The Art of Bad Publicity

Is there a silver lining in today’s bad publicity?

It’s been widely reported that President Trump masqueraded as his own publicist in the 1970s, 80s and 90s in order to boast about his life. The president is the self-proclaimed master of “The Art of the Deal,” but does he also own the art of bad publicity?  And does his election victory in the face of campaign implosions, leaked scandals and myriad other crises support the old adage that there is no such thing as it?  

PR missteps, even crises, happen from time to time. The online world we live in means everything is amplified and “going viral” can happen in an instant. Seventy-two percent of customers trust online opinions as much as they trust their family and friends, according to Forrester Research. This means publicity, good or bad, is highly influential in a world where we’re constantly sharing and consuming information online.  Recent cases of messaging gone wrong have included Pepsi, Uber and United. While some of these brands have suffered serious damage, the question remains: is there a silver lining in any of this bad publicity?

Let’s take Pepsi’s widely mocked ad featuring Kendall Jenner, sister to Kim (Khloe, Kourtney…you know who we’re talking about). Yes, the food and beverage corporation issued an apology after the criticism, but it’s estimated that Pepsi got somewhere between $300 million and $400 million in free media coverage out of the controversy. To put that into perspective, then-candidate Trump earned $400 million worth of free media in February 2016 while campaigning, which is close to what Sen. John McCain spent on his ENTIRE 2008 presidential campaign. Additionally, Pepsi’s mentions on social media were up more than 7,000 percent the day the ad debuted, according to Brandwatch. In one day, Pepsi garnered 1.25 million mentions on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Only just over half of those mentions were negative, means that just under half of that explosion of conversation was positive or neutral.  And that negativity might not have been as painful as you would expect. Analytics experts actually say that negative mentions are given somewhat less weight than positive or neutral mentions.  Whether intended or not, Pepsi got the whole world talking about them.

Moving to the airline industry, we recently touched on United’s woes (its stock price and reputation plummeted), but that calls to mind another carrier case. US Airlines once replied to a customer complaint tweeted at them with a pornographic image. The tweet stayed on the company’s profile for a full 60 minutes before it was removed, but not before it’d received 476 retweets. Here’s the thing: After the damage had been done, US Airlines actually gained 14,000 followers as result of the Twitter attention.

Lastly, it’s been an outright battle on the roadways between Uber and Lyft, as the rideshare giants compete to dominate the streets. Uber was plagued by scandal early in 2017, including the popular #DeleteUber hashtag campaign. Lyft, whose value is approximately 10 times smaller than Uber’s, has worked to capitalize on the good feelings surrounding their platform, announcing an opt-in app feature that allows riders to automatically route rounded-up ride charges to charity. But for all of Uber’s troubles, the question of whether the company has been hurt by all the negative publicity remains to be seen. Uber announced recently that their ridership numbers in the first 10 weeks of 2017 eclipsed those of early 2016, and an eventual public offering may be looming, as has been predicted.  

In describing publicity in “The Art of the Deal,” President Trump had this to say, “Good publicity is preferable to bad, but from a bottom-line perspective, bad publicity is sometimes better than no publicity at all. Controversy, in short, sells.” So is any publicity good publicity? From a PR perspective, the battle to stand out from the crowd is fiercer than ever before. But where’s the line between good PR and bad? It’s a question we should all be asking ourselves.

We want to hear from you! What’s your take on the line between good PR and bad? Tweet us @HighwirePR.

What PR Pros Can Learn from United’s Blunders

The airline company boasts “friendly skies” but on the ground, not so much.

We’ve all seen the video, eye-rolled over CEO Oscar Munoz’s callous response, jaw-dropped over Munoz’s leaked email identifying the customer (David Dao, MMD) as “disruptive” and “belligerent” and witnessed United’s $1B financial fallout.

Long story short: United messed up. Big time.  

Less than a month after the airline found itself in the headlines for denying two girls from boarding their flight due their choice in attire, people are still buzzing about the company —and not for good reasons.

