Embracing CSR for the Good of Community and Company

Abby Horn


Advisory Board Company employees volunteer for Earth Day 2013.

Powell Tate has had the pleasure of working with The Advisory Board Company (ABC) – a for-profit technology, research and consulting firm based in Washington, D.C. – for the past three and a half years. This is a company that so strongly values corporate social responsibility (CSR) that in 2013, Robert Musslewhite, CEO, challenged each of the company’s more than 2,700 employees to become involved in community service efforts. 

As a result of this push, 100 percent of ABC employees participated in community service – a rare milestone for a company of its size.

But how does a company support a 100 percent community service participation rate, and what impact does it have on organizational performance?

The company made it easy for employees to serve their communities. A dedicated team continually engaged with nonprofits, worked with department representatives to alert employees of service opportunities and organized team activities.

The average American company allows 29 hours of paid time off each year to volunteer, according to the Points of Light Corporate Institute. ABC gives each employee up to 120 hours per year of paid time off to volunteer – four times what the average company provides. As a result, in 2013, employees contributed more than 32,000 volunteer hours to more than 500 community organizations, creating $1.7 million in monetized impact. They built houses for the poor, cared for the homeless, led literacy programs and participated in pro bono projects where they put their unique professional skills and expertise to work for not-for-profit organizations.

ABC presents service as an opportunity for skill building, even though only 14 percent of companies do skills-based volunteering, according to Deloitte research. The organization’s leadership encourages employees to play to their professional strengths and personal interests when selecting and participating in service activities. Employees take their analytical, consulting and design/development talents to nonprofit organizations, many of which, like ABC, focus on health care and higher education issues.

Finally, ABC places a significant focus on company culture. ABC even includes service ethics in its criteria for hiring and the bi-annual performance review process, where they assess employees’ “spirit of generosity” alongside quality, productivity, leadership and other attributes.

ABC found that employees are more engaged than ever in the company’s work and mission. This is particularly true of employees who participate in pro bono work, with more than two-thirds reporting enhanced skills as a result. And employees who joined a pro bono project were 42 percent more likely to be promoted than non-participating peers.

I encourage you to check out Robert Musslewhite’s op-ed on community impact in Fast Company and an interview with Graham McLaughlin, Director of Community Impact at ABC, featured in National Journal’s "The Next America." You can also check out why Points of Light awarded ABC its 2014 Corporate Engagement Award of Excellence.


Powell Tate:  One of the Best Places to Work in DC

Karen Oliver

The Washington Post is far more than a newspaper these days. Like many news organizations it is expanding into new ventures. One of its latest efforts is defining the top workplaces in the nation’s capital. 

It’s no surprise to me that the Post recently recognized Powell Tate as one of the area’s Top Workplaces. Having been in Washington since President Bill Clinton was first elected, I’ve worked in a few offices and I know a great one when I’ve found it. 

The Washington Post named Powell Tate as a Top Workplace based on the results of an employee survey about a wide range of topics, including the quality of leadership, benefits and office perks, work-life balance issues and more. This isn’t this the first time Powell Tate has been recognized as one of the best places to work. PR News and Washington Business Journal have also recognized Powell Tate in this regard.

To me, the culture and the people are what set Powell Tate apart. We pride ourselves on being a place for engaged thinkers and doers in the nation’s capital. This dates back to when Jody Powell, former press secretary to President Jimmy Carter, and Sheila Tate, former press secretary to First Lady Nancy Reagan, came together to launch a unique bipartisan communications agency.

Their vision for Powell Tate went beyond political diversity, approaching Powell Tate’s recruitment, hiring and culture with a commitment to diversity in all its forms. The values that Jody and Sheila held dear and instilled in Powell Tate’s earlier years are still true today: bipartisanship, civility and respect, diversity, creativity, empowerment, humor and a laser-like focus on the needs of our clients. In keeping with this approach, we are serious about our work but also don’t take ourselves too seriously.

