Pulling Back the Curtain on GPA, Its Victories and How It Helps Deliver for Our Clients

If you’re unfamiliar with the acronym “GPA,” you’re not alone. While its scope is one of the largest at R&R Partners, with nine different offices in six states and in Washington, D.C., the government and public affairs (GPA) department is probably the least familiar to our fellow employees, let alone the people and communities we serve.

Our most common activity is building relationships and speaking directly with elected officials and key community leaders at every level on behalf of our clients. Unlike many firms, R&R has clients of just about every size, industry and need. Here in Nevada, we routinely work with city council members, mayors, county commissioners, federal and state legislators, and governors on issues big and small. Our clients include well-known names like Microsoft, Herbalife, the Cleveland Clinic and American Medical Response. All have tremendous impact on our communities.

But access to decision makers is an increasingly small part of success in this arena. Modern political “lobbying” and relationship building is a far cry from the smoke-filled rooms of a century ago. Today, our best weapon is education. Term limits, a high-intensity news cycle and a younger generation of politicians means we need to know our issues like energy, the environment and economic development better than anyone. This expertise is put to use persuading decision makers to adopt the best policies possible.

So now that you’re more familiar with what we do, you may be wondering what success looks like in GPA. Here are some examples of recent successes here at R&R:

Competing against nearly every other state, many with highly successful economic development programs, our Nevada GPA team helped broker a deal to locate Faraday Future’s (billion-dollar electric car company) first U.S. factory here in Southern Nevada. This project alone could bring 4,500 new jobs to the area.

Our Denver GPA team helped create an innovative program that will be a model for Colorado School Districts. Colorado State University will locate a new administration building on property owned by the Aurora Public Schools. Instead of a traditional lease, this program will allow CSU to pay the school system in tuition credits, allowing the Aurora superintendent to provide four-year scholarships to potentially 200 public school students. Many of these students will be the first in their families to attend college and otherwise be without the means to afford higher education.

More than 60,000 refugees currently reside in Salt Lake County. This extraordinary demographic transformation provided an opportunity for our Utah GPA team to work with our client, the Partnership for a New American Economy, to engage local leaders and community members to build a more welcoming community that helps maximize the contributions of these new Americans.

In Nevada, our GPA team also authored and fought to pass landmark anti-bullying in schools legislation, helping protect the most vulnerable among us. The amount of money we helped get dedicated toward the general fund for anti-bullying efforts – specifically, in creating the Office of Safe and Respectful Learning within the Nevada Department of Education – helped secure $16 million in funding for schools to contract with social workers to address the problem. Officials say the program will be in 140 schools in the first year and 280 in the second year.

While often the least publicized successes of our agency, the work of our GPA team often has the most direct and widespread impact on many of our lives, and that’s a very visible thing in the communities in which we work, learn and live our lives.

 

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The R&R Partners Intern Experience

Going into an internship, you never know what to expect. You wonder if you’re going to be fetching donuts and coffee, doing busy work, or if you’ll actually gain valuable knowledge from the whole thing. Coming out of college, I had experienced a variety of internships − all of which left me feeling almost just as unsure of what I wanted to do as before I started them. If any of you can relate, then you know that the feeling of uncertainty is pretty terrifying as a recent grad.

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Luckily, I’m happy to say that R&R Partners has put my previous internships to shame, and my supervisor and mentor was ready to put me to work in helping her with both internal and external communications. While I was quite overwhelmed at first with all the new and intimidating tasks, I quickly got in the groove of my new position as an operations intern. At R&R, I particularly enjoyed my time as an intern because it was vastly different from my past internships in a few ways:

  • I was given responsibility in helping with real projects.
  • I felt that I was able to contribute to the company.
  • I was included in meetings and felt more involved.
  • I came out of the internship able to say that I’ve truly learned a lot.
  • I felt a sense of “this is where I want to be.”

One of my favorite learning aspects of the program was that interns from all offices had a chance to sit down as a group and learn more about the brand, creative, media and engagement departments. This helped us to really gauge how the different components of the agency work in sync to create a whole. If we were specifically interested in one particular area after learning about it, we were given the chance to shadow someone from that department to see if it’s something we want to pursue. Additionally, our chief strategic officer and principal took time to sit down with us and go over our agency’s most successful campaigns, why they worked and the strategy behind them.

