Branding & Content Disruption

May 31, 2016

Panelists Content DisruptionOn May 19, 2016, New York Women in Communications and New York Festivals joined hands at the 2016 New York Show events with four creative panel sessions, a cocktail reception, the awards ceremony and an after-party. New York Festivals welcomed award winners, jury members and guests from around the globe to this day-long series of events, honoring the World’s Best Advertising®.

As part of the event, NYWICI hosted a morning panel discussion on "Content Disruption”. The panel included David Angelo, founder & chairman, David & Goliath;  Beth Ellard, executive vice president, Media, The Advertising Council; Maya Draisin, associate publisher and head of marketing, WIRED; Jennifer Bremner, brand director, Skin Cleansing, Unilever. The moderator was Georgia Galanoudis, senior vice president & managing director, Pace Communications. 

Consumers today are in control and they are savvier than ever. To meet their increasingly demanding preferences, marketers have broken through the bonds of traditional advertising, and storytelling is now the thread that runs through everything.

So how do brands develop content that breaks through? And what does it take for brands to drive the cultural conversation? Here are a few key takeaways from the event.

On Inspiration

​“Inspiration is a dovetail of storytelling, consumer understanding and unique ad experience.” (Beth)

“Tell the story of what’s coming, which will help you think about what to do next.” (Maya)

“You have to go to where inspiration comes from. At the core, there is a force of courage inside all of us. [At David & Goliath], we try to inspire our employees. We ask them to frame their biggest ’Goliath’ on the wall that they have to overcome. That inspires them to take on whatever obstacle is in their way.” (David)

On the Evolution of the Dove Campaign

It’s about taking facts and finding the right cultural moments to insert them. We started with research that found only 2% of women would describe themselves as beautiful. Ten years later, we see that now, 63% of women feel they have ownership of how they define beauty. Social media was a big part of that. If you Google “beautiful women” you get traditional images. If you type #beautifulwomen, you get quite a diversity of images. So we thought, ‘let’s change the way we talk about beauty in social media.’ We did a campaign with Twitter [watch the video clip]. Today, there’s been a 37% reduction in the amount of negative discussion online.” (Jennifer)

On “Striking the Right Tone”

“Part of it is tapping into something that is culturally real. When you hit the universal, you know you’re onto something.” (Maya)

“We call it ‘goosebump good.’ You feel it long before you think about it — and I look at everything through that lens.” (David)

On Balancing Storytelling and Objectives

“Branded purpose. If you have a purpose, and you’re clear about it, it’s much easier to be creative and push the edge. Trusted relationships are also important.” (Jennifer)

“The reasons things don’t work between a client and an agency is because the casting is wrong. Once you understand who you are, find someone with like-minded values. Then you can do anything.” (Dave)

On Activation

“We ran a bullying campaign [watch the video clip] to help parents help their kids. It was a team-to-team effort about empowering the families. It was interesting because it was a social-first campaign. And because it was digital first, we were able to track everything.” (Beth)

On Authenticity

“Take on the biggest ‘Goliath’ and step into your greatness. We decided to apply this to inspire countries. During the Ebola outbreak, there were kids at school in Sierra Leone who had been affected by the Ebola virus. Some had lost their parents and lost their families to the virus. We sent out t-shirts with affirmations on them. What we got back was nothing short of amazing. We found that the school improved and the kids improved. Then David & Goliath applied this concept to cancer, and people started to come on board. Now, there’s a movement. Our goal is to inspire people to embrace their truth. If you believe in yourself, everything is possible. A lot of people asked, ‘Why are you doing this?’, and my answer is always, ‘Because nobody else is.’ This is our moral responsibility to bear truth and inspire others to do the same. Brave can get rid of fear.” (David)

On Engagement

“The act of people taking over and creating their own version of your campaign is a very special measure. We did the Make Tech Human campaign with Nokia. A lot of people think of Nokia as a phone company, but they have actually spun off their phone business and become a network company. It was great because we came up with this idea to print phrases on napkins and let the attendees fill in the blanks. We posted some of those on the site and the idea just took off. People started making their own phrases. It was a last minute idea but it worked.” (Maya)