When it comes to that work, we have an amazing array of clients, ranging from global non-profits and government agencies to some of the world’s biggest companies and some of Washington’s most influential trade associations.

While I love the work and the culture, what really makes a difference for me are the people. Our staff is an interesting mix of smart, creative and funny individuals who are passionate about doing great work and supporting important causes. That’s what keeps me excited about coming to work every day.

I’m proud to be at Powell Tate with its unique legacy, but what I really like is the bright future ahead. The best is yet to come. 


Getting to Know Pam Jenkins

Greg McCarthy

Pam Jenkins was profiled in Capitol Communicator’s interview series with leading communications professionals in the mid-Atlantic region. In the "Up Close and Personal" interview, Pam provides her insights on the transformation of Powell Tate into Washington’s premier public affairs firm, professional development and her own personal role models.

Here's a clip from the article:

"Pam, tell us a bit about your job:
As the president of Powell Tate, a division of Weber Shandwick, I am responsible for the agency’s reputation and growth. For the past 25 years, I’ve specialized in healthcare communications and continue to counsel corporate, nonprofit and government clients in the healthcare arena. I also am responsible for Weber Shandwick’s Baltimore and Atlanta offices.

Are you involved in any other organizations - professional or non-profit - and, if so, which one(s)?
I’m a member of the PRSA-NCC chapter, a member of Washington Women in Public Relations, a member of the Council of PR Firms, I'm on the Board of Directors of Maryland Rush, and I’m senior communications and advocacy strategist with Shatterproof, which is a national organization dedicated to ending addiction.

What are the thing/things you are most proud of?
Leading the transformation of Powell Tate into Washington’s premier public affairs firm and recognized best place to work while raising three terrific girls."

Read the rest here.


Whatchya gonna do when rebranding runs wild on you

Rebranding your organization’s image, product or persona can drive significant results in revitalizing and expanding your brand’s full potential. Let’s take a look at how a successful rebranding campaign built a multi-billion dollar industry: professional wrestling. 

Do you remember the professional wrestlers named Super Destroyer, Terry Boulder, or Sterling Golden? Probably not. What about Hulk Hogan? Yes! Well, they are all the same person.
Prior to becoming the iconic personality who would ultimately help build the wrestling industry, Terry Bollea – Hogan’s real name – went through a major rebranding makeover. 

Here are a few tips or lessons learned from Hulkamania that will ensure your rebranding effort is successful:

  • Keep it simple. Your brand or product name should be easily recognizable and should resemble its core function. According to a 2011 article in Forbes Magazine, when Terry Bollea appeared on a TV talk show with Lou Ferrigno – aka The Incredible Hulk – World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) CEO Vince McMahon noticed that Bollea was actually bigger than Ferrigno. From that day forward, Terry Bollea was rebranded as the “Hulk.”
  • Cater to your audience. When considering a rebranding initiative, you should start by asking these questions: Who are your current customers or base supporters? How will your rebranding efforts affect them? Will rebranding allow you to target new audiences and expand your customer or your support base? Wonder where the last name “Hogan” came from? In his autobiography, My Life Outside the Ring, Bollea states that Vince McMahon wanted a wrestling personality with an Irish name to expand his fan base to reach the Irish-American demographic, which comprised 20 percent of the country’s population.
  • Research, research and more research. Before considering rebranding, you need to understand the playing field, know what is top of mind for consumers and recognize how rebranding could position the organization to remain relevant and grow. The rebranding of Hulk Hogan launched in the 1980s, when President Reagan was giving the country a daily dose of American patriotism and populism. To capitalize on the current mindset of the country, the WWE positioned Hulk Hogan as the all-American hero with his iconic theme song, Real American.
  • Messaging is king. To build on your brand image and explain your new or revitalized direction, refreshing your key messages is a must. Hogan’s rebranded trademark motto, “Train, take your vitamins, say your prayers,” positioned the Hulkster as a role model for kids and helped reach a younger new audience. As a result, the WWE dramatically grew its fan base and Hogan was named the most-requested celebrity of the 1980s for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, a child-focused charity.

