GET TO KNOW US: JOE SNOWDEN, CHIEF STRATEGY OFFICER

In this on-going series, we introduce you to some of the new folks at DEVENEY, their unique perspectives and ultimately, why they chose to work at our agency.  Today’s entry spotlights, Joe Snowden, our Chief Strategy Officer.

Joe Snowden DEVENEY Chief Strategy Officer

How did you get into this industry?

In college I started writing jingles for a few local brands, mostly banks. I wrote, produced and performed all of them by playing my guitar and singing. Jingles were my compromise between “real work” and creative work, where music and marketing merged.

What did you study in College?

I majored in advertising.

How long have you been working in the industry?

I’ve been in this industry for about 30 years now. I started out in the industry back in college. I was president of my fraternity at the time and was living this “double life” of putting on a suit and living in the real world then coming back to the fraternity house.

What continues to motivate you in this industry?

When I’m excited about the people I’m working with, I’m excited about helping them grow. I enjoy being able to look at a client and know that they succeeded personally and business wise from our work.

What was your favorite project?

Working with a regional retailer of billiards and home recreation products. The owner was one of my friends and I would write all of his radio spots. I was able to really have fun and write some ridiculous and funny things. The relationship with client was great!

What is your key to success?

You have to focus on the relationship with the client. Look for an alignment between the cultures, if yours and the clients match, they’re more likely to trust and enjoy the agency.

What’s your favorite thing about New Orleans?

The joie de vivre. New Orleans is full of friendly and happy people, plus the music culture just flows through the city.

Number one piece of advice you would give your younger self?

Relax and appreciate it more.

Why DEVENEY?

The DEVENEY team is very empowered to do things on their own volition. Everyone here knows how to stop and smell the roses. We work hard but know how to embrace and enjoy the day.

What do you do in your free time?

I still spend a lot of my time writing music and playing my guitar. I’m a big fan of Country, Americana and Bluegrass. If I’m not doing that then I’m usually running.

TRAVEL INDUSTRY TRENDS & HOW WE GOT HERE

In recent years marketing professionals have been pounded with the idea that millennials are reshaping consumer trends. Apparently, the group has been responsible for seemingly everything. From changes in shopping behaviors (online, interactive, mobile!) to dining preference (fast casual, local food, avocado toast!) to creative executions and font preference (sustainable packaging, millennial pink! Futura, Avenir, Gotham!)

Wellness travel has been identified as the next frontier of travel preference. For those unfamiliar with wellness travel, these consumers are identified in two ways, either seeking out a destination that allows for a continued routine of fitness and health or those seeking a destination as a break for the betterment of their personal health.

The Evolution Will Be Televised…

Beyond creating a destination for health or to better one’s health, we are now seeing an underpinning of storytelling that must be woven throughout to truly make it a destination worth visiting. It’s not enough to offer a menu of organic food sandwiched between daily yoga salutations. The next generation of travelers doesn’t want to just “consume”, they want immersive experiences. But you’ve heard that, right? And, these new travel experiences can’t just be experiential, they need to be transformative. Leaving a destination and returning as someone with a new outlook on life.

So, how did we get to the point where the average consumer has an expectation of a destination that is in parallel with an individual who might be spending many thousands of dollars on their vacation?

One medium that has influenced the landscape of travel is clearly social media. There have been several recent studies that show that the biggest influence of millennials booking travel is “how Instagrammable” a destination might be. Increased visibility to an awesome experience has certainly raised the bar.

We can also thank those individuals who are actually ON Instagram for creating all those covetable moments. Influencers have moved the needle in the direction of unattainable realities, think gold pineapple cocktails served up in flamingo inflatables at roof deck pool parties. While it all seems far-fetched, hotels and destinations have responded accordingly.

One exemplary example of a local hotel offering the complete destination experience is The Drifter. Imagine taking a step back to 1957 and checking into the roadside Motel 6 minus the leaky faucet. Instead of your standard stay, you will lounge on Eames era inspired furniture while possibly engaging in poolside yoga or meditation. It isn’t just about throwing amenities at your guest, it’s enveloping them in all things authentically unique or at least seemingly authentic.

So, how can we as travel and tourism destination marketers adapt our messaging in a way that will resonate for these new storyline seekers? We need to dig deep. Who are the individuals that uniquely comprise the cultural fabric of our destination? Who are the creators, artists and change makers we can connect our guests to? How can we do this in a way that is authentic and meaningful? What are the unique to our destination experiences we can exclusively offer to our consumers? Or how we can devise messaging and a commercial approach that delivers on the above promises?