Within only two months at R&R, I not only learned to develop my writing skills, but I also got a taste of the different departments, how they all work together and what the “one agency” concept really means. “One agency” is a mantra heard throughout the agency that emphasizes that, despite having nine offices across the U.S. and Mexico, we work together as one, and our culture comes together to create one big family – and this concept was brought to familiarity as all the interns worked together on our summer projects. As one of the summer interns put it:

Blockquote_revised-02“My main goal this summer as an R&R intern was to gain diverse, real-world and hands-on experience. The intern program helped me achieve this goal,” says Dominique Glass, Project Management intern. “From hour-long presentations from various departments to working with other interns to solve a company problem, R&R’s new intern program gave me structure to learn and challenge myself. I have learned how to be a team player, manage my time and learn how a firm operates. Going back to school this semester, I feel that I will succeed beyond measure in all group projects and will think more outside of the box. Thank you, R&R, for giving me the tools and freedom to flourish on through the next step of my career.”

The first project of this summer’s internship program involved working in groups with other R&R interns possessing different skill sets and working in other locations to solve a real business problem for R&R. Then, we presented our plans to agency leadership. The chance to make a name for yourself and receive face time from executives as an intern is rare in most internship programs, so I jumped on the opportunity to do so. We gathered feedback from employees across a variety of departments, and we were able to tailor our solutions according to real data.

The second project of the program was also an assignment for the interns across eight R&R offices in the U.S. to work together to educate the agency on how to market to Millennials. While it was challenging to meet across the geographical difference and throughout time zones, it was a great experience to interact with each and every intern. Working with a lot of different people, I learned about myself, my role and how I function with others.Icons-infograph-04Overall, my intern experience was one for the books. The fact that R&R Partners is an independent agency was crucial in leading me to my current position. It allowed me invaluable face time with our team partners and leadership, and now I’m part of the R&R family. I’m excited to see the next iteration of the intern program implemented with our next round of interns, but mostly I’m excited to watch their presentations this time as an official R&R employee. ;)

Cheers!

 

 

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Not An Ordinary Conference: The 2016 Women’s Leadership Conference Inspires Our Leaders

I’ve attended conferences across the globe, including an education industry show in London and an energy-efficiency segment event in Kuala Lumpur. In past roles, I’ve even had the opportunity to speak at several—two highlights being at the World Energy Efficiency Congress in Abu Dhabi and at regional conference in Thailand. As a veteran to keynotes, breakout sessions, inspirational speakers, and the art of conference lanyard collection, I feel like I have experienced it all.

And I was wrong. Attending a leadership conference specifically geared to the inspiration, celebration and development of women was a new experience. Celebrating its 10th year and hosted by the MGM Resorts Foundation, this week’s Women’s Leadership Conference (WLC2016) in Las Vegas was a dynamic event with a full agenda for its sold-out crowd of 1,000 women (and a few men). I could wax poetically about the powerful lineup of amazing women, like Phyllis A. James (MGM Resort International’s chief diversity officer), who left me with this thought—that “women have multiple glass ceilings, yet each of us has a hammer.” Yet, I thought I’d rely on the experiences of my talented colleagues who also attended WLC2016, all of whom were invited guests of the R&R Foundation, a proud WLC2016 sponsor.

“The big theme I took away was leaning in to fears,” says Julie Teasley, director of operations. Several speakers directly mentioned the ideology that Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg made famous in a TED Talk, and others emphasized that instead of waiting to be recognized, women should move forward to success. Donna Brazile, a favorite of attendees who made an impact on several of us, quipped, “Why are you still waiting to be asked to lead? Why not you? There is no one better.”

Donna is a veteran democratic political strategist and most recently named interim chair of the DNC. Her hilarious sense of humor and words of wisdom also resonated with Yanick Dalhouse, account director from R&R Resources+ in Washington, D.C. She recalls Donna saying, “We don’t have to check the boxes that others give us; we can check our own.” And this author giggled along with the entire room to this Donna-ism: “I’ve always told the men I’ve worked with … when I come through the door, I’m not asking you to leave. I’m just saying scoot over!”

R&R’s Chantel Perreault, operations supervisor, recalls several speakers talking about focusing on the important priorities, and breakout speaker Judi Holler added that the master of all fears is the fear that one will succeed. Judi, a former improv comedian at Chicago’s famous Second City, had a quote that resonated with Chantel: “Make fear your homeboy.”

