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APRIL 7, 2020 //     

Stuck at Home, but #stillatraveler

By Emily Wilson Sawyer

The future of travel remains unknown. People will travel again, but where, when and how they will travel is a gray area that even fortune tellers can’t predict. But we do know this – the COVID-19 pandemic is not the time for travel brands to sit back and do nothing.

Brands must now lean into their expertise, reinforce the ethos of what they stand for and produce content that provides a warm and comforting hug to the millions of fans and followers stuck at home. For an industry that traditionally relies on its members, loyalty is literally up for grabs with an audience more attentive than ever. And brands that act fast can win in the long haul. Here’s how:

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Be Human

Tap into the real people behind the brand to show the challenges when hotels are closed, airlines aren’t flying and attractions aren’t operating to highlight what your brand is doing to help. Show compassion and give viewers a glimpse behind the curtain. Don’t worry about the polish, but use this time to test, learn and create based on the real-time feedback of those following the journey. Work to build an emotional connection with fans and followers beyond destinations and offerings – on the human level. Those that do, will earn loyalty far beyond point value.

At Your Service

While your actual business remains closed, now is the time to encourage fans to take a metaphorical vacation in their own backyard by supporting local business and helping keep the economy alive. Providing consumers with ideas about how to get away in their own homes will pay off in the long run, especially for hotels that once served as living rooms for their communities.

Purpose is Powerful

Before the crisis, numerous studies demonstrated Gen Z’s preference for brands that contribute to social good and show purpose. With more time than ever to evaluate who we are in the world (well hello there, mindfulness!) and what contributions we can make for the future of the planet, this mindset of aligning with brands that have a shared purpose will extend far beyond the young generation. In this new communications landscape, a common purpose will be essential for survival.

Futuretripping

Urging fans and followers to #DONTCANCELPOSTPONE is one thing. But when the world does open for travel again, companies will need to put their money where their mouths are with competitive deals to ensure that coveted postponed trip is with them. Every travel brand in the world will battle to put heads in beds and butts in seats, so brands that want to break through will need to get creative with offerings and messaging.

If you'd like to sign up for our weekly COVID-19 updates, click here.

Emily Wilson Sawyer is a seasoned communications professional with 20 years of experience developing integrated communications strategies and driving creative ideation for clients, including international hotel brands, world-famous chefs, airlines, CPG products, restaurant chains and more. She is known for her creativity and break-through thinking and has been responsible for many large-scale award-winning and results-driving campaigns, including bringing the first food tech product to CES and pairing Hilton Hotels & Resorts with Onion Labs to launch its Hilton Urgent Vacation Care Center. 

 

APRIL 7, 2020 //     

Creating Content in Quarantine, Hard Truths and Great Opportunities

By: Owen Clark

We are in the middle of one of the most frightening, complex and important chapters in modern history. It’s not a narrative landscape for the timid. But for brands with the right mix of courage and execution, there has never been a more important time to tell your story.

Before we get to the production realities of creating story content in a lockdown environment, it’s important to acknowledge a few key truths. It’s never been more important that everyone in your organization works off the same proverbial, and sometimes literal, script. And you must take advantage of all the tools at your disposal.

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This means being cleared-eyed and diligent about establishing the right tone for your narrative and ensuring you understand what stage of the Disruption Life Cycle we are currently in.

Understanding your audience is also crucial. Quick “pulse surveys” to gauge audience sentiment and an increased reliance on data to inform, measure and adjust your content are critical to avoid coming across as tone deaf within the current landscape. 

Finally, everyone needs to be brutally honest about the work required for good storytelling in these times. Minor tweaks to the same brand narrative you’ve used for the past few years probably isn’t enough to reflect how drastically the world has changed in the past few months. Your company’s vision and values, or even your origin story, are more relevant than ever but will also be pressure tested for their authenticity in ways you’ve never seen before, both internally and externally. 

At a minimum, crafting a good Story Brief that defines style, tone and content and gets buy-in from all stakeholders is essential to creating effective content right now. Even better, brand and story workshops gain extra importance in this climate and can be done easily over video conference.

Having worked with hundreds of execs on storytelling over the past decade, a huge takeaway for me is we all have the biggest blind spots when it comes to our own narrative. Often a CEO will be so proud of a specific talking point they wrote the night before, but truthfully it just sounds like jargon. Then over a lunch break, they will tell an amazing, off-hand story that ends up being the foundation for a truly powerful presentation. We all need feedback and collective discussion to uncover, refine and point ourselves down the right road for effective storytelling – whether that’s personal thought leadership or at a brand level.

Since I’d argue another key element in good content is brevity, I will try to keep the following short. But I think it’s valuable to share a few key learnings our team has uncovered in the content projects we’ve undertaken since the pandemic began:

  • The good news is anyone with a smartphone or a laptop has access to a high-quality camera. But that doesn’t mean you can expect them to be good delivering on-camera without help. Emoting without an audience is a difficult skill that requires coaching. As do framing, lighting and audio – which gain extra importance when you can’t use traditional editing tricks like cutting to B-roll. Anyone who gives a testimonial or interview should have access to a remote content and technical director to make sure they look and sound their best.
  • Podcasts are another great content opportunity in the current climate, but they are consistently misunderstood. While technically you can just record a phone call and turn it into a podcast, the landscape is incredibly crowded and your audience will skip to the next thing if they tune in and your audio quality is terrible. Again, the good news is we can use remote applications that allow for localized, high-quality recording and specialized (and affordable) microphones can be shipped to participants. Here again you need experienced engineers and directors to enable everyone to succeed.
  • The rise in video content captured over the past years has created a massive video library that many brands may not even realize they have. For every finished video you create, there are hours of unused footage that hit the cutting room floor. Plus, access to stock video libraries, like Getty, offer a whole other world of visual storytelling. With a skilled editor and creative text treatment, this existing footage can gain amazing new life to move your narrative wherever it needs to go, without sending a crew anywhere.
  • No one knows exactly when we’ll turn the page to the next the next chapter of this pandemic story, but the last few weeks have certainly illustrated how fast things can change. And it’s important to remember video production is often a four- to six-week process. If you want a killer sales video to be done as soon as your teams began ramping back up outreach, you need to work backwards to start that process a month prior. The first few weeks of story development, concepting and storyboarding can all be done remotely and give you a jump-start ahead of the competition.

If you'd like to sign up for our weekly COVID-19 updates, click here.

Owen Clark is a senior director who leads the Allison+Partners Storytelling Studio and agency Media and Speaker Training offering. A former TV journalist, Owen has been with Allison+Partners for a decade and in that time has coached everyone from global CEOs, to regional non-profit directors (and a couple of rappers) on how to uncover and deliver an impactful story.

 

AGENCY NEWS // APRIL 6, 2020 //     

Allison+Partners Promotes Lisa Rosenberg to Consumer Brands President

Rosenberg was previously Allison+Partners’ chief creative officer.

NEW YORK: Allison+Partners has promoted Lisa Rosenberg to president of consumer brands, a newly created role. 

Rosenberg is focusing on unifying the practice, nurturing and adding depth to agency talent and driving business growth across regions. She is reporting to Anne Colaiacovo, partner and president of North America, and overseeing seven staffers.

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“Consumer business is 20% of our total agency revenue and we needed someone to focus on driving growth and helping to grow our talent,” said Rosenberg. 

Rosenberg was previously Allison+Partners’ chief creative officer. Her prior responsibilities have been folded into her new role.

Rosenberg has worked at the firm for seven years. Previously, she was president of North America for Havas PR, responsible for operational and business leadership of the firm. Rosenberg has also worked at Porter Novelli, Hill+Knowlton Strategies forerunner Hill & Knowlton and Ogilvy & Mather. 

APRIL 6, 2020 //     

Helping Companies to Navigate a Changing Commercial Real Estate Landscape

By: Richard Kendall

The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted most every industry over the past few months, creating a scenario of rising financial stress, retracting employment and diminishing market confidence for companies around the globe. The commercial real estate industry hasn’t been immune from the pandemic’s downward pressure on the economy. Many real estate owners and investors, and the service-based companies supporting these organizations, have found themselves in a wait-and-see mode before making decisions about projects and other business initiatives.   

To that end, according to a recent Bisnow story on data collected by independent research and advisory firm Green Street Advisors, real estate investment trust shares have decreased by 34% since mid-February, while office high-rises have experienced a 10% decrease in overall value across global markets. The same story notes unsurprisingly the retail sector has been among the most negatively impacted product types across the world’s commercial real estate portfolio.

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Moreover, a Globestreet story from early April predicts the COVID-19 crisis could put further stress on an already severe housing shortage across the U.S. — especially for subsidized and affordable market-rate apartment homes. Many new projects, particularly those that haven’t yet gone vertical, have been put on hold, potentially for several months, until there’s more certainty in the financial and consumer markets.

By no means is all lost for the real estate industry. First, it’s important to note there are marked differences between today’s economic crisis and the Great Recession that forever changed the real estate industry some 12 years ago. What we’re experiencing now wasn’t initiated by a real estate event like the housing bubble in 2008. Rather, COVID-19 is a healthcare event that has largely put the global economy on hold until the Coronavirus “curve” can be flattened and significant progress can be made on a working vaccine. Just a few months ago, our economic fundamentals were strong — with record-low unemployment, robust investment and rapid absorption — and many industry experts believe that bodes well for a faster market recovery once COVID-19 is brought under control.

Secondly, market uncertainty always creates opportunities for smart, savvy and proactive companies to take a leadership stake in their markets, whether it’s communicating with their various stakeholders or marketing their brands in an authentic way to strategically position their companies for when the market fully returns.

