Watch ‘Our Brand Is Crisis’ to get pumped for the 2016 presidential election

This weekend I watched Our Brand Is Crisis with Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thornton. The movie follows a political strategist, played by Bullock, and her quest to help the underdog candidate win the Bolivian presidential election. This movie is an entertaining watch for those in political communications or public relations, or if you want a fun way to celebrate the 2016 presidential election!

Our Brand Is Crisis, the movie, is currently on HBO Now and was inspired by a documentary also called Our Brand Is Crisis. The documentary covers the 2002 Bolivian election and the team of political consultants who helped with the reelection campaign of President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada; I haven’t had a chance to sit down and watch the documentary yet, so let me know what you think if you have!

I am sharing this movie because it reminded me how important it is to vote. For the first time millennials match the baby boomer generation in numbers —meaning that each group makes up “31% of the voting-eligible population.” As one of the two largest voter-eligible groups, millennials’ voices are even more powerful than they have been in previous elections. Yet even though we may be eligible to vote, stats have shown we are less likely to show up to do it. Two years ago Savannah and I covered this and the 2014 Rock the Vote ad campaign. In the post we listed voter resources that are still relevant to this year’s election. Check the post out.

For those planning to vote or needing to register, here are important dates to keep in mind.

IMPORTANT NORTH CAROLINA ELECTORAL DATES

  • Voter Registration Deadline: October 14, 2016
  • Early Voting: October 20th – November 5, 2016
  • Election Day: November 8, 2016

If you are not in NC, the Rock the Vote website can point you to the right place. Presidential debates are also coming up and will be broadcast on C-SPAN, ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. If you do not have access to broadcast television, all major news networks will offer a free live stream along with the social platforms YouTube and Twitter.

PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE DATES

  • First presidential debate: Monday, September 26, 2016
  • Vice presidential debate: Tuesday, October 4, 2016
  • Second presidential debate: Sunday, October 9, 2016
  • Third presidential debate: Wednesday, October 19, 2016

So YOU tell us, why is it important for millennials to vote? Are you doing anything to celebrate the 2016 election?

-Caroline Robinson

3 takeaways from the Rio Olympics for communication professionals

Last week the Olympic flame was extinguished marking the end of the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics. While ultimately ending without any major hiccups, the road to the games were like Rio’s cobblestoned streets – a little bumpy.

The 31st Olympiad was special as it marked the first time the games were held in South America. However, as summer 2016 approached, the host country’s economic and political turmoil took the spotlight.

As someone who enjoys watching the competitions and the incredible athletes that participate, I couldn’t help but tune into the variety of stories grabbing media headlines.

At an international event this large there are many lessons applicable to marketing communication professionals, and I would like to share a few of those lessons with you. So here are three takeaways from this year’s Summer Olympics.Rio Olympics logo.jpg

Have trained media staff or public relations plans

When the International Olympic Committee (IOC) picked Rio as a host city in 2009, I’m sure they never imagined having to confront some of the issues that arose within the regions of South America. One of those main concerns was the outbreak of the Zika virus. The expansion of the virus prompted doctors and professors from around the world to publicly recommend postponing the games. The response of the IOC (backed by health professionals) was that travel to the Olympics would not cause major spread of the virus and the decision to continue the games stood firm.

Unforeseen circumstances, like the one mentioned above, make it vital for an organization to have trained media staff and a crisis management plan. Quick responses to damaging events could prevent reputation and value loss. So if your organization hasn’t outlined an emergency media plan or designated and trained potential spokespersons now is the time to do so. Here is Bernstein’s “The 10 Steps of Crisis Communications” to get you started.

Know what you are paying for as a sponsor/advertiser

 One thing I learned about the Olympics is that there is a blackout rule for sponsors called Rule 40. This rule states that if you are not an official Olympic sponsor, but a sponsor of an athlete or coach, you can’t mention anything about that person or the Olympic games starting nine days prior to the opening ceremony and ending three days after the closing ceremony. Of course the rules are a little more extensive, but it works as a reminder that if you are looking to sponsor someone or something, make sure you know the limitations.

x2016-olympic-games-sponsors1.jpg.pagespeed.ic.Uh4uf1FPSs.jpg

Another example of this is NBC’s Olympic coverage. Viewership fell 17% below what they predicted, which meant advertisers were not going to hit the viewership numbers NBC promised. In order to make up for that NBC gave additional commercial time, or “make good” ads, to ensure agreements were made whole. There isn’t much more I can say about this other than make sure you have good media buyers and lawyers. 

