I had the opportunity to moderate a fascinating panel at Consumer Federation of America’s 37th Annual National Food Policy Conference today on the topic of Millennials and how their attitudes and mindset will shape the future of food and nutrition policy. The panel featured leading communication and trend experts to provide consumer insights and perspective to the diverse mix of policymakers, advocates and scientists in attendance who would later be hashing out a variety of policy issues in break-out sessions.

Not only did I get to tell my Mom to look out for me on C-SPAN 2 (my career is clearly on an upward trajectory!), but I also got to take away a variety of useful insights about Millennials. Here are a few of my key takeaways:

They look different.  As Paul Taylor from the Pew Research Center shared, Millennials are definitively different from earlier generations.  As we all know, they are much more diverse (or more “non-white”). They’re also less likely to identify with “institutions” – from political parties to religions, though more strongly support certain issues that might indicate a certain political affiliation (e.g., strong support of same-sex marriage and legalization of marijuana). In addition to standing for individualism, they accomplish the human need for belonging through social connectedness.

They act more like the rest of us than we think when it comes to food. Harry Balzer from NPD broke down conventional wisdom of how Millennials eating patterns compare to other generations’ patterns. The top ten foods consumed by 18-34 year-olds today are shockingly similar to the list you’d find if you looked back 10 years ago, and 10 years before that. What does differ, however, are varieties of the most common foods we all eat (think kale and its status as the most popular leafy vegetable; we’re as likely to eat leafy vegetables over time, but the variety we choose differs).

They want it cheap and easy. Millennials were hard hit by the recession, and continue to struggle. They are the first generation that may be worse off economically than their parents. And their financial status is absolutely affecting how they make food decisions, like choosing “fast casual” restaurants over pricier restaurant options.  One of the bigger surprises of Harry’s data was to see an increase in frozen food purchases among this group, despite the common wisdom that this is a generation who demands “real” food. And they do want foods free of additives. But they also need foods they can afford and that are easy to prepare.

They’re positive, but skeptical.  Across the panelists’ remarks, it was clear that Millennials are about positive change. Over the last few decades, nutrition education was about cutting out what was “bad.” Millennials, on the other hand, are looking at what they can contribute to their diets that will have a positive impact. According to research presented by Marcia Greenblum of the International Food Information Council (IFIC), they are also motivated to eat more healthfully when presented with messages that are positive, upbeat and encouraging. But, they can be less trusting of others as compared to other generations. They have a higher threshold for meeting the standard of authentic and credible information sources, and often rely on their inner circles for perspective and/or validation.  (Keep in mind their inner circles are much bigger as compared to older generations given their wider “social” community of friends).

They are influential. Finally, why do Millennials matter? Aside from the fact that their earnings and spending power will outpace Boomers in a few years, they are highly influential – among each other and as we look forward to the teens and tweens that will follow (“Generation Z”). Kate Wyatt from Edelman shared, for example, that almost three in four Millennials say they influence the purchase decisions of peers and those in other generations. And research backs up this self-identified influence. For example, they are indeed more involved in pop culture and activities that compel them to try and recommend new products to their friends.

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Health Care Communicators of San Diego awarded Porter Novelli Best of Show for its work on behalf of Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC.) The work focused on the grand opening of The Bill Holmes Tower, a seven-story expansion that tripled the size of its existing patient care facility and brought all pediatric services under one roof, including Orange County’s only fully-dedicated pediatric emergency department.

Porter Novelli’s campaign for the CHOC tower opening also took gold in the media relations category. The campaign, which combined traditional and digital media relations including a media day, mom blogger tour, trade media outreach and an interactive multimedia site, received the highest score among 80 entries for Best in Show and bested two finalists for gold in the media relations category. CHOC has consistently ranked among the nation’s leading pediatric facilities by such organizations as U.S. News & World Report and The Leapfrog Group.

The Health Care Communicators Finest Awards honor exceptional work in the field of health care communications. Winners were selected by judges from the Healthcare Marketing and Public Relations Association of Southern California.

“We are delighted to have our work recognized with Best in Show from this prestigious group. This is further proof of the strong combination of strategy and creativity our agency teams are able to apply to campaigns around the world,” said Porter Novelli CEO Karen van Bergen. “Whether the work is local, regional or global, Porter Novelli teams consistently step up to the plate with superior work and results for their clients.”

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Global communications leader Porter Novelli announced today it has been shortlisted for eleven nominations for the EMEA Sabre Gold and Diamond Awards.

The Gold SABRE Awards are presented for excellence in public relations programming, while the Diamond SABRE Awards focus on public relations in the C-suite, and the leadership role in brand-building, reputation management, research and planning, and measurement and evaluation. The finalists were selected by a 43-person jury which reviewed close to 2,400 entrants—a record volume of work—from more than 40 markets. Categories included Food and Beverage, Integrated Marketing, Special Events, Blogger Outreach and regional recognition, among many others.

