Blog Archives

In Cannes: Teamwork and Activation

Sam DiGennaro, founder of DiGennaro Communications, started going to the Cannes Festival of Creativity 15 years ago. This year, she came with a posse from her PR agency—a testament to the number of clients the agency has added over the past year and who also have a presence in the south of France this year.

SXSW 2012: Brands, Buzz and Breakfast

DGC is still recovering from a great week at South By Southwest. Now that we’ve fully digested the panel sessions, brand activations and many fried carbs, we want to share some of our highlights:

Favorite Brand Activation:  Tie between Amex and Chevy

Why?  Both provided true value to even the most grizzled SXSW veterans. In Chevy’s case, its “Catch a Chevy” program gave those of us with barking dogs and a waning patience for expensive shuttle service a comfy ride to off-campus panels. Amex’s promotion showed us that simply having an Amex and a willingness to Tweet on behalf of brands spells big rewards for cardholders – like exclusive tickets to a Jay-Z show. While two lucky DGC-ers were in line to see Jay in a 2,000-person venue, we heard more than one person say, “I’m so glad I have an Amex.”  Now that’s brand loyalty.

Favorite Panel Takeaways:  Curation and tech start-up culture

With Pinterest’s skyrocketing popularity, it’s not surprising that curation was one of the week’s “buzziest” terms. In the publishing world, the debate was about how to give credit where it’s due, to both authors and the curators themselves.  For brands, the question is how to either become curators, or integrate seamlessly into a user’s curating experience. It will be interesting to see how that plays out in the future.

Also big this year was talk of how advertising should embrace a tech start-up culture – the Mark Zuckerberg “move fast and break things” philosophy. This means less and less of “the big idea” and many more small, nimble ideas. As ad exec Tim Leake put it: advertising in these times is no longer about telling a story, but inspiring one, listening to the conversation about your brands and saying – to borrow terms from Leake’s improv background – “yes…and” to that idea.

Favorite Food Truck: Tie between Whole Foods and Today Show

With all the foot traffic in downtown Austin,  the restaurants were almost as hard to get into as the packed early morning marketing sessions (and they were packed this year – most had a one-in, one-out policy). Branded Today Show trucks were serving up delicious breakfast from renowned chef Danny Meyer throughout the day and night.  And Whole Foods was in the right place, at the right time, with the right vegan chickpea sandwich when one DGC-er almost had a hunger meltdown.

Book PR in a Digital World

Sometimes when you attend a panel here at SXSW, you wind up hearing a topline conversation of things you already know and not a deeper dive into things that you really want to know. Discoverability and the New World of Book PR offered a refreshing instance of the latter with a variety of tips for today’s authors.

While the discussion on the changing media landscape, use of social media and basic pitching were things we know and practice, Rusty Shelton and Barbara Henricks – book PR specialists – made it clear that timing and access are critical to success in this digital world (sounds familiar).

With fewer reporters and publications, authors need to begin the process earlier and earlier to build proper momentum and enhance success after a book is published. A bottom up approach – starting with social media and working your way to top-tier broadcast — while seemingly slow at first can have greater impact than an initial hit or two.

To kick-start your book marketing journey and enhance PR efforts, consider the following:

Timing: Start talking up your book as soon as you have a title and topic. This will help gather interest from your inner network of respected friends, family and associates to get the buzz started. Waiting until the last minute will put you behind the eight ball when it comes to securing more traditional coverage.

Social Media: Begin talking about your book or topics closely related to it on Facebook, Twitter, a blog and with bloggers to share your expertise and engage with potential readers. Once the book is available for review, these supporters will be the first to offer a positive review and start spreading the love. And don’t feel like any outlet is too small – optimization is your best friend — so take advantage of those blog opportunities.

Video: Don’t have the time necessary to dedicateto social media? Start small with an hour per week and progress from there. In the meantime, create a video for your website that allows visitors to visualize you as an author and engage based upon your passion and expertise (not to mention help with broadcast pitching efforts).

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to write a good book; it’s up to you, your community and PR team to help make it a best seller. With the proper timing, community and tools in place, this can be a reality.

