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Focused on Products and Services? You’re Only Half Right 

September 27, 2019

The relationship between corporate brands and customers has changed dramatically over the past decade. Today’s audiences are no longer just passive consumers. They want to be part of the conversation — and are increasingly vocal in their expectation that businesses take a stand on social issues. They want to buy from, and work for, companies and brands that support the values they believe in.

Our Authenticity Gap research dramatically brings this new reality into focus, revealing that nearly 70% of consumers want organizations to demonstrate greater positive societal and environmental impact than their competitors, not just customer benefits, when launching a new product or service.

More startling, consumers say less than half of their perceptions about a company are shaped by attributes related to a company’s products and services. The other half is shaped by how management behaves and how the company is having an impact on society.

Clearly an organization’s impact on society and the environment will play a critical role in winning the hearts and minds of consumers in this new reality. More importantly, it’s also a source of significant competitive advantage.

Organizations need to do more than build a great product or service. They need to stand for something and mean it. And those that don’t prioritize their purpose and values based on what consumers really cares about, will find their once-loyal customers going to a competitor who does.

Download FleishmanHillard’s Authenticity Gap Report from our dedicated report page here. 


Self-Improvement Month: Naoko, Gina and Kentaro

September 25, 2019
By FH Perspectives

September is Self-Improvement Month, an observance designed to encourage people to make empowering changes to reach their goals. At FleishmanHillard, we encourage our teams to never settle. This month we’ll highlight employees across our global network who embody our bold approach and strive to grow professionally and personally. Responses will be shared in Q&A format featuring their unique perspectives.

We’ll conclude our content series with Naoko Nakayama, Gina Simonis and Kentaro Hitoshi.

Naoko Nakayama, senior account manager, supporting our Brand Marketing practice in Tokyo

Naoko Nakayama

Q: Who is someone that inspired you to be where you are today and how?

A: It was my fortune that I met so many impressive people in my career. Among them, I learned a lot through working with a digital creative director when I worked at an ad agency. At that time, the digital field was emerging, and his deep knowledge was inspiring. However, the most impressive thing about him was that he had the ability to develop a dynamic communication strategy whether the campaign utilized digital or traditional tactics. While I’ve mostly worked in traditional PR, I try to keep in mind the dynamic communication ideas that I learned from him.

Q: What do you do when you experience a setback? How do you overcome it?

A: The most important thing when I have a setback is how I can manage my negative emotions caused by the setback. I would say the most effective solution is to meet and ask people – seniors, friends and colleagues – their advice about how they overcome their setbacks and what kinds of options I could take so that I can turn the setback into a learning experience.

Q: What do you think is the best thing someone can do to advance their career?

A: I think it is important to stop what we are doing and try to do different things. After 10 years of experience in traditional PR, I became a student again and went to New York to study. There was no guarantee I’d get a better job after coming back to Japan, but I took the risk. I can say it was the right decision now and my career today is based on this experience.

Gina Simonis, managing supervisor, supporting our Financial & Professional Services sector in New York 

Gina Simonis

Q: How do you stay up-to-date with new offerings in your industry, practice group and/or sector? 

A: I make it a priority to stay connected with my colleagues and network with professionals in the industry. Establishing and fostering a network is an asset I obtained while studying at Penn State. It has proven to be an asset throughout my career and was the catalyst that sparked my career in public relations. Furthermore, I think it is imperative to allot time each day to consume the news related to your sector; I subscribe to a plethora of newsletters and podcasts to keep myself informed on current events and trends around the world.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you can give to others working on their own professional development?

A: I would encourage everyone to establish a relationship with a mentor. Ideally, identify someone you can share your goals with and brainstorm innovative solutions to the challenges you are facing. It is important to keep in mind that your mentor could be someone inside or outside your industry. I have had a few mentors throughout my career, and it has helped me make strides towards my professional goals.

Q: How do you seek and implement feedback?