In conclusion, rebranding can be a powerful tool to reclaim victory in a brand’s real-life wrestling ring. Changing a color or a logo is probably not going to make a meaningful impact. To breathe new life into your brand, follow the path of the Hulkster and focus on research, audience targeting, message refinement and content strategy. 


Is Education Really the Ticket to Economic Prosperity?

Rachel Ryan

Last week, Powell Tate attended National Journal’s roundtable, The Next America: Pathways to Success, which emphasized education as a means of lifting more Americans into the middle class.

As one of the participants on the event’s Higher Education Panel noted, “There was a time in the U.S. that we thought a high school degree was a ticket to the middle class. That’s just not true anymore.”

With a whopping 40 percent of recent college graduates unemployed, it’s also hard to make the case that a college degree is today’s ticket to the middle class. But there’s no question that, with a college degree, your chances of ascending the ladder to economic prosperity are much higher than if you are without one. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those with just a high school diploma had a 6.5 percent unemployment rate in May 2014, whereas their peers with a bachelor’s or higher had half of that – 3.2 percent unemployment.

So, if lack of education is the main problem, all we have to do is get more kids to college, which will propel them into the middle class, right?

Not so fast.

As another panelist noted, “the cost of a college education is prohibitive.”

Indeed. Tuition rates are sky high and they’re only climbing higher. Today’s graduates might have the requisite undergraduate diploma, but many also have the crippling debt that comes with that little piece of paper. So crippling is the debt that an increasing number of college graduates put off buying a home, saving for retirement or even getting hitched. Not to mention, when they graduate, jobs are scarce, so there’s no money to pay off these loans in the first place.

Many think high unemployment rates for recent graduates are a result of simple supply-demand economics: there are more college graduates than there are jobs.


As Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, and Marlene Seltzer, the chief executive of Jobs for the Future, noted in their Politico op-ed, “Closing the Skills Gap,” nearly 11 million Americans are unemployed. Yet, at the same time, 4 million jobs sit unfilled.

“The skills gap is real,” agreed Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), who also addressed the Next America audience.

Sen. Scott offered apprenticeship as a possible remedy; establish partnerships with local employers and community colleges (with the assumed goal of eventually partnering with four-year institutions as well) so that students can “earn while they learn.” This remedy sounds a lot like the highly successful institutionalized apprenticeship model in Western Europe, whereby students are able to study while also learning the real world skills necessary to move up the employability ladder.

According to a 2013 report from the Peterson Institute for International Economics, Germany and Austria have a youth unemployment rate of 7.4 and 8.1 percent, respectively – the lowest youth unemployment rates in the industrialized world. The U.S., by comparison, has a youth unemployment rate of 15.2 percent… and it’s growing.

As noted in the Peterson Institute report, the reason Germany and Austria can boast of having the world’s least lazy group of 20-somethings is, in part, due to their long-standing and well-developed apprenticeship programs that fold right into the state’s education system. In brief, students pursue apprenticeships which consist of (1) on-the-job training provided by firms and (2) classroom instruction imparted by schools. Apprenticeships last two to four years, depending on the profession, and are followed by a final exam. In Germany, 59 percent of apprentices are then employed by the firm that trained them.

Back home, laying the foundation for the next American middle class is certainly complex, and policymakers, students and employers alike are all desperate for viable solutions. But one thing is certain: public policy must address the widening education, skills and unemployment gaps that are choking economic growth.

In the words of one panelist, “These [gaps] were created by public policy and must be fixed by public policy.” 


