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Cannes 2014. That’s a wrap!

The 61st Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is done and dusted. It was a huge week for our team on the ground taking a huge number of meetings with clients, friends of the agency and potential new partners, zipping up and down the Croisette more times than we can count, tweeting up a storm, taking in the brilliant creative and on-stage content, clinking glasses of rosé, and helping support the wonderful team at McDonald’s for their Cannes Creative Marketer of the Year accolade.


Unusually grey skies over the Palais on Day 1 of the Festival

As we dig out of a sea of business cards, Cannes swag, content and inboxes bursting at the seams, we penned some takeaways and themes from the week that was Cannes 2014…

What was trending:

The 60th anniversary of the Cannes Lions Festival last year put the advertising industry’s “All Stars” in the spotlight and this year the balance seemed to swing a little bit back towards the indie shops and lesser-known creative folks.

The DeBussy and Grand Audi saw Kanye West, Courtney Love, Bono, Jared Leto, Ralph Fiennes and other celebs graced the stage with some pretty interesting discussions.

Bono’s speech accepting the first-ever Cannes Lionheart humanitarian award for his work with (Red) at the final awards gala was particularly empowering, not to mention humorous as he drew chuckles from the crowd upon introducing himself as “Bono, the CMO of YouTube.” After a powerful preamble from Apple’s SVP of Design, Jonathan Ive,Bono told the crowd it was their brainy heads that were going to figure things out (in reference to a world epidemic of AIDS) and if they kept making the ads, he’d keep making the jingles.

This year also saw an outpouring of tech industry “celebs” taking the stage — from Sheryl Sandberg to Marissa Mayer — who found clever ways to speak to an audience full of advertising buyers and creatives without overtly making a sales pitch. Sandberg emphasized the proliferation of mobile, and also wove in her “Lean In” platform, calling for the ad industry to lead the charge in shifting the ratios of females in leadership positions, as well as to embrace diversity in the advertising and marketing campaigns they are creating for clients.

Mayer emphasized the creative side of the business, pointing to Tumblr as a perfect platform to create inspiring work. It’s wonderful to see powerful female leaders represent their brands at our industry’s biggest and most important conference.

It’s All About The Work

In some cases, the most awarded work of 2014 was all about doing good and making brands matter, in other cases it was about celebrating the sheer pleasure of consumerism. The mix of styles spoke to the heart of good marketing and what it can achieve when done in the right way.

In the first instance, there was CAA’s YouTube film for Chipotle, The Scarecrow, which took a Grand Prix in both PR and Cyber, along with multiple golds in PR, Cyber and Branded Content.

The film that sits behind an app launch and website was a bold move for the QSR, through the flawless direction of Tim Burton and the haunting sounds of Fiona Apple. Taking on “big food,” and the evils of mass food production, the film went beyond a strong piece of content, as the soundtrack was available for download on iTunes, with 60 cents per download benefiting the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation. Since launch it has racked up nearly 13 million views on YouTube.

The most awarded campaign of the week was created by adam&eveDDB for the luxury department store chain, Harvey Nichols.

An integrated holiday campaign dubbed “Sorry I Spent It On Myself, the hysterical work invited seasonal shoppers to gift “cheapskate” gifts like paper clips and toothpicks — branded with Harvey Nichols and actually sold in stores — so they could instead give themselves larger indulgences like designer dresses and handbags. A hashtag #SpentItOnMyself helped garner additional attention via social media.

Brands and platforms

Every year, the attendance diversifies and while the big tech companies have been at Cannes for years, we saw even bigger programs, activations and events on the Croisette and beyond from the likes of Microsoft, Facebook and others. We were constantly bumping in to tech players from start-up ad-tech to established Silicon Valley players: Lithium, PubMatic and Klout, to name a few.

From “La Galerie D’Instagram” where attendees could peruse real-life works of art straight from Instagram, as well as be photographed by a professional photographer on a staged set, to Microsoft’s swanky Beach Club, to Yahoo’s free pedi-cabs helping deliver delegates from the Palais to The Martinez and back again, there were many creative executions designed to add value to the overall Cannes experience.

