Why Running For Office Could Be The Career Booster Millennials Need

Before the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, most American millennials weren’t interested in running for public office.

Rutgers University assistant professor of political science Shauna Shames conducted research about millennials’ disinterest in running for public office in 2014, and found that while they had a wide range of reasons, from the time it would take away from their career to the intense media scrutiny many candidates endure, the vast majority didn’t want to enter politics.

Similarly, while doing research for their book, Running from Office: Why Young Americans Are Turned Off from Politics, authors Jennifer Lawless and Richard Fox found that 89% of millennials never wanted their name on a ballot.

But since Donald Trump was elected president, Shames says there has been a sea change in millennials’ attitudes about running for office. The group Run for Something was launched in January 2017 to encourage young people to run. The organization signed up more than 8,000 members who are interested in launching campaigns.

Suddenly, millennials are looking past the significant financial, time, and other investments. Shames, the author of Out of the Running: Why Millennials Reject Political Careers and Why it Matters, says some are concerned that running for and holding office could take away time from their career development. In addition, they’re overcoming what Shames calls the “ick factor”—heavy scrutiny, opposition research, and possible smear campaigns—to make a difference.

But for those who do see through their goals and run for office, they’re getting a master class in how to be a better business leader, says Linda Goldstein, president of Linda Goldstein Consulting, LLC. She was the first woman mayor of Clayton, Missouri, and held the office for 14 years, working in commercial construction before she dipped her toe into politics. She says the education she got in defining a campaign strategy, communicating with various audiences quickly, and fending off competitors was similar to business demands, but often in a more intensive and fast-paced way. Running for office can build a number of important skills that will make you a better business leader.

Sell Yourself

Whether you’re trying to win a political office or a promotion, you’ve got to convince people to invest something in you. You may be asking for their vote or donation during a campaign. You need those same skills to convince a supervisor that you’re ready for a bigger role or to land a power mentor who can help your career.

“Politics is really a popularity contest,” says Amanda Litman, founder of Run for Something. “Being able to convince people to like you, to then trust you, to have credibility with them, will help you get things done for the voters and for your constituents.”

Recognize The Value Prop

As a candidate, you’ve got to discuss the value of what you want to do—the “what’s in it for me” factor that your constituents want to know. It’s the same way you would sell a big project or proposal, Shames says. “To be forced to think about the strategy of appealing to people and their incentive and their motivations, all of that is really similar [to the business world]. The more that you are forced to do that, the better for young people, especially,” she says.

Speak Up

When you enter the political arena, there are people who are going to immediately dislike you, says Andrew Shecktor, a longtime politician who is running for one of Pennsylvania’s Senate seats in 2018. For people who may not have thick skin, this can be particularly distressing.

Shecktor says that dynamic has helped him speak his mind more boldly since he doesn’t have to worry about pleasing everyone. “You’re never gonna please everybody,” he says.

Motivate And Delegate

As a candidate, your time is one of your most precious resources—you simply can’t do everything yourself, says Litman. That means you need to convince people to do things for you, often on a volunteer basis. Then, you need to delegate tasks to them and trust them to get the job done, she says. Delegation is tough for many people who get nervous about handing off responsibility. In a campaign, you have no choice. It teaches you to become a pro at motivating people to do things for you.

Open New Opportunities

While Goldstein was meticulous in not mixing her business with her office while she held it, the skill set she gained ultimately paid off in other ways. Because she knows about the inner workings of local government, she launched a consulting firm that helps businesses and government offices run more effectively. It also let her stay connected to the local government about which she feels so passionately.

“You can make a real difference in local government,” she says.

Key Learnings From SXSW 2017: AI, Bots and AR/VR

By Mark McClennan, SVP, MSLGROUP

A horde of influencers, communicators and technologists descended on Austin, Texas, in March for SXSW 2017 the premier innovation conference. Almost every question at SXSW this year could be answered with one of three technologies – artificial intelligence (AI), bots, and virtual reality (VR). These are the three biggest trends emerging from SXSW and are poised to shape the communications landscape over the next few years and beyond.

Frankly, all three are interconnected along the same spectrum. Bots have become much more useful over the past year because of advances in deep machine learning, and VR will someday change the way we interact. Below are my top-learnings from SXSW this year:

1) Deep machine learning/AI will impact everything.

Deep machine learning was selected as the most important trend of SXSW at the Interactive Awards. AI is poised to transform everything we do as communicators – not replace professionals, but help us and our businesses to be more effective. Cognitive computing and use of big data is essential to the future of communications. To make the greatest use of it, we need to integrate intelligence.

