Words From Our Team Members
It’s Magnitism, Not Magic
In today’s ever-changing environment, the period post-product launch is most critical. No, it’s not time to sit back and count profits, rather it’s important to take a step back and develop a game plan on how to keep your product relevant and valuable with finicky consumers.
While a lot of research goes into launching a product successfully, coasting post-launch is short-sighted and risky. All those insights gathered are relevant on the day of launch, afterward all bets are off. Your customer’s tastes will change and while your product may be relevant to them today…tomorrow, not so much. Why? Because in a culture so highly influenced by digital advertising, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, and other sources of motivation, your brand could be left behind.
So how do you keep ahead of the curve…and competitors? Well it’s about three words: Authentic, Inspiring, Engaging. If your brand can capture these three qualities well, it can become what we call a “magnetic brand.” Magnetic brands generate a compelling force that attracts, captures and draws in consumers on an ongoing basis.
At Y&R PR, to better understand what creates brand momentum, leadership and enduring vitality, we’ve analyzed years of global data and conducted our own proprietary studies. Based on that analysis, we discovered the strongest, most valuable brands are those that possess a type of magnetic power among people…which led to the development of a methodology for identifying a brand’s magnetic power.
Our validation research demonstrated that “brand magnetism” goes way beyond what a product delivers in terms of features, performance, and function. It captures the extent to which the brand’s experience is felt to be inviting, intriguing, and emotionally rewarding, measured by three principles:
- Authenticity is achieved when a brand is seen as staying true to its promises and purpose
- Engagement is manifested when a brand is perceived as actively interacting with customers and communities with dynamism, empathy, respect, and compassion
- Inspiration is driven by perceptions that a brand’s inventiveness, creativity and vision expands and energizes our minds and hearts
So the next time you’re getting ready to launch a product or working to develop a plan, make sure your strategy and tactics foster authenticity, spark inspiration, and foster engagement. Because when it comes to building a sustainable brand, there’s no magic to it. It’s all about magnetism.↑ Return to Top
For Brands, EI is the New AI
Remember a year ago, when we were obsessed with VR, wearables, and the data explosion? The Next Rembrandt, Jacquard, and AlphaGo? 2016 was a transformative year for the role of technology in creativity.
Technology still matters, especially when it’s used creatively. But if I’ve learned anything from the work honored at Cannes this year, it’s a brand’s emotional intelligence (EI) that matters more.
Fearless Girl. Refugee Nation. Ketchup on a Super Bowl broadcaster’s shirt. These stories have nothing to do with technological innovation, and everything to do with the human condition.
Here are the hallmarks of emotionally intelligent brands, as I see them:
They commit to a cause, and stick with it. We’ve all seen the studies that show brands that do good also do better. But cause is no longer an option, extension, or call to action. It’s a tenet, and a brand is incomplete without it.
They show more, and tell less. Good stories are driven by heroes on quests. They’re chockfull of sensual details and rising action. Messages are remembered when they’re grounded in story, and developed with the fundamentals of craft.
They set (and achieve) clear emotive objectives. Communicators are quick to aim for awareness and education. We often use perception vaguely, meaning we want people to view the brand positively. What specifically do we want customers to perceive (i.e. feel, believe)?
Even if technology is your business, it’s still a situational communications tactic — a fresh way to express or measure that raw human emotion, moral principle, or cultural truth that a good campaign is really built on.
How emotionally intelligent is your brand?
The Intersection of Culture and Communications
For F. Scott Fitzgerald in the Great Gatsby, the Empire State Building stood “inexplicable as the Sphinx” in the shadows that blanketed New York during the Great Depression. For me, this iconic building stands as an important lesson for carefully navigating through the intersections of different organizations around the world.
When I first came to the U.S., I began periodic field trips to the Empire State Building when it was lighted up with gold and red to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year. Little did I realize that I would one day be more intimately involved with this amazing building by serving as the local liaison between the Empire State Building, a client of our sister office in China. Quickly I came to realize that cultural permutations exist not only across nations, but also across organizations. From my experience, I have learned that a good PR professional is not only one who meets their deadlines and helps clients to achieve their communications goals, but it is also one who can serve as a wise translator when there are cultural barriers or misperceptions. Having a global presence as an agency doesn’t just mean you are able to translate words on a page. Rather it requires recognizing that often there are cultural, as well as organizational differences in the workplace that need to be factored in. Navigating cross-cultural communications can be challenging, and approaching cultural differences with sensitivity, openness, and curiosity for all parties involved can help to put everyone at ease. Like the sphinx that Fitzgerald referred to – cross-cultural communications requires both intuition and intelligence.
