The company we keep: Mobile solutions tackle early diagnosis, economic growth in developing world
By Caitlin Haskins
The gathering looked like many that you would see in San Francisco or the Silicon Valley – a modern, sleek office space with a mixed group of men and women, ages twenty-something to forties. Some wore business casual, others came in jeans and were busy snapping photos with their mobile phones. What set apart this particular group from dozens of others like it happening that week?
Everett, the inventor and engineer from MIT that I’d just met, showed off a device clipped to his iPhone. This small smartphone accessory (that looked a bit like a belt clip) could, he told me, enable a mobile phone to take photos of a patient’s retina. Eventually, it might allow a doctor in the developing world to gauge a patient’s chances of developing diabetes or neurological disorders, even if they lived far from the nearest medical clinic.
Held by the Vodafone Americas Foundation, this reception celebrated finalists for the 2014 Wireless Innovation Project, a competition that promotes innovation and increase implementation of wireless technologies for a better world. The inventors, coders, and entrepreneurs in the room were a day away from presenting their technologies to a panel of judges with the goal of earning part of a $600,000 pot of prize money and the mentorship of Vodafone xone, Vodafone’s global center for innovation in the Silicon Valley.
Trainer’s clients represent an incredible class of companies across enterprise software, security, network infrastructure, storage, and consumer tech industries. Innovation and deep tech are our mainstays. Standing in a room with the brains behind so many incredible mobile tech creations – including a fog-mapping system that will deliver a potable water source to rural populations, a drone that can deliver cell signal in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster, and an imaging device that will help doctors better detect and treat cervical cancer – gives a feeling of excitement and hope that is beyond any other in the PR business.
At the Social Innovation Summit in New York, May 28-29, Vodafone will announce the winners of the Wireless Innovation Project and send three teams on their way to making the world a better place through mobile tech. It is such a privilege to work with clients that know the importance of honoring innovation in the community and supporting the incredible tech minds of the future.
June Sugiyama, Director of Vodafone Americas Foundation
This entry was written by Giving Back, PR, Social Media, Trainer Communications and tagged 2014 Wireless Innovation Project, MIT, Vodafone Americas Foundation, Vodafone xone. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.
Want to go from questioning whether social business is right for you to creating social business strategiesand plans that
drive your business forward? Read Adam Metz (@theMETZ) most recent book, The Social Customer. I’m amazed that some B2B companies are still vacillating about whether social business ROI is out of reach. That’s likely because they simply don’t know how to measure success. The following are at least six good measurements that every company can employ with respect to measuring their social business, courtesy of Adam:
1. Membership (is your base growing)
2. Content strategy (is the content meaningful and useful)
3. Traffic (how many page views is the content getting)
4. Engagement minimums (are you attracting a solid base of people consistently with your messages / content)
5. Interaction (what percent of your base is interacting – posting comments, clicking through, voting, etc.)
6. Responsiveness (how long does it take your community to respond, on average)
My perspective is that items 3, 4, 5, and 6 are the qualitative indicators of membership and content (1 and 2). Of course, you’ll need to find the right tool(s) to capture these metrics accurately, and Adam has plenty of ideas about analytics tools, also. Trainer Communications is working with a number of tools, and the important thing to remember is that there is a good tool to fit nearly every budget (it doesn’t have to be outrageously expensive).
With a solid measurement in mind – which can be tightly aligned with business objectives – it’s pretty easy to justify social business for nearly every organization.
This entry was written by Marketing, Sales, Social Media and tagged Analytics Tools, Metrics, Social Business, Social CRM, Social Media. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.
Trainer Gets Up Close with Nick Bilton of the New York Times
He’s been interviewed by ABCNews’ Diane Sawyer and CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, but New York Times technology reporter and author Nick Bilton never really hit the big time until he spoke to Trainer Communications earlier this year (can you sense a heavy dose of sarcasm here?). We caught up with the equally ebullient and brilliant Mr. Bilton who prognosticates and pontificates about the future of TV, the pervasive impact of the Cloud, and dare we say – another tech bubble.
Got a minute? That’s all Nick needs to share his top tidbits with Trainer. Roll the video please…
As an additional commemoration of Trainer Communications’ 17th anniversary in business, we polled the Trainer Communications team and compiled a list of 17 maxims for public relations practice. If these maxims ring true for you, contact Trainer Communications to learn more about our client services or opportunities for employment or partnerships.
