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The future of China’s social media

China Social Media

This post comes from Jax Potter, an Account Manager at our sister agency Eulogy! London. Jax spent a week with DGC and attended Social Media Week in New York as part of our “Rising Star” exchange program. One of the seminars she attended was “The Social Media Future of China.”

The following post was originally shared on E!’s blog.

There are currently 618,000,000 internet users in China, making up 45.8% of the population. The access choice of these users is predominantly through a mobile device rather than on desktop. The user base is predicted to grow by a staggering 800,000,000 users by 2015, providing an even greater audience for brands to speak to.

Currently, Facebook and Twitter are both banned in China due to lack of content control and regulation by the government. There is a slight exception for this, in that businesses operating in Shanghai can have access to Facebook in order to sell and connect to international markets.

Obviously members of the public want to connect with each other in the social-sphere so local variations and amalgamations of multiple platforms are popping up all over China.

Probably the most well-known channel by brands internationally is Weibo, which offers users a similar experience to Twitter but with wider image sharing options. Government content regulation is beginning to be enforced on the platform and as a result, 28,000,000 people left the network last year.

Social Media Week speaker, Yuanbo Liu described emerging platform, YY as “Whatsapp meets Zynga, meets American Idol”. The network originally started as a way for gamers to share tips and talk to each other on level completion and what’s coming up next. It has now evolved to users uploading videos of themselves performing acts such as karaoke and spectators giving them virtual gifts as endorsement of their skills. Users can then cash in these virtual gifts for money and make a profit from their talents.

It doesn’t seem obvious what the brand opportunity is yet for selling to the Chinese audience through this network, but this is going to be one to watch.

One of the largest opportunities to brands wanting to attract and engage with a Chinese audience is capturing the interest of tourists. In Chinese culture, the act of giving and gifting is a very high family value and those going abroad are expected to bring back gifts and souvenirs as a token of their travels.

Carefully worded brand content can therefore have a big impact on companies looking to target Chinese tourists with British or international products.

The biggest local social media platforms in China at the moment are:

  • Tencent
  • Ren Ren
  • YY
  • Wechat

Interestingly, one of the biggest national days in China that provides opportunities for brands to sell in Singles Day. A day in which single people purchase gifts for themselves to ensure they receive something over Valentine’s Day.

This year, Single’s Day in China generated more money than Cyber Monday, demonstrating the huge opportunity for brands in China.

Looking towards the future, it seems content regulation is going to carry on being a big focus for the Chinese government so new social media platforms will continue to pop up.

Brands therefore, need to keep a constant eye on which networks are opening and look for ways to get their products in front of the Chinese audience.

Big Apple to Britain: A Jersey Girl’s Journey into London PR

After a dozen days in the UK, I’m back in NYC and trying to avoid jet lag by making up for lost time with a much missed Starbucks. Though I did enjoy my tea and biscuits while in London—so much so I brought some back for the DGC team—it’s good to be home and with an absurdly large cup of iced coffee in hand. My time in London was definitely well spent, a perfect mix of work and play (something we value here at DGC). The Eulogy! team did a great job of making sure I met everyone, especially those from various divisions: social media (aka Onlinefire), marketing services, professional services, in addition to the B2B and consumer PR teams.

The Eulogy! team was also careful to make sure I didn’t work TOO hard, so they sent me up on the London Eye (on a thankfully sunny night)…

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…and hosted a lovely pizza party on my last day. One thing that is consistent across countries and cultures is the effect that copious free pizza has on an office: it’s mayhem, wherever you are.

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Overall, it was an amazing trip and I’m so grateful to both DGC & Eulogy! for making it happen. I hope my first “real” trip to London isn’t my last.

As they say, Cheers! xx Meg

Talking the Talk: How to Speak PR in the UK

ImageEver chased a journalist? How many sell ins have you done this week? Chances are, the answers are yes and many, but that’s not how you would say it. A “sell in” is a pitch, and to “chase” means to follow up. While the general approaches and goals of PR are the same on both sides of the pond, the terminology is quite different. When scheduling a “sit down” (meeting) with someone, be sure to check your “diary” (calendar) first. What we call “hits” or “clips” are the more formal “pieces of coverage” in the Queen’s English, and a byline is known as a “comment piece.” A company’s revenue is referred to as “turnover” and where we’d call financials simply “numbers,” here they are “figures.” Though these phrases aren’t what I’m used to hearing, they’re all pretty logical terms (unlike when I learned that a “plaster” is actually a Band-Aid…) and it’s helpful to be able to talk to the talk across various countries—even other English speaking ones!