Something that resonated with Joan Jungblut, corporate media director, from several of the speakers, was best articulated by Donna Brazile: “No matter how you got in the room, bring others with you,” which is to say seize the opportunities that arise for you, as well as create opportunities for others to rise. Another point that was covered in sessions by both Dr. Lalia Rach and Eric Boles was that mediocrity is contagious. Joan says, “It’s easy and ‘safe’ to be average, and so we don’t set goals high enough. We have to set high expectations for ourselves and our teams so we rise to those expectations.”

“Overall, I came away with mixed emotions: on the one hand, we’ve come so far,” shares Sara Macfarlane, director of insight. “But on the other, you could see how even among some of the monumental women on stage, we continue to struggle with the duality of being a professional woman and that we continue to limit ourselves.” Karyn Hearn-Phillips, project supervisor, recalls Judi Holler’s “There are no mistakes, only gifts,” and this advice that sums up the elegance and professionalism that we all hope to be, shared by Donna Brazile: “Be a woman of grace, valor and tenacity.”

Lindsey Patterson, media director, recalled this additional Donna gem that I will leave you with: “Relationships matter. Even when you have staunchly different views, it’s important to play nicely.” With such an outstanding leadership conference under our belts, and with the wisdom by such incredible leaders at our fingertips, we are inspired. And I hope this recap and the learnings of several women leaders at R&R Partners serve to inspire you, as well.

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“Sorry” Goes Miles for a Brand in Crisis

There are actually three things that are certainties in life: death, taxes and computer malfunctions. Delta Air Lines had a harsh dose of technology reality in the middle of the night on Monday, August 8, when a computer outage grounded all of the airline’s flights. Many passengers were already on board their planes; others settled in for the night in airports.

We’ve all seen how badly this can turn out for a brand – whether the problem is your company’s fault or not, people are angry, plans are disrupted, and everyone affected wants someone to blame. Social media channels are instantly flooded with pictures and videos of all the misery. In the midst of all the chaos, never forget that most of your customers want one simple thing – a heartfelt apology. Not excuses, not empty promises – just “I know this is a terrible inconvenience, and I’m truly sorry.”

Understandably, in some cases apologies can be tricky, with lawyers waiting to pounce with class action suits at any admission of guilt or responsibility. In Delta’s case, this was a nonissue. By mid-morning, headlines had begun to turn from NBC News’ “Delta Cancels 400+ Flights” to CNN’s “Pizza, Beer Ease the Delta Pain.” The airline had reacted quickly and thoughtfully, bringing food on board for passengers, and offering food to those stranded in airports as well.

By midday, Delta had released a video of CEO Ed Bastian standing in the Delta operations and customer center. He looked straight into the camera, apologized to customers for the inconvenience several times, offered systemwide waivers for passengers, and thanked his team for the hard work they were doing to rectify the situation. It was brief, genuine and perfect.

Other than being prepared in advance for a crisis of this magnitude, the number one rule is to respond quickly and sincerely. When thousands are inconvenienced due to your product’s deficiency, with weddings delayed and vacations deferred, we want to know you feel our pain, and we want it to be the top executive looking as miserable as we are.

Hats off to Delta for a crisis communications job well done.

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Diversity as a Part of CSR Efforts: Key Takeaways from the Harvard Business Review

In the July-August 2016 issue of the Harvard Business Review, authors of three articles tackle the topic of diversity in the workplace. Find our Key Takeaways and Top Five Do’s to integrate with or update the diversity pillar of your business’ current Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts.

Key Takeaways

An abundant number of studies have shown that “a diverse workforce measurably improves decision-making, problem-solving, creativity, innovation and flexibility” (Burrell, 2016). Given the large resources dedicated toward diversity programs, organizations seem to be embracing these findings.

However, many companies have been using approaches developed in the 1960s, and are failing to measure whether or not those diversity programs work. Unfortunately, findings by researchers dedicated to measuring the effectiveness of diversity programs indicate certain approaches are not only not working (“[diversity training programs] largely don’t change attitudes, let alone behavior” (Bohnet, 2016), but are working against the very outcomes sought.

For example, mandatory diversity training programs are even associated with backlash, i.e. activation of bias. With the failure of diversity programs to produce desired results, the following should be of no surprise: “Black men have barely gained ground in corporate management since 1985. White women haven’t progressed since 2000. It isn’t that there aren’t enough educated women and minorities out there—both groups have made huge educations gains over the past two generations” (Dobbin, 2016).

