise in the rapidly evolving tech, mobile and entertainment spaces, having managed national and international campaigns for several enterprise and consumer tech accounts within a variety of sectors. Rebecca holds a BA in creative writing from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Top Of Their Game: Entrepreneurs And Their Startup Stories” Reminds Us that Inside Every ‘Impossible’ is ‘I’m Possible’

IMG_1246IMG_1225IMG_1229                   This month, Chicago Ideas hosted their fifth annual Chicago Ideas Week. From flying lessons to a behind-the-scenes look at Chipotle , the event pulled out all the stops to cultivate innovation in the Windy City. Our Chicago team attended “Top Of Their Game: Entrepreneurs And Their Startup Stories,” which featured conversations with some of the most successful women in the country.First up was designer Cynthia Rowley who, like a true Chicago-native, arrived on stage in a custom Cubs jersey. Rowley is a great storyteller who, frankly, doesn’t give a crap about what other people think. For example, when someone told her she couldn’t design wetsuits, Rowley immediately decided she “was definitely gonna do it.” Rowley embodies her message for budding entrepreneurs: fearless optimism.To foster that sense of fearless optimism in her company, Rowley started an internal incubator fund for employees to start their own ventures. Rowley is so dedicated to entrepreneurship that she’s willing to risk her own talented workers to nurture innovation in the fashion world.


Next up was Martine Rothblatt, the creator of Sirius XM Radio and the founder and CEO of United Therapeutics. She is also transgender and the highest-paid female executive in the United States. She lives by four commandments: be curious, question authority, act lovingly and practice practicality. It was these commandments that guided Rothblatt when her daughter Jenesis was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension at only seven years old. Rothblatt dived into the life science sector with no prior experience, founded a biotech firm, United Therapeutics, and discovered a cure that saved her daughter and countless others. Martine Rothblatt is the type of person who makes impossible things seem possible (she emphasized that the word ‘impossible’ includes the phrase ‘I’m Possible’). Currently, Rothblatt has her sights set on manufactured organs and uploading human minds to computers. If anyone can pull that off, it’s going to be Martine Rothblatt.

Last but not least was domestic goddess Martha Stewart. Before Stewart flew to Chicago to speak at Chicago Ideas Week, she picked fresh apples out of her garden and made the “most lovely” pink applesauce (naturally). The epitome of practice what you preach, Stewart became her own most loyal customer in her quest to make beautiful things accessible to everyone. By learning and teaching each day, Stewart built a domestic empire and an extremely successful career.Though Stewart’s brand is based on the simple things in life, she’s embracing technology in work and life. Obsessed with Twitter, Stewart joked that her number of followers could “rival that of Jesus.”

The key takeaways from “Top Of Their Game: Entrepreneurs And Their Startup Stories” are quite simple: be fearlessly optimistic, act lovingly and make the world more beautiful. These principles may seem elementary, but living by them led the above visionaries to huge success. The future entrepreneurs in the audience, our Chicago team members included, couldn’t help but be inspired.When it comes to producing startups, Chicago is somewhat of an underdog. Events like Chicago Ideas Week bring together the city’s brightest and most ambitious young people to work towards a common goal: enrich the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.Don’t forget to connect with us on social @HighwirePR and catch up with @chicagoideas speakers @Cynthia_Rowley, @KayKoplovitz, @marthastewart, @LBDesmond, @shr4dha and @bradkeywell for even more inspiration.

 

Written by Brenna Hogan, an intern in Highwire PR’s Chicago office.

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

AppSec USA: The Place to Be for Web Application Security

It’s no secret that cybersecurity is a top concern for the enterprises, government and consumers. And what do hackers target to steal sensitive information? The application layer. According to Verizon’s 2015 Data Breach Investigations report, 61 percent of attacks happen at the application level. From mobile application flaws—such as Stagefright Android—to Web application vulnerabilities—such as the WhatsApp hack—now more than ever, it’s time to educate yourself on application security.

So where can you meet the best application security experts? AppSec USA.OWASP-AppSecUSA2015-logo

Hosted by Highwire client Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP), AppSec USA is a four-day conference where developers, security experts and technologist meet to discuss cutting edge approaches to securing Web applications. This year’s conference is in San Francisco September 22-25, 2015.

Highwire PR will be at AppSec USA and is thrilled for this year’s keynotes from Facebook CSO Alex Stamos, Microsoft MVP Troy Hunt and Department of Homeland Security’s Chief Cybersecurity Official Dr. Phyllis Schneck. Not to mention Fireside Chats with Uber, Twitter, Netflix and Salesforce.

To get the most out of this year’s AppSec USA, here are the top three must-do’s from OWASP global board member Michael Coates:

1. Hands on Training

There is a massive shortfall in the industry for quality security engineers. If you’re technically inclined, learn application security fundamentals from the best-of-the-best to secure your organization through hands on training opportunities.

