THE ART OF DELEGATING

Yes, there really is an art to delegating.

The very definition of delegating is “assigning the responsibility or authority to another person to carry out specific duties.” It is one of the core concepts of management leadership. However, just the thought of delegating is stressful, and most people struggle with the idea of giving up control on a project. Just as in other aspects of business, there is a process and procedure you should use to help you delegate effectively.

Delegating is an opportunity to remove a project or task from your plate so that you can focus on other more pertinent tasks and improve your management skills. By assigning the task or project to another colleague, you are essentially giving them an opportunity to grow and further develop new skills, which helps build an engaged, efficient team.

Assessing Your Team

When considering projects/assignments to delegate, first you should consider your team. It is important to select a team member who has appropriate strengths and skills as well as capacity to handle the assignment. Other things to consider: Is this a one-time project or will it be a recurring task?  Does this team member have the time to dedicate to the task?

Assign and Empower

Once you have identified the team member, be sure to set up a kick-off meeting to discuss the project. Provide all background, discuss the roles and responsibilities and set expectations. Be sure to communicate the objectives, goals, budget and deadlines. Setting up a regular time to meet to check in on your team member’s progress is also a great way to stay in the loop and provide feedback without micromanaging.

Do’s & Don’ts of Delegating:

DO:

  • Share key priorities so your team knows what’s most important
  • Clarify expectations by communicating essential information about the project
  • Provide complete instructions
  • Give your team members the support they need to leverage YOU better
  • Be patient. Let others learn and grow
  • Be clear about your team’s level of authority
  • Check on progress
  • Show recognition

DON’T:

  • Expect people to read your mind
  • Give “drive-by” delegations
  • Underestimate the time it takes to do things
  • Micromanage
  • Underestimate your team’s capabilities
  • Get discouraged if your team asks you for advice
  • Look for perfection

 

A final piece of advice: “Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.” – George S. Patton

Do you have a proven method of delegating? Join us in the discussion and tweet us @DEVENEYMKTG

 

 

 

 

CONSUMER ACTIVISM: HOW TO PREPARE AND HOW TO RESPOND

In 2018, brands are witnessing a wave of a new consumer activism. According to a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll, since the beginning of 2016, one in five Americans has participated in some form of activist involvement. In all, 27% of American adults have taken part in two or more offline activities, while 18% (representing 24% of Internet users) have engaged in two or more activities online. And, many of them claim they plan on getting more active. Making sure your brand is properly prepared to engage with activists both proactively as well as reactively will be essential to navigating the activism landscape.

Activism Defined:

Activism can be understood as acting to affect social change and can occur in a myriad of ways and in a variety of forms. It is most often concerned with “changing the world” through social, political, economic or environmental efforts. Activism can be led by individuals but is often done collectively through social movements.

Types of Activism:

  • Digital/Internet/Social Media
    • The use of electronic communication technologies such as social media, email, podcasts, etc. to enable faster and potentially more effective (far-reaching) transmission of oppositional beliefs by concerned citizens who may or may not be involved in a larger movement
  • Protests/Grassroots Movements
    • The protest is perhaps the oldest and most traditional form of activism
    • Individuals (who may or may not be part of the same community and/or organization) who coordinate and assemble a large-scale event bearing witness on behalf of a cause
    • Protesters may organize a protest as a way of making their opinions heard to influence public opinion or government policy, or they may undertake direct action to enact desired changes themselves
    • Can be non-violent and/or violent depending on the situation and can escalate from non-violent to violent depending on the circumstances
    • May take place in one designated location or could consist of physical movement i.e. a walk or march
  • Activist Organizations
    • The activism industry consists of organizations and individuals engaged in various forms of activism fighting at least one perceived injustice; often done full-time as part of the organization’s core business model
    • Often non-profit and/or non-governmental
    • Does not generally manufacture goods
    • May engage in lobbying, or attempting to influence decisions made by the federal government
    • Examples of Activist Organizations: PETA, Greenpeace, ACLU, Black Lives Matter, etc.

