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Interviews

Q&A: On the New Hedge Fund Communications Model

hedge funds

Hedge funds: everyone has heard of them and knows that they play a very powerful role in the global economy. But very few people know what they actually do — and opinions vary wildly.

Everyone in business and communications also knows about the JOBS or Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, the law designed to encourage investment in new companies that also seems to have influenced today’s “IPO boom market.

Our friends at Peppercomm recently released a study about the ways in which the comms strategies driving these funds and the firms representing them have changed since JOBS was signed into law one year ago. In short, they’re trying to be more transparent with the public via social and other types of media as interest in their industry hits new highs and related scandals make headlines around the world. (Note today’s top story about investor Carl Ichan’s “open letter” to Apple CEO Tim Cook.)

We spoke to Tom Walek, President of WalekPeppercomm and author of the study, to find out what that means for the industry. (His firm received a “Best North American PR Firm” award from Hedgeweek back in May.)

Q&A and infographic after the jump.

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Will New, ‘Private’ Networks Threaten the Social Media Establishment?

social keyboard

The big story in social right now concerns privacy…or the lack thereof. As Twitter sues the U.S. government over data collection and Facebook announces plans to release an “anonymity” app, other networks have attempted to use the controversy to get attention.

Ello is the obvious one; brands, “influencers” and bored users making fun of the same have already begun joining the “ad-free” network. Snapchat still says it’s more private than its competitors despite admitting that those initial claims weren’t quite accurate and agreeing to “start a wide-ranging privacy program that will be independently monitored for 20 years.”

Then there’s Netropolitan, “the online country club for people with more money than time” (yes, that is a real tagline).

So: coveted headlines aside, can these upstarts really threaten the Twitter/Facebook monopoly?

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Millennial Study: The Kids Are Actually Alright

“Millennial” — you’re not the only person who’s a little tired of the word. Yet we wouldn’t be making too risky a wager if we bet that attendees at last week’s Advertising Week events heard it once an hour. On average.

Today Adweek posted a survey of one hundred such consumers and noted some revealing (if unsurprising) trends: they love iPhones, 49 percent of them don’t own TVs, and they pronounce GIF with a hard “G.”

Here’s a video:

Stereotypes aside (and there were a few in that 90-second clip), the most important thing that marketers don’t understand about this demographic is their state of mind.

Contrary to the popular image of Millennials as a group of co-dependents with no confidence about their own place in the world, it turns out that many are OK with where they are…even if that place happens to be their parents’ house.

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What Would Bill Do? Insights on the Week’s News from Media Coach Bill McGowan

Bill-McGowan1

Readers may recall that, back in April, we had a couple of very informative conversations with author and Clarity Media Group founder Bill McGowan, perhaps best known as the media coach for top executives at Facebook, NBCUniversal and Airbnb.

In what will become a regular feature on the blog, Bill gave us his take on three recent controversies that made headlines this week — and the communications strategies behind them.

Think of it as a “comms week in review.”

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4 Takes on Facebook’s ‘New’ Paid Media Platform

Fbook coffee

This year’s Advertising Week has already involved plenty of high-profile speakers and events that we were unable to attend. But one of the biggest announcements concerned Facebook and the relaunch of its cookie-free paid content placement platform, Atlas.

This doesn’t just concern ad agencies — it’s a big deal to anyone working in paid media. In short, it will supposedly help marketers better prove the ROI of their clients’ social media investments.

We asked our contacts in the marketing world for their takes on what the new development means to the marketing industry at large.

Adam Miller, social media specialist at Walker Sands Communications:

“Facebook’s relaunch of Atlas stresses the importance of tying digital marketing efforts and social media marketing together. Facebook is restoring an old Microsoft initiative after acquiring it 16 months ago. The relaunch was meant to help marketers serve ads based on demographics rather than cookies. As consumers use a variety of devices to surf the internet and learn about different companies, Atlas gives agencies with integrated marketing programs the opportunity to better target their audience without the limits of cookies.