Marketers, for their part, showed up more prominently than ever. McDonald’s, Cannes’ Creative Marketer of the Year, brought a crew of at least 20 delegates, curated a high-level panel featuring the top execs at each of their creative and media agencies, and made a big splash in the Young Lions Zone in the Palais with their McCafe space, where delegates could grab complimentary coffee, iced tea and macaroons throughout the week.

Looking to 2015…

The Festival has oodles of programming and there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to experience it all. Other marquee events have found success spinning off some of the content, similar to what TED has done with TEDx to make room for both excellent programming and invaluable networking. Another option could be to extend the conference portion to allow breathing space, or better segment the content so you can dip into the areas that are of most interest to you. On a more logistical level, we’d love to see more cell towers, 4G/improved internet connectivity and bandwidth, charging stations and water vending machines (there’s NEVER enough water!).

Au revoir ‘til next year!

Congrats to Cannes Lions Creative Marketer of the Year – McDonald’s!

The Cannes Lions “Creative Marketer of the Year” recognizes a brand’s long-lasting commitment to creativity. This year, McDonald’s was awarded top honors for consistently producing boundary-pushing creative work with the help of top, award-winning agencies Leo Burnett, TBWA, OMD and DDB.

To talk about how they’ve kept the romance alive for more than four decades, McDonald’s hosted a lively panel discussion. Speakers included: Mark Tutsell, Global Chief Creative Officer, Leo Burnett; Kate Stephenson, President, Global Account Management Omnicom Media Group; Juan Carlos Ortiz, President Latin America, DDB; and Rob Schwartz, Global Creative President, TBWA.


USA Today’s Laura Petrecca served as moderator.

Matt Biespiel, Global Director of Brand Strategy at McDonald’s kicked off the panel by noting that the brand’s award-winning work sees greater ROI than non-award-winning work. The panelists then shared their perspectives around how to build a lasting relationship and what has been key to their long-term partnership – letting the agencies in, a global philosophy of storytelling and focus on collaboration.

It was apparent that while these agencies are fierce competitors, they work together just as fiercely to make the brand’s creative work better each year. They also may have ketchup in their veins – we learned that Mark Tutssel and Juan Carlos Ortiz each served on the front lines, flipping burgers at McDonald’s to better understand the brand.

Additionally, McDonald’s had a very visible presence in the Palais where a pop-up McCafé served hot coffee, iced tea and delicious macaroons for delegates looking for a quick bite in between panel sessions and workshops.

Cannes Connected

Technology enables different types of connections everywhere, and opportunities for them were abundant at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity last week. As the Festival evolves and agencies are joined by brands, media platforms and a variety of other companies, a spirit of openness, sharing and connectivity emerge.

At a festival full of Art and Creative Directors equipped to engineer the perfect shot, it was interesting to see selfies reach a whole new level of saturation. Samsung’s Oscars Selfie – which propelled selfies to galactic heights – even picked up a Cannes Lion for L.A.-based ad agency, 72andSunny.


Selfies in full force in the Grand Audi and on the Palais red carpet

Technology stepped in, once again, to solve the most difficult thing about a selfie: the positioning. “Selfie sticks” were distributed to help festival-go’ers turn their too-short arms into a passing-by photographer.

Fabulous pictures of the industry’s finest put Facebook and Instagram front-and-center. Upon arrival, delegates were encouraged to connect their Facebook account to their delegate information and on-ground photographers pushed shots to Facebook in real time throughout the Festival.

Instagram provided the photo filters many need after late nights of rose, with a little more sharing intimacy and cool factor, to boot. The Galerie d’Instagram was stationed at the beginning of the Jetée Albert Édouard outside the Palais, displaying Insta-beauties, swag and the opportunity to be shot on the Instagram set.

For DGC, WhatsApp was the communication weapon of choice. Schedules at Cannes are moving pieces, and information comes in thick and fast so keeping everyone on our team updated with one flick of a quick message was essential. WhatsApp is a simple, easy-to-use app that made our lives so much easier.

But all of this is nothing without connectivity. A quick shout-out to Anker for their brilliant Astro external charger that helped our team and many others with an injection of much-needed juice – how does a mobile phone drain quite so quickly?