Profile of an Activist:

  • Usually involved in larger organization/movement
  • Engage in demonstrations, sit-ins, etc.
  • Act on what they believe to be true and/or what they hold as core values (i.e.: civil liberties, women’s rights, animal rights, etc.)

 

Proactive: Get Ahead of the Curve

First Steps

  • Identify issues that might attract activists’ attention
  • Assemble crisis management plan and team with members in specialty areas who have activism or similar experience
  • Develop specific crisis management plans for different types of possible activism crises
  • Select and train a credible spokesperson for the media
  • Consider conducting dry runs/test crises to make sure your plans will work

Do Your Research

  • Develop media relations plan, community relations plan and risk communications strategy
  • Appoint responsibility to appropriate members of staff who have relevant experience in crisis management (especially when it comes to activism)
  • Develop a written and verbal complaints procedure
  • Consider holding community events or engaging in Corporate Social Responsibility programs – reach out to the community if you think they may turn against you; don’t isolate your brand
  • Identify and keep in touch with the views of all activist groups that may prove a threat
  • Keep track of public opinion of the organization and relevant general issues (environment, animal rights, equal pay, racism, sexual assault, etc.)
  • Do not lose touch with breaking news and trending headlines – always be on top of what’s going on in the larger community that could affect your brand in some way

Avoid:

  • Don’t assume it won’t happen – anyone is vulnerable to a crisis, activism-related or not
  • Don’t play defense instead of offense
    • You may not always have the opportunity to expect the unexpected, but waiting to act until an activism-related crisis occurs is not the way to go unless there’s no other option
  • Don’t expect people/public opinion to be on your side – including employees
  • Don’t release messaging related to a potential crisis without consulting your crisis management team and/or legal counsel– risk of bringing unwanted negative attention to your brand
    • This goes for reactive crisis management as well

 

Reactive: Crisis Management

Protocol:

  • Identify and act quickly
  • Keep calm
  • Do not engage in further verbal or written communication, especially online
  • Be on high alert

Be discreet and cordial

Preparing for a Protest:

  • Identify and act quickly
  • Expect a video camera; this means they may come in groups of two or more

During a Protest:

  • Administrators should handle addressing the protesters, not staff
  • Ideally there is no video footage, but we should at least aim to keep the encounter as short as possible
  • Avoid protesters entering private property
    • Verbal phrases to communicate:
      • “We apologize, but no video camera recordings are allowed on our premises at this time.”
      • “Ma’am/Sir, you’re going to have to vacate the building.”
      • “Please adjourn to public property for your speech.”
    • Continue to not engage in further verbal communication

Avoid:

  • Do not engage in verbal conversation
  • Calmly repeat company policy
  • Do not stray from this script
  • Do not physically touch any of the protesters
  • Do not attempt to take posters or cameras away
  • Do not allow guests to verbally or physically engage

 After the Protest:

  • Do not further engage in conversation with guests about the occurrence
  • Apologize for the disruption
  • Ensure customer safety
  • Contact/update executives

Hard-hitting activist campaigns against big corporations have become part of the business landscape in 2018, but encountering activists doesn’t need to be an intimidating experience. Having a partner like DEVENEY to support your organization and devise a plan ensures that your best foot is forward when navigating the activism landscape.

Want to learn more? Join our conversation by tweeting us @DEVENEYMKTG.

 

GETTING TO KNOW GENERATION Z

As marketers, it’s crucial to continuously research and know our ever-evolving audiences. Our newest target audience? Generation Z.

But who exactly is Gen Z?

There is some debate on birth years, but most agree that Gen Z’ers are those individuals born after 1995/1996. They are 60 million strong, and will make up 40% of consumers by 2020.