This was a great example of innovation as-you-go. (Georgia)

“Hashtags that allow consumers to personalize is a higher form of engagement.” (Beth)

Photo: Jan Goldstoff

Posted by: 
Angela Morris

2016 Annual Meeting

May 26, 2016

On Tuesday evening, May 24, 2016, about 150 women from every aspect of the communications industry and all stages of careers gathered on the 29th floor of the Bloomberg building on Lexington Ave for the NYWICI 2016 Annual Meeting. They came to nourish their bodies with delicious mini-BLTs, crab cakes and wine, and feed their souls with the kind of inspirational wisdom that members know is “vintage NYWICI.”

After outgoing president Kim Kelleher delivered her swansong speech, celebrating the hard work of both boards and giving a special shoutout to Foundation President Linda Descano for leading the charge in seamlessly folding two NYWICI boards into one, incoming president Jacki Kelley took to the stage for her inaugural speech. Jacki told the audience about her “folder of quotes:” During the years of attending the Matrix Awards, she would record quotes from winners that inspired her the most and save them in a folder. Jacki highlighted CocaCola’s Wendy Clark from #Matrix14 changing the word “improbable” to “I’m probable”, and #Matrix16’s Ariel Investment’s Mellody Hobson noting that you can’t be brave without fear.

But the perfect segue to the evening’s panel was Jacki's Matrix Memory of Gloria Steinem and Lena Dunham. The two of them on the Waldorf stage this past April embodied how women of all generations are a chain — linking experiences, all of us learning from those who’ve come before us and from those who are coming behind us.

Jacki hand-picked a group of women that represented women at every stage in their career and across all aspects of the communications industry for the evening’s featured panel “Charting Your Course at Any Stage”: Aisha Al-Muslim, a reporter for Newsday and a 2008 NYWICI Scholarship Winner; Nina DiSesa, managing director at Greenwich Marketing Group and former chairman and chief creative officer at McCann Erickson and a 2005 Matrix Award Winner; Judy Jackson, global chief talent officer, Wunderman; Susan Lyne, president and managing partner, BBG (Built by Girls) Ventures and 2007 Matrix Award Winner, and Rachel Wehrspann, executive producer, Bloomberg.

Since Jacki was moderating the panel, she couldn’t record the best quotes. So, for her and for you, we compiled just a few of the smartest quotes shared throughout the evening from this impressive multi-generational and multi-disciplinary group:

On relationships and how you treat people:

“The greatest gift one can give is candor and honesty. People are craving that, because it’s so rare. My best relationships have been based on mutual honesty. I hope we can all embrace that and not feel compelled to say what people want to hear. You gain respect and credibility when you speak with candor.” —Judy Jackson

“Cultivate relationships with people more experienced than you are, but keep your peer relationships — they will be your peers forever.” —Rachel  Wehrspann

“Reputation is incredibly important and it’s so easy to lose. Those you’re working with today, you will likely meet again. [Keep in mind that] the way you work with them now will impact the way they deal with you down the line.” —Susan Lyne

“I have worked with men for my entire career. And for the first half of my career all I did was yell. In the 2nd half of my career, I had an epiphany — I wasn’t going to yell them into working with me, I had to love them and cherish them into working with me.” —Nina DiSesa

On saying no:

“At times throughout your career, you will have to say 'no' to people. The way you say 'no' to someone makes all the difference. Try to impart something useful to them even while you’re saying no.” —Susan Lyne

On things you wish you’d known:

 “I wish I’d had more fun. But I look back and remember the fear we had: Will we have an idea? Will the client like the idea? It was impossible for me to have more fun at that time. But I wish I did.”— Nina DiSesa

“I wish I had learned finance — it would help me in my current role as a finance reporter. And I wish I had known more about how to create a voice on Twitter and still stay professional." —Aisha Al-Muslim