A: I establish an open line of communication both up and down the organization. I make it clear that I welcome constructive criticism and consistently seek valuable feedback from my managers and peers. I thrive off performance-based feedback and leverage it to constantly improve all facets of my life. I don’t think anyone should be afraid of asking for feedback, it only helps you learn and improve upon yourself.

Kentaro Hitoshi, senior account manager, supporting our Brand Marketing practice in Tokyo

Kentaro Hitoshi

Q: What’s a specific area of your career you want to develop over the next year? How do you plan to do so?

A: I am aiming to develop my career by creating social content. There is an emerging demand for this in Japan and companies are eager to learn how they can create better social channels that will contribute to their business. Because my former job was at a broadcasting company creating TV programs, I am also eager to learn to develop efficient and powerful content across channels. I will accomplish this by remaining passionate and discussing with my impressive colleagues who encourage me. A special thanks to the global Social and Innovation team and my great colleague Laura Snearly.

Q: What do you think is the best thing someone can do to advance their career?

A: I am still unsure if I should be a specialist in one field or become a generalist who is engaged in many fields. I am trying to develop the latter. I recently read the book “Multiply Your Career.” Multiplying your career means experiencing various occupations that inspire you in order to differentiate yourself. As just a PR account manager, I might not be unique. But I stand out as a former broadcasting program director, a person who was raised in New York and Paris, an individual who worked with the London/Rio/PyeongChang Paralympics and an expert with B2B technology in Japan

Q: How do you seek and implement feedback?

A: Ask questions. People may get sick of me but learning from individuals’ various ways of thinking is the best teacher. I always receive feedback which I never thought of, and that is a way to get inspired.


How Businesses Are Approaching Voter Outreach in the Current Political Landscape

September 23, 2019

There is an increasingly delicate line for companies and brands to tread in the current political landscape regarding how they talk about policy and political issues. On one hand, based on our own Authenticity Gap research, we know that consumers are more loyal to companies and brands that take a clear stance on issues that matter to them. On the other, appearing partisan or overtly political can isolate customers and employees who don’t share those views.

National Voter Registration Day. Your Chance to Stay out of the Fray.

Consumers expect more visibility from companies on civic engagement than ever, a trend that will only continue to grow. That’s why this September 24 — National Voter Registration Day — is such an important opportunity for businesses to engage in Get Out the Vote (GOTV) efforts across the country. Focusing on voter registration allows companies to push a positive, pro-voter message while communicating their values, without falling into the fray of divisive political issues.

And businesses have shown a willingness to engage on this subject. Successful consumer- and employee-facing campaigns were a big part of why the voter turnout for the 2018 midterm election was higher than it has been since the Bull Moose Party was in the White House. We have seen some clear best practices emerge from recent efforts.

Best Practices for Businesses to Help Get out the Vote:

  • Focus on general participation rather than partisanship. Members of the workforce and general public appreciate their companies playing a visible role in promoting civic engagement as long as it is seen as neutral and free of any political agenda.
  • Work with influencers to further your reach with specific audiences. While conventional GOTV wisdom tends to focus on individual voters, we are now seeing clear examples of influencers across different platforms, well, influence election results. Understanding the audiences you’re trying to reach and the arbiters of opinion in those circles can be an effective avenue for outreach.
  • Make sure your communication is authentic. That’s the key to success. Anytime you are communicating with your stakeholders for a specific purpose, do so in a way that fits with your brand and reinforces your reputation.
  • Remember, the most effective way to mobilize a voter is in person. While we are seeing organizations experiment with various tactics to engage the eligible voters in their network — with varying levels of success — in-person interactions offer proven results. Setting up informational events, attending community events to share information and canvassing are all still tried and true methods to get eligible voters registered, informed and most importantly, to the polls.

Don’t Forget to Take Advantage of Free GOTV Resources.

Regardless of how many companies and organizations are willing to put into their own voter outreach efforts, there are always plenty of free, publicly available resources online that can easily be plugged into existing communications channels to promote voter participation such as NationalVoterRegistrationDay.org and Rock The Vote.

