• April 4th Preview: Meet Cannabis Control Commission’s Exec. Dir., Guiding MA’s Hottest Economy

    In 2008, the vote by Massachusetts to decriminalize marijuana set the BayState on its journey to legalizing cannabis by a ballot initiative eight years later. This set into motion the need for a centralized authority whose purpose was to operationalize the law for the opening of medical and recreational retail dispensaries across the state. Enter the Cannabis Control Commission, (CCC) which has handled the dizzying charter of providing host municipalities with guidelines intended to balance community impacts with new revenue opportunity. As its Executive Director since the agency’s found, Shawn Collins brings the most current perspective on this growing industry. He recently shared his insights about how public affairs have been an economic driver with Loring Barnes for a PRSA Boston’s Fast Five… and a few more questions.

    On April 4th, some members of the Cannabis Control Commission’s communications team will be in attendance. Our team includes:

    We draw agency talent from the State PRF60 Contract for advertising, graphic design and public awareness, including this campaign:  “More About Marijuana

    Q: We share the experience of holding elected office in respective hometowns. Interestingly, you were chair of your school committee. As a general statement, schools are a municipal department that will claim new budget needs to fund educational impact or mitigation programs stemming from the arrival of local cannabis cultivation or dispensaries. How has your insight from your elected office tenure factored in decisions as related to deploying state-level marijuana health and safety programs targeting youth, families, staff nurses and educators? What is the delineation of educational resources to be provided through the CCC versus the Department of Public Health?

    A: Public education and awareness, especially during the infancy of this industry, is critical.  Our campaign, “More About Marijuana,” specifically identifies the importance of parents talking with their children about the potential impact of youth access.  It also reminds parents that if they intend to purchase and consume adult-use cannabis, they also have an obligation to keep those products safe and secure within their home.  We have made these public awareness materials, including rack cards, available through the state’s clearinghouse and shared them with superintendents across Massachusetts. Education and awareness are the best tools we have, and we’ll partner with anyone that can help us get those messages out.  That includes other state agencies, as well as local and community partners.

    Q: You’re an attorney. How do you reconcile protection of First Amendment rights with the recent actions taken by Instagram and Facebook to delete social media accounts of early-stage marijuana businesses, to include those newly opened in Massachusetts? For a small business, social media is a key engagement tool used for marketing and education.  Is the CCC taking an advocacy position or providing guidance to these businesses as how to navigate social media?

    A: I’m an attorney, yes, but I’m not in the best position to offer legal advice in this particular area.  The Commission, consistent with our objective to be as available and transparent as possible, does seek to leverage social media as often as possible to get our own message out.  We know that a lot of our key constituency can be found on these platforms. We also know, too, that kids are present and active on these platforms. So, we do expect any of our licensees to be mindful of that when using these tools.  

    Q: A cornerstone of the cannabis industry is social equity, which is a program described as a deliverable by the CCC. How does the CCC advance access to small business investor capital, grants or other benefits for minority or underrepresented business populations if federal lending laws make it so difficult?

    A: This is really the challenge that is facing this industry and these entrepreneurs across the board.  Access to capital limits everyone’s access to this market, but especially hinders those small business owners that aren’t independently wealthy.  Given the federal constraints, the solution may have to be multi-faceted. This could include state-run and supported programs, including grants and loans, as well as private investments targeted specifically to small business, particularly those economic empowerment applicants and social equity program participants.  There is no one, single solution to this.

    Q: Does the CCC hire paid interns for experiences supporting communications, public affairs or outreach functions? Will the CCC be expanding to meet the needs of the growing cannabis industry?

    A: As a start-up agency, our Commission is always looking to add additional resources and support.  We have tried to develop a strategic approach to public awareness and community outreach, and both are two areas of potential growth within the Commission.  We do not currently have any opportunities for internships, but think they are something we will absolutely consider in the future.

    Q: What is the biggest misconception or information gap that the CCC is working to address?

    A: While the Commission has broad regulatory authority, we do not oversee all things cannabis-related.  We rely on other state agencies and scores of local partners to regulate this new industry. Relatedly, residents have a lot of rights with this new law, including the ability to grow plants in their home.  This isn’t something the Commission has the authority to police, but we’d gladly work with residents to understand their rights and limitations, as well as local authorities in a similar manner. Lastly, I think it is important for folks to remember that we’re still a young and growing agency.