Over the past several weeks, we’ve worked with our commercial real estate clients to navigate these unprecedented times with a wide range of communications strategies proving beneficial to their brands:

Crisis Planning + Response – When any crisis hits, the hope is that there’s been some planning in advance to anticipate the potentially negative impacts it will cause a company’s reputation and put in place some strategies that can offset brand risk among key audiences. Our Real Estate Team has collaborated with real estate companies of every size and type over the past several weeks to help them develop a suite of crisis-related materials, including:

  • Media holding statements
  • Key messaging documents
  • Correspondence with staff and other internal audiences
  • Blogs and other social content
  • Press interview FAQs

Creative Earned Media – Engaging with the media during times of crisis carries a certain risk-reward element, and it’s not always beneficial to proactively pitch media on typical news stories, especially given their all-hands-on-deck approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. That said, real estate trades and business media have increasingly requested non-crisis-related articles about companies with unique stories to tell. There’s a growing sentiment among trade and financial outlets that readers want more coverage of business-as-usual transactions, like this story on a recent acquisition deal brokered by Colliers International or corporate profiles of companies like GIS International, global, full-service real estate firm with a collaborative approach to complex property development. 

Strategic Thought Leadership – Crisis situations can often present golden opportunities for companies and their executive leadership to take an authoritative position in their communities on a wide range of issues – helping to build stronger brand loyalty and trust among their key publics. One way in which Allison+Partners helps its real estate clients in this capacity is through surveys and other data collection initiatives. Currently, one international real estate firm has instituted a multi-phased “Work from Home Survey” to gather insights from employees about how their workday has changed during the coronavirus pandemic – information it will share periodically with key target media. Another global real estate company, B+H Architects, recently provided third-party quotes for a trade story that shows how technology has supported its design-from-home activities on major commercial development projects. And international architecture firm Perkins & Will has taken a leadership role in consulting hospitals and other clients on the future of the healthcare environment in light of today’s coronavirus crisis. 

Stakeholder + Community Engagement – The COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting economic retraction, has created a host of problems in the commercial tenant market, with retailers, small businesses, nonprofits and many other users finding it difficult to pay their monthly rents. Many owners have responded positively by establishing rent-deferral programs to ease the pain. This includes Vulcan Inc., which announced last week it will not collect rent from 40 commercial tenants impacted by the crisis, across 30 real estate assets. Orange County, Calif.-based Irvine Co. also announced recently it will offer financial assistance to residential tenants experiencing coronavirus-related layoffs or losses to professional income.

If you lead a real estate company looking for help building a stronger communications message during these uncertain times, please contact me at richard@allisonpr.com or sign up for our weekly COVID-19 updates. 

Richard is a partner and managing director of Allison+Partners’ Real Estate Group. He has more than 30 years of experience consulting organizations in the built environment on a range of branding, marketing, PR and crisis communications initiatives. 

APRIL 3, 2020 //     

Gratitude and Perspective Can Nourish You Through COVID-19

By Jacques Couret

I learned how to make a roux in 1989. That summer, I asked my Mémère to teach me everything she knew about Creole New Orleans cooking. An outstanding cook and loving grandmother, she specialized in all the classics – gumbo, red beans and rice, jambalaya, you name it. Understand that where I am from, making a roux is as important to living a Godly and decent life as learning to walk or graduating from college. Food is a blessed sacrament, not just a utilitarian necessity. My lifelong passion for cooking, grocery shopping for the best ingredients and eating well comes from that culture and my grandmother. 

After nearly three weeks without a visit to the grocery, I ventured out early this morning to restock my pantry and fridge. What used to be something I looked forward to now felt like dread. The fear of being around others or touching anything contaminated with the coronavirus upset my stomach. A queue of a couple dozen or so shoppers all standing ridiculously far apart kept guard facing the automatic front doors. That isn’t normal. I lined up as the queue began to move after a guard opened Publix for business.

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I imagined the things I needed most – bread, in particular – and headed to the far side of the store first to get a loaf or two before they vanished. As I stood between the long shelf of bread to my right and the sprawling produce department to my left, my nightmare began. I saw a large, empty space where the onions used to be, and I felt a sense of anger, panic and disbelief rolling into one unsettling emotion. Nearby, more empty spaces where bell pepper and celery should be. How the hell am I supposed to cook anything without onions, bell pepper and celery? The Trinity!

In that moment, my plans to make gumbo, red beans and rice or jambalaya evaporated. The dishes I grew up with and always turned to for comfort and when I needed to stretch a buck would now be impossible. Imagine New York without pizza or bagels, Philadelphia without cheesesteaks, Boston without clam chowder or San Francisco without sourdough bread or Dungeness crab. Culinary tragedy!

I continued to the meat department – no chicken, no beef and no sausage. Bye-bye jambalaya, bucatini with meat sauce and pretty much every recipe I usually make during any given week. I “settled” on turkey breast cutlets, ground bison and ground lamb. I’m fantastic in a kitchen. I know I’ll make something delicious out of these proteins. My belly will certainly be full. But it’s just not the same. These days, few things are.

America’s Southern culture is one where we look a stranger in the eye as we pass and say hello or share a smile. We make friends with strangers in the checkout line, because that’s what our mommas and Mémères did. Our hearts are warm like our weather, and we do insist upon being polite and kind as much as possible. If you wear your favorite SEC school’s logo when out during football season, you expect and welcome the likeminded, and similarly dressed, strangers to high-five you and give an old school cheer. You also expect and welcome others in rivals’ apparel to give you some “clean, old-fashioned hate,” as they say in Georgia. 

But at the store today, there was little eye contact, chatter or warmth, and there were no SEC cheers despite my LSU sweatshirt. Instead, there was stress, anxiety and a desire to get in and out as quickly as possible without catching COVID-19. There may not be any SEC football, or any other type of football, this year. And there certainly won’t be gumbo on my stove any time soon. It all broke my spirit when I thought about this while putting groceries into the car.

I tried to sort out my emotions as I drove home. Those damn empty shelves! I thought about growing up during the Cold War, all those images of Soviet Bloc countries on the nightly TV news. The rationing and endless lines of severe-looking babushkas and old men in heavy coats and ushankas hoping to get toilet paper. Lines for toilet paper! Toilet paper! Can you believe that?! 

The quarter-empty store I saw is nothing compared with the misery people behind the Iron Curtain endured and what today’s citizens of Venezuela, North Korea or Cuba continue to suffer. But this is America – the Norman Rockwell painting promised us “Freedom from Want” in 1943! Where’s my toilet paper?

I wondered what my Mémère and Pépère would have thought about the current pandemic. They grew up during the Great Depression and never wasted a scrap of anything forever after. She dealt with rationing stateside, while he fought the Japanese Empire in the Pacific. They reared two boys on a meager budget after that. To them, whining was unacceptable. It was OK to feel stressed or to worry, but then you had to do something about it or “fermes la bouche!” It’s something I continue to struggle with as I, and we, work from home and wonder when, and if, our “normal” lives will ever return. COVID-19 World – there are moments of despair and there are moments of joy. 

Before I got home, some final thoughts crossed my mind – gratitude and perspective. As an American, I, and perhaps some of you, got used to having everything anyone could possibly want on-demand 24/7. I, and perhaps some of you, grew up believing in this land of plenty, that we are indeed blessed, will never run out of anything and should be immensely thankful. There’s even a holiday every late November devoted exclusively to that concept – and over-eating, football and booze.

But I, and perhaps some of you too, have clearly taken a lot for granted. It’s hard not to. We got spoiled. How I’d now gladly fight an hour of traffic twice a day to get to the office and see my colleagues. Some people no longer have jobs. How I’d now gladly run an errand even when tired and browse the merchandise without fear of touching and contracting a potentially deadly illness. Some people cannot afford to buy whatever they want, whenever they want it. How I’d now gladly go to the gym even when feeling lazy. Some people aren’t healthy enough to even stand.

Gratitude and perspective – maybe the bison étouffée can become a real thing? 

If you'd like to sign up for our weekly COVID-19 updates, click here.

Jacques Couret is editorial manager of All Told and works out of Allison+Partners’ Atlanta office, where he boasts the company’s best collection of Star Wars desk toys.

APRIL 3, 2020 //     

10 COVID-19 Revelations: Insights From the Front Lines in China

By Jerry Zhu

As millions headed home for the Chinese New Year in late January, Jerry Zhu, partner and GM of Allison+Partners' China operation braced himself for what had the potential to be the most challenging time in his more than 25-year professional experience. With his teams in Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu now back in the office, albeit on a staggered schedule and mandated distancing, he shares some of his insights from this experience.

This piece has been translated from the original, previously published Chinese version.

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In March 2015, Bill Gates said in a TED speech that our greatest current threat is a large-scale pandemic, not a nuclear war. The challenge we face is not that our defense system is not strong enough, but that we actually do not have one.

This speech, delivered five years ago, showed great foresight.

When we witnessed the Ebola outbreak in Africa, we may have rationalized it as far away from home. When we heard about the outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), the Zika virus and avian influenza, we also dismissed them as having no impact on us. Although we in China experienced the SARS epidemic 17 years ago, memories of the events have already become distant and indifference set in as many chose to forget.

Because of this forgetfulness and indifference, our epidemic prevention system was caught unprepared and overwhelmed when COVID-19 broke out.

Past experiences, if not forgotten, can serve as an important a guide for the future. Although we remain in the midst of the pandemic, which grows worse globally, it has already provided many lessons and experiences worth pondering.

Listen to science and experts

Medicine and epidemic prevention are highly specialized scientific fields. Listening to the opinions of experts and professionals is absolutely paramount to avoid arriving at incorrect conclusions and making uninformed decisions.

Trust is key

At critical moments, people will trust the authorities only if all operations are transparent. A pandemic does not cause panic and confusion – a lack of trust does.

Crisis awareness

It is foolish to believe bad things will never come to us; a certain level of vigilance is important. Many companies have their crisis management systems in place, and the same should be true for epidemic prevention. 

