Going. Ahead. With Gage: Interview with Anita Bose

Posted by: in Communication, Culture, Employee Interviews, Going. Ahead. With Gage, New Business, Thought Leadership, W2O Group on April 25, 2016

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Welcome to another Going. Ahead. With Gage interview! I had the privilege of interviewing Anita Bose, Head of Client and Business Development at W2O Group, who also leads the W2O Marketing Team. She shared insights on being a leader and how her teams operate. I hope you all gain some valuable insight and enjoy the read!

What are you doing to ensure that W2O Group is at the cutting edge?

From a new business standpoint, I’m focused on making sure we have the best approach to address the strategic and creative needs of our current and prospective clients. We obviously have an amazingly bright group of people here and a model that allows us to stand apart, as an analytics-based full-service marketing communications firm. But it’s really on us to make sure that our new business plans and proposals demonstrate our smarts, our world-class creativity and our ability to execute flawlessly to make sure we are meeting all of our client’s expectations.

As we get larger, which is the critical piece, we need to be able to scale our new business process to drive that rapid growth. It’s about coming up with the most innovative and efficient processes that allow us to scale rapidly.

Secondly, from a marketing perspective, I’m focused on using our own marketing expertise to increase attention towards ourselves, as W2O Group, our operating companies and our branded offerings. We tell our clients how to drive attention on a daily basis, now it’s time for us to do it for ourselves.

The last piece would be my amazing Chicago office team. I’m working with all of them to make sure our office becomes a central hub for the company. We have a big anchor client right now, AbbVie, but Chicago has other major global brands here in multiple industries, and our goal is to spread our wings and gain greater visibility and additional clients beyond healthcare. We are very excited to see what we can accomplish here!

What are 3 words you would use to describe our culture?

High-spirited, fun-loving and risk-takers. I think that what I’ve taken away in my short time here is that there is this gregariousness and exciting dynamic to our culture that I love. Even though we are all in different offices and along this long hallway, it’s really all about having this energy and determination to get things done. And making it fun at the same time!

In a few words, describe what your team does for the company:

My “team,” I guess, is anyone who works on new business or marketing.  I think it’s really about driving the rapid growth of the company. Finding opportunities, seeing where we as a company can stand out, how to best showcase our great work, great teams and culture, and how to find those great companies that we want to work with.

Thinking of your most successful current employees, what characteristics do they share?

I think it’s interesting in this day and age with all these different technologies, tools and social media, that one of the toughest things to master in any business is being able to communicate effectively. I think that that’s the single most important thing in my mind when hiring a staff member. We are in the client service business and we are always trying to get clients to buy our communications recommendations and that requires us to articulate our understanding of their business and why they should follow our specific recommendations and approach.

We need to be able to present it on paper and speak it out loud. It takes a lot of hard work with all the things rattling around in your brain and all the good ideas that you have to get that good stuff down on paper in a way that makes sense. It’s a fundamental skill and everyone needs to be good at it.

How do you empower your employees to go that extra mile?

To me, it’s all about making sure, no matter what level an employee is, that everyone understands the big picture. We really do a disservice if we just give someone a task and ask them to do it. We need to explain why that task is important and how that fits into the overall objective. I think that really motivates people – people need to feel and want to feel that they are a part of something bigger and that they are making a difference.

What motivates you to get up and come to work every day?

That’s such a great question and it changes all the time during the course of your career! I would have to say that the W2O team in Chicago is so fun and dynamic that I have no problem getting up and coming to work every day. They all motivate me to work hard and play hard. This new city that I live in and have adopted as my new home really helps as well – I really love Chicago and I’m so excited to be here!

If you had to choose 1 company value that represents you, which would it be and why?

#MakeItHappen – partly it’s my job :) but it’s also kind of how I’m built. I get things done and I always have. My mantra is that you figure out the shortest road home to get the best results and mobilize a team around it to get there.

What is the most difficult leadership decision you’ve had to make in the recent past and what did you learn from it?

There’s so many because being in a leadership position is all about making tough decisions, but I’ll be specific to new business. The great thing right now is that we as an agency are in high demand and we are getting huge numbers of new business opportunities sent our way. What that means is that we need to have a lot of discipline on what we go after and what we don’t. One of the most difficult decisions lately has been saying no to business opportunities because some of them are great companies but it might not be the right fit for us at this moment. No one likes saying no, but we are focused on “scoring” these opportunities and thinking strategically about our rationale for pursuing specific opportunities going forward.

By: Gage Grammer

Content and Community Specialist at W2O Group. Background in Strategic Communications (PR and Advertising) and Writing. I have a rockin' French Bulldog named Phantom!

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 Amazon.com! http://amzn.to/bAmvFN. Join the conversation #precommerce.