    Q: In the morning when you’re enjoying your morning coffee, what are you reading to start your day? Then during your commute, do you listen to podcasts or news stations as might intersect with your need to keep on top of cannabis-related topics?

    A: I rely on local media in the Boston area and other regional outlets in the state to get my news every morning, including the Boston Business Journal and Boston Globe.  I also make a point to scroll through Flipboard, which helps me cast a much wider net for all news – including cannabis.  As for my commute, I’ll admit I’m much more likely to listen to “The Daily” from the New York Times, or “Up First” from NPR, as opposed to cannabis-related podcasts.  Sometimes I need the break.

    Meet Shawn Collins on Thursday, April 4th and hear from the agency tasked with shaping a safe and equitably accessible cannabis industry in Massachusetts.  He joins an A-lister panel of marijuana business experts and policy influencers. The lively discussion will be lead by Jess Bartlett (@BOSBIZJess), veteran cannabis and craft beer beat journalist for the Boston Business Journal. Click on this LINK to get your ticket.  Special rates for students, young professionals and members. 

    **With special thanks to our generous hosts, Zazil Media Group (@zazilmediagroup). A donation from the event will be made to the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance.



  • Cheryl Gale Client Messaging

    Fast 5: Q&A with March Communications’ Managing Director Cheryl Gale

    In Campaign, Marketing on
    1. What makes for an effective client message? How do you, or the client, know when it’s time to update it?

    It needs to stand out, it needs to be different and, most importantly, it needs to be simple. Too many companies try to cram in everything that they do, or they load it with too much jargon. That doesn’t work.

    As for when to update your message, I would say there are a few catalysts. I think the most important one is if people’s eyes gloss over when you give them your elevator pitch, and then they say, “oh that’s great,” and change the subject. Or, they ask you to explain it again and again. You want to make sure the message resonates with your target audience. Are you hitting their triggers or pain points? Do they want to hear more?

    There are many other catalysts though. Often a new CMO joins the company and they want to change up the message. Or maybe they’re refreshing their website. An acquisition is another big one.

    1. What are a couple examples of a message done right?

    One that we did for Relayware, a partner relationship management SaaS provider: “Companies that rely on their partner networks for revenue growth use Relayware. Our software and services provide valuable insights, bring you closer to your partners, provide visibility into their effectiveness, improve their training and empowers them to reach their potential.”

    This clearly outlines who the target audience is, identifies the needs of those audiences and positions Relayware as the one who can fulfill those needs – all without any kind of jargon (for instance, not one mention of partner relationship management solutions or PRM), and in just two sentences.

    1. Do you find that most clients are eager to revamp their messaging? Or do you think more need to be talked into doing it, and why?
      Most are very eager, but they also know the process isn’t easy. Our job is to help our clients reach a consensus and cut through to a clear message, and make it as painless as possible.


    1. What do you think other PR pros need to know about client messaging in order to ensure they’re getting the most out of these sessions? What are some best practices that you think others might not be aware of?
      Get the right people in the room, but keep it small. Too many cooks in the kitchen means there’s less of a focus. The right people tend to represent the sales efforts/team (VP of Sales), the customer’s challenges and pain points (VP of Customer Success), the go-to-market strategy (CMO/VP of Marketing and/or Corporate Comms VP) and the product itself (CTO or other product-focused manager).The next step is to break it down into two half-day sessions. The first one is spent on brainstorming ideas, phrases and words in the context of specific questions around benefits and target markets. The second session should focus on testing the message(s).

    Make sure you test the message externally, too. Go to a few customer friendlies as well as industry analysts.

    And, finally, make sure that those involved have fun, are open minded and feel like they’re getting something of value out of the sessions.


    1. Do you have any unique tactics to help pick your clients’ brains in these message sessions? Something that helps get the ball rolling and the creative juices flowing?
      Start with a brain teaser, to get everyone relaxed and feeling open minded. Write down ideas onto sticky notes and post them on the walls – it’s a fun and interactive way of keeping everyone engaged. Ask the difficult questions and participate so they can know where your thoughts are going in terms of their message.