With such a visually inclined audience, a destination needs to SHOW how they might be different- this can be via social channels, their advertising campaign or via earned media placement. This concept sounds simple enough, but does the quality of your assets align with messaging of your destination?

Local experience packages or “tours” as we used to call them should be made readily available to this new destination traveler. The experiences need to be made richer- behind the scenes tours, exclusive tastings, meet the maker one on one’s or unique to the destination activities like cliff side yoga, immersive grape stomp wine making followed by terroir trivia. While some of these things might sound ridiculous, there is certainly no question that each would be memorable… sign me up!

 

 

 

THIS BOOT WAS MADE FOR…EXPLORING!

My journeys as part of the Louisiana Travel Association’s Louisiana Tourism Leadership Academy

 

Dear Carrie, Happy New Year! We are excited to have you as a student for our fourth year.

I returned to work after holiday break to this greeting in my inbox. It was a New Year, 2018, and I was beyond excited to learn that I’d be embarking on a year-long professional development journey exploring our great state of Louisiana (the boot), as part of the Louisiana Travel Association’s (LTA) 2018 Louisiana Tourism Leadership Academy (LTLA).

We’d represent a group of 28 strangers, picked to live in a house, work together and have their lives taped, to find out what happens when people stop being polite… and start getting real. Oops, sorry, flashback to my days binge watching MTV’s The Real World.

In reality, we were a group of 28 lucky tourism professionals from across the state, selected among a slew of applicants, to explore some of Louisiana’s best tourism assets in cities including New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lake Charles, along with those lesser known, but just as enjoyable areas, like Natchitoches, Monroe-West Monroe and Avoyelles Parish.

The program’s mission is to build future tourism leaders, develop their leadership skills and strengthen their networks. And that it did!

Over the course of the year, I logged approximately 1,981 miles of travel, and committed 120 hours to the program. I learned about the importance of advocacy at the State’s Capital; I discovered the charm of Natchitoches (and learned how to pronounce it correctly!) and toured the church where Julia Robert’s character (Shelby) gets married in the movie Steel Magnolias; I shook the hand of the Mayor of Mansura, La., Kenneth Pickett, and tasted some of the best cracklins I’ve ever had at Durand Food Store – I would later place a special order to feature them at the rehearsal dinner of my wedding; I toured (tasted and enjoyed) Landry Vineyards – one of Louisiana’s few wineries; and I discovered a new found love for craft beer at Crying Eagle brewery in Lake Charles.

But more importantly, I made lasting connections with peers that I know I can call on at anytime for feedback, guidance or a favor. I went beyond my comfort zone of Baton Rouge and New Orleans, and visited areas that I’ll travel back to one day, and will encourage others to explore as well. And I saw firsthand the hard work of our tourism leaders to promote Louisiana, not just for their wellbeing, but for all residents and visitors.

I’m happy to extend my involvement in LTLA as a proud alumnus and as part of the LTLA Auction & Scholarship Committee. The two-year commitment is made up of six individuals representing each former LTLA class. As part of my involvement, I’ll be meeting with future LTLA classes. And so, these boots will keep walking…

 

Do you represent a destination you would like to promote? Our professionals are passionate about travel and tourism and DEVENEY would love to help, tweet us @DEVENEYMKTG to get the conversation started.

 

TOP TRAVEL TRENDS

During a recent tourism conference in Lake Charles, our team learned some valuable information about travel trends. Here’s a snapshot of some of the trends we discussed:

Multi-Generational travel is THE top travel trend in 2018. Families are traveling together to share in vacation experiences with their children and grandchildren. These trips range from revisiting destinations that they visited previously but may also include inclusive experiences such as cruises and European destinations to mark significant milestones. Family members are great companions and parents often foot the bill for Gen Y/Z. This trend has been huge so far in 2018 and we predict it will continue to grow.

U.S. News & World Report names the Skip-Gen travel as THE trend to watch in 2018. This trend comes with plenty of benefits for each generation, including the one NOT on the trip. Baby boomer grandparents are taking the grandkids on vacation while mom and dad work or have a break from the kids. Since most baby boomers are either retired or may have acquired more vacation days these trips serve as an opportunity to bond and plan trips that create special memories. This allows millennial or Gen Y/Z parents to have their own vacation or allow them to work while the grandparents take the grandkids on a trip during a holiday break from school. Deciding on a destination that is the right fit for both grandparents and grandkids can be a bit tricky, but theme parks, guided tours, and cruises are popular choices as they provide planned activities, meals and lots of entertainment.