The new U.S.-Russia freeze: Why we should keep engaging

Last week at the U.S. Senate, you could hear some very diverse voices on the current freeze in U.S.-Russia relations during the 2014 World Russia Forum. These voices included:

  • Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak claiming that U.S.-Russia trade was still only a fraction - "minuscule" - compared with its potential; 
  • Opposition leader Leonid Gozman reminding everyone that no matter their views of Putin, the President had overwhelming support inside Russia;
  • Alaska Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell pointing out that U.S.-Russia cooperation on the Arctic was critical to his state; and
  • Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie recalling that he had pulled off a big innovation and investment conference with Russia in his state, despite the State Department pulling out.

As a speaker in this forum, I urged engagement on common challenges – e.g. the fight against terrorism – drawing on my NATO experience running the Alliance’s communications and its Science Cooperation program.

Naturally, we communicators prefer Engagement to Endgame, don’t we – at Weber Shandwick we are “engaging, always.” Not an easy task always to balance principle – human rights, democracy – with practical cooperation and commerce. Still, Winston Churchill – hardly a renowned pacifist – said “To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war,” if you recall – so let’s keep exploring the opportunities for dialog and engagement in the mutual interest.


Why Stakeholders Matter (or The Ballad of Eric Cantor)


Lately, every political pundit with access to a laptop or teleprompter has hit the streets with their pet theory on why House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his primary challenge to an unknown, underfunded newcomer.

The models “explaining” Cantor’s defeat are legion: he wasn’t conservative enough for his district; he represented status quo in a year of change; the issue of immigration proved toxic; there was skullduggery at the ballot box; yada, yada . . . thousands of words, hundreds of articles and little consensus.

The truth is simpler. And it applies not only to politicians; it should serve as a cautionary tale for the private sector – industries and individual companies alike (especially if they, like Mr. Cantor, are leaders).

I can sum up the whole Cantor thing in 8 words: HE WASN’T ENGAGED WITH THE RIGHT STAKEHOLDERS. PERIOD.

Though it was less than 75 miles away from his Capitol office, Cantor didn’t travel back to his district much. He was focused on an important part of his job – being a good leader for his party in Congress. He spent long hours engaging his House colleagues to negotiate bills, amendments and proposals. That meant staying in DC. And when he did go home, he didn’t interact in ways that positioned him well with constituents. There’s a big difference between going to the local TV station for an interview, and going to a community fish fry and working the crowd.

Reporters seldom tell you they don’t like what you’re doing, or how their aunt can’t find a job, or she isn’t getting her veteran’s benefits. Voters do. All the time. No public officeholder likes being taken to task – it takes time, energy and a thick skin – but that’s how the system works. Voters didn’t think Cantor was listening to them, and rather than continuing to listen to him, they paid attention to someone else.

But that’s not why David Brat won. He didn’t win. Eric Cantor lost. Brat was just the alternative.

That’s why I work with as many clients as possible to help them understand and communicate with their stakeholders (even those who disagree). I’ve told virtually every client I’ve worked with the same things:

1. Look at the forest from the ground up, not just at the tallest trees. When it comes to understanding stakeholders, nothing is more fundamental than an audit of the players that affect a particular business. Fans and critics. Customers and activists. Too often companies define the stakeholder universe as the same ten customer groups, suppliers/vendors or opinion leaders that they’ve dealt with for years. That list is about as valuable as last week’s movie listings. It can lock you into a cycle of activities that may not get you anywhere with your current stakeholders. Refresh. Refocus. Be objective and thorough and you might discover new opportunities – and uncover new challenges before it’s too late.

2. Find out what matters to others and be active in those areas. It’s not about you, it’s about them. Think about the last time you were dragged to an event – dinner, ballgame or ballet – by a friend or loved one and it turned out to be less painful than predicted. In fact, it may even have been, (gasp!) fun. Enjoyable or not in the short-term, it was probably beneficial in the long run. That holds true for stakeholders too. Understand what matters and motivates them, then find ways to be relevant and active in those areas. You don’t have to agree, but even when stakeholder communications require significant effort, it seldom goes to waste.

