Author: R&R Partners

From Tech to Talent − Why Culture Matters

Recently, we highlighted Falken Tires president and CEO Richard Smallwood’s top strategies for employee engagement. The conclusion of this two-part series features ideas from Jill Elliott, R&R’s VP of people and culture. Jill’s impressive HR and organizational development background spans across multiple industries, including working with clients such as Disney, Expedia and Unilever. When one meets her for the first time, you instantly get her Bay Area tech vibe, coupled with an apparent passion for employer branding, and designing programs that build culture and employee engagement.

Jill and I sat down recently to discuss her strategies for creating a strong culture and putting people at the center of the organization. “Leaders should strive to cultivate a level of trust,” she remarked. “Having employees’ best interest at heart closely aligns with who we are and how we treat each other and our clients.” At R&R Partners, we use a specific language around the people and relationships who are at the core of what makes us great: “We value family and community above all.”who-we-areIt isn’t a bit ironic that my conversation with our ambassador of people and culture took place the day of the annual Media Tailgate. While we were talking about something Jill is obviously energetic about, teams of people were working together to put the final touches on our 11th annual event, which celebrates our employees and partnerships. One of the most enjoyable afternoons of the year, she was quick to point out that “all of our events are just ways to connect our people to the culture. These are not simply parties—they provide this important opportunity to connect.”

I asked Jill what she would do with an unlimited budget to drive even more employee engagement at R&R. Her response wasn’t what I expected, yet it makes total sense: “I would survey employees to ask them what they want.” Our discussion was interrupted slightly when a unicorn pool float came into Town Center during the Media Tailgate set up, yet after we had a Friday afternoon giggle, Jill impressed me with her final thought: “If you get the people part—the recruiting, the hiring, the development and the culture—right, everything else falls into place.”



Employee Engagement: Tips from a CEO

Recently, Richard Smallwood, president and CEO of our client, Falken Tires, appeared in a Fast Company article highlighting the most creative people. Since then, we asked him, and our own VP of people and culture, Jill Elliott, to talk more about employee engagement. Richard, who is famous for taking top-performing employees anywhere in the world for dinner as a reward, shared his three top tips for engaging employees. The second part in this series will feature some of Jill’s thoughts on engagement, core values and culture.

When asked to share his strategy on engaging his employees, Richard shared these three tips: 

  1. “Create regular opportunities for your associates to provide unfiltered feedback to senior management.

    One practice I enjoy using to gain insight on how things are working within the company is to take a small group of four or five associates to lunch and ask them for ideas on how to make their jobs more efficient. The reality is that most executives really don’t understand the unnecessary obstacles or distractions that prevent our teams from executing optimally and, more importantly, we generally can’t provide the best solutions. The people doing the jobs know the roadblocks, and they usually have the best and most practical solutions for removing them. From my experience, our teammates have really appreciated playing an active role in the improvement process.

  1. “Regularly remind your associates of the importance of their specific role in the success of the company.

    It always bothers me when I hear one of our associates state that their role is not important to the success of the company. First, it tells me that we as a management team are doing a poor job of communicating to our teams what their roles are and how their performance can impact every other person in the organization. Secondly, it takes away the very important “pride of ownership” from that associate. Every human wants to feel that what they do is valued and appreciated by those around them. This is true with work, home, church and sports teams. How can we, as leaders, expect our associates to make the best contribution possible if they don’t believe that what they do is important?”

  2. “Create a culture where associates want to achieve great results, not just in order to survive, but in order to please those affected.

    This is often a tricky concept for me to explain, but it is a very important one for leaders to understand. In many work environments, the associate is driven to achieve the targeted result by avoiding failing and being fired for poor performance. This is performance driven by the fear of failure and the subsequent punishment. What I want to create in our environment is one in which the associate wants to achieve a great result, not in order to avoid being punished, but out of the desire to please those impacted by the result. A simple, likely politically incorrect, analogy would be that of a child proudly presenting their stick figure drawing to their parents and saying “look what I made for you.” This motivation is quite different.”


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.


So Uncool: How We Flipped the Script and Made Greenspun Junior High the Uncoolest School in Vegas

When I joined R&R Partners, I was thrilled to step into the glamorous world of advertising. I imagined myself a female Don Draper … working on exciting TV commercials, making creative pitches for clients, and collaborating with some of the best ad agency minds out there. And yes, the culture at R&R is part of what makes it one of the best places to work in Las Vegas. What I didn’t expect is how collaborating on our Flip the Script anti-bullying project would be one of the most fulfilling, impactful projects I’ve ever taken on in my career.

