It's About the Work



Get Ready For PR Budgets to Soar

I was recently speaking with a colleague who pointed out that the business of PR is a lot more complex than it used to be. He’s right. The business is indeed more complicated, and it’s about to get more expensive as well.

We live in an age where technology continually changes the nature and pace of business. In some instances, jobs have become obsolete or reduced in scope or scale. However, in PR, new capabilities such as data analytics, research, content development, production and design work have driven increased investment in new technology and skilled talent to leverage it.

There’s no greater evidence of this shift than when Ad Age recently put Weber Shandwick at no. 4 on its 2015 “Agency A-List.” Just five years ago, this accolade would have been inconceivable. However, mainstay PR elements are now incorporated into more complex and responsive marcom initiatives with PR agencies driving multiple components.

As a result, internal costs for developing integrated campaigns are skyrocketing. In our experience salaries and overhead costs, particularly in major urban markets, have steadily increased since 2012. However, what has not kept pace are client PR budgets, which have been relatively flat since 2009.

This scenario of increasing client needs working against flat budgets is not sustainable. Today’s great agencies will hire engineers, data and research analysts, web coders and designers, in addition to skilled marketing and communications people, to deliver the top-flight campaigns clients demand. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that the increased cost of accessing this talent and technology will necessarily be passed along to clients.

With performance metrics and measurement at the forefront of campaign strategy, both the expected return and the investment needed to ensure success require equal consideration during the initial development stage. The fact that a PR agency may now be driving some of the more expensive elements of a campaign must become part of the client budgeting equation. Talented people with smart strategies using advanced technologies that drive sales and brand exposure cost money and are worth the investment for the majority of clients.

Scott Allison, CEO

Each month, our Nuestra Voz column aims to shine the light on Hispanic marketing and covers topics relevant to the Hispanic community.

In the Latino social media and entertainment space, no other conference is quite like Hispanicize.

This is a one of a kind “irreverent, creative and high-octane gathering” of the nation’s leading Latino bloggers, journalists, musicians, marketers, filmmakers, and more often is described as the Hispanic edition of South by Southwest.

Since its humble beginnings in 2010, Hispanicize  has propelled its notoriety, credibility and attendance, from 264 to nearly 2,000 attendees this year. From top brands such as Procter & Gamble, Toyota and Best Western, to Hispanic bloggers, innovators and trendsetters, each vied for coveted space to learn, listen or be heard during the week-long Miami event packed with workshops, red carpet functions, parties and entertainment.

“What people love most about Hispanicize is that it’s the one event that is truly laser-focused on the aspirations, challenges and opportunities of the U.S. Hispanic,” notes Manny Ruiz, founder and CEO of Hispanicize and Best Western’s Latino family travel expert.

Many talented Latina bloggers present at Hispanicize, from Carolyn Scott-Hamilton of Healthy Voyager, to Cristy Clavijo-Kish of Los Tweens & Teens, to Andrea of Las Travel Blogueras and Jeannette Kaplun of Hispana Global. Each of these well-known bloggers has earned a rightful place among her peers and followers for creating engaging content and commentary.

Without question, Hispanicize 2015 was all about empowering Latinas, which Ruiz said was unintentional. “It’s simply a fact that Latinas are increasingly taking the lead in traditional and social media,” said Ruiz. He added that since the first conference in 2010, Latinas have led the charge at Hispanicize.

This was most apparent in workshops centered on the Hispanic female and hosted by major brands such as Coca-Cola, who recognizes the influence of this demographic.  Coca-Cola’s session included a lively discussion on Latinas who are “changing the fabric of this country” and considered “pillars of our community.”

Hispanicize also drew other major corporations, such as Toyota and 3M, interested in tapping the growing pool of Latino influencers who represent the country’s largest minority population at 17 percent.