Beyond the vocab, there are a few other differences when it comes to PR and media relations in the UK and the US. England has a large variety of national papers (approximately 13) where the US of A has mainly regional papers, with a few national exceptions that are particularly competitive. It’s more of result of geography than anything else: compared to the UK, the United States is absolutely massive and there aren’t many national outlets, but there are loads of regional ones. To put it in perspective, the entire UK (including all of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) is roughly the size of the state of Oregon. The number of outlets aside, there is also some variation in what the media is interested in. There aren’t as many talk shows in Britain as there are in the US, and they are less likely to cover something purely consumer-facing with no strong news angle. While a hard news hook helps with securing coverage no matter where you are, it’s even more important to get in with the UK media. For this reason, surveys and research are used regularly—with some clients as often as 2 or 3 times a week.

Of course, everyone at Eulogy! has been very helpful in explaining all this to me and has been kind enough to not laugh directly at me when I ask what a particular word means. For the record, “jelly” refers to jell-o, a “biscuit” is actually a cookie, “chips” in the UK are French fries, and I still can’t figure out why Band-Aids are “plasters.”

Rising Star Report: How Eulogy! Uses Video

Welcome to London, where the traffic is on the left, the subway is called the “tube” and the outlets—and the outlets—are different. Referring to both the pubs and plugs, aside from a few glaring cultural differences (tea is preferred to coffee, and Starbucks is slightly frowned upon) life at Eulogy!, an independent PR agency in London, isn’t too different from being at home at DGC. The office has a similar look and feel, and is filled with a bright team of Brits trying to get the best possible coverage for both B2B and consumer clients.

A few years ago, Eulogy! teamed up with Onlinefire to enhance their social media and digital offerings. One excellent feature of the partnership is the use of video, which Eulogy! employs frequently to tell their story and get messages across concisely and creatively. Check out Eulogy’s Dave Macnamara, Senior Creative Account Executive, above with more on using video.

Jason Collins and the Power of Authenticity

Sports Illustrated Cover, May 1 2013

This week, NBA free-agent center Jason Collins made headlines, plus tweets, posts and heads, who talked about his announcement as the first male pro athlete in a major sport to publicly address his sexuality. It’s a landmark occasion for a previously unspoken topic  in sports, as the conversation continues to grow and become more open within our society.

We were particularly struck by the method of his announcement.  He called it out best in his Sports Illustrated piece: “The announcement should be mine to make, not TMZ’s,” Collins wrote.

In an age where news breaks in 140 characters rather than a 3,000-word magazine piece, where the news usually isn’t directly from the source, Jason Collins was able to control his message and explain it his way.  It was a brilliant strategy that all PR pros should recognize and try to achieve in executing plans on behalf of high-profile clients, who may be making controversial announcements.

The other part of Collins’s news that we appreciated was its authenticity, particularly coming from the world of sports. Collins didn’t “tell-all” to Oprah, reveal a “decision” on ESPN, or be behind an “uncovered scandal” on Deadspin.

His article was a personal, heartfelt piece written for one of the most respected sports publications in the country. There was no immediate video to re-watch. No one tweet that everyone can re-tweet; just a traditional well-written personal piece.

Collins expressed everything he wanted to say, and now he can move on to the next round of this PR initiative.  The article was posted online Monday, will be on newsstands Wednesday, and it’s already a topic of conversation everywhere else. The TV interviews, the online Q&A’s, and more, are all starting. Jason Collins already appeared on Good Morning America this morning.

Bravo Jason, for controlling your message, staying true to yourself, and for standing up on an important topic within our society.

A Jump Across The Pond

This post comes from Antonia Harrison, an Account Manager at our sister agency Eulogy! London. Antonia spent a week with DGC as part of our “Rising Star” exchange program. This post was originally shared on E!’s blog.

From the age of four months, travelling and living abroad has been an integral part of my life; when I was selected to take part in Eulogy!’s first exchange programme with our strategic partner, DiGennaro Communications (DGC), I was absolutely thrilled.

DGC office

After experiencing a brief stint working as a journalist in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, I have always found it immensely interesting to see how the various elements of culture and environment help determine how industries function in different parts of the world. I was particularly looking forward to finding out how the DGC team works and, most importantly, how they tackle and interact with the American media.

Located in the Flatiron District in New York, DGC is positioned right in the heart of Manhattan and is swathed in a noisy, fast-paced and buzzing vibe – just like London! From the first moment I walked into DGC’s office, I felt a bit like Alice taking her first steps through the looking glass. Eulogy! prides itself on being London’s best agency to work for and DGC mirrors this enormously friendly and welcoming atmosphere to a tee. Within a couple of minutes, I was made to feel like one of the team and even handed my very own plaque to hang alongside the rest of the staff plaques on the office wall.