Prepare emergency plans

No one can foresee a crisis, and no one can make all the right judgments at the very beginning. As the Chinese saying goes, "You need to bear 10 years of hard work to enjoy your one minute on the stage." Although each crisis is unique, there are also similarities in their history, their impact and in the response measures taken against them. Therefore, we must take full advantage of “peacetime” to mobilize the strength of all parties and brainstorm emergency plans. 

Rehearsal

The emergency plan will not work if it is only on paper. Just like the military, if you do not train or practice during peacetime, you will be unprepared for active combat on the battlefield.

Respect the power of public opinion

In the age of social media, the dissemination of information is quick and convenient, which is both a virtue and a curse. Although public opinion may sometimes seem extreme, it can also serve as a means to monitor the effectiveness of governmental operations. We can only guide public opinion – we cannot stop it.

Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked. We need to create a new system rather than sticking to set specifications for the selection and supervision of officials, so the top talent can assume important positions and form a stronger team.

Mobilize all forces to join hands

In the face of crisis, it is neither realistic nor efficient to take on everything alone. The related organizations may not only lack of expertise, but also perform well due to self-interest and intention to hold the power. 

Learning from experience can prevent the recurrence of crises

The epidemic will come to an end sooner or later. But when it is over, if we only praise the achievements, we lose the important opportunity for reflection the disaster has given us.

A confident China should accept both enthusiastic praise and be able to withstand sincere criticism, and the same is true of other governments around the world.

Always be optimistic

No matter how grim the situation seems, Chinese people are always kind and hardworking. We are not short of brave and dedicated experts, media personnel, medical workers and civil servants at every level who are willing to take the lead.

This is true for countries and even more so for businesses. Any enterprise may face crises, both in operations and communication.

For example, during this outbreak we have seen the educational institutions with online teaching capabilities are not only able to withstand the crisis, but are becoming bigger and stronger. However, the institutions that only have offline capabilities have been hit hard. This is a risk and crisis in business operations.

Just as we need strong epidemic-prevention measures, enterprises ought to create their own comprehensive crisis management system. They need to prepare by implementing measures, such as establishing crisis management teams, conducting simulation exercises, preparing crisis plans and organizing training speakers. Only in this way can we be methodical in resolving a crisis, withstand any difficulties that may arise and create a brand that can last centuries.

If you'd like to sign up for our weekly COVID-19 updates, click here.

Jerry is a partner with the agency and oversees business operations, growth and client service for all of China, fostering expansion throughout Asia Pacific and around the world. He is a recognized expert in corporate communications, with experience in crisis management, public affairs, B2B and technology.

APRIL 2, 2020 //     

We Cannot Forget Native Americans During These Troubled Times

By: Scott Pansky

The number of deaths and those impacted by COVID-19 rises every day. Our media, whether online or off, gives us staggering statistics, political posturing and counsel on personal hygiene and social distancing. They report on celebrities and sports figures who have gotten the virus, and offer stories of hope – kids helping seniors, restaurants serving meals to first responders and donations of products and services.

Yet, they ignore or forget numerous audiences, including Native Americans. Allison+Partners works with numerous nonprofit organizations of different sizes that impact millions of people around the globe. And, we also represent smaller organizations that serve niche audiences, including Partnership with Native Americans (PWNA), whom we have represented for more than six years.

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PWNA provides goods and services to its Native American partners to support programs in and meet needs of tribal communities. These partners identify what kinds of distributions and services would best make an impact on community members. PWNA supports its self-determined goals by delivering supplies to help address basic day-to-day needs for immediate relief and offering support for capacity building, like nutrition and leadership training or emergency preparedness planning.

Now, more than ever, there is a shortage of healthy food, safe drinking water, healthcare and retail services to sustain these remote reservation communities. The Elders now find the shelves empty of their most basic supplies. With the lack of pubic transportation and access to full-service grocery stores, PWNA serves as a first responder and essential link in the Native American community’s supply chain. 

My family and I had the chance to spend a day on the Navajo Reservation a few years ago. There, we packaged supplies, such as water, blankets and food, and then we hand-delivered these and a hot meal to the Elders who could not make it down to the PWNA-supported community center. We saw up-close, these grateful and wonderful people who were so appreciative of our help and a conversation. Our family was changed by this experience, and we understand how others can stand up to make a difference today. 

The media is not covering the Native American story! The reservations need basic supplies, including food, water, baby formula, toilet paper, sanitizer and other essentials, to get through the COVID-19 pandemic. I encourage you to learn more about PWNA and the issues Native Americans face today. Don’t ever forget!

If you’re a nonprofit in need of advice on how to navigate these challenging times, get in touch at scottp@allisonpr.com or sign up for our weekly COVID-19 updates. 

Scott is a co-founder of the agency and leads Allison+Partners’ Social Impact group. Scott has extensive experience providing communications and crisis counsel to nonprofit organizations and developing board + ambassador training programs.

AGENCY NEWS // APRIL 1, 2020 //     

'In a crisis, PR is the most critical need'

Campaign AsiaAs ad and media spend plunge, PR agencies remain on the frontline of marcomm efforts as they manage issues such as organisational change, business continuity, and WFH disruption.

Amid the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve seen brands significantly reducing or altogether halting their marketing spend, and this has naturally hurt agency partners. PR agencies are not exempted from this struggle, and issues such as reduced earnings, late payments, hiring freezes, and pay cuts have been reported. But it’s not all doom and gloom for medium-sized or larger PR networks. Jonathan Heit, global president at Allison+Partners, tells PRWeek Asia that while many businesses in hospitality and travel have been negatively impacted, he has seen expanded needs from many of the agency’s technology and corporate sectors, particularly in B2B as they face new opportunities and challenges that were impossible to forecast at the start of the year. READ MORE
APRIL 1, 2020 //     

The Importance of Internal Comms in a Time of Crisis

By: Todd Sommers

Crisis-focused organizations must not forget about their people.

Business conditions under COVID-19 continue to evolve rapidly. With more attention focused on business continuity, it’s easy to forget about internal communications. While employees, partners and customers understand you won’t have all the answers, it’s important to show you’re thinking about them. 

The new twist in today’s environment, compared with previous crises, was the rapid transition to WFH for most workers. Your organization’s stakeholders are isolated, distracted and stressed.

This situation will test many companies’ cultures, missions and values as employees lose the kinetic energy the physical office generates. Employers need to provide immediate, frequent and ongoing communications from leadership, and the existing content distribution strategy deserves reexamination as standups and townhalls get cancelled and email volume increases.

As we move from the immediate shock of our current situation, consider communications in the longer-term period of isolation and the eventual return to a new normal. Each chapter of this story needs a fresh approach.

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Here are steps to consider as the story evolves:

  • Do your people see and hear regularly from your leadership? And do your leaders communicate in different channels? You might suddenly need a microsite, YouTube channel or digital townhall. Or, you might need executives to create content on their cell phones where quick edits can add polish.
  • Do you focus your communications on the human element that addresses your employees’ emotions and realities? In a time crunch, talking points might get cut and pasted from one communication to another, but this is something you’d never do in person without context. Keep your humanity front and center.
  • Are there ways to turn previous office customs into virtual experiences? Recognizing birthdays, marking work anniversaries and brainstorms should not stop because your workforce is distributed. In the near-term, Zoom and other virtual services can help. Even happy hours have gone virtual.
  • Do you survey your stakeholder community with quick pulse surveys and deeper assessments to get a better understanding of their emotional well-being and professional needs? Don’t assume you know what employees think because there’s no playbook here, and everyone experiences this individually at home. There might be something easy you can do for working parents who now homeschool or for individuals who live alone and face severe isolation.
  • Are you planning communications for the new normal? It may be weeks from now, but employees will want assurances it’s safe. The patches built to address today’s issues might need to shift again.
  • Do your people managers have the tools and skills to manage a remote team? Compared with face-to-face meetings, a lot can get lost in email. Make sure your team has the support they need to communicate with employees and help them through this situation.

J.W. Marriott said, “If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers and your business will take care of itself.” The hospitality legend knew who had the biggest impact on his organization – the people on the front lines. 

In this difficult situation, take some time out of your day to care for them.

If you'd like to sign up for our weekly COVID-19 updates, click here 

Todd is a senior vice president at Allison+Partners, where he leads a team of integrated marketers and brings together multi-disciplinary campaign elements to create compelling programs for clients.

MARCH 31, 2020 //     

Brand-side Reactions to the Coronavirus Crisis in Asia

From aid to advice to product impact, read our compilation of what CMOs and brands are saying and doing to help employees, customers and the public.

Facebook pledges US$100 million in aid for news media Facebook this week pledged US$100 million in financing and advertising spending to support news organisations that have seen their revenue impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. READ MORE
MARCH 31, 2020 //     

Four Ways for Brands to Succeed After COVID-19

PRWeekPrepare now for a strong post-pandemic marketing and communications strategy.

In this tumultuous time, we can agree on two things; there are knowns, and there are unknowns.

In both the pandemic itself and in a post-pandemic business world, unknowns cause panic and anxiety. While the best and brightest minds in medicine throughout the world will solve the healthcare challenge, the best and brightest minds in marketing should work to solve the marketing challenge.

The questions loom large: Will my funnel dry up? How will customers react? Will we have to reduce spend now and increase it later? What are my quickest times to impact? How can I accelerate deals? How is my brand or company going to rise above the noise? What are my competitors doing?

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The questions are endless, but they don't have to remain unanswered. At this time, marketers and communicators should immediately rely on research, insights and optimization to fuel a strong post-pandemic marketing and communications strategy.

Here are four easy-to-implement, quick-to-conclusion steps marketers can take to formulate a winning post-pandemic plan in what will likely be a hyper-competitive marketplace:

Run a quick marketing mix modeling, including time lag, to optimize spend. Once a costly, long-to-insight function, MMM can now produce results in days or weeks. If you haven't run an MMM exercise in a while or never, now is the time. They allow you to discover the channels that produce the most impact so you can allocate funds properly. Brands that know which channels move the needle and move it the quickest will win.