Relevance is the New Reputation … Reflections on the Future

Posted by: in Corporate and Strategy, executive insights, gary grates on April 22, 2016

Next Tuesday and Wednesday, April 26 -27, the National Summit on Strategic Communications, will convene at the Hilton Crystal City in Arlington, VA.  The two-day event will explore the increasing digital interconnection of people and its impact on innovation, growth, and purpose.

One of the day 1 sessions (April 26) features a panel discussion on the importance of Relevance for today’s organizations and how it’s becoming the new Reputation in today’s social/digital world.

Below are some initial thoughts from the panelists on this most intriguing subject:

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Chris Preuss, Senior Vice President, Communications and Marketing, Delphi

Living within the somewhat finite universe of the B2B realm, the need for relevance is no less important than in the consumer space. For Delphi Automotive, our ability to maintain top-of-mind presence in what is an intensely competitive and cost sensitive market, is critical to our success.  Complicating the situation is Delphi’s long history of being an off-shoot of General Motors in 1997, and having endured a very public and painful restructuring during the period of 2005-2006.  Even with reasonably informed customers, Delphi suffered from an image of being a one customer entity with little global reach. The good news is that the building blocks of solid reputation – consistently delivering above expectations and doing what you say – has elevated the company greatly over the past several years. In other words, I don’t think there are shortcuts to gaining the kind of relevance that makes a reputation transactional.

Another interesting point to relevance is the need for our brand and our reputation to resonate for the purpose of recruiting. We are now spending almost as much intellectual and execution energy on attracting young engineering and software talent, as we are attracting customers. The need to understand who we are communicating with and where they are consuming their information has never been more important. And to be honest, this is not a great muscle in many B2B organizations. Most of our analytic and marketing automation capabilities have been targeted to a very narrow customer market – now we are having to act much more like a consumer brand to find the talent.  The good news is the environment to effectively and efficiently communicate with broad reach has never been better. Developing the story and content that will engage them is an evolving journey.

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Carol Cone, ON PURPOSE Collaborative

We live in a world where more people care. Public demands – for transparency, for trust, for sharing, for inspiration – have never been greater.  People expect brands and organizations to stand for something meaningful, and want to know more about how products are sourced and made, what businesses do to minimize their impact, and how they make a positive difference.  More than just hearing nice stories, people want to feel and be a part of purpose-driven change.

No longer just consumers, we are now citizens who want more. More sharing. More caring. More meaning. More understanding about why brands and organizations exist, what they stand for, how they engage employees, people and communities, and how they play a positive role in the world.

We’ve believed this for decades, and pioneered the idea and breakthrough programs that brought purpose to life. In the beginning it was “if” an organization existed beyond profits. Now it is about the “how,” with the power of purpose proven across every metric: revenues, productivity, innovation, employee retention, consumer loyalty, and community support.

Bringing purpose into the core of your business is the single most important action you can take. We call it the evolution of purpose. It’s a process. It takes vision, patience, and organizational champions.

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Rob Clark, Vice President, Global Communication, Medtronic

A 2014 study showed the following:

Every minute…

  • Facebook users share nearly 2.5 million pieces of content.
  • Twitter users tweet nearly 300,000 times.
  • Instagram users post nearly 220,000 new photos.
  • YouTube users upload 72 hours of new video content.
  • Apple users download nearly 50,000 apps.
  • Email users send over 200 million messages.

With all of this content flying around, how can a company or institution break through?  How can we meaningfully engage with customers, partners and employees through this noise?  This is the challenge for communicators and marketers around the world – being relevant with our message and growing brand equity in a time of a data and information explosion.

The answer is routed in what we have known for years – we have to fundamentally understand our customers and employees and never have we had more data and insights by which to determine this.  In a digital world, virtually all things can be tracked, monitored, and assessed for insights on what is relevant to our stakeholders.

At Medtronic, we have been tackling the following areas to better identify, understand, and engage with our stakeholders in the hopes of meeting their needs and advancing our reputation and preference in the marketplace.

  • First, infrastructure.  Legacy systems and siloed approaches are coming down.  We recently began implementing a single, global platform for digital and social media that provides a common content, distribution and analytics platform globally.
  • Second, content.  We’ve reassessed our content and how we deliver it.  Technical, bland content goes nowhere.  Though hard for a technology company in a complex, regulated industry, we are striving to develop content that is simple and interesting — crafted through better insights and delivered through compelling stories.
  • Third, data and analytics.   The good news – we have never had more data and information on our stakeholders than now.   The bad news – we are generally bad at aggregating, analyzing and turning into this information into action and relevance.  We are seeking to better track data longitudinally and then close the loop to better craft our content and programs.
  • Fourth, and probably the toughest…culture.   Large companies are not set inherently positioned to win in a digital world.  Historically, IT, HR, Marketing and Communications have operated independently with different roles in customer and employee engagement.  To the stakeholder – the employee or customer – that typically creates a complexity, blandness and lack of timeliness that makes the company increasingly irrelevant.   Bringing those constituencies together to examine and engage our stakeholders more horizontally in a digital world requires a new conversation and a new connectedness.