The real star, however, was XCom Global for their invaluable global mobile hotspots. The Palais wi-fi struggled to keep up with the demands of so many delegates and with much of the business being done on the Carlton Terrace, one needs to be connected past the perimeter of the Palais without racking up ridiculous bills on data roaming.

The devices are small, slipping easily into a pocket and connect up to five devices, with unlimited data for a flat daily rate. It’s a nice thing to offer clients and potential clients during meetings. The only downside was that the battery lasts only a few hours (enter, Anker charger!).

In a business so reliant on relationships, it was interesting to see how the “Oscars of the creative industry” stayed connected and shared through the Festival. Technology is a blessing!

Detroit in One Word: Indomitable.

Amid the global participants at Cannes, the Lowe Campbell Ewald: Detroit – Reboot City seminar opened with an observation that a lot of reporters tour Detroit, take a few photos of the run-down, empty buildings, write their headline that ‘Detroit is dead’ and then leave.

What they fail to understand is the mecca of creativity, art, grit and inspiration that encompasses the city. It’s the type of creative energy that drove Lowe Campbell Ewald to return to downtown Detroit from the suburbs earlier this year after asking themselves what they could do to change their culture. Lowe Campbell Ewald’s Chief Creative Officer, one of the seminar’s speakers, felt the creative ‘can do’ spirit of downtown would offer an inspiring recharge to the agency’s more than 500 employees. And so far it has done just that.

Since making the decision to move its offices, the 103-year-old agency has taken the city’s rejuvenation as a personal crusade – developing campaigns that show local entrepreneurs and creatives in action, and in turn, bringing about a local pride that not many cities in the U.S. can attest to. Lowe Campbell Ewald’s dedication to its city is something familiar to Mark’s colleague Jose Miguel Sokoloff of Lowe SSP3 Colombia, another one of the seminar’s speakers. His campaign helped bring true change to Colombia, helping to demobilize FARC guerrillas in the country.

At the seminar, and by blanketing the streets of Cannes with “Detroit vs. Everybody” t-shirts, the two award-winning creatives brought global attention to Detroit’s local game changers. From entrepreneur Veronika Scott, whose not-for-profit The Empowerment Plan employs former homeless women to make puffy coats that turn into sleeping bags to help the homeless of Detroit battle the brutal winter, to Shinola Detroit, a watch factory with a laser focus on bringing manufacturing back to the U.S.– it’s clear that Lowe Campbell Ewald is onto something good by surrounding themselves with the like-minded sheer determination to rebuild Detroit.

Detroit Reboot session -Cannes

Seminar participant and famed DJ Carl Craig cited drum and bass as a new genre of music that was emerging around the time he was carving his own career in Detroit. Craig spoke about Movement, an electronic dance festival held in Detroit each Memorial Day weekend, and how it had contributed to the culture of the city.

Ghetto Recorders, explained by Craig as a stalwart Detroit recording studio, has also been central to the defining the sound of the city. Artists such as The White Stripes and Electric Six have traveled to Detroit to record within its cement shell – the sound softened only by some carpet found by Ghetto’s Jim Diamond. A little of the wild west, indeed.

The last Detroit local celebrated by the seminar participants was Airea “Dee” Matthews, who appeared on a beautifully shot video reciting “Wisdom,” a Katrina poem. The words were hauntingly relevant to Detroit.

Cannes Lions is a Festival that celebrates creativity and seeks to inspire, but if being in the south of France in June isn’t possible, perhaps a trip to Detroit is just what you need to get your entrepreneurial and creative juices flowing.

Cannes shows up for “surprise” guest Kanye West

The Grand Audi was bustling and filled to capacity on Tuesday following a morning of big-ticket presentations from Google’s Chief Business Officer, Nikesh Arora and Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer.

A burst of press followed the last-minute addition of Kanye West to the bill. He was joined on stage by Translation CEO and Founder Steve Stoute, Andreessen Horowitz Co-founder and Partner Ben Horowitz, and moderator Stephanie Ruhle of Bloomberg. The session, Technology, Culture, and Consumer Adoption: Learning to Read the Cultural Landscape, started a little after 1 p.m., with lots of curiosity around how this soup would mix.


