Employers today have a significant credibility gap. According to a survey conducted by our research division KRC Research, just 19% of employees perceive a strong match between how their employer presents itself externally and what they are personally experiencing as an employee.

Closing this gap makes real business sense. The survey found those who feel a strong alignment between what their employer says and does are more likely to recommend their company as a good place to work (76% vs. 54%), encourage others to buy the company’s product or service (59% vs. 49%) and continue working for the company for at least another year (77% vs. 64%). They’re also more likely to be engaged at their job, putting in greater effort than those who don’t see alignment in the company’s values.

This isn’t just an American problem. Across the globe employees see the miss-match. Just 6% of employees in Japan think their company practices what it preaches, compared to 19% in the United Kingdom, 24% in Canada, 14% in France, 28% in Mexico and 33% in India.

What can employers do to close the gap? According to experts in our United Minds consulting division, employers should:

  • Lead with purpose internally and externally. Encourage diversity and inclusion, have a social purpose and provide employees with the tools and resources to do their job well.
  • Establish strong leadership based on credibility and trust. Respond quickly to a crisis, focus on culture, acknowledge employees and live up to the organization’s vision and values.
  • Ensure employees know the organizations values and goals. Clearly communicate a vision and keep employees informed.

Learn more about how our United Minds consultancy helps organizations manage change and increase employee engagement and see the full survey results here.

In today’s digital environment, brands interact with customers across multiple touch points, on multiple channels and along unique journeys. In fact, customers are increasingly involved in helping co-create the brand experience when they share on social media. Traditional metrics like return on investment no longer capture the variety and breadth of interactions created by today’s marketing activities. Instead, many marketers are turning to a new measure, return on experience (ROX), to better quantify the impact of their activities.

Metrics like return on investment consider revenues and costs, but don’t calculate intangibles created by storytelling, social sharing, event engagement or the multiple other touchpoints that may impact a customer’s purchasing decisions. As a result, too much attention on ROI may lead marketers to prioritize less effective tactics. How should you compare the return of a banner ad campaign to an in-store event if you don’t also calculate the opportunity for social media sharing and customer interaction?

Great customer experience not only makes customers feel appreciated, it results in tangible benefits. Customers are willing to pay an average of 16 percent more for a great experience, according to a PwC survey. And a bad experience will drive them away: nearly a third will leave after one bad experience and 59 percent after several.

A recent PwC report declared, “Experience is everything.” Return on experience helps marketers understand where and why their customers are engaging with the brand. It considers not just sales, but awareness and engagement that can benefit a brand over time. To get started, brands need to understand and map their customer journey, so they can identify and address potential experience gaps.

Increasingly, we find our clients need a customized measurement plan that ladders up to business goals and internal expectations while also demonstrating the value of today’s integrated campaigns. Measurement plans need a fresh look to make sure they effectively capture the results of all marketing activities. Metrics like ROX will help brands weigh the value of interactions with customers – as well as customers’ interactions with each other.

Although it’s not news that the newspaper industry has been shrinking, it is startling to see that decline put into context relative to the public relations industry.

Public relations jobs exceed reporting jobs by 6.4-to-1, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s more than triple the same ratio 20 years ago, when PR jobs outnumbered reporters by 1.9-to-1.

The trend is expected to continue well into the next decade: employment in PR is expected to rise by 9 percent to 282,600 by 2026 from 2016 while newspaper reporter jobs are expected to decline 9 percent to 45,900 over the same period, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

What does this trend mean for public relations?

Not surprisingly, reporters feel besieged by PR specialists. As newsroom jobs shrink, remaining reporters need to cover larger beats – which mean there are fewer reporters for PR specialists to contact. Bloomberg documents that reporters are indeed feeling overwhelmed by pitches, many of which they do not consider newsworthy or relevant to their beats.

Now, more than ever, PR specialists need to get to know the reporter before writing or calling (social media is great for that, as many journalists use Twitter and other social media to create their own personal brand), and make sure the story pitch is relevant, newsworthy and offers substantive interviews.

Shrinking newsrooms also have made PR specialists less reliant on the mainstream media. The evolution of online communications and social media has made it easier for organizations to communicate with target audiences. Organizations have gotten better at telling their own stories through articles, blogs, videos and other content published on their own websites or through social media. The most successful stories are those that are compelling, credible and authentic – and told without marketing fluff or corporate slogans. There are many ways we help clients create and then amplify the impact of these stories.

Although the PR industry has helped to fill the gap left by the shrinking news industry, the troubles of the news industry are not necessarily a boon for the PR industry. In many ways, despite their tensions, the two industries still depend on each other. Plus, our democracy depends on a free and honest press. Journalism’s pain is no gain for PR. Rather, in moving forward, it helps to feel that pain – and ensure pitches are targeted, thoughtful and newsworthy.

The Golden Age of Podcasts, i.e. when it was possible to hear almost anything you want for free, may be ending as an increasing number of top podcasts go behind the paywall.