  • Integrate – Communicators need to integrate AI into their planning and data analysis and make it part of what we do in research, crafting and executing campaigns and post-event evaluation.
  • Intelligence – We should use AI to give us insights and help us more effectively target and engage. One challenge I see is too many companies are calling everything AI and it is diluting the impact and causing confusion. AI is in danger of being played as part of buzzword bingo. We should be clear how our organizations are using intelligence and predictive modeling.

2) Bots are driving the conversation about the conversation.

As Dharmesh Shah, co-founder of HubSpot, eloquently put it – Chatbots are the most important technology development since the advent of the Internet. Even more important than mobile. I am not sure I agree with him completely, but since bots were mentioned in almost every session I attended, this is something to which we need to pay attention. My mind has been whirling with ideas of how to leverage this in communications. Keep this in mind:

  • The browser was about the click
  • The smartphone was about touch (or swipe)
  • VR is about the experience
  • And, the bot is about the conversation

There is no one better suited to helping shape and engage the conversation than public relations professionals. The big four messaging apps now surpass the big four social apps. If a brand isn’t looking at the space in an intelligent way, they are missing an overwhelming opportunity. One telling data point – half of smartphone users downloaded zero apps last month. Engagement is shifting and we need to move with it. This is not a binary solution set, but brands need to look at ways to be involved in the “conversation conversation”.

3) Augmented reality is an opportunity that requires companies and communicators to look at things in a new way.

The developers of Pokemon Go (Niantic) and the Knight Foundation addressed this topic in an opening session. Pokemon Go is still going strong, with tens of millions of daily players. What really stuck with me was a comment from John Hanke, CEO at Niantic “Tech companies are great at building consumer cocoons. We need to refocus on using technology for connecting in real life to meet human yearning.”

For communicators this comes into play when planning an activation. If we can implement campaigns that don’t just use gamification, but bring people outside together, the response can be overwhelming. It goes beyond this video of people chasing a Pokemon in Taiwan. Users have chartered planes and rented helicopters to get an edge and build a community. When was the last time one of your campaigns evoked such passion?

This also can help brands with their relationships with their cities. In many municipalities, public spaces are underutilized, and if a company can drive traffic and civic engagement, it can help build bridges.

4) Healthcare technology (HCIT) is on the rise.  

HCIT has been the area that has grown the most explosively at SXSW over the past few years. SXSW comes hot on the heels of HIMSS (the must-attend HCIT conference). Major HIMSS themes included interoperability, cybersecurity, population health management, telehealth/mobility/cloud and patient-centered healthcare. SXSW tends to look further down the road and this year there were more than 70 sessions touching on everything from VR and gaming in hospitals to real stories of success in health hackathons – and a great session with the CEOs of IBM and Johnson & Johnson discussing collaborative innovation in the digital health age.  Some key takeaways for communicators are that HCIT and Security experts need to work more closely together than ever before and wearables are playing a greater role than ever in healthcare.

Like all other tracks, AI was one of the dominant themes and will profoundly shape healthcare, as it will give physicians access to a larger data set than ever – not to mention giving communicators even greater insight. IBM CEO Ginni Rometty gave a well-received keynote on cognitive computing and healthcare’s future at HIMSS as well, which can be found here: https://www.ibm.com/blogs/watson-health/ginni-rometty-himss17/

5) Does SXSW still matter for agencies and tech companies?  Yes.

In fact, the answer is an overwhelming yes. No other conference blends SXSW’s disruption, passion and optimism. As Buzz Aldrin said at the conference “If we do not inspire, we will expire.” I do not advocate sending huge teams, but for communications executives in social/digital, tech, healthcare and financial technology – it is the place to be.

sxsw-2017-netbase

I teamed up with our client, NetBase, to look at if SxSW was really as important as I thought it was. We compared it to discussions around the other big event at this time – the NCAA Tournament. I figured the tourney would eclipse SXSW. We ran the sample on Selection Sunday – and the height of SXSW.  Total Share of voice for SXSW was 44% and it had 50% greater reach. People are just as passionate about SXSW as they are college basketball. And that is saying quite a bit.

This article was first published on northamerica.mslgroup.com

Mark McClennanMark heads the Consumer Technology practice and Business & Financial Services practice at MSLGROUP. He is a social media, privacy and fraud expert with over 19 years of experience in tech PR.
@McClennan | mark.mcclennan@mslgroup.com

The post Key Learnings From SXSW 2017: AI, Bots and AR/VR appeared first on MSLGROUP’s Blog Critical Conversations: Critical Conversations.