Ready, Set, Execute
As the 2017-2018 NFL season opens, there is much to learn from last year’s Super Bowl Champs. “We’re five weeks behind everyone else for 2017,” was Bill Belichick’s main take-away following New England’s Super Bowl win — a telling insight regarding focus and approach.
Love him or hate him, Belichick is an anomaly who keeps winning. For him, it’s about building based on insights, identifying players who strive for unity, and maintaining discipline despite distractions.
I’m not a Patriots fan by any means, but there are key learnings communicators should extract from the “Belichickian” philosophy. His proven approach is straightforward, and it doesn’t involve tinkering with the air pressure of a football.
- Fundamentals. The Patriots are accountable for their actions, and take care of their basic responsibilities. Great firms master the fundamentals. Preparation, professionalism and accuracy are table stakes, but oftentimes short cuts replace these basic necessities. Sure, showboating can win an account, but “table stake consistency” sustains long-standing relationships and cements reputation, making them foundational to championship teams.
- Development. The Patriots expect everyone to deliver, and development never stops. We must constantly identify and cultivate potential, never being satisfied by prior success. What differentiates the Patriots and Y&R PR is building a culture around an insatiable desire to learn and a relentless pursuit to achieve.
- Flexibility. The Patriots have a unique strategic formula based on research, insight, planning, creativity, and execution. Success comes when we dig deeper and imagine more. Simply utilizing a proprietary tool or repurposing another plan never cut it. Our clients trust us to deliver more, because there’s simply too much at stake.
Great firms can flex into a situation, identify the areas of opportunity and execute flawlessly. Why? Because like the Patriots, their teams are grounded in the fundamentals, they continue to hone their skills and find unique solutions, regardless of the challenge. In many ways, Y&R PR has embraced the “Belichickian” philosophy to reinvent how we deliver impact to clients.↑ Return to Top
Gimme A Break
I recently discovered a startling statistic: Seventy percent of U.S. consumers binge-watch. In one report, binge watching was called “a growing public health concern” contributing to poor health and depression. High price to pay for a little fun and entertainment.
This naturally begs the question: How do audiences want their content served up? Much of the communications created by agencies today is designed to get audiences from point A to point B. To inform and inspire them first, and then get them to act. Content is best consumed in bite size chunks with time in between to digest. But the challenge that binge watching creates is that even a single episode has so many highs and lows, that by the end of it you can be left feeling so beaten up – exhausted, even momentarily desensitized. Yet still, we click and watch another.
Given consumer’s changing appetite for content, especially among millennials, it’s time to rethink how we serve up content. I recall the cliffhangers from my mother’s generation of soap operas. There was always a dramatic pause in action, followed by a close-up and dramatic music. You’d have to stay tuned between commercial breaks, or worse, wait until the next day to find out what happened next. We need to engage our audiences like this. Yes, social media is a great venue for building a steady cadence of content by tweeting, posting, or blogging. But we can’t just keep throwing content at audiences. They need a break in the action. Time to reflect on what we’re asking of them. Time to change their mindset and latitude to get inspired. That can certainly go a long way to making our content more compelling.
When Creativity Becomes Tasty
My seven-year old daughter loves ice cream and YouTube. Put together, she obsessively watches videos of Black Tap milkshakes being made. For the uninitiated, Black Tap milkshakes tower vertically while you likely grow horizontally after eating them. Her favorite is the Brooklyn Blackout, which is topped with chocolate chips, chocolate drizzle and an entire brownie. Her comment after watching the Brooklyn Blackout being made is, “it needs a Twix bar.”
So even after adding confection on top of candy, she still didn’t think the job was complete. I instantly thought of one of my clients who told me my (very robust) plan wasn’t enough. And then my other client who told me that my plan was too much. So, how do you know when you are finished with your idea?
There is a slew of books about how to be creative, but few – in fact none that I can find – cover how to know if you’ve been creative enough. There are some standard ways to test ideas – pilot program (yeah), small group focus groups (of course), but those tactics aren’t foolproof. At the end of the day, it comes down to the taste of the consumer.
So how can we quantify that? At Y&R PR we have something called the Content Palate. Like a food palate, it gives companies insights into not only the type of content that a consumer is attracted to, how they engage with it, but also their taste. It gets complicated because people love different types of content, but it gives marketers an opportunity to tailor content in a way that can really speak to their consumer’s liking.
