The Data Formula: How Unique Data Drives Top-Tier Coverage

Clients often ask me, “How can we achieve top-tier coverage in publications like CNBC or The Wall Street Journal?” While there are a variety of ways to achieve this goal, one of the best ways to drive top-tier coverage is by collecting and sharing data.

However, you must remember that not all data is created equal. Let’s take a look at the factors you should consider to provide reporters relevant and useful stats worthy of top-tier placement.

Type of Data

By definition, data means “facts and statistics that are collected together for reference or analysis.” As you look to land interviews with top media contacts like Bloomberg or Business Insider, remember your data should serve as a reference or validation point for the reporter. For example, if the reporter’s beat focuses on how AI is influencing the workplace, you should point to key trends within that subject, adding further context to that particular topic.

A good example in this instance could be results from a survey of employees from various organizations and verticals about their opinions on AI. Whatever the subject, ensure your data is robust enough to answer key questions on current trends. As well, always avoid any promotional or self-serving message. Think of the data that you are providing as the greatest asset you have to highlight your expertise within the particular subject you are validating.

Know Your Audience

Now that you’ve identified the type of data, it’s time to ‘get to talking!’ What I mean by this is that you must do your due diligence and speak with each reporter you are looking to work with and identify the relevant data. For example, if you are working with a reporter who has extensively covered holiday sales outcomes in previous years, reach out to them prior to the start of holiday sales this year. Your goal should be to come away with a full understanding of what the reporter will be focusing on during each season and how your data can add third-party validation to their reports.

Timing is Everything

As you plan to send each journalist the stats you’ve collected, remember that timing is everything. For example, let’s say you own a financial services company that helps consumers file their taxes by the Tax Day deadline. The best practice here is to begin compiling relevant data about six-to-four weeks out from the deadline in order to showcase major trends that will emerge during Tax Day. As well, having the ability to provide key stats to reporters in real-time will also help you win at the coverage game.

Learn From Data Success Stories

Let’s take a look at a top example of a company who has owned the data success game recently, Adobe. If you can recall 2018’s Cyber Week sales coverage, chances are you saw the name Adobe everywhere you looked. Adobe achieved this by providing key statistics on popular trends, such as online conversions and voice assisted shopping to top reporters. It also shared this data in both real-time and as a recap, earning recognition in Fortune, Reuters and many other tier-one publications.

The Data Formula

So, remember, if top-tier coverage is a top-tier goal for you, the best way to get it is by following the data formula. It’s all about providing authentic value and unbiased third-party analysis to help a reporter write a compelling story. The process starts early as you identify the type of data you can provide and make initial connections with your journalist base. This preparation makes execution easy, and once you know which audience and data findings are a match, you’ll just need to hit ‘send’ when the time is right.

Three Best Practices to Create a Meaningful Media Relations Strategy

One of the first questions we ask clients is “what does media relations success look like to you?”

As you may expect, the answers vary throughout – and with good reason. When it comes to media relations goals, not all strategies are created equal. Why? It’s because clients across the board have different goals, which makes each media strategy highly unique. As we work with clients on their media strategies, we use the following key points to get the planning started:

Media Relations Question #1: Identify Your Target Audience

Whether you are a B2B or B2C company, identifying your target audience should be the first step. Who do you want to connect with? The publications you go after will vary depending on if your desired audience is the C-suite, baby boomers or Gen Z. While top-tier publications such as WSJ, CNBC and USA Today should be a top goal, it’s important to not discount the trade publications.

Trade publications reach a particular audience that may be interested in learning more about your niche or product. As such, it’s important to identify the exact audience you wish to reach in order to move the needle for your business.

Media Relations Question #2: Identify Your Key Conversation

The next question we ask clients is to identify the conversations they would like to own, be a part of and even stay away from. In the world of media relations, thought leadership is key. Companies can drive thought leadership by offering compelling insights that journalists cannot attain anywhere else.