In order to address lackluster approaches, companies should seek out diversity programs that researchers have found to be most effective in positively impacting workforce diversity. “Interventions such as targeted college recruitment, mentoring programs, self-managed teams and task forces have boosted diversity in business” (Dobbin, 2016). Designing your organization’s processes to avoid biased decision-making in the first place will also lead to better outcomes. These methods, and other “do’s” below as culled from the HBR authors’ insights, can help your organization make strides toward a diverse workforce.

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Top Five Dos
  1. Collect and study your organization’s diversity-related data. This will allow you to make informed decisions about the areas where you need improvement.
  2. Define success for and measure the impact of your diversity program(s). Rigor in this area should match that of any other.
  3. Ease up on the control tactics on your managers. It’s more effective to engage managers in solving the problem, increase their on-the-job contact with female and minority workers, and promote social accountability—the desire to look fair-minded (Dobbin, 2016).
  4. Re-design your processes to prevent biased choices in the first place, an approach known as choice architecture. For example, use structured interviews where every candidate is given the same question and strike self-evaluations from performance appraisals (which tend to benefit certain demographic groups). Behavioral design can be effective in mitigating bias.
  5. Challenge perceptions of merit. If those making the hiring, promoting and compensation decisions in an organization fail to understand the research tying good fortune to good success, it can have negative implications for underrepresented demographic groups.

References

Bohnet, I. (2016, July-August). Designing a Bias-Free Organization. 63-67. (G. Morse, Interviewer) Harvard Business Review.

Burrell, L. (2016, July-August). We Just Can’t Handle Diversity: A Research Roundup. Harvard Business Review, pp. 71-74.

Dobbin, F. (2016, July-August). Why Diversity Programs Fail And What Works Better. Harvard Business Review, pp. 53-60.

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4 BIG TAKEAWAYS FROM THE DENVER DIGITAL SUMMIT

The digital landscape is always evolving and R&R Partners is dedicated to ensuring its clients are on the forefront of those innovations. Recently, several members from the Denver digital team had the fortune of attending the annual Denver Digital Summit. Jessica Hunt, Katie Fisher, Erin Mowry, Kellie Starr and Brian Kelley attended the two-day summit in downtown Denver to hear about the latest trends in digital and to stay on top of the various categories within the industry. This year’s sessions focused heavily on SEO (mobile first!), Snapchat, the importance of video in social media, content marketing and customer experience. The five of us often split up into different sessions to ensure we were getting exposure to every relevant topic. Later in the evenings, we rubbed elbows and clinked glasses with some of Denver’s digital finest. We’re excited to continue investing in the capabilities of our people and are confident that many of our learnings from this opportunity will help us to keep on #winning in digital for our clients!

Below are Kellie Starr and Brian Kelley’s four key takeaways from the summit:

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R&R at Project El Crucero in Nicaragua

This past week, I had the pleasure of joining Sean Tonner and Bruce Wilcox on their annual trip to Nicaragua. As first-timers to the Nicaragua “Project El Crucero” service trip, my daughter Olivia and I didn’t know what to expect. Project El Crucero is a recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit, volunteer-led organization and has been operating the Susie Syke Medical Clinic in El Crucero, Nicaragua, for over six years. The clinic’s team has treated thousands of patients and provided thousands of meals to the hungry children. It operates four days per week with medical, dental and feeding programs. The total cost to operate the clinic is less than $3,500 per month, with nearly every dollar spent on serving the community.

IMG_9455I can truly say it exceeded our expectations and my fears were quickly put to ease. To see the beautiful children and their families in the small, impoverished community of El Crucero truly took our breath away and brought us to tears. They have so little, yet are so happy and grateful. What an unforgettable lesson in gratitude and the importance of serving others. Seeing the excitement on the children’s faces when we arrived was so powerful. To see the young men so eager to work and the obvious pride they took in their workmanship was inspiring. And on a personal note, seeing the joy on my daughter’s face as she bonded with the children filled my heart with love and a renewed perspective of what really matters.

It was so astonishing and moving to see what a huge impact this group was able to make in five short days. The accomplishments of the group varied during our time there: we moved tons of rock and gravel to repave the property and the driveway; fixed the swing set for the kids; built a wall around the outside door of the clinic for weather protection; reinforced the water tower; and mounted a basketball hoop. Our volunteers conducted the meal program for the children—which is the best meal they will have all week—and delivered 22 food baskets to a few families in need in the surrounding neighborhoods. Additionally, we created art out of old window panes; repaired the leaking roof; conducted English, as a second language, classes for the kids; painted the walls; fixed the clinic signs; repaired the septic line; and repaired leaking window seals.