The shortlisted campaigns include:

  • • Belgium: Acerta Brussels Ekiden (Acerta)
  • • Bulgaria: Alcohol is a Bad Driver (Kamenitza)
  • • France: Movember (Gillette)
  • • Germany: Big Days (Gore-Tex)
  • • Hungary: Grab your Brush (Pfizer)
  • • Romania: Engage+, We Value Your Opinion (OTP Bank)
  • • Romania: Cord Blood Stem Cell Use in Cerebral Palsy Treatment (Cord Blood Center)
  • • Romania: Health for Mothers and Children (SAMAS/Nutricia, White Cross for Maternal Health Services and The Red Cross)
  • • Sweden: I Love My Toilet (Water Aid)
  • • Sweden: The Sandwich Language (Fazer)
  • • UK: Connected Music (HP)

“We are thrilled to have earned eleven nominations for the prestigious EMEA Sabre Awards. Our offices in this important region consistently demonstrate the powerful combination of creativity and execution in global campaigns on behalf of our many stellar clients,” said Karen van Bergen, CEO, Porter Novelli. “We also congratulate the work of our PR colleagues around the world and look forward to the judges’ final decisions in May.”

A list of 2014 finalists for the EMEA region Gold and Diamond SABRE Awards are now available. Please stay tuned for further details on the awards ceremony which will take place in London on May 20, 2014.


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Global public relations leader Porter Novelli today announced the launch of AIM Sports Reputation Management, a specialty service dedicated to providing college and professional athletic programs with assistance in leadership, ethics and brand management. Porter Novelli teams up with Curry, Wellborn and Battcher, a professional development and communications firm led by former NFL player, NCAA coach and ESPN analyst Bill Curry to design and deliver the new standard for sports ethics and crisis communications.

“The mission of AIM Sports Reputation Management is to help sports organizations prevent reputational threats from happening, and to mitigate them if they do occur,” said Brad MacAfee, senior partner, president, North America, Porter Novelli. “We are confident our team of experts offers everything an athletic organization needs to prevent and manage a crisis.”

Unlike other offerings in the market that focus solely on crisis management, AIM Sports Reputation Management is designed to help sports organizations avoid reputational harm, monitor for potential issues and manage through crisis situations. AIM Sports Reputation Management provides direct, hands-on reputation management suited to an organization’s strengths and challenges, through a combination of coaching, academic, legal and PR expertise.

“In addition to teaching teams and organizations how to manage their reputations, we want to bring personal integrity back to collegiate and professional sports,” said Bill Curry. “These athletes are admired not just by their peers, but by fans and younger generations alike. They need to understand their actions – on and off the field – have far-reaching implications for their teammates, coaches and institutions.”

Providing a wide range of services to professional and collegiate sports organizations and individual players, AIM Sports Reputation Management focuses on leadership development, crisis preparedness and management, social media auditing, proprietary real-time monitoring of news and social media conversations, spokesperson media training, media relations and coach and administrator consulting.

For more information about AIM Sports Reputation Management, please visit AIMSportsRep.com and @AIMSportsRep.

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Not only are we celebrating a win at last night’s PRWeek Awards, but we’re also excited to announce Brooklyn Brewery has selected Porter Novelli – specifically Orange Palate, Porter Novelli’s specialty practice led by Gennifer Horowitz – to handle media relations for its second annual Mash tour.

Being Brooklyn Brewery: The 2014 Mash Trailer from Brooklyn Brewery on Vimeo.

This will be a great opportunity for Porter Novelli to help Brooklyn Brewery do even more great things with the Mash tour, which celebrates local art, music, food and more in 12 cities around the world. The tour has expanded significantly in its second year and Porter Novelli’s global network will allow it to coordinate efforts in every city.

Read more about how we’ll be working with Brooklyn Brewery on this exciting new project at PRWeek.

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Global communications leader Porter Novelli captured Best Use of Analytics for “The Timberland Workshop: Analyzing Style Conversation” at the PRWeek Awards 2014.

The awards were presented in a ceremony held in New York City on March 20, 2014.

PRWeek is a leading journal for public relations and corporate communications professionals. The agency also was shortlisted in both the public sector and community relations categories for its work on behalf of the San Diego International Airport.

“It is a tremendous honor to have earned this award and recognition for our clients from PRWeek,” said Porter Novelli CEO Karen van Bergen. “This truly underscores the breadth of our expertise—from an awareness campaign that exponentially grew followers and favorability, to a sophisticated use of analytics to showcase a brand’s relevance to a key consumer audience. This work has made a transformative impact on our clients’ businesses and put them in a position to realize even greater results. That truly is the best reward of all.”