As a best practice, we ask our clients to be highly targeted within their thought leadership approach. As American philosopher Nicholas M. Butler best put it, “an expert is one who knows more and more about less and less.” By identifying their key conversations, clients can highlight their expertise and garner the type of media coverage that will drive positive exposure.

Media Relations Question #3: Identify Your Top Publications & Media Contacts

The final step is to narrow down the journalists and publications your company will build a relationship with. As the term ‘media relations’ infers, thought leaders should build genuine relationships with key media contacts that cover their space.

Receiving an average of 300 media pitches per day, journalists have limited capacity to sift through every email and pitch. As a best practice, we recommend working with our clients to build a list of the top 20 journalists that they will build a relationship with beyond just a single pitch. For example, going beyond the pitch means that our clients will work to actively follow their columns, connect with them on social and whenever possible, meet with them in-person to discuss different industry trends. The more a journalist knows about a company and its thought leaders, the likelier they are to reach out next time they need a source.

Working Toward Meaningful Coverage

Cracking the media relations world can be a tough task without the proper knowledge and direction. However, by working to answer the first initial questions, companies can set the foundation for a strong media relations strategy that drives meaningful coverage. Learn how to drive meaningful coverage for your business by asking these three questions about your media relations strategy.

Media Coverage to Drive Leads

Four “Free” Ways to Use Media Coverage to Drive Leads

In the world of B2B PR, it’s an age-old question, “How does media coverage drive leads?” But the better question is, “How CAN marketing teams use media coverage to drive leads?” And Ketner Group has the answers for you.

The hard part is securing the media coverage, and we can do that for you. Once you have a great mention, the easy part is using that media coverage to drive leads. And lucky you, we can help with that too! To help you get started, we’ve pulled together a list of four easy, and mostly free, ways to do just that.

Share and Share Again

When it comes to social, most of our clients have the “share” step down. When we alert clients to a new piece of coverage, for the most part, they quickly share it to social. But that’s it.

That brings us to “share again.” Whether on LinkedIn or Twitter, social teams should share great coverage time and time again. There are a number of opportunities to bring coverage back to life on your social channels. As you roll out new marketing campaigns or a related trend appears in the news, continue to share the media coverage on social. Rather than simply copying and pasting the original content, tailor each new post to the specific campaign or trending news topic.

Post on Your Website

Along with social, posting coverage to your website should be one of the first things you do when a new mention appears. Media coverage should have a home on your website; either in the same newsroom where you post press releases or on a separate coverage page. Either way, it needs to be visible.

But don’t stop there; use the coverage in your blog. This may mean using coverage as outbound links in relative posts, creating a monthly roundup of news, or for contributed content such as bylines, writing a short blog summary to drive more eyeballs. In addition to outbound links to the coverage itself, blogs should include a CTA that drives your readers to additional gated content on the topic or to request a demo.

Leverage for Email and Newsletter Campaigns

Every B2B company needs to use email and newsletter campaigns to drive leads. One of the most challenging parts of these marketing campaigns is creating engaging, relevant content. Luckily, our editor and reporter friends have done that part for you.

Use this content to feed your lead generation engine. Media coverage carries an authenticity that pure marketing content usually lacks. Your targets are likely to pay more attention to what someone else has to say about your company, solution or the problem you’re trying to solve. Use this to your advantage! Like blogs, include not only a link to the coverage, but also a call to action (CTA) to drive prospects to your website and gated content.

Create a Content Library and Share Internally

Finally, make sure everyone in the organization, from the C-suite down, is aware of coverage and empowered to share it. Create a library of content and assets for team members to easily share via social, email or even print as a leave behind for in-person meetings and events. There are anumber of tools for marketers to enable their teams to find and share content.

How NOT to Use Media Coverage to Drive Leads

Do nothing. That’s what you shouldn’t do when it comes to using media coverage to drive leads. It’s true, from time to time that approach might work. You may be one of the lucky few who make a big splash and suddenly every big-name prospect is knocking at your door. But that’s not the usual reality. If you want to drive great leads, leverage your media coverage — third-party validation is one of your best marketing assets.

Need help? Ketner Group can help you secure great media coverage AND amplify that coverage to drive leads, contact us to learn more.

