Originally posted on the Holmes Report.
Creating multiple opportunities for guests to get on their social media feeds and talk about you organically is key to engagement. Continue Reading →
Originally posted on Forbes.com.
Trends are a little like epidemics. They happen only when large numbers of people are in close contact and things are changing fast—the way they are now. As major upheavals like the Brexit vote and the U.S. election hurtle us all toward a 2017 that could define 2016 as the year of “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet,” we will see several trends that serve as the catalysts of or the commentary on the unintended consequences of major events. Continue Reading →
Originally posted on D&AD.
Following the introduction of the new D&AD Professional Awards category for PR, Marian Salzman, CEO of Havas PR, offers some award-winning creative PR examples and tips. She explains why, in the ever-changing landscape of creative communications, PR matters. Continue Reading →
Originally posted on Forbes.com.
Now that everyone is a trendspotter, marketers also need to know that reviewing past sightings and predictions is an important part of the job. It’s not just to pat ourselves on the trends we called right or to cringe at sightings that failed to materialize. With that in mind, I reviewed my sightings from 2006, how they compared to the landscape in 1996 and what I saw for the future. Many of them have since evolved beyond what anyone could have predicted. Continue Reading →
Originally posted on Forbes.com.
In today’s world, citizens are plagued by the all-too-constant soundtrack of terrorism worries, mass shootings, and race and gender relations. This “age of the fearful consumer” has created a paradox, according to a new U.S. study (fielded by my parent company, Havas Worldwide): While people are looking to businesses to help solve society’s problems, they’re also fretting over the fact that corporations have more power than some countries.
[Originally posted by the National Retail Federation.]
Can I tell you a secret?
There are no secrets. Not anymore. We’re living in a time when, within four years, Snapchat went from a private, self-detonating sexting/texting app to the latest platform for brands and influencers to engage their followings and followers.
[Originally posted on PRWeek.com.]
Everybody in PR today is so preoccupied with social media strategy and digital platforms that it borders on the obsessive. At Havas PR North America, we get close to the core of what PR is all about through newscrafting—surveying the landscape and identifying microtargets that spell growth for the brands we shepherd.
[Originally posted on Forbes.com.]
After a long, hard winter, we’re all especially looking forward to Memorial Day this weekend. Let’s face it: For many people today, Memorial Day is a holiday because it’s the official start of summer. It is its own reason to celebrate, and lots of Americans do, even without thinking about the holiday’s origins.
Continue Reading →
PR News’ new Agency A-List Awards showcase the top PR agencies in the United States by practice area, and we have been named a finalist in three areas: Cause/CSR (earlier this year we were also honored, for the second year in a row, with one of 10 spots on PR News’ CSR A-List), Training/Education Program (for the four-module e-learning program we launched Havas-wide that draws on the impact of trends in the media and among brands and consumer demography, offering concrete tools and lessons) and Agency Awe Professional (that’s for our multi-award-winning CEO, Marian Salzman).
[Originally posted on Forbes.com.]
I recently got a humorous pitch from a real estate agent in New Hampshire, where, he wrote in his email, “there is a theme-branding wave that is part capricious, part serious business.” At first his proposal made me giggle, but then I saw how it reflects the ways in which personal branding is growing into community branding and vice versa.
People have long considered where they live to be a central part of their identities and personal brands. Being based in New York City sends a different message from being based in Connecticut, and both tell a vastly different story from having chucked it all to live on a ranch in Montana. States are part of our narratives.
The libertarian-leaning “Live Free or Die” state seems particularly suited to this phenomenon. Its population is small, its political persuasion clearly contrarian and its living conditions harsh. The realtor who pitched me, Mark Warden, had figured out how to take “Brand New Hampshire” to an extreme that, in turn, helped him build his own brand as a property broker and political candidate.
His Free State Project, he told me, has inspired more than 1,000 “liberty activists,” in his words, to move to New Hampshire. The project’s motto is “Liberty in Our Lifetime,” and its concept is to concentrate a large number of libertarian-leaning folks in a place where they can reduce the size and scope of government and improve individual freedom.
Here’s where it gets funny: The FSP mascot is the porcupine—“certainly cute and non-aggressive, but you don’t want to step on them!” says the group’s website—which points out how personal branding can require an occasional willingness to sacrifice some dignity in order to create a memorable identity. The project has spawned an array of branded events, including an annual festival that draws nearly 1,000 people from across the country, the Porcupine Freedom Festival (PorcFest for short). It’s held in a private campground, and Warden calls it “Burning Man meets FreedomFest.”
Warden built his real estate business model around this same branding and focuses his marketing on New Hampshire transplants who are drawn to the state for its ideology, telling “liberty-minded activists” that he speaks their language and understands their needs.