A simple example: a mom in the Northeast is an avid viewer of Special Victims Unit; she also loves terrible movies (like The Room) and will post socially about NFL. What does this tell us?
It means that she is attracted to content that is predictable, procedural, and aimed at a mass market. Much like a Twix bar, it’s satisfying, and she understands what she is going to consume – like the NFL (always 4 quarters), SVU (always a trial at the end). But she likes familiar structures that can be upended in a sharp, knowing and ironic way (like The Room). She has “good bad taste.” In short, she is our Suburban Hipster. Now we are cooking…we can create content just for her. Email me to find out your consumer’s palette.
It’s Not The Secret Sauce, It’s Just Smart Work.
For decades, as PR professionals, we have been known for developing sophisticated models and proprietary tools that help us arrive at “big ideas.” The secret in this “sausage making” differed agency to agency. But, this one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t garner the same results anymore. Why? Because today we are communicating as much to millennials as we are to members of the greatest generation. So being beholden to a “model” isn’t the best thing. To be successful, we need to do some very “un-agency” things. No, we aren’t talking about the wild, wild west. Clearly strategic approaches still stand, but the tenets of a successful campaign are constantly changing. Take for example the memorable and highly viral ice bucket challenge…yes, people are still talking about it and want to replicated it. The campaign went against many of the principles of a solid communications initiative, but it worked brilliantly because it was authentic to the audience it wanted to attract.
In this influx environment, Y&R PR strives to be our clients’ natural explorers, willing to go down less traveled paths to arrive at programming that increases awareness; but most importantly, makes a difference. To do so we adhere to the following principles:
- Go off the beaten path, but always with a GPS
- Don’t just create unique ideas, create unique ways to deliver them
- Never settle for good enough
- Stay focused on making every client dollar count
- And… always bring it!
We believe these principles make us stand out in the sea of sameness. So prepare to be refreshed!↑ Return to Top
“Hey, What’s The Big Idea?”
The concept of the “big idea” is dying. One-off tactics, knee-jerk reactions to market shifts coupled with constant demand for immediate return on investment are leading to its extinction. My suspicion is a key factor driving its demise is the association people have with the phrase “big idea” itself. “Big” sounds expensive. “We’re going big,” portends breaking the bank. What’s more, the “big idea” can often be overkill when all that may be needed is just a smart, strategic solution to achieve your communication goals.
We need rethink our quest for the “big idea” to better serve client needs. There’s an old agency saying that goes, “you can have it cheap, fast or good. Pick any two.” This saying was rooted in the belief that for communications firms to turn a profit, they needed to deliver for clients without giving away the store. Parlay this notion into today’s PR environment and it still has relevance. Bigger isn’t always better. So here’s an idea: how about replacing the “big idea” with the “BRIGHT Idea” instead? Dissect the word bright and it looks like this: Broad in the media channels which it can be delivered; Relevant to those whom it reaches; Informed by sound market insights; Grounded in real brand truth; Heartfelt to audiences, regardless of how rational you want to be; and finally Tangible in the results it delivers. Aren’t these the tenets of what every successful marketer wants?
So the next time someone tries to sell you a “big idea,” ask instead “what’s the bright idea?”↑ Return to Top
Agency Culture – Keeping It Real
If you asked a group of people what makes their PR agency great, I think you’d hear a lot of the same things. Amazing culture. A unique approach. The best and brightest minds.
I’ll be the first to admit it—but when I started my career a few years ago at Y&R PR, my first job out of college; those were the clichés that to me represented a great agency. But after just a short time working with my colleagues, I realized that I had found much more than I had ever expected.
I was quickly immersed in situations that made me realize I found the real deal. For one, I witnessed how great ideas are born. I saw how these ideas often come from the most unexpected places; like the mind of someone new like me for example. My teams have the amazing ability to create an environment that not only encourages great thinking, but also embraces that it can come from anywhere.
A great agency is not only about having the best and brightest minds or other familiar phrases. It’s also about recognizing the best in each other, or knowing how to bring out peoples’ individual talents.
In the short few years I have been at Y&R PR, I have come to realize that a great culture doesn’t come from happy hours and parties. Great culture can happen by just having fun at work every day because you actually like spending time with the people who sit around you, even on Monday mornings. An agency without a real culture is just a workplace, which is much different from a great place to work. And if you love where you work, you create work that sings!↑ Return to Top
Buzzwords Aren’t Always Best For Business
“Starting a movement…Going viral…Creating disruption.” These are some of the buzzwords that captivate our industry, fuel strategic programming and drive our efforts. Not at Y&R PR.
