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Building brand awareness through content creation and community engagement.

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

March 11th, 2016

Voce Nation Podcast: A Conversation with John Gilloly

Analytics is an essential part of any digital or social program. It gives you the cadence on how your program is doing, whether you are meeting your goals and if your customers are happy. In this week’s (inaugural) Voce Nation Podcast, I chatted with my co-worker, John Gilloly, whom I always go to whenever I have a measurement question and whether the content I’m publishing is making a dent in the client’s overall program. John’s official role is the VP of Analytics and Measurement West Coast based out of San Francisco. His dad was a sports writer yet vows to this day that he hates anything with sports, especially watching. Listen below and comment with your questions on analytics.

GILLOOLY

Give it a listen below or here on SoundCloud.

Fast forward to these questions if you like:

  • 1:20 Who are you and what do you do at Voce
  • 2:25 Where did the analytics mindset come from?
  • 4:35 Dad is a sports writer – why don’t you watch sports?
  • 6:10 Should analytics mindset be made important in everyone’s life
  • 7:20 How has analytics progressed in 10 years
  • 9:33 How do you start every analytics project?
  • 11:00 How has the analytics career progressed?
  • 12:30 What are the skill sets you need to be hired as an analyst?
  • 16:00 Rapid fire questions – Get to know John a little better

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 10th, 2016

Voce Voices: What’s in a Name?

What’s in a name? Like Bill Shakespeare said, roses would smell sweet even if we called them something else. Voce might too, but we like the name we have. Voce’s name contains what we try to give life to every day: voice (thanks Google Translate).

In recognition of that name, for our new series, “Voce Voices,” we’re raising the voices of those early in their career. Every other week we’ll be featuring a quote from a young communications professional, asking them what they’ve learned (and what they wish they knew sooner) about the job and what PR means to them.

Auspiciously, this week we begin with words from none other than Matthew Segal, who splits his time driving public relations for NetApp and Citrix:

Voce Instagram_Matt Segal

Filed in Voce People, Voce Voices

March 4th, 2016

Voce Client Coverage – 3/4/16

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.

Citrix

InfoWorld, Making threat intelligence meaningful: A 4-point plan, Fahmida Rashid – March 3, 2016

Stan Black, CSO at Citrix, explains what to look for when evaluating threat intelligence. 


palo alto networks logoPalo Alto Networks

Fortune, Palo Alto Networks CEO at RSA: ‘We Cannot Afford to Lose Digital Trust’, Robert Hackett – March 2, 2016

Mark McLaughlin, CEO, chairman, and president of Palo Alto Networks spoke to Fortune ahead of his keynote at this year’s RSA Conference, where he discussed why we can’t afford to lose trust in the digital age.

Palo Alto Networks

CIO, Why CIOs to be proactive not reactive to cybersecurity threats, Kenneth Corbin – March 1, 2016

Palo Alto Networks CSO, Rick Howard, and Federal CSO, John Davis, explain why firms cannot lose focus on prevention and advise developing a holistic plan for IT and business units to fight cybersecurity together.


Hearsay

FierceFinanceIT, A financial advisor dilemma: Responding to texts, Renee Caruthers – March 1, 2016

Renee Caruthers highlights Hearsay Social’s compliance-controlled text messaging application for advisors.


tileTile

ABC7, 7 on Your Side Puts ‘Tile’ to the Test, Michael Finney – March 26, 2016

A Tile customer discusses using the product to find his stolen motorcycle.


SanDisk

BGR, The Best of Mobile World Congress 2016, Chris Smith – February 26, 2016

SanDisk’s recent launch of their new Extreme Pro microSDXC UHS-II card made BGR’s MWC round-up for being the fastest microSD card on the market.  

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 4th, 2016

The Promise of Machine Learning

With machine learning being hyped up as being able to completely eliminate the time suck of “statistical guessing,” I’ve noticed that there is a debate on if this is truth or hype. However, the only reason this debate even exists is because of how slowly the results from big data analysis have edged into general consumer awareness.

image via Analytics Vidhya

For every reference of how big data has changed the way Netflix, Facebook, or Lyft do business, those references are drying up as companies are using their machine data so intuitively that the result just seem to “make sense.”

