Told Ya So: 2016 Trend Prediction Outcomes

Told Ya So: 2016 Trend Prediction Outcomes

Around a similar time last year, we gathered around a table with several months’ worth of notes to bat around what we believed would be the year’s biggest consumer trends.

6 rose to the top:

  • Peer Heroes – the idea that regular people are the new celebs
  • Big Emotions – leveraging our understanding of our emotions to live a better life
  • New Languages of organization – the shift in ways in which we communicate
  • Gender Neutrality – the continued blurring of the lines between male and female
  • Proliferation of VR/AR – how brands are now using it for good
  • Errorless Society – the rise of innovations that keep humanity from making mistakes

So, were we right with these trends? Did we see them continuously pop up in the market? Almost as much as the dab, with the exception of one.

Peer Heroes: We got to see big brands tap kids and their unique creativity – like Target, which leveraged a 7-kid team to make its Back to School ad. In a more grassroots example, CEOs in training created companies like iRummage – started by elementary school kids to raise money for their schools. As for stardom, music video lip syncing app Musical.ly made celebs out of normal teens who garnered fans across the globe and kudos from Billboard. Talent at its finest.

Big Emotions: We’ve found ourselves at a cross section between technology and emotions and how they work together to better people’s lives. Headspace, one of the most popular mental wellness apps has expanded its offering to children. Planextra – created by physicists and engineers – is a device that detects 64 emotions and helps humans better understand what sparked them. Zenta is the newest wearable startup boasting stress and emotional management. Imagine downward facing dog for your mind.

New Languages of Organization: Society is moving away from words and toward the visual, a la emojis. This can be seen in companies like Yarn – an entire platform dedicated to sending and receiving clips from movies and TV shows. Another instance of this can be seen in Thngs, the Russian Wikipedia database for physical objects or a digital museum of things. Need info on the original Gameboy? Here ya go, nerd. We’re even using WiFi as currency with companies like Velvet letting us buy and trade it.

Gender Neutrality: Though not a surprise, certainly relevant. Making history, this year’s first ever Coverboy was announced, James Charles, for makeup giant Covergirl. And now rewriting history, we’ve seen gender role reversals in mainstream movie culture – Ghostbusters, Splash, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels to name a few. Who ya gonna call? Either sex.

Proliferation of VR/AR: So here, my friends, we admit defeat. This trend didn’t prove to go in the direction we thought, and in fact went in the opposite. We found an instance or two of brands using VR for things like supplemental patient care, but for the most part, it’s being used by brands for marketing and entertainment. Perhaps we were a little early to the call, so watch this space.

Errorless Society: Terrifying? Yes. Happening anyway? Also yes. We’re seeing just how smart we can get with brands like Multiply Labs that can 3d print pills in layers so that consumers can take a day’s worth of meds in one gulp while timing the layers perfectly so drugs don’t mix improperly. Beyond medicine, Fysiopal has created shirts that vibrate when the wearer has poor posture. Your nagging mom’s new partner in crime.

So it all begs the question, what could possibly be next? We’re so happy you asked! Stay tuned for our 2017 trends predictions coming soon to a blog near you.

Our Labor Day of Love

Our Labor Day of Love

Of course, no one is devastated about having this coming Monday off from work for Labor Day. Even though we all welcome the holiday, by and large the staff of Access Emanate loves their work in public relations and client service. Here are a few things the team had to say about why they love their jobs.

“Whether we’re watching a Giants game at one of our office outings or laughing about a funny email, the people in this office make me love this job.” – Allie Zimnoch, Account Executive, San Francisco

“I love how creative this entire industry is. I constantly feel like I’m challenged and pushed to think of new ways to reach audiences and tell stories. Whether it’s something more traditional like an experiential event or something totally new and out of the box like sketch comedy, there’s always something creative happening in this world and I love that.” – Lindsay Campbell, Account Director, New York

“I love that PR exposes me to so many different businesses and industries. In my three years working in PR I’ve gotten to learn about small business accounting, enterprise servers, eSignatures, oil, banking, and fitness trackers. These are all topics I never would have explored if it hadn’t been for PR and I continue to learn new things about them every day.” – Katie Sells, Senior Account Executive, San Francisco