KG’s Top 10 Favorite Newsletters

The retail industry is rapidly changing every day, and sometimes, it can be hard to keep up. That’s why our team stays up-to-date by subscribing to newsletters that will alert us on breaking Amazon news, inform us of a good responsive pitch opportunity, or give us insight on an interesting new study. Here are our top 10 favorite newsletters to help us stay in-the-know with all things retail and technology:

Industry Dive
“Broken out by vertical – Retail and Supply Chain Dive are my top picks – Industry Dive newsletters offer a combination of breaking news and industry insight I find incredibly useful to my day-to-day work and my overall understanding of the industry. Even the format of the articles, which each include a few summary bullets at the top, makes scanning the news for relevant content simple and convenient.” –Aidan Griffin

L2 Research’s “Winners and Losers” Series
“L2 Research’s weekly ‘Winners and Losers’ video, featuring the hilarious and brilliant Scott Galloway, is a fantastic recap of the brands that are thriving (or not) in the digital age. It really is the best of both worlds for me! I get a data-driven, sometimes provocative, overview of the best and worst performing brands, AND, Professor Galloway always makes me giggle with his crazy, end of video antics. It’s a must-see!” – Catherine Seeds

RetailWire
“RetailWire’s daily newsletter includes three discussion topics that offer great insights into what industry thought leaders consider to be hot topics and it’s a great opportunity for our clients to participate in those ongoing trend discussions. RetailWire’s round up of top headlines is also provides quick reference guide for the biggest industry news of the day.” – Adrienne Newcomb

RIS News
“I’ve turned to this for a long time as another good weekly summary of top news items. It often includes some information gleaned from earnings calls, and it has interesting info on retail technology deployments.” – Jeff Ketner

eMarketer Retail
“This is a newsletter I only just signed up for recently, but have already found to be a valuable resource for data-driven trends. No matter what sort of story or content piece I’m working on for a client, it seems like eMarketer Retail always delivers a relevant data point, consumer study, or industry survey that I can reference.” – Aidan Griffin

IHL Group
“IHL publishes an “Eye on Retail Top 10 News Items” every Saturday, and it’s a succinct summary of the week’s top retail news stories from numerous sources. What I like about it: It comes out on Saturday morning, when I don’t get many emails and my inbox isn’t overflowing – and it nearly always has something useful to me.” – Jeff Ketner

RSR’s Retail Paradox Weekly
“As the tagline says, it’s ‘The Candid Voice in Retail Technology.’ The analysts’ insights into industry trends and happenings are both frank and entertaining – I recently found myself laughing out loud at Paula’s ‘Fake News’ article and her attempt to edit a Wikipedia page.” – Adrienne Newcomb

Sourcing Journal
“Sourcing Journal provides a lot of information you can’t find anywhere else, with a good focus on sourcing and manufacturing. They always have up-to-date information on the industry’s challenges and opportunities and is a great resource for anything related to compliance, sustainability, global trade and more.” – Stacy Lan

Retail TouchPoints
“Retail TouchPoints has a great weekly newsletter that explores the biggest trends throughout retail. I especially enjoy their research studies and features that dive into how retailers are using technology to excel and improve their standing in the industry. Editor-in-Chief Debbie Hauss does a great job curating this content in a way that has me looking forward to it every Tuesday.” – Greg Earl

Fortune Data Sheet
“Fortune Data Sheet provides the latest breaking news across the tech industry, highlighting the top trends taking our world by storm. Combine this with the fact that it lands in my inbox at exactly 8 am. each day and you’ve got the perfect tool to stay up to date.” – Mariana Fischbach

As a PR and marketing agency, our team needs to be on top of news and trends to craft story ideas and pitching opportunities that work best for our clients. These newsletters, and much more, help us leverage the timeliest conversations happening in in this exciting and transforming landscape. Check them out yourself to stay informed on what’s trending in retail technology!

Retailers are fighting back this year on Prime Day


This blog was written by our intern, Madeleine Hatley.