But making the big data experience intuitive in this way is creating a veil of obscurity. This makes it hard for non-data scientists to understand the importance of insights from machine data. Especially when the insights are already in line with things we instinctively know.

For instance, PBS’ The Human Face of Big Data portrays an everyday explanation of how a child learns language.

While the visuals were amazing, and the way Deb’s team captures the machine data was fascinating, I did stop right after watching it and say, “Well, duh.”

Knowing that I need to teach my son a word by giving him context (“This is water, here touch it”) is pretty intuitive and not surprising. Knowing that I need to show him what water is and then repeat the word, as opposed to sitting down with him and repeating the word “water” 300 times is and should be… intuitive.

And that belies the problem with insights derived from machine learning. Currently, machines are simply justifying things we already know thanks to “gut instincts.” Whether you call it intuition or a “sixth sense”, humans are not blind to the millions of data signals that are given out by the world around us. We process these signals through our senses and are able to derive complex understandings – like knowing when someone is being sarcastic – which should be completely incomprehensible if taken at face value. This is why even the youngest child can tell the difference between a concentration camp and a jungle gym, yet Flickr could not.

But I think that’s what makes machine learning so intriguing. By breaking down complex signals and being able to pinpoint how one data point is directly responsible for a problem is amazing. Forcing technology to slow down and explain how high blood pressure during surgery can affect if a spinal cord injury patient ever walks again is exciting. I think it’s most definitely a good insight to have – even if most doctors intuitively know that high blood pressure in general is bad.

That’s why I think we need to dispel the current belief that machine learning will flip everything we already know on its head. This sets a lofty and unrealistic expectation for what it can really deliver on. Instead, we should realize that machine learning offers data-backed truths that we have been just taking for granted.

Filed in Technology

March 3rd, 2016

What Numbers Mean the Most To Us?

157434-chevy-chase-no-math-gif-meme-I-9NDXNumbers mean a lot, even if we don’t work in data or analytics. While most of our jobs involve words and how to best use them to communicate ideas, there’s also a big role numbers play in our responsibilities. Sometimes that’s in how we track and interpret site analytics, sometimes it’s in how we gauge the ROI of an advertising spend, sometimes it’s as simple as how many hours this week we spent on a particular client project.

For instance this morning I:

  • Spent 45 minutes writing
  • Answered 7 emails
  • Sent 3 text messages
  • Posted 2 tweets
  • Looked at my blog visit stats 5 times

Are these numbers something I’m conscious of all the time? No, not really. But once you start looking around, they’re there.

Numbers take even more of our awareness during March, as much of the country follows along with March Madness, at least until their brackets are busted. The Sweet Sixteen, Final Four, Extravagant 128 (that’s a thing, right? I’m just waiting for Cubs season to start) all capture our imagination and dominate conversations for much of the month. If you’re playing along you’re likely acutely aware of where the tournament is, what seed your favorite teams are and so on. All of a sudden we’re all statisticians, using math skills baseball fans only use in September as we calculate Magic Numbers and movie fans use to determine how many bear attacks would have made other Leonardo DiCaprio movies at least watchable.

So this month in honor of March Madness and it’s obsession with numbers we’re going to be sharing the numbers that mean the most to us. For some of us that might be client related. For others it might be personal. But we want to acknowledge how big an influence in our lives numbers of all kinds are.

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 Uncategorized

February 29th, 2016

It’s Baseball – and Twitter – Season on Chicago’s North Side

2000px-Chicago_Cubs_Logo.svgFull squad workouts began last week in Mesa, AZ, as Chicago’s National League Ball Club – the Cubs, in case you’re unfamiliar – begin Spring Training along with the rest of the league. And it looks like they’re already in midseason form.

To be clear, I’m talking about the @Cubs Twitter account, not the team itself, though they’re looking pretty good as well.

