In a move that strengthens Porter Novelli’s commitment to client value, the firm has named Dr. Amy Nicole Nayar Senior Vice President of Global Health and Wellness, leading key healthcare client engagements. In this newly created position, Dr. Nayar will report to Henry Engleka, Senior Vice President of Global Health and Wellness.

Previously, Dr. Nayar ran her own organizational change and leadership skills firm, Forefront Leadership, with clients in the media, retail, life science, finance and technology sectors.  Prior to that, she led various teams within the Corporate Affairs, Marketing and Medical functions at Pfizer.  She most recently served as Head of Strategy and Capability Development for International Public Affairs under Policy, External Affairs and Communications. During her 14-year Pfizer tenure, she led Strategic Partnerships to support the establishment of a $9B Emerging Markets Business Unit, grew an award-winning advocacy relationship management function across 70 countries, pioneered marketing tactics that brought a $3B product to market leadership, and represented the company publicly.

“Amy Nicole is not only a published health economic outcomes researcher who excels in developing compelling communication, she’s also a well-regarded leader effective at managing and motivating external-facing teams to do exceptional work,” said Darlàn Monterisi, Managing Director, Porter Novelli New York.  “Her high-performing teams are known for their ability to provide and receive constructive feedback, create mutual respect, accountability, and design innovative solutions, which all leads to very high client satisfaction.”

Dr. Nayar commented, “I am thrilled to work with the highly engaged and collaborative teams at Porter Novelli to deliver clear results to our clients.”

Dr. Nayar, who has traveled to 90 countries over the course of her career, completed her undergraduate and doctorate in pharmacy studies at the University of Michigan, and received a master’s degree and fellowship in health economics and outcomes research at the University of Arizona.  She received executive leadership development education at INSEAD, in France.  She is a certified mindfulness, yoga and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator practitioner.  She holds a certificate in executive coaching from the City University New York School of Business, and is an affiliate member of the Institute for Coaching at Harvard Medical School.

Bookmark and Share

At the intersection between Boston’s healthcare and tech communities are several promising wearable technology companies. They are taking the fitness tracking craze a step further with technology designed to help people monitor their health by tracking blood pressure, heart rate, sleep patterns, physical activity, and even stress levels, and providing users with data-based insights to help them live a healthier life.

Recently, a delegation from Porter Novelli Boston attended the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge’s panel on Wearable and Lifestyle Sensors in the New Healthcare to learn about this exciting space from a few of Boston’s most innovative companies.   More than a hundred of Boston’s brightest tech and healthcare minds converged in Kendall Square for an interactive discussion featuring leaders from Quanttus, Withings, and Senscio.

We walked away from the event with two clear takeaways. First, it’s apparent that there is a healthy future in store for Boston’s wearable device upstarts. Second, there are several critical challenges that companies will need to overcome to achieve their full potential:

  • User demographics: The elderly and those who face health challenges such as obesity stand to gain the most from wearable health devices. Unfortunately, those same people are less likely to use wearable health devices than the fitness gurus who regularly run 5ks and monitor their calories daily. To get wearable health devices in the hands of the people who need them most, companies will need to make them as intuitive as possible. They will also need to break down barriers by facilitating hands-on trial to demystify the technology while showcasing the potential benefits, and engage trusted third parties such as doctors and family members to promote usage.
  • Data security and ownership: With projections for 2014 wearable device shipments skyrocketing, one thing is for certain: companies manufacturing wearable devices have at their fingertips a treasure trove of data that maps everything from sleep patterns to obesity trends. While this data could be invaluable to the next generation of healthcare, many consumers and patients will be hesitant to use a device that tracks, stores, and shares their personal data. Each company will need to draw their own lines regarding what belongs to the user and what belongs to the manufacturer, but they will all need to be absolutely transparent in communicating these decisions to their customers – or risk significant backlash.
  • Usage drop-off: While people use their brand new health trackers faithfully, their enthusiasm tends to wane after the first few months. Studies show that after about 90 days, a large percentage of users stop using their devices.  While there are several possible explanations for this, we can be sure of one thing: once people stop using their wearable device, they will be less likely to champion it to their friends and family. If companies can successfully incentivize customers to continue using their device beyond the three-month mark, they are more likely to develop brand advocates.