Stay Social

While the IOC did impose regulations on sponsors, Olympic fans and the media were all a buzz online. My favorite moment had to be the Simone Biles and Zac Efron exchanges. Who doesn’t love when a gold medalist gets to meet her celebrity crush? SocialMedia Today has a great article analyzing the different social platforms that give insight into the breadth of social interactions during the Olympics. The main conclusion here is that if you want to reach the millennial crowd you have to be in the social sphere.

Any takeaways you have for us? Explain in a comment below!

-Caroline Robinson

 

IMC Travel Guide 2

Entering the job market as a young professional means a lot of changes. No more sleeping in during the weekdays, no more 3-hour workdays, and the absolute worst, no more summer break. The professional life may keep you busy, but it is always important to keep a work life balance, which is why we are bringing back our second IMC Travel Guide.

One way you can incorporate continued learning into your travels is by visiting places relating to your field. I recently visited Atlanta and picked out some popular but relevant attractions to experience.

World of Coca-Cola

coca-cola bottles

Evolution of the Coca-Cola bottle.

One of the most celebrated and consumed worldwide brands began in Atlanta, GA. Coca-Cola has won the hearts of many generations and continues to be an innovative marketer and pop culture icon. Their museum submerses you in the drink’s history, production, and entertainment. For someone in the marketing communication field be sure to stop by the Milestones of Refreshment exhibit, which includes advertising history and Coca-Cola artifacts, and their Pop Culture Gallery for Coca-Cola pop art.

IMG_4510

CNN Studio Tours – Atlanta

Want to go into news broadcasting or become a public relations specialist? This is the tour for you. The CNN Studio Tour at the Atlanta CNN Center takes you behind the scenes explaining the different aspects of broadcasting including newsgathering, videography, and programming.

IMG_4484

Museum of Broadcast Communications (MBC)

The Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago, IL is one amusement we have both added to our travel bucket list. The museum honors radio and television – vintage and present-day – and houses the National Radio Hall of Fame Gallery. Inside the museum you can see TV sets, radio memorabilia, and TV and radio studios. This is a fun stop for all ages and their ever-rotating exhibits keep content fresh. One current exhibition, Watching TV in the 1990s, commemorates the last decade of traditional television viewing. For late night TV junkies, the museum will open a Johnny Carson exhibit in January 2016.

190354@2x

Have you been to the Museum of Broadcast Communications? Share with us your favorite moments and travel pictures in a comment below. Also, don’t forget to recommend your favorite communication minded travel stops.

-Caroline Robinson

 

Reaching your resolutions

It’s almost three months into the new year and while many of us made New Year’s resolutions, not all of us have stuck with them or even begun working toward them. That is why this week Com Minded is going to help you accomplish those resolutions. Whether geared toward your personal or professional life, these quick tips will keep you on track to reach your objective.

  1. Remind yourself you have a New Year’s resolution

Too many of us make a resolution on New Year’s Eve/Day and then forget we ever made one. One key to conquering your New Year’s goals is reminding yourself you actually made one. Life can be busy and goals can get pushed aside, so put sticky notes on your mirror or set monthly reminders in your phone or planner. A reminder every now and then will keep your goal fresh in your mind so you can then work to accomplish it

  1. Figure out how to succeed at your resolution

The hardest part is getting started! Your goal may seem intangible, but if you sit yourself down and write out how you plan to accomplish the resolution, the impossible will turn possible.

Caroline:

One of my resolutions is to learn new skills – while a pretty general statement, one way I started is by writing down the skills I would like to learn. These include learning SEO and becoming an expert in programs like Illustrator and Excel. My next step was to find resources that would help me learn/improve these skills and now all I have to do is sit down to review the resources to say I have accomplished my resolution.