Amazon launched their third annual Prime Day starting Monday, July 10. Prime Day 2017 was the biggest sales day in history for Amazon, surpassing both Black Friday and Cyber Monday according to the Amazon press release highlighting the outcome of Prime Day this year. Despite popular opinion, this ‘micro’ holiday is not about boosting sales. It is simply a marketing tactic to advertise their “Prime” membership that guarantees customers fast shipping for an annual fee. And, boy, does it work.

Prime Day sales grew by more than 60 percent from last year, with a “record number” of Prime members shopping across 13 countries, Amazon said. It added that “tens of millions of Prime members” made purchases during Prime Day, up more than 50 percent from Prime Day in 2016.

According to a recent Consumer Intelligence Research Partners report, from June of 2016 to June of 2017, Amazon gained around 44 million subscribers. Although Amazon refuses to disclose an exact number, estimates show that Prime currently has around 85 million subscribers.

With 30 hours to shop, Prime members flocked especially to Amazon devices like the Echo, Fire tablets and Kindle devices, with the most popular device sold being the Amazon Echo Dot. Other top sellers include DNA tests for health and ancestry, gaming consoles such as the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation Plus memberships. The sales event also slashed prices on a number of fashion items and beauty products, including marked down fashion brands such as Calvin Klein, Gant and Tommy Hilfiger, with prices going down by as much as 40%, according to The Telegraph.

An Opportunity for Retailers
Although Amazon has seen major success from its annual holiday, it doesn’t mean that competing retailers need to fret. Research suggests that Prime Day could, in fact, be helpful to other online retailers. According to an analysis from Criteo, Prime Day creates a “halo effect” for other retailers, with online traffic increasing for major ecommerce sites around 15% on Prime Day 2016 and the day after, compared with weeks earlier.

 This means that Amazon Prime Day is the perfect opportunity for retailers to cash in on the consumption culture that the online giant created, a similar effect from Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Shoppers are on the hunt for well-timed promotions within this time frame, and it’s up to retailers to lure them in beyond Amazon’s borders. For example, Claus Commerce-powered Freeshipping.com boosted profits last year when they saw an uptick in their number of orders and the average order value, when they offered a 20% discount last Prime Day according to Bezinga, indicating that positive outcomes can come out of Prime Day, even for competitors.

Time to Get Creative
Retailers are trying harder this year to grab customers’ attention and drive sales around Amazon Prime Day. Kohl’s offered 30% discounts on summer clothes and accessories for 30 hours.  Other stores like Toys R Us and Best Buy were also ahead of the game and featuring sales lasting six hours longer than Prime Day, featuring sales on Google Home.

Retailers should learn that in order to compete with Amazon, they have to be creative in the way they advertise around this holiday fueled by capitalism. They will have to market products consumers want at a reasonable price, advance technology on mobile platforms and get innovative to grab customers’ attention.

Retailers that stepped up to the plate on Prime Day in terms of competition were Wal-Mart and its digital company, Jet.com, as well as Macy’s. Wal-Mart matched many of Amazon’s discounts on various items. Market Track compared prices and determined Wal-Mart’s efforts to compete stood out the most among many companies. Similarly, Macy’s hosted their annual “Black Friday in July” sale that offered 25% off site-wide and offered free shipping exclusively on Prime Day.

With sales expected to top $1 billion this year, Amazon has seen major success in its Prime Day efforts. Now, it’s up to competing retailers to strategize their game for next year so that e-commerce customers can focus their attention on deals outside of Prime Day.

Projected Father’s Day Spending Reaches All-Time High

This blog was written by our intern, Madeleine Hatley.

Dads, and retailers, will be getting some extra love this year on Father’s Day, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insight and Analytics. Total spending for the holiday is expected to hit a record high of $15.5 billion.

Consumers are spending differently this year and are focused on the experience rather than the gift. For retailers, this means traditional tactics such as ads featuring sporting goods or cars will not suffice. When it comes to marketing around Father’s Day, retailers need to add a personal touch to effectively reach their target consumer.