“No two days are alike. Although I never know what’s going to get thrown my way in the day-to-day, Access Emanate constantly allows for new opportunities to laugh, learn, create, relationship-build and grow.” – Veronica Twombly, Account Coordinator, New York

“Every time I find myself online at 10 p.m., answering emails (mostly deleting the tidal wave, tbh) and trying to stay ahead of client work, I think: ‘Hmm, not really much different from my old life, as a journalist. What was I thinking?’ The truth is, I’ve traded one career that I loved very, very much for another that I love more and more every day. I write, I edit, I help our teams get to the ‘why this matters’ for clients and the audiences they care about. I hear about cutting edge trends in technology and the way our world is changing, and I get to be a part of shaping that story. And the cast of characters here is as deep and colorful as in any newsroom I have ever worked. – Nancy Blair, VP of Content, San Francisco

“At Access Emanate, we are not a number. We are a family on this wild ride. Together we celebrate the great and dig through the trenches. Always aligned as one. We change with the pulse of this industry, and make sure clients are at the forefront of every thought. There is a whole lot of heart here. We are all in. Every single day.” – Ashley Holzhauer, Account Director, New York

“My favorite thing about working at Access Emanate is the team camaraderie that I find on all of my accounts. We’re always there for one another, and that’s what I love.” – Francheska Munoz, Assistant Account Executive, San Francisco

“During my new hire initiation the dozen or so of us recently hired staff had to put on a performance for the rest of the agency. This involved pairing up and reenacting a famous love scene from a movie – Titanic, When Harry Met Sally, The Graduate etc. Ours was the pottery scene from Ghost. Instead of seductively rubbing clay over each other we opted to use a few pounds of raw beef. The screams of disgust from the audience I shall forever cherish. After I wasn’t fired and instead was awarded ‘Best in Show: Horror” I knew I had found my home.” – Dave Garcia, Content and Creative Strategist, San Francisco

“The smart, innovative people that I work with every day make Access Emanate feel less like work and more like a family. This makes it easy to be comfortable at work, all while challenging you to be the best version of yourself.” – Christine Montes, Account Supervisor – Digital, San Francisco

It Turns Out Social Media Isn’t Taking Over the World…Well, the Beauty World Anyway

It Turns Out Social Media Isn’t Taking Over the World…Well, the Beauty World Anyway

LONDON – It may feel like social and online media is steadily but surely taking over and that social channels are where it’s at for breaking news, from a beauty perspective at least, women are still turning to traditional media for their beauty news.

There’s nothing quite like settling down with a glossy mag and a cup of tea on a Sunday afternoon, or the burst of colour in the women’s section of WH Smith at the airport as you select your poolside reading; we certainly don’t want traditional media to die out, women’s mags or otherwise.

In conjunction with our client Philips Beauty, we recently conducted a survey of over 11,000 women in 11 different countries globally to determine women’s interpretations of beauty and where they are looking for new beauty information.

So, before we delve into what influences the way we perceive beauty and how those sources have changed over time, it’s important to understand how women actually feel about beauty and the industry as it currently stands.

When it came to asking women if they felt that they were beautiful, we discovered that there was a huge disparity between countries. Whilst the global average of women who consider themselves beautiful is 57%, in the UK this figure is less than half that, with only 26% of women considering themselves to be beautiful. This is incredibly sad in contrast with women in India where a staggeringly positive 94% of women would consider themselves to be beautiful. This could be down to the differences in perceptions of beauty as a culture.

Culturally in the UK we are incredibly self-deprecating and to most, it would seem bold to outwardly declare that we believe ourselves to be beautiful. This may be due to our perceptions of beauty and what we consider beauty to be. Is it what we see in magazines and on catwalks, the skinny Minnie models and celebrities who are shaping our view of what beauty actually is and means? Photoshop use is rife and leads to false portrayals of celebrities in media and advertising. With inches shaved off waists and thighs, and skin smoothed to perfection, women across the world have been standing up for many years to say that this is not the example we should be setting for younger generations.

In addition, over two thirds of those surveyed in the UK agreed that too much of our self-worth is tied to our looks (68%) and 74% feel that the beauty industry is putting too much pressure on us to look a certain way.