Crisis Comms 101

So what can we learn? If the scandal has taught us anything, it’s that United Airlines needs a lesson in crisis comms, and social media certainly has the power to escalate situations beyond our control. Case in point, just look at the backlash Pepsi saw after debuting a commercial depicting imagery from the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Using United as a case study in addressing public backlash, corporate comms teams could take a few notes:

  • Act quickly, but thoughtfully – The first mistake United made was issuing a long overdue statement to address the scandal. While the statement was meant to serve as an apology, the failure to apologize directly to the victim, nor recognize him by name, reflected the company’s intent to protect its own reputation versus its customers. When looking to resolve an already-mishandled situation, all perspectives should be considered. By apologizing for “having to re-accommodate” passengers instead of admitting what happened, the situation became dehumanized.
  • Don’t blame the victim – The first rule of customer service? “The customer is always right.” After Munoz issued his statement, a very one-sided email added fuel to the fire by essentially blaming the victim and his behavior for what resulted in his bloody nose. A smart move would have been to take a step back and recognize that ultimately, United was at fault for letting the situation get out of hand. While Munoz apologized for forcibly removing the victim from the flight, he neglected to acknowledge his initial response to the situation or choice of words in his internal note to United employees.
  • Own up to mistakes and learn from them  – While it’s hard to say what’s in store for the future of United Airlines, social media indicates that customers are fleeing. One thing that’s certain is the carrier won’t be able to bounce back from this quickly. And while they might be tempted to release statement after statement, the best thing United can do for now is stay silent until it releases its review on April 30. Since the offboarding scandal so closely follows the leggings controversy, United should look to its latest crisis as a learning experience — whether that entails re-evaluating its current customer policies or publicly acknowledging the faults of all involved.

What’s your take on the United scandal? Join the conversation @HighwirePR and let us know what you thought!

Pepsi/Kendall Jenner: Huge Fail or Big Success?

Picture:Pepsi/AP

Picture:Pepsi/AP

Pepsi missed the mark this week after their ad titled “Jump In” received massive backlash from the online community. “Epic fail”, “tone deaf”, “fiasco” are just a sampling of the online reaction to Pepsi’s advertisement featuring Kendall Jenner — top model and a member of the infamous Kardashian dynasty. Even Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter, Bernice, tweeted: “If only Daddy would have known about the power of #Pepsi,” alongside an iconic photo of the civil rights leader being pushed back by police during protests.

In response to the fallout, Pepsi apologized on Wednesday for the controversial spot, saying they “missed the mark.”  Sure, the message, which showed a happy band of Millennial protesters, led by Jenner, who offers a can of Pepsi to a smiling police officer, is unlikely. What can brands learn from this disastrous ad?  Was this simply an example of messaging gone wrong?  Or was this roundly criticized ad a success — because at the end of the day, we’re all talking about Pepsi?  

From a PR perspective, the miss was not fully understanding the audience and not properly crafting the right message. By trying to be edgy, Pepsi angered the very community it was trying to reach. And by borrowing imagery from the Black Lives Matter movement, it created a backlash instead of starting a conversation like its ad suggests. In pulling the ad, Pepsi said they were “trying to project a global message of unity, peace and understanding” but instead they cast a negative light on the brand and only time will show the true ramifications of its actions.

What are your thoughts? How do you think Pepsi handled the situation? Do you think the backlash was warranted?

Cision vs Muck Rack – Which is the Better Media Database?

Highwire Labs Reviews Next-Generation Media Databases  

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Every good PR person knows that the best path to good media relations is strong personal relationships, but the reality of life and the industry often means we need to look further afield. With this in mind, Highwire Labs began an investigation into the new generation of media databases.

We compared Cision’s new platform C3 against a relative newcomer to the space, Muck Rack. Both have evolved beyond static and faceless lists to include live updates to reporters’ coverage and social feeds, but only one can stand out as the clear choice for the tech-savvy PR pro. Here’s our take.

 

Cision C3

Highwire has been using Cision for years and they have a reputation as the de facto media database for PR professionals; however, it has not been without its frustrations including a poor user interface and slow load time. To be frank, our team did not go into this demo with high expectations. But, we were pleasantly surprised!

