We Are Communication Architects

Building brand awareness through content creation and community engagement.

March 24th, 2016

Remembering Andy Grove, 1936 – 2016

andy grove timeEarlier this week, the tech industry lost a titan with the passing of Andy Grove. The man had a profound impact on technology, business, philanthropy and the culture of Silicon Valley.

For the average person not steeped in tech history, the name Andy Grove probably doesn’t mean much. But I guarantee you that same person is pretty familiar with this little ditty. And while we know Intel has become synonymous with microprocessors, many of us don’t know that it was Andy Grove’s vision that made Intel the processor powerhouse it is today.

Prior to 1983, Intel was mostly known as a manufacturer of DRAM computer memory. However, when Japanese memory chip suppliers entered the market and started a price war, it was Grove who made the push to refocus Intel’s R&D efforts on designing and manufacturing microprocessors. Seen as a pretty big gamble at the time, Grove’s decision to focus on MPUs led to the development of the x86 processor architecture, which became the dominant processor technology in computing.

Rather than spend time here listing his many accomplishments, a much better summation of Grove’s life and work was presented in a video presented at The Churchill Club when the organization honored him with their Legendary Leader award last year. If you’d like a better understanding of how Grove’s work and vision helped make Silicon Valley what it is today, I recommend you watch it.

On a personal note, I’ve been building and modding PCs for the past 20 years and all of my machines have used Intel processors. So thank you, Mr. Grove, for your vision and leadership. The fruits of your labor have given me countless hours of entertainment (and quite a few skinned knuckles). RIP, sir.

Filed in Technology

March 23rd, 2016

Voce Voices: Getting Started

As we look back into the various aspects of our lives, we often think, “I wish I had known what I know now, then.” Unfortunately, none of us have a time machine to tell our past selves our tricks and tips, but we have do have our colleagues to lean on for guidance!

This week, Client Executive Sean Lenehan shares what he wish he knew when he first started working in public relations. Keep this in your back pocket and maybe you won’t look back saying, “I wish I had known that….”

VV_SL

Filed in Voce People, Voce Voices

March 23rd, 2016

Ragan Conference Recap: Brand Journalism Is Here to Stay

“We are genetically programmed to tell stories.” – Steve Clayton, Chief Storyteller for Microsoft, closing keynote at Ragan

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to attend Ragan Communications’ 3rd Annual Social Media Conference for PR, Marketing and Corporate Communications at Disney World (Walt Disney World Resort). I was there not only representing Voce’s content marketing team but also to support the Disney Parks Blog (a Voce client), whose Thursday night keynote was closing out the event. All that and I was able to discuss best practices with attendees during the event, which is always a treat.

ragan disney beca

Any conference held at a Disney Parks Resort is a “can’t miss” event but this event was something else all together. While all tracks were geared towards using social media, (Social Media Strategies for PR & Marketing, Social Media Strategies for Internal Communications and What’s Next on Social Media Platforms) what I found interesting was the abundance of the Brand Journalism and Newsroom models circulating around presentations and coffee break conversations. Most of the speakers in my track talked about their version of brand journalism and how their company has taken the leap to tell “their” story.

I find it fascinating and refreshing to see this new attempt to define and explain Brand Journalism to our industry. It helps to reinforce what we already know in our current content programs with PlayStation, Disney and Palo Alto Networks and adds validity to the counsel we provide on a daily basis.

Key Takeaways

  • More and more brands see the value of being their own voice and sharing their own story. This lends to the newsroom model and validates what Voce has been doing with clients like PlayStation, Disney, DC Comics for almost a decade. The newsroom model is still very new to many brands and I was pleased to see it be the center focus of so many presentations.
  • The newsroom model is fluid, nimble and non-stop. Brand Journalism is a lot like following the news cycle. Yes, you can plan out content based on upcoming events and key dates for your organization but your “newsroom” will soon become the place for breaking news for your organization. Likewise, while you plan ahead and prepare content, you might not be able to plan that far out for spontaneous news. And really, that is the definition of the news cycle, is it not?
  • Even the workflow process is more like a newsroom, many brands break down their program into monthly meeting to plan events, campaigns, initiative, projects; weekly meetings to assign stories with publishing deadlines and daily meetings to provide current monitoring trends and breaking news.
  • My prediction, Brand Journalism is here to stay. Now that brands have had the chance to build their own platforms and use their own voice to share their story (and thereby their key messages) there is no turning back. And why would they? Where else can the fan, customer or audience get the news straight from the source and have a transparent and authentic communication with the brand?