He’s not the first to have adopted the state’s politically oriented branding and the FSP’s particular strain of it for his own personal brand: Porc Manor is a website that caters to landlords and renters of libertarian persuasion, and Porc Therapy is a New Hampshire–produced live radio show and podcast that offers “pro-freedom relationship talk” and focuses on “happiness and freedom” and “explores an eclectic mix of topics, all of which fall under the umbrella of ways that we can all free our minds and attain more liberty in our lives.”
Using the mascot to such an extent might be borderline silly, but nonetheless it seems to be working for these porcupreneurs. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) And it’s yet another clear illustration about how branding is everything and everything is branding these days.
[Originally posted on Forbes.com.]
To a certain extent—in this age of marketing ourselves, finding our niches and explaining how our distinctive personal backstories make for unique selling propositions—all our names are brand names. But some have gone above and way beyond.
That’s especially true in the world of fashion, where some of the most iconic brands have long outlived their namesake founders, even though their current creative directors are fashion celebrities in their own right. Think of Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel, Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton or Alexander Wang for Balenciaga. The creative directors come and go, but the brands have truly transcended time and genre to become household names around the world.
Some modern-day designers are doing the same thing, building brand identities around their names and personalities (or personas), which stand for much more than slim-cut suits or universally flattering wrap dresses (no offense to Hedi Slimane or Diane von Furstenberg).
I’m thinking about Ralph Lauren, whose name (which actually isn’t his given name) is synonymous with a wholesome, all-American New England preppy chic. Or Donna Karan, who stands for ethical consumption and ageless style. Or Tommy Hilfiger, who conjures up a kind of freewheeling, multiculti gathering, a super-inclusive extended family we all wish were part of. Even when their founders leave the business, these brands will continue to stand for the same thing.
And Kenneth Cole has proven to be a genius at defining himself by making a stand. Instead of being known for selling mid-range shoes, he has taken risks and become a voice of consciousness. An article in Success celebrated the designer by looking at the “connection between … success and the journey it took to get there. Kenneth Cole has made that journey, as an entrepreneur, as a designer and as a man with a message.”
As he wrote in his 2003 book, Footnotes: What You Stand for Is More Important Than What You Stand In, “It’s great to be known for your shoes, better to be known for your sole.” He’s the primary writer and director for his company’s ad campaigns, raising awareness and funds for many causes. He launched his first ads asking people to support AIDS research in the 1980s, when the topic was still fairly taboo. It raised eyebrows as well as support. This year, he took on political campaigns.
Cole has won awards for his humanitarian work, but the social dimension has also proven to be terrific marketing that differentiates him in a crowded marketplace. One of his taglines went something like this: “You can change your outfit, or you can outfit change, or both.” It’s a formula that has resonated with consumers and led him to great achievements, even if he’s not always following a formula. As he was quoted in the Success article, “There are no hard and fast rules. That’s part of being a successful entrepreneur—the ability to not be married to a specific path.”
In a much less wholesome, but no less impressive, vein is Dita Von Teese, the burlesque performer (and former Mrs. Marilyn Manson) turned brand mogul who was recently interviewed in a glowing New York Times profile. “I’m a magician,” she told her interviewer. “I make you see something that wasn’t there before. [That’s] the very definition of power and glamour.”
Little wonder that this latter-day pinup girl has a capsule fashion line with the Australian retailer Lime Door. The collection is the fabric version of Von Teese herself: curvy yet covered up, slightly retro, and glammed up with silk and tulle details. It follows on the heels of her forays into fragrance, cosmetics, lingerie and seamed hosiery that, says the Times, “are expected to cement her status as a purveyor of genteel kink,” a move that seems plausible given the success of Fifty Shades of Grey and the mainstreaming of “deviant” culture.
Evolving with part of that new cultural group is the doyenne of domesticity, Martha Stewart, profiled in another recent New York Times article that emphasized all her new young, tattooed fans. The article’s best quote came from her namesake magazine’s editor in chief, describing the current readership as “the intersection between Colonial Williamsburg and Williamsburg, Brooklyn.”
She has done that partly by taking her original brand identity and importing it to new media. Even amid questions about her management acumen, her personal brand is on the upswing. Her company’s primary website, MarthaStewart.com, has seen a 40 percent increase among visitors between ages 18 and 34 every month since January. The number of women watching her videos has increased 172 percent, and the group who views her content on a smartphone grew 168.3 percent in the past six months. Stewart herself is embracing this new audience, sponsoring events that draw a younger demographic of crafter-entrepreneurs.
Ironically, it seems that her stint in prison after a 2004 conviction seems to have only enhanced her cred with this new generation. A young Brooklyn fan was quoted in the article as saying, “She’s such a Suzy homemaker and also did some time in the joint. That has helped cement her iconic image. Before, she was someone your mother would follow.”