Survey your customers. The pandemic may have permanently or temporarily changed how your customers see your business. Now is the time to learn how they think about your brand, how their purchasing mood may have changed and other insights that can help you formulate a post-pandemic strategy.

Post-pandemic messaging, content and creative testing. Your customer's attitude about your brand, and its place in the world, could very well change in a post-pandemic world. Based on informed insights like customer surveys, you may have to change messaging, content and creative to meet how your customers now think about your industry, brand or product.

Are you going to do it in a bubble? If not, you need to implement testing to ensure you don't miss the mark. Some brands will miss it hard. Don't be one of them.

Improve your industry and competitor insights. Your competitors are up to something and your industry may change, possibly forever. Marketers or communicators that don't monitor their industry and competitors in multiple channels are likely doing their entire organization a disservice, at best.

A post-pandemic world may be the same, or it may be different. You can't assume either. Therefore, the brands that invest in research, insights and optimization today will be the ones that accelerate the fastest in a post-pandemic world.

Brent Diggins is managing director of measurement and analytics and can be reached at brent@allisonpr.com.

MARCH 26, 2020 //     

$2 Trillion in Economic Stimulus: What It Is And What it Means to You

By: Barbara Laidlaw with Josiah Adams

Following Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s announcement early March 26 that the Senate finalized a deal outlining a $2 trillion stimulus package, Americans still wondered what it means for themselves, their businesses and the country as a whole.

The largest stimulus package in history includes provisions that seek to support individuals, hospitals, and small and large businesses. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House will vote on the bill March 28 and, “It will pass. It will pass with strong bipartisan support.” While the full details of the nearly 900-page stimulus package are not yet clear, a few items have generated a substantial amount of interest among lawmakers, businesses and citizens.

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The stimulus package includes a massive $58 billion bailout for the airline industry, with some strings attached. Companies that receive a portion of these funds will be unable to lay off any of their workforce until the fall and will be barred from engaging in stock buybacks until one year after they stop receiving assistance.

The stimulus package also restricts its recipients’ executive compensation and bonuses. While the airline industry will receive a substantial amount of these funds, some $500 billion in total has been allocated for larger industries. This amount has already generated some pushback from progressive Democrats, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who called for more worker protections. While this could threaten the chances of the bill passing via unanimous consent, like it did in the Senate, it will have little impact on the overall House vote. In her press conference, Pelosi addressed these concerns, asserting the democrats had “performed jujitsu” on the bill to increase workforce protections and limit corporate handouts.

One of the core pieces of this bill assistance to small businesses. It dedicates $367 billion in loans to businesses with fewer than 500 employees that pledge to retain their workforce during the COVID-19 crisis. The loan period will begin once the bill is signed into law and would last until June 30, 2020. It remains unclear what percentage of these loans will ultimately be forgiven, effectively turning them into grants. At this time, widespread loan forgiveness appears unlikely.

Payroll-tax relief provisions are another critical piece of this stimulus for small to midsize business. Those that continue to employ their workers throughout the crisis will be eligible for tax credits and deferments on payroll taxes for 2020. Some 50% of these deferred taxes would be paid off in 2021, while the remaining 50% would be paid in 2022. Maintaining employment at the small business level is at the core of these allocated funds, but the limited amount of tax and loan forgiveness may deter certain businesses from accepting the aid to keep their workforces intact.

At the individual level, the stimulus package dedicates direct payments of $1,200 to most individuals making up to $75,000 a year or $2,400 to couples making up to $150,000 a year. It also grants $500 per child. The amount decreases at an unspecified rate after the $75,000 threshold and cuts off at $99,000. While this piece of the stimulus has generated a great deal of attention over the past few weeks, these checks will take some time to hit bank accounts. Eligible Americans with direct-deposit bank account information on file with the IRS (roughly 70 million) will see payments “within a few weeks of the bill being signed into law.”

Along with these payments, unemployment insurance has been expanded by 13 weeks and will include four months of “enhanced” benefits, which amounts to an additional $600 per week. Additional individual relief includes suspending federal student loan payments through Sept. 30 without interest accrual and requiring group health plans and insurance providers to cover the costs of preventative COVID-19 services.

Business leaders and individuals should be cautious about this historic stimulus package. Details about implementation and management remain unknown. And even after President Donald Trump signs it into law, it will be a considerable period before you, your business or your communities see real dollar figure relief. This waiting period is absolutely critical on a personal and professional level, and we recommend exercising extreme prudence in the coming weeks and months.

Above all else, we all must continue adhering to all CDC and local guidelines to help expedite our fight against this virus. The true stimulus will come when we have demonstrated control over COVID-19. The sooner we can reach that point, the better for our personal and economic health and well-being.  

If you'd like to sign up for our weekly COVID-19 updates, click here.

Barbara Laidlaw brings 25 years of experience developing and running programs that help companies prepare, protect, and defend their brand reputation through global and national events, recalls, litigation, data breaches, regulatory issues and labor disputes.

Josiah Adams works on Allison + Partners’ global risk + issues management team and provides federal, state and local policy insights.  

MARCH 26, 2020 //     

Keeping Mentally and Physically Well While WFH

By: Ashleigh Butson

It’s Monday morning and day seven of self-isolation. Your alarm goes off and you quickly hit snooze. You lie there and remember your HR department has told you to stick to the same routine you would if it was a normal workday. That suggestion is great, but not realistic.

Let’s be honest, it’s not a normal day – not even close. Your routine now involves figuring out how to use your coffee machine because Suzy from your local Starbucks won’t be able to make your favorite morning concoction. You now homeschool your children, take conference calls from your kitchen table and blare CNN in the background. You decided today is the day you will start one of the 20 different workout apps you downloaded over the weekend. You must be ready when someone tags you in the push-up challenge on Instagram. This is your new routine, and it’s hard.

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As an HR professional, it’s difficult not to worry about your staff during this time. I find myself trying to come up a with one solution that fits all, but unfortunately there is no one perfect answer.  What I can do, is provide guidance on everyone’s new normal and how to manage through this unfamiliar stress.

Absolutely have a routine, but know it won’t be the same as your normal one. Set alarms for meals and breaks, carve out time for your family, a facetime call with your loved ones and, of course, your workout at home. Companies will need to be flexible for all employees. Give parents time to teach science, and give the employees who live in the 450-square-foot Manhattan flat a break from their tiny space. With the proper communication within a team, this uncomfortable living will soon feel comfortable.

As for communication, there is no time like the present to overdo it. Employees want to hear from everyone, including leaders. Employers can eliminate employee stress with daily calls and emails. Nothing is more comforting than waking up to an email from your CEO letting everyone know they are thinking of them and their families. Communicate your new routine to your team. Let them know you will be unavailable from 10 a.m.-11 a.m., that way you won’t be interrupted in the middle of your fourth-grade reading lesson. I also encourage virtual meetings and happy hours with your teams. It’s important to continue to celebrate the culture you worked so hard to develop. Seeing a familiar face after a long day of managing work, the news, and two pots of mediocre coffee will generate some normality and calm.

Although much of the population has taken a liking to the at-home workouts, they aren’t for everyone. It’s still critical to give our brains and bodies healthy attention. Whether it’s an e-book, or a real book, a podcast, meditation app, a puzzle, Jenga with your 5-year old or a trip to the dog park, detaching from the business and having some self-care is important. A social media cleanse in the evening is suggested. Staying off your phone at night will allow for a less stressful evening and more restful sleep. I promise you, everyone’s stories and latest TikTok videos will still be there for your viewing pleasure in the morning. 

Lastly, it’s time to be kind to each other. Take the time to say thank you, say sorry if an apology is needed, acknowledge the employees who worked over the weekend or send an email to see how your peers are doing across the country. Remember that no one is in this alone, and the slightest effort will make this time feel less lonely. Gratitude is proven to boost mental health and can do miracles for our new normal. Be a part of someone’s journey to getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. It’s time for us to be grateful for what we have and the people around us.

If you'd like to sign up for our weekly COVID-19 updates, click here.

 Ashleigh is the Global Chief Talent Officer at Allison + Partners. Her main focus is on building up our people, culture and finding ways to enhance the employee life cycle.

MARCH 25, 2020 //     

CPG Brands: Harnessing the Power of the Grocery Store Aisle During COVID-19

By: Cheryl Weissman

Grocery store shelves have been in the news a lot lately. They’ve become the star of countless COVID-19 headlines for good reason. They’re a source of comfort and relief as consumers stock their pantries and refrigerators with their favorite foods and drinks to prepare for mandated sheltering in place and quarantines. They’re also a source of stress and anxiety when found empty, in disarray and out of fan-favorites or other essentials.

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As a result, the brands and companies behind the products on shelf are in a paramount position. They have a unique and fleeting opportunity to connect with consumers in a way that helps settle and bring them comfort – something much needed during a time when there are more questions than answers.

As brands take advantage of this opportunity to connect with consumers in a new way, it’s critical they tread lightly. There is heightened awareness about how to communicate – and there is a right and wrong way to do it. Following are a few guidelines for brands and communicators to consider as they decide how to engage with consumers during this time.

  • Give Back. CPG food + beverage brands that have experienced a surge in sales as consumers stock their pantries can use funds and resources to support those who struggle. Brands that can do their part to give back, must do so with no strings attached. Whether consciously or not, consumers want brands to step up, and being a good corporate citizen during this global pandemic will have a lasting impact on how consumers think about and support brands in the future.  
  • Continue to Share Brand News, But Be Authentic. As food + beverage brands rethink their social media tone and content strategy to respect sensitivities, many use these channels to highlight scheduled product launches and find ways to relay their messages in an appropriate manner that is careful, considerate and relevant in today’s challenging environment. Brands looking to introduce new products or SKUs can still do so by leaning into a tone focused on bringing more lightness and brightness to the world, while also responding more directly to the pandemic and acknowledging the current issues the public faces. 
  • Encourage At-Home Brand Engagement. There is a tremendous uptick in sharing creative food dishes families make at home due to widespread social distancing recommendations. This introduces opportunities for food and drink brands to source creative recipes that tap into ingredients many already have at home and can test, create and enjoy. Consider leveraging a network of friendly social influencers who still develop unique content for their channels to help co-create these recipes and push out widely. Or consider taking it a step further and use social listening to identify consumers using your product and send out surprise-and-delight mailers with product to deepen the relationship.
  • Over-Communicate. Consider leveraging social media to keep consumers up to date on product availability to combat disappointment at the shelf. Use this channel to share where and when product can be found. Or if possible, consider pivoting to direct-to-consumer product deliveries as needed, even if in a limited capacity.

