Final Presidential Debate Brings Fireworks and Priceless Vegas Publicity

Oct. 19 saw one of the most important events ever to happen in Las Vegas. It wasn’t CES, Garth Brooks at the T-Mobile Center, or the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight − it was the final presidential debate of the 2016 election. Regardless of how each candidate was seen as performing, and regardless of who will win on Nov. 9, the event is already a success for Las Vegas, both the brand and the community many of us call home.

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Las Vegas has never before been seen as a natural fit for this type of large political event. A U.S. president had never visited Las Vegas until 1935, when FDR opened the Hoover Dam. The area has been talked about as a host site for both the Republican and Democratic national conventions since at least the 1980s, but the city’s largest venue at the time, the Thomas & Mack Center on the UNLV campus, was considered not large enough.

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That all has started to change recently. Las Vegas hosted primary debates for both the Democratic and Republican parties. Nevada’s battleground-state status and diversity of economics, ethnicity and geography make it a valuable bellwether campaign stop and an attractive venue for candidates. While presidents are no longer a rare sight in Las Vegas, the debate was a unique event. It’s also the first collaboration between a university and a destination marketing body to hold one of these events. The LVCVA and UNLV partnered together throughout the process to secure and produce the Las Vegas debate.debate3

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Here are some key facts about the debate held on Oct. 19:

  • Two years prior to the event, potential host sites begin by getting their applications to the Commission on Presidential Debates, the nonpartisan body that organizes the general election debates. The criteria is incredibly strict and detailed, and the criteria for selection is 19 pages long.
  • 16 other communities applied for the privilege of hosting one of the three presidential and one vice presidential debates in 2016. Most of the debate sites have historically been universities.
  • Four host sites were chosen − The Wright State University in Ohio, Longwood University in Virginia, Washington University in Missouri, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Wright State pulled out of the debates in July 2016, and Hofstra University in Long Island, N.Y., was chosen as a replacement.
  • Two of the 2016 hosts had held presidential debates before. Hofstra has held three consecutive presidential debates since 2008. Washington University has hosted five different presidential and vice presidential debates.
  • $85 million worth of worldwide publicity for Las Vegas was generated by September 2016, with the final number still being tabulated and expected to peak at well over $100 million.
  • 5,000 journalists from around the world traveled to Las Vegas to cover the final presidential debate, most staying for almost a full week. This was double the expected figure.
  • Three TV networks, CNN, Bloomberg and MSNBC, broadcast from the UNLV campus in the days leading up to the debate.
  • 6 million TV viewers watched the evening’s debate, the third most watched TV debate of all time.

The general feeling among political pundits and local observers was that the debate was a resounding success, and that the publicity value for both the university and the destination is priceless. With many experts predicting that we will be the site of a future national political convention − its further proof to what those of us who understand Las Vegas already know. Whether it’s the world’s best tourist destination, the center of most industries’ leading business events, or one of the most vibrant political scenes in the country − Las Vegas is always the right place to be.

Worldwide Partners North American Region Conference 2016

It was, yet again, refreshing to join 50 other independent agency executives in Portland last month at the Worldwide Partners North American Region Conference. Refreshing because we gained and shared so much knowledge, but also refreshing because it reiterated how special being an independent agency is, and the value that independence is to clients.

WPI president and CEO John Harris said it best recently in his op-ed in the Drum, “The operational freedom that independent agencies enjoy better positions them to support the requirements of speed, agility and accountability – without sacrificing creativity, innovation and scale – that brand marketers are demanding from their agencies today.”

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One panel at the conference stood out to me – a panel of search consultants and consulting firms – where they focused on what a client wants from an agency in today’s marketplace. Themes were: relationships, people, culture, value add, business adviser, social content understanding and nimble. I couldn’t agree more, and further, it is supported in R&R Partners’ recent re-publishing of our “Who We Are” statement and focus of our 2017 business strategy:

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I am proud to work for a fiercely independent agency and be part of the Worldwide Partners independent agency network, where all the themes discussed with this esteemed panel are paramount in everything we do.

Additionally, the WPI NAR Conference had other great topics that we covered, from Instagram to innovation in OOH to the Contagious guys who strive to keep us relevant to exceptional Women in Advertising:

Thank you to WPI for keeping us, independents, relevant, inspired and refreshed!