    About Cheryl Gale

    Cheryl started a 20-year, international career in PR and communications over on the other side of the pond, where she helped shepherd two agency transformations in the United Kingdom: the opening of The Weber Group’s (now Weber Shandwick) London offices and the creation of Band & Brown’s technology division. She cultivated an extensive background in international PR experience, but perhaps the ultimate takeaway from her time in the U.K. was the value of defining her own PR mission statement – and taking the reins herself in driving that forward.

    That’s why, when Cheryl relocated back to the U.S. 12 years ago, she co-founded March Communications on a simple but essential principle: helping innovative technology brands, both in the U.S. and abroad, to stay a step ahead of the curve by creating lasting momentum and aligned marketing communications programs. To do that, Cheryl has assembled an eclectic group of energetic, creative and intelligent people at March with a shared passion for pushing the envelope in how to effectively market U.S. and international tech brands, and leverage cutting-edge solutions for maximum exposure.

    In addition to her role as Managing Director at March, Cheryl also seeks out and embraces every mentor and advisory opportunity outside of the office. She currently serves as the President-Elect of the Publicity Club of New England, and sits on various PR panels at Boston University and Emerson College, where she shares her ideals of what makes for exciting PR to inspire a new generation of rising young professionals with their eye on the tech PR world.

    About FAST 5

    This is an interview feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics blog page. The expert subject is someone who is clearly in demand, on the go, and nailing them down for a conversation is about as easy as … winning Powerball at $1.5 billion! But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom, author’s books about to hit the stands and other valuable tips. @prsaboston #prsabos

    Do YOU have a candidate for a FAST 5 interview? Email: Joshua Milne at and pitch your subject expert!

    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author or the individual being interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRSA Boston, PRSA National, staff or  board of directors of either organization. 

  • Guinness World Records logo

    FAST 5: Five Things to Know About Guinness World Records and Why They Teamed Up With PRSA

    In Campaign, PRXNE16, Sponsorship on

    Keith Green, APR (@KeithsTweets) is relatively new to his job as VP of Marketing & Commercial Sales at Guinness World Records (@GWR) but that hasn’t stopped him from directing the company’s efforts to jump in feet-first and become involved with PRSA.

    Keith Green PhotoHis background in entertainment and events seems to be a perfect match working for one of the world’s most fun and recognizable brands. He spent six years in the NBA for the Philadelphia 76ers, nine years in the NASCAR field as the Director of Public Relations for two different racetracks and eight years for Synergy, an award-winning events agency in New Jersey. Keith’s experience also includes several adjunct faculty positions, where he’s shared his sports marketing and PR experience with undergraduate and graduate students.

    We caught up with Keith in advance of PRXNE16, PRSA Northeast District Conference, where Guinness World Records will the Platinum Sponsor.

    Q: Your involvement with PRSA has spanned quite a few years. Tell us about your experience with the organization.

    I’m a big believer in PRSA.  Membership is a great way to interact with like-minded people and learn from the best in the PR business. My career has advanced and my network has grown because of the local chapter events and the international conferences I’ve attended over the years. While it’s like most anything else- you get what you give- (Keith served on the PRSA-NY board for three years and received his APR certification four years ago) PRSA is a terrific organization and I’m bullish on its growth.

    Q: Most everyone knows Guinness World Records through the book. What can you share about your role?

    A: For our U.S. office (headquarters are in London, with offices in Japan, China and Dubai) I oversee our book marketing initiatives, as well as our commercial sales efforts. Our book, which is still a best-seller, launches every September (although it will be August 30 this year), and our marketing efforts are geared toward the readers (the kids) and those who buy it for them or influence them-teachers, moms and grandmothers. Although the 2017 book will be our 61st edition, the commercial side of our business is relatively new. Companies of all types work with us to have a judge oversee a record attempt and use our logo to pre-promote the attempt, post-event if the attempt is successful, as well as in promotional videos. Although our business is more than six decades old, we continue to evolve, which is extremely exciting.

    Q: You started at Guinness World Records about seven months ago. Why do you think it’s a good fit to be involved with PRSA and why are you doing it so quickly?

    A:   Relationships are important to me. I know the organization and people well, so that’s critical. Because of those factors, I know that when we attend and activate at a conference that we will have the opportunity to show our creativity and add value for the attendees.  Working with PRSA also gives us the opportunity to connect with our various target audiences-those PR and marketing pros who work at agencies, brands, non-profits and educational institutions. That’s the beauty of record breaking- it works for just about any kind of business.