“This is especially true when looking at the buying habits of millennials, most of whom crave a deeper connection to the brands they support when they shop for Father’s Day gifts,” said Elaine Kwon, founder of e-commerce management firm Kwontified, in a recent Fierce Retail article.

Kwon further explained, “that shoppers love the delight of sharing a “cool new brand” as something that makes for a terrific gift. She foresees new brands with cult followings to transition strongly this Father’s Day. For example, she named brands such as Bevel and Dollar Shave Club.”

NRF says the average shopper will spend $134.75 this year on Father’s Day gifts. Beyond experiences, other popular gifts include gift cards, clothing and consumer electronics. Each of these categories are projected to sell over $1 billion this year. Gifts for handy dads such as tool boxes and DIY items were less popular but still expected to generate $885 million in sales. Retailers should curate their assortments and discount strategies across various categories to make the most of Father’s Day sales.

“Planning an assortment that goes beyond the usual cologne or bathrobe will work wonders for retailers looking to stand out. Since so many gift-givers want to surprise their dads with an experience, show how your products can tie into an exciting outing through your marketing campaigns,” recommends Angelica Valentine in a recent Quad Analytix blog referencing the NRF report.

Surprisingly, NRF reported that 39.9% of consumers plan on buying their gifts in department stores compared to only 33.7% planned to order gifts online. From rural strip-malls to major department stores, it has been a disastrous two years for retail. We keep hearing about the “retail apocalypse” and how everything is moving to e-commerce. Similar to Mother’s Day this year which also had record-high sales projections, many consumers still come to brick and mortar stores to touch and see, and make sure the gift is perfect for dad.

“Shoppers are planning to spend more than ever this year, and retailers have a lot to gain from this 8.4 percent larger projection over 2016 if they can tap into the right data,” said Valentine.

Last month, despite the projected increase in Mother’s Day spending, the retail industry experienced an unexpected decline in retail sales during May. We’ll have to wait and see if Father’s Day is able give the overall retail industry a boost for the month of June.

And there’s a niche market that definitely benefits from timely, gift-giving holidays. I am part of the majority of consumers (64%) that will buy greeting cards this Father’s Day. A sweet note adds a personal touch that any dad would appreciate. Personally, while shopping for the perfect card for my dad, I opted for a humorous approach (you know, dads love dad jokes). I decided on a Star Wars card with Darth Vader on the front that says, “We can’t pick our fathers so I sure lucked out with you.”

From all of us at Ketner Group, Happy Father’s Day!

 

Election 2016 Coverage

Tuesday, November 8, 2016, will forever go down in history as the day America unexpectedly, according to underestimated polling projections, elected its 45th President. Like most of the country, Ketner Group had been keeping an eye on the debates and discussions leading up to the election and are now looking forward to how the country will change under this new leadership. We’ve pulled together some coverage we’ve seen since the announcement of the President-elect that highlight how the election could affect retail as we head into the holiday season:

Retail Federation Watching for Donald Trump’s Trade Policy

The National Retail Federation (NRF) is closely watching how President-elect Trump’s policies could impact consumer sentiment and spending as we head into the holidays.

Shortly after Trump was announced as President-elect, NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay asked him as well as other members of Congress to practice pragmatism when implementing new policies that will affect trade with other countries and the retail industry. This statement comes after Trump has made comments that would greatly impact the industry.

Forbes contributor Richard Kestenbaum takes a look at two major effect Trump’s election to the Presidency could have on retail: paralysis and costs.

The fashion industry is keeping a keen eye on how Trump’s policies will affect trade and taxes. During his campaign he released proposals he would implement during his first 100 days in office, among them would be a renegotiating or removal of major trade agreements like NAFTA and TPP and changes to the tax code which could have major implications for the fashion industry.

As retailers wrap up a difficult year, the economic uncertainty from the election, as well as trade and tax policies that could be enacted under a Trump presidency, have retailers bracing for major change in the industry.