The connection between West and Stoute is obvious, but there was definite interest around how high-tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist Horowitz would fit into the discussion with two people very comfortable being center stage. The answer? Beautifully well.

West, Stoute and Horowitz were a formidable trio of experts on the intersection of music, advertising and technology.

Apple was central to the discussion, which ranged from the late Steve Jobs (and West’s own comparison of himself to Jobs) and the iPod era, to Apple’s recent acquisition of Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine’s Beats. Stoute, West and Horowitz all agreed that the acquisition was a smart move to help Apple regain some relevance and “coolness.”  Horowitz went as far as defining the $3B deal as 30 days of cash flow and saying that anyone who thought the price was too high was underestimating the potential for Apple.

West added, “I’m not a big fan of Samsung” (Jay-Z is a Samsung endorser) to which Stoute bellowed “There goes the neighborhood!” This was but one of the displays of humorous on-stage banter that made the session so entertaining.

On a human-interest note, here are some comments from West (because let’s be honest, we all want to know what he has to say at a festival like Cannes Lions):

  • Annie Leibovitz pulled out of photographing the West-Kardashian nuptials the day before the wedding; the “kiss” wedding photo circulated to press took four days to craft.
  • West has 10.5M followers on Twitter but only follows one person. His wife.
  • New word—“out-ass,” used in the context of trying to outclass someone by buying a $6K phone.

All-in, it was a rewarding session whether attendees came looking for Stoute-like insights on how to market using culture, Kimye gossip or wise words from Horowitz.


Is Amazon’s Fire Phone a ‘Category Killer?’

Adweek’s Lauren Johnson has a smart story about the new Amazon smart phone, the Fire Phone, and how it spells trouble for brick-and-mortar retailers. Its built-in mobile app, Firefly, scans product QR codes and then directs consumers to, she reported yesterday.

Here’s what some ad executives had to say about what the Fire Phone means for the smart phone category versus the other big players in the market:

Matt_Witt Matthew Witt, EVP, Director of Digital Integration, Tris3ct.

I think it’s very feasible for the Amazon smart phone to give Apple and Samsung some competition. To penetrate the market initially, they have to be very competitive on price, which they’ve done with their tablet devices, the Kindle and the Kindle Fire HD. But the longer term opportunity is for Amazon to fold in other services, such as the scanning capabilities that come with Amazon Prime’s Wand and their entertainment streaming services. Making those native to the phone will help drive business in other channels for Amazon.

Jeff AnulewiczJeff Anulewicz, Executive Director of Strategy & Analytics, MXM Mobile.

With mobile phones today, people aren’t just buying technology.  They’re buying image.  They’re buying services.  They are making a choice about how this device fits into their daily life.

Getting into the smartphone market in a truly meaningful way is no easy proposition (just ask Facebook).  But if the rumors of technology advances such as a 3D interface and eye tracking are true, coupled with their history of heavily subsidizing their device offerings, than perhaps Amazon has a better chance of gaining traction.

But let’s be honest, Amazon is not a hardware company.  First and foremost they are a content and eCommerce company.  Their forays into hardware with the Kindle Fire and Amazon Fire TV are simply ways to streamline the way they sell and serve content to their consumers.

By adding a smartphone into this ecosystem, and powered by its Prime service, they are looking to create an even deeper, more direct digital connection with their consumers.

Bill Tucker_photoBill Tucker, EVP, Media Relations, the 4A’s.
Amazon can certainly gain share of market with AT&T, which is a terrific partner. Any smart phone that can overcome some of the ‘pain points’ that keep mobile from becoming a more effective advertising and retail channel, could be a category killer. A 3D display is nice but if the Amazon phone platform doesn’t have truly responsive ad design or enable seamless multi-screen experiences, or make it way easier for consumers to buy things from this phone than current smart phones, then I won’t consider it extraordinary.

dan rocheDan Roche, VP of Marketing, TalkPoint.