Business leisure travel, “bleisure” trend is on the rise. Simply put, this is when individuals traveling for business extend their trips by adding leisure nights extending their stay. According to research by Expedia/Luth Research in the “2018 Profile of the American Bleisure Traveler,” bleisure travelers add leisure to nearly half of their business trips within the U.S.  Forty-three percent of the bleisure travelers are attending conferences/conventions or attending client meetings. These bleisure travelers often consider the destination and research cities with great sightseeing locations.  Some of the activities bleisure travelers are looking to experience are beaches, restaurants, culture/museums, and weather (for those traveling from colder weather locales).

Are you marketing to any of these audiences? Join us in the discussion and tweet us @DEVENEYMKTG.

SOUNDS OF SUCCESS: MY PR ASSOCIATE PLAYLIST

Spotify x DEVENEY associate

I used to wonder what the soundtrack to my life would be. Then I realized I couldn’t make a playlist long enough. So, I started with a day. Whether it’s my keyboard clicking beneath my fingers as I write a press release, or the rattle of the streetcar on its tracks during my morning commute to work, every day here is punctuated by sounds.  Our playlists reflect a lot about us, so this is a day in my life as a Public Relations Associate at DEVENEY, told through my daily Spotify playlists. 

Morning

Every morning, I wake up an hour before I leave the house. After a few hits on the snooze button, I play my favorite Wake Up playlist. I’m not naturally a morning person, so this playlist features lively tunes to kickstart my day. As an Associate at an engagement agency, I have to stay sharp. Things move quickly here, and a crisis project can happen anytime. Starting my day with this energetic flow pushes me into starting my day at my best.

I commute to work on the streetcar every morning and listen to different podcasts to pass the time. I love the Mindvalley podcast for tapping into my potential and productivity. Mindvalley helps me tap into my creative flow. This allows me to start my day with confidence and mental energy.

Before lunch, I listen to something calm to get me in the zone. I focus and organize myself, check my emails. start projects, go to meetings, and establish a flow. 

Afternoon

I don’t listen to music during lunch, but if I did it would be the DEVENEY happy songs playlist. This playlist captures the office atmosphere and the spirit of the neighborhood.  I love exploring the beautiful Lower Garden District neighborhood during my break and trying restaurants nearby. My favorite is Lilly’s, their spicy tofu is heavenly. 

In the afternoon to jumpstart my productivity and knock out any deadlines, I listen to POLLEN. This eclectic playlist feels fresh and sunny with interesting new songs that keep focused and alert. This playlist helps me channel creative flow into writing talking points, conducting client research, building media lists or assisting with speaker training binder development.

Music inspires me to reach my goals and put my best (tapping) foot forward.

If you’re interested in joining the team, apply now to the Associate Program. The opportunity lasts for 12 weeks, starting in January. Associates may work a maximum of 20 hours per week. Interested students should apply by October 31, 2018 to be considered. To apply, please send a cover letter, resume, relevant writing samples, and/or portfolio examples to AssociateProgram@deveney.com. 

 

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

 

 

 

 

NEXT-GEN PR AND THE TURN TO SOCIAL INNOVATION

What do you do when customers stop trusting you, or stop listening entirely? Consumer behavior is shifting rapidly, and we are seeing decreased return on advertising and corporate communication as a whole. Customers trust online reviews more than they trust corporate voices, but many companies don’t create opportunities for that kind of feedback or attempt to “stack the deck” in reviews on Amazon, Yelp, or even Glassdoor.

So customers look instead to more concrete forms of word of mouth (that Holy Grail of communication), focusing on tangible experiences and authentic engagement. In other words, to be successful in many ways means changing our perspective from attracting and retaining customers to converting those customers into ambassadors and loyal stakeholders whether or not they’re purchasing from us or using our services.

While this is across the board, more or less, it is also a generational thing. Millennials and “generation Z” now comprise almost half the population (48%) in the US, and stand to inherit trillions of dollars from their baby boomer and gen-x parents (although that can be a misleading statistic). They also came of age during the insane rise in college tuition and the cost of student loans, as well as the shift from “yes we can” rhetoric to Nazis marching openly in the streets of supposedly progressive college towns.

These generations are also very active, volunteering at high rates and emphasizing a social conscience in the products they buy and the services they use, as well as feeling perfectly at home pressuring those companies they don’t like to get in line (the best recent example would be the unprecedented pushback against US gun culture after the Parkland shooting).

They spend, they don’t save, and they certainly don’t trust anyone they don’t know (and certainly not if that voice sounds corporate). They’re even more hungry for tangible good, demonstrable impact, and authentic experience (e.g., craft and maker culture, immersion into other cultures and community service, etc.) than other demographics, and are intolerant of smoke, mirrors, and half-truths just as much as they are easily obsessed with the idea of being an “influencer.”

