Technology Has Enhanced Our Lives. Can it Save Our Lives?

Technology companies traditionally develop their communication strategies around the benefits of their innovation for companies or end users. An ERP can develop business efficiencies for companies or an app increasing quality of life to all of its users. Overall, the common message we have been helping our clients communicate is how technology enhances all aspects of life. But if the technology we commonly use every day saves lives, is it worth communicating it?

As part of my regional role for Latin America, I continuously travel to our markets to meet with clients and colleagues. I was visiting our Mexico City office when, at 1:14pm on Tuesday, September 19, a 7.1 Richter earthquake struck the city and several neighboring states, instantly destroying more than 40 buildings with people trapped inside and changing the lives of millions of Mexicans forever. As a proud Mexican and survivor of previous earthquakes in this city, I certainly noted some differences between previous shocks – most importantly in how technology played a critical role in communication.

As phone lines died, the Internet surprisingly stood strong. While I was still shaking (literally), Twitter was my main source of information – to learn the quake’s magnitude, understand what buildings collapsed, and get official information from local authorities. Suddenly, Twitter became a critical tool to disseminate information related to the earthquake. Prior to the digital age, we had to wait until TV or radio provided some data on seismic activities and the aftermath, but Twitter allows us to have access to information in real time. Mobile providers did an outstanding job to keep its Internet network running. At the same time that phone lines were down, Whatsapp became the ultimate communication tool – either through written messages or through VOIP calls. Personally, in the midst of chaos and anxiety, I was only able to communicate with my family through Whatsapp and learn they were shocked but fine.

32 years ago, an 8.1 magnitude earthquake hit Mexico, killing up to 10,000 people with most of them trapped in the rubble. Today, although the magnitude was lower, most of the people trapped inside the collapsed buildings were holding mobile phones. Imagine this: The place where you work suddenly collapses. You are among rocks and rubble and the only reachable thing is your mobile phone. What do you do? Exactly. Many people used their activated GPS tool on their mobile phones, and by sending the precise location inside the building, rescuers and volunteers were able to reach them after titanic efforts of removing debris and heavy concrete rocks. Technology saved the day. A modern day miracle. How could technology have helped back in 1985, if only a few devices would have had GPS tools available? How many lives could have been saved?

Anxiety sparks fear and fear sparks uncertainty. Just as Twitter and social media helped to understand the tragedy in real time, it also fueled false news and collective psychosis related to the earthquake – information was heavily shared about how the UN predicted a terrible aftershock that would wipe out Mexico City, or how buildings were about to collapse when they only had windows broken. In the midst of the mayhem provoked by social media, several millennials – who were particularly active in rescue labors throughout the city – decided to use a hashtag, #Verified, that was included only in information double checked with official sources. Thus, this group of tech-savvy volunteers could quickly provide certainty of the current situation, allowing people to understand what was real news or fake news. This amazing effort allowed people to know what buildings were safe, what donations were urgently required and where authorities needed them, where emergency teams should go, and how to protect affected people living in the streets.

Perhaps the most outstanding thing that I learned by living through this experience alongside my fellow Mexicans, has been the solidarity and unwavering support given by all people through technology. Army and Navy soldiers holding complex heat scanners to identify bodies buried within collapsed buildings, companies like Uber, Cabify and Airbnb allowing a free usage of their services to support rides and accommodation to people who lost their homes, Google Maps’ platform developing ad-hoc maps to identify dangerous zones or available shelters for affected people, and most important of all, Mexico City has developed a seismic alarm system that is triggered when an earthquake is detected. When the alarm goes off on the city’s outdoor speakers platform, people have exactly 1 minute to evacuate their building and leave behind whatever they are doing – some sort of earthquake prediction that has certainly saved some lives so far.

Credit: David de La Paz | Xinhua News Agency

Still, Mexico City and the whole country is in a recovery stage. Hundreds of lives were lost, and there is still much to be done to help rebuild. This is just the beginning. Conan O’Brien recently hosted my fellow countryman Diego Luna who explained the dreadful experience of living the Mexico City big earthquake. All of it is true. I lived it. If you are interested in donating and helping Mexico, I will be forever thankful. The people of Mexico need us.

https://donate.omaze.com/mexico

Here’s to technology. It made our lives easier, made our world more pleasant, and now, it has actually saved our lives.

Cheers.

