Powell Taters Give Back

Katie Kunec

For nearly two years, Powell Tate and KRC Research have partnered with Ludlow-Taylor Elementary in Washington, D.C., to enhance the school community through donations of time and supplies. Our volunteers provide hands-on assistance in and around the school and participate in an annual Holiday Giving Tree through which we help fulfill the holiday wishes of students in need.

During our last activity with Ludlow-Taylor, we assisted with cleaning out classrooms that were being used for storage and transforming the area into a welcoming space that will be used to accommodate the school’s growing enrollment. We look forward to more projects to come!


Location, Location, Location!

Lindsey Ellerson

The old real estate adage, “location, location, location” has taken on new meaning in the digital landscape, given the projections that smartphones will soon overtake conventional low-end mobile phones as the standard communications device for Americans. With the proliferation of smartphones, mobile users are driving a new movement toward location-based technology.

At the Mashable Summer Tour earlier this month in Washington, D.C., Powell Tate talked with the team who runs, the popular social media news site, about their thoughts on the emerging geo-location trend.

“Even last year, smartphones were just for geeks and for business people, now everybody has an Android or an iPhone, it’s a common place thing,” Mashable Chief Operations Officer Adam Hirsh told us.

As rumors are building that Facebook is poised to join the ranks of other location-based providers including the popular Foursquare, Gowalla and Brightkite, the mobile conversation is only growing louder. The question is how will these companies distinguish themselves? Mashable Community Manager Vadim Lavruski says the ultimate winner will be the company most invested in the consumer experience.

“You’re sort of already starting to see the market at play. I think one will eventually sort of dominate and it’s going to be interesting to see how that happens,” said Lavruski. “All of them offer something unique, but not all of them meet all the needs of a user that’s using location-based technology. So being able to sort of combine some of these elements into one platform is really I think what users are looking for.”

While the landscape is nascent, the current demand seems to be dominated by slightly more male users than female. Additionally, the demographics skew toward Hispanic and Asian-American use, which according to Nielsen tracks with adoption rates of other mobile data services.

For further insight from the Mashable team on the latest trends in the social media landscape, watch our video.

Note: Powell Tate | Weber Shandwick was a Mashable Summer Tour sponsor.


Emergencies and Social Media

Before joining Powell Tate, I ran the Department of Homeland Security’s Ready Campaign, so I am familiar with emergency preparedness and response at a professional level – but last week it got personal for me when my neighborhood was hit by a powerful thunderstorm.

As I posted photos on my Facebook page, sent text messages to friends and family and submitted a question to an online chat with Dominion Virginia Power officials, I realized just how much communication has changed since Ready was launched in 2003.

When the national campaign to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to emergencies was developed, social media as we know it did not exist. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube had not been invented and the number of text messages and emails sent were a fraction of what they are today. Online communication was more or less a one-way street.

Today, in our highly connected society, we use digital communications tools to interact with each other online in virtually every situation, including emergencies.

A survey released yesterday by the American Red Cross found that Americans use social media not only to send and receive information about emergencies, but to seek help. If they needed help and couldn’t reach 911, one in five said they would try to contact first responders using digital communications. When asked if they would use social media to request help for others, 44 percent said they would ask individuals in their social network to contact authorities; and 63 percent said they would request help from a first response agency directly using Facebook or Twitter.

Are first responders ready and prepared for this new communications reality? According to an article in yesterday’s Washington Post , “90 percent of first responders said they don't have the staffing to monitor incoming messages and respond rapidly.”

The Red Cross and others are working to address this problem and hosted an Emergency Social Data Summit this week in Washington with that goal in mind. As the key players discuss better ways to handle digital communications during emergencies, I hope they find some real solutions that will allow today’s communications landscape to enhance our ability to prepare for and respond to emergencies.


When science speaks….

Last month I was invited to speak at the American Meteorological Society's Annual Policy Fellows Summit here in Washington as part of a session about communicating science to the public. My presentation was part of a larger discussion about the role that science communications plays within different sectors, and I spoke about the ways that academic scientists can help the private sector learn more about issues such as climate change, biotechnology and other timely—potentially controversial—topics.

The scientists seated in the room were eager to learn but largely unfamiliar with the roles they could play in helping to build awareness and understanding for particular issues. Most were reticent about communicating to the public but recognized the importance of doing so. The Pew Center and others have reported on the public’s trust in scientists which, according to their last report, rated pretty high.

How can scientists help communicate the message? One example is meteorologists. They have an important role to play in communicating climate change due to their high visibility with the general public and they must also answer to their scientific peers by making sure accurate information is conveyed. The AMS includes a large cadre of broadcast meteorologists who report on weather patterns and the impact they have on lives around the world. While many people joke around that you can never count on the weather report, the fact remains that most of us continue to follow the weather report on a daily basis.

As communications professionals, our job is to work with clients find the right message and messenger. Scientists and academics provide a credible, independent third-party voice, have deep knowledge and expertise and can speak passionately to relevant issues.

Organizations and corporations should consider the value that scientists and academics bring to communications efforts. They bring not only significant knowledge and expertise but also an opportunity to help amplify your message.


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