2019 New Year’s Resolution for Communicators: Stay Curious & Be Agile

By Tim Smith, Managing Director – Seattle, APCO Worldwide

Only 4 in 10 (39%) Fortune 1000 executives feel that their company is very prepared to manage risk and disruption, according to new research from APCO Worldwide.

“We know that the world is changing. Yet most corporate leaders haven’t kept up with the pace of change,” said Brad Staples, CEO of APCO Worldwide. “You can’t slow that pace down, but smart corporate executives know that building agile organizations, ready to respond to and positively creating change, is the only way to succeed in today’s environment.” Research from McKinsey & Company from earlier this year found much the same: agile organizations are more likely to be customer-centric, see higher revenue growth, and generate lower costs.

It’s not surprising that today’s uncertain business environment causes most companies to move too cautiously or – worse yet – not move at all. Yet companies that thrive today are not stagnant; they’re insatiably curious and bold. They never stand still, disregard no one and miss nothing.  They’re agile, but in a new way.

APCO’s research specifically identified three core dimensions of agility:

  • Active leadership means that curious leaders are visionaries who know how their decisions impact the business, employees, partners and customers. What if and why not are part of their everyday vocabularies.
  • Enterprising culture means looking forward by rewarding risk-taking and reinvention, and encouraging employees to learn, adapt and push the boundaries to capitalize on opportunities.
  • Shared advocacy means that companies know their markets inside out and closely monitor potential risks while using their influence to shape current and future changes in their favor.

In the coming year, strategic communications will continue to play an increasingly critical role in helping companies identify and manage critical issues and ensure alignment with key stakeholders, including employees. Whether working in-house or as an external consultant, communicators who understand the shifting landscape and can help clients survive and thrive will lead the way.

With all of this in mind, APCO Worldwide launched a new corporate agility tool – Stay Curious. Stay Ahead. – designed to help companies become leaders, not only in their respective sectors but in the world around them. The platform assesses any organization’s ability to weather prospective challenges and provides actionable takeaways for the near and distant future.

If you’re interested in getting the New Year off to a good start and want to learn more about how APCO Worldwide’s insights and offerings could help you be more curious and agile, please contact seattle@apcoworldwide.com.

How Values Help Bridge the Story Gap in Tech PR

By Matt Ashworth, General Manager, WE Communications, Seattle

With questions around trust in companies being pushed into the spotlight, it is time to reconsider what responsibilities we have as technology communicators, and what authentic communication means for brand reputation. The PRSA North Pacific District Conference held April 22-24 in Seattle served as a great forum to discuss this idea.

In the past few weeks, we have seen an extraordinary display of how companies’ communication with users is important in building trust, and the pitfalls that companies often find when they’re tone deaf to what consumers really care about. For example, in the technology industry, we’ve recently seen Facebook and Twitter face challenges in keeping consumer trust in their brands.

WIRED’s Editor in Chief Nicholas Thompson commented in his presentation that the world is changing at a pace that is hard to comprehend.  In these fast-paced times, finding the essence of your brand and consistently interacting with authenticity creates a shared conversation that helps create confidence in and loyalty to your brand for the long term.

In today’s environment, every single technology company narrative, no matter what business function you operate in, will be met with a high level of scrutiny and skepticism. Influencers, for example, are expressing a strong distaste for communications strategies that lack proof and empathy toward how products may impact people and society at large, negatively.

As communicators of impactful brands, we hold great responsibility and need to understand not just our clients’ products, but the people and processes behind the scenes. Scott McClellan, Vice President of Communications, Seattle University, reminded us that communications professionals have the ability to influence organizations to make sure decisions are values-driven. By doing so, we have the opportunity to force deeper conversations that could help companies like Facebook think through their crises.

One way to do this is to be cognizant of how messages are likely to be received by highly politicized audiences. When surveyed, democrats and republicans don’t share many values, but both groups put a high premium on authenticity, conscience, wisdom and serenity. Brands that can identify similarly shared values in their own audience, and then build communications strategies and segment their audience based on those shared values are less likely to run afoul of backlashes and political criticism.