Most importantly though, Gen Z’ers are not just an exaggerated version of Millennials – in fact, they are extremely different given the historical context they grew up in:

  • Gen Z’ers have been shaped by the recession and are prepared to work hard to create a stable future for themselves. They don’t remember a time when the economy was booming, so they are much more pragmatic and realistic than Millennials.
  • Additionally, they grew up believing that acceptance is the semi-norm and are generally more inclusive and tolerant than older generations. After all, they witnessed the election of the first black president and the legalization of gay marriage.
  • Gen Z’ers are global citizens. They actually interact with their global peers as the world continues to go online and geographical barriers shrink.
  • Technology-wise, Gen Z’ers are different because they are digital natives. They grew up surrounded by advancements in technology and don’t really remember a time when they did not have those tools. They see technology more as a tool than as an obsession. Technological innovation is not as exciting because they have come to expect it.

So, what does this mean for marketing?

Because Gen Z is such a unique audience cohort and will make up such a large portion of the market, it’s important to understand key aspects of their demo- and psychographics so that we may begin to shift how we communicate brands and ideas. Key takeaways include:

5 screens, 8 seconds: Because they’ve grown up in a world with access to information 24/7, Gen Z’ers have extremely small attention spans – 8 seconds to be exact. Even more, they are consistently plugged in to about 5 screens at a time.To account for this, make your content engaging and concise, and be sure to wow them (they expect it) – show value as quickly as possible.

Make sure your website is updated and works on mobile devices. They judge with their eyes first, and if one platform is lacking, they will notice and criticize you for it.

Tailor your marketing posts to each specific platform while keeping the overall message the same – it’s up to you to find the best way to communicate, and remember: each platform has a different purpose. Overall, Gen Z’ers are typically top users of platforms that allow them to choose who sees their content, and trends show that they prefer visual content over written word.

  • Instagram: conveying style and identity
  • Twitter: learning the news, real-time talk around trending events
  • Snapchat: share real moments in real time
  • Facebook: glean information, but tends to be viewed as an “over-sharing” platform (and thus its popularity among Gen Z is dying)
  • Another tip: Utilize online influencers to connect with the audience on a personal level. Gen Z’ers aren’t naïve and know influencers are paid to endorse products, but they still trust the individuals they follow on social media to make a conscious decision about the brands they work with.

Strong “BS” filters: Gen Z’ers have a very different relationship with brands and companies than their elders – they are less trusting and tend to have the strongest “BS” filter because they grew up having so much access to information so constantly. Overall, they tend to trust individuals more than institutions, so make sure to promote transparency and authenticity in everything your brand does.

  • Another tip: Utilize online influencers to connect with the audience on a personal level. Gen Z’ers aren’t naïve and know influencers are paid to endorse products, but they still trust the individuals they follow on social media to make a conscious decision about the brands they work with.

Empower them to change the world: Gen Z’ers aren’t as impressed by awards and industry jargon – they are motivated by companies that demonstrate a desire to make a positive impact on the world. They are very socially and politically active and want to be involved in the next movement for change. Don’t just talk about how your company helps others… inspire people to join you.

How has your brand shifted to target Generation Z? Tell @DEVENEYMKTG how you did it!

CURATING A CAREER PATH: MY SHADOW ASSOCIATE EXPERIENCE AT DEVENEY

As a New Orleans native and rising junior at the University of Southern California, I felt like I had experienced it all. From L.A. to LA, I have spent my college career in a persistent pursuit of determining what exactly my professional life was going to be. With internships that ran me through a multi-industry gauntlet (international Fashion PR Houses, celebrity stylists and social media startups), I had grown confident that I knew exactly what I wanted to do: visual branding.

This past month I had the opportunity to be join DEVENEY as a Shadow Associate, working with and learning from each of the departments – Digital, Creative/Advertising and PR.

First, I worked within the Digital team. I was blown away by the breadth of platforms, and both the amount and intricacy of platform usage itself. I was blown away by the breadth of platforms, and both the amount and intricacy of platform usage itself.