3. Give others a reason to work with you, not against you. Think playground. Nobody wants to play with the kid who won’t share the ball, bullies others or doesn’t deal squarely. How you engage with allies and critics – through both public and private communications channels – can set a tone of cooperation (or at least coexistence). Common ground doesn’t mean retreat or capitulation. Sometimes it just means emphasizing areas of overlap rather than disagreement.

You’re only as strong as the relationships you build. Taking time to foster the right stakeholder relations can help any politician, business leader or organization ensure they have a base of supporters to tap when they most need help. And that they’re not blindsided by a competitor who is forging those bonds. 


The Musical Trance of PTO

Eric Hoffman

I didn’t know what to expect when I entered Powell Tate’s Events Center for the band PTO’s first indoor gig ever last Friday night. Relieved of client responsibilities for the week, this reviewer was amped up for a great show and PTO more than lived up to its billing. 

PTO, made up of four current and former Powell Taters, offered up a soulful sojourn through the decades. PTO lead singer Dan Jacobs’s rendition of “Purple Haze” made the incredibly tricked-out stage seem more like a 1970’s trip than the really cool PR agency happy hour I was attending. Jacobs’s depth as a singer revealed itself on Mumford and Sons’ “Little Lion Man.” When Jacobs crooned “but it was not your fault but mine,” the audience marveled at his ability to manage up.

Bassist Peter Carson – who boldly invited his wife and 15-year-old daughter to hear him sing, “Can't catch me cause the rabbit done died….” – got the crowd revved up when he led the band on a romp through Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion.” Carson moved to rhythm guitar for the number showing adept musical diversity for a relative newcomer to rock’s stage.

Juxtaposing the newness of Carson’s beat was the grizzled shredding of lead guitarist Chris “Bruiser” Grimm. Grimm’s musical roots emerge throughout many of PTO’s numbers reminding me a bit of John Cale during VU’s days as Warhol’s house band. Grimm’s lead guitar guided concert-goers through a rock-of-ages 14-song set that showed amazing diversity.

PTO’s defining feature might be the tightness of the band’s music. For guys with stellar communications careers, their transitions were flawless. Much of that credit is due to drummer and former health policy team member, Matt “Wojo” Wojkun. Wojo’s solo transition from “Sunshine” to “Don’t Look Back” mesmerized and captivated the sold-out crowd enjoying Ben’s Chili Bowl half smokes and tasty beer.

But it was when PTO broke into the Beastie Boys’ “Fight for Your Right” that you knew an anthem video must have been in the making. The band was kickin’. The crowd was rockin’. And it was only 6:30 on a Friday.


The Power of Partnerships

Emil Hill

Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Talley and Sgt. 1st Class Jason Manella appeared on Fox & Friends to launch the P3I initiative and celebrate the Army Reserve’s birthday.


As strategic communicators, we accept a challenge and then use every tool in our toolbox to achieve success. One of the most effective tools we have is to find supportive partners. Strong partnerships can turn headwinds into tailwinds, and help bring success more firmly within reach.

This year, Powell Tate was presented with this challenge: help the Army Reserve launch and promote a signature platform with businesses, nonprofits, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The Reserve’s Private Public Partnership Initiative (P3i) is a way for the organization to work with private partners on projects that are mutually beneficial to soldiers and companies, and ultimately to the nation. The program was in its infancy and largely untested, so our challenge was to help the Army Reserve communicate P3i’s benefits and recent success so that mass audiences would understand and target partner organizations would consider engaging.

Together, Powell Tate and the Army Reserve chose to focus on two key areas as the primary vision of the program: 

1) Employ soldiers by pairing them with civilian companies; and
2) Help soldiers refine their already sharp skills by partnering with global companies and NGOs for unique training missions that could benefit soldiers, partner organizations, and in many cases, developing nations.