Stay tuned for more insights on the wearable device industry from the Porter Novelli team. In the meantime, check out the latest from the PN Seattle team, who has been putting wearable fitness trackers to the test in the PN Lab.

Do you use a wearable health device? If not, what would persuade you to give one a try?

Bookmark and Share

Russell LaMontagne has joined the Porter Novelli’s Health & Wellness practice as senior vice president, a new position for the practice in the firm’s Boston office. In this role, LaMontagne will lead Porter Novelli’s growing health communications presence in Boston, reporting to Albie Jarvis, managing director of Porter Novelli’s Boston office.

“Russell has an exceptional background in providing strategic consulting and communications counsel to public, private and nonprofit healthcare organizations,” said Paul George, global director of Health & Wellness, Porter Novelli. “We see the Boston market as strategic to the continued strong growth of our Health & Wellness practice. Russell’s expertise further strengthens our health tech and biotech offering, which now includes investor relations and analyst mapping for clients. Our service’s depth and breadth of staff experience position Porter Novelli as the agency that can truly help any client in the health and wellness market.”

LaMontagne comes to Porter Novelli from Corinth Group, which he founded. At Corinth Group, LaMontagne oversaw all aspects of the company’s business. He conceived and implemented communications programs for clients ranging from the New England Journal of Medicine and Bristol-Myers Squibb to The Iacocca Family Foundation and DestinationRx.

Prior to founding Corinth Group, LaMontagne worked in health care and technology communications in both agency and academic settings, and was also a research scientist. 

Porter Novelli Global Health & Wellness comprises some 300 experts in more than 30 cities worldwide. The team is led by experienced senior managers who understand the dynamics of an extremely competitive health and wellness world, and by professionals who are experts in science, public policy and health care policy.

 

Bookmark and Share

We canvassed a bunch of local innovators during last month’s Boston TechJam 2014 (recapped in my previous blog post) and came away with a list of business challenges that area companies are managing through. Many of these are caused by growing pains resulting from early successes that triggered rapid business expansion. Among the top challenges called out by Boston’s innovation leaders was how best to create a global/regional communications framework that preserves the mission, values and business objectives that led these companies to flourish in the first place.

As promised, we put this challenge to our own network and asked Porter Novelli global managers what advice they have for high-growth tech companies moving into uncharted geographies. The common refrain: creating a global or regional communications program demands careful management and attention to local audiences. This isn’t the time or place for experimentation.

Here’s what we heard from one Boston-based tech company and the guidance we received from our communications experts.

Eight years ago we were running everything out of a single office, and now we’re in 11 countries. How do I make sure that we’re all saying the same thing and taking advantage of our new geographic scale?

United States (Linda Martin / Los Angeles)

Global business communications integration has to be purposeful. It should have milestones, but time also needs to be spent just communicating with each other about what’s going on. We’re all optimists, and we believe folks will pick up the phone and call each other to chat about things. Or that just because we’ve emailed around a set of guidelines or a template, people will use them.

The reality is that many people just don’t have time to open all their email. So be purposeful in deciding what needs to be consistent and what doesn’t. And hold people accountable or they won’t take it seriously. We’re talking about a new skill that needs to be learned, just like writing or managing.

Latin America (Karen Ovseyevitz / Mexico City)

Global/regional programs need to incorporate local flavor before execution. Latin America includes more than 20 countries and three languages, and each country exhibits a different level of economic, political and social development. Cultural differences have such a huge influence on consumer behavior—for example, Brazil has a very nationalist culture while other countries like Mexico enjoy global brands.

When we hear a client say, “I need a regional program,” the first thing we do is discuss which countries are included to make sure we have the right regional strategy, vision, coordination and alignment. It doesn’t mean doing the same things everywhere.

EMEA (Grant Currie / London)

It’s important to acknowledge what you know and what you don’t. A creative idea that sounds great in Western Europe and North America may bomb completely in another region because the values and cultural norms are much different. In the end, global communications is as much about the message as the program, so use your teams in each region to help source the cultural touch points that will reach consumers in a meaningful way.

Often that means shaping stories to do two things: fit neatly within a common message framework while also conveying unique points of connection to your local audiences. This is maybe our biggest challenge—saying the same thing, but differently.