Favorite One-Liners

“Becomes the journalist? Stop pitching for the story – be the story, write the story.”

“There are 6 guiding principles for content: brevity, clarity, accuracy, timelines, conversational voice” (And I would add “humor” to this if it fits for your brand.)

“For great social, master the 4 Cs: Concise, Conversational, Compelling and Creative.”

“Great brand journalism = Content that is measurable, shareable, strategic and free of jargon”

Filed in Content Marketing

March 18th, 2016

Voce Client Coverage: 3/18/16

Every week the Voce team works tirelessly to secure important coverage for clients. Below is just an example of the results of this week’s work and you can see more on Flipboard.

sandisk logoSanDisk

TechTarget, SanDisk storage VP: High-capacity flash drives down prices

SearchSolidStateStorage recently talked to John Scaramuzzo, SanDisk’s senior vice president and general manager of enterprise storage, about the pending Western Digital merger, high-capacity flash media and emerging flash technologies, such as NVMe over Fabric and ReRAM.

InfoSec Island, Six Things to Know About Laptop Theft

Eyal Bek, Director of Product Marketing for Client SSDs at SanDisk discusses computer theft and tips to avoid loosing your information including encryption.


Palo Alto Networks

Threatpost, Trojan Exploits Apple DRM Flaw, Plants Malware On Non-Jailbroken iOS Devices,

Palo Alto Network’s director of threat intelligence, Ryan Olson, comments on the recent Unit 42 discovery of AceDeceiver, the first iOS Trojan exploiting an Apple DRM design flaw to install malicious apps on non-jailbroken devices.


micro focusMicro Focus

CM Crossroads, Testers: An Integral Part of the DevOps Team

Renato Quedas of Micro Focus explains why software testers are a key part of a DevOps team.


Micro Focus and Citrix

CSO Online, Defense in depth: Stop spending, start consolidating

Geoff Webb of Micro Focus and Stan Black of Citrix weigh in on layers of a security ecosystem.


Want to find out more about Voce and what it can do for you? Visit our Services page, then meet the Staff that makes all this magic happen. Finally, contact us today to learn more about Voce’s capabilities and operations.

Filed in Voce Clients

March 18th, 2016

Voce Nation Podcast Ep. 2: Instagram, Google and More

For this second edition of the Voce Nation Podcast we decided to do something a bit differently and include some video. Joining the Blab-based call this week were Christopher Barger and Chris Thilk, two of Voce’s long-serving content marketing strategists. You can watch the show below

Here’s what we discussed this week:

Catch up with Voce on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Soundcloud. And follow me, Barger and Thilk on Twitter for more. Finally, find out about the PNConnect Weekly Reading newsletter here or sign-up to get it via email directly.

voce nation podcast

About the Author
Randy Ksar works on the social media team at Voce. You can follow him at @djksar on Twitter.

Filed in Voce Nation Podcast

March 17th, 2016

The Quest for the Perfect News App

I was recently chatting with a colleague about finding the perfect news app. We discussed the usual suspects – Apple News, Flipboard, Twitter, LinkedIn Pulse, Quartz, Media Apps, InShorts, etc. There was definitely a lot going on with each of these applications – no dearth of news. However, neither of us felt comfortable with any one solution to provide us with a ‘finite’ number of news updates to help us stay on top of everything we need to know. I emphasize on finite because it’s way too easy to get sucked into the world of news today without realizing the boundaries. But what is that finite number of news items that will save me from awkward ‘you didn’t know about this’ encounters!