Now let’s be clear: After last year’s amazing roller coaster ride of a season, Cubs fans like myself are full of hope. Traditionally giving a Cubs fan hope is like telling a dog it’s time for a walk then lying down and taking a nap: It’s just mean and you’re probably going to be cleaning up a mess in the downstairs hallway when you wake up. But…last year, man. Yeah….last year.

One of the biggest pleasures of the last couple years (outside of the thrill of seeing a team that has a legit chance at success on the field), particularly since I don’t have cable TV and so can’t watch games, has been the activity by the @Cubs social media team. They’ve connected me to the games and have garnered what looks to be a ton of engagement by doing a handful of things well:

Attitude: You can’t say the team managing the account don’t have their editorial voice down. It’s loose, fun and engaging. It’s not a hard-and-fast rule but often it can be hugely valuable for a content marketing program to adopt the voice of being a fan and this is the approach the Cubs have taken. Far from just saying “Here’s something cool we think you should experience or buy” this takes the approach of saying “ZOMGBBQ this is awesome we’re having so much fan can you believe it!” The account is the team’s biggest fan, living and dying with every pitch. It’s the social media equivalent of the late Ron Santo’s radio play-by-play, with heart squarely on sleeve. But let’s be clear that a big part of this is because it’s the same attitude evinced by the team on the field, the one that held an impromptu dance party with some downtime and whose manager encourage them to sometimes wear onesie pajamas on flights. I mean come on.

Engagement: Throughout games and indeed between games the team is consistently engaging with fans, responding to comments about the game being played, RTing photos of adorable kids in Cubs gear and basically facilitating and responding to fan conversations. You lose this aspect of the strategy – to make fans feel welcome and acknowledged – and this entire things comes crumbling down, even if the team is doing nothing but winning. The team here knows how passionate Cubs fans can be – on both extremes – and it leans into that.

Media: As I mentioned, I don’t have cable (which I acknowledge is the equivalent of announcing you’re a vegan, craft beer enthusiast or atheist: It suddenly turns the entire conversation around to focus on you and your habits…but what are you going to do, I don’t have cable) so can’t actually watch the games. But I do have an internet connection and am likely to be either working (if it’s a day game) or working (if it’s a night game), which means I’m also looking at Twitter from time to time, meaning only when I exhale. There I’m able to enjoy the Twitter team’s collection of homemade reaction GIFs, links to web video for highlights and more. The constant barrage of media is not only part of the voice mentioned above but it’s an essential tool for bringing the event to the fan who can’t be in attendance, something that’s essential for any live event, whether it’s a baseball game, San Diego Comic-Con or a trade show event.

I’m a Cubs fan. I was a fan when no one was going to the ballpark in 1982 and you could get tickets at the park after the game had started. I was a fan when everyone was the years in the 80s and 90s when they (very) occasionally fielded competitive teams. I was a fan after the ‘94 strike when I and some friends got $5 bleacher tickets. I’m no more or less a fan whether they win or lose. Winning is certainly more fun, though, and that’s just amplified by a social media strategy and direction that encourage fans to, for lack of a better phrase, play along at home with the excitement of the team itself.

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 Uncategorized

February 26th, 2016

Voce Client Coverage – 2/26/16

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.

palo alto networks logoPalo Alto Networks

Threatpost, Rogue iOS App Gets Boot After Slipping into App Store

Palo Alto Networks director of threat intelligence, Ryan Olson, commented on the recent Unit 42 discovery of a rogue Apple iOS application in the Chinese iTunes App Store that allows users of non-jailbroken iOS devices to install pirated and jailbroken apps.


workday logoWorkday

Harvard Business Review, Build a Great Company Culture with Help from Technology

Harvard Business Review features a contributed article authored by Workday’s Ashley Goldsmith and Leighanne Levensaler providing insight on how to build strong company culture, with the help of technology.


sandisk logoSanDisk

CNET, SanDisk’s flash drive transfers files for your fancy USB Type-C phone

Coverage of SanDisk’s recent launch of their new Ultra USB Type-C Flash Drive, largest capacity Type-C flash drive on the market, designed to expand mobile storage.