Savannah:

For myself, I know that it can be daunting to think of a large or long-term goal just looming overhead or in the background. Often times just the anxiety of what has to be accomplished can be debilitating to your progress. To combat this, I make small daily goals. This not only reminds me of the larger one I have in place, but forces me to make strides towards it constantly. Besides, is there anything more satisfying than crossing something off a list?

  1. Reward yourself

Some resolutions may be self-rewarding like goals that involve traveling more or being more adventurous, but others like learning new skills or even living a healthier lifestyle can test you.

Remember to reward yourself for those harder goals, whether it is through small treats like a mani-pedi or bigger rewards like tickets to a concert or a getaway weekend with friends. It might take some self-discipline, but if you only allow yourself to indulge in rewards if your goals are met, then it will give you another reason to accomplish the resolutions you have made.

So cheers to no more excuses! Let us know how you accomplish your New Year’s resolutions. What are some ways you reward yourself for working towards those goals?

– Caroline Robinson

Touchdown for Team Barbie

The countdown is on to Super Bowl Sunday, and as North Carolina natives, Caroline and I both couldn’t be more excited or anxious to watch our Panthers play. After the season we’ve had this year, we know a good play when we see one, and this week we noticed one happening off the field. After fumbling for two years, it seems that Mattel has finally landed a touchdown.

After over fifty years of producing the iconic, but recently heavily criticized, buxom blonde Barbie doll, Mattel realized that one size doesn’t fit all – and now you can choose from 33 different options. After a two-year initiative, the new 2016 Barbies will include seven skin tones, 18 eye colors, 18 hairstyles, and three new body types – tall, petite, and curvy.

enhanced-22803-1453988969-14

“We are excited to literally be changing the face of the brand,” said Mattel senior vice president Evelyn Mazzocco.

A change that was needed both for the company and consumer. For years now Barbie has been criticized for her unrealistic body proportions and negative influential effects on young girls. The phrase “Barbie Effect” was even coined to discuss the body image pressures young girls experienced after viewing or playing with unrealistically thin dolls or images.

As the public perception of Barbie weakened so did company sales. It was reported in October that the Barbie sales had globally fallen 14 percent; the dolls eighth quarter of double-digit drops, meaning an overall decrease in sales since 2012.

barbie_large

In 2014 Frozen took the number one spot on the National Retail Federations Top Toys list for the holiday season. Barbie had held that position consecutively for the past 11 years. (Although she did push her way to the top again for the 2015 list.)

Mattel had long refused to change Barbie, even with studies claiming the toy had an effect on the way girls viewed themselves and criticism on the doll’s diversity, but as the overall company saw a 2 ½ year sales slump there was obvious need for change.

In the past year the company has gained new leadership under Christopher Sinclair, a former PepsiCo Inc. executive, and he has worked to turn the company around “by overhauling management, reigniting the company’s creative department, and seeking partnerships with tech companies”. In 2015 the company worked to diversify the Barbie line by releasing the traditional Barbie in a variety of skin tones and hairstyles, as well as creating a Barbie that can participate in “conversational play”.

These efforts seem to be making strides with buyers as for the first time in more than two years Mattel announced a 1% increase in Barbie sales during the fourth quarter, a growth that exceeded Wall Street expectations. With the release of a new body-diverse line in addition to a now ethnically diverse line, Barbie might be on her way to reversing her previously conceived negative status quo.

Armed with the hashtag campaign “#TheDollEvolves”, Mattel’s marketing campaign is heavily promoting the new representation. Unlike previous attempts from Mattel, such as the Barbie “friends” series which introduced just slight variations in ultimately the same tall, thin archtype, Mattel wants people to know that these new dolls aren’t just friends, sidekicks, sisters, they ARE Barbie, too.

While the dolls won’t be launched in stores until March 1st, they are available for preorder now.

– Savannah Valade & Caroline Robinson

The bitterness behind sugar

Salt, sugar, and supersized: the three main ingredients in American diets. Also the main ingredients for diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Our infamous caloric intake is increasing more than just our pant size – it’s amplifying some unsavory national health trends.

 According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) more than one-third of adults in the U.S. suffer from obesity (2011-2012 stat). The same frightening statistics also applies to children and adolescents.