    Q: How do your marketing and PR teams work together?

    A: Nearly every day, a cool record is being broken somewhere across the globe. Since our PR team oversees our digital efforts, it’s critical that we communicate about what’s happening and how we can leverage some of those record attempts in a timely fashion from a marketing perspective. A great, recent example is Dude Perfect, which broke a series of amazing basketball records last month. The content and resulting video were amazing, and it helps us tell a story to an audience we might not reach as easily.

    We also work together on two major events throughout the year- our Book Launch event in the late summer (August 30 this year) and Guinness World Records Day-where we encourage people all over the world to break records- on November 10.

    Q: You’ve taught marketing and PR at a few universities. What would you tell someone graduating from college or a recent grad about breaking into the PR field?

    A: I always tell my students, “If you can write well, you are ahead of 90% of the people in the workforce.”  It doesn’t matter if you are writing an email to a client, a speech for the president of your company, a blog post or a concise Tweet, writing is still a fundamental skill that many people lack. I believe social media and texting have further eroded that skill for many of us, not just the younger generations.

    About Fast 5

    This is a feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics blog page. The expert subject is someone who is clearly in demand, on the go, and nailing them down for a conversation is on the fly! But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom, author’s books about to hit the stands and other valuable tips. @prsaboston #prsabos

    Do YOU have a candidate for a FAST 5 interview? Email: Joshua Milne at and pitch your subject expert!

    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author or the individual being interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRSA Boston, PRSA National, staff or  board of directors of either organization. 

  • Visit Syracuse Nikita Jankowski - Syracuse. Do Your Thing 2

    Fast 5: Q&A with Visit Syracuse Communications Manager Nikita Jankowski on new destination brand, Syracuse. Do Your Thing

    In Campaign, PRXNE16 on

    Visit Syracuse (formerly known as the Syracuse Convention & Visitors Bureau) launched, Syracuse. Do Your Thing, a new destination brand for the Greater Syracuse Area in 2015. It was the first time the destination was given an official brand. The accredited tourism organization also unveiled a new logo, new name, new video, new song and a wonderful new outlook on regional tourism promotion.

    “This is a game changer,” said Visit Syracuse Communication Manager Nikita Jankowski. “Our role is to attract more business to the area and economic growth through tourism. This brand will take us to the next level and build on our initiatives.”

    In Syracuse, it’s all about the freedom to be you and do what you love. Be quirky, be fun, be fantastic, feel right at home – whether it’s being stopped at the country’s only upside down stoplight (thanks to the Irish); climbing the world’s largest indoor suspended ropes course (inside of Destiny USA, New York’s largest shopping, dining and entertainment center); getting down to a live band and finger-licking good BBQ (at the original Dinosaur Bar-B-Que); walking in the footsteps of hundreds of brave citizens that helped slaves escape to freedom – while fighting for women’s rights; scouting for Bald Eagles at Onondaga Lake Park or Peregrine Falcons downtown, experiencing the downtown urban renaissance or even uncovering the many Syracuse inventions that helped to shape America, Syracuse provides the platform for a refreshing and inviting adventure.

    We sat down to ask five questions to Visit Syracuse Communication Manager Nikita Jankowski to learn more about the new branding campaign.

    1. Why did you brand the Greater Syracuse Area?

    Destination branding gives a sense of place. It is the face of the region and helps strengthen the bond between the visitors and the destination. For example, tourists know that when they go to Las Vegas – what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas or when they visit New York State, they will usually end up saying I Love New York. We wanted to enhance that experience for Syracuse visitors. To do that, we had to reveal our strengths as a destination and were able to do so in those three words – Do Your Thing.

    1. What does Do Your Thing mean?

    The message is about our area’s ability to take a traveler’s reason(s) for arriving here and customize it. We make their experience personal and emotional in such a powerful way that they leave with memories and a sense of connection to the area. We allow them to celebrate their passion, pursuit, hobby or relationships and while they are doing so, we celebrate it alongside them. Our brand promise sums it up nicely:

    It’s time to rally your passion. Find life’s shining moments and celebrate them in a place where true colors never fade; a place where independent spirits and an energetic community come together in perfect harmony. Here is where you find your center. Reconnect the dots with the things that truly matter and make memories on historic streets. Do what makes you happy. Syracuse. Do Your Thing.