Asia-Pacific (Jimmy Szczepanek / Singapore)

Asia-Pacific is often misunderstood as being a market rather than a region, but in actuality it consists of 15+ markets with approximately eight unique languages. Therefore, it’s important to recognize the diversity of each market and drop the one-size-fits-all mindset.

As the pace of globalization increases, we’re also seeing a heightened sense of nationalism. For example, (according to some consumer work done by McKinsey) Indonesians are highly brand loyal and prefer local brands, but it’s only the perception of being local that matters. Giving a nod to the local culture can do wonders for a multi-national corporation trying to break into a new market.

Media in many parts of the world also work very differently, and I generally recommend a less prescriptive approach here. It’s important to clearly deliver the concept and message and ensure that the team is behind the company’s mission. Then, allow them to conduct media relations and outreach to influencers as they see fit.

Were these tips helpful? Do you have a different perspective? If you’re engaged with managing marketing or communications for a technology company let us know what’s keeping you up at night. Share your top challenges and we’ll address them in future posts.

 

Bookmark and Share

A group of us dropped by the 2nd annual Boston TechJam after work last week to check out what’s hot in the local tech scene. City Hall Plaza was packed with exhibitor booths, festival attendees, and a live stage with rotating bands. Despite the iffy weather, our eyeball test confirmed that this year’s gathering of Boston’s geek elite felt about twice the size of last year’s TechJam, which had already outgrown its first home in Boston’s Seaport district.

While the music supplied a great block party vibe, the true stars of the day were the amazing array of Boston-area innovators offering everything from open-source software, internet performance management and cloud-based video hosting to mobile web optimization. We talked to dozens of people on the front lines of Boston’s tech revival and left later that evening with two things in mind: Boston’s “innovation economy” is thriving in a big way; in many cases entrepreneurs are feeling challenged to manage the success that they’ve worked so hard to achieve.

In a lot of cases, companies with hot products and services are emerging from start-up mode only to find that they’re on a collision course with much larger, better established competitors…that have much larger, better established marketing and communications budgets!

Several TechJam exhibitors shared their thoughts on the kinds of communications tools they need to overcome their growing pains and stand out from their more entrenched rivals. In subsequent posts we’ll briefly examine each of these pain points and offer some helpful tips:

  • Eight years ago we were running everything out of a single office, and now we’re in 11 countries. How do I make sure that we’re all saying the same thing and taking advantage of our new geographic scale?
  • We’ve grown fast through acquisition. After absorbing three companies in the past 12 months, how do we preserve the culture that made this such a great place to work in the first place?
  • Our competitors are cranking out content. We’re a lot smaller, so how can we amplify our voice and avoid having our story drowned out?
  • When something went wrong a few years ago, I didn’t worry so much because I worked next to all of the people we needed to make things right. What happens now if we have a fire at our site in Singapore or a data breach in Sydney? Who manages that crisis and how?

Do you help manage marketing or communications for a technology up-and-comer? What’s keeping you up at night? Share your top challenges and we’ll address them in future posts.

Bookmark and Share

The State Road and Tollway Authority, along with Porter Novelli Atlanta, brought home the 2014 PRSA Silver Anvil Award of Excellence in the Media Observances (7 or Fewer Days) – Government category for the GA 400 Toll Closing efforts.

Twenty years ago, the State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) began collecting 50 cent tolls on State Road Georgia 400, in order to pay for the vital 6.2 mile extension of the highway. Porter Novelli (PN) and SRTA joined forces to build a comprehensive communications plan to educate commuters, stakeholders and the business community throughout the four-phase project. Physical demolition was set to begin in January 2014, but changes started at the toll plaza in October 2013. The team was tasked with educating drivers about the upcoming construction changes while also building excitement surrounding the history and growth of the road through a series of events. The week leading up to the Nov. 22, 2013 closure included a commemorative 5k road race down GA 400, behind-the-scenes media tours at the toll plaza and finally, a media event hosted by Gov. Deal and a few surprise guests.

The ending of tolls on GA 400 was a tremendous success. Every step of the way, the media covered the construction updates and were awed by the behind-the-scenes access, commuters interacted via social media and attended the open houses, and the business community lauded the Governor and SRTA’s role in driving economic growth and keeping a promise. The Nov. 22 event generated more than 160 print and online articles, 180 broadcast hits, 6,400 tweets and 790 Facebook posts. In all, more than 23.5 million impressions were captured for this momentous event.

