Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Fishing for Balance

By Alexis Acosta

Wakeup, shower, eat, work, eat, sleep, repeat.

We could all argue that the typical five-day workweek could easily look a little something like this. It’s easy to get caught up in what we think is the American Dream, which in recent years has seemed to translate into non-stop working

Thanks to smartphones, we’re constantly connected. As a result, it can become difficult to distinguish a sustainable work-life balance. Sometimes, the world’s overachievers have to sit back and smell the roses, giving a new perspective on life. In my fairly brief transition from non-professional life to work life, I’ve made personal strides to create a strong work-life balance — the life I want to lead — by incorporating balance and happiness. Here are a few tips I’ve learned to keep me sane throughout the week

Prioritize your time.

Studies show that we are only productive a portion of the day, so why not make every moment count? Set up your day every morning according to the most important tasks, which gives you a timeframe to accomplish everything and will keep you motivated to plow through to the next task. As we like to say at Fish, “A ‘to-do’ turns into a ‘to-DONE’.”

Practice open communication of your workload with your team.

Sometimes we can’t finish everything. Even when we try our hardest, we tend to get those 3 p.m. fire drills that force us to stop, drop and resolve. The more we communicate our schedules, the more we’re able to shed light on what we can and cannot do within our eight-hour day. It's okay to say, “I need more time.” It’s better to be open with your colleagues in terms of your workload rather than letting the quality of work suffer.

Keep an agenda.
An agenda is key. Write down anything and everything and you’ll never forget. The “flag” tool within the email system is another lifesaver that helps keep you on track and helps coordinate the day’s priorities.

Take Lunch.
Work always seems to pile up and it’s difficult to pull away when you’re in the thick of it. That’s why taking a lunch break is so crucial to productivity. It provides us all with a little sanity in the midst of our hectic days and gives us time to take a breath, contemplate life, laugh a little and enjoy leisure time with colleagues. 

Author Nigel Marsh puts it perfectly when he says, “It's up to us as individuals to take control and responsibility for the type of lives that we want to lead. If you don't design your life, someone else will design it for you, and you may just not like their idea of balance.”

Check out his video at TEDxSydney for more tips on how to keep your sanity. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

43% of Companies had a Data Breach in the Past Year

By Chad Cohen:

Great article in USA Today yesterday about data breach. Annual study on data breach preparedness by the Ponemon Institute finds that a staggering 43% of companies had experienced a data breach in the past year. That's up 10% from the year before.

The sizes of the breach are also going up. One in particular that most of us have never heard of occurred in January when more than 70% of South Koreans ages 15 to 65 - a total of 27 million - had their personal data stolen and credit cards compromised. The breach was caused by a worker at the Korea Credit Bureau, which provides credit scores to Korean credit card companies. Employee negligence not shadowy hackers.

Despite rise in breaches, 27% of companies didn't have a breach response plan or team in place. The number is down, but the problem is that few companies don't take the need seriously. Of the companies surveyed, just 3% looked at their plan of action each quarter. 37% hadn't reviewed or updated their plan since it was first put in place.

Unfortunately breaches are becoming more and more part of every day life and it's about time that businesses and franchises head the warning.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Top Three Take-Aways From the 2014 IFA Public Affairs Conference

By: Chad Cohen

With another International Franchise Association (IFA) Public Affairs Conference in the books, we once again had the privilege to engage with our members of the Congress and tell the story of franchising. While the IFA's Government Relations team helps guide the conversation around franchising year round, being in Washington D.C. again reaffirms how important it is that lawmakers hear from the members of the franchise community directly on matters that affect the business model.

The Top 3 things I took away from the conference are the following:

1. National Labor Relations Board - The NLRB recently recommended that franchisors and franchisees be designated as joint employers. According to the IFA's official statement, franchisees and their employees do not work for franchisors. The franchise owners who have built more than 770,000 businesses and employ millions of people control their own businesses. Franchisees have their own employer identification number with the IRS and file their own taxes. Franchisees establish day-to-day operations, employment practices and policies for their own business. Franchisees decide who to hire and fire, and also set wage rates, benefits and employees' work schedules.