How much news is enough for us today?

linkedin pulseMy first memory of ‘news’ was the eight o’clock bulletin every day on national television. A television set was still far from becoming part of the furniture in most Indian households those days. There used to be only one channel, so the novelty of the medium backed by the obvious lack of choice made this 30-minute bulletin a mandatory part of everybody’s regime. I distinctly recall this bulletin would cover a maximum of 8-10 ‘newsy’ items, including a couple of weather and sports updates. The news was basic, factual, dry and most of all delivered without the opinionated drama of the modern day anchors. Yet, I guess it left most viewers with the satisfaction (rather the illusion of satisfaction) of being on top of everything they needed to know.

My next memory of news was the good, old newspaper printed in the local language. The page layout dominated the amount of news that got captured. The newspaper was pretty lean those days with no more than 8-12 pages. With all the space sharing that was going on with advertisements, tender notices, editorials and classifieds, the newspaper would carry an average of 50 to 70 news items each day. Two decades ago, that was more than enough ammunition for its readers to feel well informed. About half-an-hour well spent with the newspaper and morning tea was a daily routine to make one socially relevant. In fact, “Hey, did you read about blah, blah, blah in today’s paper” was the best ice-breaker of those simpler times.

Apps-Flipboard-iconDepending solely on news from any one media house soon turned into a ridiculous idea, thanks to the media-wars over breaking news and vested corporate interests. The quest for a fairly balanced perspective made people hesitant to trust any one-news source. This gave way to the concept of subscribing to multiple newspapers soon transforming into a new business opportunity – news aggregation. My guestimate is really bad on this one, but I assume taking out all the overlapping elements, people accessed anywhere between 150-200 news items on an average day.

Finally we ‘advanced’ into the digital age and its myriad of apps. Clutter took over every possible medium and left pure confusion behind. The ‘Internet of Need-to-Know Things’ changed everything known to mankind about how and where we consumed news… even more on what we defined as ‘news’! We live in a world today where if you haven’t heard about a blue and black (or was it white and gold) dress, you run the risk of being publicly shamed for living in a cave!

Endless news possibilities

Apple-News-App-IconThe good and bad thing about news is that it literally has endless possibilities. Every screen/app refresh comes pouring down with hundreds of more updates to catch up on. Clearly, for anybody who is not in the business of selling news, this can be a little intimidating. The threshold of news consumption to reach a satiated feeling of being up-to-date has vanished to the horizon. It seems within reach, but it’s not! Yes, there are limits that can be set on how much you want to know. Yes, there are preferences that can be set on what you want to know. But anybody who has had to leave in the middle of a news feed with unread updates to get back to the real world will know what I am talking about.

Which brings me to my original question… just how much daily dose of news is enough for us today? Is it even possible to arrive at such a number? Will mankind ever go back to that good, old satisfied feeling of being on top of everything they needed to know?

I feel positively about this. Having worked for the biggest and smallest technology brands has taught me to believe in the power of technology. I realize every individual is different and hence the answer would be not the same for all. However, with the pace at which data analytics is progressing, it is not difficult to define the environment for every individual with utmost clarity. If LinkedIn can push notifications on profiles of people I am supposed to meet (based on my calendar sync up)… if Facebook can offer to tell me what people are saying about a place the second I enter it (based on my location tracking)… if Google Now can instruct me to get up and leave right now to avoid being late for my next meeting (based on my calendar sync and real time commute updates)… we couldn’t be that far from the perfect news app that tells us all that we need to know and more importantly just what we need to know to stay relevant! With that thought and hope, let me get back to the 208 new stories that I have to catch up on!

Filed in Media, Mobile

March 16th, 2016

Instagram Wants to Show You What It Feels Is Important To You

instagram-logoBy now you’ve probably seen the news that Instagram will be following the lead of parent company Facebook and introducing an algorithmic feed designed to surface what it feels are the most relevant photos your friends have shared and show those to you. This would kick to the curb the unfiltered stream that’s been in place to date and, as with all automated feeds, presumes it will know better than you what you’re going to be interested in.

The announcement post points out people miss 70% of what’s posted because they’re not looking at the app within the timeframe that would show them those pictures. So if you’re looking at Instagram for five minutes every couple hours you can only scroll back so far, with the rest falling like the proverbial tree in the forest and leaving you to later explain why you didn’t ::heart:: Caitlin’s picture of her Yorky sitting next to a frappuccino because come on, adorbs!