On what you’d say to the older generation:

“Those out there who have more experience, reach down more to help the next generation.” —Aisha Al-Muslim

“Learn from us and show an interest in how the business has changed. Give us more networking opportunities.”— Rachel Wehrspann

On advice to your younger self:

“You don’t learn from successes, you learn from failures. When we had a success we’d cheer for 30 seconds and then we’d focus on the failure and talk about it and analyze it for hours. But that’s what you learn from.”  —Nina DiSesa

“Don’t lose any sleep over the meeting that didn’t go well or the speech that you thought was off.  If I had known that nobody would remember any of these things! My advice is, get over yourself. It’s all going to be fine.” —Susan Lyne

“I lost my parents and was divorced at 35. I thought my life was over. But at 37 I got married again, and I had a baby. You just never know. Life doesn’t end because of one tragedy. And you can apply the same lesson to your work and your personal life: you just never know.” —Judy Jackson

On finding the silver lining:

“I was fired very publicly, and I thought the world had ended. I had never been fired before — I was always the person to get the next better job. I was mortified, I was sad. But I took that summer off — I hadn’t taken a summer off since high school, and I was 54 at the time. I had never sat back and said, I really want to do X. I had always listened to offers and taken the ones that sounded the best. So I took the time off, and I thought a lot about controlling my own destiny. So, the single worst thing that had ever happened to me turned out to be the beginning of a self-directed career.”  —Susan Lyne

On traits you admire in men:

“Confidence, for no apparent reason! How do they do it? They can make so many mistakes and keep rising to the top!” —Nina DiSesa

On female traits that men can admire:

“I’ve seen two men escalate a situation and a woman has come over and said, ‘Calm down, let’s get this in perspective…’ Women know how to diffuse things, men aren’t always that good at that.” —Rachel Wehrspann

On asking for a promotion:

“You say to your boss, ‘Here’s where I want to go. What do I have to do to get to that point?’ Then when you do it, it’s a win-win.” —Nina DiSesa

“So much will come from the way you ask for it. So practice in front of the mirror, practice with friends… you’ll feel stupid doing it, but say it until the words get old to you, because then it’ll be easier to go in and say those words to your boss.” —Susan Lyne

On how to know if you’re being fairly compensated:

“Compensation is about what you’re bringing to the table. So don’t always think about what’s fair but what you deserve based on your contribution — what is the value of that? Women look at equality in terms of pay, but men are looking above that. They ask for what they feel they deserve — they’re not worried about what Paul makes. Men are also more trusting in these cases, so they have conversations and share information. Women tend to be secretive about these things. If we trusted each other more, we would benefit from the information.” —Judy Jackson

Slideshow photos: Jan Goldstoff

Posted by: 
Susan Schulz

Becoming a Social Media Leader

May 15, 2016

Aloud YoProFacebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter – keeping up on social media can certainly seem overwhelming, but having that online presence is undoubtedly important in the communications industry today. That’s why the NYWICI Young Professionals Committee is dedicating their Happy Hour panel on May 17, 2016, to all things social, with a panel of expert influencers sharing their insights into these ever-changing platforms.

Before she takes the stage to moderate the event, we chatted with Beca Alexander, the Chief Influencer Officer of Socialyte Collective, about avoiding common social media mistakes, tips for building your own online “brand” and her must-follow Instagram account for a good laugh.


How did you first come up with the concept for Socialyte Collective, and what was the biggest challenge turning it from an idea into reality?
I launched Socialyte over six years ago with my partner Daniel Saynt. In the beginning, we worked with a small group of blogger friends who needed help managing incoming opportunities. The requests were becoming more complicated and our experience in running FashionIndie.com, a fashion news blog we launched years earlier had taught us not only how to manage deals but how to build a digital brand in the fashion industry. In our days as fashion bloggers, we became consultants for brands like Louis Vuitton, Tiffany's, Mercedes Benz and Gucci, teaching these major leaders how to navigate social and the growing influence of front row bloggers. When we first launched, there was very little money in the space, convincing brands to spend on 'bloggers' was not easy and it took years for brands and agencies to realize the impact of these creatives.