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

February 25th, 2016

What We Love: Family, Baseball and More

Throughout February– the month in which, thanks to Valentine’s Day, people talk about love both on and offline — Vocians of all stripes have been posting here on the blog about the things we love. We thought it might be a fun way for you to get to know what makes Voce and Vocians tick.

Since this was my idea to have Voce people do, I really need to step up and share what makes me tick as well. So in no particular order except the first two, here are ten things I love:

  • 2000px-Detroit_Tigers_Insignia.svgMy wife and kids. Sure, it’s a given that everyone loves their families or significant others, but it still had to be said. I am your textbook definition of the suburban family man, and I could talk about my kids for hours. My happiest moments are spent with the three people who matter most: my wife, my 13 year old son, and my 3 year old daughter.

  • Baseball. I love the game today and have since my early childhood. Doesn’t matter what team, I just love the game, at any level. I’d watch the Single-A affiliates of the Phillies and Reds play and enjoy every second of it. (The Phillies and Reds are selected as examples only because they finished at the bottom of ESPN’s Power Rankings in 2015; I mean no diss to fans of those teams!) At the MLB level, it starts for me with the Detroit Tigers, continuing through the Boston Red Sox, but it’s pretty inclusive of all the teams in the sport (okay, I love to hate the Yankees). When I die, my version of heaven involves me spending eternity with box seats down the third base line watching an eternal series between the all time greats from each decade… while the Yankees finish in dead last every heavenly season.

  • Writing. More than anything else about my job, I love to write. Sometimes blog posts, sometimes our PNConnect Weekly Reading (link), and sometimes deeper analyses of events or happenings in the digital space.

  • Client wins. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of seeing something work well for your clients and seeing them successful, whether it’s an idea you proposed or someone else’s idea where you worked with them to see it through. When clients are happy, I’m very happy.

  • The Blues. Stevie Ray Vaughan. Albert King. John Lee Hooker. Albert Collins. Freddie King. Joe Bonamassa. Buddy Guy. Elmore James. Slim Harpo. Howlin’ Wolf. Muddy Waters. B.B. King. Derek Trucks. Or someone I’ve never heard of, sitting with a guitar and a harmonica on a makeshift stage in some shack with sawdust on the floor. I love it all.

  • Giphy. Quick and easy visuals to support just about anything you’re writing.

  • Disney Anything. Disney Parks are a Voce client, but I don’t work on their account. That said, my family and I love all things Disney. My three year old is making her fourth trip to DisneyWorld in April; for my 13 year old son, it will be his sixth trip in six years. We’re members of the Disney Vacation Club. My daughter has a Blu Ray collection of Disney animated movies that is approaching a dozen already. She watches Disney Junior religiously. Have no doubt: when you come to the Barger house, you’re coming to a Disney home.

  • Feedly. My job involves staying up on all things digital. Without Feedly, I simply wouldn’t be able to keep up with all the reading I need to do.

  • Travel. I have traveled extensively for work during my career (26 countries, five continents), and I am one of those rare birds who doesn’t seem to mind being on the road. But it’s even better when I’m with my family. I love seeing new places, I love new experiences, I love the adventure of it all. My biggest regret will inevitably be that I didn’t see every place in the world.

  • Creativity. I’m in the right business, that’s for sure. I love the challenge of taking the core essentials of what a client wants to say or the value that client adds to its customers, and distilling it into memorable content. Especially in the digital space, where there is so much content pelting users on so many platforms; your challenge isn’t just creating content that effectively communicates for your client, but creating content that cuts through the online clutter and manages to grab the audience’s attention. That’s a supreme gauntlet thrown down by the digital world, and it’s a challenge I enjoy taking up every week.

Whether work or play… what do you love?

About the Author
Christopher Barger is Senior Vice President of Global Digital at Voce/Porter Novelli. You can follow him on Twitter @cbarger.

Filed in Voce People

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