Like Kenneth Cole, she understands that part of turning your name into a brand is letting it evolve with the times.
[photo: creativecommons.org/PHOTO BOOTH]
[Originally published on the blog of the Council of Public Relations Firms.]
Great trendspotting creates great consumer marketing campaigns, terrific innovative new products and savvy newscrafting. I know: The most famous brands in the world have hired me over and over for my trendspotting methodology, ensuring that their multimillion-dollar (sometimes billion-dollar) ideas, products or services are edgy, relevant, newsworthy and ahead of their time. My methodology? It can best be described as pattern recognition with a nosy flair.
From the beginning of my career (can it really be more than 25 years ago?), I plunged in headfirst, talking face to face with trendsetters and recruiting them to work alongside the brands we consulted with, to provide upfront and personal feedback. I married what we learned from these dialogue-interviews with routine quantitative studies, always searching for numbers that popped from the datasets, to help start to paint a story of new directions in consumer attitudes, beliefs, values, and brand and media preferences. Then and now, it is about identifying when and where to anticipate change—and to invent desire.
For 2013, we’ll see a lot of change, and I and my team at Havas PR have chronicled more than 150 trends we’re predicting in our latest annual trends report, What’s Next? What to Expect in 2013. It launches today, 12/12/12, at 120MBooks.com (the site of our agency’s brand-new publishing arm).
In launching a savvy, sassy must-have e-book of artful scientific (and even trendy) trends in electronic formats only, my goal is to provide a roadmap of what to expect in 30 newsworthy categories. (Another trend: Content is king, but print dropped dead and most of us have not been on shivah calls to the paper industry.) The most fundamental truth of what’s next (besides death and taxes and extreme weather; don’t miss the chapter “What’s Next for Weather?” since we all suffer from weather fatigue … or the “What’s Next for Fatigue?” chapter, for that matter) is unprecedented change. Those who stay ahead or on top of these changes and can surf them and communicate them to a broader group (think the consuming public) will be the winners within their industries and the world at large.
When businesses can spot what’s next—and predict the velocity of future shifts—new giants spring up seemingly out of nowhere. Martha Stewart spun the domestic-artist trend into a brand that encompasses publishing, product development, home building, television and multimedia. The Kardashians have profited from the Famous for Being Famous trend. Lady Gaga appeals to young people’s desire for individuality, but her real trendsetting is codified in her Born This Way Foundation, a nonprofit focused on youth empowerment. Gaga is empowerment—she captured and customized this trend and rode its wave, very much the way her role model, Madonna, captured and customized trends and rode them to perfection. The rest of us envy what they seem to have in their DNA, a genuine “knowing.” The late, great Steve Jobs had it, too. But most of us must learn how to spot trends and use them to our advantage, the ultimate offense for thriving in the face of change.
My own trendspotting of the now ubiquitous “metrosexual” concept (aka “men who are just gay enough”) launched not only the 2003 Word of the Year of the American Dialect Society but also everything from grooming products for straight men to mankinis and designer lingerie for men. (Then: Pop culture made the occasional male butler famous—take Mr. French of “Family Affair.” Now: Male caregivers have become increasingly more visible since we entered a multiple-year mancession.)
My style of trendspotting is more grounded in the academics of the social sciences and incorporates how to generate ideas that make consumer marketplaces and marketspaces and partner with mass media to spread them. Because trendspotting is both observational (participant/observer, ethnographic) and active, a trendspotter needs an audience to validate and spread the trend, which happens when an idea is fundamentally sound or the trendspotter’s track record inspires confidence that there must be something to the sighting, no matter how wacky it sounds at first. (I remember presenting the concept of “the prime crisis” in 2008, including a white paper on its implications, and being told, “We’ll see” and “I hope you’re wrong,” right up until The New York Times wrote that JPMorgan Chase was suspending all home equity lines of credit for homes purchased after 2001. Suddenly my “insane” trend was an everyday reality for me and many others.)
Today, trendspotting has evolved to the newscrafting passion du jour and the force that drives most of us some of the time. First you identify a trend, watch it and codify your observation with some granular insights that make it more real. Then you name it (the sexier the name, the easier it is to spread the idea) and work with influencers (those who seem to broker power in the working world and online) and the media to validate it by featuring it in prime-time news. Getting the word out ensures that there is a commercial demand to participate in moving the concept from early adopter to mainstream.
Always think, How do I spell ka-ching, or at least develop the possibility of some nice financial reward, if I (you) spot the right change and figure out how to take it or make it public and exploitable?
For a special tutorial on what’s next, we’ve arranged for our new book to be free by invitation today only. I encourage you and your staff to go to 120MBooks.com and click on Buy Now, which will direct you to Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and other eBook stores, where you can download this 132-page roadmap of what’s now and next.