The pressure to look beautiful, however—whether it’s from the media, our peers, or society as a whole—is building across cultures, no matter how beautiful women report feeling.

So who dictates these standards for beauty and the ensuing pressure to keep up? And who do we trust as the authority? According to the latest survey data, it’s actually not as much from our social media streams as we might expect. It turns out, our sources of inspiration are a bit more traditional. When it comes to shaping our perceptions of what is beautiful, traditional media outlets like magazines and friends still trump social media and digital sources as the most trusted places to get beauty advice and inspiration.

According to the data, women in the UK favoured magazines over blogs, YouTube or other social channels to discover new beauty products, brands, and procedures. This could be down to the trust we have instilled in magazines and their ability to source and trial a variety of products to bring us reviews, or because women are becoming wise to social media influencers and bloggers being paid to talk about new products on social channels.

With this in mind, the marketing industry has a huge role to play in working with media to ensure that we are completely transparent and honest in the way we work with influencers and media and at the same time, ensuring that the work we are doing in the industry is responsible, helping women to feel more beautiful and confident both in the UK and across the globe.

Reflections on a Year in PR

Reflections on a Year in PR

SAN FRANCISCO – This time a year ago, I had just finished up my first couple of months in PR after a long career in journalism – a somewhat head-spinning move into writing, editing and strategizing for corporate clients.

This after years of bashing away at a keyboard seven days a week figuring out how to make sense of what’s going on in the world for a very middle American audience at USA TODAY.

I was sure enough about the move to make it: Kelly Boynton here at Access had become a friend, and through my trust and respect for her I got to know others at the agency – all of whom seemed smart, kind, and dedicated.

One of the things that drew me in was how long so many of the senior team had been with the company. I was about to leave my family – Gannett (25+ years) and USA TODAY (14+ years). For all of the turmoil in mainstream media, my colleagues were my brothers and sisters – people I would run into a fire with (or cover a major tech meltdown with). I wasn’t certain that my first move out of journalism would have me finding my new “forever” home, but I sure hoped so. Family is important.

Now I am a year in – with, frankly, too many thoughts about the transition to sort it all out on my own. So I decided to crowdsource a few questions from my terrific young colleagues here at the agency and from my journo and PR friends on Facebook.

Herewith, for the PR-curious in the journalism community, and for anyone interested in the shifting media landscape, is a q-and-a with myself, courtesy of a few folks I know and love:

Do you regret it? Nope! I still do so much of what I love. I am writing and editing and analyzing trends. In a weird way, I am even closer to the source material about how our world is taking shape. I talk to executives every week who are making big bets on where things are headed. What I would have given for this kind of access as a journalist.

Would you go back? Yes! Who’s hiring? Kidding.

Journalism is and ever will be my first love. I left because I, personally, could no longer tolerate the uncertainty of buyouts, layoffs and the overall burn process happening at big outlets that is absolutely essential as news organizations grapple with the huge question of how to make money. I’m in charge of my own future now in a way that no one in news really is these days.

But I believe very deeply in the future of journalism – it is timeless and vital. Anyone remember that pay TV series Rome, with the fellow standing up in the middle of the town square shouting out the news? Journo.

So, what exactly do you do? Umm….lots of stuff.  I work with executives to help them turn their expertise and insights into cool stories that other people want to read. My favorite clients understand that it is a collaboration and a partnership. I’ve also done work on internal company messaging materials and help with media training for various executives (I play the journalist!). I’m also involved in a lot of new business presentations – primarily offering a lense into how a company is perceived currently in the media and what its aim could or should be.

Do you see PR people differently now? In the 10 years I’d been in San Francisco editing USA TODAY’s tech coverage I came to know many folks in the tech PR community. I don’t know if it’s different from the PR-journo relationship in other industries/sectors but in my experience there was a lot of respect on both sides.

Do your reporter acquaintances treat you differently now? Sometimes I feel like Carrie Mathison: No longer in the CIA but always in the CIA. I’m sure some people do but not the folks who know me well.

What if there were no ‘dark side’? I loved the comment from a Facebook friend who asked that rather than create a perception of opposition, what if we were all on the same side of authentic and truthful editorial. I couldn’t agree more.