If franchisors are joint employers with their franchisees, these thousands of small business owners would lose control of the operations and equity they worked so hard to build. The jobs of millions of workers would be placed in jeopardy and the value of the businesses that employ them would be deflated.

2. Be a More Informed Advocate for Franchising - members of the IFA are the best voices of the industry. Getting more involved will only help drive franchising's effectiveness of Capitol Hill and within state legislatures all year round. I need to do more than just Public Affairs once a year to make a true difference.

3. 40 Hour Work Week - Even though the Affordable Care Act is in place, there are key changes still necessary to help franchise small business owners better comply with the law. As the IFA states, a 40-hour work week definition of full-time employee will allow for more flexibility and pay for employees, a benefit many franchise business are able to provide for their workers. Defining a full-time employee as one who works 30 hours per week could ultimately hurt employees by forcing employers to manage their workers to fewer hours to avoid penalties or significant cost increases.

Infographic: Press Releases by the Numbers

By: Ashley Rodriguez

No, the press release isn't dead. It just needs to be adapted. Journalists are busy. If 70 percent are spending less than a minute reading a release, than let's adapt press releases to allow them to get everything they need in just 60 seconds. That means a clear and newsworthy subject line, as well as providing all the hard facts right up front. Sixty seconds may only allow for a reporter to read the subject line, subhead and one or two paragraphs before they click delete.

Check out the below infographic from Beth Stewart, who shared some press release stats in the latest Washington Women in Public Relations e-newsletter.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Reporter Who Replied to Every PR Pitch and Then Wrote about It

By: Ashley Rodriguez

Last week, a Newsweek reporter made my day when he penned this gem, "I Read and Replied to Every Single PR Email I Received for a Week."

As a former journalism student (who, unfortunately, graduated in the middle of a horrible job market for j-school kids), I often wonder had I stayed in the industry, how would I deal with the daily onslaught of PR pitches -- many of which probably are unrelated to my beat?

Wonder no more, because Zach Shonfield conducted the (painful) experiment for me. It's a candid look at how disadvantageous it is to the PR industry as a whole to blanket media with pitches. If we all took the extra time to send personalized, targeted pitch emails, everyone would benefit -- whatever side of the fence you're on.

I know there has been article after article on sending pitches to the right people, but Shonfield shows why we really, really need to start doing it. For real this time. Guys… c'mon.

And if you're wondering what his response was to the accidental popularity of his article, read his follow-up piece here.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Paywall for a Cause

By: Ashley Rodriguez

As a former j-school student, I'm always interested in reading about how news outlets are coming up with ways to make money amidst years of declining revenue. Some frustrate me (paywalls), while others just confuse me (the "iTunes of journalism"). 

Last week, in conjunction with the 13th anniversary of Sept. 11, Esquire put its 2003 story "The Falling Man" behind a paywall -- but with all proceeds benefiting the James Foley Scholarship Fund. The suggested donation is $2.99.

Now that's a paywall I'm more than happy to pay for. While it doesn't turn any profit for Esquire, plenty of media are writing about it. It's a PR win and certainly shows there's not a one-size-fits-all paywall strategy. Publications can get creative. They can turn a paywall into a temporary fundraiser and show some goodwill. Or even develop some sort of pay-what-you-can pricing system (Panera style).

Paying for news, whether as a subscriber or on a story-by-story basis, will continue to evolve, but bravo to Esquire for making the bold move to forgo profits for a higher cause.

Friday, September 12, 2014

DiGiorno Debacle A Systematic Problem With Social Media

By: Toby Srebnik

One of the biggest social media mistakes brands continue to make is not thinking through a situation before hitting send on a keyboard or mobile device.  It happened again earlier this week when DiGiorno Pizza’s attempt to engage with the hashtag #WhyIStayed completely backfired. While the brand routinely interjects itself and its brand of humor into trending hashtag topics, the DiGiorno social media team failed to research why #WhyIStayed was trending.

Earlier that day, Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice was cut from his team and suspended indefinitely by the NFL when new video emerged from his domestic violent incident earlier this year. The new video became a discussion topic throughout social media Monday and led to frank domestic violence discussions occurring under the hashtags #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft.