Joining those brands at Hispanicize, Best Western demonstrated its commitment to the market and recognized the important role of Latino digital influencers, especially in the tourism and hospitality industry. Throughout the event, Best Western hosted select bloggers for a meet & greet reception and served as a moderator for the conference’s digital travel influencer panel, sharing trends in the travel industry.

Best Western also selected and presented two established Latino bloggers as its newest Latino summer travel bloggers, offering them the opportunity to document their summer travels on In July, husband and wife blogger duo Paula and Cesar of Growing up Bilingual will share their vacation and Best Western experiences with friends and followers via their social channels.

While the digital landscape continues to shift, traditional media have also turned to Hispanicize to explore new and innovative opportunities to refresh the industry. With newsrooms downsizing and digital platforms on the rise, media professionals are rethinking their focus and capabilities. Take for example, former newspaper editor Claudia Solis. After 12 years as a reporter, Solis resigned in order to launch her own Spanish-language blog, Mami en Transición (Mommy in Transition) and content development platform, Mind Twin Media. Solis is no stranger to Hispanicize, which offers endless networking and business opportunities for entrepreneurial journalists like her.

Over the years, it is individuals similar to Solis who have used Hispanicize as a launching pad for creative projects, marketing campaigns and even films, hoping to reach the U.S. Latino market. ”People have made their careers through Hispanicize,” added Ruiz.

As Hispanics continue to strive to break free of confining stereotypes about who they are and what they can be, organizations and events such as Hispanicize serve not to place them on a pedestal, but instead establish equal footing for the Latino community.

This post originally appeared on Best Western International’s blog,

Each month, Sports Sesh examines the association of sports and PR in current events, while highlighting the good, the bad and the ugly. This month: Major League Baseball.

The Good: New (and Interesting) Food Options

Teams across the country are giving fans a new reason to come the ballpark, and it has nothing to do with the players. They’re introducing new food options in the ball park that will excite even the most adventurous foodies.

Picture a nice night at the stadium in Milwaukee while enjoying the new Wisconsin Avenue Brat, an 18-inch brat covered with gravy, French fries, cheese curds, cheese sauce, fried sauerkraut and jalapeños. Sounds adventurous, doesn’t it?

The Brewers aren’t the only ones thinking outside of the box with their food. The Detroit Tigers are now serving bacon-topped deviled eggs with jalapenos, and the Texas Rangers’ “Just Bacon” stand features candied bacon, bacon cotton candy and bacon beer.

This new focus on interesting food is driving media attention nationwide, with the intent of luring more foodies to ballparks. For example, the Arizona Diamondback’s over-the-top dessert, the Churro Dog, has been tweeted about 34,371 times since March 1st according to social software platform Spredfast, an Allison+Partners client.

April Sports Sesh Blog

From a PR perspective, this effort could be further amplified by hiring a celebrity chef to help teams come up with media worthy, signature dishes that could be highlighted on morning shows nationwide. The league could even go as far as offering a trip to one lucky fan (or two) to experience adventurous food options in each park.

The Bad: A Decline in African Americans in Baseball

While it’s great that MLB celebrates Jackie Robinson each year on April 15th by having players wear the number “42” to honor the man who broke the color barrier, the number of African Americans involved in the league is on the decline. According to Sports Grid, heading into this season, only 7.8 percent of the league is African American this season and there has been a 70 percent drop over the last four years. Additionally, according to the annual report put together by Richard Lapchick’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, only two managers in the league are African American.  These low numbers can certainly be attributed to the sport’s issues with reaching younger generations, but Yankees Pitcher CC Sabathia paints a different picture, he attributes it to baseball scholarships. In an interview with the New York Times last year, he said “if I had a choice, I would have had to go to college to play football, because my mom couldn’t afford to pay whatever the percent was of my baseball scholarship. So if I hadn’t been a first-round pick, I would have gone to college to play football, because I had a full ride.”