Rodrigo Castro | Practice Chair Director

The Burson Difference: Know-how and Know-who

Integration is often defined as the inverse of differentiation, but in the case of Burson-Marsteller, it actually sets us apart. As a global strategic communications firm, our main asset is our seamless worldwide network of 77 offices and 85 affiliates, operating in 110 countries across six continents. This breadth grants us access to the top communications experts around the world – not only within our own firm, but across Young & Rubicam and all WPP companies – to ensure we deliver the best results for our clients with the best team suited to do the job. We have both the know-how and know-who in terms of matching talent and respective skill-sets with clients’ needs.

We recently put this to the test when helping a global company address sensitive regulatory and legislative issues on health and wellness. We coordinated a team of public affairs and crisis management experts in multiple countries with the experience to make a difference. By coordinating issues and events around the world, we developed a strategic communications plan to satisfy the client.

In another case, when one of our clients realized how much we can do to help it leverage social media to reach key stakeholders, they asked our StudioB team, led by Ivan Ruiz, to develop a comprehensive strategy that is generating new levels of engagement for the brand through one of its key executives in the Latin American market.

Uniquely positioned in a market considered the Bridge to the Americas, Burson-Marsteller Miami not only serves clients across the Southeast U.S. and Latin America, it is also the headquarters for Burson Latino, our U.S. Hispanic specialty team. We offer a team of multicultural, multilingual professionals who are on in tune with what is happening not only in our own backyard, but across the U.S. and Latin American regions, thanks to close collaboration with our colleagues who provide us with the local intelligence and depth we need to make client campaigns targeted, relevant and effective. This “always-connected” model contributes to what I call the Burson Difference.

Aside from our established presence and long-term commitment to the markets in which we operate, we also rely on a varied talent mix of senior, experienced leadership and young and eager professionals who bring a fresh perspective on how to apply our results-driven business process to achieve client goals.

These are just some of the characteristics that set Burson-Marsteller apart. I am proud of the work we are doing for our local, regional and global clients, knowing that connectivity and reach allow us to assemble the right team at any given time, keeping this business, and my role here, very exciting.  It is a wonderful time to be leading our business from the Miami vantage point and to be the bridge for our clients to the Burson know-who and know-how.

If you would like to learn more, please feel free to contact me via e-mail or LinkedIn. I look forward to sharing how our employees, not only in Miami, but around the world are truly living the Burson Difference.

Jorge Ortega, Executive Vice-President

Engagement Pursuit

As time goes by and technology advances at the speed of light, brands face bigger challenges around not only how to communicate with their audiences, but most importantly, how to keep them engaged with what they do. Marketers and communication experts only have a few seconds to capture their target’s attention so they can communicate the right message, to the right people, at the right time.

So how can brands capture their audience within the social media frenzy?

First and foremost, they should know WHO they are talking to and WHAT are they interested in – from hobbies and music, to social media preferences and lifestyle. Once this is identified prepare for some creative thinking, brainstorming, and remember there are no bad ideas – everything could potentially lead to an AHA moment!

Now that you have your idea clear, what’s the story? How can you tell it in one simple piece of content? Identify five elements in your story and write them down. Select the platform and format that better converges the audience’s preferences, the brand, and the untold story. Maybe this piece should be a video or a cinemagraph to increase reach, and since the content is highly relevant, pay-to-play! Investment in social media advertising will directly reflect in your results, and therefore your KPIs. This means you’ll have more eyes seeing your content and engaging with it.

Lastly, and definitely one of the most important parts: measure and optimize. You’ve already invested all this time and effort in creating a masterpiece, so now it is time to measure the results, analyze what went well, and decide if there is room for improvement or even replicating the concept and story in other platforms or formats.

The engagement pursuit is a never-ending marathon for digital marketers. What engages your audience today, might not work tomorrow. Stay connected. Stay digital!

Lucia Zazueta, Digital Strategist | Senior Associate 

Should Your Brand be Using Influencers?

In the age of the internet, today’s celebrities go beyond just Hollywood films and TV shows. In the new era of social media, the market has created their own version of famed celebrities and named influencers. Stars like Gabby Hanna from The Gaby Shows, or  Jenna Mourey aka Jenna Marbles are what we call influencers, people who have a substantial following and can command an audience[1], but are still relatable on a human-to-human level. They inhabit the gray area somewhere between a celebrity and a “common” person. Influencers usually start their careers on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, or other social media channels, sharing their area of expertise with the world, whether it be comedy, fashion, fitness, or cooking, and then successfully build their own brand around that.

