Blog Archives

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

 

Monday Morning Mad Men: Welcome back!

It’s been a long 17 months since we’ve seen our friends at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. We’re back in 1966 and SCDP is still trying to nail new business they desperately need. As we found out at the end of season four, Don has convinced Heinz to give them small piece of their business – the beans division – with the hopes of bringing attention to this often overlooked sub-brand (behind Ketchup). Thus, we find Peggy in the pitch room trying to sell in their first campaign idea to the client.

In the creative presentation, Peggy presents the team’s best campaign idea for the beans – a Bean Ballet. The client is not immediately thrilled (as Peggy expected), instead asking for something more conservative. Don joins the room and Peggy expects him to come to her rescue as her so often does when clients aren’t buying more provocative ideas. Surprisingly, Don simply agrees to come back to the client with something different and more in line with his desires. Peggy leaves feeling deflated from rejection, but that’s because she wasn’t working with the client’s vision.

If we were SCDP’s counsel on pitching new business, we would have made four recommendations to Peggy:

  1. Get the brief right. Briefs are critical to success. They allow clients to share their desires and visions from the outset, while helping to set expectations. When written properly, they are an important tool for both teams to stay on the same page and avoid disconnects along the way.
  2. Understand the way your client thinks, and tailor your pitch accordingly. If you know you have a conservative client that won’t be open to pushing the envelope, present your more conservative ideas first. Over time you can earn your client’s trust for more boundary-pushing ideas. If you can anticipate your client’s reaction, you will have a leg up for how to present your ideas, and how to work with them over time to take more risks.
  3. Communicate with your client. If there is a disconnect between the client and the agency, the work will suffer. Consequently, the relationship will suffer too. Make sure there is an open dialogue between you and your client…not just with your day-to-day client, but with the key decision makers. This will get you one step closer to success.
  4. Learn when to hold ‘em, learn when to fold ‘em. Sometimes (most of the time), a client wants what a client wants. Understanding when it’s appropriate to push for your own ideas, and when it’s appropriate to back down, is an art form, not something that’s learned from one meeting. Sometimes conceding your own ideas in the interim will allow your client to trust you later on.

We’re sure Peggy and the creative team will come back with a winning idea next week. Stay tuned!

Wisdom in the Workplace

Good advice isn’t always easy to find. But sometimes there are people you work with, at industry associations, in books, or even family that can dish out advice when you need it most and leave a lasting impression in the process. These words of wisdom can often be the driving force behind bigger business philosophies and life lessons that encourage individuals to find new ways to achieve success.

In a recent article from Business Insider, the world’s most recognizable executives shared the best career advice that they’ve received over the years. Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, said the best advice he ever received was to say “yes” to things. Maureen Chiquet, global CEO of Chanel quoted Mickey Drexler, CEO of Gap, who said “you’ve gotta learn to listen.”

No matter what—or who—is your source of inspiration, everyone has that one memorable motto that helps them get out of bed in the morning and attack the work-day. Here are few gems from the DGC team:

  • “A handshake says everything about a person – make it firm.”
  • “Never hear the first ‘no.’”
  •  “Just because we work nine-hour days doesn’t mean you have a full nine hours to accomplish everything on your to-do list. Plan for interruptions.”
  • “Asking questions does not make you stupid—it makes you inquisitive and thorough.”
  •  “Hire people who are smarter than you.”
  • “Get on the board of a powerful women’s organization.”
  • “Make sure that every time you make a mistake you know what you’ve learned and you try your best to apply the learnings next time.”
  • “The day you stop learning is the day you should quit.”

Whether you’re fine-tuning your first-impression methods or extending your education, the key to a successful career is growth. Richard Branson, founder and chairman of Virgin Group said it best: “My mother always taught me never to look back in regret but to move on to the next thing.”

What’s the best work advice you live by?

Help Wanted: Future Media Professionals Need Apply

Helen Gurley Brown, former Editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine, announced last month that she is donating $30 million to Columbia University and Stanford University in memory of her late husband, David Brown. What do two schools with two of the top ten endowments in the country need this type of money for, you ask? The David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation.