We were the first agency to launch influencer to brand services, long before it became the popular thing to do. Being early in the field and didn't make much money for years, bootstrapping the company and running it out of our apartment. It was a major challenge to convince brands to spend large budgets on bloggers, but even more difficult to attract senior salespeople and people willing to work from our kitchen.

Social media is a huge part of what you do. What are some of the most common mistakes you see professionals–both people and brands–making on social media?
Not posting enough high quality content. People assume that being an influencer is easy, that anyone can take a picture and post on social. That's not the case. You really have to look at content from an editorial eye, and while most of these influencers were not trained to be photographers, or stylists or models, they've managed to grow and maintain an audience that follows their every move. In order to grow, one must post at least 3-5 times daily on each social platform, and that content must be engaging, I tell aspiring influencers that you have to train yourself to see the world in Instagram likes.

How important do you think it is for young professionals in the communications industry to develop a “personal brand” online?
While resumes and experience are still very important, many companies, especially in the fashion, digital and communications space, ask for potential hires to provide them with links to their social platforms as the content posted is very telling about that person. Building a personal brand for an audience, whether personal or professional is extremely crucial in today's world. It's more than what you can do or what you've done, it's about who you can impact and what influence you have that separates top professionals from the rest.

Why were you excited to be a part of this panel, and is there one thing you hope to convey to all of the young women in attendance?
Firstly, for purely selfish reasons, I really want to get myself in the running for one of your Matrix Awards and secondly because the mission of the NYWICI is very aligned with my desire to help women, especially the young talents we represent, discover the impact they can have in communicating the messages of clients in a filter catered to our sisterhood. We have long been ignored in media and misrepresented in advertising and PR. It's important to fight to have our voice heard to ensure our children don't face the inequality many of us face in our careers and society. For those leaving the panel, I believe it's important for them to realize the importance of self-branding, to ignore those who say a woman who's proud to present herself in social is somehow shallow or self-absorbed, and to accept that building your influence is possible through working hard and dedicating yourself to your passion.

And last, for a fun one–what are your favorite social media accounts (on any platform!) to check out when you want a laugh?
My favorite account of all time is @dogsbeingbasic, especially this insta, which I've watched hundreds of times and it still makes me laugh.

Posted by: 
Colleen Hagerty

Content Disruption in Native Advertising

May 10, 2016

Maya DraisinMaya Draisin is a quiet storm of media revolution. Her prescience has helped bring digital content to the forefront, and yet little is known about her. As co-founder of the Webby Awards, launched in 1996, she ushered in the digital age through a celebration of cutting-edge content. She has been named one of MIN’s “21 Most Intriguing People in Media” and on Katie Couric’s “Women Who Should Be Famous.” Today, she continues to push the boundaries in content disruption as associate publisher and head of marketing at WIRED magazine. Ahead of NYWICI’s May 19, 2016, event Content Disruption at the 2016 New York Show, we sat down with Maya, one of the panelists at the event, to discuss the future of content disruption, the value of good storytelling and doing the impossible.

What do you think the next big disruption in content will be?
In advertising, you’re trying to get a consumer to think a particular way about your brand. In the past, there have been clever ways to get an idea to stick in the consumer’s head. Now, one needs to approach content like you’re trying to tell a good story. You need to look for the interesting qualities in a brand and focus on that. You have to approach it more like a journalist would, by finding an interesting angle and making that your story, as opposed to just creating a product feature.

What are the main components to content disruption in native advertising?
The key is to have great content and a voice that ‘sounds’ like what the reader is used to reading from a particular publisher. Content is more successful when it’s consistent, because it feels organic to the environment that it’s in. But it has to be clear to the reader that it is paid for, without creating a negative perception of the content. Most of the changes are going to come in the sophistication of storytelling and the marketers’ willingness to think more about the reader than their brand.