It’s early to call Amazon’s smartphone an iPhone killer, but they are definitely on a collision course. Amazon is smartly mimicking iPhone’s exclusive launch strategy with AT&T to try to co-op the provider into a hard push. Pricing is also strategic to get into users hands (Amazon’s Fire Phone is $100 less for the same amount of storage as an iPhone 5S). The long play for Amazon here is really how seamlessly it integrates into the Amazon catalogue of products, including Prime services like music and video. Most importantly, the phone itself, with its 3D technology, takes a leap forward, which is something that Apple hasn’t done in a while. With TalkPoint as a technology provider that leverages the mobile market, we love to see any hardware progress that brings more users into the fold. The Amazon Fire should make a splash in the market, but only time will tell how significant it will be.

gareth-dimelowGareth Dimelow, Executive Director, Engagement Planning, George P. Johnson, United Kingdom. 

Already being trumpeted as a potential “iPhone killer,” the new Amazon smartphone carries the weight of the world’s expectations on its intuitively designed shoulders. This close to the launch, no one can say whether Amazon will kill the iPhone’s market dominance, but perhaps that’s because this isn’t really where Amazon’s interests lie. Jeff Bezos has always been clear on his intentions to make Amazon an “everything company.” And if, like Apple, he wants to tie consumers into a proprietary content platform, his objective won’t be to kill the iPhone. Instead, he’s looking to emulate their revolutionary model and ensure that Amazon’s customers enjoy a richer, deeper and longer-lasting retail and consumption experience.

Michael Lieberman_photoMichael Lieberman, Co-President, Joule.

Amazon has done a great job of building up a loyal brand following, embodied by the success of Prime.  And more than other Android manufacturers, Amazon was successful in creating a user-friendly interface for its Fire tablet that also encouraged interaction with Amazon services.  If Amazon is to have success, they will need to transition both the audience and the seamless, engaging experience to the new Fire phone, albeit in a very unforgiving smartphone market.



What’s Worth Your While in Cannes

Are you packed yet? The sun, the sea, the Palais, Carlton terrace and Croisette all await your arrival for the Cannes Lions 2014 Festival of Creativity, June 15—21.

Thanks to Adweek, we already have an idea of what the world’s top advertising creatives will be doing in the south of France. And we’ve compiled a Twitter list for you to subscribe to, making it easy to see the key themes coming out of the Festival through the eyes of attending reporters and Jury members.

An expert Cannes crew from DiGennaro Communications will be on the ground next week supporting our clients, friends and family including the Cannes Lions 2014 Creative Marketer of the Year, McDonald’s. Here are our picks of what is worth your time between glasses of rosé, lattes, and fraternizing:

  • POSSIBLE ART 140 Installation
    Sunday, June 15 – Saturday, June 22
    9 AM – 10 AM (CEST)
    Located right outside Palais
    ART140 is a website showcasing iconic pieces of art from MoMA’s collection that harnesses the power of Twitter to let individuals express what these pieces mean to them, in 140 characters or less via the hashtag #art140. Because of it, POSSIBLE has been able to measure everything from a Stream of Consciousness scoring system, to Highbrow Index and gain a deeper understanding of the power of social language.
  • Greenlight Media & Marketing: Leveraging the Power of Celebrity to Reach the ‘Skip Generation’ & Leap Over the Competition (Seminar)
    With Dominic Sandifer (President) and others
    Sunday, June 15, 2 PM – 2:45 PM (CEST)
    Located at Grand Audi
  • Music For Millenials (Forum)
    With Steve Easterbrook (Chief Brand Officer) of McDonalds and others
    Monday, June 16, 9 AM – 9:30 AM (CEST)
    Located at Audi A
  • DDB: Why Passion? (Master Class)
    With Keith Reinhard (Chairman Emeritus)
    Monday, June 16, 12 PM – 1 PM (CEST)
    Located at Young Lions Zone (YLZ)
  • Microsoft: Make the Most of Every Moment (Seminar)
    With Dan Lin (CEO) of Lin Pictures and Stephen Kim (VP of Global Agencies & Accounts) of Microsoft
    Wednesday, June 18, 1 PM – 1:45 PM (CEST)
    Located at Debussy
  •  Facebook: Making Marketing Personal Again (Master Class)
    With Sheryl Sandberg (COO) of Facebook and Abbey Klaassen (Editor) of Advertising Age
    Wednesday, June 18, 2 PM – 2:45 PM (CEST)
    Located at Young Lions Zone (YLZ)
  •  Ogilvy: Cosmic Quandries & Creativity (Seminar)
    With Tham Khai Meng (CCO) and others
    Thursday, June 19, 2 PM – 2:45 PM (CEST)
    Located at Grand Audi
  •  Microsoft: How Wizards are Changing Culture & Turning Tech into Art (Forum)
    With Rick Barraza (Senior Technical Evangelist) & Jonathan Oliver (Senior Brand Strategist) of Microsoft, including others
    Thursday, June 19, 4:45 PM – 5:30 PM (CEST)
    Located at Audi A
  •  Lowe Campbell Ewald: Detroit – Reboot City (Seminar)
    With Mark Simon (CCO) with others
    Friday, June 20, 11 AM – 11:45 AM (CEST)
    Located at Grand Audi
  •  Facebook: Why Me, Why Now, Why Here? Why I Believe an Open World is a Better World (Master Class)
    With Rob Newlan (Head of EMEA)
    Friday, June 20, 3 PM – 4 PM (CEST)
    Located at Young Lions Zone (YLZ)
  • McDonald’s Wonders: What Really is the Antidote to Client Promiscuity? (Seminar)
    With Matt Biespiel (Senior Director, Global Brand Management) and others
    Friday, June 20, 3:15 PM – 4 PM (CEST)
    Located at Grand Audi
  •  W Communications: The Future of Music (Forum)
    With Heidi Browning (SVP of Strategic Solutions) of Pandora and others
    Friday, June 20, 3 PM – 3:45 PM (CEST)
    Located at Audi A

Bon voyage!


Audience Measurement 2014: The Leadership Mandate

This year’s the Advertising Research Foundation’s Audience Measurement (AM) 2014 focused on the Measurement Mandate and an immediate call-to-action for analysts to embrace the future of programmatic buying and cross platform measurement and lead their respective organizations through the considerable changes brought by today’s complex media environment.

Gayle Fuguitt, President and CEO of The ARF’s opening address set the tone for the event. In it, she explained there is a code red problem facing the industry. For example, the ARF’s research found that less than 10 percent of marketers say that mix models help them understand cross-platform advertising. Fuguitt emphasized that analysts must recognize this to be a transformative moment.

“This is not a measurement mandate, but rather a leadership mandate,” said Fuguitt. “We need to collaborate within our organizations, across organizations and across the world and we need to listen to each other and converge.”

Gayle Fuguitt

In his address Bob Lord, Global CEO of AOL Platforms, delved into the power of convergence and how it can transform industries at the intersection of business and technology.  Lord believes that measurement is key to truly understanding consumers and creating a brand strategy that meets consumers’ needs.

“Convergence of technology, media and creativity allows us to imagine and enable customer experiences like never before,” said Lord.  “Technology, media, and creativity operating within the context of business strategy can transform a marketing problem.”

Bob Lord

Lord also discussed his five principles when using data to better the consumer experience. He explained that brands need to put the consumer at the center and understand what motivates them and their journey to trying or using a product. Marketers must start thinking of their brand as a service and be aware of the fact that they are in the business of fulfilling consumer needs. It is also crucial to reject silos; consumers don’t care about inter-department issues and neither should businesses. Brands also need to act like a startup and employ agile methodology and prototyping. Finally, brands must embrace diversity in order to raise ROI’s on company performance.

AM 2014 wasn’t only a discussion of big data and ways to improve audience measurement across platforms. It was also a look at those who are solving measurement challenges and generating significant business results. In that spirit, the first annual Erwin Ephron Demystification Award was announced at the conference, an award that honors the legacy of media leader, Erwin Ephron.

Bill Harvey, Co-Founder and Strategic Advisor of TiVo Research and Analytics, was the first winner of this prestigious award. He has spent over 35 years in the media research industry and has pioneered thinking in New Media, industry data, and audience measurement standards.

“Bill challenges conventional thinking, and has a rare ability to translate ideas into action,” said Fuguitt. “The Erwin Ephron Demystification Award was part of the greater goal of AM 2014 to support, inspire, and promote the analytical minds that will lead organizations through this period of dynamic change.”