Following the event, SRTA’s executive director Chris Tomlinson applauded the communication team’s efforts: “Great work everybody!!! Thank you for your hard work, attention to detail and dedication. It truly paid off!!!” And the local PBS station called it a “brilliant PR move” to find the first couple to pay the tolls 20 years ago and make them the last.

 

Bookmark and Share

The National Center for Civil and Human Rights (NCCHR) will partner with global communications leader Porter Novelli to open an innovative cultural institution that shares powerful, real-life stories of both the American Civil Rights and Global Human Rights movements. Through its bold and interactive experience, The Center will inspire visitors to discuss and think about their role in creating a more just and humane future for all.

Porter Novelli will help make the Center for Civil and Human Rights known as a place to reflect on the past, celebrate progress and civilly convene around the human rights issues of our day. Porter Novelli will also work with The Center to attract patrons, promote the mission and programs of the organization, and position the institution at the forefront of the timeless dialogue about human rights.

“Porter Novelli’s passion for driving positive change around important issues make them an excellent partner to help craft and drive The Center’s public relations program,” said Doug Shipman, CEO, NCCHR. “Porter Novelli understands The Center’s mission and is weaving this vision through our communications efforts. We are excited to work with them to increase awareness of The Center as we prepare to open our doors in June.”

Heralded by the New York Times as one of the 52 places to visit in 2014, the sustainable, 42,000 square foot Center for Civil and Human Rights will be located in the heart of downtown Atlanta next to the Georgia Aquarium.

“The opportunity to secure recognition for the National Center for Civil Rights as the convener of human rights dialogue speaks to Porter Novelli’s heritage of doing well by doing good,” said Brad MacAfee, president, North America, and managing director, Porter Novelli Atlanta. “The Center is an awesome chance to meld our legacy of developing campaigns for social good with our experience in launching global brands in the marketplace. We are honored to help open a world-class institution that empowers people to stand up for the protection of all human rights.”

For more information on The Center, please visit www.civilandhumanrights.org. Join the conversation on civil and human rights on Twitter @Ctr4CHR and Facebook.

Bookmark and Share

Just in time for the World Cup, I had a soccer/PR epiphany.

I coach a team of 11-year-old girls. At this age, you can begin to build strategic understanding of the game, so our activities during practice are designed to help them understand the importance of things like field positions, getting open for passes, and why sometimes you hold and sometimes you pass the ball.

Last week, we spent the first half of practice on a combination of defensive and offensive drills. When I brought them together for a water break, I opened a conversation about our last game, using the approved Socratic method of soccer instruction (this is actually true, you are supposed to get them engaged in thinking of solutions rather than lecturing them).

“So,” I said. “Tell me about our game Saturday. What did we do well?”

“We passed!” several of them screamed. “We hustled back on defense,” some others yelled. (Did I mention these are 11-year-old girls?  They’re quite loud.)

“But we lost,” two yelled back in return.

“So tell me about that,” I said. “What happened?”

“The other team scored more goals!” they chorused.

“Why do you think you’ve been doing the drills you’ve been doing today?” I asked. “Is there any relationship between our game and practice today?”

At this, there was silence. This whole strategy thing is a work in progress at this age.

I tried a different tack.

“What should we do differently than the other team next week?”

This was easy. More yelling “We’re going to score more goals than them!” (grammar also a work in progress)

“Well, yes.” I said. “But scoring goals is your GOAL. What are the strategies you’re going to use so that you DO score more goals?”

Silence (again). While quite pleasant for a change, it made me realize this was a teachable moment. They were engaged, they didn’t know what to say, and they were blessedly quiet.

“Strategies are the way you accomplish your goals. So if your goal is to score more goals, you might do that by making sure the other team doesn’t score goals. That’s why I have you working on getting first to the ball on defense. That’s a strategy. Another strategy would be to shoot more accurately, so that more of the balls go in. So that’s why I’ve been having you work on controlling the ball before you get your shot off.  Get it?”

They actually nodded. Then I went a little too far. “So now, in addition to knowing what you need to do next week, you all know the difference between goals and strategies. Your future employers will thank me for that some day.”