The problem with this is that the algorithm…doesn’t actually fix that issue. It’s true that in a fire hose-like stream environment like Instagram has been and Twitter is you’re going to miss stuff when you’re not looking. So while I’m writing this post I have Twitter open on another monitor but I’m not really paying attention, so I’m missing everyone’s latest jokes about Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland (whose name makes him sound like a utility infielder in 1922), comments about the presidential primaries and more. That’s alright, though, since I have RSS and will catch the actual news.

Algorithms, though, present their own problems. You still miss some percentage of posts because they don’t get enough engagement to make it into your feed. And there’s little recourse to go back and find what it is you’ve missed. Facebook and other networks that take this approach default to the filtered feed and make it difficult to “view all” or turn that feed off. It offers the end user less control over their experience than the fire hose approach because in that environment you can at least trim your friends/follows if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

From a brand management perspective, this is yet another algorithm content marketing professionals will have to contend with and figure out. There’s already research showing engagement on Instagram is dropping, which is bad news because that platform has always been an engagement powerhouse, making up for in that area what it lacked in the ability to drive traffic. If that’s going to change – and there’s no reason to think it won’t when it switches to a filtered experience – then the value proposition for brand publishers shifts dramatically.

How this plays out in practice remains to be seen as Instagram says it will be rolling this out over the course of the next couple months. But it’s one less outlet for those who like – and count on – the messy stream and one more case of a social network deciding it knows best what its users want.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Content Marketing, Marketing, Social Networks

March 15th, 2016

L’Oreal Launching Unbranded News Platform

L’Oreal is trying to be a legitimate industry news source with the launch Fab Beauty, which offers beauty and lifestyle tips without the L’Oreal branding, even covering competitive brands. As Adage points out, it’s one of a few unbranded content hubs being used to raise the conversation throughout the vertical industry and not necessarily just sell, sell and sell.

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 2.43.40 PM

When we’re talking about content marketing we often speak in general media terms of newsroom, editorial workflows and responsibilities and such. But unlike the actual media most of these brand newsrooms only deal with inputs from one source: the company itself. These are single-topic outlets.

What L’Oreal and other brands are trying to do is expand that scope and create a positive image for itself by serving a more universal purpose in the eyes of the audience as a general news site. It changes the value proposition to the audience from “Follow us for the latest information about us” to “Follow us for the latest information on a variety of topics we know you’re going to be interested in.” It’s the natural extension of one of social media and blogging’s initial premises, which was to do what you do best and link to the rest.

There are pros and cons to this and plenty of potential pitfalls in this approach.

On the plus side this can, indeed, be great for your overall brand reputation. If you can become a valuable outlet for people to follow on the latest news on a particular industry or topic that’s great since it’s an audience that can be utilized and monetized in a number of ways. You can build up an email database that can be used both for agnostic editorial and for brand-specific marketing promotions and messages. You can create an audience on-domain that gives you insights into what they’re interested in across the board, insights that can be used to guide your own product development.

On the downside, you are kind of promoting other people’s products, and not every brand is going to be down with OPP. Depending on the specifics of how the program is being executed that could send traffic elsewhere, making the ROI of the program more difficult to justify.

The biggest pitfall is that this is legitimately hard to do. If you really want your brand-agnostic news outlet to be a success you have to do something, if not multiple somethings, better than the news brands that have no brand ties to consider. That means a drastically different staffing scenario and workflow than what’s in place in most content marketing platforms. Even if a program currently has a decent curation component for bringing in outside news, that’s likely directed at news about the company and its products. Expanding that to other brands adds at least a couple levels of difficulty.

One way to surmount that is to bring in freelancers and “influencers” to do the content production. They’re more likely to already have inputs that will help in this process and which can be folded into a larger workflow with some level of ease. The main concern then becomes approvals, which become the purview of the program’s managing editor to make sure they fit with the overall mission and voice of the outlet. That comes with its own dangers, though, since those outsiders can take their talents elsewhere at a moment’s notice and may already be also contributing to a competing outlet.