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Even with the above jobs, we endlessly played with the sweet children of El Crucero, which brought delight to them and the teenagers on the trip; and most importantly, we treated several hundred patients who otherwise would have no access to health care. Bruce Wilcox, R&R’s VP of technology, has been on the annual trip four years in a row, and he says, “The reason I keep going is for perspective. Even my worst day is multitudes better than their best days, yet I always come back, gaining more than I’ve given.”

I can’t say enough about the Project El Crucero Foundation, headed by Jamie and Sara Hendren and my R&R Partners colleague Sean Tonner and his wife Laura. What an incredible and inspirational group of people! They truly believe in serving others, and that was so evident in working with them and their children. There were 33 of us in the group. The majority of the group was from Denver and have been on this trip together many times. Olivia and I were two of the few rookies. From the beginning, the families welcomed us to their tight-knit group and made us feel part of the family. I was so appreciative of that kindness.

“Project El Crucero and its clinic are a beacon of light for the community,” shares Sean, who is the president of R&R Partners Denver. “I, and the many R&R employees who have traveled to El Crucero over the years, have witnessed firsthand what a difference it is making every day for some of the most needy people in the Western Hemisphere, as The Beatles famous sang, “the more you give the more your get.” I always come away from El Crucero with the soul bucket a little fuller.”

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Even though my work at R&R brings me close to many nonprofit organizations with cause marketing campaigns, it was very rewarding to work directly within the community. For those of you who have considered taking a trip such as this one, I highly recommend it.  It is an experience that will affect you in ways you never can imagine. And you will have lifetime memories of service, joy, love and gratitude.

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Just Because We Can, Doesn’t Mean We Should: The Internet of Things and Its Impact on Advertising

About 20 years ago, Edward Tenner wrote a prophetic book, Why Things Bite Back: The Revenge of Unintended Consequences, in which he identified the “revenge effects” that result from some of the technology advances that have defined our improvement-obsessed society. Things like superbugs emerging from antibiotics, carpal tunnel/back pain from computer usage, and crop control that actually attracts pest populations rather than eradicating them.

It’s a case study of Murphy’s law. So as we continue to live in the exciting world of the Internet of Things (IoT), the question of revenge effects looms large. It’s the “Jurassic Park” conundrum of “can” or “should.”

IoT is both the chaotic bleeding edge of technology and the absolutely certain path of how we will conduct business and commerce in our connected future.

According to a recent Forrester study:

(IoT) solutions help companies bridge the physical and digital worlds, ingesting information and context through sensors from the physical world into the digital and taking actions in the physical world via actuators based on digital insights.”

What that means in plain English is that virtually every interaction you’ll have with a product, service or piece of technology will eventually be tracked by sensors and transformed into data on the cloud. The data then will be harvested by companies, service providers, marketers, insurance companies and government agencies who will slice and dice it into the products, services and information your profile says you want and need.

To be clear, IoT is not something in our far, far off future. Adoption is happening at a blistering pace, right now. Market research company Gartner estimates that “6.4 billion connected gadgets will be in use worldwide by the end of (2015), rising to almost 21 billion by 2020. Roughly 5.5 million devices are hooked up to the Internet of Things every day.” The New York Times recently reported that within a year of starting its operations, “Microsoft cloud handles a trillion sensor messages a week.”

Let that sink in for a minute. Then multiply that number by the immense server capacities of Google, Amazon, Apple, the Telcos, and literally thousands of worldwide data centers, and you have an inkling of the sheer scale of this transformation.

For now, most of the activity in IoT is happening behind the scenes—supply chain management, inventory control, shipping and tracking. But the frenzy over this technology among consumer businesses is mind-boggling. B. Bonin Bough, VP of global media and consumer engagement for snack food juggernaut, Mondelez, has stated that, “Mondelez might become one of the biggest technology companies in the world.”

Here’s a hypothetical scenario:

Mondelez puts sensors on its products, like Chips Ahoy! and Oreos. These sensors can track inventory, sales velocity and replenish rates, freshness, store locations and much more. When you pick up that package of Oreos at your local Kroger, it’s scanned at checkout and merged with other sensored and scanned purchases you’ve made. Those purchases could be linked to your debit card, which now inexorably links the Oreos to your household, personal data, bank account, contact info and, ultimately, your smartphone.