Turns out Cision has had quite a facelift. Not only do they offer an improved interface for looking up media contacts, but they have added features like live reporter Twitter feeds, editorial calendar database, automated briefing docs and metrics reporting all within its platform.

Pros

The updated platform has become a “one-stop shop” by allowing you to see recent coverage and Twitter feeds from the reporters within their media profile. Also the integration of the HARO and Editorial Calendars into Cision’s platform makes it easy to check a single location for potential opportunities.

The improved search function allows you to find reporters not just by their stated beat, but by the actual stories they write and conversations they have, making it easier to build a targeted list of the right reporters who will be interested in your topic at hand.

In-brief:

  • Improved user interface to make searching reporters easier and more specific
  • Editorial calendar feature to create edcals within the platform
  • Automated briefing documents for reporters
  • Live reporter twitter feed to see what reporters are covering at a moment’s notice
  • Metric reporting to track client’s share of voice against competitors
  • One platform to handle multiple steps to the PR process

Cons

However, Cision does still have a few drawbacks despite the new improvements. As a legacy platform it has a reputation to overcome amongst journalists. Since much of the contact information and biographical information on the platform is self selected by the journalist, sometimes information is missing or not very detailed. There is also something of a learning curve to figuring how to use all the tools available in this platform to their full potential.

In-brief:

  • Legacy platform with fixed reputation
  • Self-selected information by journalists
  • High learning curve to reach full potential

 

Muck Rack

Muck Rack is a newer tool to the PR database scene. Most PR professionals are familiar with the free version of the tool that provides snippets of a reporter’s coverage, biography and recent articles, but that is just the bare minimum of what the platform can actually do.

Muck Rack prides itself on being a tool for PR pros and journalists alike. PR teams can create media lists, find reporter contact information, build coverage reports and monitor the news, while journalists can build their own portfolio to better represent their coverage area and writing style to PR pros.

Pros

The key benefit of Muck Rack is that it a platform designed to change the way both reporters and PR people look at media databases. By integrating with Twitter and monitoring reporters’ coverage it presents a more complete view of a reporter’s area of interest than traditional databases. And by creating a service that is useful for journalist, it helps change the overall perception and creates an incentive for more maintaining complete and accurate information. It is an innovative approach that is brimming with potential and helped other databases to catch up.

In-brief:

  • Reporter contact information updated in real time
  • Novel approach to collecting reporter information
  • Extensive media list development

Cons

Unfortunately, Muck Rack is mostly potential. The concept of using Twitter and recent coverage to identify relevant reporters for a targeted pitch is enticing but not effective in Muck Rack’s implementation. Also the heavy reliance on Twitter results in inconsistent results for each reporter. Some reporters are more active and descriptive on their social profiles than others meaning that it is possible to miss many relevant reporters who don’t directly Tweet about the topics they cover.

In-brief

  • Less professional user interface
  • Reality of search features does not live up to the full potential
  • Some features are still under development
  • Too heavily reliant on Twitter

 

Highwire Labs’ Take

Our team was impressed with the features and improved functionality with Cision C3—it’s a one stop shop for PR basics. Having a single platform to research reporter contact information in addition to editorial calendars, briefing docs and real time reporter updates streamlines multiple steps of the PR process.

Neither platform has a standardized price publically available, so you’ll have to work with their sales teams to decide what is the better option for your agency from a cost perspective. For, Highwire, Cision turned out to be the more cost effective platform.

WINNER: Cision C3

 

 

Next up, we’re comparing email extensions to better manage our email outreach. Let us know what tech you’d like us to explore next!

 

This post was co-authored by Kelly McDermott, SF-based account associate, and Andrew Erickson, SF-based account associate.

East Coast vs West Coast? The Best Tech PR Adventure Combines Both

West Coast vs East Coast Infographic

To successfully navigate the East and West Coast tech scenes, you need to wrap your mind around their differences. Each has always offered different cultures and communities to those seeking new opportunities, and this remains true for their respective tech landscapes.

The East Coast hustle and the West Coast chill seem to swap roles, however, when the topic of conversation is turned to the tech industry. The West Coast tech scene is based on a fast-moving mentality, inspired by a highly competitive industry that’s seeded with venture capital. The East Coast, by contrast, is built on a traditional foundation that stems from its academic environment, creating a more cultivating mindset.