    Visit Syracuse realizes it’s not just about the region; it’s also about the people and the stories they create, the passion they bring and the freedom they long for to be themselves. Do Your Thing is a bold, open-ended, action-based challenge to the over-used, under-effective tourism slogan, Something for Everyone.

    1. What obstacles did you face when creating the brand?

    Visit Syracuse toiled over implementing the perfect brand for the region, a task seemingly made more difficult by the diversity of the destination. This diversity and its personalized appeal to our customers are in fact, our primary brand building blocks. The agency we hired to help brand Syracuse, BCF, eloquently captured it in three simple words, “Do Your Thing.”

    1. How did you come up with Do Your Thing?

    There was quite a lot of research that went into our brand. Our customers told us what they wanted and now, our answer to them is Syracuse. Do Your Thing. The fact that Do Your Thing derived not from us, our partners or our stakeholders, but rather our customers, enables those words to speak with authority and power. Our job from here on is to personalize these words to create appeal, interest and intrigue with each individual customer we touch.

    These words bleed Syracuse. Historically, Syracusans have always been free-spirited, passionate and done their thing their way. We just gave it a fitting tagline.

    1. Is the brand catching on?

    Absolutely! This is not a destination message that promises “something for everyone”. This is not about selling and promoting things to see and do. It is all about communicating the freedom, empowerment and emotional connection created by the Syracuse regional experience.

    We travel all around the world and the feedback has been phenomenal! This message of customization, exploration and freedom resonates across all of our market segments and types of visitors. It also creates traction with our residents and businesses. It manages to connect with our past heritage as a center for social progress while also engaging our future by encouraging individuality and uniqueness. That’s why we now own the trademark for Do Your Thing.

    About Nikita Jankowski

    Nikita Jankowski leads Visit Syracuse’s public relations and communications initiatives. Nikita’s role includes hosting and generating content for travel trade professionals and media representatives to encourage travel to the Greater Syracuse area; contributing to $863,000,000 of annual direct visitor spending. Nikita started her professional career as a television news reporter for ABC, FOX and CBS affiliates throughout New York State and Maine. Nikita graduated from the historic Tuskegee University, with a Bachelor of Arts degree (Concentration: English/Communications). She serves on the Board of Directors for the Public Relations Society of America of Central New York (PRSA-CNY), a member of PRSA’s Travel & Tourism section and is on the Advisory Committee of Social Media Breakfast (SMB) Syracuse; a national initiative for teaching, sharing and learning about industry best practices.

    About Fast 5

    This is a feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics blog page. The expert subject is someone who is clearly in demand, on the go, and nailing them down for a conversation is about as easy as … winning Powerball at $1.5 billion! But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom, author’s books about to hit the stands and other valuable tips. @prsaboston #prsabos

    Do YOU have a candidate for a FAST 5 interview? Email: Joshua Milne at and pitch your subject expert!

    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author or the individual being interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRSA Boston, PRSA National, staff or  board of directors of either organization. 

  • Wendy Spivak

    FAST 5: Q&A with The Castle Group Principal & Co-Founder, Wendy Spivak: Five Things to Know About Events Management and Integrating Strategic Event Planning into PR campaigns

    In Campaign, Events on

    While public relations is a major piece of the communications puzzle, we don’t often hear how strategic corporate events management plays into the overall marketing plan and strategy. We sat down with The Castle Group’s Wendy Spivak, to learn more about events management and integrating strategic event planning into PR campaigns.

    Wendy co-founded The Castle Group in 1996 and today leads the events side of the business. Prior to co-founding The Castle Group, Wendy was a senior corporate communications executive at Prism Health Group and the Mediplex Group, two successful healthcare companies. She has previously held communications and events positions at Framingham Union Hospital and Northern Telecomm. She was also an associate producer for WNEV-TV in Boston, which is today’s WHDH-TV Channel 7.

    Here are Wendy’s thoughts on events management and strategic event planning.

    1. What is corporate events management?

    As per Entertainment Corporate, event management is the process of creating a live, memorable experience that achieves desired business objectives. This could take the form of a product launch, employee celebration, sales or user group conference, executive retreat or educational forum or sales incentive program.

    An event manager is like a general contractor, managing all the necessary components and details that go into the finished product. And like a general contractor, being on budget and on time is extremely important! Event components may include developing collateral for the event– invitation, website, signage, registering guests, securing a venue, negotiating contracts, managing audio visual, handling catering and transportation needs, and providing speaker and/or sponsor support.