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Kelly Cutrone Dishes on PR Nightmares

Kelly Cutrone againOn Tuesday, the folks at Racked scored a Q&A with the current face of fashion PR: Kelly Cutrone of People’s Revolution and America’s Next Top Model.

It’s worth a read as Cutrone pieces tend to be; here are some of her best quotes.

On winning clients:

“I’ve never chased a client ever, I’ve never solicited—I’m not really good at that. I’m not a pitcher. I just started working and people started calling me.”

On working for herself:

“I’ve been offered tons of director of communications jobs over the years. It’s like the difference between being a cop and a bounty hunter: I still like being a bounty hunter.”

On the good, the bad, and the horror stories…

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Roger Goodell Press Conference Is Your #PRFail of the Week

While we didn’t have a chance to watch NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s entire press conference live thanks to our day jobs, we’ve already read enough recaps and seen enough tweets to know that it was a disaster — and not just because of the random annoying Howard Stern guy.

Mediaite has highlights, and here’s the full conference (the audio is a little off, and you’ll note that Goodell doesn’t even appear until the 21 minute mark):

In short: he knows that domestic violence exists, he will establish a conduct ommittee, he has never considered resigning, and he’s “proud” of the “opportunity” to do a better job than the crappy one he did before.

Goodell says that “domestic violence has no place in the NFL” as if it’s some kind of bold stance. And “nothing is off the table” except his own credibility.

He’s also amusingly misspeaks and calls the Super Bowl the “Super War.”

The main conclusion, though: he’s not very good at answering questions!

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5 PR Experts Weigh in on NFL’s Attempt to ‘Combat Domestic Violence’

Peaceful football

We’re all well aware that the National Football League has a big problem on its hands. A recent YouGov survey tells us that the NFL brand has experienced “the [sharpest drop] in consumer perception since Target’s data breach” last December.

Here’s something you may have missed this week: in order to confront all that terrible publicity, the league announced the creation of a “social responsibility team” consisting of its own community affairs VP Anna Isaacson and three (female) advisers, each of whom have built careers as experts on the prevention of domestic violence and sex crimes.

The question: is this a meaningless stunt or an earnest attempt to address underlying issues?

This week, we spoke to five industry experts to get their take on the league’s move. For context, we’ll start with quotes from two of the women involved, who will be responsible for “policy-making and education.”

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‘Diversity Is the New Black,’ Says Omnicom’s Tiffany R. Warren

Tiffany-Warren-articleTiffany R. Warren is Omnicom‘s senior vice president and chief diversity officer, but her work on diversity isn’t just a day job. In 2005 Warren created ADCOLOR, a non-profit devoted to promoting and paying tribute to diversity in the advertising, marketing, media, PR and entertainment industries.

For our latest So What Do You Do feature, Warren describes how ADCOLOR went from awards show to social movement, how the work of diversity officers has grown and what it takes to be an agent of change:

You have to like people. You have to like when people are hot messes and when they’re not. When they’re scared, when they fail and when they’ve failed you. You have to like every aspect of the human nature in order to be an effective change agent. We’ve had some not so good times in our industry and that’s [when] I grew the most as a professional and as a leader — during those times when people were doubting whether this industry could pull itself out of the hole of this lack of diversity.

For more from Warren, read, So What Do You Do, Tiffany R. Warren, Chief Diversity Officer for Omnicom Group?

Under Armour Comms VP Explains Damage Control Strategy

Here’s a quick but relevant clip that our friends at AdAge posted yesterday.

Diane Pelkey — VP of global communications for Under Armour — explains how the brand tackled the fallout from the bombshell February Wall Street Journal story in which members of the U.S. speed skating team blamed the company’s products for their disappointing performance at the Sochi Olympics.

Pelkey’s point is simple, and it’s worth repeating: be transparent, don’t hide from the story and make sure to offer all relevant spokespeople to media contacts for comment.

While the success of the ensuing campaign may be up for debate, the logic behind the strategy is sound.

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