Understanding these differing tech scenes could make or break a startup’s success when choosing which coast to call home.    

Rising in the East: On Boston aka “The Innovation Hub”

The academic focus plays a huge role in Boston’s startup industry to form a unified community. Many universities (such as Harvard’s i-lab) as well as more established companies host accelerator programs to offer space, resources and guidance. The heavy academia influence also leads to a tech scene strongly driven by research.

When discussing GE’s recent HQ relocation, chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt said, “We want to be at the center of an ecosystem that shares our aspirations. Greater Boston is home to 55 colleges and universities. Massachusetts spends more on research and development than any other region in the world, and Boston attracts a diverse, technologically fluent workforce focused on solving challenges for the world.”

The Boston industry as a whole is less consumer-based than the West Coast, and more focused on products that help enterprises expand and increase efficiency. The Massachusetts tech scene is also infiltrated by the large presence of its medical community, leading to a strong focus on digital health and biotechnology. All these aspects create a cohesive environment with a nurturing mindset, honing in on growth and long-term goals.

 

Setting Off in the West: On San Francisco and Silicon Valley

As we turn to Silicon Valley, “Pick up the pace” echoes across the country, and the West Coast tech scene is a change of pace in every aspect.

According to NBC News, the West lacks as much of a cohesive community as the East Coast. Instead, the West fuels its fire with passion and speed, leading the Bay Area startup scene to the success it sees today. Driven by young minds and young money, the unique personalities on the West Coast create a short term, fast-paced mentality.

This high-energy environment breeds healthy competition. There is a steady fight to stand out in the crowd and attract a potential investor’s big bucks. There is a larger focus on socializing — which is key to winning big in the Valley. Relationships are the foundation of the industry here. You’ve got to know and find the right people to involve in your business and achieve the highest level of success.

 

Best of Both Worlds

Recognizing that each coast offers a unique perspective, it seems the most reasonable solution to picking a side in the Bay Area vs. Boston battle is to simply choose both. By merging the mindsets of each coast, one gains a deeper understanding of the tech industry as a whole.

Technology and PR: Why is PR So Far Behind Marketing?

The marketing technology landscape has been rapidly expanding over the past five years. In fact, Scott Brinker’s annual Martech Landscape Infographic shows more than a 2000 percent increase in marketing technology vendors since 2011. Yet, the PR section of his report remains relatively unchanged. What’s up with that?

I put this question to Altimeter Group marketing technology analyst (and the first writer to outline the battle field for the marketing cloud wars), Omar Akhtar.

“Tech is always ahead of people and PR happens to be an industry that’s dominated by people and relationships,” says Omar. “Technology has helped streamline and facilitate conversations but automation has been out of the question. However, it’s only a matter of time.”

Marketing Tech Landscape logo collage

Bottom left: PR’s slice of the marketing technology landscape as of 2016

The new era of measurement

According to Omar, measurement is generally the easiest problem for technology to solve in PR. It’s inevitable that the PR industry will be affected in the same way that advertising and marketing measurement has been overhauled.

Companies like TrendKite and AirPR are leading the charge when it comes to PR measurement technology and have been able to reduce time spent reporting by almost 75 percent (According to TrendKite research).

“Technology has led to smarter teams doing higher value work, with much of the drudgery now automated,” says Russ Somer, VP of Marketing at TrendKite.

He goes on to cite a recent presentation from the communications director at a major domestic airline who talked about allowing two days to turn around simple coverage reports and four days to deliver coverage reports with analysis.

“I felt like going up on stage to let her know that her measurement problems were over. Many leaders in PR don’t even realize that these tasks can be automated to the level in which we are doing it.”

Though not yet fully automated—TrendKite and other similar platforms still require customization of search terms to filter out low value media hits—the potential for artificial intelligence to essentially learn which coverage is of value to the company and which articles can be discarded will make instant reporting and analysis par for the course within the next couple of years.

These new measurement platforms are also starting to close the loop and show actions taken from articles. For example, being able to see how many website visits or sign ups are being driven by each piece of earned media.