How do you know when you have a good story?
People light up. If you mention an idea and that person lights up or asks more questions, those are good signs — and then there’s the act of actually telling it well.

What do you consider to be your most successful disruptive strategy?
I’m really very proud of the Nokia program we did last year with Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything). [Maya’s team created a Reddit AMA on artificial intelligence with physicist Stephen Hawking]. We were asked to engineer a global conversation about where technology was taking us, but we had a short amount of time. By tapping into the zeitgeist and leveraging key people like Stephen Hawking, we managed to work with both his team and Reddit to come up with a never-done-before platform. The Reddit community was invited to post their questions for Stephen online. Later, Stephen responded to the questions that had the most votes and his answers were posted to the website. The Reddit community and the press were so excited to take part in this. Everyone was impressed that Stephen was able to participate in a session like this, when in the past he did not have the ability to. Remember that line from Alice in Wonderland: “I like to do six impossible things before breakfast”? Anything is possible — the more impossible it seems, the more excited I am.

How do you tackle the impossible?
Just ask. When we were doing the Webby Awards, people asked us how we made all of this happen. The answer is: We asked. We went to PriceWaterHouse Coopers and said: “You audit the Oscars, can you audit the Webby Awards?” We went to David Bowie and said: “You know about music, could you use that knowledge to help with the Webby Awards?” You have to be brave enough to ask. That, along with a lot of experience and knowing how to make things happen, makes it easier so it feels less impossible.

Who (or what) is your main creative influence?
I grew up in a scientific community in Los Alamos, NM, so I’ve always been interested in where technology is taking us. I happened to graduate around the first internet boom, and I think of myself as being in the right place at the right time. The sense that one could use technology to create new things in entrepreneurship was really interesting to me. And the founders at WIRED were always highly influential to me and my development.

Did you have any alternative influences?
I’m a highly curious person so, really, anything is a creative influence. It could be a billboard in Times Square or posts I see on Facebook and Twitter. I was on a consumer-focused panel at Conde Nast and they had the tagline, “Attention is earned.” I thought it was so smart and it really struck me. Now, more than ever, you really have to think about how your content is going to stand out. How is it going to make consumers want to stick with it? Around here, we always say that branded content is only branded if it sucks. Good storytelling is good storytelling — every one of us has a story that’s interesting, and so does every brand. 

Posted by: 
Angela Morris

Striking the Best Work-Life Balance for You

May 9, 2016

AloudYoProWork-life balance is tricky, isn’t it? On the one hand, we all need time to reset and unplug in order to be the best people and employees we can. On the other hand, technology, competition and the job market have made it increasingly easier—and more tempting—to work more hours in an effort to get ahead. If you’re feeling like extra hours and responsibilities have you edging close to burnout, it’s time to set some workplace boundaries.

Before you set these boundaries, take an honest evaluation of your position at work. There’s a fine line between burning out and paying your dues. Are you in a position to step back from work? Are you adequately meeting (or hopefully exceeding) your manager’s expectations and your required job duties? If not, perhaps you need to focus more on working effectively and productively when you’re in the office. If you are succeeding in your position, or if your workload is so heavy that it is preventing you from doing your best work, take steps to set boundaries in order to continue succeeding, or reach a place of greater excellence.