From here, depending on your view of push marketing, you’ve either entered the kingdom of heaven or all hell just broke loose. Kroger could aggregate your data into a personal shopping list that includes all of the items you typically buy. They’ll send you a text to confirm the items and price—the items will be delivered to your door within the day (by drone or driverless car) and the balance due will show up on your debit or credit card.

Couldn’t be easier.

But as Guthy-Renker says, “Wait, there’s more!” With emerging machine-to-machine interactions (M2M), this data can interact with data from other devices. For example, if your home is secured and heated by Nest, Google knows which rooms you enter, when. It knows when you’re home, which lights you turn on and for how long, when you use your washer/dryer and how long it takes to blow-dry your hair. Which can then be tied to personal care products, laundry soap, travel and leisure among myriad other things—all of which have sensors of their own that generate even more data.

Nest could also know when you open your refrigerator, which is tracking the contents inside, including the Haagen-Dazs chocolate gelato that’s almost empty. At some point, you’re going to get a message on your smartphone stating that it’s time to restock the Haagen-Dazs, and most likely the Oreos. If you restock your gelato every other day, the frequency can be noted by the home health care app on your phone, which relays that data to your health care insurer, which recommends a fitness program or raises your premium. Even with this seemingly absurd hypothetical, you can see how interconnected data can become a lot more than a convenience.

Fortunately, we’re not there. Yet. Because of the enormous range of sensors, customer scenarios and providers, there are no industry tech standards, or worse, privacy guidelines or security protocols. But they’re coming. As this blizzard of sensors and data hits us, there will be a ton of profound questions.

Setting security aside, the implications for advertisers, marketers and society at-large are unprecedented and profound. From a marketer’s perspective, exactly what should a brand target, a living human being or his/her data set? If purchase behavior is so granularly tracked and reliably predictive, why market to people at all if they’re satisfied with what their data is delivering? Will our notion of choice be redefined? Is there any need for advertising, branding or marketing of any kind if the purchase process is predetermined by data and the efficiencies it delivers?

IoT could become both a micro-segmentation and rationing tool to develop highly calibrated marketing campaigns. The idea of affinity groups of consumers becomes irrelevant in the context of a technology that can efficiently target millions of consumers one at a time. Marketers can pinpoint geographic product distribution as part of a penetration strategy to either flood a market to kill a competitor or create product scarcity to raise prices. Taken to an extreme, IoT could even become a vehicle for social engineering. Consumers’ preferences and credit ratings could dictate which products are made available to them, creating new exclusivities and inadvertent social divisions. Regardless, the role of marketing, brands, consumer choice and control will be revolutionized and dramatically different from anything we know right now—with potential revenge effects that are too numerous and daunting to begin to contemplate.

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Sponsorship Marketing: #Winning with the NHL

Sponsorship marketing: the frosting on a brand’s overall marketing mix and the multibillion-dollar industry that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Due to the continued fragmentation of media (I’m talking to you cord-cutters) and shifts in demographic buying power (hey, millennials!), sponsorship marketing will continue to increase in overall advertising spend for brands all over the world.

One current client of R&R Partners who uses sponsorship marketing as a large part of their media strategy is the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority. Las Vegas sponsors an array of events throughout the year spanning awards shows, culinary festivals, sports championships and more. One of its longstanding sponsorships with the National Hockey League features a season-long media partnership, as well as the NHL Awards broadcast live from Vegas each June.

A sponsorship can begin to die a slow decrease-in-ROI death unless the parties involved continually evaluate, evolve and challenge each other to push the envelope each and every contract renewal.

Previous digital initiatives for the NHL/Las Vegas partnership focused on a league sweepstakes as a mechanism for database acquisition. But with the digital landscape constantly changing and evolving, content started to take more of a strategic front seat.

Knowing that reaching sports fans when they are most engaged is the best time for brand messaging to be consumed, our team determined real-time hockey content was the best avenue to explore in replacement of the sweepstakes initiative. We wanted the brand to be organically attached to a platform that hockey fans would seek out, versus the brand doing the heavy lifting in seeking out fans. The goal (no pun intended), was to completely reverse the brand consumption flow.

Enter Las Vegas’ first ever video content component of their NHL sponsorship: Road Warriors.