Team wall

Aside from a handful of obvious cultural differences, such as a Starbucks obsession, a distinct lack of tea and amazing lunch breaks spent in fancy dress shops, it gradually became clear that the American team faces a whole host of challenging hurdles, which the UK industry arguably takes for granted. The significant lack of national USA papers compared to the UK’s royal flush for example, means that fighting for those much sought after national print slots becomes much, much harder. When you then take into account the size of America and the sheer number of competing PR agencies, you begin to realise just how tricky it is to make your voice the loudest and the complexity of the steps involved in ultimately securing those exceptional pieces of coverage for your client.

Despite these obstacles, the DGC team is flying high and by my second day I was already witnessing a stream of brilliant daily coverage pouring in from Bloomberg’s renowned Businessweek magazine, The New York Times and the Holy Grail of news – The Wall Street Journal.

Shopping
Alongside taking part in reviews, pitch meetings and social media discussions, it was my time spent pitching ideas to a

client on how to make eating traditional American grub even more attractive to tourists, which I can truly say was the pinnacle of my all-American experience. Apparently the state has not one, not two, but four specialist barbecue sauces all designed to make your chicken wings, sticky ribs and pork chops even more tantalising! And this led to some very interesting and at times lively discussions.
Being part of a team that is more like a family than an office, cheering as DGC won yet more new business and watching as the coverage rolled in, was a unique experience and one I will never forget. Thank you once again to the whole team at DGC for these unforgettable memories.Although operationally DGC works slightly differently to Eulogy!, the same goal is still sought after and achieved – to be the best at communicating profitable messages for our clients and above all ensuring that our clients are highly visible in what are often crowded marketplaces.

Antonia & DGC Team

DGC welcomes Eulogy!’s Antonia Harrison as part of Rising Star Program

Last week, DGC welcomed Antonia Harrison, Account Manager with our sister agency Eulogy!. Antonia was E!’s winner of our inter-agency Rising Star program, a contest offering the opportunity for a DGC’er and a Eulogite to spend a week across the pond at their respective sister agency. The charge was twofold – for each winner to share how PR is handled in their homeland, as well as learning the differences in PR (and culture in general) in their weeklong home away from home.

Below, Antonia shares with us some of her insights on how to “PR” in the U.K.

After spending a week at DGC, Antonia talks through her top (surprising!) learnings of how PR works in the U.S.

There were some distinct differences and many similarities but across the board PR (in the U.K. or the U.S.) is all about understanding the news, finding those great story nuggets, maintaining stellar reporter relations and proactively securing placements.

Super Bowl: A Game of HORSE and the Pre-Game Debate

Twenty years ago, as a young PR buck, I was tasked with creating a strategy to help McDonald’s leverage its Super Bowl XXVII “Nothing But Net” spot.  I knew we had PR gold in our hands when the storyboards included Michael Jordan and Larry Bird in a game of HORSE. Slam dunk!

What wasn’t a slam dunk at the time was my idea: invite select media on-set (Entertainment Tonight, ESPN, a few others) to capture interviews with Jordan, Bird, director Joe Pytka and behind-the-scenes footage for segments that would air BEFORE the game to build anticipation and consumer engagement.

The heated debates at the Golden Arches over a concept that seemed heretical at the time were unforgettable. But, we hit pay dirt that year with phenomenal pre-game PR and a USA Today Ad Meter victory. It arguably kick-started what today is considered the first page of the Super Bowl Commercial PR Playbook.  In fact, now NOT finding ways to gain exposure for a brand’s Super Bowl spot before the game is considered heretical.

Stuart Elliott did a deep dive on the subject in The New York Times this week that’s worth reading…

Can Lance Armstrong ‘EmergeStrong?’

Lance Armstrong’s confession, though not in the least bit surprising, was one of the hottest news topics this week. In addition to how this affects him as an athlete and a celebrity, it also opened a can of worms as to how this affects his brand, his image, his reputation and perhaps most importantly, his foundation, Livestrong.

Though it may not seem like an obvious business story, Nick Balletta, CEO of TalkPoint, took a look at the situation from a business perspective and weighed in for a CNBC.com blog post. This is a great example of hijacking current events and pairing them with executive’s passion points. Nick is an athlete as well as a businessman, and he had a very strong point of view on the Lance-debacle, as you can read below. Do you think Lance will “Emerge-strong?”