It is crucial for companies to start planning early if they are going to execute a successful voter outreach program. Here in the U.S., the presidential election is in just over a year, and like every U.S. election to come before it, this one is the most important of our lives.


FleishmanHillard Shortlisted for Holmes Report 2019 Global PR Agency of the Year

ST. LOUIS, Sept. 23, 2019 — FleishmanHillard has been shortlisted for Global PR Agency of the Year, presented by The Holmes ReportThe global PR and marketing firm earned a spot on the shortlist for its record-breaking year in new business wins in 2018, outstanding client work and continued investment in the global client leadership program.

Earlier this year, the agency won Large Agency of the Year in North America, as well as UK Consultancies of the Year honors for its FleishmanHillard Fishburn operations in London.

Winners will be announced at the Global SABRE Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, October 23, 2019.

See the complete list of finalists on The Holmes Report.


Is the Jig Up for the Gig Economy?

September 20, 2019

The fight is on to define what being an employee means for more than a million people in California, with consequences that reach far beyond.

Disruptive business models are being disrupted. This time by the law of the land.

Companies like Uber and Lyft owe much of their success to the cost savings reaped by employing large contract workforces. That will change now that a landmark bill has been signed into law by California’s governor. Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5) will require Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and many others who use contractors, or “gig” workers, to be reclassified as employees. Now is the time for companies who employ contract workers and those who count them among their partners and vendors to examine how the new law will impact their business and relationships with employees.

The bill becomes law on Jan. 1, 2020, and extends traditional employment protections to contract workers, such as a minimum wage, health care, workers’ compensation and unemployment benefits. It not only covers rideshare drivers but will also reclassify more than 1 million workers in California, including construction workers, franchise owners, delivery drivers, nail salon employees, custodians, newspaper couriers and more.

Industry experts estimate that relying on employees rather than gig workers will raise operating costs by 20 to 30 percent. For Uber and Lyft, it is estimated that reclassification will add costs of around $800 million combined, or an average of $3,625 per driver in California alone. In addition to the costs associated with compliance, it could force Uber and Lyft to shift their business models entirely, such as requiring their drivers to work in shifts rather than allowing them to decide when to work.

AB 5 systematizes a 2018 California Supreme Court ruling that created a three-part test for determining if a worker is a contractor or employee. According to the test, a worker must be performing work that is “outside the usual course” of the company’s business, and the worker is only considered a contractor if they are not under the direction or control of the company while working. Uber has argued that drivers do not qualify as employees, asserting that “several previous rulings have found that drivers’ work is outside the usual course of Uber’s business, which is serving as a technology platform for several different types of digital marketplaces.”

With the signing of the legislation on Sept. 19, 2019, parties on both sides are ready for a fight as the move by California will reignite efforts by other states that have attempted to pass similar legislation and failed, including New York, Washington and Oregon. Multiple efforts are under way by Uber and Lyft to fight the measure or lessen its effects. Both companies, along with DoorDash, announced they would commit $90 million toward a California ballot measure that establishes a third class of worker between employee and independent contractor. Labor unions have already lauded the measure as a win for workers’ rights, and it is expected they will look for ways to organize multiple new workforces as early as January 2020.

As the situation evolves, a few issue areas are worth monitoring:

  • Increased shareholder pressure: Both Uber and Lyft are public but not yet turning profits. Shareholders could pressure both companies to reshape their business models and chart faster, more aggressive paths to profitability.
  • Fewer IPOs, more M&A: Increased costs for startups and private companies may mean fewer will choose to go public. Costs may also spur consolidation in some industries for companies to survive.
  • Uptick in collective bargaining: Both Uber and Lyft drivers have held strikes in the past, and AB 5 does not mention workers’ right to collectively bargain, leaving the door open for labor unions to attempt to unionize newly minted employees.
  • Accelerated pace of innovation: Companies may speed up the pace of innovation in order to reduce human capital costs. Both Uber and Lyft could more aggressively pursue autonomous vehicle deployment, and other gig companies may look for ways to better automate processes in order to reduce or remove the need for humans.
  • Risk of ongoing litigation: Companies will be faced with a decision: whether to comply preemptively with the legislation or face potential litigation from workers or other state officials.