It’s a Mad Mobile World

NewMediaMetrics co-founder Gary Reisman had an unusual start to his moderating duties at the Digital Hollywood Media Summit on March 8 in New York. Just as he introduced the panelists to a packed room concerned with the issues around Advertising Accountability: Metrics and Analytics around Video, Social Media, Broadband and Mobile, an attendee wandered in talking loudly on his mobile phone, completely oblivious to proceedings. After a few moments of stunned silence during which the phone conversation was the only sound in the room, the caller looked around sheepishly, apologized and exited. Hilarity ensued among the panelists followed by what turned out to be a lively, sometimes combative, hour-long debate: Eugene Becker, VP, Analytics, Xaxis; Bob Ivins, VP of Data & Research, Comcast Spotlight; Scott McKinley, EVP Advertising Effectiveness, Nielsen; Debbie Solomon, Managing Director, Business Planning, MindShare; Mark Pascarella, CEO, uberVU; Jeff Plaisted, Senior Director, U.S. Sales and Strategy, Mobile & Skype Advertising, Microsoft; and Dr. Raymond Pettit, VP of Market Research, PRN.  Click the video to get Reisman’s take on one of the more compelling insights.

When in Austin…

A group of DGCers is heading to Austin, TX, for SXSW Interactive again this year (March 9-13), and since they are now “experienced” attendees, we asked them what people should know to get the most they can from the experience, which seems to get more overwhelming each year.

Tips for attending: 

  • Don’t be afraid to approach speakers after attending their sessions. It’s all about networking—go shake hands!
  • Pace yourself. There is a LOT to see and do.  Study the schedules (panels as well as parties) and prioritize to make the most of your experience.
  • Missed the daily keynote because you were busy networking? Check it out online at http://sxsw.com/interactive/live.
  • Attend parties. There are many that are free and open to anyone with a badge (for a guide click here: http://austin.sanfranfreesco.com/event/filter?tagFilter=26). Try to attend:
    • The Mix at Six presented by Can We Network (3/9, 6pm)
    • The Interactive Opening Party presented by frog design and Microsoft (3/10, 8pm)
    • Mashable SXSWi House 2012 (3/11, 9pm)

Despite the high-tech atmosphere, it’s a good idea to take lots of business cards with you. Yes, the print kind. Maybe  Freshbooks and Shoeboxed will collaborate again as they did last year. This article tells how their brilliant promotion helped attendees organize all those wonderful new contacts people made at SXSW.

And check back here at The Hit Board which will be updated regularly by the on-site DGC team with trends, attendee insights and more.

And the Oscar Goes to… Cirque du Soleil!

Anyone else think the Cirque du Soleil performance was one of few shining moments at last night’s Oscars? While 84-year-old Oscar arguably fell a little flat last night, Cirque – soaring above the Hollywood elite – seemed forever young. Who could know the organization is more than two decades old?

That consistent “freshness” is something Xerox CMO Christa Carone describes as the “secret sauce of Cirque” in her recent Forbes piece. Read more here for lessons from Carone on how big brands can be similarly remarkable and magical in their marketing.

And The Oscar Goes To…The Film With The Best Twitter Following

This Sunday, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will determine the best in film from 2011. From the looks of things, it could be another “Hurt Locker” year, where a more niche film wins out over a big Hollywood production. And, if that is the case, you can be sure that Twitter and Facebook will not be silent.

Which begs the question: who really wins best picture?

We’ve seen social media achieve remarkable things over the past few years. Political uprisings in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt. Immediate accounts of natural disasters striking around the world. Even an impressive—although less significant—online revolt against Esperanza Spalding for beating out Justin Bieber as “Best New Artist” at the 2011 Grammy Awards.

Social media has become its own People’s Choice Awards, and when the Academy speaks on Sunday, the world will either speak with or against it.

It is with this in mind that the DGC team shares its picks for best picture of 2011—as well as its picks for what it expects will actually garner the Academy’s favor.

Want To Win:

  • The Artist – 3
  • The Help – 2
  • Hugo – 2
  • Midnight in Paris – 2
  • Moneyball – 2
  • The Descendants – 1

Expected To Win:

  • The Artist – 6
  • The Help – 3
  • The Descendants – 2
  • War Horse – 1

Maybe this one time what we want to win and what actually wins will be one and the same. With Twitter already aflutter with rationales for why each of the nine movies should win best picture, it’ll be a close race to the finish. I, for one, will be interested to see which titles are trending on Sunday night—although, I have every intention of Tweeting my own rationale for why Bridesmaids should have been taking home the gold this year.

What is your pick for best picture? Is it the same as what you expect to win? Tell us in the comments section below!

I Am Public Relations (And So Can You!)

I remember a time when I absolutely hated Twitter—the idea of sharing regular meaningless updates seemed excessive and unnecessary. But then I discovered the power Twitter had to share and spread news, and from then on I was hooked. Tools like these continue to affect the way we do our jobs and shift the focus of what we do.

