Jun 15 2016
The topic of technology in restaurants has been stirring up some pretty interesting discussion recently. Touch screens, interactive apps and online ordering have become an increasingly common fixture in fast-casual dining. Meanwhile, new-comers like Eatsa are pushing digital integration to a Jetsons-esque extreme with a dining experience that is almost entirely automated—where customized quinoa bowls magically appear on demand with no human in sight, as if the food itself was constructed from ones and zeroes.
Though operators and consumers alike are showing an appetite for more tech in their diet, there is a growing concern around what this means for the future of food. Will humans in food service go the way of the dodo, or the gas station attendant? Will automated dining change the way we eat forever?
Look, I love paranoid fantasies as much as the next guy. The first time I ordered a sandwich from a touch screen, I too fast-forwarded to a dystopian future where apathetic humans suckled at the bosom of…
Jun 9 2016
While “thought leadership” is not a new phrase or concept, it’s certainly en vogue right now. In fact, thought leadership is one of the most frequent asks in the Requests for Proposal that cross my desk. And the interesting thing I’ve learned from talking to these companies is that there are different definitions of what it is; different expectations about what it looks like; and, different beliefs about what it can accomplish.
As recent headlines and sound bites have featured fallen thought leaders, rising thought leaders and those who only think they are thought leaders (you know who you are), I thought I’d offer my perspective on the topic and a few tips for using thought leadership as an effective strategy for your personal or corporate brand.
Defining thought leadership
While there are several acceptable ways to define thought leadership, I define it as an earned outcome of a purposeful, integrated communications strategy. Key ingredients include passion, relevant experience, meaningful content, and a point of view. Thought leadership can apply to an individual brand such as Warren Buffet, a regular go-to on financial matters, or it can apply to organizational…
Apr 20 2016
On April 12, Devils Backbone, an independent brewery located in Nelson County, Virginia, announced they were being purchased by the biggest name in big beer, Anheuser-Busch InBev.
And then, the universe exploded.
Well, maybe not the entire universe. But if you follow craft beer, especially Virginia craft beer, you likely experienced an eruption of opinion across your news and social media feeds. Though the tone ranged from repulsed (“this is disgusting…a cancer in the bloodstream of good beer”) to resigned (“you will be much missed”), the largest, or at least the loudest, reaction from craft beer enthusiasts was that this was not a good thing, and would signal the decline of a quality craft product.
What’s going on:
Devils Backbone is the eighth independent brewery that AB InBev (primarily known for not-so-craft beers like Budweiser, Corona, and Bud Light Lime-a-rita) has acquired since 2011. While their strategy is clearly…
Apr 7 2016
It took years for healthcare providers to accept the term “consumer” when referring to patients. In today’s healthcare economy – one that’s focused more on wellness, prevention and keeping people out of the hospital – understanding patients as consumers is critical to success. (For those of you in long-term care, this includes your residents. And for those of you in health insurance, this includes your members.) Healthcare consumerism is here to stay.
Most healthcare communicators have already made the shift in what we say and how we say it. We’ve stopped talking at consumers and only pushing out our own messages, whether they care or not. We have done this by adopting journalistic principles, providing news they can use and information they want. We have also done this by engaging in a dialogue with consumers via social channels, and learning to go where the conversations are happening rather than expecting everyone to gather around like we’re the EF Hutton of healthcare.
It’s a good start. But it won’t be enough. When it comes to making a great patient experience, we talk a lot about anticipating the wants and needs of patients.
Apr 1 2016
Well, today is April Fools’ Day. People’s reaction to that news is mixed, depending on whether they are usually the fooler or fooled.
One thing remains constant, however: This is the day consumer brands spend a lot of time, money and creativity to generate fake news, products and headline-grabbing PR stunts. And over the past decade, each April Fools’ Day gets bigger and bigger, sometimes to the holiday’s detriment.
Don’t get me wrong, when these pranks are well-executed they attract a lot of social engagement and media attention for brands. Do you remember Wiffi’s Wi-Fi You Can Smell prank this past year? I would love to be able to sniff out the greatest Wi-Fi connection. Genius!
It’s certainly not easy for brands to be human and successfully pull off a prank. There’s a fine line for brands to play, especially when a poorly executed prank could potentially lead their consumers to distrust them.
If you’re planning to make an April Fools’ Day recommendation for your client, or you would rather prank a few of your PR colleagues, there are few things you’ll want to keep in mind to be successful: Be playful and mischievous but avoid alienating your core consumer.
Mar 25 2016
A recent Bernstein survey revealed that 55% of consumers are becoming more distrustful of the food system, a 15% increase from 2013. While it has a way to go before reaching distrust in government levels that have fueled a raucous presidential primary season, it continues a trend that manufacturers (and investors) large and small have noticed.
Concerns over food safety, GMO foods, and antibiotic use in animals were all up in the survey. One of the big drivers of this I believe is transparency, or lack thereof. Earlier this month, the state of Washington won a lawsuit against the Grocery Manufacturers of America (GMA) for not disclosing donations from major food companies to defeat a labeling proposition.
The GMO labeling debate reached a tipping point resulting in Kellogg, General Mills, Mars and Campbell Soup announcing they will begin to identify products that contain genetically modified foods. This followed the failure of a Senate bill that would have blocked state GMO labeling requirements like the one about to go in effect in Vermont. I expect this to lead to national…