Overheard at CES: A Blog of Historical Fiction

The annual Consumer Electronics Show, or CES as it’s widely known, draws in hundreds of thousands of attendees from all over the world to Las Vegas each January to check out the latest innovations from both leading and emerging brands in consumer technology.

I’ve personally attended with Highwire PR for the past two shows, and such a massive event seems to yield new observations year after year. Check out the below phrases I’ve overheard*, and keep them in mind for a smooth and successful show.

*could have easily overheard

“Zedd was amazing, but I shouldn’t have slept in.”

There are a handful of after-party options every night of CES (and in Vegas year-round in general), and it’s great to take advantage and have fun while you’re there. However, for press purposes, it’s best to arrive at the show every morning as soon as the doors open to vendors. Reporters and broadcast producers are easier to scope out and more likely to agree to meeting/interviewing a subject at this early point in the day.

Pro tip: Head to the broadcast booth in the Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center (Tech East) each morning to see what segments you might be able to line up for later in the day.

 

“Did you hear what Amazon announced?”

… Everyone probably did. CES is chock full of major brands executing grandiose activations and announcing major news. While this adds to the excitement of the show, it also makes it quite difficult for non-household name brands to break through the noise.

Pro tip: If you have news to announce, be quite discerning when deciding if CES is the right place to do it. If you have flexibility, try bumping consumer product news up a couple months to increase the odds of holiday gift guide coverage and avoid the CES news cycle.

 

“These cab lines though!”

Yes, the cab lines (and airport lines, and coffee lines, and all the lines) across Vegas are horrid during CES. You can expect to spend at least 20-30 minutes standing in a cab stand to get from Point A to Point B during the show, and even more time during peak hours (when the shows are closing for the day). The issue doesn’t end there; once en route, traffic congestion is extreme on these days, so what may regularly be only a 5-minute drive turns into a 15-minute one. 

Pro tip: Build an egregious amount of buffer time into your commutes to ensure punctuality.

 

“I’m lost.”

CES spans nearly 3 million square feet of exhibit space and is spread out across multiple convention centers and hotels in the city. The show venues are grouped into three main areas: Tech East, Tech West and Tech South. 

Pro tip: Study the maps ahead of time to help you get your bearings straight before you’re on the ground.

 

“Definitely not going to make this meeting.”

Given the aforementioned massive congestion and disparate locations, it’s inevitable that some commitments made will need to be rescheduled or even unfortunately canceled at the last minute. It’s important to be flexible at the show and understand that some things are just out of your control.

Pro tip: Set expectations with all parties that some schedule shifting will likely have to take place on the spot at the show in order to accommodate high priority meetings. 

 

“I’d love to go to dinner but already spent my travel budget printing this document.”

It’s Vegas; almost everything is up charged, including but not limited to printing. Using hotel business and printing services can be quite costly and time consuming given the high demand from fellow CES attendees.

Pro tip: Print anything you’ll need before you get to Vegas and bring it with you. You’ll appreciate the big-time money and stress savings. 

If you plan to attend CES, bookmark these pro tips to ensure a productive time and prevent yourself from having to utter some of these phrases this year. 

How to Experience The Energy of The Vibrant New England Tech Economy

This month’s Mass Technology Leadership Council (MTLC) event felt different. The group unveiled the finalists for the 2019 Technology Leadership Awards, and to be sure, the setting was similar to previous events of its type– a fantastically brilliant new office space in Boston’s transformed seaport (in this case at PTC’s new HQ). The food was similar– passed hors d’oeuvres including a quite tasty vegetarian Lo Mein. The speakers were familiar– including the emcee, MTLC’s president Tom Hopcroft. But it felt different. 

Mass Technology Leadership Council President & CEO Tom Hopcroft announces the sponsors for the association’s annual awards program during an event at PTC headquarters in Boston on September 10, 2019.

Typically these events do have a fair amount of energy. The room fills with entrepreneurs who are running on adrenaline and have typically spent an inordinate amount of time building their ideas. Or there are the networkers—those looking to land a gig with the next big thing. Or people like me in Boston technology PR, interested to see what’s emerging on the tech landscape (and whether their clients made the finalist list. Hint: They did, and congrats to Akamai and Markforged for being named in multiple categories!).