This kind of approach is one that can absolutely be considered but, as with any tactic, it’s not going to work for everyone. What do you think, is there value to running, in some manner, a brand-agnostic content marketing program?

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Blogging, Content Marketing

March 14th, 2016

Walking a Mile In The Agency Staffer’s Shoes

Client-agency relationships in the PR industry are tricky, much like agency-media relationships (but that’s a different topic): We need each other. Admittedly, we need them more to just keep our business running but it’s still not a one-way street. It’s also no surprise that irrespective of which side we are on, people in the corporate communications industry are trying to achieve the same results – secure positive visibility for our clients! Even then, very rarely do we see a client-agency engagement that is totally free of friction.

These shall be known as my "global summit shoes."

I have had this thought for a while now and with every passing year, it only keeps getting stronger.

I really feel that every person on the client side of the corporate communications industry should spend a minimum of five to seven years on the agency side before switching over. Here are a few aspects where we usually see the disconnect…

Team Staffing is Proportional to Client Retainers

“I just feel this account is understaffed” “Are there other accounts that this person works on… how many other accounts? Are they bigger/better accounts than ours?”  “I am worried that the team size has been cut down from last year.”

I have often heard clients come back and share insights on the way we organize our teams for their accounts. Well, team structuring may not be rocket science, but it is still science. Every agency wants to have a spread of team structures that’s in the best interest of all their clients.

However, every PR agency, big or small, is a business. Like every other business, the basic fundamentals of profit and loss guide how we organize our teams. The math of how much time from various resources, according to seniority, can be allocated to an account purely depends on client retainers. Moreover, talent scarcity is a harsh reality and salaries increase every year. If retainers stay flat, it is not difficult to do the math to figure out how team structures get impacted.

Senior Intervention – Needed Or Not?

“I need more senior people on my account” “I don’t see any senior counsel”

Agencies very often face the pressure of showing senior people in client team structures as that is a repeated ask in pitches and ongoing discussions. I have not been able to figure out why but many clients are sometimes so busy fighting for senior level involvement that they often tend to ignore the hard work and dedication of other team members.

The reality on this is an offshoot of the previous logic. With seniority, people on the agency side also take on additional responsibilities pertaining to the organization’s holistic growth such as business development, manpower planning, marketing, networking and so on. Some agencies may have dedicated roles for each of these horizontal functions, but they would still be working closely with the client servicing teams.

Needless to say that even though the involvement of senior team members comes down on day-to-day client servicing, their experience and expertise is well leveraged on an ongoing basis by teams judiciously. If clients could understand the nuances of when to involve or insist for senior leadership better, that would improve the overall experience for everybody.

The Escalation Effect

“I have asked the team to do this, but am flagging off to you as well as it is critical activity, and there is a lot riding on it. We want to put our best foot forward, so could you please look into this and closely guide the team?”

If we are talking about seniority, let’s also touch upon what they usually have to deal with – escalations! Escalations have been exploited to such as extent in the industry today, that they almost run the risk of losing their identity. In my humble opinion, an escalation is like oil. It may seem like abundance will solve all our problems, but sometimes an over supply has the potential to break down the entire system.

We are living in a non-hierarchical mindset world now. People do good work because they want to do good work, not because they are at gunpoint pressure from their supervisors.

Making your Client-Servicing Team look Good

“The team really came through for me and I want to acknowledge that…”

We are all taught on the agency side to make our clients look good. Yes, we work for companies, but we work with people before that. We are sensitive about the role we can play to help our clients win in front of their internal stakeholders.

It works exactly the same way on the agency side. The teams also have internal stakeholders determining career growth and success. A small note of appreciation, some kind words during review meetings (of course, all of it only when well-deserved) go a long way in building individual or team credentials internally. When teams look good internally, they are more motivated than ever to do even better work for such clients.

We Need Each Other

Well, there are a million more reasons, but they can’t all be covered in a single blog post. If all the nuances of agency life could be summed up theoretically for clients to mug up, it would defy my whole proposition, right?