We were back to blank stares, so I set up a scrimmage with reminders on putting our strategies into practice.

And there you have it. If you’re ever confused, here’s a simple new device to get you back on track:  think soccer.  A goal is a goal. Strategies are how you get there, like better defense and a more focused offense.

 

And now the discussion point:  What strategies does the U.S. National Team need to employ if they are going to accomplish their goal of getting out of group play?  Based on what I saw in their friendly versus Turkey, they’ve got to get organized on defense.  And prayer might be wise.  But anyone else want to weigh in?

Bookmark and Share

I’m proud to announce that last night Porter Novelli won, not just one, but THREE Bell Ringer Awards at the 46th Annual Bell Ringer Awards Ceremony. Congratulations to the teams! We won the Silver Bell Ringer for our HP Printing and Personal Systems Consumer campaign in the Product/Service Launch category, Silver Bell Ringer for our Analog Devices Business-to-Business campaign in the Product/Service Publicity category and Silver Bell Ringer for our Timberland Workshop campaign in the Special Event: Single Campaign category.

For those of you who don’t know, the Bell Ringer Awards are held by The Publicity Club of New England, the region’s oldest not-for-profit public relations trade organization. The Bell Ringer Awards honor the superior work done by public relations and communications professionals across New England each year.

PN Boston, including team members from the winning campaigns, was present to receive the awards last night. Here are some photos from the award ceremony:

Representing the HP team, from L to R – Ketan Deshpande, Megan Allsup and Kristen Kmetetz

 

Representing the Analog Devices team, from L to R – Ketan Deshpande, Andrew MacLellan and Jessie Hennion

Porter Novelli Boston, Front Row L to R – Nathan Michel, Kristen Kmetetz, Megan Allsup, Leonora Fleming, Jessica Suranyi-Hammond, Jessie Hennion. Back Row L to R – Albie Jarvis, Ketan Deshpande and Andrew MacLellan

I had the good fortune of working with my talented colleagues on two of the award winning teams for HP and Analog Devices!

Here’s a brief overview of the three PR campaigns:

HP ENVY Recline All-in-One PC Launch

HP needed an innovative way to launch a new range of touch-enabled desktop PCs and an awareness campaign positioning HP at the forefront of next-generation design and technology.

What PN delivered:

  • PN helped HP take a new approach to product launches by pre-briefing media through a virtual conference. The briefings featured an HP designer, who provided media with the customer insights and behind-the-scenes data that informed the product development. The team exceeded their goal for media briefings and secured coverage in influential publications including, Slashgear, The Verge, PCWorld, PC Magazine, CNET, and VentureBeat.
  • To continue the momentum of the ENVY Recline launch, HP included the Recline series in a product tour later in September to announce the HP holiday portfolio. During this tour, media and influencers, including Project Runway winners Dmitry Sholokhov and Dom Streater as well as DJ Robbie Wilde, were able to see firsthand the ergonomic design of the ENVY Recline.

Congratulations to the whole HP team for your hard work: Grace Naugle (NYC), Sylvia Park (NYC), Katie Page (Seattle), Kristin Fontanilla (Seattle), Kristen Kmetetz (Boston), Megan Allsup (Boston), Sarah Goehri (Seattle) and Megan Trevarthen (Seattle)!

Analog Devices’ Ambassador Program

Analog Devices needed a way to mentor and educate less technical product designers for them to take full advantage of the company’s product portfolio, especially within the company’s EngineerZone customer support site.

What PN delivered:

  • PN developed an ambassador content publishing program to help ADI turn their existing technical experts into ADI “ambassadors.” The program involved these experts publishing across key design communities to cultivate a deeper understanding of (and relationship with) the plight of designers…and encourage them to more frequently visit the EngineerZone community.
  • In just 12 months, the ambassador program evolved ADI’s reputation from a one-way communicator to a conversationalist driving two-way dialogue with the wider designer community. The program created a set of full-time ADI ambassadors, resulting in a 225 percent increase in ADI campaign content and a 158 percent increase in designer readership on ADI’s EngineerZone technical support community.
  • In addition, four ADI-branded ambassador blogs or columns appeared in three of the world’s top engineering magazines and their respective designer communities–Electronic Design, EDN and EE Times’ Planet Analog– generating more than 21 million media impressions in the U.S alone.