The effects of AB 5 and related legislation in other states will reshape gig companies and greatly impact adjacent and related industries. Understanding where one’s organization sits in terms of risk potential will be imperative over the next several months as the details of the law take shape and policies are shaped. Asking the right questions is a great place to start:

  • What does your contractor or contingent workforce look like? Are they an essential function of your business?
  • What is this workforce’s current perception of its relationship with the company? What does the contingent/contract workforce value about their status? Not value? What are their perceptions about the potential change in status?
  • Has there been any past or recent activism from the contingent/contract workforce? How did that manifest, and how was it resolved?
  • What channels of communications exist already with this aspect of your workforce? Have they been activated with enough frequency to be a reliable channel of communication? If not, have you assessed how communication channels need to change?
  • If your workforce is not unionized, have you examined your policies and risk potential for collective bargaining?
  • What is your relationship with gig companies? Do you count them among your customers, vendors or partners?
  • What benefits do you currently offer to part-time employees? What will change or stay the same if this law (or similar) is enacted?

Even if a company has no substantial operations in California and is not considered a gig economy employer, the implications of the law may quickly inform legislative activity in other states. From the birthplace of disruption comes the birthplace of new legislation. It’s a good time for companies – and teams from HR, communications and policy – to huddle up to prepare for the next wave.


Self-Improvement Month: Julie, Charlotte and Brandy

September 18, 2019
By FH Perspectives

September is Self-Improvement Month, an observance designed to encourage people to make empowering changes to reach their goals. At FleishmanHillard, we encourage our teams to never settle. This month we’ll highlight employees across our global network who embody our bold approach and strive to grow professionally and personally. Responses will be shared in Q&A format featuring their unique perspectives.

This week, we’ll highlight Julie Sculley, Charlotte Nicholds and Brandy Geers.

Julie Sculley, vice president, supporting our Media Relations practice in Boston

Julie Sculley

Q: What’s a specific area of your career you want to develop over the next year? How do you plan to do so?

A: PR has evolved so much since I first started working in the field. I’ve always been at agencies where our work was concentrated on “media relations” specifically. That used to mean mostly earned media, especially articles written by staff reporters. Contributed articles then started becoming a bigger part of the landscape, followed by owned media-like blogs. Until recently, paid media was not even in the discussion for most of my clients – but things are changing. It’s important that we learn more about the various paid opportunities that exist and can make strategic recommendations to clients for capitalizing on those channels within our programs and campaigns. I plan to learn more about both video and print paid media through colleagues who have that expertise and have also requested a group training on this topic at the local level.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you can give to others working on their own professional development?

A: Don’t compare yourself to a colleague — everyone is different! We are individuals with different interests and abilities, and we grow at our own pace. You may be stronger at pitching while Jenny may be better at content work. And that’s ok! I strongly feel that PR is often best learned by doing. If you’re not the strongest writer — you need to do more writing! And while we shouldn’t compare ourselves to our colleagues, I do believe we can really learn a lot from each other. Listen to one another in meetings, bounce ideas off your peers and ask for their opinions — soak up all the collective knowledge that’s around you!

Q: What is your proudest career moment so far and how do you aim to build on it?

A: This is a hard one to answer! There are many different reasons to feel proud, whether it’s through personal accomplishment or as part of a larger team effort. One that comes to mind is when I secured a USA Today Snapshot for my client after three years of pitching it! Getting the hit resulted from a mix of perseverance and pitching the right data at the right time in the right way. One of the biggest lessons was understanding that the data point needed to be able to stand on its own with little explanation. Seeing the data with a cute illustration in full color was exhilarating! I build on past individual successes by using those experiences to help my teams achieve success on behalf of our clients, or for the agency in new business pitches. I find tremendous satisfaction in seeing my team members succeed. Receiving kudos from a client when a team member gets a great placement really makes me feel like a proud mama bear!

Charlotte Nicholds, associate director, supporting our Reputation Management practice in London

Charlotte Nicholds

Q: How do you set short- and long-term career goals?