    1. How is strategic events management different from PR?

    Over the 20 years that Castle has been in business, the field of event management has grown and evolved into a highly analytical and strategic part of the marketing mix.  While PR works with third parties such as media and social channels to amplify a client message, events management creates an experience that relays a client story. Similar to PR, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the larger communications plan to best see how an event connects to the marketing efforts as a whole.  We look at a client’s needs and objectives and approach its event planning with a holistic lens, so that everything we do comes back to a measurable goal.

    1. How can event and PR teams best work together and what are the strengths in having a PR team and an event team in house?

    Integrating PR and events allows clients to receive focused and tailored deliverables that directly affect their business plans and values. Events and PR teams need to spend time looking at the larger themes, define tasks on each side and support each other. The integration of the teams fosters a greater understanding of client business goals and can help both disciplines reflect key messages, enabling each to showcase and highlight the other’s results. This is invaluable to clients as they receive two different professional skill sets packaged together, which ultimately amplifies their message throughout all relevant channels.

    1. As a client, what are the top considerations when it comes to an event?

    It’s crucial to start with the essentials: WHO (is the audience), WHAT (type of event), WHERE (will be held), WHEN (date and time), WHY (what is the purpose, what are the objectives) and HOW MUCH in terms of budget. Once these parameters are defined, it’s easier to approach other components.

    1. As Castle is celebrating its 20th anniversary, what’s your favorite industry memory from the last 20 years?

    There have been so many memorable moments! Some of these include planning an incentive trip at an ancient castle in Spain, sailing regattas in the Caribbean, working with Boston TED Talks, a private showing of the Sistine Chapel, and more recently, our company retreat this past year in Stowe, VT. All of these memories stand out because they created spectacular moments for each guest.

    Wendy currently serves on the boards of The Family Reach Foundation, USO (United Service Organizations) Council and Courageous Sailing Advisory Council. She is a previous board member of the Courageous Sailing Center in Charlestown, committed to being involved in the community that is home to The Castle Group.  She is a member of West Point Society of New England, Society for Incentive Travel Excellence and Meeting Professionals International. Aside from leading and growing The Castle Group into a premier Boston public relations and events management firm, Wendy has executed powerful and meaningful events and conferences for companies such as Ocean Spray, Genzyme and TED Talks.

    About The Castle Group

    Celebrating its 20th year in business, The Castle Group leverages its Boston connections and global reach to create communications strategies that deliver business results, with an emphasis on PR, events management, crisis communications and digital. With a client roster that includes Fortune 500, high-growth start-ups, privately held, higher education and health care clients, Castle is supremely skilled at navigating complex organizations and surfacing unique ways to powerfully deliver clients’ messages. A certified women-owned business, the firm is a member of the Public Relations Global Network, 50 exclusively selected affiliates representing the world’s major media markets. Castle, its leadership and teams have won numerous industry, civic and professional awards, are devoted corporate citizens, and pride themselves on infusing an entrepreneurial spirit and scrappy attitude into every endeavor. Find Castle, its clients and their programs online, in person, in their communities and around the world. For more information, please visit

    About Fast 5

    This is a feature of PRSA Boston’s Hot Topics blog page. The expert subject is someone who is clearly in demand, on the go, and nailing them down for a conversation is about as easy as … winning Powerball at $1.5 billion! But we know leaders like to share, so check back for insights, wisdom, author’s books about to hit the stands and other valuable tips. @prsaboston #prsabos

    Do YOU have a candidate for a FAST 5 interview? Email: Joshua Milne at and pitch your subject expert!

    Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author or the individual being interviewed and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of PRSA Boston, PRSA National, staff or  board of directors of either organization. 

  • Unleashing the Power of the Influencer in Your Next B2B Campaign

    In Campaign on

    “Using influencers to solely drive awareness is as cost-effective as a Paula Deen fitness camp. The key to effective use of influencers is their ability to cause behavior.” – @jaybaer @branderati

    A recent article on, The Explosive Growth Of Influencer Marketing And What It Means For You, talks to the new role of influencers as brand advocates in the social media space. Influencers, defined in the article as individuals who have influence over potential buyers, once sought out for their reach, are now favored by brands based on their expertise, credibility and relationships.