There’s immense talent and expertise that exists on the agency side, by virtue of exposure to diverse client mandates. On the other side, clients work out of a physical environment immersed in information and access to the larger picture. A little transparency, with a base of solid background, a slight hint of constructive criticism garnished with a lot of love is a great recipe for meaningful client-agency engagement.

There is no reason client-agency relationships can’t be more successful evolving into true partnerships. ‘Working with an agency’ can become a much more smoother experience for clients if they understand the ‘working of an agency’. However, the only downside to this proposition is that people may find the agency life so addictive after five to seven years, that we may not have anybody left for the other side!

Filed in Uncategorized

March 11th, 2016

Voce Client Coverage – 3/11/16

Every week the Voce team works tirelessly to secure important coverage for clients. Below is just an example of the results of this week’s work and you can see more on Flipboard.


tileTile

The Today Show, Travel essentials just in time for spring break

Tile is featured on Kathie Lee and Hoda as part of a roundup of affordable travel gear.


Fujitsu

eWeek, Fujitsu Expands Document Management Software Portfolio

Nathan Eddy highlights Fujitsu’s Paperstream Server announcement.


Workday

Intel’s Chip Chat, Workday and the Rapid Adoption of Enterprise Cloud

In this podcast for Intel’s Chip Chat, David Clarke from Workday talks about how rapidly enterprises are adopting cloud technology for mission critical workloads.


Citrix – SaaS

Inc., The 10 Essential Mobile Apps Every Entrepreneur Should Use

GoToMeeting is featured in the top 10 business apps list that entrepreneurs should use in order to stay organized and successful.


armor logoArmor

HealthDataManagement, Small providers increasingly likely to be hacked targets

Armor’s Dr. Chase Cunningham shares important advice to small healthcare providers, many of which have little or no security in place for their data.


Citrix

eWeek, Using Employee-Facing Apps, Data Access Policies to Best Advantage

Slideshow from Citrix explores how employee-facing IT will change in the coming year.


Renesas

Design News, Are Microcontrollers Up For the Challenge of the Internet of Things?

Chuck Murray highlights how microcontroller are necessary for solving challenges of the IoT. Voce secured an interview with Vin D’Agostino, Renesas’ Vice President of the General Purpose Products Unit for this article.


beyond trust logoBeyondTrust

CRN, 2016 Security 100: 25 Coolest Network Security Vendors

BeyondTrust was honored for its cybersecurity innovation and channel work in the first ever Security 100 list published by CRN.


Rook Security

CSO Online, Collaborating on incident response: Rook Security

J.J. Thompson, the founder and CEO of Rook Security is interviewed at the RSA Conference about its first security product, an incident response collaboration tool called War Room.


Micro Focus

TechSpective, Your Access Controls Are Broken: Why You Need an Approach Based on Risk

Travis Greene of Micro Focus explains how access controls relate to risk.


Hearsay

Financial Advisor, Is Social Media The New 800 Number

Mike Byrnes highlights key themes coming out of SIFMA Social Media seminar, including thoughts from Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih.


sandisk logoSanDisk

InformationWeek, SanDisk CIO: How To Determine Business Want Versus Need

David Wagner interviews SanDisk CIO Ravi Naik on how he figures out the difference between the technology his business executives want, and the technology they really need.


Palo Alto Networks

Reuters, Mac ransomware caught before large number of computers infected

Palo Alto Networks director of threat intelligence, Ryan Olson, comments on the recent Unit 42 discovery the first fully functional ransomware seen on the OX X platform, dubbed KeRanger.


Hewlett-Packard

VentureBeat, HP launches a whole new line of secure laser, office, and professional printers

Hewlett-Packard is launching 15 new printers for graphics professionals, office workers, and high-end consumers today.

USA Today, Entrepreneurs, feel the power of the printer

But the real star of the show was an amazing, brand new class of printers being globally launched today called PageWide.


Want to find out more about Voce and what it can do for you? Visit our Services page, then meet the Staff that makes all this magic happen. Finally, contact us today to learn more about Voce’s capabilities and operations.

Filed in Voce Clients

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