A: Throughout the year I find myself regularly reflecting on my career goals with September and January being my key months to review my achievements and think about what I still want to aim for in the short-term. Not only do I write these goals down but I also share them with those closest to me so that they can help keep me accountable. I’m someone who loves to have a roadmap and an idea of where I want to head longer-term too so I use friends, family and colleagues at work to bounce off career aspirations and work out a path for getting there. It doesn’t matter if you change your mind or you decide to take a different direction – the important thing is having something to strive for in the first place and have the support of others who believe you can get there.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you can give to others working on their own professional development?

A: Seek input from lots of different individuals that you admire – this doesn’t just have to include people within your company or that you know. For example, I really enjoy finding inspiration through people’s autobiographies, podcasts and feature articles. Understanding people’s background story and where they came from can give you a boost and ideas for your own career development.

Q: What do you think is the best thing someone can do to advance their career?

A: I am a big believer in letting the results you produce speak for themselves. You cannot underestimate the value of hard work when it comes to advancing your career. By proving yourself to deliver excellent work, on time and within budget so many more opportunities will be presented to you as you’ll be seen as a trusted and valuable member of the team.

Brandy Geers, senior vice president, supporting our Public Affairs practice in St. Louis

Brandy Geers

Q: What do you do when you experience a setback? How do you overcome it?

A: I’ve always been a “persevere and charge the hill” type of person. It’s so easy to get frustrated and feel that setbacks are unfair. Some of them are, but I think the best thing you can do is to dust yourself off, take a deep breath and find an alternate route. There’s rarely only one way to get somewhere. Enlist help if you need it. Don’t feel like you have to do everything or figure it all out yourself.

Q: How do you seek and implement feedback?

A: I ask – those I manage, those who manage me, those who work on the same team. If you don’t ask for feedback you won’t get it – and if you don’t get it, you’ll wonder why you’re having issues in your career. Listening with an open mind to multiple points of view not only helps make you a better colleague, but also a better person. I may not agree with everything I hear, but I find that the candid discussions help build deeper trust and respect between my colleagues and me and set the stage for more productive personal and professional conversations in the future. Plus, tackling a potentially challenging conversation is always good for personal and professional growth.

Q: What is your proudest career moment so far and how do you aim to build on it?

A: This is a hard one to answer because there are so many moments over my 15+ years that add up to a proud career at FleishmanHillard. In general, my proudest moments are making a positive community impact through our work – helping people live better lives, relieve some pressure, build a better future for themselves and their community. For me to maintain a career that I am proud of, I intend to continue to pour myself into my work, focus on doing work that has that bigger purpose and keep pushing myself to do the best I can on each and every project each and every time.


Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month – Q and A with Jessica Yah Lira

September 16, 2019
By FH Perspectives

As we kick off Hispanic Heritage Month, we wanted to take this opportunity to spotlight and celebrate one of our rising stars in San Francisco. Jessica Yah Lira is an account executive in our Social and Innovation team, and a graduate of the University of San Diego with a B.A. in International Relations and Marketing. Jessica joined FleishmanHillard in 2017 after a successful internship with our firm.

Q: Why is celebrating unique perspectives and diversity important to you? To FleishmanHillard?

A: Diversity is what makes storytelling thrive because having people from different backgrounds is what allows us to see the world differently. Being able to see the world through different lenses – whether it be through a professional or personal one – allows us as counselors to bring forth our best thinking and creativity to help authentically tell our clients’ stories.

Jessica Yah Lira (left) with her mother (right) at her graduation ceremony.

Q: How does FleishmanHillard allow you to be your authentic self? 

A: One of the turning points that made me feel like I belonged with the “FHamily” was during my intern days back in 2016. In the beginning, you could say that I wasn’t very comfortable speaking up in the fear that my opinions wouldn’t be valued. But having a manager and mentors that believed in me made me realize that being in this industry, especially as a Latina, is a very empowering thing. Having different perspectives is what makes you special and I’ve had the opportunity to work alongside some of the best people that celebrate that every day.