The initiative began in 2011, centered on the idea of standing up against bullying by turning it on its head and “flipping the script.” Throughout the campaign’s history, which has even resulted in Nevada Senate Bill 276 (strong anti-bullying legislation), relevant messaging and thrilling events like USA Network’s Concert to Rock Out Bullying have put this important topic at the forefront of pop culture.

This year’s mission? We partnered with the Public Education Foundation to select three Clark County School District junior high schools as our clients for the next round of the initiative. Three teams of R&R employees signed up as volunteers for this project, and I was fortunate enough to be assigned team leader for Team Purple. We were comprised of several amazing people throughout many different disciplines − design, copywriting, media, research, leadership, PR, production, insight, brand − who pulled together to create a campaign that would meet our clients’ needs.

Speaking of our clients for this project, they were atypical. Namely, they were a group of leaders in sixth, seventh or eighth grade at Greenspun Junior High School, starting at age 11. Our clients were energetic, have been fluent in social media their entire lives, and shed extensive light on what bullying meant in their world. We welcomed these clients to R&R’s offices for two separate brainstorms − one to understand their (and their parents’) experience. The second session was to present our campaign concepts to them.

Resoundingly, one of our two options stood out to these students. The concept that they unanimously voted on was Uncool. Literally. If bullies are cool − think Regina George in Mean Girls or the students of Cobra Kai dojo in The Karate Kid − then our clients wanted to be uncool. If sitting next to a lone student at the cafeteria is uncool, these incredible students were all-in. If standing up for someone was uncool, these leaders were all about it.


After this direction was determined, the R&R teams burst into action; our team was lucky enough to have the talents of Kristen Hart, our creative lead, manifesting our Uncool design. Through her, and other team members’ tireless efforts, our campaign concept became a reality. We had T-shirts, posters, banners and other items designed for our launch event and an ongoing student store to reinforce the campaign. Sarah Catletti, R&R brand manager who moonlights as foundation co-manager, says, “It was important to the team to make sure that after our campaign launched, Greenspun could continue to be the Uncoolest school and maintain the program. In partnering with school administration and teachers, we were able to provide branded materials for the student store that kids who were caught being uncool could purchase with Uncool bucks as currency.”

greenspun2All of this hard work for our clients culminated in an Uncool assembly to kick off the program. The team tirelessly sought out local talent who were behind the mission to donate their time and skills and to join us at the event on February 26. And talent we got! The ladies from the UNLV Pom team kicked off the event with a high-energy routine, and JC fromMercedes in the Morning on Mix 94.1 FM was a dynamic emcee. He kicked off a program of entertaining vignettes, including the No. 1-ranked flyweight UFC fighter Joseph Benavidez, singer/songwriter Franky Perez, and Flamingo headliner and juggler Jeff Civillico.

Each performer touched on how being uncool was the new cool, and our clients themselves kicked off their program at their school. “I had some of our eighth-grade boys raving, saying it was the best assembly they’ve attended at Greenspun! Their favorite part? The pom girls! “There was something for everyone!” shares Greenspun’s leadership student council co-adviser Dana Martin. “…Your team knocked it out of the park!”

With happy clients and a top-notch event, Team Purple ended this week tired, yet knowing that we had made a difference in students’ lives. As I draft this, proud of the work we did as a team, I can’t help but smile and think that Greenspun was just one of the three schools this project has impacted. Similar campaigns and events are taking place at Becker and Fremont junior high schools. “The Flip the Script initiative and the ways that our employees volunteer to positively affect others is what the R&R Foundation is all about,” says Jim King, principal and leader of the R&R Foundation.

Welcome to the sexy, life-changing, exciting world of advertising. Don Draper would be proud.


R&R Employs Water Expertise at the National Rural Water Association’s Annual Conference

Nothing is more precious on this planet than water. It’s the one necessary ingredient to produce life as we know it.

Unfortunately, most people use water every day without thinking twice about it. Where does it come from? How much do we have left? Is it safe to drink?

This is where R&R Partners, the National Rural Water Association (NRWA) and its state affiliates come in. On January 14 and 15, 2016, R&R worked with NRWA and its state affiliates to sponsor their annual water conference in Miami, Florida. The conference brought together like-minded individuals whose public health goals include water storage, safety and conservation.