One of the first big name programs to make the leap is David Axelrod’s Axe Files, featuring a broad selection of media, political and entertainment industry guests in deep, hour-long chats. The show will play exclusively at Luminary, a company backed with $100 million in venture capital funding and dedicated to becoming the “Netflix of podcasting.” Luminary has also pulled in some other big names in the podcasting world, including Malcolm Gladwell, Guy Raz, Leon Neyfakh (“Slow Burn”) and others. If you want to listen to these, even one of them, it’s going to cost $8/month.

It’s understandable why this day has come. Podcasts are following the seemingly inevitable path to monetization when advertising doesn’t cut it. Of course, we saw what happened to the newspaper industry when it was too slow to control access to its product.

Given the marketing dollars projected to move to podcasting in the next few years, it’s important for us as marketers to keep an eye on this.

In the latest move to deepen our integrated service capabilities, we are thrilled to announce the hiring of advertising veteran Andy Thieman as Executive Creative Director. Andy is an established creative with 20 years of experience building thoughtful, multi-platform brand campaigns for Fortune 500 consumer packaged goods and retail giants such as Target, Best Buy, General Mills and J.C. Penney.

“We’re thrilled Andy is on board to lead our creative strategy practice and build a team to support the firm’s clients in Minnesota and offices across our global network,” said Lorenz Esguerra, General Manager, Weber Shandwick Minneapolis. “Andy will lead our team in bringing forth engaging campaigns and compelling, innovative marketing strategies to our clients.”  

In 2018, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal named Andy to its 40 under 40 list, and in 2013, he founded the Minneapolis Egotist, an advertising blog now recognized as one of the most influential in the Midwest. In 2011, following his own cancer diagnosis, Andy founded a nonprofit rooted in cycling that focuses on demystifying testicular cancer –philanthropic work that he continues today.

More than 80 percent of physicians hear about new technology and advances from colleagues, according to a survey by Wolters Kluwer Health. Brands wanting to engage in these peer-to-peer conversations are increasingly establishing relationships with COLs, or connected opinion leaders – the social media savvy physicians who have a strong following among their peers.

While consumer brands regularly partner with influencers, the medical industry has been slower to engage with physicians online. Medical influencers must follow not just FTC advertising rules, but also those set by the FDA. Medical companies are more likely to engage key opinion leaders (KOLs) through more traditional activities like serving on advisory boards or speaking on behalf of a company at industry events.  

COLs present a new opportunity for health and medical companies, because they are more likely to be early adopters in their practices and actively engage in social networks and physician discussion groups.

A 2018 survey by Kantar Media found 17 percent of physicians say they are the most influential person in their practice in purchasing decisions. These opinion-leading docs are using new technologies such as telemedicine and web-connected monitoring tools for their patients, participating in online medical discussion groups and using professional social networks like Sermo and Doximity, according to the survey.

How can you identify these connected doctors? Influential physicians typically see at least 100 patients a week, work in an office-based practice, write a blog and speak at a medical meeting, according to the survey. Most are age 45 or older. COLs are more likely than their peers to participate in industry dinner meetings, meet with sales reps, view promotional videos, read printed or emailed newsletters and read print medical journals.

Our Weber Shandwick team has helped health and medical companies across industry segments reach physician audiences. We’ve found a mix of traditional tactics – like medical meeting participation, media outreach, email or events – and digital tactics is often needed to reach busy physicians. COLs are an increasingly valuable partner, especially as the next generation of physicians spends as much time on Twitter or Sermo as they do at conferences.

This year Weber Shandwick brought back No Boundariesa program that provides a stipend and five extra PTO days to employees to pursue a personally and professionally enriching experience. Katherine Hauser, a member of Minneapolis’ strategy team, was selected for the program. Here is a recap of her experience in her own words:

When applying for the program, I wanted to find something that would feed my brain and soul by combining two of my favorite things: international travel and structured learning (sign me up for a lecture on any topic, any day and I’ll be a happy camper).

I applied to attend a strategic thinking course put on by APG, the authoritative resource for planning and strategy, in London. Needless to say I was beyond thrilled when selected. This workshop, designed specifically for junior to mid-level planners, was the ideal complement to the mentorship and training available at Weber, and an opportunity to network and learn with fellow emerging planners. In addition to the course, I set out to explore as much of London as I could.

I came back from my experience armed with a dozen organizational tools and models to focus inputs and sharpen outputs. However, my No Boundaries adventure also taught me so much more – here’s my top three learnings:

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This year, the Weber Shandwick Minneapolis pro bono program was focused on supporting nonprofits in Minnesota working at the core of civility – organizations who promote youth education and development, leadership development, cross-cultural understanding, and diversity and equity, to name a few examples. When we heard the mission of our 2018 pro bono client, AMAZEworks, we knew they were a perfect match for our program.

AMAZEworks has operated within the educational system for more than 20 years, providing training and classroom tools to combat the development of unconscious bias. The organization’s research-based programs are intended for early childhood, elementary and middle school classrooms, and empower educators to create a safe and welcoming space for students to engage with their peers. In a world where unconscious bias is all too common, this curriculum is critically important – now more than ever.

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