All of this means, however, that the millennial and gen-z demographics are primed and ready for public relations as a positive force for trust and relationship building (rather than spin, agentry, and reactive crisis communication). There are a few ways that organizations can develop to suit their needs, and luckily those are in line with best practices for economic sustainability as well.

 

Cause-Related Marketing (CRM) and Social Marketing

Build engagement and identification with your stakeholders by aligning your corporate interests with their personal/social interests. Leverage your brand identity (or redefine it) through a social identity, remembering that audiences now are looking for social change, and are willing to back it as consumers. Be careful not to be cynical, though; using social good to mask huge profit margins, greenwash your products, or for publicity itself can backfire.

 

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Creating Shared Value (CSV)

Engagement marketing doesn’t have to look like marketing, and your brand can sell itself. If your employees want a socially responsible company, and they are some of your best ambassadors, make sure to engage with the community in such a way that the 4Ps (product, place, promotion, price) of marketing become the 6Ps (adding people and planet). Just be sure it’s strategic and brand-aligned (strategic CSR or “creating shared value”): Cliff Bars encourage healthy living (and teaching that to the community), Google pays its employees to spend their time on pet projects, and companies like Target, Starbucks, and IKEA have pushed gender equity, sexuality equity, and environmental responsibility in various ways to connect both to employees and their customers (with incredible success).

 

Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Let’s not forget that Gmail came from Google’s 20% idea, and Starbucks gained much-needed brand goodwill (and talent retention) from its stance on marriage equality and its efforts to support employees with education and healthcare. But the idea that we can find inspiration and opportunity by combining social needs with corporate strategy isn’t new; it’s just becoming even more important with millennials and gen-z. The key is to always innovate, but also always consider suitability and sustainability of the project. But even if it doesn’t work (right now), the push towards an innovative mindset always pays off.

Regardless of which road you take, it’s essential to remember that the stakeholder/user comes first, and that a good strategy not only means a good story, it also means you might need indirect tactics to get your message across in a way that doesn’t alienate or sound fake. While your personality makes you visible, memorable, and engaging, it also is still corporate; find a balance between who you are and what you want, and the potential ambassadors that the next generations want to be and listen to.

THE THREE STEPS TO A GENTLY HOLISTIC PR AGENCY

In the Douglas Adams series Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, success isn’t something you can always see clearly, and it’s certainly not something you can control. The world is too complex for any one person or team to make sense of it or make everything turn out “right.” There aren’t many better metaphors for the current state of public relations, especially as the rise of digital media challenges what we thought we knew about communication.

 

Digital media isn’t fundamentally different from non-digital media; no one wins if you let the tools, rather than your story, guide the strategy. At the same time, social media represents a broader shift that moves attention away from companies and towards users, integrating user-oriented storytelling into everything from operations to finance. No matter how good you are, user perceptions of politics (Chic-fil-A), customer service (United Airlines), or environmental impact (Tyson Foods) can result in rapid breakdown as well as opportunities for innovation.

 

Communication professionals are usually still in silos that rarely interact and so can’t adapt quickly enough in a time of continual and aggressive shifts in competition and industry disruption. How often do we start with a coherent story that has buy-in from each team, and then work together to form that story into strategic initiatives before we get to tactics and implementation? How often do we rethink what we “know” about how customers view our core value and competencies? And how often does that turn into real innovation that spans multiple departments? While most of us would answer “rarely” to those questions, there are a few steps you can take to stimulate the innovative and entrepreneurial energy of your communication teams.

 

Step 1: Holistic Workflow

Hiring talent isn’t enough; collaboration should occur along every step of project development. Each team or account executive should brief the others on progress, team leads should brainstorm across silos, and documents should be shared along the way. Don’t just bring creative in at the end, and don’t pretend that engineering is completely separate from PR and marketing.

 

Step 2: Holistic Research

Immerse yourself with clients completely; understand when and how services/products are used, but also get to know the competition, how production and sales operations influence experience, etc. If you don’t understand how the whole process works, you have far less ability to propose or execute projects that fit an overall strategy. At the same time, getting to know the process gives your teams valuable time and space to interact with the whole operation, gaining goodwill and buy-in across the board.

 

Step 3: Holistic Pitching

Remember to let things go. In a constantly changing environment, you need to be able to be flexible. When clients change their minds or our research shows that a good idea won’t work, make it an opportunity to be creative and innovative. What would work, or when would that good idea work? Is it a fit for another project? Can you use this time to throw out a few more pitches and get feedback? While pitching lots of ideas that tie into multiple areas of communication might result in few leads (or maybe just a green light for the PR side or advertising side), the process also keeps you sharp and opens ideas for other clients or initiatives. It also means that you’ll have to let a lot of good ideas go.

 

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!