LionelGeek at IABC: Content is Still King, But it Needs Your Help

Posted by: in Social Media Insights & Trends on October 23, 2014

Last week, I got to take part in IABC’s Southern Regional Conference. I joined several cool folks in a session on Friday that utilized a variation of the Pecha Kucha format. We didn’t do 20 slides in 20 seconds each though—we were limited to 10 minutes for our topic. Those that know me won’t be surprised that I didn’t make it through my whole deck. That being the case, I’ll use it as an excuse to blog about it here.

My presentation was called Content is Still King, But it Needs Your Help. Given the audience, I tried to use the time to talk about the changing role of communicators as they become part of an increasingly digital landscape. Here’s a pic of the slide I used to talk about that role. What do I mean by being part hustler? Engage reporters and influencers via social channels just like you work the phones.

No substitute for hussle

  1. Align your social content efforts with your communications and marketing efforts – if you are a communicator tasked with creating social content on behalf of your company, start with the communications piece. You already have a sense for announcements, events and other media pitches. Many of those things will have a social element. Aligning with Marketing pillars ensures strategic value; opens possibility for paid media in social. Don’t go too far on this alignment though. No one wants to read company-related news all day, unless you’re Apple maybe.
  2. Traditional PR still matters; Social content is additive to the process – Traditional PR always revolved around relationships. Social magnifies the importance of relationships. If you work for a company that uses their social presence on sites like Twitter, you can reference those tweets (or blog posts/ posts to the About section of your company’s website) to respond to reporters.
  3. Build Relationships internally and externally – Like I mentioned before, relationships matter more than ever. While social has changed the communications landscape, it has changed journalism in an even bigger way. Extend existing relationships with reporters online through things like Twitter Lists or sites like Just about all of the tier 1 media outlets maintain reporter lists on Twitter (see Wall Street Journal, New York Times and NPR). Sites like and even standard Google News searches and alerts make it easier than ever to keep up with news
  4. Paid media is a bigger part of the social content equation – Content Marketing didn’t exist in 2006. It does now, for a reason. Besides the content avalanche, many social networks are now (or soon will be) publicly-traded companies. That means no more free rides. Per a blog post from Bufferapp’s Kevan Lee, only about 6% of your Facebook audience sees a given post. Pay to play in the form of boosting posts, Promoted Tweets, etc. will be the standard moving forward. That’s a big reason why I agree with Jay Baer’s views on his Shotguns Trump Rifles post. And that’s only a small part of the paid media landscape in social. Other content discover tools like Outbrain and Taboola help syndicate your content on third-party sites. See Jordan Teicher’s Contently post for about the pros and cons of several of these services.

In terms of extending relationships with reporters and influencers online, starting is pretty simple really. Read and share their stuff, especially when those stories aren’t about your company. Add to their conversations by commenting on their blog posts or elsewhere online, and refer them to your company’s content when it answers one of their questions.

Update 10-24:

I had a bit more to say about the journalism side of things, so adding it now. I mentioned earlier that social and digital has had the biggest impact on journalism overall. Mathew Ingram was a reporter for Toronto’s Globe and Mail when I first met him. He was already pretty active in social back then. Now, he’s a Senior Writer at GigaOm. He’s a great example of hustle—responding to comments on his posts, actively sharing a mix of his content and broader media and social industry content on his Twitter account, having active discussions there on his Twitter account, etc. Stacey Higginbotham also works as a Senior Writer at GigaOm. She went there after working at traditional media outlets like the Austin Business Journal and BusinessWeek. Joshua Topolsky went from Engadget for a to be editor-in-chief for The Verge and now he’s editor for Bloomberg Digital.  Other reporters like Ed Bott and Mary Jo Foley contribute to ZDNet and are very active in discussions online. And ex-WSJ reporters Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher are probably the highest-profile examples who left to create Re/code, which in their own words “aims to reimagine tech journalism.”  To do that, they employ a stable of tech writers—many of whom came from WSJ as well. What do they all have in common? They are great examples of journalists who hustle. Said another way, they have all done well building their personal brands, in addition to being solid reporters.

Here are my slides:

Thanks to Christina Moore, Mary Ellen Gitachu and Lara Zuehlke for inviting me to be part of the IABC conference. And to Jennifer Wah for keeping the train moving, and thanks to other presenters like Angee Linsey, Erin Donley, and Chris Wailes and Preston Lewis for being part of it as well.  It was a great group of folks to be part of. My experience at IABC reiterated something I’ve always believed in the social realm: you will always learn from others.

IABC crew


By: Lionel Menchaca

Lionel used to be Dell's Chief Blogger, beginning in 2006 when Dell launched its first blog. Now he's Director of Content Engagement for WCG.

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Pre-Commerce Check out W2O Group President Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on! Join the conversation #precommerce.

Isn’t Change Management Just…Good Management?