In the end, this work cannot be divorced from our core purpose – delivering great products and services that meets our customer’s needs.  Actions ultimately speak louder than words.  And, when these actions are paired with meaningful content, the company’s purpose and reputation will find its way through the clutter and be deemed meaningful and relevant.

Looking forward to seeing you there next Tuesday, April 26 at the Strategic Communications Conference in Arlington, VA for what will be an incredible discussion on the future of our work and efficacy! Register using code C786W2O for a discount on the conference.

 

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 Amazon.com! http://amzn.to/bAmvFN. Join the conversation #precommerce.

How “InteGREATness” Will Drive & Define The Next 15 Years

Posted by: in executive insights, Inside WCG, Thought Leadership, twist, w20 group, W2O Group on April 19, 2016

An open letter to the W2O ecosystem:

As we enter our 15th year in business, it is becoming clearer to me just how essential achieving true “InteGREATness” is to our individual and collective future.

We had another outstanding year in 2015, growing revenues and improving profits, expanding our roster of clients, promoting and adding great talent, introducing new services and achieving great results.

“InteGREATness” is how I’m describing the real benefit of working, learning, sharing and growing across teams, offices, shared services and capabilities. It’s #LetsHang meets #WhySuck.

But it goes beyond collaboration. It’s deeper and more profound than Integration. It’s about viewing yourself as part of a greater whole. One that encompasses new and diverse capabilities and thinking and that exceeds anything you can achieve on your own.

My two biggest mantras – Becoming the Best (not the Biggest) and ensuring our clients are Relevant in a Distracted World continue to guide how we lead the firm. But an even more
critical element is coming into focus. It’s our ability to respect each other in a deeper manner, calling on individual expertise and unique viewpoints that color and shape our reality.

In a world of increasing distraction and distrust, authenticity and clear ideation, counsel and services not only break through but provide a sustainable connection.

So, how can we work every day to ensure “InteGREATness?”

It starts with The Client. You must see your value and work through The Client’s eyes. Are you solving a problem? Preventing one? Creating a new opportunity? Helping them get the job done well?

You can’t achieve “InteGREATness” internally without first recognizing the bigger, more important purpose to be gained, which is centered on The Client.

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From there it becomes more personal. As I see it, there are actually four qualities of “InteGREATness”:

What’s Your POV and What Do You Bring to the Table?
You need to work on becoming an expert in a:
• Particular field (Healthcare, Technology, Consumer Packaged Goods, Energy, etc.)
• Particular category (Pharma, Biotech, Digital Health, Automotive, Food/Beverage, etc.)
• Particular specialty (Corporate, Design, Brand, Media/Engagement, Strategy, Content, etc.)
Who’s in Your Internal Network?
You need to establish an ever-increasing network of peers, colleagues, and subject matter experts that you interact with regularly. They should come from all parts of our firm and also outside the firm in the form of media, influencers, experts and thought leaders who can help our clients’ business too. Pick up the phone. Send an e-mail. Seek someone out in the office. Start a conversation and build from there.

Are you Self-Aware & Awake?
Know thyself! When you are confident and comfortable with your own strengths and shortcomings you are better able to draw on the people around you to gain new knowledge especially as it relates to uncovering ideas and solutions for clients.

Got Humility?
Putting pride aside and checking your ego at the door, acknowledging mistakes or holes in your approach, truly listening for diverse voices and recognizing your solution or idea may not always be the best.

15 years ago I began this journey with a simple premise: to do great work while minimizing the nonsense and BS that often compromises excellent client service, not to mention the fun of working together as a team to do great things.

As we look ahead, keeping true to that belief means we need to work together at higher levels of interaction and involvement. I’m not asking you to be nicer to each other. I still want us pushing each other to become the best individually and collectively. But let’s do it with less pride, less ego and a little more trust, respect and camaraderie.

“InteGREATness” should not only be a new word but a new way of being at W2O Group!

Thank you for all you do for our clients and our firm … you truly are the best in the business!

Gratefully,

 

Jim

 

By: Jim Weiss

Chairman & CEO, W2O Group

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 Amazon.com! http://amzn.to/bAmvFN. Join the conversation #precommerce.