  1. Be honest with your manager. If you have evaluated your workplace and attitude, and come up with a list of boundaries that are both reasonable and attainable, have an honest—but respectful—discussion with your manager. Most of us are not in a position yet to set our boundaries how we please, and need to make our managers and/or coworkers aware of our personal needs. When you sit down with your boss to come up with a solution, make sure you’re using language that is firm but respectful. Be honest about your workload, the stress you feel, and what measures you think will help you achieve a better balance. Frame it as an effort to be a more productive employee—the better you are able to relax when you’re at home, the better you’ll be able to focus and be productive at the office.
  2. Find your anti-stressor. Even if we do have to work long hours (regularly or every once in a while), finding balance can be as simple as taking time to fully focus on something that’s not work. Whether it’s a daily yoga class, a lavender-scented bath or taking time to eat dinner with your family every night, find the activity that makes you forget about work and make the time to do it. Even if it’s only for a couple of hours a day, if you can fully unplug, it’ll help you reset quickly.
  3. Take a real vacation. Americans leave a staggering number of vacation days unused each year. If you take vacation properly, even a few days at a time can make a huge difference in resetting your stress levels and feeling like you actually do have a life outside of work. Plan ahead to take a vacation so that you can work in advance and have less pile up while away. Don’t work while you’re on vacation—even a seemingly harmless email check can spiral into hours of accidental work, which means you’re not actually respecting your own boundaries. Using all your vacation days—and using them effectively—is not only your right but can help you be a more focused and productive employee.

It can sometimes feel like we are living to work instead of working to live, and it can be difficult to turn that feeling around. With an honest evaluation, respect and exploration, you should be able to find boundaries that help you separate job from life, but still work for your company and job requirements.

Posted by: 
Bridget Thoreson

NYWICI Must Reads May 6, 2016

May 6, 2016
Posted by: 
Davida Arnold

Behind the Scenes Tour at Avanade

May 2, 2016

On April 27, 2016, 16 NYC high school girls — representing five NYC high schools — got a head start in planning their future and went behind the scenes of Avanade Inc. (@AvanadeInc), a leading technology solutions and managed services provider company. The event was presented by the New York Women in Communications High School Outreach Committee.

The girls were treated to “Cupcakes and Conversation” with several  Avanade employees: Vidhi Goel, technology marketing leader; Vanecia Hill, senior recruiter for the East Region; Nana Zheng, client finance management; Zeke Hemme, business analysis, and Mark Baade, infrastructure consulting. The Avanade team gave an overview of the company business and their roles, as well as their personal career trajectory stories, and they shared advice and encouragement with the students, urging them to consider the technology field for their future careers, where an impressive range of opportunities exist.

One of the highlights of the tour was a visit to the Avanade Innovation Center led by Ruven Gotz, Innovation Center director & regional digital workplace lead at Avanade. Students interacted with a number of exciting innovative products in development for a range of business enterprises that could transform the way we do business or lead our lives. The students were impressed by a prototype that would allow supermarket shoppers to view big-screen projections of nutritional information on the products they touch while shopping, helping them make better decisions while allowing retailers to track purchasing behavior. They also saw a highly sophisticated, county-by-county election results data plotting application, which allowed for multiple graphical representations of hyper-segmented voting data.  

And the key take-away for the girls? There is a place for them in the technology field — no matter what they choose to study in college. "Avanade showed me that innovation and technology provide great opportunities for emerging female leaders to enter the world of business," said Jane Woo, a 12th grade Academy of Finance and Enterprise (AOFE) student. Technology is a growing and exciting field, and technology companies are looking to diversify their teams by bringing in new talent and perspectives that can give them a competitive edge in years to come. "As a Latina American, I know there is a lack of women of color in the technology sector," said Kelly Escamilla, also from AOFE. "I hope to fill the gap and make more room for Latinas.” 

Programs like NYWICI’s Behind the Scenes Tours help provide companies with access to the next-generation talent pool. And they encourage students to understand the underlying importance of communication skills to their career success.

NYWICI likes to thank Principal Victoria Armano of the Academy of Finance and Enterprise High School, and we thank Avanade for opening their doors to the students of NYC and for developing a memorable Behind the Scenes event. We look forward to working with them again in the near future.

Encourage the teen girls in your life to sign up for the final Behind The Scene tour of the 2015-2016 school year. In June, NYWICI will take NYC high school students to network and explore career opportunities at global, multi-platform media and entertainment company Mashable.

— Jacqueline Dolly and Jenny Sucov, High School Outreach Committee