Cause Marketing 101

Social cause marketing—these are philanthropic buzzwords that appear to be sweeping companies and organizations in recent years. By the sound of it, it seems like something every organization should adopt. By the looks of it, it can do wonders for any business’ reputation.

But what is it exactly?

In short, cause marketing involves the marketing efforts of corporate entities, non-profit organizations, and other cause groups to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome. We’ve seen great examples of cause marketing in recent years with Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, Product (Red) for the Global Fund to Fight Aids, or Yoplait’s Friends in the Fight for Susan G. Komen.

So, what makes social cause marketing impactful? How does a group properly identify and adopt a social cause? How is it effectively marketed? I’ll illustrate three examples from R&R Partners’ Salt Lake City office that may help answer these questions.

Identify a need:

Utah Department of Public Safety – Highway Safety Office: Utah DUI Staycation Trolley Tour

Over the past 10 years, more deaths have happened on Utah roads on the 4th of July holiday than any other holiday. As Utahns began planning their Independence Day celebrations, we identified a need for our Utah Highway Safety client and began strategizing ways to position the “don’t drink and drive” message to best combat the deadly holiday. To encourage Utah drivers to make plans for sober driving, representatives from the Utah Department of Public Safety’s Highway Safety Office and the Utah Highway Patrol partnered with the Salt Lake Trolley Tour, a narrated sightseeing tour through historic Salt Lake City. We invited Salt Lake-area news outlets to join local law enforcement aboard the Utah DUI Staycation Tour and share the ride of lifetime—experiencing a DUI without the related costs.

The trolley tour took guests to various sites around downtown with a handful of out-of-the-ordinary stops. These stops included up-close and personal views of standardized field sobriety testing, the finest photo opps of a Blood Alcohol Testing vehicle (BATmobile), and a final stop at the jail administration building.

Our goal is not to stop people from drinking, but rather urge safe driving in situations where people might be drinking. If Utahans chose to drink on Independence Day, we encouraged them to make a plan—designating a sober driver or utilizing a ride share service. Otherwise, they could experience a summer staycation they wouldn’t soon forget.

http://www.good4utah.com/news/local-news/good-4-utah-experiences-dui-without-the-costs-penalties

Select an impactful partner:

Slow the Flow, Save H2O + Garbett Homes: Flip Your Strip

R&R Partners has developed a strategy for cause marketing called the “Theory of Reasoned Action” which highlights four steps for effective social change:

  • Raise awareness
  • Change attitudes
  • Change intentions
  • Change behavior

A crucial piece of the Theory of Reasoned Action pie includes community mobilization—or the process in which individuals or organizations carry out messaging or activities to accomplish an initiative. To mobilize a community, it often requires strategic partnerships to communicate messages via innovative ways.

Recently, we partnered with Garbett Homes—a Utah homebuilder committed to sustainable and innovative building—with our client Slow the Flow, Save H2O (from the Utah Division of Water Resources). Our shared goal was to extend Garbett’s efforts to the exterior of the home by promoting a Flip Your Strip initiative for residential landscaping. This initiative encouraged the conversion of neighborhood park strips (the area of yard between the sidewalk and street) from sod to an attractive water-wise alternative saving up to 10,000 gallons of water per year, per household.

The Flip Your Strip initiative aims to build awareness in the community and state, but also highlight Garbett Homes as a leader and advocate for water-wise, sustainable exterior landscaping. The summer-long project culminated in a media event to educate press and the community on the intended initiative. For additional community outreach, local elementary Daybreak Academy was invited to participate in the event. Speakers educated students about the Flip Your Strip project, the importance of conserving water, and ways they could help make a difference for Utah’s future water needs. Each student walked away with a t-shirt and water-wise plants for a hands-on application of the initiative for the academy’s schoolyard.

Build engaging content + creative:

Utah Department of Public Safety – Highway Safety Office: St. Patrick’s Day Saints of Sobriety

Many people like to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by raising a pint of their favorite beverage, but some press their luck by getting behind the wheel. To remind St. Patrick’s Day revelers to never drink and drive, representatives from the Utah Department of Public Safety’s Highway Safety Office and the Utah Highway Patrol visited Salt Lake-area news outlets to reveal a DUI-prevention message that encouraged bar and pub patrons to take a cab or ride with a sober lad or lassie.