    This all makes sense and is very readily practiced in the consumer brand world but what about those B2B campaigns? How do we use these consumer brand powerful influencers to promote our B2B products and release the B2B stigma of being dry and (shall I say) uninspiring? In this piece, I’d like to visit the world of the influencer and how you can leverage their power as a part of your next B2B public relations campaign.

    If you are like me, you are likely intrigued by the number of B2B campaigns that are starting to leverage the old tried-and-true tactics of a typical B2C campaign. Recent examples of some great B2B campaigns include:

    • Xerox’s “Get Optimistic” campaign where Xerox partnered with Forbes to create a custom magazine to reach senior level executives at top accounts. Xerox needed a campaign that stood out in a crowded solutions-based industry. The “Get Optimistic” magazine proved to be valuable content and not just another piece of marketing material.
    • General Electric, who continues its presence on Vine with a series of six second videos, recently celebrated the first walk on the moon in their #MoonPrints campaign. GE proves it’s in the “feels like B2C” game by partnering up with top Viner Marcus Johns and Buzz Aldrin, who also promotes GE’s launch on Snapchat, another social outlet gaining a lot of brand attention.
    • There are many businesses who started to actively blog as a way of creating their own story, becoming an integral part of their content marketing strategy. Last May, HubSpot spotlighted 10 B2B companies that were taking blogging very seriously.

    So how can you get the power of the influencer to start working for you and your next B2B PR campaign? Here are four ideas worth considering:

    1. Introduce a blogger campaign. Bloggers have certainly changed the media landscape and their influence will continue to grow as more and more industry experts find their way to the blogosphere looking for credible brand advocates. And bloggers are not just for your B2C brands, there are many bloggers out there that are experts in B2B. The bloggers you choose will of course depend on the industry you are in. For instance, if you are in the events industry and want other businesses to catch wind of your great event expertise you might enlist one of these bloggers. Or, if you are in the advertising industry you might consider onboarding one of these bloggers on your next awareness campaign. Before you begin your blogger campaign check out my previous blog on The Dos and Don’ts of Paid Blogger Partnership and Four Tips on How to Run a Successful Blogger Campaign.
    2. Conduct a subject matter expert (SME) Twitter chat. Twitter chats are becoming increasingly popular these days and serve as a great way to communicate real time with your target audience without the costs and logistics of an actual event. One company that seems to be using this tool quite well in the B2B marketplace is Cisco Systems. Cisco Tweet chat gives interested businesses an opportunity to weigh in on products and tools to support their company. Cisco recently hosted a Twitter chat with a product SME to promote their FastIT campaign promoting with hashtags  #InnovativeThink and #FutureOfIT. Cisco also uses their worldwide CiscoLive! conferences as a launching pad to conduct live Twitter chats with key speakers throughout the event. So if you can’t make it to the conferences in Italy, Mexico, Australia or California you can jump onto your Twitter account to get your questions answered.
    3. Rally around a celebrity chef. Oh, the power of a chef. The rise of the chef to celebrity status has created a huge opportunity for brands to get their message to the right audience. Chefs can be involved in B2B campaigns in many ways including: hosting of a key influencer event, development of new assets to further promote your brand and product line (recipes, how-to videos, photography, testimonials) and through product usage and endorsement (on menus, TV or online programming).
    4. Partner with a social media maven. When we think of GE our thoughts do not go to a six-second Vine video as being part of its content marketing strategy. But GE knew a good thing when it saw it. Using an extremely popular social media tool and partnering with one of its most followed members, GE was able to make its highly technical content and attributes look very cool. Top Viners, Marcus Johns, Nicholas Megalis and Jerome Jarre have all jumped on the bandwagon too. Vining for brands like Virgin Mobile USA and Trident Gum.

    Hopefully you found this blog beneficial. At the very least, I hope it helps to inspire some creativity as you embark on bringing a little B2C flavor to your next B2B PR campaign.

    Photo credit: Sean MacEntee on Flickr

    Post Author

    Manejah Morad Terzi Manejah Morad Terzi is at Revelry Agency (formerly Salt Communications), an agency focusing on the food, beverage, travel and hospitality sectors. She concentrates on B2B and B2C public relations campaigns and communications strategy. Contact her at or follow her on Twitter @Manejah for questions or any B2B and B2C article idea suggestions.