The maxims are grouped into three categories: project management, story development, and media relations, followed by one maxim that applies to all categories of work.
Create a plan and follow it. Every public relations and marketing initiative should have a goal, a time-line, assets required to deliver on the initiative (which includes information, expert resources and budget) and an agreed-upon result. You are most likely wasting time and money if these elements are not in place before you begin.
Hold all project participants accountable for the assets they promise. If one project component breaks or is delayed, the entire project may be jeopardized or delayed. If a project is jeopardized when assets are not in place, communicate the problem immediately and work with all stakeholders to fix it.
Do everything possible to build in plenty of time for projects. We only get one shot at each project, so ensure that all the pieces have time to be envisioned, created, developed, modified with new insights, and seamlessly joined to the other pieces for a professional product and satisfying collaborative experience. The energy, grace, thought, study, counsel, and insight that we put in to each project will usually be reflected in the outcome.
The word “news” is self-defining, it means “new.” In IT news, new means something that the market hasn’t seen before, not just what’s new about your client’s product. When developing a news announcement for your client, make sure they understand the difference.
Compelling IT security news stories have five elements: threat, attack, victim, impact, and recovery. Tether your client’s product and services to this pole and you’ll have a winner.
Find the story behind your client’s announcement. If you lead with your call to action you’ll likely get lost in the shuffle. If you instead lead with the problem and why it’s relevant to the editor you’ll catch their attention more often than not and greatly increase your chances of a briefing and ultimately a story.
Clients’ customers are treasured assets. Whether in the retail business or the public relations profession, the golden rule remains the same – “the customer is always king.” Make sure to have at least one – if not several – customers who are willing to speak to the media to discuss and validate the benefits of using your client’s technology. Don’t hold out for a “household name” customer if your client is just starting to sell its technology and/or doesn’t have many customers who are willing to go on the record. As the saying goes, “beggars can’t be choosers,” so consider any customers as treasured assets and work with them closely to understand the “win” in it for them and be respectful of their time and corporate processes before teeing them up for interviews.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Images are a key asset in your press package. They can increase click-throughs and make the difference between front-page coverage and being buried in the back. A great image can often tell the story as well or better than your release headline. Work with a professional photographer before you begin your media outreach to make sure you have a variety of print-quality photos to send an editor, and save one in particular for when you distribute your press release on the wire.
Always follow the reporters, bloggers, and analysts you pitch. Topics and beats are constantly evolving today, so Twitter can be your friend in identifying what really matters to a journalist. Follow the press you want to build a relationship with and they will often give you tips on how PR should approach them and the topics that interest them most. When an article you worked on is published, be sure to tweet or re-tweet it. Showing a little love goes a long way in building a relationship with the press and it shows you are following through and looking for the article.
Don’t contact media only when you have a pitch. Put in the effort to make each contact with journalists an opportunity to get to know them better and to build the relationship in a positive way. It is important to remember that they are people too, and to foster a positive and productive relationship, occasionally reach out to media contacts to catch up with them on a personal level. Read what journalists write, commenting if appropriate. Show them that you’re investing in them and honestly interested in more than simply “selling” something and moving on.
Read, listen to or watch the media outlets you’re pitching. You need to understand what kind of stories they cover and how they cover them. Do they do live interviews? Do they use prepared/press release copy? Do they use video footage or photos? Get to know the media outlets you want to be in and supply them the things they need. Make it easier for them to cover your story rather than the 100 other pitches they receive each week. Reporters want to know you’re familiar with their work and their outlet and having this familiarity will help you prepare and pitch your story more efficiently.
Don’t hound journalists. If they haven’t come back to you, there is usually a reason for it. Being too aggressive can actually repel them. A quick follow up call a few days after you send your pitch can help, but calling daily will just make the reporter angry.
Put news under embargo until the release date. This helps prevent leakage when pitching in advance of the formal announcement date. However, always keep in mind that while most journalists respect embargoes, they are not obligated.
A pitch should only include a fraction of what will appear in the press release. If media want more information they will ask for the release or take a briefing. Always keep in mind that with pitching, more information is not better; it can take away the need to speak with the client because we are providing too much info in the first place. It’s all about balance between too little and too much information.
Don’t send email attachments to media unless requested. Attachments clog their email accounts as they receive many pitches a day. If you are sending a press release, embed it into the email rather than attaching the document. For large files use a service like www.yousendit.com where you can send a link to the press so they can download several files from the cloud without clogging their inbox.