Additionally, on the evening of St. Patrick’s Day 2016, law enforcement representatives partnered with Salt Lake City bars where local actors transformed into living statues of the “Saints of Sobriety”, including: St. Haylor of Cab, saint of wise travelers; St. Cristyl O’Clearhead, saint of responsible drinking; and St. Alweis the Appointed, saint of designated drivers. Those who made the pledge to get home safely received a coin from law enforcement representatives that, when deposited in the statue’s hat, activated an interactive performance by the living saint statue. To assist in additional awareness, each bar also placed a stained glass display at their location to communicate the importance of sober driving on Utah’s roads. The message was interactive, hands-on, and entertaining..

For the first time, Utah experienced zero alcohol related crashes or fatalities on St. Patrick’s Day. By identifying a need and a timely message, while channeling impactful creative, our message came to life with a fresh and innovative platform and likely played a role in preventing crashes and fatalities this year.

By identifying a need, selecting impactful community players, and building engaging content, any organization can adopt, and shape, an impactful cause marketing campaign. R&R Partners holds the tools and expertise to take key moments like each of the above examples and turn them into critical successes for any client.

Future of Ad-Tech and Digital Marketing

I recently sat in on Denver Startup Week’s panel on “The Future of Ad-Tech & Digital Marketing.” Although this seminar was extremely startup-centric there were many interesting nuggets pertaining to digital marketing and ad-tech in general. The most interesting takeaways:

Threats to Digital Advertising:

Of the major threats to the future of digital advertising, the three most crucial according to this panel were Ad Blocker downloads, identity theft, and the concentration of power and assets by major companies.

1) Ad blocking software is becoming increasingly prevalent for online media users and these apps are not limited to desktops or laptops, but extend to mobile devices also. Ad blockers function in a way that keeps individuals from seeing ads therefore eliminating crucial calculable data for ad agencies like ours. However, as we move forward and even in pop culture we see that brands are starting to rely more and more upon social influencers as ambassadors or walking billboards for brands. Influencers can act as a way around ad blockers. It was noted that “nearly 86% of our decisions are made based off one’s peer group.” This may lead to social influencers, CEOs, owners, and other “spokesmen” appearing more frequently in branding campaigns, as body language is noted as one of the strongest reinforcements advertising can offer.

2) Identity theft and cyber security has long been an issue, but has become more prevalent as more personal information is stored and shared online and between third party entities. Living in a time of technology that allows one to check their bank statements and then go right to Facebooking or internet shopping on a connection that is most likely open and accessible to any computer savvy individuals puts all sorts of personal information at risk. This simultaneously creates the need for protection of personal information through encryption and other means not often understood by typical Internet users, but these sorts of measures are sure to become more normal to the average Internet surfer. This also creates an issue for advertisers, and their partners, who often rely on third party affiliates to purchase client targeting information. A cease or major reduction of the almost free flowing information gathered by third parties would create an interesting situation for advertisers, who may see this sort of crucial information experience high rates of inflation and an overall decreased quantity of this type of information in general.

3) We are seeing huge concentrations of power and assets in companies like Facebook and Google – which can end up being incredibly problematic. These companies already have so much client information and power that they nearly eliminate true competitiveness in the market place through the shear amount of customer monetizing information they have.

First Party vs. Third Party Data:

The speakers on the panel also relayed an interesting viewpoint on the relationship between first and third party data. They suggested that first parties should try to import or purchase third party data and augment it with their own rather than push their data to third party companies. Sometimes when giant third parties have customer data the risk of this information being shared grows exponentially, and this is where data leakage may occur to where competitors can see and use this data to their own benefit.

Quantitative vs. Qualitative Data:

The final discussion of the panel was the strategy of shifting from quantitative data to qualitative data. This seems counter-intuitive for buyers and sellers of media who simply want to reach the largest amount of viewers possible. However, it makes sense when considering the role of qualitative data as part of developing a real relationships with viewers and customers. It will become increasingly more important for companies to create campaigns that collect more data about the users while simultaneously becoming more engaging therefore helping to curve the perceived intrusive/invasive nature of ads.

