It's About the Work

19

Aug


It’s About The Community


It’s About The Community recounts volunteer efforts by members of the Allison+Partners team.

Muffin is one of the many dogs LA team members walk on their lunch break.

When a few of the lovely ladies of Los Angeles – including Megan Stoner, Stephanie Mussell, Whitney Standring-Trueblood, Jennie Peters and Cara Smith –  have time to spare during lunch, they volunteer at the Lange Foundation, a no-kill cat and dog shelter dedicated to saving and nurturing animals before placing them in new, loving homes. Instead of scarfing their lunch down at their desk, these ladies get a bit of exercise by walking a few of the shelter’s dogs through a residential neighborhood in West LA.

Jennie Peters has volunteered with the Lange Foundation for several years, and we’re excited that her love of animals has inspired her colleagues to volunteer at this shelter.

Keep up the great work, LA, and thanks for sharing such a cute picture of Muffin!

13

Aug


Lessons from the Disney Leadership Institute


I recently attended Delta Phi Epsilon’s International Convention at the Coronado Springs in Orlando, Florida. As an alumna of the organization it was a great opportunity to connect with undergraduates, fellow alumnae and the International Governing Board. As the convention was held on Disney property, we were privileged to attend a session led by the Disney Leadership Institute. As the professional development branch of Disney, the Disney Leadership Institute is responsible for the training and education of both new and existing employees on the company’s vision.

If you have ever been to Disney you will have noticed the extreme attention to detail and the high level of customer service that is provided by all “cast members” (staff). Walt Disney had a vision of creating a magical place that offered an experience unlike any other, and through the Disney Leadership Institute his legacy lives on. The company’s consistent business results are driven by what they call “over-management.” The idea behind “over-management” is that Disney pays attention to the details that most other companies might ignore – “We have learned to be intentional where others are unintentional.”

The idea that there is a clear distinction between micromanaging and over-managing is one that is easily applicable to the public relations industry. When working with clients we should adopt a similar approach to that of Disney, which entails strategically placing emphasis on areas that other competitors do not. This approach will work to set our clients, their products and our work apart from the rest. As PR professionals we understand the importance of paying attention to detail and the role it plays in setting our work apart.

In the words of Walt Disney “If you can dream it, you can do it.” This idea should influence how we work as an agency and how we represent our clients. At Allison+Partners our core values to “be an entrepreneur” and “exceed expectations” make us similar to Disney.  Disney’s intention was to allow and encourage employees to dream and create. At Allison+Partners we dream and create ideas whilst always remembering that the highest level of client work is what drives us forward as an organization.

11

Aug



On August 3, the comedian John Oliver spent 11 minutes on his weekly HBO show “Last Week Tonight” taking to task the topic of native advertising. Stinging and pointed, and in the morally outraged fashion typical of Mr. Oliver’s comedic style, he assailed the marketing practice and accused it of mingling two incompatible divisions — news deliverance and advertising innovation — whose irreconcilable priorities can only end in damaging the trust readers have in news publishers. “Ads are baked into content like chocolate chips into a cookie,” he said. “Except, it’s actually more like raisins into a cookie —because nobody f***ing wants them there.”

The explosion of social and digital media, and its disruption on consumer behavior and digital advertising economies have forced brands and publishers alike to innovate around offerings so they can remain relevant with the new breed of buyer.

The boom in native advertising (also referred to as sponsored or branded content) is an outgrowth of the expanding role content plays in influencing the consumer decision-making process, and marketers’ elevated interest for publishers to treat brand messages similar to how they treat editorial content. The proliferation of these campaigns has unleashed commentary throughout the industry, with trade groups and agencies leaping into the fray to commission studies aimed at sharing consumer viewpoints on the practice, and specialists opining on imperatives to consider, both with the expressed purpose of giving guidance to the field and protecting its reputation. And now, it seems to have hit the mainstream.

For certain, acceptance will lie in the execution. Brands who value storytelling as the most compelling way to communicate to audiences, and engender engagement by focusing on high-quality content experiences from a place of credibility, can contribute mightily to propelling the industry forward. A good example to dissect, and one identified with dismay in Mr. Oliver’s opus, is The Times’s breakthrough piece for Netflix’s launch of the second season of Orange Is the New Black, an incredibly innovative example of native advertising.

(Full disclosure: For six years I worked at The New York Times in its marketing group, directing creative campaigns supporting the brand’s digital strategy. While I did not work in the advertising department, I am intimately aware of the economic pressures inherent in the business.)

What Netflix paid for and The Times’s Brand Studio delivered was a thoughtful piece on female incarceration, backed with original reporting, video, interactive graphics and a parallax-web design template borrowed from the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Snowfall”. Plainly, the full heft and intelligence readers expect when experiencing a multimedia news story from The Times was unleashed for an ad buy.

No surprise, it was great news for brands and a revelation in content marketing; associating a brand’s message to The Times’s vaunted journalism is saliva inducing and long in waiting, and this one was particularly impressive. But an interesting and more nuanced question quickly emerged: could reader trust be put at greater risk if the sponsored content is too good? Does a wonderfully rendered post like The Times/Netflix piece feel more deceptive because it looks too much like quality editorial content?