As cyber threats become pervasive, everyone from developers to incident responders need to stay up-to-date on the latest threats and best practices and tools needed to keep sensitive systems safe.

The trainings range from application vulnerability evaluation to a malware crash course that includes hands-on malware dissection, software debugging, malware analysis and more.

2. Listen, Learn, Discuss

Learn, listen and discuss about pertinent, cutting edge security topics, such as how to address cloud security for your Web applications, how to handle security at scale, and real-time event detection and response. Experts from security companies like WhiteHat, iSec Partners and Denim Group; technology providers such as Docker and Akami; and enterprise security teams like Netflix, Salesforce and LinkedIn will all cover a variety of security topics and enable discussions that address security experts’ burning questions. Additionally, learn about the state of security, its most pressing issues and what it will take to secure them from keynote speakers Facebook CISO Alex Stamos, Microsoft MVP Troy Hunt, Chief Cybersecurity Official of DHS Dr. Phyllis Schneck and more.

3. Build Your Network, Find the Right Talent

A crucial aspect to any conference, network and connect with the brightest security minds in the world at the most concentrated event for Web application security. Discuss the leading topics with people from all parts of the security process including software developers, information security professionals, incident responders, computer security researchers, and corporate investigators.

Hiring? Job searching? AppSec USA also provides the opportunity to network with a wide range of security professionals and find your next gig or next great hire at the career fair. Some of the hottest companies will be participating including Netflix, Twitter, Airbnb, Palantir, LinkedIn, NetSuite, MobileIron and Tableau.

OWASP’s AppSecUSA is the largest application security conference in the world. You won’t want to miss out!

Register now for AppSecUSA and win 4 sold out Giants baseball tickets. If you’re already registered you can Retweet this to enter to win!

If you’d like to get in touch with Highwire PR at AppSec USA, please email owasp@highwirepr.com.

*Top Three Things to Know originally published by OWASP Global Board Member Michael Coates.

 

Simple Tips for Tweet Chat Triumph

SONY DSCSocial media has become a powerful component of PR and communication campaigns for brands big and small.

Twitter, in particular, offers a huge opportunity to gain visibility—companies can share their news, voice their professional opinions and even participate in or host specialized discussions, known as tweet chats or Twitter chats. By simply participating in these chats, brands can gain both social exposure and followers.

As a PR professional, I encourage you to take it one step further by hosting a tweet chat of your own. In doing so, brands can further strengthen their voice within their niche communities and directly engage with other thought leaders in their fields. These chats can be recurring (monthly, quarterly, etc.) or spontaneously tied to client news or events.

Ready to get started? I’ve outlined a few key steps to ensure a successful tweet chat.

Pre-chat prep to ensure a lively conversation

Most of the work that goes into hosting a tweet chat happens before the event actually occurs.

First and foremost, you should pick a chat topic for which your internal thought leader can serve as an expert. Anything too broad could result in too long of a chat session, so a specific angle or subtopic works well. For example, an email marketing company might want to host a chat on the basics of A/B split testing.  

Next, decide if your brand wants to partner with an outside expert or influencer in the field. This tactic will bring higher visibility to the chat and also add an extra layer of legitimacy to the session. Not sure who the right person is for your topic? You can use Twitter itself to find viable influencers and approach them about co-hosting a chat.

Once you have an expert co-host on board (or if you choose to proceed without one), you can get started on the basics. When scheduling the chat, aim for 30-60 minutes. Make sure your date is at least a month out so you have ample time to promote it. Additionally, create a unique hashtag for promotion and participation purposes. The hashtag is how your participants engage with you throughout the chat, so take the time to ensure you come up with something short and memorable.

When these tasks are out of the way, focus on the structure and content of the chat. In addition to the outside expert, determine who on the brand’s side will participate and what role they will have during the chat. One suggestion is to have two people on the brand’s side involved—one operating the brand’s handle, running the chat and posing the questions, and another (the one you are leveraging as the thought leader) on their personal handle, responding to the questions.

For content, draft the questions the moderator will be asking and responses the thought leader will be offering ahead of time (keeping in mind the 140-character rule, including the hashtag). Tweet chats can move quickly, and this trick will help participants stay up to speed. For a one-hour chat, draft around 8-10 questions. If time allows, it’s a best practice to create images that include each question. This makes the chat’s questions prominent in participants’ twitter feed, ensuring questions don’t get lost in the conversation.

Lastly, promote promote promote. Take to Twitter to communicate save-the-date messages. Create a simple image with the basic chat details and hashtag to catch followers’ eyes. Write a promotional blog and post it on your website. Send e-invites to friendly media folks so they can either participate or monitor the chat in real time. Identify individuals who are active in similarly themed chats and directly tweet at them inviting them to your chat.