Balletta: After All the Lies Can Lance Armstrong ‘EmergeStrong?’

CNBC.com | Friday, 18 Jan 2013

It wasn’t spousal abuse. It wasn’t animal abuse, it wasn’t murder. It certainly wasn’t child abuse or a subsequent child abuse cover up. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, they all sound familiar and are all too common when it comes to American celebrities, and in particular, professional athletes.

It was a lie, and for that, Lance Armstrong must pay and pay dearly he will. His titles, his awards, his medals and his legacy, are at best damaged, but in reality, mostly gone. Not even the secular confessional of Oprah can bring them back. Lance is done.

That’s Lance the athlete, but what about Lance the humanitarian and philanthropist? The cancer survivor and founder of Livestrong?

If you speak with anyone whose family member was treated for cancer at the University of Pennsylvania or the parent of a child who was treated at Cook’s Medical Center, you will definitely get a different perspective. How about the children whose parents fought cancer and they received counseling from Wonders and Worries or all of the Katrina survivors that received financial aid? How about the thousands of families over the last 15 years that have benefited from the support of Livestrong? They don’t care about the “lie,” they are living the truth.

In business terms, it’s time for “Philanthropist Lance” to go through a restructure. A Chapter 11 restructure is not the end for a company; it is a new beginning. It only works, however, if underlying assets have true value.

Conversely, the media pundits will tell you that “Athlete Lance” is finished. For “Athlete Lance,” they will say it’s not restructure time, but liquidation time; a Chapter 7 in business terms. In Chapter 7, you shut it down, unwind it, sell off the assets, go into the abyss and quietly into the night.

The parents, the survivors, the fighters, the families and the medical professionals don’t care about “Athlete Lance.” They believe in “Philanthropist Lance” and the value of the underlying assets. They are living proof of the good he has done and the value he has brought and can continue to bring. They will help him restructure. The brand may be damaged now, but that does not mean it can’t be salvaged or saved. Remember Chrysler, Macy’s and most of the airlines? Some of the largest brands in the world have been through the restructure process. These companies shed the baggage, recapitalized, kept the good assets and went on to fight another day. It’s time for Lance to regroup with the people that will reinvest and support him so he can emerge from the bankruptcy.

I have completed a few triathlons (although I don’t consider myself a triathlete) and can really appreciate the achievements of “Athlete Lance.” PEDs notwithstanding, anyone who competes in the Tour de France is in many ways superhuman.

More people have been touched by cancer than cycle or complete triathlons. Anyone who battles cancer or supports one who does needs to put out an effort that is herculean. There are exponentially more people who understand that. None of them know what it takes to ride a bike up a mountain, nor do they care. Lance needs to focus his efforts on that constituency and get them to reinvest in his “restructure.”

Emergestrong!

Apology accepted, Lance. Now let’s get back to the real work.

Nick Balletta is CEO of TalkPoint, an industry leader in global communications technology.

© 2013 CNBC.com

 

Gary Reisman Talks Shop at OMMA Video Conference

Burgeoning media platforms spawned time-shifted TV viewing and that’s just one of the many headaches media executives are trying to deal with whether they’re buyers or sellers. TV shows aren’t always watched when broadcast, viewers can skip commercials on DVR’s and many are engaging with social media on a second screen while consuming content. What’s a media planner to do?

Nobody has anything figured out but just about everyone has theories on how best to reach consumer targets.

Gary Reisman, co-founder of NewMediaMetrics (@NewMediaMetrics), for one, advised media executives not to buy “media” per se, but to “buy the buyers.” That is, to identify customers who have the highest affinity for a particular brand and then deploy brand messages across media platforms and content for which the customers also have a high affinity.

“If an alien dropped from space and looked at how we’re buying media, he’d think we’re insane,” Reisman declared as a panelist at the OMMA Video Conference in New York on May 17.  The methods used to buy media, Reisman added, are still invested in the historical “inertia” of TV.

Reisman was joined by other executives on the panel, “Online vs. Offline/Buyer vs. Seller: Is Video Advertising Cross Platform, or at Cross Purposes?” Tim Hanlon (@timhanlon) CEO & Managing Director, The Vertere Group, LLC, served as moderator.

Reisman’s fellow panelists were: Talia Arnold, Director, Digital Strategy, Horizon Media; Andy Chapman, Leader, Digital Trading, Mindshare North America; Steve Grimes, Senior Vice President, Digital Media, Comedy Central; Scott Schiller, EVP Digital Media Sales, Entertainment & Digital Networks and Integrated Media, NBCUniversal

For more of Reisman’s witticisms, see videos below.

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