But while these may be communication goals that every PR agency aspires to achieve, the one thing I have learned in my over 10 years of developing and implementing large-scale marketing communications programs is this: The underpinning of success always starts with flawless execution.
It is undeniable that no creative idea can be successful without grounded implementation, and no strategy can make an impact without effective execution. Realizing this is the easy part; doing it, not so easy.
At Y&R PR, we pride ourselves on taking a more refined approach to our work, day after day. We possess a mastery of the basics, never taking any of them for granted; and are passionately vigilant about delivering efficient, top-notch work.
The benefits of this approach show in a number of ways — and here’s how we do it:
- In our strategy, we thoughtfully blend avant-garde thinking with reality checks. Can we get the results we want? In the timeframe we need? All within the allotted budget? Experience has taught us that these questions crucially separate success from failure.
- In our work, we are exceedingly dependable, results-driven and solutions-oriented. Time after time, we are the first to get a call when our clients are in a pickle.
- And with each other, we share a common work ethic to get things done, have each other’s backs when times get tough. This bond not only makes us great stewards of Y&R PR values of teamwork and mutual respect, but also shows our clients that we’re not just the individuals – but also the team – that will partner with them through thick and thin.
To us, flawless execution is not a buzzword – it’s a way of life – because we know in the end, it’s not just what you did, but how you did it that counts.↑ Return to Top
“We’re all connected”
For those who remember, “we’re all connected” is a tagline from an old telephone company ad. But, today it is more relevant than ever. With the proliferation of technology, the world is at our fingertips, quite literally.
But being connected and making rewarding connections are not synonymous. As public relations professionals, our fundamental responsibility is to make connections with the clients we represent, the communities they serve, media influencers on deadline and the influencers that share messages. It’s the part of our profession that drives the team here at Y&R PR.
Relationships are currency and partnerships are how we measure success. The most important thing we earn from our clients isn’t necessarily bigger budgets. It’s their trust. Trust is what drives us as professionals and trust is what allows our team to go beyond the expected to produce innovative, compelling and actionable ideas.
Establishing trust doesn’t happen overnight. It’s earned. And, although the click of a mouse or the tap of a screen may be the fastest way to communicate, it is rarely the most effective. We appreciate the art of conversation. Not being afraid to challenge and compromise. Making a commitment rather than a concession. And, providing a voice with value.
Whether it’s building a campaign in the boardroom, articulating a narrative, overcoming an issue or working a story with a reporter, we understand that people are at the center of everything we do. We’re not selling products…we’re helping people. People with challenges to solve, a thirst to understand, deadlines to meet, goals to achieve and metrics to fulfill. To us, it’s more than the award winning work we produce, it’s about the lives that we impact, the people we touch and those rewarding connections we create.
It’s time for us to make a connection.↑ Return to Top
The Swedes are a crafty bunch. I am not just talking about Ikea. Six years ago, a small group of friends in Sweden decided to host dance parties during their lunch breaks. Their parties, called “Lunch Beat,” were a smash success. As rumors of the mini-raves multiplied, the once intimate dance party in a garage turned into full-scale events catering to 600 people per pop. In 2011, “lunch disco” was officially recognized as a new word by the Swedish Language Council. These parties went beyond a fad. They were meant to be a true sojourn from the tyranny of office stress. They helped people return to their desks refreshed. It seemed to work. It turns out that dance jogs creativity and runs over self-consciousness. It washes the mind clean of stale thinking. By leaning into our rambunctiousness, we can transform ourselves into forces of focus.
Can the spirit of unencumbered rambunctiousness live within the walls of today’s PR agencies? Why yes indeed, it can. As a rule at Y&R PR we foster a rambunctiousness spirit into our culture. A few examples:
- We take it to the streets: Ideas are not always born in conference rooms. They can present themselves at any time – from your morning shower to the middle of the night. So we practice roving brainstorms, where we get out of the building and walk the colorful and spirited streets the Flatiron district in New York to find inspiration.
- We think that vacation is as important as work: The first things Y&R PR employees get are desks, computers, and push pins. The desk is to house important papers. Computers are to house files. But push pins, perhaps the most valuable tool, are for our Y&R PR Wall Map where we commemorate and celebrate our collective vacations. It’s the place where we share our stories and adventures. So far, we have been to five continents, nearly all of the U.S. States and the list keeps growing.
Even though we do things differently, we don’t corner the market on rambunctiousness. We want to hear from you too.
So let’s dance.↑ Return to Top