Photo provided by Kathleen See
Photo provided by Kathleen See

PRSA Corner: Breaking Through the Noise and Reaching Your Target Audience

ClpsEJ3UYAAqeNFWe recently attended and were the official sponsor of the June PRSA Austin Chapter Luncheon. The luncheon titled, “Media Relations: Insights from the Newsroom,” featured three journalist panelists who discussed how media has evolved over the years, the integration of skills and technology in media relations and how PR professionals can (and should) break through the noise to reach target audiences. Here are some highlights:

Tara Doolittle is the Viewpoints editor for the Austin American-Statesman and is in charge of the editorial pages and online commentary. She began as a rookie reporter in 1997 and has worked with the newspaper’s reporting teams covering education, city hall and lifestyle. As many journalists do, Tara receives over 400 emails a day, which means getting her attention is no easy task. Although she gives first priority to local pitches over others, she tells PR folks to send short pitches, know who you are pitching and focus on the journalist’s interests, and course, always be sensitive to deadlines. Other key take-aways from Tara:

  • For hard news and community engagement pitches, Tara recommends doing research on how other publications (in other areas) report certain trends and how those trends might play out locally. Look for ways to tell the local story. As well, Tara says PR professionals should “think broadly” because the Statesman is not just a print newspaper, but a multimedia content platform.
  • According to Tara, the digital space is the way to go, especially with social media and sharing. She recommends PR professionals think about this when it comes to pitches. Photos and videos are a great way to keep people on the website for longer periods of time – it’s a win-win for everyone!
  • Tara said the biggest struggle she faces as an editor for a daily local newspaper is serving three sets of readers because they all want different things: folks who don’t pay for online content; folks who do pay and read online content; and full subscribers.

Erin Quinn-Kong is the editor-in-chief of Austin Monthly and the editorial director of Austin MonthlyAustin HOME and austinmonthly.com. A Missouri native, she attended the University of Missouri School of Journalism and worked in New York City as an editor at Allure and Us Weekly before moving to Austin in 2008. Compared to the Statesman, Austin Monthly operates with a smaller staff who has to work very hard to keep up with daily and monthly deadlines. It’s a fast-paced environment (with a small staff), which definitely makes it hard for PR professionals to get the attention of the editorial team. Knowing that, Erin says it is critical for PR professionals to know why the story would work in her publication, and know who you’re pitching to and why. Other key take-aways from Erin:

  • Pitches come into play when they make a connection to something that relates to the local area, or that may have appeared “buzz worthy” on social media. That is the sweet spot on pitches!
  • Erin recommends asking them to coffee. As editors, she believes it is part of their job to know the PR people in town. Having the opportunity to be “face to face” with PR professionals is a much better way to connect than an email.
  • Her biggest challenges as the editor of Austin Monthly include creating boundaries between her job and life and the struggle of small budgets and staff combined with high expectations.

 Haley Cihock is Executive Producer for KXAN. With 15 years of experience in broadcast news, she writes, edits and manages a team of producers, anchors, editors and field reporters working on the noon newscasts across two channels. According to Haley, the best stories come from community engagement – listening to the buzz around town, hearing what local citizens are talking about – and then figuring out how to cover the story. She believes that Austin has an engaged audience and people in the city really want to talk. At KXAN, social media is a huge tool for listening for potential stories. Other key take-aways from Haley:

  • Make no mistake, there is limited “on air” time, so Haley recommends that PR professionals pass story ideas and news to the digital side to get more bang for the buck. Using multichannel media is a great way to disperse the message, and it is how stories evolve, especially when it is resonating with people. Haley also says the evolution of media means that things are moving faster and faster, things get lost, so PR folks should try more than one platform to tell their story.
  • As an on-air journalist, Haley has to think of the bigger picture, but often times receives “micro” pitches from PR professionals. Pitches have to be bigger than just one thing. It is important to think beyond your client or your one story – try to make connections that could turn into bigger feature stories.
  • Her biggest challenges as an on-air journalist is always trying to be the first with the story, but to also to get the story right and do it better than anyone else. Erin believes that, for TV journalists, the challenges haven’t changed much, but the ways of approaching them are changing. Her two biggest pieces of advice is to not send video to the newsroom (they have to shoot their own) and to not send gifts to on-air journalists.