While the COVID-19 situation evolves, consumers will continue to look to the brands they know and love to find comfort during a trying time. If done with a tone of empathy, humanity and understanding, brands can not only strengthen the bonds they have with current brand advocates, they can also connect with new consumers and make them customers for life.  

If you'd like to sign up for our weekly COVID-19 updates, click here.

Cheryl Weissman brings 15 years of experience to Allison+Partners’ Consumer Brands practice and leads the agency’s food and beverage specialty. She is responsible for the strategic management of account teams within the category across the agency, supervising client activities, providing counsel and helping some of the world's leading food and beverage brands navigate the ever-changing world of public relations.

AGENCY NEWS // MARCH 24, 2020 //     

Exclusive: Allison+Partners Names Jeremy Seow as APAC MD

Seow was most recently Singapore CEO at WE Communications.

Jeremy Seow joins the agency in a newly created role as MD of growth and innovation for APAC. Seow brings nearly 20 years of experience to the table and was most recently Singapore CEO at WE Communications. Previously, he held senior positions at Yahoo, Zeno Group, Ogilvy, and Text 100 (now known as Archetype).
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"In a way, we co-created the position," global president Jonathan Heit told PRWeek. "It was a combination of Jeremy's experience, our expanded capabilities (eg data analytics, content marketing, advisory services) as an agency and the ongoing growth as our clients scale in the region and we continue to grow. We are coming off the best year in the history of our agency, and APAC set the pace for much of that growth. This position is a natural evolution of our agency's growth and Jeremy is ideally suited to take it on."

Seow fills the gap left by APAC MD Serina Tan who departed the agency after starting Allison+Partners' Singapore office in 2014. She left to spend time with her family.

Seow's appointment is complemented by the promotion of longtime senior consultant Shen Jegathesan to vice president. Jegathesan has served as a senior advisor to the Singapore team since its early days. Both she and Seow will work closely with Heit and director Lewis Moh.

While Seow will spend time working with all the regional offices, his primary focus is Singapore-based clients and their needs both locally and in Southeast Asia.

On whether Seow and Jegathesan will be facing challenges in their new roles in the middle of a global crisis, Heit said that both of them have experienced crises before, such as SARS in 2002 and the global financial crisis of 2008, and that their experience will be of great value to the team and clients.

"From an economic standpoint, our priority is making sure that our clients are positioned for long-term success. We are incredibly nimble, and have been working around the world on programmes for clients that address everything from business continuity to video and digital product launches to replace live events," said Heit.

"Nevertheless, these are unprecedented times. The top priority is ensuring the safety and well-being of our team. This has led to us enlisting work from home policies that are not something anyone is accustomed to.

"Jeremy's onboarding has taken place entirely over video conference, as have all of our recent pitches and client meetings. Maintaining the incredible sense of community and culture that differentiates our office while folks can communicate only virtually is something the leadership in Singapore has taken on as an immediate priority."

MARCH 24, 2020 //     

Brands, Don’t Forget Your Nonprofits - They Can Help Too

By: Scott Pansky

Sometimes it takes a crisis to bring people together. I can’t think of one bigger than COVID-19. It impacts everyone, whether you represent a company, cause or educational institute. We have not seen anything like this in a century, and its effect on the economy is staggering.  

Yet, brands continue to step up. They donate cash and supplies to numerous organizations, such as Meals on Wheels, No Kid Hungry and Feeding America, as well as to their local food banks. We have even seen brands change their business models, like GM and Tesla, which now make ventilators.  

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However, many companies are unable to help. They need to help themselves. They need ways to reach their customers when the media is focused on the current news. They need to reach their employees, many of whom are working from home for the first time. They need new ways to keep their teams engaged and motivated.

Nonprofit partnerships can help make a difference. These cause-related relationships are more than transactional – they are about making an authentic difference, positively impacting both consumers and donors. Here are ways that charities can help support a company:

  • Indirect access to donors and volunteers – Nonprofits have strong and loyal donors and volunteer databases of individuals who support them. Newsletters and emails can be tapped to recognize a company and share its news as a partner.
  • Webinars, online content, events and conference calls - Nonprofits are using new ways to communicate and reach their supporters. Whether through Zoom and Skype or social media channels, this is an opportunity for brands to provide thought leadership, guidance and support.
  • Employee engagement Companies build partnership with many different types charities, whether in the arts, youth activities, health and wellness, etc. Most causes have employee engagement programs. Traditional walks, runs, golf tournaments and galas are on hold. However, charities can still host virtual events, post video content and provide tips for exercise, mental health and online projects.
  • Volunteer projects – Employees can still volunteer their time, but they can do it from home. Companies can work with charity partners to create a call to action, empower team members to make a difference… whether that is through a fundraising campaign, sending get well cards to senior centers and youth organizations, or donating gift cards. Brainstorm fun, easy-to-implement things.
  • Influencer relations – Don’t forget the power of influencers. Many charities, like brands, have celebrity and social influencers who support their causes. They can create campaigns that offer followers and donors positive tips, activities or a fundraising call to action during this critical time. Through a past A+P whitepaper, Powerful Connections, we found those who followed influencers authentically linked to a brand would either donate or volunteer at a much higher rate (33%) than direct mail. 

Lastly, Percent Pledge (a current client) can also help employers connect employees to nonprofits in a remote-friendly way. Their easy-to-use technology helps employees donate to any nonprofits the company supports, then keeps those employees engaged with personalized impact reports. Remember, your charities are your partners; now they can help you engage newly remote teams while you help them during this time of increased need!

Remember, your charities are your partners – they are here for you in times of duress just as your companies are there for them!

If you’re a nonprofit in need of advice on how to navigate these challenging times, get in touch at scottp@allisonpr.com or sign up for our weekly COVID-19 updates.

Scott is a co-founder of the agency and leads Allison+Partners’ Social Impact group. Scott has extensive experience providing communications and crisis counsel to nonprofit organizations and developing board + ambassador training programs.

 

MARCH 23, 2020 //     

Big Tech Could Emerge From Coronavirus Crisis Stronger Than Ever

New York TimesAmazon is hiring aggressively to meet customer demand. Traffic has soared on Facebook and YouTube. And cloud computing has become essential to home workers.

OAKLAND, Calif. — While the rest of the economy is tanking from the crippling impact of the coronavirus, business at the biggest technology companies is holding steady — even thriving.

Amazon said it was hiring 100,000 warehouse workers to meet surging demand. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, said traffic for video calling and messaging had exploded. Microsoft said the numbers using its software for online collaboration had climbed nearly 40 percent in a week.
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MARCH 20, 2020 //     

Working From Home…With Kids. How PR Pros are Juggling it

PRWeek

Julie Inouye was on an important call with a coworker when her young daughter started repeatedly screaming "mommy" at the top of her lungs. "She needed me to help her in the bathroom," says Inouye, VP of communications at VSCO. "I had to get off the phone and call my coworker back. She might have fallen in the toilet."

And so begins the new normal: working from home, with kids.

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MARCH 18, 2020 //     

Coronavirus Sparks Huge Jump in Social Media use, Study Finds

PRWeekInfluencer agency Obviously is mobilising its community to share WHO information.

Coronavirus means isolation. And isolation means social media.

It’s official: The COVID-19 outbreak is making us spend more time on all those platforms we’re already addicted to, according to a study from Obviously.

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AGENCY NEWS // MARCH 16, 2020 //     

"Empathy, Trust & Cooperation" — PR Advice Adapts To Coronavirus Crisis

PRvoke MediaAs Covid-19 rapidly becomes a global crisis of unprecedented proportions, we look at the services that corporates are asking of their PR agencies. This story follows our previous instalments, which considered the unique challenges in terms of public sector and corporate communications.  READ MORE
MARCH 13, 2020 //     

Coronavirus Impact: How Nonprofits Can Stay True to Their Mission during These Challenging Times

By: Scott Pansky

The world hasn’t witnessed anything like COVID-19 in years. Each county, state and city has handled this pandemic differently in almost every case. But what is not different is the impact the virus will have on nonprofit organizations that depend on special events, trainings and volunteerism. 

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With major conferences, sporting events, movies and concerts canceled and or postponed, universities closing their doors, employers increasing telework, and cities restricting public gatherings to less than 250 people, nonprofits must now evaluate their assets and prioritize how they plan to use and raise their funds.

I met recently with a charity whose operating budget was less than $500,000 and that depends on coordinating public events and training. Its operating budget will go dry in less than a year if it cannot host its events. This will be a huge challenge.

Thinking about this more deeply, and taking into account the survival for many, I wondered what advice I could offer. What can nonprofits do to keep their lights on? They could ask for federal dollars or foundation grants, but hundreds of thousands of charities out there will try to do the same thing. So, I started considering a charity’s own foundation – its aha moment for “being” – and I came up with the following thoughts:

  • If your charity has a solid reason for being and you focus on your mission, don’t turn away. Just fight harder.
  • Getting mainstream media will be a challenge, so talk to your base. These are your loyal followers and volunteers, people who care about your mission and its survival. Don’t hide from them – share with them what is happening and whether you need support.
  • Do you have authentic relationships with your existing corporate and grant makers? These folks are invested in your organization. You can’t expect them to come to the table with a lot more, but can you talk with them about staying with you and helping with in-kind donations and related services your organization might need. Vice versa, if they have issues, is there something your charity can do to help?