In its annual “State of the Media Report,” cloud-based marketing and PR software company, Vocus, identified seven things that PR professionals need to know about the shifting media landscape. Check out the list below to stay on top of your game.

  1. Serve up more than just text. In an age when pictures and video can be recorded on your phone, take advantage of technology to spice up your pitches.
  2. Traditional pitching rules apply. Just because Twitter condenses your messages to 140 characters, doesn’t mean you always have to do so. Treat reporters with the respect they deserve.
  3. Buy an iPhone and/or iPad. With everyone creating content for iPhones and iPads, it’s important to know and use the technology.
  4. Don’t pitch using social media. 80 percent of reporters prefer to be contacted via email.
  5. Do get to know reporters via social media platforms. Following reporters on Twitter is a great way to interact with them when you’re not pitching. You can also support them by posting their content once it’s published.
  6. Make it easy. Keeping your pitches short and sweet is important, but make sure you aren’t leaving any major holes for reporters to fill in. The easier you make it, the more likely you are to see a story convert.
  7. Pitch TV newsrooms between 8 and 9 a.m. Since this is before the editorial staff’s morning meeting, you are more likely to get your idea in front of them if they have it on hand heading into their discussion.

Are you keeping up with the evolving media scene? Feel free to share additional tips in the comments section below!

Inside the Super Bowl Economy: A Behind-the-Scenes Peek at PR’ing This Year’s Super Bowl Ads

This post was originally published on Commpro.biz

Brian Pittman’s spotlight: Samantha DiGennaro, Founder, DiGennaro Communications

Over 173 million people will be watching the Super Bowl this Sunday, according to the latest stats from the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association. Yes, that’s a record. So are estimates for total Super Bowl spending by consumers—now forecast at $11 billion.

So what drives all of that spending? Super Bowl ads, of course. And who drives the buzz for those ads? PR firms like DiGennaro Communications, that’s who.

For a behind-the-scenes look into getting the word out about these entertaining, highly anticipated ad campaigns, we spoke to Samantha DiGennaro. An 18-year communication strategist, she launched DiGennaro Communications in January 2006. Since then, she has built a highly reputable business-to-business public relations agency that boasts a roster of clients ranging from global media companies to full-service advertising agencies to digital and design outfits.

And this year, four of the agency’s client partners are running ads during the Super Bowl. Pretty impressive. Read on for her insights on everything from how social media is being incorporated into Super Bowl advertising campaigns this year to lessons for other PR, communications and marketing pros:

How many Super Bowl advertisers are there this year—and what is the average budget?

Firstly, on behalf of DGC, I want to say how happy we are, year after year, to play such a big role in the Super Bowl economy by promoting the ads that entertain millions of people during the game. This year, there are more than 30 advertisers, of which 11 are auto brands.

Some 30-second ads are going for $3.5 million, but not everyone is paying that price. And some advertisers are buying packages, including the Olympics. In addition, some brands have more than one spot, and as you will see, many are going beyond TV. They are investing in social, apps and user-generated content.

How many clients does DGC have in the Super Bowl?

We have four agency clients who are doing ads for major brands, and we—in partnership with our clients and their clients—are promoting ads from the following brands:

How is social media being integrated into campaigns?

The Super Bowl has always been a social experience and now technology makes it more so. That is why we see advertisers and their agencies embracing social media so fully. In fact, Mashable is running a piece on the most shared 2012 Super Bowl ads, which demonstrates that marketers are looking to maximize the return on their ad dollars. Advertisers today want people to see them before, during and after the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, consumers are enjoying the fun—and they get to feel even more part of the game. Kudos to our client Goodby, Silverstein & Partners for their work with the popular Dorito’s teaser: http://mashable.com/2012/01/23/most-shared-2012-super-bowl/#3usaGfn7r0w

This is also a chance to show how fun live TV can be, and not just at the Super Bowl. Clients of DGC’s such as BrightLine and Organic, Omnicom’s global digital agency, are talking about how social technologies and advanced TV help the audience participate with content in entirely new ways. It raises the creative bar. The increasingly social nature of the Super Bowl will be a precursor to trends we can expect to see at other highly-visible live events, such as the Oscars, Olympics, elections, etc.

Why is user-generated content tied to Super Bowl campaigns so successful?