Q: What made you decide you wanted to work in communications?

A: If I’m being honest, I had no idea what public relations was until my best friend introduced me to it when I was looking for a career change. After some digging, I became fascinated with the idea of storytelling. Big or small, everyone has a story to tell. Every company was started because of someone’s mission and fearlessness to make a change. Being able to bring those stories to life is so rewarding.

Q: What would you say is your proudest professional achievement?

A: Working for one of the most notable PR firms in the world is a proud achievement in itself. I get to come to work every day and learn from some of the most inspiring people. But if I could pick one exact professional moment, I would say my proudest achievement was being part of a new business pitch during my first two months as an assistant account executive. I had just been hired after completing my internship so I was still transitioning to the full-time role. I was asked to help with an RFP, which then led to participating in the new business pitch development process. In the final round, I was part of the small group asked to present to the potential clients. I remember being completely overwhelmed with nerves but knew that if I didn’t speak up I would be letting my team down. Maybe it was the fifth cup of coffee that I had at 8 a.m., but I ended up speaking up and even had the company’s CMO say it was his favorite part of the whole meeting. We ended up winning the business!

Q: What does your Hispanic heritage mean to you? 

Jessica Yah Lira with her brothers, Brian (middle) and Rick (right).

When I think of what it means to be Hispanic or Latina, the first thing that pops into my mind is family. It means honoring their hard work and struggles that helped open doors for my brothers and me. It means having those big family gatherings where you meet a new cousin every time because the family just keeps growing. It means never missing family Sundays or movie nights with my brothers. It means attempting to learn (big emphasis on attempting) mom’s home-cooked meals so you can carry on the legacy. It means being yourself with color, style and pride.

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to other members of the Hispanic community looking to pursue a career in communications?

A: Network, network, network! Be part of PR organizations on campus, reach out to college classmates who have a career in communications or even reach out to folks on LinkedIn. It might be scary at first, but you never know where that can lead you.

Q: If you could go back five years, what is something you would tell your younger self?

A: Don’t be afraid to be yourself. It’s what makes you stand out and be a valuable team member.

Q: Who inspires you the most and why?

A: My mother’s work ethic and life as a Mexican immigrant has always been my motivation. Being able to pursue a higher education and professional career has not only been a dream, but it is a way of thanking my mother for all the obstacles she has so valiantly overcome. Her continuous ambition has taught me that life is filled with endless opportunities for us to undertake. There are infinite possibilities but we, ourselves, have to have the zest to make our dreams a reality no matter how arduous the journey may be.


FleishmanHillard Vanguard’s Elena Fadeeva Appointed to Manage PRCA Russia

September 13, 2019

The Public Relations Communications Association (PRCA) has launched PRCA Russia, the first PRCA organization in Europe to be founded outside of the UK. PRCA Russia is chaired by Francis Ingham, PRCA Director General and ICCO Chief Executive, and managed by Elena Fadeeva, FleishmanHillard Vanguard Russia/CIS General Director and Orta Communications Group President.

From left: Francis Ingham and Elena Fadeeva

“The launch of PRCA Russia is a real milestone for the industry in our country with the first arrival of the leading all-around international professional organization,” Fadeeva said. “PRCA Russia uniquely brings to the country PRCA’s 50 years of experience in setting up standards and raising the bar on communications. We are here to unite corporations, consultancies and professionals to work hand in hand building the industry of the future. We believe PRCA’s global reach will help us raise the profile of the best of PR and communications from Russia internationally, featuring truly outstanding work that our industry can do – creative, innovative, ethical, and effective.”

Founded in 1969, the PRCA is the world’s largest PR professional body, operating in 66 countries around the world. The new organization’s main areas of focus will be: consolidating the industry in Russia, raising standards in PR and communications, setting the code of conduct, facilitating the sharing of best practices and innovations, raising the profile of Russian PR and communications internationally, creating networking opportunities, working for the greater benefit of the industry and promoting on the industry’s behalf.