Your long-term relationships are like family. It’s not about Giving Tuesday once a year. It’s about authentic, responsible and transparent (ART) relationships that in times like this bring together your supporters. Talk with them, use your social media, and use existing direct mail outreach strategies, flyers and newsletters. It’s OK to still pick up your phone or host a video call and talk with people. If you don’t believe in your mission or highlight what is needed to survive, it will disappear. It is here for a reason. Fight for it, and never give up. Roll up your sleeves, lean on your board, advisors and staff – this is a battle you do not have to fight alone.  

Update: As a result of this post, Scott was invited by the Center for Nonprofits to share his insights to a group of over 200 nonprofits partners. You can see a recording of the webinar here.

If you'd like to sign up for our weekly COVID-19 updates, click here.

If you’re a nonprofit in need of advice on how to navigate these challenging times, get in touch at scottp@allisonpr.com.

Scott is a co-founder of the agency and leads Allison+Partners’ Social Impact group. Scott has extensive experience providing communications and crisis counsel to nonprofit organizations and developing board + ambassador training programs.


MARCH 11, 2020 //     

Managing a Remote Workforce

By: Barbara Laidlaw

Three Things to Consider When Moving to a Remote Workforce 

An increasing number of businesses in the United States and around the world have begun to seriously consider, and in some cases have already had to implement, continuity plans that involve employees working remotely. Regardless of how well prepared your business is in making this transition, there are steps you can take to ensure that the day-to-day activities of your company remain as undisrupted as possible.

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Set Clear Expectations and Engage Regularly.

Once the decision has been made to direct your employees to work remotely, increased and effective communication between managers and their employees will be critical to keeping your business running and your employees confident. Make sure to set clear expectations with your team on how you will work together remotely on projects. One way to immediately bolster your internal communications is to require more frequent check-ins. If an employee usually provides a daily report or in-person meeting with their manager, increasing that to two or even three touchpoints can keep everyone on track without adding undue stress to the system. Putting a premium on video conferencing or internal communications programs like Slack or Microsoft Teams is an effective way to make productive remote work more feasible.

Along with circulating business-specific communications materials, companies should also provide their employees with up-to-date information regarding COVID-19, CDC and WHO guidelines and company policies. This will improve internal processes because it ensures everyone has access to the same materials. This will also serve to reassure a remote workforce during uncertain times.   

Assess Your Current Internal Communication Strategy.

Your leadership team will also need to make changes in how they perform their day-to-day tasks. During a situation like this, leadership teams may need to communicate with each other, their direct reports and all employees more frequently. This can be done through company-wide emails, conference calls, newsletters or other forms of mass communication. Whatever the platform is for this communication, making sure that employees do not feel like they are in the dark or at risk is key. Leaders should also be aware that this type of sudden change will often times not go smoothly. Some employees will require different accommodations than others, such as technical assistance or special schedules. Working with your employees to develop a work from home plan that actually works for them will reduce disruptions in your business operations.  

Identify Key Metrics to Track for Success.

Leadership teams are already reviewing and updating crisis plans that address an employee, a member of the leadership team or their family members testing positive for COVID-19. This will require increased communication between members of the leadership team and key stakeholders. Ideally, the C-Suite has already reviewed and put in place business continuity plans should an executive fall ill and will be planning messaging for both internal and external stakeholders. Financial impact is no less a consideration during a pandemic than protecting a company’s most important asset – their employees.

In order to ensure success, the leadership team as well as employees will need unfettered access to the tools they use daily in an office setting, including access to all internal databases, customer delivery systems and Human Resources tracking programs. It may be necessary initially to check performance by a group or single employee on a more frequent basis to be able to assess issues before they become ongoing problems. Regular utilization and performance check-ins must be maintained, and frequent customer and stakeholder check-ins will help measure productivity and ensure success.

There is still much we do not know about the extent of the spread of COVID-19, both in numbers and in timeline. The best practice any businesses’ leadership team can take is to ensure constant and clear communication from the top-down, create contingencies for identified risks and focus on maintaining as normal day-to-day as possible given the fluidity of this situation.

If you'd like to sign up for our weekly COVID-19 updates, click here.

Barbara Laidlaw brings 25 years of experience developing and running programs that help companies prepare, protect, and defend their brand reputation through global and national events, recalls, litigation, data breaches, regulatory issues and labor disputes.

AGENCY NEWS // MARCH 3, 2020 //     

Reputation Today Mighty 50

Reputation TodayThe Reputation Today Mighty 50 complements the Reputation Today Power 50 list. Both these lists together make up a definitive annual list of the who’s who of Indian Public Relations and Corporate Communications. The list is put together by the editorial team based on observations, conversations and a deep understanding of the ecosystem. These are men and women who define and refine the reputation of the biggest Indian and global brands. They have a pulse on the goings on in a larger part of corporate India. Together these professionals have the ears of the most powerful chief executives in the country and beyond. READ MORE
FEBRUARY 26, 2020 //     

80% of Brands Still Increasing Influencer Spend: Survey

Credit: Campaign AsiaFrom a time when influencers were seen as a marketing experiment or quirk, this category of highly visible and engaged social media mavens has evolved into a much sought after cohort to help marketers evangelise their brands. Four of five brand custodians across India plan to increase their spending on this rapidly growing segment, according to Influencer Marketing Outlook 2020, a study by Buzzoka, an influencer marketing outfit in India.   READ MORE
FEBRUARY 26, 2020 //     

'Most brands wouldn't allow Yorkshire Tea's #BeKind Twitter reaction' - KFC social chief

Credit: PRWeek

The majority of brands would not allow social media managers to give such a "human" response to trolling as Yorkshire Tea did in the recent Conservative Twitter furore, according to KFC UK & Ireland's social media chief.

Josh Benge spoke to PRWeek following the barrage of comments - many negative - directed at Yorkshire Tea after Chancellor Rishi Sunak tweeted a picture of himself with the brand.

Yorkshire Tea later tweeted about the impact that such negative comments can have on people who look after the accounts, and urged the public to "be kind".

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FEBRUARY 25, 2020 //     

Impossible Foods just made a massive deal to bring its burger to Disney parks and resorts �" and it shows the plant-based 'meat' movement is now bigger than ever

Business Insider

The plant-based food craze is taking over Disney. 

Disney announced on Tuesday it is teaming up with Impossible Foods as it works to expand its plant-based menu options across all of its theme parks, resorts, and cruise lines in the US. As part of the partnership, Impossible Foods will serve as Disney's preferred plant-based "burger" vendor, and the Impossible Burger will soon be available at restaurant locations at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, the Disneyland Resort in California, and Disney Cruise Line ships. 

 

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FEBRUARY 21, 2020 //     

Facebook Blocks Valuable ad Data in Privacy Update to its Marketing Partner Program

Facebook is shutting down a source of data that shared “device-level” information about people’s phones to advertisers for purposes of targeting and measuring ad campaigns. For years, the data had been made available through a marketing partner program that Facebook had closely monitored, but with privacy fears and new laws constraining the digital ad industry, the social network is reconsidering past practices like this one. READ MORE
FEBRUARY 17, 2020 //     

The needle in a haystack - how to find the right micro-influencer

Reach is not everything. In the meantime, many companies have recognized the value of micro-influencers for their own brand. While this influencer type cannot come up with seven-digit follower numbers, it scores with its reputation in a special, often very niche community and with impressive engagement rates.READ MORE

Reach is not everything. In the meantime, many companies have recognized the value of micro-influencers for their own brand. While this influencer type cannot come up with seven-digit follower numbers, it scores with its reputation in a special, often very niche community and with impressive engagement rates.

Exactly this authenticity and the closeness to the followers make micro influencers very valuable partners. Because in our information society, personal recommendations from friends are still the most important influencing factor for consumers when making a purchase decision - and micro-influencers are most likely to establish this personal relationship with their audience.     

But how do you find a micro influencer? Often these are in very narrow thematic areas and do not stand out in the crowd as much as well-known mega-influencers. Therefore, identifying a suitable partner is often like looking for a needle in a haystack. We present different starting points for the search.



Preparation is everything

Set a clear goal for the planned influencer campaign before you begin the actual search. Whether the sales figures for a product or the share of voice should be increased - the influencer must match the hoped-for result. The budget available and the appropriate metrics to measure the success of the project must also be defined in advance.

1. For starters: manual searches on search engines and social media

To begin with, search through common search engines using relevant keywords. When searching, first look for influencer lists that are created by blogs or online media on specific topics. It is often possible to identify other possible partners by looking at the influencers' social media channels - because there is usually lively interaction, especially in narrowly defined specialist areas.

In addition, the search for relevant hashtags on social media can already provide initial results and by subscribing to these keywords, you are always up to date on new developments.


2. Smart search: use tools and databases

Manual and therefore time-consuming searches on social media and search engines provide an initial overview and serve to define the most important requirements for an influencer. If you now know exactly what you are looking for, databases and search tools help you to comb all of the influencers in question using exactly these criteria. For example, the HYPR and Tagger applications offer valuable insights.

Depending on the functionality of the tool, you can filter not only the subject area but also the social media platform, reach, target group and location. The latter category can be extremely useful when planning events. 

Don't blindly rely on the information provided by automated applications when calculating reach and engagement. Because this data can sometimes be very volatile and outdated.


3. Offline suchen: Networking, networking, networking

Finally, it can pay off to take unconventional paths and continue your search offline. You should also think about where suitable partners could be found. For example, are there events or trade fairs where you can make interesting contacts?

If an exciting campaign is planned and if there are appropriate monetary incentives to participate, the posting of posters in relevant locations such as universities can help to reach the right target group.  

No matter what topic a partner is looking for, it is always worth keeping your eyes and ears open. Maybe the right micro-influencer is already part of your wider circle of acquaintances.