User-generated ad campaigns are successful for a couple of reasons: Super Bowl is a national pastime, and there are millions of people in the US, and even around the world, who want to feel like they are a part of the game. Combine that with the fact that people have been producing and sharing their own content on the web for several years, and the Super Bowl, advertising and user-generated content make a perfect trifecta.

A large part of the Chevy ad campaign, created by our client Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, is built around user-generated content, and people can vote for the best ad. We believe Chevy will stand out by offering an app that viewers can use during the game to play games, interact with one another through Twitter and win prizes. The free Chevy Game Time app is available at the Game Time site http://www.chevrolet.com/gametime and at the Apple App Store and Android Market.

Crash the Super Bowl, Dorito’s user-generated Super Bowl campaign created by Goodby, is likewise inherently social, as people get to vote for and share their favorite ads. The most-viewed user-generated ad is about a guy who wants to share his Dorito’s recipe. Instead of making the chip, he makes gold!

Who are some of the newcomers and innovators in this year’s Super Bowl adscape?

Our client Red Tettemer is doing Century21 Real Estate’s work this year. This will be Century21’s first foray into the grand stage of Super Bowl advertising, and the work features Donald Trump; professional Football Hall of Famer and NFL Analyst, Deion Sanders; and eight-time Olympic medalist, Apolo Ohno.

With a rallying cry of “Smarter. Bolder. Faster.” the 30-second, third-quarter ad matches a formidable and unflappable Century21 Agent with these well-known business and athletic icons as they participate in the home-buying and selling process.

Behind-the-scenes footage, teaser premieres and the final Super Bowl spot will be released on facebook.com/century21 in advance of the game. Also, in the coming weeks leading up to the big game, via Twitter, the talent will announce key milestones, drive votes to the USA Today Ad Meter, release teasers of the spot, and use the hash-tag #C21SuperBowl.

In addition to the third quarter spot, Century 21 will have 11 pre-game spots and will be sponsoring the 3:30-4:00pm block of the pre-game show.

We are incredibly excited for our Red Tettemer client, as this is their first Super Bowl campaign.

On another front, David & Goliath is leading Kia’s third consecutive year of Super Bowl advertising.  Kia is the first brand to preview a Super Bowl ad in cinema. The spot goes live at midnight on February 2 on the Kia YouTube channel and officially launches during the game. There will be synergistic Facebook and Twitter branded experiences, leveraging the campaign look, tone and feel. On February 2, you will see flash banners driving people to YouTube, a Yahoo homepage take over; on February 7, Kia will take over the MSN home page, so you can see a multi-pronged campaign from Kia and David & Goliath.

What other trends should we be watching?

We are seeing several important trends emerge this year.

Companies are spending millions of dollars to reach more than 110 million people around the country during the game. And while national TV buys are a major component of the advertising strategy, recent viewing stats during the NFL playoffs from our client TVB, the not-for-profit trade association of America’s commercial broadcast television industry, show that there is a huge opportunity for smaller, local advertisers to reach 305% more eyeballs in key football cities during the Super Bowl.

We are also looking at advertising in a much more integrated fashion, and watching where new technologies and apps take us.  According to MediaCom, a WPP media-buying and planning company, TV remains the most important channel as it provides the spark to create conversations about brands. In fact, advertisers are stepping up and securing their Super Bowl TV buys much earlier than in years past.  That said, other channels are clearly driving the interest in ads: YouTube creates buzz; mobile apps and content give people snackable content they can share during the game; and paid search helps marketers increase their visibility when people search for them by name or for related products and services.

And of course, as advertising evolves in the digital space, so do we at DiGennaro Communications. The DGC team is actively blogging, tweeting, Facebooking, and posting Super Bowl coverage and content in real time.

What are the traits of successful Super Bowl ads?

Racy ads are not necessarily the ones that win hearts. Clever humor typically fares well. Yes, endearing spots with a strong knack for storytelling are often times the most crowd-pleasing. Last year, Volkswagen won big with “The Force” about a young boy trying to empower things to move while dressed up as Darth Vader. It has had nearly 50 million views on YouTube alone. And this year’s VW ad, “The Bark Side,” already has 7.8 million views on YouTube. So we are seeing the power of a big brand echoing the power of another big brand, but in a charming, human and in this year’s case—dog-loving way.

How do ad agencies brainstorm killer creative with clients for the Super Bowl?

Goodby, Silverstein & Partners is one of several companies that Business Insider talked to about the making and buying of Super Bowl ads and you can check it out here.

Any other lessons or tips that come out of this for advertisers and marketers?