But this year, the excitement had a

different quality.

One area of personal fascination for me of late has been how we are all responding to the new world of distrust we live in. It wasn’t that long ago, that a few hot tech brands were poised to save the world. Today many consumers just hope they can protect their data, or not share it with reckless abandon. 

As a result, I think we kind of like seeing one another. For my clients, reporters are much more willing now to meet people. Sure—there’s always been the quick check in during industry events, but today, reporters and influencers are taking meetings in their offices, at coffee shops… even after work at restaurants. I have no evidence to prove this, but I think it’s because it makes a big difference to look at someone in the eye.

It could also be a renewed interest in people and their personalities. Not sure if you have heard, but even PR is going through a digital transformation. And it’s kind of cool. Highwire is offering new services, such as content and influencer marketing. We’re leveraging technology so that our understanding of clients and markets can impact marketing in other ways. And we’re harvesting data based on our work to see how it correlates to the rest of marketing.

But amidst all things digital, we are all still human. We all still want to interact with other individuals. It’s our personalities that make us interesting, right?

And it takes a whole bunch of different personalities to create an innovation economy. That fact was on display at the MTLC event. Presenters announcing the award finalists included leaders from tech companies, from organizations supporting them, and even from non-tech vendors (including an insurance broker). The New England tech economy is vibrant. The MTLC awards program includes categories for manufacturing, healthcare, education, finance and insurance, robotics, sales and marketing, and security.

Seeing how the industry has a profound impact on so many, and supports so much ideation in the region, is pretty mesmerizing.

Dare I say, the energy one draws from it is invigorating. In this rapidly digitized world we all live in, such moments are significant to the work we do. 

Highwire PR Awarded for Diversity & Inclusion Program

Highwire PR is incredibly excited to share we have been named an Agency Elite Finalist for PR News Awards’ Best in Diversity and Inclusion category.  

Highwire has always prioritized diversity and inclusion. As a women-owned business, we’ve been extremely diligent about equality in all forms. At our 10-year anniversary, we took the opportunity to explore how much more we could do around D&I and how that could further inspire and gel our teams. 

To guide our efforts, Highwire leadership collaborated with our Inclusion team to develop key program pillars that every initiative maps back to, including:

  • Foster awareness: Increase awareness around D&I efforts, priorities and obstacles that exist today. Educate employees on the importance of D&I topics to encourage and promote an accepting, safe space for people of all backgrounds.
  • Build a brave space: Establish an environment and mentality that empowers employees at every level across offices.
  • Create shared language: Apply learnings and tools from D&I trainings to create a shared language, enabling deeper connections across positions and locations. 
  • Diversify employer brand: Enhance our external presence through employer branding to highlight our inclusive culture and attract diverse candidates.
  • Continue an inclusive culture: Embed inclusive culture into onboarding as we introduce new employees to Highwire.

Beyond updating our programs and policies, we developed comprehensive awareness campaigns for Pride Month, Black History Month, Women’s History and showcased diverse holiday celebrations across religious and cultural lines. 

We have also focused deliberately on mental health in an effort to destigmatize issues and create a safe space to connect. Teams brought in a Radical Candor coach to provide us with tools to learn how to communicate more openly. We reevaluated our healthcare options and prioritized access to mental health services – and reminded teams of services and hotlines. Additionally, we launched the StrengthsFinder personality assessment that provided the foundation for ongoing discussions about our strengths as individuals. 

There’s much more to come in 2019 for Highwire. As we look to continue our always learning and growing mindset, we are investing in more D&I training programs and recruiting efforts across levels. For example, we’re partnering with D&I student-led organizations and a broader and more inclusive range of schools for our intern program. 

I’m thankful that a much-needed wake-up call has hit the tech, political, entertainment and countless other industries. D&I efforts simply cannot be a feather in a corporate hat to showcase to potential hires. They need to produce real impact. Having a diverse workforce is critical to the livelihood of a business, from ensuring the products built are accessible to considering how the advertisement campaign will impact the perception of a brand across communities. 

It’s no secret that the world has and continues to struggle with equality but I hope we as people both inside and outside of the workplace continue to move in the right direction. Because at the end of the day, aren’t we all better together?

