Michelle Cove has turned a career as a media maker into an opportunity to address that industry's most harmful effects. She's founder and executive director of MEDIAGIRLS, a nonprofit that gives young girls the tools to filter and think critically about the harmful sexist and biased messages communicated in today's media.
In this week's Hacks and Flacks, Marina Askari and Manny Veiga talk to Michelle about her journey from filmmaker to startup founder, chat about the communications strategies she's learned on to grow MEDIAGIRLS and build the program, and ask for her thoughts whether brands, the media and the general public are finally making progress in the effort to curb harmful messages.
We're living in the era of fake news, or at least, the fear of fake news. Stories that would have once been reserved for salacious supermarket tabloids are now being shared like wildfire across social media and discussed seriously on the nightly news.
It's bad for readers (who do you trust?) bad for media (how do you prove your credibility?) and bad for businesses, who don't want to get caught up in a phony but potentially damaging story. Even a fake story could be a massive PR risk.
In this week's Hacks and Flacks, March VP Meredith L. Eaton and Content Manager Andrew Grzywacz break down the fake news phenomenon. Meredith shares crisis communication tips for brands that need to react to a damaging fake story, and we discuss the budding cottage industry of fake news publishers.
When you're trying to start a business, it can be tough to figure out your next step. Daquan Oliver, founder and executive director at WeThrive, learned this from a young age, and now he works to develop entrepreneurial skills in students from middle school on up.
In this episode of Hacks and Flacks, Daquan shares a few lessons in social entrepreneurship. Having successfully built a national collective of undergrad mentors for youth in under-resourced communities, Daquan describes how informal mentorships have given him the support system to build his company.
He also explains why he chose to avoid media outreach at a certain point in WeThrive's development, how press coverage gave him a boost at the right time, and how a few simple marketing and tech tools helped his business scale in a way that eludes many other nonprofit organizations.
Companies like to talk a lot about their fancy gadgets and whiz-bang whirligigs (good word), but are customers actually listening? In most cases, probably not.
So, how should brands re-think marketing and PR to grab the interest and attention of the right buyers, and drive them to take an action? We ask Jodi Petrie, Executive Vice President at March and the head of our new Consumer Innovation shop, for her perspective. Jodi offers thoughts on the current state of tech communications, and suggests a better way forward for brands in this space.
January was a busy month for the tech world, and for March Communications. We sent team members out to major tech events this month, and in this episode of Hacks and Flacks, three of them report back what they heard and saw while on the road.
Courtney Allen, James Gerber and Alex Jafarzadeh check in after trips to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the National Retail Federation (NRF) Retail's Big Show. They evaluate how the biggest innovators in artificial intelligence, virtual reality, robotics and more are succeeding or failing to connect with their target buyers.
Which of these trends are overhyped and which are underrated? We also pay our respects to the dearly departed 3D TV trend and ask: how can companies avoid seeing their product end up in the graveyard of gimmicky tech?
Rica Elysee is a builder. Based on her personal experiences with family and friends, she saw the need for a community for women that care about a natural hair lifestyle, which is why she created BostonNaturals. Now she's built a business in BeautyLynk, an on-demand marketplace for people to find beauty professionals for at-home appointments.
Through both experiences, she found that staying true to herself and her own personal journey helped her build grassroots communities, whether it was women who want to embrace their own definition of natural beauty, or customers who need someone to help them craft their style.
In this episode of Hacks and Flacks, Marina Askari and Manny Veiga talk to Rica about her journey. We talk about why authenticity is so important to how companies - startups and large enterprises - grow, gain customers, gain media coverage and more. We also ask about the local startup resources - like MassChallenge - that helped her build her business.
If some content is good, more is better, right? Marketers know that's not always the case, especially in today's content marketing environment, where the sheer volume of content available for buyers to read can be overwhelming. When there's too much content out there, you have to change your own content creation strategy to get noticed.
In the final Hacks and Flacks of 2016, we talk with Joe Flynn, Managing Editor at Sales Engine Media, about that exact challenge. A veteran B2B content marketer, Joe tells us how his own content strategy has changed to reflect the current state of SEO, social media and content consumption habits.