So why would a brand hire an influencer to promote itself instead of a regular celebrity? Influencer’s have earned their celebrity-like reputations by capitalizing on the day-to-day actions of people. They have capitalized on the mundane tasks of life and made them easily digestible for people. Take Jessica Shyba, aka Momma’s Gone City, for example. She is a mom of 4 kids (with a fifth one on the way!) and one adopted dog. She became a social media celebrity by sharing the everyday life of a mom and her kids.

Jessica and her family are not only adorable, but easily relatable, making her an ideal brand ambassador. Viewers, likers, and sharers can see how easily –insert product here- can fit into their lifestyles, by relating with Jessica’s hectic life. By partnering with Jessica, brands actually show Jessica’s audience not only how their products are used, but the benefits of using them.

When influencers are added to the equation, the brand is not seen as promoting itself, rather, a third party who is trusted by its audience is. If the influencer did not believe in the brand or its products, she/he wouldn’t be posting about them since it could damage their personal brand. The influencer’s audience knows this and in fact, 92% of consumers trust an influencer more than an advertisement or traditional celebrity endorsement[2].

Take this sponsored post as an example:

In this case, Jessica partnered with a frozen blueberry company to show her audience how to easily and quickly make delicious, yet healthy, blueberry pancakes.

Along with being an active advertisement, influencers are also a source of inspiration. Often, influencers share their personal experience losing weight, eating vegetarian, or applying liquid eyeliner, providing their followers with guidance, support, and step-by-step instructions to reach their goals. Influencers like Alyse from Raw Alignment, give great advice not only with recipes but by highlighting the products that they actually use. They partner with different brands to inspire people and help them throughout their transition to a healthier and organic lifestyle:

So, what are the benefits for brands hiring influencers?

  • Influencers provide an authentic and organic way to deliver a brand message.
  • Influencers expose your brand to new audiences while providing a higher ROI.
  • Influencers connect with their audiences at a more personal level.
  • Influencers can grant brands access to unique, hard-to-reach niche audiences for niche products.

Influencers are becoming one of the best ways to advertise brands. Has your brand considered using an influencer before? Do you have any tips? Leave a comment below!

Posted by Maria Fornari, Client Executive at Burson-Marsteller Miami/StudioB 

Sources:

Burson-Marsteller @ CES

I hope your 2017 is off to a great start and the year will be filled with health, happiness, and prosperity. At Burson-Marsteller Miami, we are in the midst of developing our road map for the year to ensure we continue to deliver excellent service for new and prospective clients, forge partnerships that will add new tools and services to our current offering and provide insightful thought leadership content on a variety of topics relevant to our industry.

First in the spotlight is our Global Technology Practice that recently attended the 50th edition of the Consumer Electronics Show® (CES) in Las Vegas, NV to provide on-site communications support to some of our top clients. They witnessed the unveiling of the latest tech trends, products and consumer campaigns from the most renowned technology companies around the world, and shared key takeaways on what lies ahead for the industry from different perspectives, including communications.

Our Worldwide Chair and CEO Don Baer presented a new survey, “The Burson-Marsteller Age of Trump Technology Policy Survey”, conducted in partnership with Penn Schoen Berland, which tests the views of Tech Elites and the General Public in the U.S. about what the new Trump administration could mean for technology.

I invite you to check out this event recap video prepared by our StudioB Live team featuring Rodrigo Castro, a Director in our Global Technology Practice, who was on hand to share the following observations:

  • The biggest trend is Internet of Things – the merger between hardware, software and data which is paving the road for how technology companies address business and consumers around the world.
  • According to Gartner, by 2021 there will be 21,000 million devices with IOT connection.
  • What value does big data, which captures consumer behavior, bring to companies and how will it drive innovation and collaboration?

Rodrigo joined other Burson-Marsteller colleagues from around the network supporting their clients, including Sheena Lakhani, who helped introduce Nixplay’s latest wireless photo frame, and Jamie Dowling, who chimed in on the latest augmented and virtual reality trends.

If you would like to learn more about our experience at CES or need additional information about our Technology and Innovation resources and capabilities, please feel free to email me.