The Rise of the (Marketing) Machines—How to Tame Them

It’s no secret that technology has changed the game when it comes to marketing. We all know the customer is now in charge of the journey. Add to this an explosion in engagement channels and content, and marketers find themselves awash in a sea of priorities.

The typical way that we marketers have chosen to deal with this chaotic situation is to buy software platforms to automate large portions of the operational responsibilities and instead focus on content production and metrics management. But what has been lost in this drive towards efficiency is how it affects the consumer—and the damage it can cause to the relationship between a brand and its customers.

To manage this “man in the middle” position, our tend to focus on building an ecosystem of tools that provides customer engagement metrics that we can use to demonstrate return on investment to our C-suite. The issue with this approach is that, while it may create short-term relief, it becomes less effective over time as response rates erode or competitors begin to adapt to our communications strategies.

Embrace A More Human Approach to Technology

Instead of looking at our technology investment operationally, I would like to propose a more customer-centric lens by which to view our platforms and technology ecosystem: we should be focused on the capabilities that are necessary to service consumers in the same way we would if we had the opportunity to meet them face-to-face.

Harte Hanks CMO Frank Grillo firmly believes that our job as marketers is to “bring the human back to marketing” by reacting to the digital cues that consumers are leaving behind in their interactions with our brands. When we do this effectively, we can create a digital experience and overall journey that feels more personal and more human—like it did when marketing consisted of people sitting across from each other, interacting and building a relationship.

This Requires Knowledge of Strategy and Technology

As the Innovation Lead for marketing technology (martech) within Harte Hanks, it falls on my plate to get our existing technology investments aligned with Frank’s vision of more human marketing and fill in critical gaps. The role requires both an understanding of marketing strategy and technical acumen.

This evolving role is becoming critical in all marketing organizations as the lines of who is responsible for technology spending are blurred. Gartner has forecast that 2017 is the year when CMOs will spend more on technology than their CIO counterparts. This presents a challenge because marketing leaders have traditionally come from advertising or product management backgrounds rather than development roles. This leaves them ill-prepared to be able to separate the aspirational messages vendors try to sell them on from the realities of managing a collection of technical tools they need to bring together to achieve a cohesive mission.

Technology vendors haven’t helped the situation. They have mostly built their platforms around central core functions (like Eloqua and Marketo focus on email). The problem is that consumers interact with brands in a much more organic manner and can’t be counted on to behave the way these tool vendors would like them to. While the tools themselves may be operationally efficient, they rarely are architected to handle the consumers hopping across channels and devices, trying to obscure themselves as they complete their initial research, etc.

For example, when I am researching a product or service, I often want my initial interactions with a brand to be anonymous. When I get to a gated piece of content, I often give up and leave the page or enter bogus contact information so that I don’t end up with a deluge of calls and emails from sales. When I do offer up my accurate contact information, I expect it to be used to improve my experience. I do not expect to come back to the site for more content, only to have to fill out the same form again. What marketers often don’t realize is that by disrupting my journey with unwanted forms, misuse of my data, etc., they actually have to work harder to regain my attention later—if they can at all. Technology should be aligned to facilitate a smooth journey across channels and devices, which can’t be done in functional silos.

Your Customer Should Drive Your Martech Strategy

What does this mean to me as I develop Harte Hanks’ technology stack? It means that I constantly must put myself in your shoes (you are, after all, my prospect or client!). I must ask myself if the experience we have put in place is the engagement you expect. If the answer is no, it’s time to ask if we have the all right technology pieces in place—we might have a gap in capabilities that needs filling. It may also be that we have the right capabilities, but haven’t evolved the ecosystem as whole to work to your benefit. At the end of the day, that decision-making process begins by giving you, the prospect or client, a seat at the table in designing the ecosystem.

Use Machines to Make Marketing Human Again

Machines have made us lazy. It has become so easy to reach mass audiences of consumers with digital tools like email, search and display ads that we have become de-sensitized to the impact our never-ending quest for metrics improvement has had on our relationship with consumers.

But machines also have the power to make us human again. It’s our job to bring the human back to marketing—and technology plays a leading role in achieving this vision. To create a martech ecosystem that enables human marketing at scale, companies need to find those few key people that can see the big picture while also understanding the technology. If you don’t have someone in house who can fill that role, look for a partner that can bring that skill set to the table.