So what exactly is NRWA and what does it do? NRWA and its members provide safe drinking water to thousands of communities across the country and help to protect America’s water resources. Together, they provide training and technical assistance to roughly 31,000 small and rural water and wastewater systems. In fact, NRWA comprises the largest utility membership organization in the U.S. It believes in empowering local groups through training and education so that they are able to safely manage any water issue that comes their way.


Water issues are all too familiar to R&R Partners. Based in the drought-prone West, R&R first began working on water conservation efforts with the Southern Nevada Water Authority more than 20 years ago. Back then, residents in Nevada and across the West had many misconceptions on who was using water and how it could be saved. For example, most thought that huge hotels and golf courses were the biggest water consumers. The truth was, and still is, that the largest single user-group was homeowners. The vast majority of that usage is outside, keeping trees, shrubs − mostly lawns − alive in the West’s arid desert climate.

Over the years, R&R worked to educate the public on water conservation. Developing smart and sexy campaigns, we have saved billions of gallons of water every year with virtually no effect on the lives of the homeowners and business owners who conserve. Ordinary people continuing to do ordinary things, saving water, one gallon at a time. Today, the citizens of Southern Nevada are saving more than 42.5 million gallons of water every day. We have reduced our consumption of water from 248 gallons per capita per day (GPCD) in 2008 to 118 GPCD in 2014. We are saving water at a rate five times greater than the rate of our population growth.

Even with the good work done by R&R in Nevada, there is much more work to be done nationwide. Drought remains a top concern among many citizens, especially those who live in the West. In fact, a Colorado College Conservation in the West poll released last month revealed that this issue remains a top concern. In addition, scientists have predicted that the ongoing drought in the West will worsen in the coming decades. That is why it is more important than ever for R&R to continue working alongside important water groups like NRWA.

Preview Las Vegas 2016: Future. Forward.

“If we’re all here at Preview,” I joked to my colleague sitting next to me, “who is running Las Vegas?” A flippant remark turned into perfect fodder for a tweet, yet as I reflect back on the January 29th program, it certainly rings true. A veritable who’s who in community leaders in both the private and public sector in Las Vegas descended on the Thomas & Mack Center for the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Preview 2016 event.

“Future. Forward.” was this year’s theme, and Chamber CEO and President Kristen McMillan led us through an action-packed agenda centered on Las Vegas as an exciting, ever-evolving city for visitors, businesses and citizens alike. Peppered throughout were prerecorded economic insights from Dr. Stephen Miller, director of the UNLV Center for Business and Economic Research. From many statistics and charts, I took away that Nevada’s economic recovery was underway − Dr. Miller dubbed Nevada “one of the fastest growing states.”

After a Star Wars lightsaber introduction, Dr. Robert Lang, executive director of Brookings Mountain West, took the stage to share how Las Vegas is in the midst of a Metropolitan Revolution. He shared how proactive leaders led the city through the I11 initiative to UNLV’s Medical School to an economic environment attracting businesses like Faraday Future. Yet that was the past; in Dr. Lang’s opinion, the future stems on renegotiating tourist taxes to expand the Las Vegas Convention Center, build a light rail and construct a stadium.

“I think what struck me,” says R&R Partners’ Sara Macfarlane, “is the progress the business community has made of setting goals and achieving them − the payoff (I11, UNLV Medical School) has been good. And we get a front seat at R&R.”

Next up was a panel discussion hosted by Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority president and CEO Rossi Ralenkotter on the topic of aviation trends, travel and security. Joined by Michael Boyd, president of Boyd Group International, Roger Dow, president & CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, and Warren Eales, Port director, Customs and Border Protection, this portion of the program centered on trends in “internationalization” as an opportunity for Las Vegas as a destination, namely travelers from China.

Joe Martin, director of Strategy and Planning for R&R Partners, acknowledged that the time has come to invest in “destination internationalization.” “The LVCVA has done a tremendous job cultivating international demand and growing that segment of the visitation, the idea of creating a more welcoming experience for visitors from all over the globe not only makes sense, it has become imperative. For a destination as world-renowned and as reliant on tourism as Las Vegas, our goal as a community should be to enhance the visitor experience in everything we do.”

Steve Hill, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, warmly introduced Dag Reckhorn from Faraday Future. After the premiere of its concept car at CES and selecting North Las Vegas for a $1 billion plant investment, Future Faraday (FF − as its VP of global manufacturing shared with us) embodied the Future. Forward. theme of today. Additionally, Reckhorn pledged $6 million over six years to local K−12 schools, which roused the audience into a round of energetic applause. Future, indeed!