What’s to blame? It is the drive-thru lunches we are so fond of, our favorite snacks in the office vending machine, or the endless choice of indulgence at the supermarket? It’s just as hard to pinpoint a singular culprit, as it is to change the narrative, but some are trying to start.

Local governments from New York to California have started to propose legislation that supports less consumption of sugary beverages. Such regulations include removing sugary drink options from schools, adding an extra soda tax, and requiring warning labels. (Read Padma Nagappan’s article to get an overview of previous efforts to limit consumption.)

Most recently, the city and county of San Francisco approved ordinances that would make advertisers include warning labels on qualifying drink ads, as well as prohibit brands from advertising sugary drink products on city-owned property.

In response, the American Beverage Association is suing, claiming that such ordinances violate free speech rights. No matter the argument between government and corporate America, the real question is: will such proposals and ordinances even stop the consumption of sweetened beverages? Carbonated flavored drinks have become an American staple. Can adding a warning label ultimately change American consumer habits?

While the ABA may be up in arms, government use of health labels is hardly a foreign idea; everyday we are exposed to warning labels on two of our biggest indulgences, alcohol and tobacco.

In 1988, congress passed the Alcoholic Beverage Labeling Act (ABLA). In sum, it is dictated two main notions. The first, through its passage, it became required for alcohol labels to carry the following,

“GOVERNMENT WARNING: (1) According to the Surgeon General, women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects. (2) Consumption of alcoholic beverages impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery, and may cause health problems.”

Secondly, the act also contains a declaration for such a policy, highlighting that, “the American public should be informed about the health hazards that may result from the consumption or abuse of alcoholic beverages, and it would be beneficial to provide a clear, nonconfusing reminder of such”.

Such declaration for the collective benefit of Americans is bound to be a main citation behind the passage for such labels on sugary beverages.

Similarly, health-warning labels have also been mandatory on tobacco packaging for the past 50 years. Congress required tobacco companies to place warnings on cigarette packing beginning in 1965 with the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act, and then so in print advertising in 1969 with the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act.

In January of 1964, the first Surgeon General’s report definitively linked cigarette smoking with disease. Much as it was with the declaration behind the motive for alcohol labeling, the US Public Health Service advisory committee concluded that “cigarette smoking is a health hazard of sufficient importance in the United States to warrant appropriate remedial action”.

With ample studies on the prevalence of obesity and the impact of sugar, there seems to be plausible evidence that labeling sugary drinks would be considered appropriate, if not appraisable, remedial action.

Yet despite how commendable the purpose and the policy, the ultimate question remains, will it even change buying behavior? Alcohol and tobacco have been explicitly cited for their negative health effects yet remain million dollar industries.

As advertisers we must consider both how warning labels affect the psyche of our target consumers and how such affects buying behavior. While we don’t know the specific answers to those questions quite yet, a recent study has shed some light on the current sugar-centric issue. Analyzing warning labels and their effectiveness, the study showed that labels on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) “improved parents’ understanding of health harms associated with overconsumption of such beverages and may reduce parents’ purchase of SSBs for their children”.

Improving the understanding of the harmful effects of sugar is the primary goal, but is the addition of a label enough to change purchasing decisions? This issue isn’t asking consumers to switch from, for example, using Tide to Gain, or Lysol to Clorox. For some, sugar isn’t just an ingredient; it’s a craving, an addiction.

Scientists have found that sugar is addictive and stimulates the same pleasure centers of the brain as cocaine or heroin. Just like those hard-core drugs, getting off sugar leads to withdrawal and cravings, requiring an actual detox process to wean off”.

Will seeing a label be enough to leave something on the shelf or will bodily craving simply trump all cognitive reason? Much like its tobacco predecessor, health consciousness requires a full campaign, not just a label. It has taken years for smoking to decrease among high school students and adults. It’s taken a movement of health education to instill the damages caused by tobacco, it will take the same for our sugar obsession.

Lobbying for a label is simply just one piece of a much larger and much needed PR campaign. In this case, adding a label is equivalent to having published a single press release and expecting major changes. Everyone who works with public perception knows it will take much, much more. It will take endorsements, education, and media traction across the board. The recent FDA proposal to update our current nutrition model and labels could be the needed piggyback opportunity, and one that legislators should be considering in order gain needed newsworthiness.