Shoptalk 2016: It’s All An Experience

Shoptalk

Last week the Ketner Group team attended the inaugural Shoptalk conference at the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. The much-anticipated conference lived up to its promise, bringing top industry leaders together to discuss the technology disruption currently turning the industry on its head.

Shoptalk offered a three-day jam-packed agenda that in true Vegas fashion ran well into the late hours of the night, bringing with it great networking opportunities, organic thought leadership conversations and even a stellar performance by Wyclef Jean at the conference’s Industry Night.

This year’s sessions also brought a few resonating themes and posed several questions about where the industry will find itself in the next few years. It’s no surprise that the wave of technologies available to retailers today has them scrambling for a roadmap of the perfect combination needed to deliver the greatest customer experience possible.

Both vendors and retailers throughout the show agreed that the customer experience is paramount. No matter if your organization is omnichannel, strictly digital or only brick-and-mortar, at the end of the day shopping is not about channels, it’s an experience, and the technology that you implement throughout should create a memorable experience.

Here are the top interesting takeaways we gathered from industry leaders at this year’s Shoptalk:

  • Buying a product is an experience; all touch points must intersect in order to create this experience.
  • Retailers are now living in an all-channel universe; the Internet will not destroy physical stores, it will just grow to be a part of every transaction.
  • The customer has never been more in charge.
  • What is happening to retailers right now in terms of adopting in-store technology and becoming omnichannel should be considered an evolution vs. a revolution.
  • Technology will not dehumanize the physical store experience—it will enhance it.
  • The principles of retailing are still there, but retailers need to figure out the balance between old and new.
  • Be agile – everything that touches a retailer’s organization touches the consumer.
  • Retail complexity breeds a different opportunity, people will still need to understand what humans want and this will lead to new opportunities to bring together data, artificial intelligence and technology to meet the customer’s needs.
  • Think of artificial intelligence as amplified intelligence for retailing.

All in all, the conversations at Shoptalk demonstrate that while the industry is continuing to adopt technology and change, this is only the beginning. Can’t wait to see what innovative topics Shoptalk brings to the table in 2017!

Gifs: Redefining Interpersonal Communication

A “gif” is defined as “a computer file format for the compression and storage of digital video images.” (Thanks, Merriam-Webster.) But most recently the term has come to define the looped video used in reaction to a situation or to add “color commentary” to an ongoing conversation between groups of people or to one’s social media post.

Suffice it to say, I am a BIG fan of them.

Since Slack announced its integration with GIPHY two years ago, Ketner Group’s inter-office /giphy tags have provided comedic relief to pretty much any situation we find ourselves in or in one-off conversations we may be having with other team members. I even find myself having entire conversations via /giphy. (Personally I’m partial to Game of Thrones and Beyoncé gifs. Given the recent release of the new season of GoT and LEMONADE, I’m pleased I’ll have a lot more content to work with.)

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Gifs really are the new expression of emotion or reactions through a two-dimensional medium, be it in interoffice messages or texts with friends. Some might argue that emojis are the current “it” thing, and while I appreciate a good emoji conversation, nothing really says “I-just-secured-awesome-coverage-for-my-client-and-didn’t-break-a-sweat” like Michelle Pfeiffer in Grease 2.


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Or when receiving an unexpected complement, I look to a children’s classic.


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Many brands and companies have introduced their own branded gif keyboards, including Kik with their partnership program, Starbucks with their Frappuccino featured keyboard and Mississippi State’s athletics focused keyboard, to increase their reach with consumers.

With these brands creating their own keyboards and countless others in development, it’s generating a whole new vehicle for us to engage with those brands and use those brands as a means of self-expression, much like we would clothes or accessories. This integrates brands further into our everyday lives, blurring the distinction between marketing and organic content, including GIPHY’s head of business development.

As my parting gift, I’ll leave you with the hilarious fail gifs and let you see if you can figure out which ones are branded.


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