Managing mid-chat

Once you’ve laid the groundwork, the chat can practically run itself. That said, one piece of advice is to have all participants dial into a conference number a few minutes before the chat is set to begin. This will allow for quick intros of the influencer to the brand participants, and the ability to address any last minute questions. Have everyone stay dialed in with their phones on mute for the duration of the chat; if the need for direct communication between you, the client or the partner expert comes up, you’ll have a means of instant access.

At the top of the chat, the moderator should thank attendees for coming; directly tweet them if you have time, but don’t wait too long to get the ball rolling. Have the moderator pose the first question and allow for the “experts” to weigh in with their pre-scripted responses. Give ample time for chat attendees to ask or respond to questions, and be sure that the moderator favorites and retweets some of the responses in real time. Allow for about 5-7 minutes between each question before asking the next.

Encourage your chat hosts to not just stick to the script but to also offer off-the-cuff responses to some of the questions—they should feed off of the conversation as it flows in order to not sound too groomed.

Post-chat repurposing

Lastly, the value of a tweet chat is not limited to only the 30 or 60 minutes in which it occurs. You can extend its shelf life by using the material to create further content, such as blog posts, infographics or SlideShares highlighting the top takeaways from the chat.

For instance, Highwire client Corvisa recently teamed up with customer service expert Shep Hyken to host a twitter chat, “Today’s Customers: What Do They Really Want?” Afterward, Corvisa repurposed the content of the chat for a recap blog.

If you are ready to engage with your brand’s audience and fellow thought leaders like Corvisa did, get the creative process started by checking out some upcoming chats to see what’s trending in your industry’s social spaces. Whether it’s a first and only or the first of many, tweet chats are a must-try for any brand.

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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Live From Internet Retailer 2015

This year marked the 10th annual Internet Retailer Conference held in Chicago and, with more than 600 companies exhibiting and nearly 90 percent of the e-commerce solutions on the market in attendance, there is no better place to get a pulse on the industry.

Yesterday, we decided to forgo a day in the office in favor of roaming the exhibitor floor to engage with some of the most recognizable and innovative brands in the space. We sat down with a select few to get their take on the show.

First, we spoke with Weebly’s Director of Business Development Chris Sheridan, whose passion for his company’s product was truly inspiring. Weebly is providing an intuitive e-commerce solution that allows entrepreneurs and businesses to build a website on their own simply and without coding. Here’s what Chris had to say:

Weebly WeeblyImage
Powerful and Robust E-commerce Solution That’s Ready When You Are

What is the big buzz at the show this year?
A big message for visitors to our booth this year is that people don’t want to outsource their websites; they want to maintain control and own every aspect of their site and, with Weebly, that’s possible. Consumers are not given enough credit and, in fact, they are way more sophisticated. There is always this analogy; “I want it to be easy enough for my mom or my grandpa.” That’s the wrong analogy. People understand online services and they can build a strong and powerful site on their own given the proper tools.

What can we expect from Weebly in the next 6 months?
Our direction is going to mobile; 30 percent of our traffic is coming from mobile devices, so being easily accessible on mobile is a big deal to us. When we started in 2007, we thought of ourselves as a single product. Now, we think of ourselves as a two-product company.

Is there anything else you want people to know about Weebly?
First, the free plan is something we encourage people to start out on, it’s a plan for people to come in and kick the tires with no risk. Judge for yourself how intuitive the tools are.

Second, whatever is involved in your business, we can help you. There is a powerful robust e-commerce solution that is ready when you are.

What will you make time for while in Chicago this week?
Game 1 of the Stanley Playoffs!

Next, we spoke with Brody Ehrlich, General Manager of Vift, an online video gift service. If you are ever looking to add a little extra spunk to your gift giving, this service is for you.

Vift
More Of You In Every Gift

VIFTImageTell us about Vift  and what makes you unique?
We are the only company that does video gift services that arrive digitally at the same time as a gift. Our competitors are a hassle for retailers and consumers that involve QR codes. We take the hassle away from retail companies and away from the consumer and automate everything.

Why would someone want to send a video message?
It’s a lot more personal and you can customize exactly what you want to say exactly how you want to say it. Our core business, Keeptree, is a private video sharing service. We give people the option with Vift to save their videos in our Keeptree vault, so you can access them whenever, wherever.

Who would get really excited about these things?
Keeptree has a special branded version for the military called Trooptree that we offer for free to all military families so they can communicate across the world.

What are you most excited about doing in Chicago outside the show?
I want to explore the city as it’s my first time here. I also want to watch the Blackhawks game!

Outside of everyone’s enthusiasm for the Blackhawks, we made sure to direct exhibitors to the hottest deep dish and Chicago style hot dog joints in the city.

Keep your eye out on Highwire’s blog next week for the results of our “State of the E-commerce Industry Survey,” straight from the show floor of Internet Retailer.

Written by:
Nicole Plati, an Account Manager in Chicago
Carolyn Adams, a Vice President in Chicago