Self-Improvement Month: Marguerite, Andrea and Rachel

September 12, 2019
By FH Perspectives

September is Self-Improvement Month, an observance designed to encourage people to make empowering changes to reach their goals. At FleishmanHillard, we encourage our teams to never settle. This month we’ll highlight employees across our global network who embody our bold approach and strive to grow professionally and personally. Responses will be shared in Q&A format featuring their unique perspectives.

This week, we’re featuring Marguerite Pinheiro, Andrea Myers and Rachel Coleman.

Marguerite Pinheiro, account supervisor, supporting our Technology sector in New York

Marguerite Pinheiro

Q: How do you stay up-to-date with new offerings in your industry, practice group and/or sector?

A: The best way to stay up-to-date with new offerings in the technology industry is by always being plugged into the news. My favorite way to get my news is through newsletters in the morning – like the WSJ, Quartz and Axios. Staying up-to-date across practice groups at FleishmanHillard is easy because everyone is so collaborative and we’re always sharing news with one another – from breaking stories to new analytics offerings. My favorite part about being on the technology team here is our weekly tech team meetings. It’s in those meetings that I am reminded of how intelligent my colleagues are and how lucky I am to work alongside all of them.

Q: What do you think is the best thing someone can do to advance their career?

 A: The best thing someone can do to advance their career is to get out of their comfort zone. Whether that is experimenting with a new specialty or practice group, meeting new people and/or taking on projects that you wouldn’t normally do, it will only take you to the next level. Some of the most rewarding accounts or projects that I’ve worked on are the ones that weren’t the obvious choices. Having a voice in that decision and advocating for yourself for that chance is brave and will inevitably allow you to take your career to the next level.

Q: What is your proudest career moment so far and how do you aim to build on it?

 A: I have proud career moments every time a coworker or client has something positive to say about me, whether it’s to me directly or to someone else. I take my career very seriously and am always trying to be the best I can be so when that is recognized, it truly means a lot and I will never stop trying to build on that, especially as I continue to evolve and grow. To master PR, it’s crucial to have excellent people and media relations skills, so as long as I never lose sight of that, I hope to keep expanding as a professional.

Andrea Myers, senior vice president, supporting the Talent and Transformation team in St. Louis

Andrea Myers

Q: What do you think is the best thing someone can do to advance their career?

A: Be open. The best things that have happened in my career aren’t because I set out a goal to achieve that specific thing. I had a general idea of what I wanted to do, but then stayed open to experience as much as possible. Also, say yes to the stuff you don’t want to do sometimes. When I know an opportunity is a good chance to learn, I try and say yes even if I’m scared and know I’ll dread it up until the moment I have to do it. But then it’ll be done, I will have learned something and I can say I did it.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you can give to others working on their own professional development?

A: Think outside your profession. Professional development doesn’t have to mean attending a conference specific to your line of work. Maybe it’s attending an improv class to think on your feet better during presentations. Maybe it’s chairing a nonprofit committee to get experience leading others. And, follow your curiosity. Taking on a new hobby you’re passionate about, for example, can be a surprising way to gain experience that will make you better at your day job.

Q: If you could go back five years, what is something you would tell your younger self?

A: Keep perspective. Sometimes when you’re in the middle of a project, it can be all-encompassing and you get swept up in the drama. All the sudden, a project that’s pretty innocuous can start to feel like life or death – and that’s almost never the case. Keeping things in perspective will help you stay calm, not over-react and ultimately, help you make better decisions in the moment. The bonus of that is while others are swirling, you are the voice of reason and they’ll respect you for it.

Rachel Coleman, managing supervisor, supporting our Reputation Management practice in Chicago 

Rachel Coleman

Q: What’s a specific area of your career you want to develop over the next year? How do you plan to do so?

A: Over the course of my career, I’ve been lucky enough to work on a variety of accounts, which has allowed me to learn about different industries and gain experience supporting a wide range of communications initiatives. I tried to be a sponge earlier in my career, and everything I’ve had a chance to work on has not only contributed to the counselor that I am today, but also helped guide me as I continue to grow. Looking ahead, I’m starting to focus on better understanding the type of work I’m passionate about and identifying opportunities to raise my hand for more of that work.