Most tech businesses abide by that old rule of thumb: never discuss politics and religion in polite company. However, this year we've seen many prominent individuals and companies thrust into the political spotlight, whether they wanted to be there or not. How have they responded? And as tech becomes more intertwined with our everyday life, should we expect to see more companies comment on social and political issues that are typically outside their depth?
In this episode of Hacks and Flacks (which, it's important to note, was recorded before the 2016 presidential election) Manny Veiga and Andrew Grzywacz discuss the communications responses of some of the biggest names in technology - Facebook, Airbnb, and even figures like Peter Thiel or Sheryl Sandberg - when faced with political issues. We also muse on the issues (data security, personal privacy) that could force B2B enterprises to wade into these murky waters.
Bloomberg is a brand of contrasts. It's simultaneously one of the biggest names in news, while also flying under the radar for those of us who don't keep up on the latest in business or investment. The Bloomberg Boston office is inconspicuously tucked away on two upper floors of a Downtown Crossing high-rise, but within that space, reporters are creating stories that are read and heard by a huge international audience.
In this episode of Hacks and Flacks we talk to Anne Mostue, radio anchor and reporter at Bloomberg Boston, to help PR professionals get a better sense for this dichotomy. After transitioning from the world of public radio, Anne now spends each afternoon on Bloomberg's airwaves, covering the latest in finance for an audience of movers and shakers. She describes the types of news that's important to her audience, the differences between Bloomberg and her past stops in journalism, plus the best ways for PR professionals to pitch her.
What's one buzzword that's just about run out of steam in the world of healthcare? "Solutions."
Boston Business Journal reporter Jessica Bartlett hears it often enough, and that's because she's regularly pitched by PR professionals working on behalf of the region's many healthcare businesses. Off the back of a recent Pub Club of New England speed pitching session, Jessica joins Hacks and Flacks this week for a discussion about media outreach and reporting.
She offers a glimpse into the dynamics and expectations of Boston Business Journal's readership, and insight into the story ideas - and headline opportunities - that catch her eye as a healthcare reporter covering one of the nation's top markets for that industry.
When you're hyper-focused on results, it's easy to view PR and marketing as a purely numbers-driven game. However, the creative arts - writing, photography, video and more - play a central role in contributing to those numbers by helping companies tell their stories and reach their desired audience.
On this week's Hacks and Flacks, we talk to two people who understand the art and science of visual mediums. When she's not working as a biomedical engineer for Boston's MC10, photographer Ellora Sen-Gupta can most likely be found snapping photos and contributing to creative projects as part of Boston's budding Instagram photography community, including @PortraitMeet.
March Director of Video Services Brendan Reilly is also a member of that group, and in this episode, he and Ellora talk about their techniques for applying creativity to corporate visual content, tips on how to get the best out of subjects who aren't comfortable in front of the camera, and why companies can't afford to cut corners on skill or technical competency when it comes to working with photographers or videographers.
Gawker.com is gone. Some people are upset, some people are dancing on its grave. Is there a right or a wrong perspective on Gawker's demise? Was its fate deserved because of its controversial and confrontational editorial style, or was Peter Thiel's cash-fueled vendetta an ugly harbinger of what could happen to the state of media if the powerful choose to litigate the free press into non-existence?
The hot Gawker takes have been flying left and right, and on this week's Hacks and Flacks, Andrew Grzywacz and I try to dig through it all. We acknowledge the contrasting reactions of the media and the general public toward Gawker's end, and discuss the possible implications for other publications.
The relationships between PR pros and journalists can be... complicated, to say the least. But, it's not all form pitches and frustration - in the best case scenario, PR folks and reporters can establish mutually beneficial relationships that result in great stories and reliable sources.
On this week's Hacks and Flacks, Manny Veiga and Paul Davenport talk to HealthITSecurity's Elizabeth Snell about her preferred rules of engagement when it comes to PR pitching and outreach. We also talk about the unique experience of finding compelling angles and navigating PR relationships when writing and editing for a vertical publication like HealthITSecurity.
When big news breaks, it's tempting to check if there's a chance to add your company's voice to the issue (how's your Pokemon Go pitch coming along, by the way?).