Second, I worked within the Creative team. I was tasked with gathering logos of companies that the Creative team was working on creating. They even trusted me with finding a stock image to be manipulated by the team for the main image for the quarterly report. Through hands on experience, I truly learned the creative process that goes into developing content.

Finally, I worked within the PR team, where I was brought into the immersive and fast paced world of crisis control. I learned about the importance, and delicate balance, of customer and client relations, as well as the multiple avenues through which brands maintain and craft their images and personalities.

At the end of each day, I found myself questioning more and more what exactly I had originally meant when I said that I was interested in visual branding. As consumers, everything that we see is a communicated message, intentional or not. To be able to curate that message is complicated, nuanced, empowering, and all together the industry of PR and Marketing. Every department approaches communicating information visually in its own way, whether it’s an enticing Instagram with the Digital Team, a strong logo with the Creative Team, or developing a strategic campaign with the PR Team.

Being a Shadow Associate at DEVENEY allowed me to immerse myself in an industry in which you can only learn through participation. I am able to leave this program with both a greater understanding of self and the expansive world that is visual branding. My only regret? That I didn’t apply to be a full Associate and Summer Scholar programs. If you have any interest in the advertising, digital, public relations and/or overall marketing field, make sure to apply by the end of July for consideration this fall. Taking charge of your career through gaining new experiences is truly the best way to curate it.

AR, VR and AI: USING NEW TECHNOLOGIES TO CREATE COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE

Graphic demonstrating AR technology.

As technology becomes more and more prevalent in our everyday lives, it is important for us to learn the differences between new computer systems and the ways in which they can be used to capture value. All too often, businesses will adjust to and learn to implement only one kind of technology, just for another newer and preferred platform to come along and force them to start this process all over again. Marketers need to be consistently looking to the future and staying up to date on these innovations in order to determine the most practical applications for their companies.

There are three types of technology that we as marketers will be using more frequently (and much sooner than you may think):

  • Augmented Reality (AR) involves virtual enhancement of a real-world environment. AR systems identify existing objects and conditions, and then augment them with superimposed, computer-generated imagery.  AR includes technology like Snapchat filters, the Uber app and Pokémon Go.
  • Virtual Reality (VR) uses an interactive, artificial world to suspend doubt in the user. VR systems combine software and hardware to create some degree of immersion and sensory feedback. Most video games involve some level of VR immersion.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) adds adaptive learning and/or intelligence to computers so that performance is improved. Computers with AI capabilities can learn from experience, adjust to new inputs and perform some human-like tasks using data collection and storage. AI encompasses anything from smart speakers to self-driving cars.

But how do we use this information to create competitive advantage?

The increasing accessibility of information through social media—and internet usage in general—has opened the door for many companies looking to differentiate their offerings through personalization.

  • Augmenting Customer Realities: By tailoring your company’s products or services for use on AR equipped platforms, customers will be able to view your offering in their physical environment. Ikea’s “Ikea Place” app does this particularly well, allowing customers to preview furniture wherever they plan to place it in their homes.
  • Using the Past to Inform the Future: Data collected by retailers about customers’ historical information from past purchases can be used to create deeper engagement at home or in-store. Companies will be able to suggest and possibly even predict future purchase decisions with the use of AI.
  • Increasing Interest through Interaction: Consumers are becoming less and less interested by traditional advertising in mass markets. It is no longer enough for brands to include a prominent celebrity or an adorable animal in their ad. Advertisements through VR platforms will allow for seemingly real user-product interaction and will likely be more successful in influencing purchase decisions in the coming years.

How will your brand use these tools to capture value for your audience? Tell us how by tweeting us @DEVENEYMKTG

All You Need to Know About the GDPR

European Union General Data Protection Regulation graphic from Composity

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have likely heard about the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, more commonly known as GDPR. While this is a regulation specific to the European Union, there are potential implications that could impact businesses in the United States. As members of The WorldCom Group –  an international collection of PR and communications agencies – we are keenly aware that you don’t have to be in the European Union to be impacted by GDPR.

