CES 2016: The PR Challenges to Come

As a member of the Global Technology Practice at Burson-Marsteller, I have had the opportunity to represent clients at many events, including CES in Las Vegas. In January, I attended my sixth CES. However, there was something noticeably missing this year: There were only a few products to excite, an observation many journalists I spoke with also noted. In fact, some reporters were even coming up empty-handed when trying to uncover relevant, intriguing stories to share with audiences back home. So, what happened?

Some claim this sudden deficiency of the show’s usual, exciting innovation announcements may be the result of a slowdown in the industry’s growth. According to Accenture, the consumer technology industry’s growth has stalled in response to reduced continuous demand for new smartphones, tablets and laptops. Additionally, new technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT) haven’t created enough impact to reinforce industry expectations. Nonetheless, I believe the industry is finally starting to adjust the pace of innovation to meet to the slower demands of the market.

CES 2016 and innovation

In the past, the industry was noted for its “thirst for innovation.” When I attended my first CES in 2009, it seemed like companies were competing to see who could produce the largest TV, the brightest digital camera images, the most Internet interactions in their devices — simply because it was all so exciting. It didn’t matter whether audiences could afford these innovations.

However, some years later, behavior has shifted as fewer consumers are willing to pay the hefty price tag for these innovations. According to Statista, the market’s intention to purchase a new smartphone or laptop in 2016 was down six percent compared to 2015, down eight percent for televisions and down nine percent for tablets. Echoing this change in consumer behavior, companies at CES this year introduced few new LED screens, only a handful of additions to audio systems and devices, and less-than-notable additions to home appliances.

Our challenge is to create new stories

Now that the product innovation pace is slowing, the major challenge for the PR industry is to create new stories that will help companies continue to benefit their stakeholders. We need content and stories that support our clients’ business objectives. These stories are evolving, just as CES has. Once the world’s largest technology showcase, CES now has a networking arena, a content development platform and an entertainment stage to present breaking news. There were a few remarkable stories that generated good media coverage: Netflix becoming a worldwide entertainment provider, sharing its plans to keep on pace as the industry-leader in every market (except China); our client Ford wowing audiences with real-time demonstrations of the Smart Mobility Plan, which included features such as impressive radars that identify and map movement around a Ford Fusion; and even the overwhelming resurgence of turntables, as audio companies are bringing back classic vinyl records and pay tribute to romance music-lovers (my father included!).

Although industry expectations have changed from five years ago, the stories are still there. However, a company’s ability to identify these stories and make them relevant for the CES audience and their stakeholders will be the key to successful investments at CES in years to come.

This post was published by Rodrigo Castro, a Manager in the Global Technology Practice. The original post can be found on the global Burson-Marsteller blog.

Burson-Marsteller Miami Welcomes 2016

Dear Burson-Marsteller Miami Friends and Colleagues,

Happy New Year! As we enter 2016, I am excited for what the year ahead will bring, and Burson-Marsteller Miami has big plans to continue offering best-in-class communications services to our clients and partners.

In an end-of-the-year message to global staff, our Worldwide Chair and CEO Don Baer said, “There are so many achievements from 2015, all of which show we are meeting the demands – and taking hold of new opportunities – that big changes in our industry present.”

Don referenced an article last month in The New York Observer that said this about our firm: “Burson just won’t act its age. The big old legacy agency’s behaving more like a startup…” To keep succeeding, we will keep bringing that kind of energy and excitement to everything we do. These qualities are at the heart of the spirit our great founder Harold Burson brought to the public relations world when he started and built our firm. That is the spirit we try to demonstrate every day when we do our best work. And it is the spirit that will keep making us even stronger in the year ahead.

I am proud to be part of such a dynamic, innovative firm as Burson-Marsteller, and wanted to share with you all a recap of last year’s achievements.

Latin America: For the second time in three years, The Holmes Report named Burson-Marsteller Latin American Agency of the Year. Additionally, our Miami team was honored to win a Gold SABRE award for our work on the Honduras country brand competition. We are currently supporting large clients in a variety of ways from down south across the region and here up north in the United States. At this very moment, our team is with Sony Latin America at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

Florida: We took great steps to increase our offering to clients right here in our home state, beginning with hiring Karen Guggenheim as a Director. Karen has already made an impact on serving our Florida clients and has been a reliable, steady communications adviser on crisis and issues management engagements.

StudioB: This new offering has been our way to tap the extraordinary potential of integrated communications, and have been using this process to advise on and execute strategic campaigns that make great use of digital and social media for a range of clients. Many of you attended our StudioB launch event in August, and since then we have made great use of StudioB Live, our brand-new, in-house television studio for everything from media trainings to live streamings to corporate video productions.

Burson Latino: Our Burson Latino offering continues to grow as we serve clients appealing to the Hispanic market. One new client that we were proud to support is the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative (SLEI). We recently assisted SLEI with the introduction of its groundbreaking report on the state of Latino entrepreneurship in the U.S. Through our communications efforts, SLEI and its report were featured prominently in major U.S. news media, shedding light on the overwhelming impact that Latino businesses have on the U.S. economy.

Cuba: This year, we became the first major communications firm to launch a Cuba offering to provide clients with strategic counsel on the political and economic environments arising from the U.S. government’s historic decision to renew diplomatic relations between those two countries. We have already begun advising select, trailblazing clients from a variety of industries.

We have an incredible team of professionals in Miami, and whether you are looking for strategic communications support in Latin America, need issues or crisis management counsel in Florida, want to build your brand and grow your business in the U.S. Hispanic market, or want to tap Burson-Marsteller’s vast resources across the U.S. or around the world, please feel free to connect with us.

I look forward to sharing more about our big plans for 2016 in the coming weeks. Thank you for your continued support, and let’s get this year started!

Happy New Year to all,


Posted by Jorge Ortega