No matter what you attribute this decline to, the league needs to find a way to bring renewed interest in baseball to this community. From a media perspective, they should highlight stories about African American players and managers on a national scale. From a grassroots perspective, they should take a more concerted effort to spend time in schools and at local leagues inspiring the next generation of African American. A coordinated PR effort to raise awareness for the benefits and opportunities in the sport is the first step to increasing participation.

The Ugly: Josh Hamilton

After a long-chronicled struggle with drug and alcohol addiction, the league recently reported that major league outfielder Josh Hamilton would not be suspended for a reported relapse he suffered while recovering from shoulder surgery this offseason. This move created a firestorm of media attention, especially as it relates to the league’s stance on drug use in the sport, as well as the effectiveness of programs in place to help those facing addiction.

By acquiring Hamilton from the Angels, the Rangers may have let MLB off the hook. However, the league could use this opportunity to own and drive a larger conversation about drug use in the sport. By heavily enforcing their own Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, the league can prevent controversies such as Hamilton’s in the future while educating athletes and team staff about the dangers of addiction.

google1We’re now living in a post-Mobilegeddon world, and gone are the days of finding yourself on a website that wasn’t designed for viewing on a mobile device. Now, sites that aren’t optimized for mobile won’t just be an eyesore, they’ll be invisible. Designing webpages to be optimized for mobile devices isn’t just an emerging technology and design best practice anymore – it’s a business necessity. And Google has recognized that.

In fact, Google’s recent action against non-mobile optimized sites reflects the active role the company is taking in enhancing a user’s experience, a role that over years, has steadily been geared toward the growth of using a mobile device to surf the web over a traditional desktop computer.

On April 21st, the search engine rolled out a brand new algorithm that will expand the use of a website’s mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal, and will list non-mobile optimized sites lower in search results in an effort to increase the overall user experience.


Google’s new mobile-focused search algorithm is unavoidable. Geared at improving the user experience on mobile devices, “users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.” In other words, sites that are optimized for mobile will be rewarded via higher search rankings and those that are not considered mobile-friendly will be penalized.

According to PEW Research studies, consumers unlock their phones more than 100 times per day to interact with them, and the average smartphone user spends 44 hours per month interacting with their phone. At least 25 percent of web traffic comes from smartphones. However, only 58 percent of marketers have websites featuring responsive design that adapts to mobile, and only 45 percent use mobile SEO.

The Business Journals noted that there are more people who switch between desktops and mobile devices during the day. A comScore study reported that approximately 75 percent of online adults access the Internet through both desktop and mobile platforms (up from 68 percent in 2014). They also pointed out that mobile-friendly websites are a necessity for people targeting teens. According to Nielsen, 80 percent of U.S. teens between the ages of 14-to 17 years own smartphones, and more than 90 percent of them use them to watch videos and search the web online.


To see if your site passes Google’s new test, perform a quick search on your mobile device to see if the “mobile-friendly” label appears in the search results. If it does, your site may not be negatively affected by the new algorithm changes. However, sites that are not built responsively should be assessed to determine feasibility of a rebuild.

google 2

If your site does not pass Google’s “mobile-friendly” test, you need to perform a full audit of your website and its subpages. Take into consideration your CMS, SEO and overall site design while doing this analysis, and ensure you focus on redesigning the pages so that they show up properly on a mobile device (that includes CMS build as well as creative design). For more information, reference Google’s guide to mobile-friendly sites.

Although the industry has dubbed this update as “Mobilegeddon,” it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the end of the world for non-mobile optimized sites. Why? Because Google uses many different indicators when ranking search results – the mobile-friendly label is just one of them. So, in other words, your website needs to remain informative and relevant in order to hold a top spot in Google’s search results, regardless of what device is used.

Each month, Sports Sesh examines the association of sports and PR in current events, while highlighting the good, the bad and the ugly of them all. This month: March Madness. The Good: Cinderella Stories Make for PR Gold March Madness is officially upon us, bringing busted brackets, broken dreams, and the best competition of the […]
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