At WE, we’re also increasingly encouraging our technology clients to communicate with mainstream audiences in mind. We see a new responsibility to counsel our clients to add technology messages to their broader company narratives that help link the technical language of the datacenter to the values of the general public. This approach enables our clients to be better prepared to communicate about their technologies to all audiences in the event that their technologies gain mainstream attention.

As Microsoft’s Chief Communication Officer Frank Shaw discussed in his presentation, trust is built in drops and lost in buckets. Companies today have a harder time winning back trust because there isn’t a strong trusted media to help them regain confidence in their brand.

To speak with WE Communications about building trust by authentically communicating what your brand stands for, please contact talktowe@we-worldwide.com.

3 Tips for Getting Pro Quality Video with your Smartphone.

By Kelly Guenther, Shoosta

Every year our smartphones get smarter, faster and feature more technology than you can poke the proverbial a stick at! Seriously, the average user will never need all that tech in their pocket, or will they?

Mobile camera technology has predominantly been the key feature for smart phones thanks to better technology. Features including low-light functionality, time-lapse, faster shutter speeds, and higher quality audio means that nearly everyone can take professional quality videos with their smartphone.

This is one of the main reasons Shootsta developed the Mini Kit. The Mini Kit comes standard with an iPhone 7+, Osmo Gimbal for stabilizing, mini tripod and accessories to get your footage uploaded to the Shootsta Hub (our Video Management Platform) ready to be edited faster than you can say “once our editor’s get your video, it will be edited, color-graded, motion graphics added, top and tailed and back to you in 24-hours”! Well, almost as fast.

Here are my 3 tips to get you making pro-quality videos with your smartphone today.

#1 // Get Good Lighting

Natural lighting works best. If shooting a person, always try to position the subject near a window as this allows for a more natural look with softer lighting. When you’re not shooting people try and make sure the scene you’re shooting is bright with constant light (not flickering). Don’t try to get too much light or your footage will be overexposed and little can be done about this in post-production. If you hold your finger down on the screen of an iPhone you can achieve AE/AF Lock in yellow letters. This will lock in the focus on a person’s face and keep the light from flickering.

#2 // Use a Stabilizer.

There’s nothing worse than ruining a great video than having a shaky hand or whilst you’re walking the camera is bobbing up and down like a bouncing ball. Most iPhones have built-in stabilization to keep a handheld interview looking good but not a walking motion smooth.

Here are two items to make your videos look more pro than amateur. The Osmo Gimbal. This tool allows you to capture moments with cinematic movement all smooth and stable. It can also pair with your device for even more control options. The second option to stabilize your videos is to just use a tripod that comes with a phone holder. If you don’t have either of these, try and hold the phone as close to your body as possible, This will limit the amount of shaking thanks to your center of gravity and save your arms from getting sore.

#3 // Did you say Audio?

Yes, audio is super important, especially for smartphones. In most quiet environments, with minimal activity going on, the audio from the smartphone should be adequate. If you want to get clear audio, simply make sure your environment is quiet, unless you’re at a rock concert and then I guess that may just add to the ambience — but you won’t get a good interview.

If you’re shooting an interview or testimonial, for example, the best thing would be to position the smartphone as close to the subject as you can. Remember to make sure that the subject is still composed properly on screen. If you’re struggling to get a great audio you may want to consider using the Voice (memo) recorder function on another phone so that you can overlay the audio in the editing process.

For even better audio consider getting an external microphone such as the Rode SmartLav+.

In summary, to get pro-quality video with your smartphone remember:

  1. Get Good Lighting
  2. Use a Stabilizer
  3. Make sure your Audio is adequate.

To learn more about creating high-quality video content with your smartphone join Shootsta’s North American Video Specialist – Kelly Guenther – as he gives you a hands-on walk through on doing just that at this year’s PRSA Game Changers Conference.


Session Details:

Title: Power in the Palm of Your Hand

Date: Tuesday, 24th April 2018

Time: 11:45 AM – 12:45 PM