To maximize exposure for our story, we rolled out P3i on the Army Reserve’s birthday (April 23rd). We partnered with three organizations – Hiring Our Heroes, the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce and the Council on Foreign Relations – and collaborated with them to convene forums that highlighted the value of P3i directly to important audiences.

By linking the campaign to the Army Reserve’s birthday, we extended the reach of the campaign through traditional media, including a broadcast segment on Fox & Friends, and engagement on the Army Reserve’s Facebook and Twitter channels. As a sign of the campaign’s success, the Chief of the Army Reserve’s Office has been inundated by companies—large and small—who are interested in supporting the initiative. Through the power of partnerships, we not only took P3i across the finish line, we also set a firm foundation for the ongoing success of the program.


Powell Tate Intern Perspectives: Plant a Seed, Grow a Future

Spring 2014 Intern Class: Albin Sikora, Chris Hershey, Crystall Gabriel, and Kelsey Taylor

Our first assignment as interns came during orientation: plan the annual Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day for Powell Tate and our partner agency, KRC Research. It was our first week in the office; we didn’t even know where the bathrooms were and we were being given the lead on a project.

As the weeks went by, we began to establish relationships with our account teams, take on additional responsibilities and learn more about the company. We saw firsthand that Powell Tate and KRC are dynamic organizations that reflect the interests and expertise of their employees. And we quickly learned that our Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, in this office, was not going to be a day of babysitting, but an opportunity to share with the next generation the fundamentals of public service and the cutting-edge work Powell Tate and KRC employees deliver each day.

Through the event planning process, we not only ensured that we would make the day memorable, we also learned how to work together, prioritize, and delegate responsibilities in the midst of juggling many other new and exciting projects. We tailored our Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day events to align with the National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day 2014 theme, “Plant a seed, grow a future,” and highlighted key components of the work we do at Powell Tate and KRC.

We created a robust marketing plan to drive registration and raise awareness of the program within the office. Some of our most inventive ideas included developing promotional stickers, which we placed on every soda can in the office. We also designed humorous memes and posters, which we displayed in the office’s common areas. Finally, we ordered supplies for the day, including t-shirts, name tags, journals, colored pencils, award certificates, food and refreshments – all while staying under budget.

In order to create a fun and inclusive environment, we organized activities, including a branding exercise and a mad libs game, that encouraged the children to work together, learn about the important work that Powell Tate and KRC conduct and, keeping in line with the “Plant a seed, grow a future” theme, ask children what they dream of becoming when they grow up.

We captured the day’s events on video and produced a short film with the help of our digital team. Then, we played the film at the final event of the day – an ice cream social. It was a wonderful way to share with the whole company what Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day really is: an opportunity for children to learn about their parents’ work and to explore their own interests.

The day was a success and also a surprise. Not only did the children learn about careers they might want to pursue, but we interns learned new skills that will enhance our own work. Everyone involved made this a fun and educational day.



Addiction’s Aftermath: Parents Unite to Say Enough

Michelle Baker

Watch the Shatterproof PSA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MjIOx5YFj0#t=12.

Imagine waking one morning to learn your child died from drug-related causes. After a seemingly endless cycle of tears, hope, anger and despair your child is gone – one of the many children lost to addiction in this country each year.

The battle is over. You researched doctors, rehabilitation programs and treatment centers. For years, your family struggled with the stigma of addiction, lack of resources and confusing or often misguided medical advice. And now your son or daughter is gone and there is nothing left for you to do to help your child. 

This nightmare of loss and pain is a reality for far too many families in the U.S. But rather than retreat and surrender, parents across the country are mobilizing and working together to increase awareness about addiction in memory of their beloved children. They are sharing their stories and calling for national policies to help other parents avoid similar tragic endings.

One such father is Gary Mendell. After losing his son Brian to a ten-year battle with addiction, Gary reflected on the years of desperation and pain and felt a calling to address the profound public health crisis on a national scale.