As March Senior Account Executive Alex Jafarzadeh recently wrote, the recent Brexit story provided interesting examples of what works and what can go wrong when you try to offer your spokesperson to reporters as an expert on a major timely news story.
"Newsjacking," as this PR strategy is called, can pay off when you have a legitimate angle or comment to offer a journalist. However, a poorly conceived pitch might come off as trivial, clueless and even tasteless depending on the story and timing.
On this week's Hacks and Flacks, we ask Alex and March Account Director Courtney Allen: when does this type of pitching cross the line, and how can PR pros ensure that their pitch actually benefits both the reporter and their client?
Whether you're hiring for a PR agency or an in-house marketing team, it's helpful to know as much as possible about the capabilities, expectations and possibilities of your potential future employees. That's why Hacks and Flacks brought in Amy Shanler, Associate Professor of Public Relations at Boston University and the head of BU's PRLab, for a glimpse into how tomorrow's professionals are being trained for a PR career.
The student-staffed PRLab is the nation's oldest student-run PR agency and supports real-world clients, with access to BU's state-of-the-art resources (including a Communication Research Center with a faux living room outfitted with bio-metric sensors).
PRLab has worked on a number of compelling, creative and inspiring campaigns - including a partnership with March Communications to support the nonprofit Adaptive Sports New England. March Vice President Liz Swenton Hosman oversaw that project, and she also joins the conversation with Amy to talk about PR training and hiring today, career expectations and anxieties for students coming out of college looking for their first PR job, and what employers need to know about the next generation of communications talent.
Data can tell a great story, and research campaigns are how you find that data. In this week's episode we talk to March Research Manager Jeremy Guterl, Account Manager Steph Jackman and Senior Account Executive Samantha Bell about their recent work developing, distributing and promoting a successful PR research campaign.
Jeremy defines the difference between media-genic and strategic research, and walks us through every step of the research process. Steph provides a blueprint for conducting media outreach for a campaign, and Sam explains why clear, impactful data points help you capture the interest of readers and the media.
Want to host an event? You better be organized. Organizing an industry event or trade show takes careful planning, collaboration, support from sponsors, great content and much more, as we learned in this week's interview with Erin Callanan, co-chair of PRXNE16, the annual conference for PRSA's North East district.
Erin is one of the chief organizers for PRXNE16 - held this year in our hometown of Boston - and we talked to her to get her expert tips on event organization. She also previews the PRXNE16 lineup, which features a keynote discussion on the media coverage surrounding this year's presidential election, plus a session on client messaging from March Managing Director Cheryl Gale.
When they think about a business social media strategy, most marketers probably think platform-first: where's my audience most active, and how can I spend the most time on that channel engaging with them? But is that actually the right strategy? Is it better to be hyper-focused on one platform, try to build quality engagement on every channel, or do something in between?
On this week's Hacks and Flacks we cover those questions and many more with March Senior Account Executive Alex Jafarzadeh (@ajafarzadehPR) and Digital Strategist Kristin McNulty (@beautyandbean). We're talking the intersection of social media, digital strategy and PR, and offering our take on the recent doom and gloom headlines prophesying Twitter's demise.
What's new in the world of digital media? Some publications are launching on new platforms to get their content in front of readers, while others are experimenting with social and mobile channels to improve reader engagement. And no one can figure out what's going on with Twitter.
We cover it all on this week's Hacks and Flacks, in our first monthly roundtable featuring March's own Andrew Grzywacz and Paul Davenport, plus Hacks and Flacks alum Jim Young. We muse about the BBC's use of Yik Yak to engage readers, the launch of Quartz's new messaging-based mobile app and the increased decoupling of the news from native sites as publications turn to platforms like Facebook Instant Articles, Medium, Snapchat Discover and Google AMP.
We also cover Twitter's algorithm update, Bill Simmons' new media venture, and share our thoughts on how marketers and businesses can similarly experiment with digital media channels to reach their audience.
