People are the New Media


Afdhel Aziz, Director of Absolut Labs, said, “Any marketer who wants to succeed in the future needs to think in these terms: people are the new media.”

Gone are the days when big brands could develop a catchy jingle and it’d echo in consumers’ minds on repeat. Today, consumers are inundated with sales pitches and marketing ploys alike. They’ve developed a heightened awareness, borderline paranoia, of what is genuine vs. what is paid for. With geo-targeting tracking not only your purchases but every move your mouse makes online, consumers are demanding transparency and authenticity from brands.

One way brands are building trust and staying relevant is by working with influencers. From cooking to fitness, dads to moms, health to technology, there is an influencer out there who has a network of trusted peers looking to them for advice, inspiration and/or guidance. To peers, they are not seen as spokespeople of a brand, but rather real, authentic people who believe in a brand.

CEO of Intuit, Scott Cook, said it best, A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is–it is what consumers tell each other it is.”

Here are…


Colleges Missing an Opportunity on Twitter?

graduate-tweeterMost colleges use Twitter as an image-polishing tool, and that’s not fully capitalizing on the platform’s value, say researchers who analyzed the Twitter accounts of more than 2,400 U.S. higher education institutions.

Their examination of 5.7 million tweets reveals that the whopping majority (nearly 80 percent) broadcast information about campus events and meetings, with few asking readers to take action or engaging directly with other users. Further review of a subset of tweets with images shows colleges routinely depicting positive student experiences, attractive campus scenes and student successes.

Duh. Of course colleges are putting their best foot forward online.

The researchers don’t disagree with the approach. It’s what they don’t see on Twitter that presents an opportunity.

George Veletsianos, Canada research chair in innovative learning and technology at Royal Roads University and a co-author on the Twitter study, tells Times Higher Education “more effective use of social media might involve using hashtags to connect alumni and students, sharing practical knowledge with communities that might benefit from the research conducted at the university, and providing educational opportunities to the thousands of followers that subscribe to institutional Twitter feeds.”

Makes sense to me. Institutional Twitter…


How to Succeed in the (Competitive) Business of Smiling

They’re like the great “Oz” of the dental industry: the tireless dental laboratory, working behind the curtain, crafting the beautiful smiles of everyone from celebrities and pro athletes to (relatively) average Joes like you and me.  A good smile conveys good health, confidence, competence, and attractiveness. Who doesn’t want that? So you’d think there’d be more than enough work to keep dental labs in business. But check any issue of Dental Economics (a good read, by the way) it’s a very competitive and complex industry. Quality is what can set you apart, but quantity is what makes you money. Hand crafting each tooth is a differentiator, but you also need the latest technology for things like case planning, diagnostics, and milling. Dentists can be very loyal when they find a great lab, but then they won’t refer you because they don’t want their competitors in on their secret. Add this to a more discerning and cost-conscious customers (dentists and their patients) and the “business of smiling” is a “grit-your-teeth” kind of industry. That’s why Valley Dental Arts (VDA), one of the premier cosmetic and restorative dental laboratories in the country, decided it needed an agency partner to help identify and grow its competitive edge. In 2014, they selected PadillaCRT to help map their path


A look back: brands and their misbehaving spokespeople

The chaos surrounding the Rio Olympics subsided for a time as countries around the world celebrated the incredible feats of their athletes. Records were broken, medals were won, and all was well and good.

And then, Ryan Lochte.


You’ve probably heard the tale of one Olympic swimmer misrepresenting his actions, and their repercussions, at a gas station in Rio. Lochte issued an apology for his behavior, but that didn’t stem the tide of growing negative perception surrounding the event. Nor did it stop companies for which he was a spokesperson from severing their ties with the controversy-embroiled swimmer.

Four major sponsors ended their relationship with Lochte earlier this week, including Speedo: “While we have enjoyed a winning relationship with Ryan for over a decade and he has been an important member of the Speedo team, we cannot condone behavior that is counter to the values this brand has long stood for,” Speedo said in its statement. “We appreciate his many achievements and hope he moves forward and learns from this experience.”

With today’s information age, it’s clear that companies are quicker to cut ties with spokespeople for misbehavior – Lochte’s sponsors took around a millisecond


Gen Z: Five Key Insights for Healthcare Brands

Source: Phenomena

Raise your hand if you’re tired of hearing about the Millennials.

Employers have been trying to figure out how to deal with Millennials since they entered the work force about 15 years ago and healthcare has been bracing for the changes that they might bring as consumers.  Now, it’s time to start preparing for the next generation, who will comprise 40% of all consumers by 2020: Generation Z.

Members of Gen Z were born between 1995 and 2015 and have been parented by Gen X’ers and the older Millennials. They are digital natives, born after the internet was popularized and raised on smart phones.  With the youngest members of Gen Z celebrating their first birthday this year, it will be quite some time until we feel the full impact of this generation.  However, extensive research has already been done to reveal the attitudes and behaviors of the older half of Gen Z (who go up to 21 years old), many of whom are in or approaching college or about to enter the workforce.