Is your schedule more defined and more definable, so that, start to finish in given workday, it’s more A to B than A to Who Knows? Definitely. There are still plenty of very long days and sometime weekend work, but I no longer leap out of bed in the morning as if the world is on fire every single day. And I can, mostly, go to sleep without worrying about what I am missing.

What habits have been hardest to break? This is silly, but I still want to put a SAN FRANCISCO dateline on everything I write. For some reason it helps clear the cobwebs. And of course it’s impossible not to immediately shift into “interview” mode when I’m at any tech-ish gathering whatsoever.

Peace of Mind When Talking Mental Health

Peace of Mind When Talking Mental Health

LONDON — Another day, another headline about the worsening state of our mental health in the UK. Demand for services is increasing at the same time funding has been cut, leading to countless reports of bed shortages, people ending up in police cells and stretched community teams. Meanwhile prescriptions for antidepressants rise, suicides are up in recent years after a period of decline, and mental health charities report record levels of calls to helplines.

And when we switch off the news and escape to television, plot lines carry the message forward. Carrie on Homeland has bipolar disorder, while Stacey’s story on EastEnders highlights the condition of pregnancy-induced psychosis (this on the heels of an ongoing plot about her own struggle with bipolar disorder). In fact, EastEnders is working closely with mental health charity Mind to make sure Stacey’s struggle is portrayed accurately and sensitively – a tricky balance for a style of television that thrives on outlandish plots.

Do these stories lift our spirits? Maybe not, but there is good news here. Mental health is taking its rightful place alongside other key issues destigmatised and embraced by popular culture and reflected in our Netflix queue: LGBT acceptance, social justice and sexual freedom, among others.

The stigma, it seems, is lifting.

Now that we’re convinced we’re communicating about mental health, we must ask ourselves, as communicators, if we are helping or hurting the cause.

Apps, like Headspace, help us to be more calm, meditative and ‘mindful’ – a buzzword of 2015. The plight of the lonely – highlighted by retailer John Lewis’s ‘Man on the Moon’ advert – was front and centre, and we responded by using various channels and engaging in communities on loneliness – and a whole panoply of issues – to help people find common ground and connection. In smaller, daily ways, social media is there for us, full of inspirational quotes, Tweets, and cute panda bears frolicking in snow to make us smile and give us perspective.

But the high points have counterpoints. When blogger Essena O’Neill quit social media calling it ‘contrived perfection made to get attention’, it struck a real cord. We were forced to confront whether the very places we go to find connection were making us feel more disconnected with ourselves and the world around us.

As former Eastenders ourselves (we just moved from our Spitalfields birthplace to Bankside), we wondered if Mind could help us, too. We asked Jack Holloway, Mind’s Media Officer, how communications professionals can foster truly healthy communities and apply best practices. Here’s what he said.

If in doubt, ask the experts: Mental health is a vast topic and it can seem easy to put a foot wrong when talking about it. If you are unsure about anything, from symptoms of particular diagnoses, to when to use a trigger warning or how to talk about suicide, help is at hand. Charities like Mind have a wealth of resources online to help you fact check and talk about difficult issues safely.

Put the person first: Using case studies of people’s own experiences brings mental health to life and makes it relatable. Mental health problems aren’t something that only affect ‘other people’ — one in four of us will experience one at some point, so use personal stories alongside statistics to make the topic human.

Avoid stereotypes and sensationalising: Stereotypes around mental health, such as ‘having OCD makes you neat’ or ‘antidepressants are happy pills’, help no one. Mental health is rarely black or white and people’s experiences vary hugely even within the same diagnosis, so think hard before making a sweeping or sensationalised statement.

Be positive: Having a mental health problem can have a huge impact on people’s lives, but it’s more empowering to focus on the positive than dwell on the negative. Think about how your work can bust myths, break down taboos and get people opening up and talking about mental health.

We’d also add that authenticity is a key piece of the comms puzzle — showing real people in real situations and expressing real emotions, not simply posting stock photography of a laughing couple walking on a beach. While there are certain proprieties that we must uphold, we mustn’t pre-judge content and allow social communities to manage themselves. That’s where true connection happens.

Post by Amanda Moulson and William Holloway