 

An Ode to Low-cost Airlines Disrupting the Industry

A funny thing happened to me when recently researching airfares for an upcoming trip. While looking at cross-country flights on Southwest Airlines for a route that I have flown dozens of times over the past two years, I noticed a price I had not seen so low in years. Not marginally lower, but 33 percent lower. Surely it wasn’t a typo. Nor was it simply Southwest Airlines’ attempt at being charitable. So what is the explanation?

Frontier Airlines.

After doing some more research, I learned that Frontier Airlines recently announced it would begin servicing the exact route I was researching, beginning in the fall. Obviously, the additional competition caught Southwest Airlines’ attention, which, in turn, caught my attention. As any frequent traveler knows, unless you’re flying short flights to undesirable destinations, Southwest Airlines is no longer the “low-cost” carrier that propelled it to widespread success and adoration. In fact, I often find it among the most expensive options when searching for flights. This, of course, flies in the face of its advertising and endless email bombardment – but I suppose that’s an entirely different gripe.

Point is – despite the grief capitalism gets from folks such as Bernie Sanders – it does sometimes work perfectly. Why do you think we’re no longer paying $700 for microwaves or $599 for Blu-ray Disc players? More consumer options create competition, which puts pressure on an assortment of variables, chief among them, price. The airline industry is no different, although it is a very precocious industry with fewer choices than home electronics or automobiles or just about anything else. After all, the price on entry is tremendous and operations are significantly challenging. Yet, above it all, one thing remains true − more airline/flight options translate into lower costs for consumers.

This is how low-cost carriers such as Frontier, Allegiant and Spirit airlines are disrupting the industry and providing consumers with more choices, lower costs and more empowerment. Additionally, as consumer technology and customization have changed consumer perceptions, expectations and purchase habits, the low cost carriers seem to be ahead of the curve with their business models.

To be clear, the major carriers still vastly dominate schedules and routes due to overall fleet size. While Frontier, Allegiant and Spirit are all growing in size, their fleet sizes still pale in comparison. Each of the low-cost airlines has a fleet around or under 100 planes. Compare that to the size of Southwest Airlines (704) or Delta Airlines (1,426) and it’s easy to see why the little guys are still considered little. Very little. Yet, consumers are clearly catching on. Frontier Airlines’ net income rose tenfold from 2013 to 2014. Allegiant Air quadrupled from 2014 to 2015. And Spirit Airlines saw net income growth of 79 percent from 2013 to 2015.

The most common criticism of low-cost carriers is the “nickel-and-dime” approach they have with fees. It is commonplace for these carriers to assess fees for select seats, baggage and even carry-on bags. For consumers not informed or expecting this, it is seen as excessive and tawdry. However, there are two realities associated with this: the new normal and consumer empowerment.

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Airline fees have become the norm.
We were asked to feel sorry for major airline carriers when the cost of oil skyrocketed a few years back, causing them to saddle consumers with baggage fees. Yet, when oil prices tumbled to their lowest level in decades, the airlines forgot to raise their hand and inform us these fees were being taken away. Excluding Southwest Airlines, baggage fees are standard across the industry. And the latest JD Power report confirmed that American consumers have given up fighting them – and have become accepting of airline fees. Even fees for seating choices have become more prevalent. If you think the low-cost carriers are the only airlines charging fees for seat selection, you haven’t flown American Airlines recently. Flying a red-eye from Las Vegas to Miami, I was presented with additional fees for my seating options. Wanting to sleep on the cross-country, red-eye flight, I paid $37 (each way) for a window seat in the middle of the plane. Want extra legroom and to be closer to the aisle? That will cost an additional $58. This is why I am dumbfounded when I hear, read or see these types of nickel-and-dime fees being groused at regarding the low-cost carriers. They exist elsewhere. And they are higher than the $12 lowest fee charged by Frontier Airlines.