Bill Harvey & Gayle Fuguitt

The overarching message of AM 2014 was the need for analysts to embrace new ways of thinking in order to keep their seat as the C-suite’s most trusted advisor, a mission that the ARF will continue in future events and research.



What’s the Next Move in Digital? Erwin Penland CMO Joe Saracino Reflects

Earlier this month we sat down with Joe Saracino, Chief Marketing Officer at ad agency Erwin Penland, to talk brand marketing trends. Coming off of the agency’s seventh annual unconventional Food for Thought conference, Joe reflected on the Digital Brand Panel, which hosted top executives from game-changing brands including GE, Coca-Cola, Capital One, Michelin, and 20th Century Fox in a discussion around the digital landscape.

Listen below to Joe’s reflections on the panel and his biggest takeaway. It just might make you stop and rethink the next digital move you plan to make.

4A’s PR Forum: 8 Tips for Pitching Reporters

The 4A’s, the leading trade association for ad agencies, held its second 4A’s Public Relations Forum, this year at J. Walter Thompson’s beautiful NYC offices on May 14, and the event drew a packed house.

Dubbed “24/7 Always On Communications,” the event brought together business journalists and hundreds of communications professionals from PR agencies and ad agencies to discuss changes in news gathering and media relations practices.

Top reporters from outlets including Fast Company, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Ad Age, Adweek and USA Today, as well as PR practitioners from agencies including, CP+B, FCB and Mullen lent their expertise on topics concerning reputation management and crisis communications. Additionally, executives from Twitter and Facebook discussed how social media engagement and real-time communications continues to change the world of earned media.

Still, media relations is the bread and butter of the PR practice, and journalist speakers talked about how technology and emerging media channels continue to impact their profession.

Below are eight insights that PR practitioners should keep in mind when engaging with the media in this 24/7 “Always On” world.

  1. Technology works. Almost all reporter panelists said that if you sent an email, “we got your pitch, and there’s no need to follow up four or five times to check.”  That said, if you want to follow up once, Laura Petrecca  from USA Today suggests writing “FOLLOW UP” in your subject line to make your point clear.
  2. Relationships are key. Reporters are much more apt to take your call if they know you. The takeaway?  Build those connections now; they will pay off for years to come.
  3. Sometimes it’s just about luck: Ever wonder why the pitch you spent hours writing got no response but the one that took ten minutes got an immediate reply?  The truth is, there isn’t a real answer other than timing. As Fast Company’s Editor Bob Safian pointed out, “It’s like getting a parking spot in the mall at Christmas time – it could take one minute, it could take 20. It depends what’s happening on that specific day and time — don’t take it personally.”
  4. The “aha” moment. Reporters and editors are looking for something new and surprising for their readers. If your pitched doesn’t elicit an “a-ha” moment it will be deleted.
  5. Remember the “why.”  When pitching a story, it is essential to include the “why.” While this may seem like a given, the Wall Street Journal’s Suzanne Vranica said it was surprising how many pitches she reads that bury the “why.” Remember to include the business challenge or impetus for your storyline.
  6. Social media is critical. Reporters use social media to inform their stories and gauge hot topics of the day, so PR professionals should align pitches with topics reporters seem to have on their radars. As Twitter’s Melissa Barnes reminded the audience, “Not only are stories being discussed on the platform, sometimes they are breaking on Twitter.” With social comes more competition than ever for reporters, so it’s imperative to stay close to the real-time conversation and how it’s informing journalism.
  7. Deadlines don’t exist. They have become almost irrelevant.  Everything is so real-time that reporters don’t always have time to respond to your pitch.
  8. Be concise. Suzanne Vranica says that actually, a one-sentence pitch via phone is more effective than a three-paragraph email. Take that to heart.


Digital Denizens: Reporting from the Future

“Digital Denizens: Reporting from the Future” panel. From left to right: Michael Learmonth, Ad Age; Todd Wasserman of Mashable; Brian Braiker Digiday reporter; moderator is Jill Kelly, Chief Communications Officer of Digitas.


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