Instead of clicking on the hashtag to see why #WhyIStayed was trending, the DiGiorno Pizza social media team tweeted this to its 82,000+ followers:

Within minutes, the account’s mentions made it clear they had made a mistake and they deleted their tweet and apologized:

Because of screenshots, deleting the tweet didn’t make the situation any better. To the company’s credit, the team managing the account has done a phenomenal job of apologizing using different words in every single tweet back to people who tweeted their displeasure at the company directly.

However, this situation begs the question: Why don’t brands safeguard their social media the way they would any other communication tools?

There are countless examples of companies marketing around a tragedy (http://www.alistdaily.com/news/epicurious-epic-fail-on-twitter), not realizing which account someone is logged into while tweeting a personal opinion (http://www.saatchis.com/the-kitchenaid-effect-a-social-media-snafu-at-its-finest/ ), or deleting comments from a Facebook page in response to something the brand posted (http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/chapstick-gets-itself-social-media-death-spiral-136097).

All of these things could be avoided if common sense principles are included when handing social media:

1) Interjecting your brand into a current events discussion without doing proper research beforehand can completely damage the brand’s credibility. Clearly, had the DiGiorno team spent 30 seconds reading through the #WhyIStayed tweets, they would have realized it was not a place to include their normal attempt at humor. Instead, they have spent the last 72+ hours apologizing to tens of thousands of people on Twitter and Facebook.

2) Train the social media team to triple-check scheduled and real-time posts before hitting return. Many errors can be resolved before a post or tweet is ever sent to the general public by taking an extra 10 seconds to make sure everything reads properly and that a link takes a person to where the team wants them to go.

3) Being transparent at all times, whether it’s a crisis situation or not. Whereas Chapstick alienated a lot of social media fans by simply deleting consumer comments rather than answering them, DiGiorno realized their mistake immediately and hasn’t shied away from apologizing for it. Countless people have tweeted to them or posted on their Facebook page that they’ve done a great job of handling themselves following a social media snafu.

Bottom line: Brand social media teams should think before they tweet and have a plan in place on how to handle a crisis in case one arises.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

5 Charts: The Shifting Landscape of Digital Video Consumption

By; Chad Cohen

Mobile is the future. We've all heard it. We've all been taught it. We're all engaged in it. But that shift to mobile brings another shift - the way video is consumed. Here is what Digiday had to say about it.

Online viewing continues to climb, but TV is far from dead. A report from Nielsen this week found that Americans aged 18 to 64 have doubled their digital video viewing from 13 minutes a day in the second quarter of 2012 to roughly 27 minutes today. A caveat: Digital viewing is, on the whole, still dwarfed by television, which is still dominating upwards of 4.5 hours of people’s days.
As expected, much of this increase can be attributed to mobile, where mobile pageviews have increased 81 percent compared to the same time last year, according to KPCB analyst Mary Meeker’s 2014 Internet Trends report. What’s more, mobile now accounts for 22 percent of overall digital video consumption.
Mobile video is fueled by the young, but old folks are catching up. There are also some notable shifts among specific demographics. While people aged 50 to 64 were watching 11 minutes of digital video a day at this point last year, today that number is closer to 19 minutes. At the same time, adults have slightly cut back their time in front of traditional TV to 6 hours and 12 minutes a day.
Mobile video means shorter video. Mobile video viewing lends itself to the short and snackable. Over 60 percent of overall ad views are for video less than 20 minutes, according to data from video ad platform FreeWheel.

Larger mobile screens are helping to boost mobile video consumption. A good rule of thumb is that the bigger the mobile screen, the more video people are watching on it. Data from NPD group, for example, found that Wi-Fi and cellular data consumption on smartphones with screens larger than 4.5 inches was 44 percent greater than that on smaller phones. This sentiment was echoed in a recent poll from Strategy Analytics, which found that 42 percent of phone owners would watch more videos on phones with larger screens.

The result: digital ad spending is growing, but TV spending is growing more. The rapid rise in mobile video consumption means that the mobile video ads are rising just as quickly. Video ad revenue is expected to climb from $5.96 billion this year to $12.71 billion in 2016, according to eMarketer. Again, that spending is still far outpaced by the growth in TV spending, which echoes the overall disparity in digital viewership compared to TV.