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March 31st, 2016

Insights from PRSA’s Inside the Newsroom Event

Tuesday night I attended a PRSA “Inside the Newsroom” event with Bloomberg Tech. The editorial team has gone through a lot of change in the last six months alone – but this slew of new players is a seemingly good change for the publication, and cross-platform teams seem more connected than ever (i.e. Bloomberg TV and Bloomberg News now rely on each other to double dip on story ideas and features to stay ahead of competitive news orgs).

Panelists Included Jeff Taylor (San Francisco Bureau Chief and Editor-at-Large at Bloomberg News), Brad Stone (Bloomberg Global Tech Lead), Mark Milian (Tech Editor) and Danielle Culbertson (Managing Editor of TV & Radio).

The many divisions of Bloomberg News has historically made it confusing and challenging to know who to approach first with a story idea – the new interconnected structure will hopefully solve for that as well. In theory, you should be able to go to whoever is the most appropriate fit to pitch an angle for both print and TV. It’s also worth noting that each subdivision of Bloomberg News exists on various platforms, meaning one editorial contact should be able to navigate whether that story is a fit for online, TV, radio, print (in one of the three magazines) or across multiple platforms.

The desire for “exclusive content” was also re-iterated multiple times throughout the evening – so that’s clearly a focus, and something communications pros need to keep in mind when pitching Bloomberg.

Insights on PR pitches:

  • All participants resoundingly echoed that we need to do a better job of “watching what reporters do” in order to send informed pitches
  • Think about what headlines we as readers would click on, and approach the pitching process that way
  • For TV especially, it has to be visual first and foremost
  • Pitches should be
    • Short and sharp
    • Impactful
    • Exclusive, when possible
  • Pitches should NOT
    • Be misleading, especially with executive titles or prior expertise
    • Take a blanket approach; instead read the reporter’s coverage and customize your approach
    • Be done social media – we assume our competitors will see it, and it’s no longer personal or exclusive

More key quotes from the panelists:

“When you pitch a few of us at once, you run the risk of no one taking ownership to respond – it makes it easier to ignore. If you pitch me directly, I’ll likely pass it on to the most appropriate writer, if it’s relevant for us.” – Brad

“Don’t tell me the whole story of your company or its founder, focus on what’s new and the story I should focus on; I can do that research on my own” – Mark

“Take the approach of ‘I read your story on X OR I read your last five features on X company, and I have a story idea that I think will resonate with you’ – that’s an email that’s hard for us to ignore.” – Jeff

Filed in Media, Pitching

March 30th, 2016

Beyond March Madness: What Numbers Mean to Vocians

People in the communications profession sometimes get a bad rap when it comes to numbers, and math, and quantifiable results. “You can’t put a number on the value of a New York Times article” is a phrase you’ve probably heard more than once.

Just Because We’re in Communications Doesn’t Mean We Don’t ‘Do’ Numbers

But the reality is, at Voce, numbers matter. It starts with our analytics department, which is dedicated specifically to finding new and innovative ways of measuring the real business impact of our programs. But the rest of us don’t simply sit back and pass it off to the analytics nerds every time we see a number.

Instead, each of us embrace numbers in different ways. From measuring business impact to media briefings, from impressions to work-life balance, below is a small sampling of perspectives from Vocians on the topic of numbers

Alex Alias, Client Executive

Numbers, they’re everywhere. The number system dictates everything from the binary functions of a computer to the 40-hour work week. The beauty is you can manipulate certain numbers such as how to spend 24 hours in a day. The tough part is being able to balance everything in those 24 hours. During the week, I balance time between clients and coworkers with time carved out to read news and think of new ideas. My weekends are balanced with friends, fun and fitness that way I’m refreshed for Monday. Whether it be hours in a day or the change in your bank account it is important to make numbers work the best for you!

alex alias

Brittany Dixon, Senior Client Executive

I have a love/hate relationship with numbers. I hate seeing high numbers when they are in the form of calories on my favorite ice cream jar, or on the price tag of a shirt I want. I love numbers when they are in the form of pay day, in the form of puppies (the more the better), and when they are in the form of social results. Working on many social programs at Voce, high numbers are gold. Being able to quantify the content we are creating in numbers (high numbers) to the client, is an amazing feeling. Numbers are a universal language, but numbers in the form of analytics are the cherry on top when justifying your hard work, ideas, and creativity.

