We’re pleased to announce that former Congressional campaign director and marketing executive Mark Westcott is joining our firm as a senior strategic adviser to our clients.
Mark served as Campaign Director and Deputy District Director for U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-New York. He is also an elected member of the Warren County, N.Y., Board of Supervisors. Prior to his public service, Mark was a senior marketing executive for more than 25 years. At Nintendo of America, he managed a $125-million advertising department that included media planning, research and consumer and trade promotion for the multinational consumer electronics company. He later founded and for 14 years ran his own firm, Westcott Marketing Inc., specializing in media partnerships, promotional and licensing agreements for clients.
Mark earned a political science degree from St. Lawrence University and an MBA from Duke University. As an undergraduate, he also attended The American University in Washington, D.C., for one semester, during which he worked for the late U.S. Rep. Jerry Solomon.
You can read the full press release here.
– Mark Behan
Want to learn about change management? Skip the lecture in your Organizational Development class and go see DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon — preferably the “Live Spectacular” version.
The arena show adaptation of the 2010 computer-animated movie of the same name is an elaborate production that is traveling the country with nearly 100 humans — many of them acrobats and puppeteers — and more than 20 animatronic dragons.
I hadn’t seen the movie, although my kids had seen it many times, and they were eager to see the live show when it came to town. The protagonist is a young Viking named Hiccup who lives in a village besieged by dangerous dragons for seven generations. Hiccup’s father is the chief dragon slayer, and Hiccup is poised to follow in his father’s footsteps — until he realizes that it’s possible to befriend and train the dragons, and end the longstanding inter-species conflict.
At first, the messages were obvious to me. The show was about family dynamics; generational conflict; the dangers of stereotyping and groupthink; the power of fear; the futility of war.
But about two-thirds of the way through the show, the largest theme became clear to me — the story was about driving organizational change. This was an organization that needed to innovate or perish. The realization hit me the moment that Hiccup — considered mad at first — managed to persuade some of his peers to drop their weapons. Hiccup was the change agent/idea champion! This was bottom-up innovation — a paradigm-breaking burst! He had created a vision for change, and established a coalition to guide the change!
I have an MBA, so my bookshelf is weighted down with case studies on change management and textbooks on organizational theory and management. I have sat in classrooms and learned about the forces that drive the need for organizational change, the elements that are needed for successful change, and the merits of incremental vs. radical change. But here, sitting in a sea of children watching fire-breathing 20-foot sculpted beasts, these textbook concepts were writ large.
By the end of the show, even Hiccup’s Dad had come around and the villagers’ worldview had been changed. Peace was restored to the village.
No offense to my organizational development professor, but this arena spectacular was WAY more memorable and entertaining than his run-of-the-mill PowerPoint lecture. If the professor truly wants the lesson to sink in, this semester he’ll encourage his students to go see How to Train Your Dragon.
— Sarah Boggess
Any business that banks an $8 billion yearly profit clearly knows what it’s doing, but I wonder if the National Football League, which opens its 2012-13 regular season Wednesday night, isn’t taking its success a bit for granted.
The league’s decision to start the season with replacement officials is being roundly panned by commentators and fans alike; the Twitter hashtag #NFLrefs is a good, if sometimes spicy, place to start.
There is a sense that the league is putting players at risk or compromising its integrity by having less than the best police the action on the field. What they’re really saying is that the NFL is exposing its brand to unnecessary risk. I agree.
In a sport where one game can tip a team’s fortunes, it’s not hard to imagine the fallout if poor officiating clearly affects an outcome. Even more troubling, given the emphasis in recent years on player safety: What will happen if a superstar player is seriously injured because an official didn’t stop a volatile situation from escalating?
The NFL and its 32 teams do a lot right to make sure there are fans in the seats, watching from home and buying merchandise. But even in the best of circumstances, we see evidence that some teams have such a difficult time attracting paying customers that they are forced to play some of their games in a different country.