Congratulations to Andrew MacLellan (Boston) and Jessie Hennion (Boston) for making the campaign a success!

The Timberland Workshop

For Fall 2013, Timberland planned a global re-launch to reassert its style/lifestyle relevance and introduce the brand to a new generation of Millennial consumers.

What PN delivered:

  • PN created The Workshop – a one night panel, party and style lab – in a former industrial warehouse in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the epicenter of young style. Each element of the event experience was based on analytics insights and year-round listening online. It was designed to show Timberland’s relevance to stylish, millennial consumers.
  • The event was a success, driving online conversation and media coverage about Timberland as a style and millennial culture-relevant brand.

Congratulations to the whole team based in NYC- Kristen Ingraham, Erin Osher, Katherine Harris, Erica Baldwin and Amanda Wu!

One of the big takeaways for me from this whole experience was – it’s important to do excellent client work, and it’s particularly rewarding when that work is recognized by your peers. Kudos to Megan Allsup, Jessie Hennion, Kristen Ingraham and Kat Harris for finding the opportunity and writing up the award entries!

Congratulations PN, and keep the awards coming!

Bookmark and Share

You head out on a first date. A blind date.  It’s a moment filled with anticipation and, if we’re honest, a little dread. What will the person be like? Will it be someone I find an easy connection with, the start of something new, or another dead end? You spot your date across the room. Sit down at the table. And the ritual begins. You ask a few introductory questions and the conversation gets started. This is going okay you think, I mean, at least there’s dialogue.

And then you notice something. Dialogue really isn’t the right word to describe what’s happening here. Extended monologue is more like it. It’s 40 minutes into the encounter, and you are starting to wonder if your date ever stops talking long enough to take a breath. You realize you now know all about this person’s job, car, house, previous dating experiences … and, well, frankly you started tuning out about 15 minutes ago.

What’s wrong with this picture? Oh, it’s easy to see spot the problem – with the other person. But how often have we found ourselves in exactly the same situation – except the tables are turned. We are the ones talking, and talking, and talking. So busy imparting our wisdom about a client’s brand, state of the industry and sure-fire strategy that the client doesn’t need to say a word.  Oh, it’s different…or so we tell ourselves. We are certainly sharing important perspectives to our client. It’s what they pay us for after all, right?

Not so fast. How did you feel during the blind date with the never-ending monologue? Probably about the same as your client does. We have fallen into the age-old trap of thinking that talking is more important, more valuable, than listening.

Let’s take a step back. In fact, let’s take a step way back – all the way to ancient Greece. Socrates, the most notable of philosophers, had a different – dare I say it – philosophy. Discovering truth and meaning was not an exercise of talking at his students – it was rooted in asking questions.

That’s right: Asking questions. It’s not a new or groundbreaking approach. Yet, think how quickly a question can communicate interest, uncover perceptions and assumptions and help focus in on what’s truly important.

As a strategic planner, I see the value of asking questions every day. With every engagement, I start at the same place, seeking to understand what lies behind the request for assistance. It begins with a clear understanding of the challenge – the ‘ask’ as we like to call it. What is driving the request for a new proposal or plan?  What are the desired goals – and the practical and emotional reasons behind them? How will we know when we have been successful? Exploring these questions allows us to go deeper than the surface-level request and get to the heart of the matter.

Asking questions – and intently listening to what is both said and not said – is a cornerstone of successful planning and building long-term client relationships. Don’t rest on your own perceptions or assumptions. And resist the temptation to impart your strategic wisdom before first learning more about your client and their needs.

Let’s go back to our blind date. Now, imagine this time that the person sitting across from you is Socrates. (Yes, I know, this takes some imagination and possibly time travel.) Within minutes you find that you are connecting in a new and deeper way, you are learning about yourself as well as your partner and you find yourself wanting to know more, spend more time and when insight or counsel is given – you are ready to listen! The age difference, funny clothes and language barrier aside, you may have had one of your most successful blind dates.

The next time you find yourself ready to jump in and provide answers, try asking a question first. The first time may feel a little awkward, but it won’t always be Greek to you.

Looking to learn more about how to ask questions? I highly recommend Andrew Sobel’s latest book Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business, and Influence Others.

Bookmark and Share