According to Rebekah Iliff, AirPR’s chief strategy officer, PR’s legacy has been in surface-level metrics like impressions and advertising value equivalency (AVE), but digging deeper into the data can lead to insights for leadership and more effective PR programs.

“For example, a New York Times article might get thousands of eyeballs but fail to spark action with the target audience, while a smaller blog might drive a ton of sign ups and website visits,” explains Iliff. “Advanced analytics gives you the ability to see which outlets are generating better business outcomes so you can be more strategic in pitching media, investing resources to create stories for outlets that move the needle.”

Beyond metrics

Outside of measurement, it can be difficult to imagine how technology will be applied to an industry that relies so heavily on relationships and customized engagement. But one person wrestling with this is Joel Andren, CEO and founder of PitchFriendly.

Described by Andren as CRM for PR people, PitchFriendly helps PR professionals build lists and manage outreach in a similar way to Vocus/Cision, but rather than exporting lists it encourages teams to send pitches from within the app. Pitch templates can be put into the application with placeholders left for customization. Additionally, the system automatically flags media who have recently received pitches, and double-ups.

According to Andren, the company is integrating machine learning to automatically suggest media targets for a pitch based on the content of the pitch and analysis of recent articles by writers.

“Cision and Meltwater are all the same and, as a PR person, they don’t make you any better at your job. In marketing, the first technology is always about proving ROI. We are now building on this base layer of technology to improve how PR is executed,” says Andren.

“Think about every job you give to an intern. Those things should all be automated now, which can free up junior staff to invest more time in training. Technology has the power to automate the tasks that are causing all the employee turnover.”

Whether PR professionals embrace this in-app experience for media relations remains to be seen, and PitchFriendly enables users to engage with media via familiar interfaces like Gmail once the initial pitch has been sent – while continuing to track engagement behind the scenes. Gmail extensions like Mixmax offer similar functionality—the ability to create teams, assign contacts, schedule distributions and track clicks and opens—but don’t offer the deep PR-specific metrics on media engagement that PitchFriendly offers.

Will PR ever be fully automated? Not in the immediate future

PR is more of an art than a science.

Talking to the people driving advances in PR technology, it’s clear that the PR industry has a unique automation problem, which is also the source of great job security.

While data analytics, automation and artificial intelligence will certainly improve the efficiency of certain tasks within PR, the overall effectiveness of PR programs and campaigns will still largely come down to managing and drawing on a confluence of factors outside of the organization’s control. It’s more of an art than an observable and repeatable science.

According to Omar Akhtar, there will always be the need for Madmen and Mathmen (creativity in addition to data analysis)—we can’t rely on either one alone.

“There is always the chance that PR technology could replace people. But I’m convinced, there will always be a job for a clear and concise communicator,” says Akhtar.

“Technology could provide PR spammers easy low-value coverage, but it will be at the expense of the high-value media relationships. A higher level of [machine learning] discernment is needed before PR engagement can be automated,” adds Somer.

Even when it comes to measurement—the part of PR that is well-suited to automation—there are still intangible elements that make evaluating return on investment difficult.

“When PR is done well, there will always be an “X” factor and something that you can’t measure,” says Iliff. “But PR still needs to evolve in the same way that marketing and advertising have evolved with the help of technology.”

Where to Invest?

While PR wrestles with the complexity of relationships and colliding narratives, media budgets and headcount continue to fall. For instance, a negative byproduct of increasing marketing automation has been cut-price display ads and reduced advertising revenues for our friends in the newsroom. Just last month we saw more layoffs at eWEEK, InformationWeek and the Wall Street Journal.

As the pressure mounts for editors and journalists to do more with less, knowing how to break-through the noise of impersonal email to grab their attention will be increasingly valuable for PR people. Similarly, being aware of the digital shortcuts and tools media themselves are using to source content and story ideas is a key requirement for the modern PR person.

The data-driven insights that can be pulled from intelligent measurement and engagement platforms will go a long way to improving the effectiveness of human-to-human media engagement and showing the ROI of PR programs.