There should be at most four people from your client on a briefing. Keep yourself on mute except to moderate the briefing and keep it flowing. The client should be able to tell the story without much intervention from PR.
Create work/life balance. The possibilities of promoting your clients and growing your business are virtually limitless, and new projects with aggressive deadlines continually arrive; so make sure you make time to exercise, rest, spend time with family and friends, and pursue other interests. The energy and satisfaction you gain from your life outside work will be channeled back into your work.
• Work hard.
• Deliver “crazy good” client satisfaction.
• Play hard.
Those are the top three mantras of Trainer Communications; oh, and let us also remind you that we have a ton of fun along the way.
We just enjoyed an amazing holiday party at Trainer for all of our employees and significant others. It was a progressive party format starting with a champagne bottle sabering contest here in our office (yes, really!), followed by a gourmet, sommelier-led wine tasting with paired appetizers, followed by a shopping spree at Williams-Sonoma where Trainer picked up the tab of course, followed by a delicious dinner at a 5-star restaurant, and a cocktail night cap at a watering hole featuring a pool shark who taught us all how to shoot like Minnesota Fats.
Our office always looks great with all of our employees taking artistic license to dress up their offices and cubicles to recognize the holidays in their own personal way; however, this time of year a few Trainer employees really went crazy as they tried to win the “Best Decorated Cubicle” contest at Trainer Communications. For those of you who can’t come by the office to see this first hand, check out the video. Ho Ho Ho! Happy Holidays and cheers to a Happy New Year!
With the wild popularity of YouTube, Flip video cameras and the iPhone, it seems that almost everyone is a videographer and producer these days. The technology is so user friendly – shoot, edit, share – anyone can produce a video, right?
It all depends on your definition of quality. Granted, most of us aren’t ready for Hollywood, nor do we need to be; but for businesses – especially technology companies looking to video as one more way to evangelize stories in a professional manner – you may want to think twice about “Joe iPhone dude” shooting, editing and producing your new product launch demonstration or customer testimonial video. As the saying goes, “you get what you pay for.”
Here are five tips to consider when shooting and producing a high-quality video for your business:
1. Less is more and “make it move.” Research shows the most widely watched videos are less than 60 seconds. That’s not to say longer videos aren’t also successful, but you need to know how to make a video “move” and stay engaging for its entire duration.
2. Beware of rookie shooting mistakes. Everyone’s first inclination when using a video camera is to pan and zoom. Such camera moves are inherently slow moving, which is the last thing you want when you are trying to produce a fast-paced, tight video.
3. Short and sweet sound bites. The best sound bites are only 3-5 seconds long. Look for a producer with a television background who both knows how to ask questions like a reporter to illicit conversational, succinct sound bites, and who can “hear” a sound bite – this is an art.
4. It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it. The most brilliant people in the world can deliver the worst sound bites on camera. A monotone voice and stiff body language will ensure a video flop. Tap a former reporter to conduct the interview so your spokesperson loosens up and becomes as smooth an orator as someone in the Oval Office.
5. Tell a story. Everyone loves to listen to a good story, so plan your story in your shoot. The best videos are ones that weave a story-telling element along the way. This is a lot easier said than done – again, consult a professional who can capture the right pictures and voices to tell a story to keep the viewer engaged and tally up thousands of YouTube views.
Indeed, in the digital age, video production has become commoditized, and because it’s so popular and “everybody’s doing video,” quality standards are often compromised. So how can you protect yourself and verify if someone knows what they are doing before engaging them on a video project?
Just like you screen a job applicant, consider asking your videographer a few questions from the following list (only the good ones will know the right answers!).
1. Why is it important to white balance a video camera?
2. What does the phrase “wide, medium, tight” mean to you?
3. What is the purpose of a cutaway shot?
4. Do you typically butt-cut your sound bites? Why would you do this?
5. What’s the difference between A-roll, B-roll, and voice overs?
Oh yea, if you want to know the answers or consult with us about how to distinguish “Frank’s Flip Cam Productions” from true video professionals, we are happy to assist. Just contact us here – no need to disturb your Hollywood agent. Or if you are really creative, submit your questions via video and we just might post them on TrainerTV!
This entry was written by Marketing, PR, Social Media, Video and tagged Animation, Marketing, PR, Video. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.