Using a pillar of Las Vegas’ sponsorship strategy, “All Roads Lead to Vegas,” (in recognition that Vegas is the city where champions are crowned), Road Warriors paid homage to players and teams who had stellar plays while on the road.

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The platform followed a succinct distribution strategy. A spectacular road play would occur during a game, the video footage would be clipped and edited together, and then posted to both the NHL’s Facebook and Twitter pages. A branded website on NHL.com housed all of the Road Warriors content throughout the season and also included 100% share-of-voice for Las Vegas creative. To create a fully integrated platform, Road Warriors highlights were shown within nightly sports programming on NHL Network.

The framework was there, but, would NHL fans dig it? Short answer – they did.

Launching in February to coincide with NHL.com’s website redesign launch, Road Warriors saw double digit growth in fan engagement through the end of the 2016 season. An impressive feat when you think as teams start to become eliminated from Stanley Cup contention, those fan bases organically become less engaged, reducing the overall audience who would be interested in hockey content. Road Warriors broke through that trend.

The social posts garnered more than 8.1 million video views and 188,000 engagements. Webpage visits were almost 800,000 with visitors spending on average more than two minutes per visit. This was all accomplished with zero paid media support driving to any of the content, proving the platform was relevant, engaging and organically executed.

But the most impressive stat? Road Warriors was the #1 NHL sponsor video program of the year. SCORE!

As part of the festivities hosted around the NHL Awards, the league holds a morning summit with their season’s partners. I was honored to have the opportunity to share Road Warriors with the group, alongside our NHL account executive, Josh Cohen. We held great company with Tim Horton’s and MillerCoors being the other two brands who presented their NHL initiatives for the year. Brands like Honda, McDonald’s, Samsung and Visa were in attendance to learn how they could craft winning programs similar to ours.

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Not only was this a great platform to showcase one of our clients, we were able to showcase R&R Partners as an expert in partnership marketing. Oh, and we were also awarded a Las Vegas hockey team that afternoon, too—obviously not due to Road Warriors’ success.

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R&R Partners Welcomes Four Rock Star New Hires

It’s no secret that finding top-tier talent can be challenging − but definitely not impossible. We’ve certainly been winning with our hires this year, and we’re happy to share that we’ve recently been joined by the best of the best, cream of the crop, in-it-to-win-it type of people. We’d like to officially welcome Steve Palmer, Mary Kay Hogan, Monica Bouldin and Michon Martin to the R&R family. With over 60 years of combined experience, they’ll prove to be incredible assets in multiple areas of the company. With varying expertise in government affairs to marketing communications, we’re thrilled to have them on board.

Steve PalmerMary Kay HoganMichon MartinMonica Bouldin

Serving previously in senior positions for Grayling, Steve Palmer and Mary Kay Hogan come to us as national government affairs strategists based in R&R’s Denver office. While Steve will focus on national clients, Mary Kay will focus on her specialty: state government affairs. Prior to her time with us, Mary Kay was a legislative director under former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter. As R&R’s foundation is rooted in politics, it only makes sense to continue expanding our government relations department to thrive with the dynamic political times and help our clients to pave their way through them.

Our next rock star is an elite marketing communications executive who brings quite a few prestigious awards with her. She’s not only a multi-award-winning marketing communications leader, she’s also the recipient of the 2016 Pat Tobin Award from the Black Public Relations Society, as well as the chairperson of the Advisory Council for Dress for Success West. Monica Bouldin, now serving as vice president in the Los Angeles office, is nothing short of an expert in the industry. With experience at mega companies like Warner Bros., FOX Broadcasting Company, and H+K Strategies, she’s developed profound knowledge in numerous aspects of marketing, brand strategy and communications − all of which will lead Monica to excel in her role at R&R Partners.

Lastly, coming to us from Resorts World Las Vegas as senior vice president and deputy general counsel of public affairs, Michon Martin now serves as vice president and strategic adviser for R&R’s offices all throughout the nation. With Michon’s skills as a policy adviser and negotiator, she makes an incredible addition in growing and diversifying the agency as well as facilitating client wins. She’s been dubbed “Most Valuable Player” of the 2015 Nevada legislative session, has served under Governor Brian Sandoval, and was influential in shaping the language used for Nevada’s human trafficking bill. Michon says she is thrilled to join the R&R family and sees herself as a natural fit, considering that #winning is ingrained in her DNA too. Coincidence? Absolutely not.

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