Q: What do you do when you experience a setback? How do you overcome it?

A: I let myself privately process the emotion. Whether it’s frustration, anger, disappointment, etc., I think it’s important to take the time to understand what happened and why I feel the way I do before I reflect on what I can do better in the future. Sometimes I just need to take a walk or vent to a colleague. Other times, depending on the issue, I sit on it for a night and regroup with a fresh mind the next day. I also find it’s helpful to talk through setbacks with my supervisor and my mentors when I need another perspective or want help thinking through a solution.

Q: How do you seek and implement feedback?

A: When giving feedback, I’m a fan of sharing it in real time. I think everyone reacts to feedback differently, so my approach may differ slightly from person to person, but I focus on being direct and having a rationale. I also think feedback is best when it’s constructive and there’s a clear action item for the person on the receiving end.


How Brands Can Approach Instagram Hiding Likes

September 11, 2019

What’s Happening

In an effort to get users to focus more on quality content and protect the platform against a “comparison culture” if a post doesn’t garner enough likes, Instagram announced it would test the elimination of likes on the platform. The rollout began in Canada in May, followed by Australia in July. Other countries in the test group include Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand.

What it Means for Influencers

Many influencers are concerned this change will impact their revenue streams, and thus their livelihoods, if their sponsors aren’t able to use likes to determine the value of their content. But there’s more to measure than likes.

It’s important to note while likes will be hidden from users, they aren’t actually going away. This move will not affect analytic tools, ‘Insights’ and ‘Ad Manager’, used by businesses, agencies and creators on the platform. Additionally, there are third-party platforms that allow businesses access to influencers’ analytics and engagement rates. Meanwhile, comments will become an even stronger indicator of how people interact with a post.

Influencers will focus on comments, shares and follows when considering their followers’ overall engagement with them and may create a higher quality product as a result.

The early tests have received positive feedback from influencers. The majority of Australian influencers considered the removal of likes as a positive thing. And, out of 100 Canadian influencers polled, 62%said they considered the test as a positive for high-quality content.

What it Means for Brands

Brands that sponsor influencers will still have access to their data and engagement rates through their back-end or a platform with legitimate API access.

From the consumer audience perspective, this is a win. Followers will still be able to engage and interact with their favorite creators, but the interaction will be more about what truly connects with them.

We all know the influencer space is rife with fraud and likes is one place where false inflation can take place. With less emphasis on likes, we may see fewer fakes. Any opportunity to clean up this space is a good thing for the industry.

The Path Forward:

1. Focus on creative direction. Thoroughly brief influencers in terms of content mandatories and thought starters and collaborate with them. Allow them room to develop content they know their audience will love, as opposed to asking them to repeat key messages and deliver an ad. The more compelling their content, the better it will perform in a world without (visible) likes.

2. Mandate influencer-provided data. Brands and agencies will need assurance on the metrics. Sponsored Influencers can share screenshots from their own Instagram back-end, and sponsors should consider requiring influencers to add per-post metrics to invoices.

3. Consider total value, not just vanity metrics. FleishmanHillard has developed a proprietary methodology to determine the value individual influencers’ content provides the brand sponsor from not just a quantitative perspective, but also assigning numbers to qualitative factors. The methodology assigns weights to metrics to give an influencer a total score. As a passive action, likes have always been weighted in a low- to mid-range of the total score. As we move forward with this new Instagram world order, we will weight likes even less in the total factor.

4. Add paid amplification to influencer budgets. Instagram’s algorithm will still prioritize highly engaged posts and likes may still feed into that. Put more emphasis on amplifying influencer posts with paid media, allowing you to target it to similar audiences not already following the influencer.

5. Shift to Stories. Consider shifting sponsored content emphasis from in-feed images to Stories, where likes have never been a factor. Via Stories, followers can get a little closer to influencers
and the content is less curated, more authentic and near real-time.