INBOUND 2019: Key Takeaways

When I was given the last-minute opportunity to go to INBOUND 2019 on behalf of Highwire PR, I seized it. The star-studded lineup of entrepreneurs, philanthropists, not to mention my childhood idols, Katie Couric and Jennifer Garner, were right in front of me. 

INBOUND, hosted by HubSpot, is a conference for marketing professionals, entrepreneurs, and innovators alike. The four day conference boasts more than 24,000 attendees which includes speaker sessions with some of the world’s most successful leaders, philanthropists and business professionals. The goal of the event is to create a community of learning and collaboration. As I entered INBOUND and was greeted with Instagram-worthy swinging chairs, and Lil Nas’ “Old Town Road” on repeat, I knew I was in store for something much different than a typical conference. The show hosts more than 300 speaking sessions, I attended three that offered advice on everything from professional development to communicating more clearly. Here are the top three takeaways.  

The Importance of Believing In Your Work (and Yourself)

My favorite session was a spotlight series which was an interview style-discussion led by Katie Couric, along with Jennifer Garner and her business partner, John Foraker, around their organic food company, Once Upon a Farm. The session focused on the evolution of their business but it also highlighted Garner’s personal growth as she added “business owner” to her resume. Jennifer emphasized the importance of believing in not only your work, but yourself. She stated: “your success in finding work you can have an impact on is finding something you can really speak to.” It’s a simple statement but an important reminder that connecting to the work you do, and for PR professionals, investing in your client’s growth, is essential for success. 

Tell Stories that Will Elevate Meaningful Conversation 

In a similar spotlight series, the roles were reversed and Katie Couric was interviewed to discuss her journalism career, views on the news today and it’s future. 

Couric stressed the importance for journalists to “do something that has an impact beyond today’s traditional news cycle.” Every second, news is constantly cycling in and out so it’s important to take action. This is an important reminder for PR professionals to think like journalists and add value. One resounding statement echoed through INBOUND was “use your voice to elevate meaningful conversations.” Communication is much deeper than bullet points, and it’s important to tell a larger story for each client we serve. 

Find A Need and Fill It 

Outside of the sessions I attended, each speaker at INBOUND had one common path to success: they found a need, and they filled it. Sal Khan, Founder of Khan Academy, utilized YouTube to reach his goal of making education accessible and now has more than one million users of his academy. Katie Couric noticed a lack of solo female news broadcast and pushed to become the first female to anchor the CBS Evening News. Jennifer Garner created Once Upon a Farm because she saw that socioeconomic status dramatically impacted access to organic, non-GMO ingredients and food. Now, her products can be found at Target, Kroger and other major retailers.  These reminders from some of the most successful folks in their respective fields illustrates that there is always room at the table. 

Attending INBOUND opened my eyes to the guiding principles one should follow as I move forward in my career. I’m proud to work for a company that executes these principles on a daily basis, and encourages its employees to shoot for the stars. 

State of the Media Landscape: Cybersecurity Edition

What Black Hat 2019 means for Cybersecurity in 2020

Cybersecurity has never been more important and it has become clear the security community needs and wants more collaboration and communication. From bug bounties and IoT to election security and diversity & inclusion, the industry is evolving and the role of communications is expanding.

At Highwire, we’ve built a dedicated cybersecurity practice with passionate, curious and accomplished team members driving results for our clients. We work with leading companies to uncover creative cybersecurity and tech storylines, and establish unique narratives and voices within those storylines that we showcase in different ways such as conversations with press to earn strategic media placements, collaborations with industry influencers and creative campaigns on social media.

That’s why we were at Black Hat 2019 — we sent a team to support our 14 cyber clients, interact with industry professionals, be active and passionate members of the information security community, and uncover emerging storylines. 

This report details the top trends that we observed at Black Hat 2019 – from industry influencers and reporters to enterprise decision-makers  – as well as a guide to harnessing these trends to not only have the most successful trade show presence in 2020, but also to leverage for broader influence with marketing and PR campaigns. 

To download the report, please fill out the form below. If you are interested in learning more about how to make your cybersecurity story stand out among the crowd, please don’t hesitate to reach out – megan@highwirepr.com

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