Overall, an effective campaign is one that will be able to impact an impressionable youth AND sway hardened adults. While lawmakers have moral grounds (in this case), bottling companies have advertising, who do you think will win?

– Savannah Valade and Caroline Robinson

Wearables: Stepping up in 2016

The blog is back! Returning from Europe (Savannah) and the novelty of a new job (Caroline), we are both excited to end our hiatus with the start of the new year. A new year of posts, insights, and tips for and from young professionals!

Of course with any new year also come the obligatory resolutions. The one at the top of your list may not be all that different from the majority of others, ours included: health and wellness. Many finished with the holiday celebrations, are back to working off those gained pounds in time for the summer months. One might notice that not only are your gym colleagues wearing new fitness apparel but also sporting new fitness gadgets. Many tech companies are taking note of the wearable craze, and those producing the gadgets are cashing in.

Most recognizable in the turf of these fitness trackers is Fitbit. Remaining the front-runner this Christmas among consumers, during the holiday, the company’s app surged 20 spots to the number one position in Apple’s App Store. The boost in downloads clearly indicated many were buying or receiving the wristbands as gifts this holiday season. Although Black Friday sales for the ‘bits’ were seemingly so-so, the momentum towards Christmas showed Fitbit’s Q3 numbers captured 22.2% of the entire fitness wearable market.

fitbit pic

Even though Fitbit may be currently dominating, there’s no shortage of devices. Other trackers such as Jawbone, the Microsoft band, Garmin’s vivo line and Polar, have saturated the wearable device market. As the fitness division continues to be eagerly received, tech companies are pressing the expansion of the wearable market as a whole. The release of highly anticipated smartwatches like the Apple Watch and the Samsung Gear S2, have propelled wearables to a new dimension – one that allows for a more integrated experience in all aspects of the consumer’s life.

smart watches

Now a wearable is not only a device that collects and stores information about personal health, but a device that allows one to more easily communicate with others, explore surrounding areas, and even live life without a wallet. The age of wearables is beginning and you can expect to see devices with more function, a wider range of capabilities, and outside of the wristwatch form.

In fact, Google’s once anticipated eyewear seems to be making a comeback as a new prototype of Google Glass surfaced on the Federal Communications Commission website this week. While only tweaks to the design can be visibly seen, such as the ability to physically fold like normal eyewear, the actual smart functions of the glasses are unforeseen. Despite not knowing the functional details, the giant’s reinvigoration of the eyewear shows health, growth, and opportunity in the market.

google eyewear

After novelty wears off it’s easy for resolutions to be kicked to the curb, however, wearables don’t seem to be phasing out anytime soon. According to a survey by the Consumer Technology Association, 74% of online American adults are likely to purchase health and fitness technology in the next 12 months. Others are already speculating how fitness monitors could completely change the landscape of healthcare coverage. Rather than once a year, what if health insurance payments fluctuated daily determined by a health sensor, asks Parmy Olson of Forbes. Yet, as we mentioned, wearables are not contained to just fitness. While much of the wearable future remains visionary right this second, as devices reach greater maturity and acceptance, APX Labs predict a six-fold growth in production in the year 2016.

If 2016 does become the year of explosion, as marketers we realize the mass amount of opportunity that would follow not only in the physical production of the devices but also within their virtual interface. As the devices and their platforms sophisticate, just as it has with any other smart medium, come the sequential fields of app production, app purchases, and in app advertisements. Wearables will surely be the next coveted outlet for ad space and a perfect channel to do so; they spend all day monitoring us, continually collecting human data – health, location, monetary, and entertainment habits. As consumers need to have the next big thing coincides with a craze that provides continuous data collection, marketers are sure to hit gold within the evolving wearable industry.

Do you own any wearable tech already? Do you find it useful? With smartphones already offering so many capabilities, do you feel as if you need anymore gadgets? Interested in other devices you can get your hands on? Check out this year’s Wearables 50 2016. Leave a comment and let us know what you think this 2016’s big trends are going to be!

– Savannah Valade & Caroline Robinson