Posted by: in Communication Strategy, Content, Corporate and Strategy, Insights, Organizational Communications, Thought Leadership on October 21, 2014

How many times have you read “orange is the new black”? I mean…“change is the new normal.” Countless articles have been published that explain how today’s business environment is evolving more quickly than ever before. At the off-chance you haven’t heard, change is now a constant.

BulbIf that’s the case then why is change management considered and approached as a separate activity from day-to-day management? Wouldn’t there be benefit to incorporating change management approaches into our regular management practices so that we can help accelerate business evolution on an ongoing basis? Why should change management only be “pulled out” for “big events” when change is happening all around us?

Based on today’s business environment, I’d argue that change management is what effectively managing today should look like. To manage today is to have the capabilities and mindset to be successful at managing change (and to thrive in this environment).

Here are 6 actions typically taken when managing change that leaders would benefit from adopting in their day-to-day operations:

  1. Understand stakeholder perceptions about the business to tailor communications and training approaches around areas of confusion or capability gaps (making your interactions more efficient and effective)
  2. Tell a compelling story to drive internal alignment among leaders and communicators and clarity among employees (making evolution feel more manageable and logical)
  3. Provide opportunities for discussion so employees can internalize information, ask questions and be a part of the change process (leading to increased ownership and faster adoption)
  4. Clarify roles to set clear expectations and responsibilities (instilling a culture of accountability)
  5. Train and develop teams so that they are supported to deliver successfully (building confidence)
  6. Measure progress and impact to identify needs, gaps and opportunities (accelerating results)

Kid smartWhile the actions above aren’t particularly revolutionary, many of us only think about and apply them during times of change. It’s great that these moments remind us of these fundamentals, but it is important for us to keep them in mind at all times.  Management should not be set to autopilot.

Regularly involving employees in conversations about the business, customers, products, and competitors will give them the context they need year-round to internalize potentially more frequent changes. It will also give them the opportunity to contribute their insights and ideas to make things better.

It’s not surprising that companies that foster and encourage agility will be better positioned to succeed in the months and years ahead. With change as one constant, how we manage should reflect this reality. In today’s environment, change management is really just good management.

Are you proactively managing for change or are you scrambling to adjust when it inevitably impacts you?

By: Abigail Rethore

Abigail is a director at WCG. She works in the Corporate and Strategy practice, where she specializes in organizational communications strategy and change management. Background in international development and management consulting. Traveler who's always up for the next adventure.

Find me on: Twitter
Pre-Commerce Check out W2O Group President Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on! Join the conversation #precommerce.

Intern Interview Series: Peter Hammer, Analytics Intern

Posted by: in Inside WCG, Intern/Internship, Interns/Internship on October 20, 2014

Next in our Internship Interview Series is Peter Hammer, a graduate of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, who majored in Mathematics and Actuary Science and Statistics. He is based out of our Minneapolis office and is delighted to share a bit of insight into his experience with our Internship Program.


Why did you apply for this position?

I saw this job posted on, so I read up on the company. I saw that W2O group had just opened up the office in Minneapolis within the past year. I also read an announcement about Lauren Hougas and Rob Silas and their experience within the industry and thought that this would be a great learning opportunity to understand how social media has evolved. Since I have a math and statistics background, I knew I was very interested in analyzing how humans are changing within this huge data age we live in and how we can understand it from a quantitative state. With new healthcare reforms and social media becoming ever more important to companies and people, I thought it would be a great opportunity to watch my major come to life and experience real applications.

What are some projects you have been involved in?

I participated in the 6 week long internship project where three others and I were able to work on a new application to diagnose skin conditions using analytics and watch it come to life. I have also been involved in a meme for a Fortune 500 company, which was both challenging and rewarding since I was working with investors who have very little content compared to regular influencers who generally have a large amount of content. Working with Lauren Hougas and the analytics team to develop new, creative ways to pull information and make it into a story has been an amazing experience. Knowing that I have helped large companies make executive decisions is an empowering feeling.

What has been your favorite aspect about your internship so far?

My favorite aspect about the internship has been watching the Minneapolis office and our analytics team grow. Being new to the company gave us a chance to greatly contribute to the Minneapolis office environment. The collaboration between everyone in the office, who all have different backgrounds, gives everyone a great opportunity to learn something new and share something insightful. I have learned so much from the people I work with that I can bring to many other aspects of my life.

What is your favorite reading source for the news/trending topics?

My favorite reading source would have to be It is a local website in Minnesota that pulls information from other news sources to make a quick, credible story. I am also new to twitter since I started at W2O Group, and I like following what is trending in the area and nationally.

What is the biggest learning point you have experienced?

The biggest learning point was understanding what it takes to make a great service. It takes collaboration, the willingness to learn, and the push to keep moving forward.

If you could describe your internship in one word, what would it be?


By: Blaire Clause

Senior Marketing Associate for W2O Group in Austin, TX. Board Member of Young Women's Alliance and Nike Training Club Trainer. Background in communications, marketing, psychology, and fitness. Also a theatre nerd and instagram fanatic.