Don’t wait for Super Bowl Sunday to air your ad—we are seeing incredible brand power and recall by going public beforehand.

Think viral. Think social.

Engage your PR department or PR agency to promote your work. There’s a method to the madness of Super Bowl PR. Better yet, it’s an art.

What are the biggest challenges around undertaking PR for these campaigns before and during Super Bowl season?

From a business and communications perspective, we love being part of the Super Bowl. Here at DGC, we have a robust team of PR pros pitching our clients’ expertise in Super Bowl advertising. Like I said, we have secured several news stories, with more than 50 outlets expressing interest in talking with our clients and their marketers/clients this Super Bowl season.

Outlets are asking for pre-game and post-game advertising analysis; some even welcome real-time blogging, ad critiques and judging. And of course some clients’ campaigns are getting major coverage in The New York Times, USA Today, and Ad Age, among other publications. It’s really gratifying to know that some of our clients are behind that work.

And while it’s not a challenge per se, we do need to be mindful of the fact that we cannot PR the work until the client blesses it. There are lots of moving parts—and people—involved, so timing needs to be impeccable. For each client, it’s a different set of rules—a different timeline. And we work carefully with our clients on that. We are all part of a team.

What will you and your team be doing on Super Bowl (hopefully, having some fun!)?

I am sure we will all be watching the game but the team at DiGennaro Communications will likely be very interested in the creativity and production value of the ads and the resulting real tine chatter in the social media space. In fact, we are proud to say that our clients and our DGC team will be fueling that conversation!

AWNY Panel Tells Us What’s Hot in Public Relations This Year

DGC (DiGennaro Communications) had the pleasure of recently attending the AWNY panel “What’s Hot in Public Relations: 2012” moderated by Ad Age’s Alexandra Bruell. It was an enlightening discussion among proven PR pros – all of whom felt strongly that the outlook for the industry is quite bright.   A bit of a “kumbaya” affair, Darlan Monterisi (Porter Novelli), Liz Kaplow (Kaplow), Lisa Rosenberg (Euro RSCG PR), and Jill Dosik (GCI Health) all thought that 2012 would bring a renewed focus on working together across marketing industries to bring ideas to life. Along with this message of unity came a sincere hope that the year ahead would bring a return to real world engagement and a healthier balance between offline and online interaction.We had the pleasure of recently attending the AWNY panel “What’s Hot in Public Relations: 2012” moderated by Ad Age’s Alexandra Bruell. It was an enlightening discussion among proven PR pros – all of whom felt strongly that the outlook for the industry is quite bright.

A bit of a “kumbaya” affair, Darlan Monterisi (Porter Novelli), Liz Kaplow (Kaplow), Lisa Rosenberg (Euro RSCG PR), and Jill Dosik (GCI Health) all thought that 2012 would bring a renewed focus on working together across marketing industries to bring ideas to life. Along with this message of unity came a sincere hope that the year ahead would bring a return to real world engagement and a healthier balance between offline and online interaction.

Below are more highlights on what will be hot in PR this year – even if it’s a bit cold outside right now.

10 Hot Topics for 2012:

  1. Cross-Industry Collaboration: increasingly, advertisers, marketers and PR pros, united by a concept or idea, will join forces and be judged on the overall success of activating the galvanizing idea
  2. Real World Engagement: more and more consumers will turn away from the screen and look to connect offline
  3. Customer Service: the last untapped army for PR, brands will turn to PR experts to improve their customer service operations
  4. Mobile: technology will continue to evolve and broaden engagement opportunities
  5. Media Training in the C-Suite: given increased transparency at the senior level, executives will need full-immersion media training to remain on message and be prepared to navigate a crisis
  6. Rapid Response: with a 24/7 news cycle, clients need strategic counsel on issues across all media platforms at the drop of a hat; PR pros need to learn to keep up
  7. Content, Content, Content: PR shops will become “editor & chief” of the brand, as companies will increasingly become content hubs, creating their own and curating work on topics relevant to their business
  8. Analytics: there will be an increasing onus on PR professionals to “prove the effectiveness of their work” in terms of quality, not just quantity – which will spur greater tracking tools
  9. Corporate Social Responsibility: CSR will be an integral (and expected) part of any 360o public relations program
  10. Internal Communications: clients will lean on PR to help smooth internal communications as CEOs show greater appreciation for full team engagement

As DGC looks ahead, content, analytics and corporate social responsibility are at the top of our list to keep us hot in 2012!

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