The technology we use at Highwire PR:

We’re interested in hearing from you. Where is your company/PR agency investing in PR technology? What new tools are you most excited about?

This blog originally posted on Bulldog Reporter.

Our Boston Office is Now Open

boston-1775870_1280Boston vs. San Francisco. Since I started in the PR industry in the late 1990s, a regular debate topic has pitted the so-called capital of New England with Silicon Valley, asking which was the better market for tech innovation.

For someone living in Boston, doubt—perhaps even jealousy—shrouded the debate; often it followed news that tipped the scales west. As one example chronicled in the popular film “Social Network,” Facebook started in the Boston area, only to flee to the other coast.

In reality, Boston and San Francisco share a spirit of entrepreneurship buttressed by similar characteristics. In both regions, ideas are born from numerous colleges and universities. Business networks usher those ideas and bring them to market, and marketing and PR disciplines have innovated to best connect them to target audiences.

Perhaps it is not a surprise then that Highwire PR is opening a Boston office, with a presence downtown, led by PR talent deeply rooted in the region. We see an opportunity for a PR approach that is based on creativity and deep technology insight. The firm will apply the best PR strategies and tactics from our work in all regions to drive visibility efforts. And in cooperation with Highwire’s office in New York City, we can now more readily support any company in the Northeast and along the east coast.

It’s also perhaps not a surprise that an early 2016 ranking by Bloomberg of the most innovative U.S. states placed Massachusetts and California in a virtual tie at the top. Innovation is not the exclusive province of either state—and it is, therefore, more than appropriate that Highwire’s PR services are now fully available in both, and the many states in-between.

Actually, it looks like Massachusetts came out ahead of California in that Bloomberg ranking (albeit just barely). As one of the Boston PR pros helping to grow the new Highwire presence, I am biased; but how about that?

London Calling: PR and Media Across the Pond

screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-11-27-54-am

PR Across the Pond

The crinkle of the Monday paper, rumble of phone conversations and the aromas of tea and coffee brewing. These are the sensations that kicked off a week in London with Highwire’s sister agency Brands2Life.  

Agency Life

The similarities between Highwire and Brands2Life are many. We are both independent agencies with a focus on storytelling, teams, education and results. My Monday morning started with a office huddle where the agency founders fired up the team for the week ahead. I also had the opportunity to witness the month’s Impact Coverage meeting, where teams across the agency shared successful campaigns for a chance to win a prize. My favorites, an app built for a client launch and a successful newsjack, which resulted in broadcast coverage for old data. This reminded me of how Highwire recognizes its teams with team dinner celebrations and “High Fives”—in which individual and team efforts are praised.

As for the differences, most noticeable was the time zone advantage. In San Francisco, mornings are a juggling act with team’s catching up on email and news while simultaneously trying to connect with reporters. While this also holds true in London, the time zone made their mornings feel a bit more luxurious. I found the team’s morning news dissection huddles to be particularly amazing. Communication also differed. In the U.S., with teams across various time zones, we rely heavily on Skype, Slack, HipChat and BlueJeans to connect. In London, with the entire team in one office interactions happen at desks instead of over screens.  

PR Activities  

No matter the market, PR is the same at its core. Everyone is focused on telling a compelling story. We all place a big focus on relationships and spend our time connecting with reporters. We also all rely heavily on the creative power of bringing minds together. Brainstorms are when the best ideas are created, from unique takes on survey data to interactive elements like pop-up events that give target audiences an experience. One great example, is the high-speed selfie campaign that recently won the Brands2Life team PR Week’s award for technology campaign of the year—congrats!

During my time in London, I was lucky enough to help one of the consumer teams think of new ideas for a campaign targeting business travelers. We spent an hour thinking about our own traveling experiences and putting together ideas to help the client standout—airport concierge anyone?  

The biggest PR difference is the strategy behind campaigns. There seems to be a bigger integration between marketing, advertising and PR than in the States. I noticed teams developing advertising campaigns hand-in-hand with the PR narratives that would support them.