The dispute between the NFL and its referees will not conclude before Wednesday’s regular season opener between the defending Super Bowl champion Giants — a team whose playoff fortunes were so tenuous last year that one blown call in the regular season could have ruined them — and the Dallas Cowboys. But my sense is that the people running the NFL are too smart to let this drag out for long. They made the NFL brand what it is; they’re not going to risk it for long for what amounts to a per diem for an NFL lineman.
(Quick aside: Lest we be tempted to think the NFL brand sells itself, this Fast Company article takes a look at how Tim McDermott, CMO of the Philadelphia Eagles, tackles the challenges of promoting his team in an extremely competitive market.)
— Anthony Salerno
More than likely, those of you reading this are at the forefront of your company’s social media efforts.
No matter how much of an “expert” you might consider yourself, social media management can be a difficult task.
The key to limiting your frustration is organization. Below are seven ways that you can better organize your social media efforts.
- Develop a strategy/routine. Take the morning to review all of the social media posts that occurred the previous night. Humans are creatures of habit. Do your best to create a strategy or routine and repeat it so that it becomes habitual and as natural as making coffee before you check your email.
- Redistribute content. No one is expected to use 100 percent original content when posting to social media accounts. When you redistribute content, however, use caution. If you have the same people following several accounts you manage, or subscribing to the same content feeds, you could annoy them by overloading them with duplicative content.
- Don’t waste time. In the social media world, there is no time to waste. Do your best to track successes and failures; what’s hot and what’s not; and trending topics. Know your audience and know what triggers them to engage. In social media, it’s all about engagement.
- Use third-party tools. Take advantage of the many free and/or pay-for-service social media scheduling, analytics and monitoring tools. Some great tools are: HyperAlerts (free) and Sprout Social (paid). Facebook also just announced its new scheduling feature that is sure to help get posts out more efficiently.
- Limit (as best you can) the number of decision makers. We all know what happens when approval is needed from several different sources. The idea gets bounced around for hours and by the time it has been approved, the post you had in mind is yesterday’s news. Try your best to establish a “committee” of three (including yourself) that has the authority to approve your posts. Let me tell you from experience — it’s only a matter of time before they give you the keys to the car and let you drive on your own.
- Don’t overthink. This idea might draw some skepticism. When coming up with a post, try not to overthink it. The more you overthink, the more time you waste, and the originality of the idea begins to diminish. Put just enough time into thinking of a good post and get it posted, or get it to whomever it needs to go to for approval.
- Delegate. Try hard to delegate what you can. If you are in charge of posting, ask someone to assist you with content. I know most of us have a hard time letting someone else drive, but time is valuable and must not be wasted.
Even if only one of these ideas is appealing, try to keep ALL of them in mind when developing your strategy and tackling your everyday social media responsibilities. If you want to make the best use of your time and maintain a sustainable and efficient social media presence, you need to be sure to organize your efforts from the moment you start.
— Anthony Salerno
As a mom of two young children, I would be remiss if I didn’t bring them to the opening weekend of Pixar’s latest film, “Brave.” The film’s star is Merida, a feisty and adventurous archer, who determines her own fate through an archery challenge to find a suitor. Unfortunately, this determination causes a rift between Merida and her mother, leading to a magical spell that ultimately brings them back together. Combining mysticism, adventure and an endearing cast of characters, “Brave” is a fun film.
I couldn’t help thinking after watching the movie about how adventurous I have been in my life, in my profession and with my ideas. Which led me to ask: How have I been brave in my career?
> READ MORE
Things always a get a bit livelier around the office this time of year, and for good reason: The interns have arrived.
Each year, we bring in two interns who are studying for careers in communications. If they know where the coffee machine is, it’s because they like the stuff, not because we’re having them fetch it. We want our interns to develop practical knowledge and skills by doing the work, not by watching the rest of us do it.
If you attend any GE Kids in Free events this summer, there’s a good chance you’ll see Will Schanz, Jennifer Gibson, or both. They’ll be interacting with spectators, handing out T-shirts, shooting videos and contributing to social media, in addition to the client work they’ll be helping with in the office.