Some companies like Google have already rolled out changes to their privacy policy in advance of the GDPR going into effect May 25, 2018. Other companies like Verve have shuttered their operations in Europe because of it.

In any case, the implications could be minimal or major, depending on what your company is, how you collect and use data, and the audience you reach. If you’re anything like me, the EU’s GDPR was a bit of an unknown and while you may or may not be impacted by it, knowledge is power (right?).

Thanks to some cursory research, we have found this amazing infographic from Digiday outlining all the must-know details of the GDPR. And, instead of recreating the wheel we figured we’d just share it with you here. Enjoy!

GDPR Infographic from Digiday

Have something to add? Tweet at us @DEVENEYMKTG and let us know!

HOW TO SLOW DOWN IN A FAST-PACED AGENCY WORLD

Slow Down (DEVENEY Graphic)

When you’re given a new project, it’s easy to go into autopilot and want to start right away to finish as soon as possible. However, before starting, try to dedicate a few minutes to thinking of any potential problems or questions you may have noted before diving in, and how you might want to tackle the assignment. Be rational: do you even have all the information you need to complete the project, or do you need to do some further research first? Remember to give yourself some time to think and draw logical conclusions about the project at hand.

Communicate with the client (or the project lead) to make sure that all expectations are understood and clear from the beginning.

To make more efficient use of your time before starting, confirm that you have a correct understanding of what the project entails and any important deadlines to keep in mind. That way, you are headed in the right direction from the get-go and won’t be halfway through the project before realizing that what you’ve done isn’t actually what the client was looking for.

Create your own action plan.

How are you going to get your project done for your client by the deadline? In this step, I usually create mini-deadlines or internal goals for myself – for example, when writing a press release, I budget the time I’m allotted to account for research, writing the first draft, editing, and so on. By forming a mental checklist for myself, I not only keep myself on track, but am able to make sure each stage of the project is completed thoroughly.

If you finish before the deadline, take a break and come back to the project later, before turning it over to the client or account lead for review.

By allowing yourself to take a break and come back with fresh eyes, you are giving yourself the opportunity to think of an idea to include that may not have occurred to you the first time around, or even a completely new — and better — angle for the project that the client will love. You may end up having a breakthrough if you let the assignment sit for a while, and you’ll also be able to catch those grammatical or spelling errors you didn’t realize you made.

If all else fails, take a deep breath and remind yourself to relax – the work will get done!

Ultimately, slowing down will help you pay closer attention to detail, which will enhance your productivity in the long run. It may feel painful at first and as if you’re not being efficient, but after a while, it will become second nature. Being efficient is important, but so is serving the needs of a client to the best of your abilities, and that all starts with mindfulness and slowing down.

Keep in mind: people may not remember how fast you did it, but they will remember how well you did it!

How do you stay efficient at work while not sacrificing quality? Share your techniques with us @DEVENEYMKTG!

 

 

NATIVE ADVERTISING IS HERE TO STAY

We’ve all heard it – native advertising, sponsored content, advertorials. In marketing today, we see sponsored articles, blurred lines between paid and editorial and high social media engagement. All of these trends support why native advertising can be highly effective at increasing brand awareness and consumer engagement, especially compared to traditional advertising.

Native advertising is a paid placement where the ad or user experience follows the natural form and function of media experience it is placed. So, what’s so great about this? Because it does blend in with the content in its true media form, most viewers don’t even realize it is an ad. Think about it – how many times have you exed out of an intrusive pencil ad or skipped that pre-roll as simply because you knew it was an ad? Consumers’ attention spans these days are so slim and no wonder since we are exposed to thousands of brand messages on a given day. We are becoming immune to traditional means, so brands have used native to tie their messages in a unique way. Not to mention, it is estimated that more than 86 million Americans will use ad blockers this year.