Press and Events

screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-11-29-50-am

Node-Red in action

By far, my favorite part about London was the people! I loved getting to meet our agency partners, witnessing media relations rockstars in action, and connecting with local clients and press. For instance, attending OSCON showed me how truly awesome and powerful Raspberry Pi is thanks to IBM’s Node Red. Plus the technical session on microservices was surprisingly easy to follow.

I also got the opportunity to meet with Kadhim Shubber of The Financial Times (FT) and Ingrid Lunden of TechCrunch. Both are incredible reporters and people. With Kadhim, I discussed the impact of Brexit on the London Fintech market. The biggest concern for him is VC investment given how much money comes from outside investors. I also got some pitching advice: all FT employees around the world adhere to a noon UK deadline for stories. Remember that next time you before you pick up the phone.

As for Ingrid, her range of coverage is broad. She’s interested in following the money. In regards to AI, she wants to dive into the new cases that are highlighting its power. From a pitching perspective, she’s OK with follow-up emails as her inbox is always overflowing and mentioned to check in with her as she probably missed your first email. 

Do you have a story to share about your international PR experience? We’d love to hear about it on our Facebook page.

Three Trends You’ll See at AWS re:Invent 2016

DevOps, machine learning and global architecture to be key conference trends

Las Vegas skyline at night

Under Armour uses the AWS cloud platform to give more than 180 million users access to its  Connected Fitness platform. Airbnb can store 10 terabytes of user photos with Amazon S3 to house backups and static files. Atlassian deploys its wildly popular HipChat and Bitbucket platforms on it. What do these companies have in common? They all use products from the AWS ecosystem to make their companies more efficient.

With over 24,000 projected attendees, this year’s AWS re:Invent will bring together companies from all over the world to learn more about the organization’s ecosystem and what to look for in 2017.

From Amazon CloudWatch to Amazon GameLift, this conference will have over 400 technical sessions led by industry leaders and AWS partners.

With all this going on, what should you be sure not to miss?

Three trends to watch out for at this conference are DevOps, machine learning and global architecture. Check out our analysis below to help understand how these trends will shape 2017.

DevOps

  • The USA Today description:
    • DevOps encourages communication, collaboration and integration between software developers and IT operations — two business units that have traditionally functioned independently. DevOps is a combination of philosophies, practices and tools to increase the agility of a company’s processes and software development cycle.
  • Why does it matter?
    • DevOps creates a more effective and personalized customer experience, innovates existing software more reliably and accelerates the software delivery cycle. That means faster processes, better service and happier customers.
  • What to expect at AWS re:Invent:
    • Look out for a fireside chat with Groupon, Intuit and LifeLock, as well as a breakout session with AOL on the challenges in providing next-generation applications. These companies are ready to talk about how implementing a DevOps model will protect your company from the competition leading into 2017.  
  • AWS Ecosystem Spotlight, Atlassian:
    • Atlassian Bamboo enables teams to collaborate, build software and serve their customers better. The continuous delivery tool offers strong integrations with AWS for teams to produce software in short cycles that can be built, tested and released faster and more frequently.

Machine Learning

  • The USA Today description:
  • Why does it matter?
    • Machine learning algorithms can be trained over time to make intelligent recommendations for a variety of applications. Machine learning can help with everything from facial recognition, fraud detection and even more accurate medical diagnoses. Ultimately, machine learning will save businesses time and money while delivering a higher quality of service to customers.
  • What to expect at AWS re:Invent:
    • The financial services industry and security functions are going to take the spotlight at re:Invent with use cases in fraud detection and security automation that any company can implement on the AWS platform.

Global (Enterprise) Architecture

  • The USA Today description:
    • Global architecture is a way of building a company’s IT hardware and strategy to support global growth from the beginning. This means solving a broader set of requirements and challenges than other companies that exclusively look domestically.
  • Why does it matter?
    • Running a nationwide IT operation is difficult, but global IT is even more complicated to support. Any company looking to operate globally can expect more pressures, especially related to the availability and quality of service. It’s important for companies to keep this in mind before tackling an international expansion.
  • What to expect at AWS re:Invent:
    • Netflix will present on its journey of failure, innovation and ubiquity as it scaled globally. The session will dive into the architectural patterns that support the streaming giant.

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?