In short, we don’t know. The Times brand didn’t feel a negative impact from readers or subscribers after the Netflix paid post was published, and, its safe to say, they’re looking to find new ways to replicate it for other advertisers. It’s also quite possible that because the content was so engaging and experiential a more positive reaction was induced. It was advertising that spoke up to the audience, and chose to deliver a relevant message from a place of authority that matched the style and quality readers demand.

So maybe good is not so bad. That said, we cannot forget that reader trust matters, and both brands and publishers, with cross-functional input, need to continue efforts at authoring rigorous guidelines that value and protect it. Operating from a place of expertise for a brand and delivering compelling and relevant content that connects to that expertise also matters in how the entire experience is received by audiences and the public at large (otherwise it’s not worth reading, watching, or creating much of a fuss over).

As we craft our approaches for clients, it’s imperative we stay a vocal participant in the story partnership between brands and publishers, and the effect it has on the end-user, especially while we’re all still experimenting. And with last week’s announcement that The New York Times is planning on reducing the visual cues that mark content as sponsored, it’s clear we’re all still taking some chances, too.

 


Each month, Sports Sesh (a title that pays homage to the HBO series “Eastbound & Down”) will explore how sports and PR have intermingled, recently, and the good, bad and ugly of it all. This month: The Summer of Sports – Smiles, Social, Scandal.

The Good: The power of sports.

Each year, ESPN and Make-A-Wish team up for the network’s “My Wish” series, which chronicles sports-themed wishes granted to children with life-threatening medical conditions. Whether it’s a day with Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers, or Dustin Pedroia and the boys of the Beantown, it’s undeniable sports have an uncanny ability to bring joy to the hearts of children. For one day, the terrors and struggles of intense chemo sessions, unknown futures and crippling ailments are forgotten. Medical scrubs and IVs are replaced with official team uniforms and equipment. Hospitals are swapped with playing fields and the unknown is overtaken by the moment. The pain subsides, the imminent is hopeful and smiles never waver – all because of the power of sports.

The Bad: Social Gaffes.

“I love me some Johnny Football, baby! I do.” This is an excerpt from Drake’s opening monologue at the recent ESPYs. I feel the same way; I love Johnny Manziel, but seriously, tell the Regime to stop hitting send. The controversial 21-year-old Cleveland Browns quarterback has had quite a summer. There’s only one problem – it’s depicted all over Instagram. Popping champagne and riding on an inflatable swan is funny. Hanging out in Vegas with Rob Gronkowski is my dream. Dating Colleen Crowley, period. He’s young. He’s rich. He’s having fun. I’m not going to tell Johnny to stop partying and neither are his coaches, but he’s digging a hole before he even steps on an NFL field. If Johnny wins the starting job and takes Cleveland to the playoffs, nobody will care about Monday – Saturday. If Johnny Football pulls a Ryan Leaf or JaMarcus Russell, the swan will be to blame. Johnny needs to live his life – just not on Instagram.

The Ugly: Sterling.

We discussed Donald Sterling at length in a previous post, but the recent headlines are too loud to ignore. ESPN initiated the red, flashing, breaking news ticker that Sterling was going to do the honorable thing, not interfering with the $2 billion sale of the franchise to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, and we thought the circus would leave town. We were all duped. Sterling is digging his heals in and boisterously abandoning his previous position. He’s been diagnosed with dementia, filed a $1 billion lawsuit against the world, belittled his estranged wife publically, been the laughing stock at the ESPYs and has caused complete turmoil in Tinsel Town. Clippers Head Coach, Doc Rivers, is threating to leave if Sterling remains owner. There are mentions of a player boycott and the team’s largest corporate sponsors are pulling their dollars as long as Sterling is in office. The slippery slope argument that Dallas Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, presented is irrelevant at this point. This issue is not about business, privacy or precedent. The issue comes down to racism, moral fiber and public opinion. Donald Sterling is ruining a great franchise with every PR blunder and refusal to “Let it go.”

London Now provides insight on all our London office activities and London PR scene happenings. Check in each month with Susie Hughes, Director of the London office, for the latest! There’s a feeling of déjà vu around the London office this month as we’re all transported back to 2012 – don’t worry, nobody is saying ...
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If you hang around long enough, life will undoubtedly give you the chance to gain some valuable perspective. It will also reveal some humbling experiences that can affect a positive change on how you go about your business and life — as long as you’re paying attention. One such opportunity arose recently in Allison+Partners’ acquisition ...
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It’s About The Community recounts volunteer efforts by members of the Allison+Partners team. Nichole Hetchkop works with DOROT, a Manhattan nonprofit organization that provides services to help seniors live independently. This past March, for Purim, a Jewish festival held each spring, Nichole baked hamentashen to donate to the elderly as part of her volunteer work ...
Fresh off completing a bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of Oregon, I excitedly accepted an internship with Allison+Partners only to realize that I didn’t know nearly as much as I thought I did. Sure, I had all the textbook knowledge from my college courses and some helpful (albeit limited) experience from prior ...

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