According to Columbia and Stanford, the institute “will encourage new media, promote innovation and prototypes, and recognize the increasingly important connection between journalism and technology.” In an industry that continues to evolve in direct correlation with the digital space, this is a huge step forward in educating future media professionals. But what if your university doesn’t have a media institute? Here are DGC’s top three tips for pursuing a career in media/communications…no matter where you go to school:

  1. Intern. You may learn some of the basic concepts behind media/communications in your Marketing 101 class, but nothing you learn in the classroom will prepare you for your first job. Try to pursue as much internship experience as possible. Not only will it give you better insight into your future career, but it will also help you determine if the field is right for you.
  2. Read the news. Half the battle of the media/communications industry is keeping up with what’s happening. If you are well-versed on current events, you’ll be setting yourself up to win.
  3. Network. The job market remains tough to navigate. Make sure you are reaching out to your contacts on a regular basis so you are not missing any opportunities. And this doesn’t just mean via email. Recruiters are finding candidates through all manner of social networks these days, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others, and hiring those who show savvy and persistence online.

Are you one of those people who kick-started your career via social media? Tell us how! Are you looking for a job in the communications industry? Reach out to us in the comments section below!

Taking Your Facebook Relationships To The Next Level

DGC DiGennaro Communications Facebook Social media advice tips engage fansDavid Fincher and Aaron Sorkin may have showed the world that Facebook was created to help college students hook-up, but since then, “The Social Network” has evolved into a vehicle for interaction among its members, job recruiters, entertainment artists, academic institutions and even consumer brands.

Despite these open lines of communication, not all brands know how to effectively engage with their online audiences. Take Chapstick, for example, which late last year got itself into a “social media death spiral” after posting a weird image on Facebook and quietly removing negative comments left by viewers on its Facebook Wall. A bit passive/aggressive if you ask us.

With this in mind, the DGC team has compiled the following tips to help you and your brand avoid social media suicide:

  • Don’t forget what you stand for. Posts on your Facebook page should be consistent with your marketing, advertising, news, etc.  Make sure your Facebook strategy sets you up to achieve the same goals that you aimed to accomplish from day-one.
  • No time like the present. Facebook continues to evolve and offer new ways for users to represent themselves online. Make sure you’re using the latest tools so you put forth a page that is relevant and creative.
  • The power of Facebook compels you. Provide useful and interesting information for fans to react to and share. If you need an example, The New York Public Library’s Facebook page is the bee’s knees.
  • READ. Your fans are constantly interacting with you on Facebook, so take a look at what they have to say. The easiest way to build brand loyalty is to let them know that you are listening.
  • Keep it coming. Fans are more likely to stick with a brand’s Facebook page when the brand stays engaged—even if it’s just one post a day—so push out content on a regular basis and watch your network grow.

Do you have other tips for maintaining an active Facebook brand page? Share them 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!

Expert Sourcing…When You Have No Skin in the Game

It doesn’t matter where you go for your news—everyone is talking about Super Bowl XLVI right now. Here at DGC, we’ve probably read just as many articles this week about game predictions and player line-ups as we have about the 2012 election—in fact, I bet if Eli Manning announced his candidacy after the game he’d probably be our next President.

But, despite what most of us might think, the world doesn’t always revolve around football (this coming from an avid Ohio State Buckeyes fan). So, if you don’t have a spot airing during the big game, or a POV on the action, here’s a selection of recent stories you may be able to capitalize on in the meantime to earn some media real estate:

  • Apple announced its best quarterly earnings to date for Q1 2012. The company brought in $46.33 billion in revenue—almost double what Apple made last year at this time. How can Apple’s competitors compete with results like this?
  • Obama’s State of the Union (SOTU) address scored at an eighth-grade reading level on the Flesch-Kincaid scale. All three of his SOTU addresses rank among the six lowest scoring addresses ever, and are–on average–more than two grades lower than those of his 12 most recent predecessors. What does this say about Obama’s approach to reaching his constituents? Does the decreasing reading level of the SOTU reflect poorly on American society?
  • Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney continue to battle it out for the Republican nomination, with Gingrich getting defensive in response to questions about past failed marriages, and Mitt Romney fielding allegations that his tax returns detail funds not identified in his ethics forms. Do you think they’ll be able to move beyond these issues to have a real chance at the Presidency?
  • In its first year implementing its new voting system, the Academy Awards announced an odd number of movies in the running for best picture. They include: The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life and War Horse. Why is this relevant? Will social media play a role in this year’s awards ceremony?

If you have a strong opinion on the timely topics above and some credentials to back them up, then you have a chance to get in the news…despite the country’s current fascination with football. Leave us a comment with your thoughts below.

When Tweeting, Don’t Be Misleading

Twitter tips DGC DiGennaro CommunicationsBecause our jobs involve helping companies and executives who run them to communicate effectively, clarity is one of our top priorities.

The plethora of outlets for personal expression continues to multiply and with that, so do the occurrences of dispensing erroneous or misleading information, and which is why the following tweets earlier this month caught our attention.

After clicking on the link of this tweet “Groupon collaborates with the ghost of Jeffrey Dahmer to introduce a delightful, totally non-horrific new mascot,” originally posted on Jan. 12 by an ad firm, our astonishment turned to anger at having been duped because, as you can see, the notorious serial killer had nothing to do with the subject at hand.

Then several people and entities tweeted this headline verbatim on Jan. 13: “NYTimes public editor smashes himself with boomerang” reut.rs/x2VLWs. Did you notice that no persons or objects were actually smashed and no boomerangs made an appearance either?

Finally, Claire Cain Miller eased us down from the ledge of despair.

Her Jan. 12 tweet summarizing a long, intricate story from (what else?) The New Yorker about YouTube’s branded channels was about as clear and accurate as 140 characters would allow.

@clairecm Claire Cain Miller:

“The New Yorker looks at what happens to YouTube as it moves from user-generated anarchy to niche professional videos. newyorker.com/reporting/2012…

We just wanted to say thank you, Ms. Cain Miller. Thank you.

On the Go: TalkPoint’s Mobile Webcasts Soar

TalkPoint webcast tech mobile DGC DiGennaro CommunicationsThere’s no denying that 2011 was a wild year for mobile technology, and if this year’s CES is any indication it looks like we are in for even more advancements in the space in 2012. As tablets and smartphones become faster, lighter, and incredibly intuitive, our ability to stay connected in this always-on world of ours becomes increasingly reliant on mobile technology.

This rings true for our business-related digital communications. For proof, just ask TalkPoint, the leader in global communications technology. When their clients came to them looking for the ability to take their webcasts on the go, TalkPoint advanced their software to run seamlessly on mobile devices. To say that this technology has been widely adopted would be an understatement–just last week TalkPoint announced that mobile viewership of TalkPoint-produced webcasts increased a whopping 74 percent between Q1 and Q4 of 2011, with 33 percent of all mobile views taking place during the busy summer months of June and July.

If you’re ready to take your webcasts on the go, you can check out more about TalkPoint’s mobile solutions here. In the meantime, we asked Nick Balletta, TalkPoint’s CEO, to share his best practices for mobile webcasting. Here’s what he suggests:

  • Create mobile-friendly content – Consider the mobile device screen size when developing webcast content. Mobile viewers may only be watching the video or have trouble viewing details.
  • Simplify registration – Mobile registrants are typing on a small keyboard, so limiting the data that needs to be entered to join an online event will make it faster and easier for viewers.
  • Master social media –The use of interactive social media “sharing” buttons are particularly effective for promoting mobile webcasts, but too many active social media elements can lead to multitasking by the viewer.
  • Don’t forget about post-event viewing – Provide mobile webcasting viewers with a link to watch/review the webcast at a later date, providing webcast attendees with another opportunity to access the material from the event.

To hear more straight from Nick, check him out in The Point:

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