We Are Communication Architects

Building brand awareness through content creation and community engagement.

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 is VP of Digital at Voce Communications. 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

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 is VP of Digital at Voce Communications. 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

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