The final speaker of the morning was MGM Resorts International chairman Jim Murren, who stated that his comments would be a “celebration of Las Vegas.” He mentioned that few cities can host world-class events … at the same time like Las Vegas and challenged all sectors to unite around public education. He appealed to the audience about convention business, as well as the proposed light rail: “We need to provide multiple efficient points of travel.” Murren closed with calling Las Vegas a resilient, giving, sustainable city − the “Entertainment Capitol of the World.”

The Metro Chamber of Commerce gave us a preview into the future of our city, and as we’ve moved from economic recovery to economic development, I can see how we are indeed on a path to Future. Forward. In a city known for hospitality, service and dynamic energy, it is perhaps moving forward that we do best.

Las Vegas, a very appropriate place for western governors to discuss the drought

As an experienced advocate for Western issues such as energy, natural resources, public land use and water, R&R Partners was honored to attend the annual winter meeting of the Western Governors’ Association (WGA) in Las Vegas, Nevada, on December 4 and 5. Founded in 1984, WGA represents the governors of 19 Western states and guides them in developing and implementing policy decisions of major importance for the West.

Why are there specific associations that are dedicated to Western issues? With its abundance of natural resources, and the fact that over 90 percent of all federal land is located in the West, the region is one of the most highly regulated in the United States. This makes the West vastly different from the East, especially when it comes to controversial issues such as water and public land use. Nothing sums up water issues in the West better than the famous Mark Twain quote, “Whiskey is for drinking, but water is worth fighting over.”

WGA 3This year’s annual WGA meeting was attended by dozens of elected officials and political influencers, led by governors Matt Mead (Wyoming), Butch Otter (Idaho), Steve Bullock (Montana) and Brian Sandoval (Nevada). Important issues discussed that have serious implications on the West included drought, wildfires, endangered species, transportation and cybersecurity. The keynote address was delivered by the Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, who spoke of the importance in collaborating with the governors of Western states on key federal actions impacting the West.

R&R Partners’ depth of experience in the West gives it an understanding of the unique pressures and public scrutiny that governments and companies operating in the area face, and their need to communicate clearly and strategically to their constituents, customers, shareholders and regulators. Having opened its doors in the West and the fact that eight of its nine offices are still located in the area, R&R will continue participating in the ongoing conversation about Western policies and help bring together important stakeholders.


Media: Monthly media trends & insights

What trends are shaping media buys and our clients’ industries? We’re taking an inside look at online gaming legislation, Nielsen’s findings on the LGBT consumer, Millennials and their media consumption habits, and a recent press release event hosted by the agency.


California Skies Blue, Online Poker Gray

Currently, Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware are the only states with legally regulated online gaming. January 2015 saw California Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer introduce a bill known as the Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act of 2015, hoping to bring California out of the gray area, described as not illegal but unregulated. Simply, the bill would regulate online gambling while ensuring the protection of California players. In the beginning of August, many world-reknown poker players gathered for a tournament in American Canyon Napa to support the initiative “Let California Play.” However, with all the support this movement has gathered, there are still many obstacles in the form of Native American tribes, backlash from opposing politicians, and even disagreement within the pro-iPoker camp. While progress has been made, California still faces an uphill battle.


Millennials, Growth and Media Consumption

Once a neglected and possibly underserved target demographic, the latest U.S. Census data reports that Millennials (born between 1982 and 2000) now outnumber Baby Boomers 83.1 million to 75.4 million. Representing more than one-quarter of our nation’s population, Millennials are more diverse than previous generations with over 44 percent belonging to a minority race or ethnic group.

The currency of the media industry is attention and with media consumption habits varying across different age groups, it is imperative to recognize and then segment the target demographic(s) accordingly rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. The following graph displays the percentage of time spent per day with each medium, comparing Millennials versus the overall population.


Proudly Setting Trends, Nielsen’s 2015 LGBT Consumer Report 

Nielsen recently released its LGBT Consumer Report in honor of this summer’s Pride celebrations. The goal, highlights the LGBT consumer and displays the impact they have on numerous industries. These consumers are described as trendsetters and tech-enthusiasts, showing “unique levels of engagement across various consumption areas.” This update illustrates the LGBT audience’s impact on media combined with their purchasing behavior as consumers in relative fields to the resort/hospitality industry.

Content is key in capturing an audience, cable and network TV and recognize that 72 percent of viewers are watching a show containing a lead, supporting or recurring LGBT character as outlined in the following graph.

