Research proves that there is preference to natural content compared to traditional advertising.  In fact, according to a recent Copyblogger.com consumer study, only 3 percent of consumers surveyed were very knowledgeable of what native advertising is. Not surprisingly, according to Ad Week, 70 percent of consumers say they’d rather learn about products through content than traditional advertising.

What is great about native advertising is it can take any form of media. Whether it is interactive like landing pages, video, Snapchat filters or more traditional like print ads, any platform that serves content can be adopted to a brand’s message. Content sponsored by a major brand is likely to be of high quality given the sponsoring brand’s willingness to be associated with it. Top publishers like Times Inc., Forbes, Wall Street Journal and BuzzFeed are getting on board with it to offer brands this form of advertising.

Given the number and magnitude of brands that have seen success in showing native ads, it is a tactic that is here to say. Air Bnb found remarkable success with their partnership with the New York Times which dedicated an interactive landing page to Ellis Island to showcase the way immigrants used to travel. Other notable native campaigns include Netflix’s promotion of Narcos via Wall Street Journal and Newcastle’s “Not a Super Bowl commercial” by Gawker.

Studies estimate that native advertising revenues are going to reach almost three-quarters of the U.S. ad market by 2021.

In the case of DEVENEY’s clients, this form of advertising can especially be effective in branding campaigns or clients where we can position them as an industry expert in a certain category where we have specific content to promote. Native is also ideal after a damaging brand crisis since we can elevate the brand associated with content.

Can you tell a native ad from a traditional ad? What are your thoughts on native advertising, have they proved effective for your brand? Tweet us your thoughts @DEVENEYMKTG

BEST PRACTICES TO OVERCOME CREATIVE BLOCK

We’ve all been there before. You have a big, exciting project to prepare for. There’s a due date, and an allotted time frame to get it done, but nothing. You can’t think of where to begin, you’re stuck somewhere in the middle or maybe you’re down to the final detail but can’t get past that last hurdle. The ideas you usually have are just not coming to you. This is called creative block, and it can happen to anyone at any time. It’s extremely common, and as  designers, we experience it often. The best thing to do is not to panic, take a deep breath and try some of the techniques below.

You can apply these tips to all types of work, not just design. Do you have a proposal to put together, but can’t find the strategy? Is there a term paper, or even an email, to write but don’t know where to begin? Do you have a meeting, but can’t seem to collect your thoughts? You just might have creative block.

Here are some of the best practices to overcome your creative block:

Change Your Surroundings

Sometimes, all we might need is a little change of scenery to get a spark of inspiration. Try bringing your work to another area of your house or office. Coffee shops can be great place to work and serve as an excuse to get out of the house. If you’re able to, try working outside for a bit.

Disconnect & Unplug

In this day and age, it can be hard to spend time away from our devices. Let’s admit it, a lot of us are hooked to our phones and the sweet pull of social media is just a few clicks away. These tools are amazing, but can be a big distraction, especially if an assignment is due. Try plugging your phone in another room or not logging in until your work is done. This one could be tough, but we could all use some time away from our screens.

Listen to Music

Other art forms may be inspiring for the projects we are working on. Music has the ability to convey many emotions, but it also can be a great motivator. It can also help distract from the noise, or lack thereof, in the office. Pandora and Spotify are great tools for listening to music and creating playlists. If lyrics are too distracting, try instrumental or classical music.

Bring in Another Person

You might feel stuck, but it’s possible you are finished and you don’t know it. Try showing a friend or colleague what you’re working on. Their feedback might lead you to the idea you have been waiting for, or their comments might help you realize that you’re done and overthinking things. Another set of eyes can be very beneficial.

Get Some Rest

If your brain is feeling foggy, maybe all you need is to catch up on some rest. Our time is important and there is only so much in a day to get something done, but be careful not to overwork yourself. It’s important to take care of your mind. If possible, try taking a nap or even a long break. A well-rested individual will be more effective than a tired one.

How do you overcome your creative block? Tweet us @DEVENEYMKTG and let us know.