How do brands manage to build successful relationships with influencers? How can you measure the success of influencer campaigns? And what changes is the influencer landscape currently undergoing? Further information and studies on these topics can be found here .

FEBRUARY 5, 2020 //     

50 sustainability tips for zero waste in the office

Climate protection, sustainability, living free of plastics - the buzzwords for a better world are becoming increasingly popular. But even on a large scale, responsible use of natural resources is becoming increasingly prevalent. Cities call out the climate emergency and not only draw attention to the topic, they also set specific goals. Whole countries forbid plastic bags, whole continents forbid one-way plastic, and people all over the world demonstrate against climate change.

But we all know: just talking doesn't help. Change begins on a small scale: at home and at work

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Climate protection, sustainability, living free of plastics - the buzzwords for a better world are becoming increasingly popular. But even on a large scale, responsible use of natural resources is becoming increasingly prevalent. Cities call out the climate emergency and not only draw attention to the topic, they also set specific goals. Whole countries forbid plastic bags, whole continents forbid one-way plastic, and people all over the world demonstrate against climate change.

But we all know: just talking doesn't help. Change begins on a small scale: at home and at work.

What does zero waste mean anyway?

Zero waste does not mean that from now on no more waste can be produced. Rather, it is about keeping the amount of waste as low as possible and conserving valuable resources. This applies to individual behavior in your own household, but also in the office or at work.

Here are some ideas on how to make everyday work more sustainable and resource-efficient, for example. We have already implemented some things at Allison + Partners, but we still have some room for improvement.

        The way to work

  1. The way to work becomes more environmentally friendly on foot, by bike or skateboard, even if you only cover part of the way.
  2. If you live further away or have customer appointments in the area, you should stick to public transport and use the bus or train.
  3. Some superiors promote a sustainable way to work (e.g. with job tickets for public transport) - just ask!
  4. For other business trips, it is a good idea to also see the train as the first option when choosing the means of transport. It is a good alternative to an airplane, especially on domestic routes.

    The desk

  5. Did you know that there are staplers without staples? You can easily staple up to 10 sheets together.
  6. Instead of highlighters (these often contain harmful ingredients and are made of plastic), you can also use colored pencil markers or refillable water-based fiber pens.
  7. Refillable pens (fountain pens, pens, etc.) are a good way to conserve resources.
  8. Erasers are made of natural rubber as an alternative to the usual rubber-like plastic mass.
  9. Recycled paper hardly differs from newly produced paper and is more sustainable. You can also print / write on both sides of paper. In addition, notes do not have to be handwritten, but can also be noted online, in various apps or programs.
  10. Anyone who prints (internal) prints in Eco mode ensures that the printer cartridge lasts longer.

    The office kitchen

  11. How about meal prep or freshly cooked instead of food-to-go? This not only saves packaging waste, but also saves your wallet.
  12. Reusable to-go containers are worth an investment - for example, we have office boxes in which you can pack the rest of your lunch.
  13. If you cook together with your colleagues, you can buy large packs and save packaging.
  14. Fruit deliveries are a welcome icing on the cake in our everyday agency work. Every Monday at Allison + Partners in Munich there is a large basket of fresh, unpacked organic fruit.
  15. If you rely on coffee beans or powder instead of capsule or pad coffee, you avoid a large amount of waste that can often not be recycled.
  16. Sugar and milk can be provided fresh and not individually packaged - even in meetings.
  17. Much resources are used for meat production, so it is worth reducing meat dishes and paying attention to organic quality. There are four vegetarians and one vegan on our team who set a good example.
  18. We do not use water from plastic bottles and use a water bubbler to make the necessary "blubbs".
  19. Cloth napkins not only look nicer than the paper version, they are also more sustainable.


    The cleaning

  20. Vinegar, soda, citric acid and, if necessary, baking soda or core soap - you don't need a separate cleaning agent for every corner. With these five basic ingredients you can put together all the necessary cleaning agents.
  21. Washing up works perfectly with washable rags, no disposable kitchen towels are required. In addition, there are flushing brushes, where you can easily replace the brush head as soon as it has had its day.
  22. Another big issue is waste separation: in large offices everything ends up in the same bucket. A system for separating plastic, paper, organic, residual and glass / can waste is not that difficult to implement. Some waste can also be collected for a good cause, such as for organizations like Terracycle or Blechwech .

    Mail delivery

  23. Envelopes can be reused as long as you comply with the GDPR and make the name of the original sender unrecognizable. With a note on the envelope such as "for the sake of the environment", it is usually not understood as a low appreciation.
  24. Shredded paper can be ideally used as an alternative to bubble wrap as packaging material. Of course, this is only possible with a GDPR-compliant shredder.
  25. If you use envelopes without a window, professional disposal is easier for the recipient.
  26. Self-moistening stamps contain less pollutants than self-adhesive stamps.


    The power supply

  27. There are energy-saving functions for almost all devices, while the rest can be fitted with time switches that completely separate the device from the circuit. But even without a timer, the devices should not be switched to standby mode in the evening, but switched off.
  28. Archives require data server storage capacity, so you should delete old mails regularly or archive them offline if necessary.
  29. A darker screen background consumes less power than a lighter one. Programs can often be changed easily.
  30. Sustainability is also important when choosing a search engine: Ecosia, for example, plants a tree for every search query.
  31. Rechargeable batteries can be used for battery-operated devices to avoid waste.
  32. LED lighting uses less electricity than halogen lamps or even classic incandescent lamps. The exchange is also worthwhile because of their longer lifespan.
  33. When nobody is in the room: lights off, heating off, windows closed!
  34. If you use the stairs instead of the elevator, you save energy on the one hand - on the other hand you do something for your fitness.
  35. For hot summer days: fans require less energy than air conditioning.

    The purchase

  36. It is better to rarely make large purchases than to buy small quantities more often. In addition, local and regional products often have the smaller carbon footprint.
  37. If you don't want to do without the convenient delivery service, you should choose a single supplier who can supply all the products you need. There are also sustainable mail order companies like Memo or Manomeer .
  38. Second-hand is the way to keep mountains of garbage small. Ebay classifieds is a real treasure trove - and up-cycling can give the office a very individual touch.

    The sanitary area

  39. Wherever possible, you should avoid hot water or use instantaneous water heaters that only produce hot water when it is really needed.
  40. According to studies, solid soap is just as hygienic as liquid soap, but it requires less chemical resources - and less packaging.
  41. What applies to serviettes is also true for towels: washing instead of throwing away saves garbage.
  42. By the way, toilet paper made from recycled paper is also available in satisfactory quality.


    The meeting

  43. An energy-efficient projector saves electricity and is therefore very valuable from an ecological perspective.
  44. A magnetic whiteboard can be written on again and again and is generally preferable to flipchart or pinboard paper.
  45. Handouts via PDF are a good alternative to paper documents.

    The business trip

  46. The A du O: One should first consider whether the trip can not be replaced by a video conference.
  47. The CO2 consumed for the arrival and departure can be  offset through projects such as Atmosfair .
  48. Anyone who spends the necessary nights in organic hotels is also doing good, because these hotels pay particular attention to sustainability.

    The company event

  49. The activities for company outings should be taken very deliberately: archery instead of paintball, trampoline park instead of karting, museum visit instead of art workshop. This means that fewer resources are used, such as paint, fuel or electricity.
  50. Decoration and information stands can be used for trade fair appearances, which can be reused at other trade fairs. Anyone who pays attention to timeless formulations on brochures and print material can use them in the long term.

Our concrete result:

In our self-assessment, we found that we are already implementing 27 of these 50 best practices, especially in the kitchen. However, there is still a lot to do. Next we want to devote more attention to the topic of power supply.

AGENCY NEWS // JANUARY 27, 2020 //     

Allison+Partners ups Corporate Practice Leaders to Handle New Business

Credit: The Holmes ReportAllison+Partners has bolstered the leadership of its US corporate practice with promotions following a spate of new business wins — Airbnb, Clark Construction and Collier's international among them. 

Jill Feldman (pictured) has been elevated from executive VP to MD of the corporate communications group. Hadas Streit has been upped from senior VP to executive VP and head of the agency's workplace specialty group. David Baum, also a former senior VP, has been named executive VP of corporate communications and technology. 
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AGENCY NEWS // JANUARY 10, 2020 //     

A Booming PR Job Market, but...

Credit: PRWeekThe federal government's industry employment numbers only tell part of the story.

The Labor Department’s employment figures for December, released on Friday morning, paint a strong jobs picture for the past decade. Employers have created jobs for a record 10 years, the longest stretch in eight decades, although the 145,000 jobs 
added in December was lower than what economists had predicted. Unemployment remains at a 50-year low of 3.5%.  READ MORE
JANUARY 8, 2020 //     

Spotify brings advanced measurement to podcast advertising with new tool

Credit: Campaign AsiaSpotify has launched an adtech product, Streaming Ad Insertion, that aims to turn podcast advertising into an advanced performance marketing channel by providing advertisers with a suite of capabilities. 

Traditionally, podcasts have been predominantly downloaded via RSS content feeds, meaning the potential to gather data on how they are consumed has been limited. But the shift from downloading to streaming enables a greater level of measurement and planning for channels such as music streaming (including on Spotify) and content on demand

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JANUARY 8, 2020 //     

Hinge opens merch store stocked with Hingie garbs and 'delete day' goods

Credit: The Drum

The dating app Hinge has opened a merch store for newly entwined hearts to mark the day they deleted the app with Hingie memorabilia.

The dating app first introduced its fluffy, accident-prone mascot back in August. Until that point, Hinge had been low key on the number of campaigns it launched.

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JANUARY 8, 2020 //     

Twitter Will Let Users Limit or Block Replies to Tweets

Credit: AdAge

Twitter is adding another safety control to help curb abuse and harassment on its social network: Users will soon be able to limit the group of people that can reply to their tweets.