Across all music channels, the LGBT audience shows higher levels of engagement than non-LGBT. Overindexing in subscribing to streaming music services (126 i.e., 26% more likely) and going to see a DJ they know perform (150 i.e., 50% more likely) further solidifies their description as tech-forward trendsetters.

Transitioning from media consumption to a hotel-related consumer field, there was one purchase category (useful for when you have acquired this guest on property) that cannot be ignored − food and beverage. Alcoholic beverage categories within the audience showed a significantly higher household spend when comparing against non-LGBT households. Wine indexed at 148, liquor at 135 and beer at 127, prompting the question of whether there could be an introduction of a more diverse creative and content campaign in the F&B segment.


R&R Resources+ MGM National Harbor Press Release Event 

Former Nevada Congressman Steven Horsford recently announced that his firm R&R Resources+ will lead the brand marketing efforts for MGM National Harbor, the $1.3 billion gaming resort under development in Prince George’s County, Maryland. The project is scheduled to open in the second half of 2016.

Through its status as an independently owned minority business enterprise (MBE), R&R Resources+ will be charged with a specific focus on diversity marketing, corporate social responsibility and workforce strategy, assisting MGM Resorts International (MGMRI) in developing authentic minority outreach and partnerships in the capital region. MGM National Harbor joins the R&R Resources+ portfolio of clients.

As a minority investor in R&R Resources+, R&R Partners will also join the MGM National Harbor project, bringing its unique brand of travel and tourism expertise. In honor of the new partnership, R&R Resources+ joined R&R Partners to host a launch event on the rooftop of the R&R Resources+ headquarters in downtown D.C., overlooking the Capitol Building. Among the guest list of more than 300 confirmed attendees were esteemed members of the media, political figures and MGMRI executives, all who gathered to celebrate the joyous occasion. See photos from the event below.

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Media trends: A look at luxury purchasers, usage and more

What trends are shaping media buys? We’re taking an inside look at luxury purchasers, spot radio and some facts about how dialed in the 18-34 crowd is to radio that could surprise you.


All luxury purchasers (adult consumers age 18+) who bought one or more luxury goods or services in the prior 12 months constitute almost 20%, or about 46 million, of the 239 million adults in the United States. Luxury marketers would be correct in surmising that as household income increases, the proportion of luxury purchasers rises.

Notably, though, luxuries were bought by almost as many mass-market consumers whose household income is less than $75,000 (20 million adults who are not typically classified as affluent by marketers) as by those with household incomes of $75,000 to $249,999 (about 22 million affluent consumers), plus the four million luxury purchasers in the upper-income segment of $250,000 or more. This being so, it’s our point of view that the luxury market is actually much larger than many luxury marketers currently believe.

As might be expected, a relatively large proportion, one in five (21%), of mass-market luxury purchasers bought luxuries just once in the past 12 months. In contrast, more than one-third of very affluent luxury purchasers bought luxuries six or more times.
















Spot radio: Raring for a rebound

Spending and pricing were down in many of the top 10 markets during the first half of 2015, and inventory was readily available and negotiable in most cities. The second half of the year will see increased spending and perhaps higher pricing in a couple cities. Summers are generally tighter on radio, unlike TV, because people can listen while they’re doing outdoor activities such as going to the pool or having barbeques. This spending surge will continue into the fall, with back-to-school spending dominating late summer. Political will also give a year-end boost to a few markets. San Francisco and Philadelphia, for example, are holding mayoral elections this November.


Surprising facts about media usage

More 18-34s listen to radio each week than use a smartphone. Nielsen’s most recent total audience report, a quarterly document that tracks media use by different age groups, shatters a number of misconceptions about new and old media use. For example, it might surprise you to know that more Millennials listen to traditional AM/FM radio each week than use smartphones. Nielsen found 93 percent of adults 18-34 listen to radio weekly, while just 80 percent report using a smartphone. In fact, radio is the most frequently used medium among Millennials. It’s well ahead of TV at 76 percent and PCs at 49 percent. Radio has been a part of people’s lives for so long it’s easy to take for granted. New technology has definitely become a staple of today’s media use, but it’s important to remember it’s not the only option young people turn to. Overall the report found that radio has the greatest reach of all media among adults, with 93 percent saying they use it weekly, compared to 87 percent for TV.

