March Madness Teams Compete On Social Media Too

Posted by: in Analytics on April 1, 2016

At W2O Group, proprietary analytics power everything we do, so we decided, “Why not use our analytics to see who is dominating socially going into the Final Four of March Madness?” We live and breathe for the targeting our analytics can provide for our clients in order to set them up for success. Plus it is pretty interesting to see who is in the “double bonus” when it comes to share of conversation.

First, we wanted to pull analytics to highlight the social engagement of the teams that reached the Elite 8. Take a look at not only Syracuse University’s domination, but also a nice ongoing climb that the University of North Carolina has. (I have to wonder if W2O Group’s alignment with Syracuse’s Center for Social Commerce is helping the Orange’s efforts of practicing what we preach for social media while holding back my Tar Heels.)

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Next we wanted to look at which team was producing the “loudest” fans in terms of social engagement. Louisville should be happy with the results from the Yum! Center.

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Each year millions of fans tune in on their TV, laptops, tablets and smartphones to cheer on their alma mater, their hometown team or to watch a low-seeded Cinderella team defy the odds and beat a well-known number one seed. Whether it is at work, in a lecture hall or at home, Americans have an obsession with tuning in for every game – and now sharing their point of view, battle cries, chants, smack, photos, highs and lows. And the fact that the game will be live-streamed in virtual reality makes us geek out even more, salivating at all the data and social shares to come out of this tech milestone.

Last year, the tournament averaged 11.3 million viewers — the highest viewership in 22 years. Thanks to second-screen conversations adding to the story and increased social engagement, fans are helping tell the team’s story. They’re part of the team. The schools need to see the value in being storytized, because there are so many stories to tell.

Before the start of the tournament this year, CBS compiled a list of the odds of the top 25 teams winning the national championship. Out of the top five teams included on the list only one remains in the Final Four, the University of North Carolina.

Odds graphic

This year is far from an anomaly. Perhaps the reason March Madness is so popular is the tension of expectation versus reality. You expect a #4 seed to clobber a #13 seed, but suddenly the opposite happens. You are nearly 100% sure that #1 seed is destined to be the national champion, and suddenly they are out in the second round. Consistently during four weeks in early spring, the nation is stunned, and history has proven this:

There is no predicting March Madness. You can only sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. In many ways, March Madness goes hand in hand with our passion and fascination for the predictive nature of analytics. But sometimes, like our clients, we are amazed at what the data actually shows us – often throwing a wrench into our client’s perception of their Goliath.

The only predictive constant that March Madness possesses is that data, probability and statistical analysis mean nothing. Is it helpful to know a team’s ranking coming into the tournament? Sure. Is it wise to predict the outcome based off these rankings? Not necessarily. March Madness is the one time of year that analytics do not make sense to us fans and oddly enough we are ok with that. We know it will pass and after the tournament concludes, order will be restored. Part of the fun of March Madness is that anything can happen and that is what keeps us all watching.

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 Amazon.com! http://amzn.to/bAmvFN. Join the conversation #precommerce.

We’re Teaming up with The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF) Through the Future Leaders in Healthcare Fellowship Program

Posted by: in Communication, Corporate and Strategy, Culture, employee archetype, Jim Weiss on March 28, 2016

I’m excited to share that W2O has partnered with The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF) with the first–of-its-kind fellowship targeting ethnic minorities pursuing careers in healthcare communications. It’s a $50,000 three- year commitment which will fund the Future Leaders in Healthcare Fellowship Program, placing 2 fellows per year in a 10 –week paid fellowship in one of the following offices: San Francisco, New York, Austin, Boston or Minneapolis.

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More than ever, we need to diversify our workforce and continue to help you, our clients, increase diversity in your communications functions. This is a win – win for everyone. It gives men and women something to aspire to and allows a venue for stellar, diverse talent.

When I started this company in 2001, it was grounded in healthcare PR, and the reason I’ve been in healthcare communications for so long is because it fuses two of my passions – communications and health. Now that W2O group has expanded into additional verticals (Tech, Consumer, Auto, Entertainment), I think it’s important to continue to leave a positive impact and I think this partnership is the perfect venue for that.

View this interview with Kim L. Hunter, The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF) Chairman & CEO, Dr. Rochelle Ford, a professor in Syracuse University’s School of Public Communications, and myself for additional insight.

I’m proud to partner with The LAGRANT Foundation (TLF). We’re going into our 15th year in business and I couldn’t think of a better time to team up with an organization like TLF which aligns with our principals of excellence and progress within the marketing and communications industry.

View the press release here for more details.

All the best, 
Jim

By: Jim Weiss

Chairman & CEO, W2O Group

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 Amazon.com! http://amzn.to/bAmvFN. Join the conversation #precommerce.