Posted by Jorge Ortega

Launch of “30 Qs With…” Blog Series

We are excited to launch the first installment of the all new blog series, “30 Qs With…”. Every month we invite you to get to know Burson-Marsteller Miami’s talent from a different perspective – these 1:1 interviews will reveal personal anecdotes from their lives in and out of the office. First up is Maria Isina Areco, Manager in our Global Technology Practice.

During her 10 years at Burson-Marsteller, Maria Isina has worked on a wide range of branding initiatives, helping companies define and reposition their brand. Prior to joining the Miami team, she led Brand Communications efforts in our Buenos Aires office for a variety of clients in the technology and healthcare industries.

Check out her interview here. Enjoy! #30Q’sWith #BursonPersons

The Game Is Changing

By Rodrigo Castro, Innovation and Technology Director Burson-Marsteller

In the past few years, there has been an increase in video game movie adaptations. While many gamers are excited to see their favorite game come alive on the big screen, there are nervous fans expecting to see the film adaptation completely fail their expectations. Since the early 1990s, video game films have earned the notorious reputation of being box office flops. Disappointing scripts, low budgets, and clueless direction seem to comprise every adaption. Production companies seem to misunderstand the material and lose focus of the video game’s primary objective. What seems at first like a rewarding investment for video game companies, usually results in a brand image catastrophe. Video game companies need to start taking a better approach when promoting their films to the audience.

While the Pokémon and Resident Evil series are a few of the lucky ones that dodged the “adaptation curse,” many others have gone downhill. In 1993, Super Mario Bros proved to be a major failure with a mediocre story line leaving many gamers completely unsatisfied. Hollywood Pictures had the film budgeted at $48 million dollars but in the end, the movie only made revenue of $21 million.  In 1999, Origin Systems’ Wing Commander was also given a movie adaptation that failed in the box office. The film had a budget of $30 million and it only brought in $11.5 million for the studio. In 2008, Uwe Boll decided to bring Gas Powered Games’ Dungeon Siege to the big screen for yet another video game adaptation. This movie had a $30 million budget, and was followed by disappointing revenue of $30 million.

The United States is not the only country with movie failures. Overseas, the Latin American region is experiencing the same issue when it comes to video game movie adaptations. Sony Pictures’ Pixels, premiered in Brazil on July 2015 with $11,849,499 (+8.2%) in its first week. On July 31st the movie did not surpass its opening week numbers and only made a sum of $9,268,713 (-21.8%).  In 2014, DreamWorks Pictures, The Need for Speed was a flop in Colombia. The movie only had revenue of $3,404,084.

Now the question is, why do these movies fail? For starters, a movie doesn’t offer the same kind of immersive experience as a video game. A game has a straightforward story, the player interaction is what determines how much fun it is and the level of enjoyment comes out of the game as opposed to a movie where the user has no control over the outcome whatsoever. A game is meant for users to become emotionally involved resulting in a highly unique experience. Grasping the concept of the video game is necessary for a successful movie. Hollywood still hasn’t found a way to fully understand how to adapt the game’s story line in a film. When these issues start to arise video game companies and production companies need to find a medium that in the end will satisfy the audience.

Video games are the defining medium of the twenty first century, like cinema was for the twentieth century. It is one of the biggest cultural shifters in the world today. It has changed the way we think about other mediums, including movies, TV, or art. The idea of making a video game into a movie is not a bad idea, but is imperative for brands to strategize a more approachable way when promoting a film. The industry is in need of a game changing mentality (pun intended).

In the industry, companies hire agencies to promote their films, and agencies have been known to create intimate trials offering gamers a “one on one” experience playing the game. Allowing gamers to preview the film is another simple method when promoting it that allows the consumer to have a unique experience that will hopefully translate into video game sales and success at the box office. Understanding and respecting video game culture is key to any brand that wants to connect with millennials and younger audiences (and not too-young audiences: average gamer age today is 35).

In an industry where so many adaptations have not seen any favorable results, a change must be instilled. Let an agency that respects the gaming culture be the bridge between this relatively new medium and the audiences it deserves. Let an agency that knows what people want tackle the behemoth that is the video game adaptation industry. Let an agency be your game changer.

 

 

This Week At Burson-Marsteller Miami


events

It was a great week for Burson-Marsteller Miami. On Wednesday, our corporate practice leader, Karen Guggenheim, had the opportunity to speak at the Public Affairs Council conference. Karen spoke about the importance of handling issues, crisis and reputation management. On Friday, the students of Tecnológico de Monterrey visited our office to learn about the importance of public relations, taught by our Technology and Innovation practice leader, Rodrigo Castro. We are very proud of our leaders taking the initiative to share knowledge unto other organizations.