The machines have risen, but with the right mindset and team members, it is possible to tame them. It is possible to evolve your technology ecosystem into something you are proud to talk about—rather than something that causes frustration every month when you get the bill.

Southwest Airlines Debuts New “Wanna Get Away” Moment

Southwest Airlines just released its latest Wanna Get Away spot, “Noblest Lady,” which once again has consumers cringing. The spot starts with a handsome nobleman walking into a ball and spotting a beautiful woman sitting on the other side of the room. Everyone’s watching the handsome nobleman, wondering where he’ll go next. He approaches the beautiful blonde woman from behind and taps her on the shoulder. The beautiful blond turns around—the woman is actually an Afghan Hound. Wanna Get Away? Oh yes we do.

#MarketingAI

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Market Leader (https://www.warc.com/Store/ProductInfo/4642) is “the strategic marketing journal for business leaders”. It comes out once a quarter and they’ve asked me to contribute a column.

If you’re a WARC subscriber you can read it on their website but they’ve allowed me to stick the ‘original submitted version’ on here, as long as it carries the disclaimer “Unedited Version” and the credit “Reproduced with permission of Market Leader, the strategic marketing journal for business leaders. To subscribe visit www.warc.com/bookstore © Copyright Warc and The Marketing Society.”

So, here it is, without the benefit of editing and, therefore, probably, with a high risk of slander, libel and typos.

#MarketingAI – if it’s not the biggest hashtag in your stream right now it will be soon. All the large tech companies and half the world’s start-ups are about to knock on your door to tell you how their algorithms can transform your business. A tiny percentage of them are right. Here are four things to think about.

1. Don’t Worry About the Words, Worry About The Data

They might say AI, they might say Machine Learning or Deep Learning. They might have invented some dreadful neologism like Deep Marketing or some acronym that munges AI or ROI together. Someone will do that. Don’t worry about it. All that’s happened is that computers have suddenly got smart enough to do human-like tasks because businesses like Google and Amazon have access to vast amounts of data about stuff humans do. Google are really good at ‘natural language’ because they’ve got astounding amounts of human language being typed and spoken at them every day. Combine that with very large numbers of very fast computers and the computers can start to learn for themselves from all the billions of examples. (I’m simplifying dramatically). That’s the capability they’re trying to sell you. It’s worth remembering that you probably don’t have anything close to that amount of data. It might seem like all your transactions and insights and products and everything is a lot. It isn’t. In order to tell you anything useful they’ll probably have to combine it with other data. Or they’ll be manipulating your data with an algorithm that was trained on another set altogether. You should be asking questions about this. These businesses are hungry for data, your data, Their algorithms have to be fed. Make sure you keep a close eye on what happens to it. You don’t want to be paying them to make themselves smarter.

2. You Can’t See What’s Going On

It’s hard to see what Machine Learning systems are actually doing. They don’t work in ways that make ordinary ‘common sense’ to humans and they do lots of things very quickly, so it’s hard to spot mistakes. That’s even more true of the biases that get built in unthinkingly; the assumptions that have lain unexamined in your business for years, or things that are even worse than that. Many data training sets are built on majority populations. You don’t want to be standing in front of your board or a press conference blaming an algorithm for your accidentally racist targeting strategy. As The Atlantic magazine pointed out last year “Flickr’s auto-tagging of online photos label pictures of black men as “animal” or “ape” and researchers determined that “Google search results for black-sounding names are more likely to be accompanied by ads about criminal activity than search results for white-sounding names.” Read Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O’Neiland imagine those things happening inside your business.

3. Build A Machine, Get Replaced By A Machine

All the prognostications about the robots taking our jobs focus on the jobs everyone imagines are easy to computerise. People who read stuff and make some decisions, within fairly limited parameters with reasonably little independent creative thought. We dress it up with a lot of hoo-ha but that’s true of quite a lot of marketing/communications jobs too. The more you’ve turned your marketing operation into something science-y the easier it is to replace with a computer. Even if it’s half-baked pseudo science. The computer doesn’t care if your formula is rubbish, if you’ve got a formula it’ll follow it. The more you use things like pre-testing to make decisions the easier you are to replace with a machine.

4. Cheap, quick, algorithmic – pick three.

The ‘creative’ side of the business is not immune either. Computers are getting pretty good at producing perfectly acceptable art, music and writing. None of it’s genius but all of it’s cheap. It’s just the sort of thing you might need as a soundtrack for your product videos or as a way of instantly translating your brochures. To explore how easy this is I built a little twitterbot that generates a new corporate tagline on the hour every hour. It can do thousands a second. Some of them are good. All of them are cheaper than paying an agency. (Have a look @taglin3r.) If I were one of your creative agencies I’d be getting out of the commodity side of things – the art-working, retouching, mood music side – and retrenching to the stuff that only authentically, originally creative people can do. If I were you I’d be doing the same.