Investing his personal money and building on his experience as a hotel executive, Gary founded a new organization called Shatterproof to help the 22 million Americans who struggle with addiction. He left the company he founded and committed himself full time to increasing resources to protect children from addiction to alcohol and other drugs and to address significant gaps in funding, research and policy.

Other parents are joining this movement – paying tribute to their children by helping others. Despite having lost so much, parents are banding together to demand national attention on the issue. And as policymakers, advocates and medical leaders hear firsthand from families, they are starting to give addiction the attention and commitment necessary to reduce the deadly impact of this disease.

There is much work to do to truly make a difference in addiction. However, the chorus of courageous voices of parents is sparking an unprecedented national call to action.

Powell Tate is proud to support Shatterproof and its work to prevent, treat and ultimately end addiction.


No One Cares About My Content Marketing

Jordan Breakley

What was the first thing you thought about this morning? Exactly! It wasn’t content marketing. And if it was, I’m sure it wasn’t intentional. To be honest, content marketing wasn’t the first thing I thought about this morning – and it’s part of my job.

Here’s the thing: customers don’t care – I mean really care – about content marketing. At least not consciously. But they do care about organizations that add value to their lives by entertaining them, solving their problems or making them feel like they’re improving the world.

It’s a hard reality but it’s true. So why do we do “content marketing” you ask? We do it because it is a means to an end. Creating content marketing strategies is great – and I’m not saying that because it’s part of my job. It’s great because it’s integral to helping organizations add value to their customers’ brand experience.

Before I continue, let’s define content marketing (and there are plenty of definitions but I like this one from Jason Falls of Social Media Explorer best):

“Content marketing is using any type of content (newsletters, blog posts, white papers, videos, Tweets, podcasts, wall posts) to attract an audience you wish to market to. Capturing their attention through great content gives you the opportunity to present calls-to-action to them to purchase or try your product or service.”

Content marketing alone is not a magic bullet that will break product sales records or suddenly change the public perception of an organization or even make the media write positive stories about a company. What content marketing does do is help to achieve sales, public perception and media coverage goals through increased social media marketing ROI.

Alone, content marketing isn’t the answer because you’re only providing attention-grabbing content. Providing that content is the opportunity, not the objective.

So the next time I’m drafting a content marketing strategy, just know that I’m fully aware that no one cares about content marketing strategy as much as they care about my clients’ products, corporate citizenship and reputation. And I’m not complaining, I’m just saying.


Changing the Conversation about Medical Imaging

Jessie DuPont

We may not be able to control the headlines, but we can create engaging content that alters perceptions and shifts the conversation.

If you’ve read the news lately, you know there’s an extensive debate about the potential effects of exposure to radiation from medical imaging procedures. These intentionally shocking – and sometimes misleading – stories are resonating among key decision makers in Washington, D.C. And despite the proven benefits of medical imaging, the industry must constantly battle legislative and regulatory threats from Capitol Hill.

Powell Tate works with the Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) to change the conversation about medical imaging. In this effort, we launched Imaging Forward, a multi-channel campaign that highlights the groundbreaking innovation in medical imaging technologies and the impact of these advancements on patient care.


Though MITA’s ultimate goal is to shift policymakers’ thinking about the value of medical imaging, our approach is to spark ongoing conversation on multiple platforms through media outreach and social engagement online, as well as across more traditional communications channels such as creating print materials for visits to Congressional offices. In addition, we are building relationships with third-party organizations – including physician groups, patient advocacy organizations and industry associations – to ensure that our collective message about the importance of imaging innovation is successfully communicated.

So far, these tactics have worked well. We’re seeing great engagement with our micro video series spotlighting innovative new imaging technologies. Additionally, our first-ever Vine video – which was distributed on Twitter and promoted to D.C. influencers – generated more than 10,000 impressions with a relatively low cost-per-engagement in its first month. Now that’s a step in the right direction.