We’ve come to expect entertainment in our personal and our work lives these days, putting the creative pressure on marketing groups to more effectively get the word out. It turns out that many animations are slightly modified versions of old-school cartoons. They are far more entertaining than talking-head videos, and they are fun to share. Let’s face it – they are “edutainment” (education meets entertainment). The fun comes from the sarcastic tone or the thinly disguised competitor that is being portrayed as “old school” or perhaps “not the brightest bulb.” The animation gets extra points if it teaches or reminds the viewer of something important, or best of all, causes them to take some action.
Below is a snapshot of a very entertaining animation that Trainer Communications recently produced for our client Nimsoft (a division of CA Technologies). If you would like to see it in its entirety below:
If you are considering animation to help share your story, consider the following tips:
1: Hire a professional animator to help you execute. Don’t waste time trying to figure it out in-house, and don’t assume a former web developer can create an artistic animation.
2: Animations have to be simple. One obvious message told in a funny manner is the best format. When the story gets complicated, your audience gets lost.
3: Keep it short. Animations are generally less than three minutes. Ideally, your animation will be less than two minutes. If it’s done well, you’ll have plenty of time to get your point across.
4: Start with a strong story board. Get the script reviewed and approved before the animation begins by the decision makers. This means everyone should be comfortable with the script and the direction of the animation. Radical changes in script and direction can make a reasonably priced animation become unaffordable and can double the time it takes to complete.
5: Limit the characters in your story. Remember, each character will need a voice and voice talent is pricey! Prepare to pay several hundred dollars per character.
6: Set investment expectations accordingly. The animation drawing and scripting is typically priced between $2,000 and $4,000 (depending on length and not including voice talent). The more complex, the higher the cost.
7: Allow enough time to produce your animation. If you are super efficient, have clear direction on the script, and have a good sense of humor and some in-house talent to support the animator – you can produce a two to three minute animation in about four weeks (if you have a reasonably easy approval process with the decision makers). Allow more time if any of these variables are different.
If you have more questions about animations, please don’t hesitate to contact the team here at Trainer . Check back next week for the specifics on creating video!
There’s a popular sentiment that the pen is mightier than the sword. Well, in these days, it’s a metaphorical pen – and in most cases– a keyboard or keypad. The point is: he who publishes content wins. Companies are quickly jumping on the bandwagon to publish their own thoughts on the industry, their own statistics, and even their own entertainment to attract the highly-coveted impressions, click-throughs, and social media engagements sought by marketers.
Trends are converging that force companies into self-publishing content: a shortage of journalists and an onslaught of big ideas. With reduced advertising budgets and a severe staff shortage, most publications are only too happy to accept vendor-neutral, informative, content on current industry events, trends and opinions. This provides an unprecedented opportunity for companies of every size to become a thought leader. One warning: don’t think old school. It’s not (only) about contributed articles; in fact these days, it is much more about graphics and entertainment than a traditional 1,000 word opinion piece.
Following are a few ways to own and publish content that will set your company apart. In subsequent blogs, we’ll dive into the “how to” develop these powerful forms of content.
Aggregating interesting data that demonstrates a trend or supports an opinion into a chart form with a few descriptive words is both colorful and fun. It embodies the idea “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
If you have a sense of humor, animation may be one of your best tools. No longer are geeks satisfied by boring lingo – they want to be entertained and animation (particularly when it is humorous) goes over big with the tech community.
3) Lights, Camera, Action!
There is a reason YouTube has become the number two search engine in the world. It turns out people really like watching news and entertainment, not necessarily reading it.
4) Statistics, Lies, and Damn Lies
People really enjoy surveys – especially if you have a reasonable sample and an interesting topic (contrarian opinions are always good).
5) The Payback of a Click
With so many stories being judged by the “click” rather than by a reader’s review, a slide show is a solid way of publishing opinions on publication sites. Publishers get paid by the click and slides create a lot of clicks.
6) The eBook
Amazon and others have made it easy for you to self-publish opinions in a book available to your customers, your prospects, or your staff. Now your fan base can easily find you on iTunes.
7) Social is Sweet!
Relevant Tweets, Facebook updates and LinkedIn status updates are great content platforms. It’s short, easy and sweet! Graphics and pictures are awesome attention grabbers. Remember to use bitly links back to your website so you can easily track who is consuming your content.
Check back here in a few days for the specifics on how best to implement these ideas and become the King of your content.
Got a minute? It’s no surprise that Ben Parr of Mashable is a self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie, always on the hunt for the latest technology scoop in Silicon Valley; but did you know he likes to jump out of airplanes too? TrainerTV shares more about one of the top tech bloggers in the business.