dixon 0415

Becky Edwards, Senior Client Executive

For someone who disliked math class more than anything growing up, talking about numbers in a positive tone is a big one for me. Impressions, UVMPs, circulations – all extremely important in my day-to-day role at Voce and all deal with numbers. When numbers can be controlled – even numbers are everything to me. Some might say OCD, but I just call it consistency. Four briefings instead of three, six talking points instead of five… you get the drill. You can always count on numbers.

becky edwards new

Andy Stoltzfus, Vice President

In our industry, it’s easy to get caught up in numbers for the sake of numbers. Clicks, impressions, Likes, comments, article count. To me, though, it’s about finding the right number to look at, and finding opportunities to increase those numbers exponentially. I thrive on connecting our communications programs directly to business numbers – to conversions, downloads, or purchases. When it comes to impressions, I sometimes thrive on small numbers – but only when we can identify that those impressions are with the people who matter and who will take the action we want them to take. And I thrive on exponential numbers – such as activating advocates and employees who have networks of their own and can exponentially increase the impact of our communications activities.

stolzfus 1215

About the Author
Andy is responsible for developing and implementing social media and digital publishing programs for Voce clients.

Filed in Voce Culture, Voce People

March 28th, 2016

Voce Nation Podcast Ep. 3: Twitter’s Algorithmic Change, BART’s Response Strategy, Chipotle and More

Once again Christopher Barger, Chris Thilk and myself got together on Blab to discuss recent news. 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 Content Marketing, Marketing, Social Networks, Voce Nation Podcast

March 25th, 2016

Blogging and Other Social Media Usage Slips Among Fortune 500

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research is out with its latest update on social media usage by Fortune 500 companies in 2015 and there are some big surprises here.

umass fortune 500 2015

First, far fewer companies maintained active blogs last year, just 21% , or a little over 100 companies. That makes two years in a row that usage declined, with this tactic peaking at 34% in 2013 and beginning a decline in 2014. That means fewer companies see the value in long-form content, though the study doesn’t make it clear whether it’s counting blogs that may be hosted on Tumblr or Medium. Many brands have migrated their content publishing to those platforms in the last couple years and it would be interesting to know if those are included in these stats.

Our position has always been that an owned, on-domain blog is always a good idea. Going all-in on other networks, whether it’s Instagram or Medium or anything else, means you are subject to terms of service and a user experience that can change at any moment. As we’ve seen in recent months as Facebook continues to kink the hose of organic reach and Twitter and Instagram adopt algorithmic feeds, the only way to manage the experience is to own it. While distribution on other platforms can benefit a program, on-domain publishing brings long-term value in that it’s not subject to content decay, allows for better search rankings and more.

Moving on, there was a 5% drop in the number of Fortune 500 companies actively publishing on Twitter, down to 78%. The number of companies with an active Facebook page also dropped, dipping 6% to 74%. YouTube usage is also dropping, down to 64% in 2015, as is Pinterest, which is only used by 23% of the companies on the list.

The one network that’s growing? Instagram. That shows companies are seeing more value in visual storytelling, but that conclusion is somewhat suspect by the decline on Pinterest. So if a platform that’s visual but has no click-through value is growing while a platform that’s visual and has a ton of click-through value is declining, where are the priorities of the companies using them? It will be interesting to see if the recent introduction of a filtered algorithmic feed on Instagram impacts that growth, which is in at least its second year.

So why is almost everything – even LinkedIn – dropping in usage? The study says that a good portion of the reason is that the companies that are new to the list aren’t using social networks at the same rate those being replaced were. So the question then becomes, why aren’t those new additions to the list using social networks?

The study doesn’t offer a reason but it’s easy to assume that in some manner or another the companies simply don’t see the value in maintaining them. Maybe the audience they’re trying to reach is no longer on those networks, maybe program goals are ones that won’t be achieved through content publishing.

Of note that this is at least the third year of Twitter being more popular among Fortune 500 companies than Facebook. And yet we can’t go a month without discussions of why Twitter is failing. But if so many companies are using it, what’s behind that perception? The company still struggles with adding and retaining active monthly users, which means that it’s not selling the value of connecting with these companies – or watching as Neil DeGrasse Tyson debates random rappers about science or Robert Downey Jr engage in a little smack talk with Ryan Reynolds and Chris Evans – to those new and inactive users. That’s a real problem but it seems like one that can be solved.

Have questions about how Voce can help you figure out how to use a blog or other social network? Drop us a line.

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, Social Networks

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….”


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 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

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