View the Imaging Forward website here: http://www.medicalimaging.org/imagingforward/

View the Vine video that Powell Tate produced here: https://vine.co/v/MKH2erVIbBY


Release Your Wild: Seizing the Moment to Build Engagement

Evan Von Leer and Amil Husain

Whether it was watching one of The Hunger Games movies on the silver screen, tuning into The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones on TV or viewing one of the most popular streamed events from the 2012 London Olympics, at some point over the past few months you have been exposed to the sport of archery. In August 2013, we began working with the Archery Trade Association to capitalize on this recent growth in popularity to build a new generation of youth archers throughout the United States.

The result: Release Your Wild, a campaign that leverages digital platforms and pop culture to connect teens and tweens to each other and to the stores, camps, leagues and lessons that will help them start their archery adventure.

On November 5, 2013, after three months of online focus group testing, message and visual design, and website and social channel design and development, we launched Release Your Wild.

An intensive focus group research process informed the development of the campaign’s branding, construction of a campaign landing page, and creation of shareable content that has helped us create an engaged community of nearly 90,000 teens and tweens on Facebook within the first four months. To build that audience, we relied on a mixture of shareable social content and video content, paid digital advertising, earned media and online influencer engagement.

A strategic paid acquisition and engagement strategy helped build an audience that is more than 90% within our target demographic—13-17 year olds, skewing slightly female—and keep them interacting with every piece of content we publish. Earned media efforts to raise awareness about the campaign and archery among youth landed mentions in SELF and The Daily Beast. And a targeted celebrity/online influencer outreach component resulted in a video spot with popular YouTuber Lia Marie Johnson, one of AdWeek’s “Biggest Young Stars,” which has been viewed more than 145,000 times.

We are able to track the campaign’s progress and success over a wide range of key performance indicators, including engagement on Release Your Wild social channels and the thousands of interactions on the Release Your Wild web page – whether it is a user clicking a piece of social content on the site, or entering their zip code to find a nearby archery retailer where they can buy their first bow and start their archery adventure.

Check out Release Your Wild on the web, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest.


SXSW: In Search of the Next Big Thing

David Leavitt


Flickr Creative Commons photo by Nan Palmero.


Now that a couple weeks have passed since the interactive portion of South By Southwest (SXSW), what stands out as the Next Big Thing?

Wearable technology? Sure. The SXSW tradeshow floor was a sea of start-ups touting new ways to make clothes “smarter.” 3-D printing technology? Absolutely. Oreo set up an installation that printed edible cookies customized by Twitter’s trending topics at any particular moment. (If that doesn’t make sense, it’s okay. I stood there mesmerized by it but didn’t really understand it myself.)

But with Julian Assange and Edward Snowden as conference speakers — both by video, of course — it’s no surprise that in addition to technology hardware, the big themes this year were big data and privacy. (Are you sick of hearing the term “big data” yet?) On the privacy front, World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee noted that the Internet can simultaneously be a tool for both freedom and oppression. “There are certain rights that should be more enshrined,” he said.

Beyond technology and the Internet, see if you can spot the theme with these three conference speakers:

  • Statistician and writer Nate Silver said his biggest fear with his new FiveThirtyEight project is that his inflated stardom will make it too easy to venture in ill-advised areas. "When you’re somebody’s boss, you don’t get pushback on your bullshit ideas,” he told attendees.
  • During a question-and-answer session with fashion entrepreneur Sophia Amoruso, someone asked how she deals with complicated issues at her vintage clothing company Nasty Gal. Amoruso replied, “When confronted by a problem, I ask a lot of people what they think.”
  • And then there’s astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who made “curiosity” the theme of his keynote address. “Kids turn over rocks. It’s how they learn. We tend to tell people the answer and that denies them the opportunity to find out.”

The common theme? Question the world around you and surround yourself with people who question you. Perhaps that idea isn’t the Next Big Thing, but it’s certainly something that can help us discover what is.

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