When posting a message, users will also be able to choose who can reply: anyone, just their followers, only people mentioned in the tweet, or no one at all. The feature, announced Wednesday at the CES technology conference in Las Vegas, is an effort to limit harassment and other types of unhealthy interactions between users, a problem Twitter has been working to fix for years.

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JANUARY 8, 2020 //     

Communicators need ‘eyes in the back of their heads’ for 2020 election

Credit: PRWeek

Buckle up, communicators. If you liked 2016, then 2020 could be the rare sequel that does not disappoint, in no small part due to enhanced technology. Here are three reasons why communicators will need to have eyes in the back of their heads — and keep them open 24 hours a day — amid what’s bound to be next year’s unprecedentedly intense news cycle.

First, to find out why, let’s go to the video. Is it real or not? It may sound like science fiction, but talk to CCOs and more than a few will tell you they’re studying up on deep fakes. While most prognosticators are worried about the effect a deep fake — a convincing video showing a public figure making an inauthentic statement — could have on global or international politics, business leaders are worried, too. The first prominent deepfake could just as well show up in a fraudulent customer service message as it could on the dark web.

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JANUARY 7, 2020 //     

Samsung's BB-8-like personal assistant Ballie follows you around at home

Credit: CNN

Las Vegas (CNN Business)Samsung unveiled on Monday its vision for the futuristic home, where robots follow you around, anticipate your needs and serve as "companions."

At the CES consumer electronics show in Las Vegas, the company showed off a yellow tennis ball-like robot named Ballie — think BB-8, the lovable droid from "Star Wars" — that acts as your personal assistant. The small robot packs built-in artificial intelligence capabilities, a camera and a mobile interface that intend to help you around the house. READ MORE
JANUARY 7, 2020 //     

USA Today tests bilingual content with new series

USA Today is looking to make deeper connections with Spanish speakers by launching a new series in English and Spanish. 

The project, called Hecho en USA, will tell stories about the lives of Spanish-speaking Americans. Right now, USA Today’s national enterprise editor Cristina Silva, said the project will aim to publish a baseline of two long form reported pieces each month, which will cover topics including Latinos being the only growing demographic of students going to college and this demographic representing only 1% of elected officials in the U.S. Content for the series will be published in English in print and in both Spanish and English online.

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JANUARY 7, 2020 //     

Burger King responds to pesky tourists flocking to ‘Joker’ stairs

Credit: PRWeek

NEW YORK: Burger King is giving Bronx residents a perfect solution for coping with the tourists plaguing a famous staircase in the New York borough: A free Whopper.

Since being featured in the film Joker, a popular supervillain origin story that has grossed more than $1 billion worldwide, the staircase has been choked with selfie-taking tourists.

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JANUARY 6, 2020 //     

"It's like being sold to at a funeral": Australian PM's video slammed by critics

Credit: Campaign AsiaAs the leader of a country currently ravaged by deadly bushfires, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been panned for releasing a video that some viewed as an advertisement. 

The video, released on the PM’s official social media channel Saturday, outlines the many ways the government has aided in the fires. But given that the situation in Australia is worsening, critics are slamming the video as insensitive, tone-deaf, and "exploiting taxpayer dollars".
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AGENCY NEWS // JANUARY 6, 2020 //     

Looking ahead: The agency of the future

Credit: PRWeek

The tremendous growth of Allison+Partners over the last 18 years was not by accident, it was by design. When my business partner Andy and I started our agency, we never set out to be the largest agency in the world. Just the best. Our vision was to become the agency of the future, one that is client and employee-driven and utilizes the latest technology to help our clients succeed. While that sounds good in theory, there were many investments made, open-door conversations and risk-taking we took early on to ensure we charted the course and continued to grow. Those investments have paid off, and this year we saw the greatest growth in our company’s history. 

So, what does the agency of the future look like and how do you build it?

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AGENCY NEWS // JANUARY 6, 2020 //     

Best Places to Work 2019

Credit: PRWeekAllison+Partners
Location: San Francisco

Having made the Best Places to Work list for a third year in a row, Allison+Partners’ commitment to retaining its people-focused culture as it grows stands out. The firm’s turnover rate is far lower than the industry average.

Judges clearly identified it as an "agency where you can learn, grow and be recognized." From extensive learning resources to constant access to leadership, the firm provides excellent advancement opportunities.

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JANUARY 2, 2020 //     

News media take losing streak into 2020

Credit: The Hill

The journalism industry has much in common with the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals. Both had horrendous seasons in 2019 and have disintegrating fan bases. The Bengals, fortunately, get a No. 1 draft pick for their futility. The news media get no such reward for ineffectiveness. The journalism world just keeps digging a deeper credibility hole, seemingly unable to generate the professionalism that citizens demand and the nation surely needs.

Some corners of the journalism industry still strive to serve the mission of holding the powerful accountable and providing for the information needs of a democracy. The Washington Post’s extensive investigation of failings in Afghanistan is evidence of such work. Reporters in small-town America routinely cover city council meetings and school boards, all for little pay and prestige. Such work often goes unappreciated as it is overwhelmed by the higher-profile journalistic blunders made by big media in corporate towers on the East Coast.

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JANUARY 1, 2020 //     

Pika-Who? How Pokémon Go Confused the Canadian Military

Credit: New York Times

Seemingly out of nowhere, civilians started driving onto Canadian military bases at odd hours and wandering onto government property in July 2016, distracted by their cellphone screens. Military officials did not know what to make of it.

Pokémon Go, the augmented-reality game, had soared to the top of the download charts. Within weeks, millions of people were chasing the digital animated creatures all over the world — and going places they should not go.

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DECEMBER 30, 2019 //     

Miller wants you to have a moist (or ‘Dry-ish’) January

Credit: PRWeek

CHICAGO: Millions of us are taking a vow of dryness in January 2020.

However, nearly half of the Millennials giving up booze for the months are not 100% confident they’ll be able to do it. In fact, according to a survey from Miller, around seven in 10 believe there’s at least one thing that will make it difficult for them to abstain from drinking, including celebrating a special event, being in an environment where everyone is drinking, or experiencing a stressful situation.

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AGENCY NEWS // DECEMBER 20, 2019 //     

exchange4media unveils list of India's Top Corporate Communication Professionals

Credit: Exchange 4 Media

exchange4media unveiled the “Top 100 Influential Game Changers” list in an extravagant ceremony at Hotel Shangri La, New Delhi, on Thursday.

The list features the names of Top 50 PR Professionals (male and female) and 50 Corporate Communication Professionals (male and female). It is a compilation of the most influential public relations and corporate communication professionals who have changed the dynamics of the industry through their work, vision, leadership skills and clout.

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DECEMBER 19, 2019 //     

This Toy Store Invites Children to Play. But Will It Sell Anything?

Credit: New York Times

“Daddy,” called 4-year-old Balarama Ewing. “I have to show you something!” Balarama dashed toward a canoe filled with stuffed animals and pulled out a glittery snake, which he used to whack his dad’s torso. Balarama’s twin, Krishna, followed suit with a plush shark.

The Ewings were exploring Camp in Downtown Brooklyn, a venture-backed “family experience store” — what would have recently been called a toy store — that blends play and product in hopes of reviving a tired retail toy scene. After high rents, low margins and intense competition brought down previous iterations of Toys “R” Us and F.A.O. Schwarz, it seems like a risky time to bet on toys. But Camp is trying something different.

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DECEMBER 18, 2019 //     

Burger King dishes free Impossible Whoppers to delayed holiday flyers

Credit: Marketing DiveBurger King's latest marketing campaign targets consumers who are delayed while traveling over the holidays, per a press release shared with Marketing Dive.

The "Delay Your Way" promotion will dish out free Impossible Whoppers to app users whose planes are delayed between Dec. 18 and 30. Participants must download the burger chain's app and input their flight details. If the flight is verified as delayed, Burger King will deliver a mobile coupon for the free menu item at participating restaurants across the country READ MORE
DECEMBER 18, 2019 //     

Brita launches the ugliest sweater collection

Credit: PRWeek

What’s uglier than plastic waste? Nothing, which is why Brita has launched a line of The Ugliest Ugly Sweaters, made out of recycled plastic waste.

The five sweater designs seem festive at first glance, but they actually depict harrowing scenes of the destruction that plastics cause in the natural world. Five in-house designers from mcgarrybowen created sweater designs with different themes. From melting ice caps to marine life drowned in an ocean of plastic, these sweaters do a fine job of drawing attention to the impact that plastics have on the environment. 

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DECEMBER 17, 2019 //     

Pandora develops voice ads that talk back: ‘We need to give consumers time to adopt’

Credit: The Drum

Streaming platform Pandora has developed an ad format that consumers can talk back to. However, the company’s vice president of ad innovation strategy is cognizant that users need to be eased into such an interface before voice interaction gains real ubiquity.

The new ad format stems from Voice Mode, Pandora’s hands-free control tech that launched primarily for drivers. Marketers will now be able to buy ads that encourage users to answer back and create a basic dialogue with a piece of audio creative.

DECEMBER 16, 2019 //     

MACY'S CMO RESPONDS TO SNL SPOOF OF THE DEPARTMENT STORE'S AD

Credit: AdAge

It’s the most wonderful time of the year—but not for kids who are forced into festive fashions at the behest of their stressed-out parents. Saturday Night Live captured the essence of that holiday magic in a sketch Saturday night that parodied a Macy’s commercial.

“The holidays are here, so head to Macy’s for unbeatable deals on a winter wardrobe for the whole family,” a woman’s cheerful voice urges shoppers. “Tis the season for wrestling your wiggly little monster into thick winter clothes.” The spot advertised 40 percent discounts on cozy corduroys “that’ll pinch his little nuts” and snow boots “that are so hard to put on, it’ll strain your marriage.” In one promotion for "hard, shiny shoes that hurt," a mother tells her whining daughter, "Welcome to being a woman, Kiley."

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