Numbers can be a little scary. Marketing and PR are results-driven industries, and demonstrating why the work you do every day meet key businesses objectives can seem daunting if you don't have the right tools, processes or perspective. Even worse, you might be reluctant to measure your results in the first place, out of fear of what cold, hard facts might reveal about your every day work.
On this week's Hacks and Flacks we talk to Katie Delahaye Paine, also known as The Measurement Queen, who has spent years helping businesses and PR pros fearlessly and confidently put hard numbers behind their communications campaigns. Katie explains how to create a culture of measurement within a PR agency or internal marketing department, and also shares her perspective on the tech businesses use to monitor and measure their work.
We also chat with March Digital Strategist Kristin McNulty and Content Manager Paul Davenport to get their tips on how to leverage measurement to tell a story and put context behind your campaigns.
It's one of the biggest trade shows in the world, and it can be a complete nightmare for the woebegone PR pro who hasn't adequately prepared. But, the Consumer Electronics Show - better known as CES - is also a great opportunity to connect your client or business with a huge number of journalists and influencers in one fell swoop. So, how do you avoid the chaos and make the most of your time at CES?
This week we talk to March Vice President Erica Frank, Account Director Courtney Allen and Account Manager James Gerber, three hardened CES veterans, who share their impressions of this year's event and other tips and tricks for PR professionals heading to this or any other big show.
Is there anything more frustrating about the Internet than advertisements? Pop-ups, banners, videos – they interrupt the browsing experience and may even grind your page load times to a halt (and drain your monthly mobile data plan, by the way). At the same time, online advertisements are a valuable source of revenue for publishers, who have seen revenue from print advertisements largely dry up.
Enter ad blocking software. These controversial tools are common among Internet users, and they're sure to become even more popular after Apple permitted the use of ad blocking software on its devices, as part of its most recent iOS update.
This leads to a number of questions. What are the ramifications for publishers if blocked ads suppress revenue opportunities? Are paywalls and contributed content viable alternatives? What about other collateral damage of ad blocking (goodbye Google Analytics tracking)?
We explore all the ins and outs of ad blocking on this week's episode.
HubSpot's INBOUND isn't quite like other business events and conferences. Yes, it attracts thousands of attendees (15,000+ this year), is hosted by a world-class city, features show-stealing keynote addresses (Aziz Ansari, Seth Godin, Brené Brown and Chelsea Clinton) and provides educational sessions – not unlike, say, Dreamforce.
What's different about INBOUND, and what's been proven over six annual events, is that HubSpot's ambition is to create a movement.
To get an inside look at INBOUND 2015, we sent two correspondents (and former guests of Hacks and Flacks), drew Wallace (Episode 2 and Episode 12) and Matt Moretti (Episode 7). In this episode, drew and Matt report back, explaining how INBOUND manages to serve up "brain fuel for marketers" that goes well beyond tactical marketing strategies and right to the heart of human emotion.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, how valuable is video? Visual storytelling can be a powerful medium, as it often allows you to convey messages, invoke emotions and inspire action far more effectively than the written word alone.
Brendan Reilly is a believer in the power of visual storytelling for B2B marketers. He should be, considering he is, after all, the Director of Video Services here at March Communications. In this week's episode, he sat down with us to share some of his favorite examples of corporate video marketing, covering the good (Chipotle, GoPro) and the questionable (lookin' at you, Wrangler).
Brendan also breaks down the types of videos you can use to bring new life to your marketing, answers technical questions around equipment investment and proper aspect ratios, and offers tips on how to avoid creating boring corporate videos.
The last time you went shopping, did you actually drive to a store, or did you just stroll over to your couch and log into your computer or phone? If you bought online because the cost was lower, did you wish you had an opportunity to pick up and preview whatever it was you purchased?
Even though websites and mobile apps have taken some traffic away from brick-and-mortar retailers, customers still crave an engaging in-store experience, and that desire has helped some of these stores undergo a renaissance of sorts.
This week, we were joined by Marcus LaRobardiere, Assistant Marketing Manager at Bouncepad. Marcus explains how he tells Bouncepad's story, in part by sharing how some of its marquee customers – from McDonalds to Tommy Hilfiger – use its tablet enclosures to create captivating in-store experiences for customers.