Follow @fourthingsabout on twitter for a stream of links and articles related to this quarters topic.

Russell Davies is Chief Strategic Officer at BETC, a contributing editor for Wired and a relentless mucker-about on the internet.

Better Attribution Means Better Marketing Results—How to Get Started

optimize marketing spend with fractional attribution

As banks and credit unions face increasing pressure to compete with fintech innovations, peer-to-peer lenders and digital payment channels, it becomes more crucial than ever to optimize marketing spend and understand which channels provide the greatest ROI.

In our last post, we discussed several types of attribution models and determined that a fractional attribution model is a critical tool for optimizing the performance of marketing dollars. Here we will discuss the challenges of implementing a fractional attribution model, and the steps to get started.

Why Aren’t More Companies Using Fractional Attribution?

There is plenty of discussion happening within financial marketing organizations about the importance of marketing attribution. Unfortunately, several challenges are preventing these discussions from gaining any real traction. Common challenges preventing banks from implementing a successful, robust attribution strategy include:

  • The “where do I start?” roadblock. As we saw in the last post, there are many options when it comes to marketing attribution. When faced with an overwhelming number of options, marketers have difficulty selecting the best approach to invest in, let alone deciding where to begin. These folks end up stuck in the same rut.
  • A lack of executive-level sponsorship. The decision to make significant changes in overall organizational structure, talent and technology needs to
be driven from the top, but making this leap is often hindered by competing priorities.
  • Politicized corporate culture. The underlying issue here is often organizational structures that reward the performance of individual channels. When multiple departments compete to take full credit for revenue generation, those department leads are focused on their team’s profits, not the overall health of the company.
  • Inconsistent logic. Offline and online channel marketers still attribute consumer behaviors separately with inconsistent attribution logic. The flawed justification that comes from this practice makes a combined attribution approach seem impossible to achieve (and compounds some of the other challenges listed above).
  • Mobile-added complexity. The ability to track behaviors across various online-enabled devices is a data scientist’s dream, but the complexity of the data can be overwhelming for marketing organizations—and is sometimes perceived as more of a nightmare.
  • Lack of the right skill sets and corresponding technology. Because the demand for data scientists is greater than the supply, it’s time to invest in top data scientists with a broad set of math and statistics skills and a deep understanding of the data landscape.

Fractional Attribution: How to Get Started

Executive-level sponsorship is key to making the transition to a new attribution model. When it comes to gaining executive-level sponsorship, you should stress the point that you can get a clearer picture of what the entire marketing budget is doing by spending just a small fraction of that budget. And by investing a small part of the marketing budget into a fractional attribution model, you can find 15–25 percent of ineffective spend within a few months of implementation. You’re not just getting an accurate map of where your marketing dollars are going, you’re reallocating those dollars in a much more effective manner. When put that way, the transition to a fractional attribution model becomes much more palatable.

You also need to make the shift to a more customer-centric focus and show how this will result in more profitable customer relationships. Here it will be helpful to perform an audit to assess current skill sets and technology infrastructure. Put together a detailed plan that shows how to get to a more robust attribution model with a phased approach—with clear success measures along the way to justify the next step.

Next Step: The Scenario Planning Tool

Implementing a fractional attribution model is only half of the solution; a scenario planning tool is needed to optimize marketing channel performance. With this tool, analysts and marketers can quickly run “what-if ” tests to gauge the impact of reallocating marketing spend. For example, what will happen if you move dollars from digital marketing and instead invest them in direct mail?

The end result is a more informed decision and higher returns from the marketing budget. Furthermore, this process can be used to calibrate and refine the attribution engine going forward.

To create the scenario planning tool, analysts outline a roadmap that identifies key performance indicators (KPIs) and details the overall attribution approach. The most robust attribution solutions require user-level data across multiple online and offline channels that need to be integrated and blended.

Spend Wisely with Better Attribution

The best decisions are data-driven, and in a multichannel world where the customer journey can span across several channels, robust attribution solutions will play a central role in informing marketing-spend decisions. It’s time to leverage analytics to start deriving insight from those large pools of data. A fractional attribution model and a scenario planning tool can optimize media and channel performance, helping you break down the silos at your institution—and showing you exactly where to allocate your marketing dollars.