The Return of the King

Content is King. But it hasn’t seemed that way. As we crossed into “Web 2.0,” every user with an opinion was King. Not long after, we entered into the “Age of Apps,” which created a true give-and-take between brands and consumers. Simultaneously, consumers started having conversations with the universal megaphone of social media. These empowered consumers started talking about our brands more loudly than our brands were talking about themselves. So we joined in, bringing every brand that might have something to say to the social media party, jumping into conversations, hoping not to get kicked out for rudely interrupting. But the rest of the world figured out that we were only waiting for someone to ask us “what do you think?” so we can reply with “we think you should buy Brand X!” So now what do we do? We return to the universal truth …

You have to give before you get.

Content marketing is generous King. But it’s rarely been the first thought of any brand; “How much can we give away for free?” We know the Groupon Effect causes a temporary bump in sales without a gain in long-term clientele. Giving temporary deep discounts is really only an effective short-term strategy. Giving away product in a sweepstakes is GREAT for lead generation, but who’s going to buy if there’s a chance they’re going to win? So that is how we’ve returned the marketing crown to its rightful owner, content. But remember …

The value of content is that it informs, entertains, or reflects an identity. But it does not sell.

Content marketing is not direct response. It’s not instant gratification; it’s the long game. Content does not inspire conversion it inspires conversation. Good content inspires consumers to talk to the brand, about the brand, and even for the brand. Better gets a Like, Favorite, stars and hearts. The best gets the envious Share, Tweet, Post, Repost, Retweet, Wundertweetpostbump, etc., until the amplification turns your initial $1.25 per engagement of paid media spend into an $.04 eCPE (effective Click Per Engagement). These numbers happened for our Las Vegas Kiss Cam animated gif on Tumblr.


We entertained. And for a brief moment in time, some users out there laughed enough to share us with their friends. All over the world, even in China where our client didn’t spend a dime, Las Vegas brought a smile to people’s faces.

That’s the real way to a consumer’s heart. Give without asking, entertain without selling. Because our only focus was on the giggle chamber (the left ventricle, technically) of the consumer’s heart, our content succeeded. We weren’t kicked out of the social media party; we were passed around like a [insert inappropriate party drug reference].

Campaigns succeed by converting. Content succeeds by being engaging.

Of course, sales matter. You don’t win Effies by not moving the needle. But we can’t push our sales messages into conversations anymore. There are tons of bad blogs out there, brands telling only their own story, tricking people into swallowing a soft yummy shell of content around a hard-selling nutty center. We can’t do that to our consumers anymore; they’ll choke. Then they’ll sue for negligence because they have nut allergies and we didn’t warn them first. They, at least, sure won’t take anything we give them in the future without questioning our motives.

Corporations are now people; brands are now friends. Social media made that happen long before SCOTUS.

You do not have a single person in your life with whom you do not have an emotional bank account. Every relationship is ruled by these accounts. Every brand has one with consumers too. Your next sale isn’t just about quality anymore, or value, or cost, or history, or whether your widget weighs a quarter gram less than your competitors. Your next sale is about your relationship with your consumers and your potential consumers. Do you make them laugh? Do you inspire new ideas? Do you bring them flowers “just because?” When you give good content, listen and tell their story, without asking for anything in return, that emotional bank account grows an until that consumer just loves you. Then comes the conversion.

“Business moves at the speed of ideas. And you don’t have to like it, but you can’t ignore it.” – Gottfrid, Happyish (Showtime)

Happyish is showing off agency life in a way that’s both current and OMG too real. The young bucks are brought in to usher a long-established, large agency into the digital world, and the old guard has two choices: pivot or perish. Being a user experience designer of a certain age, I find myself identifying and empathizing with both sides. OF COURSE our brands need social media accounts and strategies, but I reacted like Thom (the protagonist OG) in that I couldn’t understand why a brand like Pepto Bismol has a Twitter account or why 7,400 people would want to follow them. But then it hit me like a burrito bomb. And I have to give Pepto’s agency respect for both responding smartly to Happyish and for having the most subversive social campaign I’ve ever seen. Pepto, as you might imagine, doesn’t have a lot to say about or to the world. But it doesn’t fall into the trap of selling its product on social either. Instead, it creates observational (and occasionally funny) content. A lot of it is about pizza. A LOT. And sausage and bacon and quesadillas and all kinds of delicious food that, if you’re inspired to eat it, will make your stomach revolt. Should you indulge, you’re eventually going to need Pepto Bismol. And THAT is the long game of content marketing, the game we all had better be playing now.

Long live the King.

How have you enacted content marketing for your or your clients’ success? If you haven’t yet, what’s holding you back?