Will, who just finished his junior year at Marist College, is back for his second summer tour with Behan. He also was a regular presence at last year’s GE Kids in Free events. He’s from Menands and graduated from Shaker High School. He’s majoring in history, with minors in journalism and psychology.
Jennifer, a Ballston Lake native and Shenendehowa High graduate, just finished her sophomore year at Rochester Institute of Technology, where she’s studying international business and marketing. She hopes to someday develop international marketing campaigns for global companies.
We’re glad they’re with us and hope we can do for them what others did for us when we were taking our first steps into the real world.
– Bill Callen
Those of you who use Twitter no doubt have seen a hashtag, the letters that follow the # sign and are, according to Twitter, “used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages.”
But hashtags aren’t appropriate for every Tweet. It’s important to know when to use one, and how to treat a hashtag in a Tweet. Many have weighed in on the topic; here’s what I have gleaned.
Five reasons hashtags work:
- Categorizing – Hashtags allow users to categorize their Tweets into a specific topic, making it easier for other users to find. This tool is great for someone posting a series of Tweets discussing the same topic.
North American TV airwaves are blasted with an estimated 60 billion hours of advertising each year, three-quarters of which employ music in some manner.
The reasoning is fairly simple: We remember tunes and lyrics more than we do unaccompanied narrative.
The right music, even more than strong visuals, can make a commercial memorable. Which brings me to the catchy Citibank commercial that’s been around for a few months.
If you watch any television, you’ve probably seen it, too: Two climbers scaling a large rock in what appears to be a very mountainous area somewhere out west. (It turns out, believe it or not, the footage is of a real couple rock-climbing in Utah). Toward the end of the commercial, a very catchy song plays, which had me searching high and low for the artist and song title.
For the next few weeks I found myself singing this 10-second segment of a song, though I had no idea who it was by or what it was called. I was so curious that one day I used the Shazam app on my iPhone to discover who the artist was and the title of the song.
It turns out I wasn’t alone. This commercial was a huge success for Citibank, creating a buzz that has blogs and forums blowing up in an effort to locate the artist and title of the song. Whatever the cost, it was worth it.
— Anthony Salerno
Earlier this month, Behan Communications entered the world of infographics to support an industry group with a compelling — but complicated — story.
Infographics are a hot trend, and with good reason. With an informational graphic, complex concepts can be explained in an easy-to-follow, visually appealing format. Fast Company, a magazine big on innovation and design, has been a proponent — and heavy user — of infographics for a while now, and explains why here.
We wanted to tell the important story of biomass energy. Biomass energy is renewable, but it is not as well known (or well understood) as other forms of renewable energy, such as solar and wind.
Biomass is the organic matter in living plants, including trees and agricultural crops. Ever since humans began burning wood for heat, biomass has been a source of energy.
The New York Biomass Alliance, a coalition of individuals and businesses dedicated to educate and advocate for the role of biomass in reducing fossil fuel reliance and meeting local and national energy goals, continually looks for ways to tell the biomass story. In working with the Alliance and one of its members, ReEnergy Holdings, we decided to create an infographic to describe the many positive attributes of biomass energy.
I don’t need words to tell the story. Our infographic, masterfully designed by our Chief Creative Officer, Troy Burns, tells it all.
— Sarah Boggess
Have you incorporated mobile marketing to your marketing mix? Chances are, you should. Here’s why:
The Numbers Don’t Lie
Like it or not, mobile phones are a huge part of everyday life. How many people do you know who don’t have a smartphone or tablet? A new report by Cisco, “Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2011-2016,” indicates that by 2016, there will be more than 10.3 billion mobile-connected devices worldwide. Considering there are only 7 billion people in the world, it’s a very significant number. The same study also reveals that mobile data traffic is expected to increase 18-fold by 2016, revealing the continuing significance of smartphones in our everyday lives. > READ MORE
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- Mark Westcott Joins Behan Communications Inc.
- A Lesson in Organizational Change – Coming Soon to Your Local Arena
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- 7 Ways to Better Organize Your Social Media Efforts
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- Summer School is in Session for Behan Interns
- What to Do and What Not to Do with #Hashtags
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