 

The Day Is Finally Here!

Burson-Marsteller Miami is excited to announce our new Instagram account, @bursonmarstellermiamiStay up to date with our latest projects and events B-M Miami will be a part of.  Additionally, learn about our creative team, and take a look behind the scenes of our office fun. B-M Miami is looking forward to connecting with you!

See you on Instagram! Or, as they say, “see you on the gram!”

Burson - Marsteller Instagram Profile

@bursonmarstellermiami

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.

Inside Burson-Marsteller: Get to Know Us – Rodrigo Castro

Meet Rodrigo Castro, our Technology & Innovation Practice Manager: A passionate individual whose love for technology and dedication to bringing our clients the best in communications services is the only thing bigger than his beard.

coco
Rodrigo Castro, Tech & Innovation Manager

Rodrigo always seems to ask for more on his plate, although it could be because of his unbridled enthusiasm for juice cleanses. Although more tech inclined, Rodrigo is Burson-Marsteller’s jack-of-all-trades. As a manager, he supervises LATAM regional accounts, overseeing operations for Burson-Marsteller network offices in Latin America, as well as the US.

Born in Mexico City, Rodrigo is the oldest of two siblings. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications at Tecnológico de Monterrey. During his time there, he ventured into exchange programs  at the University of North Carolina and MGIMO University in Moscow, Russia… where we can only assume his penchant for lumberjack beards began. His love for his home culture drew him back to Mexico, where he began working at Burson-Marsteller. He became a manager, overseeing accounts including Sony Electronics, Intel, SAP and Motorola.

In 2012, Rodrigo decided to test new waters and make a move to Burson Miami.  His professional attitude, willingness to work with many, varied projects at once and natural leadership capacity is shown through his impeccable work with clients such as Intel, VISA, SONY, Sony Latin America, Alcatel Onetouch, Zebra Technologies and Electrolux.

Throughout his career, Rodrigo has lead client projects from communication strategies for product launches, editorial development, crisis programs and more- all with an emphasis on brand and consumer technology communication.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Rodrigo consistently takes his passion for tech to the next level; so much so that he has relayed this expertise into an uncanny ability to lose cellphones.

Rodrigo’s fast-paced work life has carried over into his free time- although we’re still amazed how he manages to fit it all in! When he’s not working with his tech geek-squad at Burson Miami, mastering the art of time-sheets, or holding the record for most cellphones lost in a period of six months, he spends his time traveling, leading the EXATEC alumni association as President and training for triathlons. His hardworking and competitive nature can be seen both in his work and on the dance floor- what more could we expect from a Freddy Mercury fan?

Rodrigo and his wide range of interests and talents exemplify how we strive to “Be More” at Burson-Marsteller. We’re lucky to have him, and encourage anyone to reach out to him to tap into his years of technology communications expertise.

Spotlight On: Technology & Innovation Practice

The Technology & Innovation practice at Burson-Marsteller Miami is one of the office’s largest practices, dedicated to serving clients in an array of industries, including technology, telecommunications and media. The practice is led by Rodrigo Castro, who has over a decade of experience at Burson-Marsteller working with tech clients in the Latin American and U.S. Hispanic markets.

Our expertise runs the communications spectrum: obtaining the best editorial content, coordinating regional communications, preparing media kits, organizing press trips for conferences such as CES, IFA and MWC, presenting crisis trainings and managing internal communications for a world-renowned roster of clients. We communicate on a daily basis with customers, investors, partners, employees and regulators around the world.

More importantly, we are storytellers. We strive to work hand-in-hand with technology clients to understand their needs and translate their communications objectives in a way for the world to fully understand. We create stories that aim to captivate audiences and demonstrate how clients’ products will change and improve the world.

Above all, we are dedicated professionals and always give 100% to every client. But, don’t just take our word for it; here’s what our clients have to say about us:

“We worked with Burson… and the experience was quite positive. As they have been working with us for a long time, they understood Visa and what was missing to create a structured communications process. Burson was a key component because they understood our vision and helped us translate it into understandable language.  They worked well as both an internal partner (for Visa) as well as delivering external communications results,” said Valerie Jaimes, former Visa Corporate Relations Manager.

We are pleased to include the following companies on our list of our dedicated clients…

Burson Marsteller Miami Clients