Consumer Empowerment
With the low-cost carriers, consumers are able to purchase lower fare tickets and then make their own decisions on how much more they want to spend. Here’s an example of how simple this is for me: looking for nonstop service for a trip August 25–28 from Las Vegas to Orlando, a round-trip ticket on Frontier Airlines was $215.10. A similar itinerary on Southwest Airlines was $419.96. That is a difference of $204.86, or 95 percent. Even once I pay for a seat ($12) and choose to check two bags ($70), there is still a difference of $122.86. But what if I don’t need to check two bags? What if I’m visiting a summer home stocked with clothes and don’t need to check a bag at all? Instead of having inflated costs and the illusion of “free bags” stuffed into my Southwest Airlines ticket cost – I get to make my own decisions. And in my opinion, that is the point with these low-cost carriers. Consumers are more in control of their final costs, and it doesn’t take much to avoid excessive fees. On a trip last fall with my two children, we chose a low-cost carrier and approached it with minimal intelligence. We checked one large suitcase, instead of three smaller ones. We selected standard seats. We also packed snacks and iPads into our backpacks for the plane ride, as “personal bags” are free, while carry-on bags result in a fee. The result? Overall ticket costs that were more than 60 percent lower than they would have been any other major carrier.

To be sure, these low-cost carriers have work to do. Customer-service scores rank low on Frontier. Spirit is the worst in the industry for on-time arrivals. And Allegiant has been questioned regarding the age of its fleet. But each of these airlines seems genuinely committed to improving on these marks. In addition, Frontier recently announced 42 new routes and Allegiant has plans to purchase newer Airbus planes. But the larger point is that these airlines are a net positive for an industry that hates competition (see: domestic carrier open skies agreement) and is slow to provide customers with the type of service we expect from other industries (imagine showing up for a salon appointment and being told there is a three-hour delay and switching to a different time will result in a $100 change fee and the difference in cost of the new stylist?!). Consumer empowerment and more choices are a benefit to all of us. After all, that is the hallmark of capitalism.

It’s also why you can purchase a Sony Blu-ray Disc player at Best Buy for $34.99 + tax.

 

Disclosure: R&R Partners has a current affiliation with Allegiant.

What do the National Park Service and R&R Partners have in common?

Although it may at times feel otherwise, 2016 is not without its occasions for national unity and celebration. As the National Park Service turns 100 years old, our national treasures and those leaders dedicated to preserving them deserve our awe and admiration.

One such leader, former Congressman Steven Horsford, currently directs R&R Resources+ and manages the Washington, D.C., office of international marketing communications and government affairs firm, R&R Partners. In 2014, Congressman Horsford and other members of Nevada’s congressional delegation worked in a bipartisan manner to pass legislation that would create the Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument. “The fact that a literal ice age of artifacts exists just miles from the Las Vegas Strip and can be shared with local residents and millions of tourists alike, made it something I had to get behind to push through Congress,” said Horsford. More than 22,000 acres in size, Tule Springs is revered for its numerous paleontological and archeological sites.

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Tule Springs Fossil Beds Welcome Sign

While enthusiasm for the preservation of the fossil beds was expected from a broad range of conservationists and scientists, business leaders also applauded the designation, indicating once more that companies understand that sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) are not passing trends.[1] Horsford notes, “From the very beginning of the process, business leaders joined with the conservation community and local elected officials to make the case for why Tule Springs should be designated as a national monument.” 

CSR and Diversity
Horsford doesn’t just grasp and provide leadership on issues surrounding CSR and sustainability. As the first African-American elected to Congress from the state of Nevada, he also knows a thing or two about diversity. He oversees R&R’s integrated services efforts in diversity media training and corporate communications, workforce and vendor/supplier engagement, and international affairs for R&R’s nine offices throughout the U.S. and Mexico City. “Moreover, the idea that young people from all over the surrounding communities, including those from diverse backgrounds who may not have the same opportunity to experience something like what Tule Springs offers, also was a major selling point,” he said.

Horsford has a commanding presence at the crossroads of diversity, politics, business and sustainability. This intersection represents today’s business reality and is a place from which we should all be striving to lead—after returning from celebrating the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary at Tule Springs, of course.

National Park Service

Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument

[1](For a great example of a business that takes both sustainability and the national parks seriously, visit Subaru’s environmental site to learn more about its National Park Zero-landfill Initiative.) 

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.

 

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!

 

 

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.