Find me on: Twitter
Pre-Commerce Check out W2O Group President Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on! Join the conversation #precommerce.

What Do Intel, MasterCard and W2O Group Have in Common?

Posted by: in Advertising, Analytics, CMO, Communication, Communication Strategy, Content, Corporate and Strategy, Digital Health, Entrepreneur, Entrepreneurship, executive insights, Global Healthcare, Innovation, Integrated Communications, Jim Weiss, Social Media Insights & Trends on October 16, 2014

This week, Aarti Shah of the Holmes Report published the 2014 Innovator 25. On that list is the answer to the question in my headline. That’s right, not only did two of our clients — Becky Brown of Intel, and Andrew Bowins of MasterCard — make the list but so did our CEO, Jim Weiss. As Aarti states in her announcement post, “ We launched the In2 Innovator 25 in 2013  to celebrate those who have contributed great work or ideas that have pushed our industry forward. The 2014 Innovator 25 now takes another glimpse at our industry’s future, shining the light on those individuals who are shaping what influence and engagement will look like tomorrow. ”

innovator 25

This trend of having our clients and senior leaders named to this prestigious list will never get boring. To that end, we are now two for two because our President, Bob Pearson was on this list last year along with our (then) client, Mark Stouse of BMC Software. Coincidence? Hardly as our clients along with our leaders are why we are where we are today.

Please put your (virtual) hands together and help us celebrate this momentous occasion! Congratulations Becky, Andrew and Jim!

By: Aaron Strout

Aaron leads the technology practice at W2O Group and is a regular contributor to Marketing Land. In his spare time, he podcasts, speaks, Twitters and BBQs. He also loves his Instagram.

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Pre-Commerce Check out W2O Group President Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on! Join the conversation #precommerce.

One week on – a look back at the key highlights from #socialintel14

Posted by: in Social Media Insights & Trends on October 15, 2014

W2O’s 2014 Social Intelligence Summit London brought together some of the most exciting thought-leaders in the industry to kick-start an invigorating dialogue about both the power and potential of social intelligence as it relates to the individual, corporation, and society as a whole. Over 50 guests were welcomed to the invite-only event at the top of London’s iconic City Hall where they took in panoramic views of the city skyline, with many more around the world viewing via live stream.


The speakers touched on social intelligence from a variety of perspectives from advertising to Pharma, and shared insights into how businesses can (and must) become more empowered to exploit the opportunities the digital age provides. Here are some key takeaways in case you missed out. You can also check out the Pharma Times and Holmes Report posts on the event.

Will Hayward, VP, Europe, BuzzFeed

  • Many people use their social feeds to show who they are, or perhaps more accurately, who they want to be. Bringing them content that allows them to express this helps capitalize on this insight and drive engagement.
  • People are more interested in what others are talking about rather than what traditional news sites are posting.
  • Great advertising should be built for the platform it is meant for, and should fit to what the audience is expecting from that platform.

Phillip Sheldrake, Managing Partner, Euler Partners:

  • Society demands that we understand each other better. Only through contextualizing meaningful information can we create influence and mutual value.
  • We need to move away from the organization-centric view of customers, stakeholders and employees and use social intelligence to create mutual relationships.

Toby Potter, Regional VP Sales, EMEA, DataSift:

  • The digital universe is transparent, observable and measurable. All of the available data points are potentially tiny nuggets of customer insight that go way beyond just the text.
  • Companies must move beyond just looking at and listening to online data towards actually understanding what this data is telling them.

Martin Bryant, Editor-in-Chief, The Next Web  

  • When creating content, the push towards engagement metrics can be a dangerous game. Quality, engaging content is valuable to the consumer. Online advertising is now being measured by time rather than clicks for this reason. This is the ‘marketing model for quality’.

Jessica Federer, Chief Digital Officer, Bayer

  • For a large, global business in which social media is managed by different divisions, managers and teams, how can the data and value from each be integrated? An open, honest approach to promote sharing insights is key.

Bob Pearson, President, W2O Group:

  • There is a shift from “big data” to “small data” where there are a finite number questions, answers and data points we can operate with. As brands begin to become experts in small data, they can implement “forensic analytics” by using small data filters, location-based insights, and predictive analytics to gather information.
  • Any discrete set of people can be turned into a custom search engine, which can help brands understand how they are influencing online conversations & help them change the way they prioritize, engage and activate people in the conversation.
  • Responsive design is changing to responsive experience. More than 50% of traffic to a website comes from a phone or tablet. Inside a company, we can now build “freeways” that standardize data and metrics and deliver what a brand needs to the device of your choice


Pre-Commerce Check out W2O Group President Bob Pearson's new book, Pre-Commerce, in which he shares ideas for leaders to engage directly with customers to shape their brand and marketplace success. Now available for order on! Join the conversation #precommerce.