While Gen Z won’t dominate healthcare use in the near future, smart brands are taking notice and thinking about engagement strategies now, especially as


Why Everything Tastes Better on Vacation (and what that means for your brand)



We’ve all had that moment.

While on vacation you eat or drink something that is so transcendentally delicious, it instantly ranks among the best things you’ve ever had. The pleasure is so deep and complete it’s like your taste buds are hard-wired to your very soul. “Do I detect a hint of fresh mint, or is that MDMA? Either way, I want more.”

So you buy up as many cases as you can get through customs, or obsessively hunt down the recipe to recreate it a home. But, despite your best efforts, it’s never quite the same. Sure, it’s good, but it’s not as good as you remember it.

What’s going on here? A temporary insanity of the taste buds?

Well, sort of.

Consider this: In 2008, a group of neuroscientists in California conducted an experiment that shed new light onto how we taste. Twenty volunteers were strapped into an fMRI scanner and given samples of wine. Among them were tastes from a “$10” bottle and a “$90” bottle that, in reality, were the exact same wine. It should come as no shock that the…


Olympians – They’re Just Like Us

If you’ve been watching this year’s Olympics (or just reading the news), you’ve likely seen a few athletes with dark red/purple spots on their bodies. Earlier this week, superstar-Olympian Michael Phelps entered the pool with those large, dark circles on his shoulders and back; and so, the questions began. It’s called cupping. But what is it, and how much do we really know about what seems to be the latest trend?

Cupping is an ancient therapy that dates back nearly 2,000 years and has mostly been used in Middle Eastern and Asian countries. Many people have never heard of it before, and now it’s got us all in a frenzy trying to figure it out. Athletes use it as a healing therapy that consists of having round glass suction cups placed on the sore parts of their body. The cup creates a partial vacuum, which is believed to stimulate muscles and blood flow, while relieving pain.

Most of the world saw Phelps’ cupping marks for the first time this week, but turns out he’s actually been practicing the treatment for at least a year. So does it hurt? Here’s a quick look at Phelps’


How to Lose Sales…on Purpose: A Lesson From the Canadian Tobacco Industry

Credit: Smoke-free Canada

On a recent trip to Canada, I had the privilege of exploring Niagara Falls, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. It’s always exciting to explore a new place and, that being said, I expected some cultural differences. Prior to my trip, I knew Canada had a different healthcare system than that of the U.S., but I quickly learned that the health differences didn’t end there.

While in Toronto, my brother pointed out an empty cigarette carton on the ground – completely taboo from anything I’d ever seen before. On it was a photo of an older woman hooked up to an oxygen tank, with a short story about how smoking gave her emphysema and led to her lungs collapsing four times. The picture took up so much of the box that the brand of cigarettes was the very last thing I noticed. If you work in communications or public relations, this would typically be a nightmare, but I couldn’t help but admire the angle Canada is taking to send a message and how it may be benefiting their overall health goals.

Upon further digging, I found that…


Planning to Post Socially for a Brand this Olympics? Read This First


I love the Olympics, and although the games in Rio have already been beset in controversy, I’ll be watching them, like many, through more channels than ever before. The U.S. Men’s basketball team has already been broadcasting exhibition games on Facebook Live. NBC, who spent a few bitcoins for exclusive broadcast rights to the Olympics, is now partnering with Facebook and Instagram for exclusive video content, social influencers, and Snapchat, this will be a “Social Olympics” like never before. The games have been facing new media challenges through history. Most Americans saw the historic feats of Jesse Owens in the 1936 Berlin games in movie theaters and read about them in newspapers. More recently competition schedules in Beijing were reworked for live television coverage in the west. Many new rules for social media were first implemented during the London games, and have been refined. It got to the point where some wondered what clothing with brand logos they could even wear to official venues.

Twitter @emmajcoburn

Twitter @emmajcoburn

Many brands are…


Fallon Social Media Strategy: #GetJimmyWitIt

With over 40 million Twitter followers, we know the guy is doing something right. Jimmy Fallon’s robust, multi-platform social media presence can be summed up in a three-pronged approach to social media strategy. The following tactics are key for brands aiming to thrive in the social realm.

1. Tailor content to each platform

The majority of Fallon’s Facebook and Twitter posts consist of the latest show content packaged into shareable video clips and GIFs – a tactical move considering most platform algorithms favor visuals, yielding much higher user engagement than content that does not include visual elements.

The Tonight Show’s Instagram account documents backstage and onstage moments with Fallon’s guests in addition to GIFs of the latest show content. The show has additional social presence on Snapchat, where staff pose challenges that encourage fans to send snaps back for a chance to be featured. Fallon’s celebrity guests also participate in Snapchat ‘takeovers’ as a tease to the show that night. This informal and uncut, behind-the-scenes content is exactly what Snapchat users expect to see from celebrities and organizations on Snapchat. No one platform is the same. Followers expect to see different kinds of content