The Best Use of Analytics award honors the campaign, project or program that demonstrates the most effective use of research and evaluation in both setting goals and measuring success. The Strategic Planning, Analytics & Research team at Porter Novelli used a combination of social media tools & live analysis to gather insights about the consumers, influencers and media driving conversations about Timberland and style online.  Porter Novelli used those insights to create The Workshop – a one night panel, party and style lab – to celebrate the launch of Timberland’s new global brand campaign, Best Then. Better Now.  The Workshop kicked off in Brooklyn, New York and rolled out to 9+ countries, driving conversation about Timberland as a stylish brand among Millennial consumers around the world.

Porter Novelli also provided communications support for the largest project in the San Diego International Airport’s history, the $1 billion Green Build expansion. The campaign achieved increased awareness through triple-digit year-over-year growth in social media followers and nearly 900 media placements, enabling the airport to maintain its superior customer service ratings.

The PRWeek Awards are an annual event honoring the top campaigns, agencies and practitioners of the past year, and are judged by a panel of public relations executives from agency, corporate and government teams, as well as public relations education professionals.



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Every year as tens of thousands of digital and technology leaders descend on Austin for SXSW Interactive hundreds of companies follow suit, hoping to get time with influencers, media, digital and from within their industry. Most of these companies, agencies and brands throw at least some kind of reception or party to attract these influencers. We at Porter Novelli are certainly among them.

You may remember that this year we wanted to do something different, giving people the chance to network while doing some good in the world at the same time – so we threw our first annual #PNSXSWPoker tournament this past Friday night. The drinks were free, the poker was free and all it took to play was a contribution to charity:water.

We had more than 100 people show up on Friday night for the festivities; about half of them chose to play poker. In all, we raised about $1000 for charity:water that will go to drill a well in a village in Kenya. That well will provide clean water for 200-250 villagers – and everyone who joined us for the event helped contribute to that goal.

But it was about more than poker, and more than charity. When we were deciding what to do this year for SXSW, one of the things we felt strongest about on principle is that networking at the event has kind of lost its way. Too many of the parties have become cacophonic challenges in which hundreds – if not thousands – of people cram into a venue and shout to be heard over loud music while being smushed together like sardines. Often, people end up talking only to the small group they came with – hardly the point of a networking party!

We wanted our party to be different, so we came up with the poker idea along with our partners at DoubleDown Casino.  We knew that starting a poker tournament would encourage total strangers to sit down at tables together – and that in such an environment they’d be able to talk to us and with each other without shouting to be heard or risk having drinks spilled on them.  We knew that letting people have fun together would encourage them to do the kind of networking people used to do and still aspire to do at SXSW. And by adding charity:water to the mix, we were able to include a feel-good element, helping people while facilitating a more intimate get-together more conducive to conversation.

We feel like we succeeded. Judging from the tweets and feedback we saw, our guests also felt like the night was a success. One of our favorite reactions comes from blogger and communications consultant Leigh Anne Schmidt. In her post-SXSW post, she writes,

“Now THIS is good PR! … They put a bunch of smart people at poker tables and told us to have fun for charity…and we did. We also made new connections, learned new things, heard new ideas, and maybe even made some new friends. That’s networking in the true “old school” vein of SXSW, and Porter Novelli nailed it.”

Big congratulations to Melissa Tinitigan, the grand prize winner for the evening. And we’d like to extend our gratitude to our friends at Texas Poker Supply for providing the tables, the dealers and the grand prize – as well as the great folks at The Rattle Inn for hosting the event and being a great venue.

We learned that there’s value in going back to basics, bigness in staying (relatively) small, and that it feels good to do some good. We already can’t wait for next year!


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While the term March Madness often conjures up basketball images, in Austin, TX it heralds the arrival of the South by Southwest conferences.

SXSWedu is the first to lead the conference charge and now in its fourth year has emerged as a preeminent destination for learning and a catalyst for change in education. More than just serving as the setting for pedagogical and ideological debates, SXSWedu seeks to move beyond mere discussions to instead drive meaningful change and outcomes.

Like its fellow SXSW conferences (music, film and digital), SXSWedu seeks to uncover all that is creative and innovative in education. It celebrates educators and entrepreneurs as rock stars. As the programming is crowdsourced, the conference ultimately functions as a large community conversation about learning.

Who are the people that make up the SXSWedu community?

  • They are young: 64% of attendees are between the ages of 25 and 44.
  • They are well-educated:  A full 70% of attendees hold a graduate degree.
  • They are technologically advanced: 69% consider themselves early adopters.
  • They are hopeful: 78% feel optimistic about the future of education.

Among the more than 250 sessions that took place at this year’s SXSWedu, here’s a quick snapshot of the themes, the topics and the news that drove the lion’s share of the buzz at this year’s conference.

What is the true impact of edtech on education?


One of SXSWedu’s hallmarks has been its ability to build a community not only of educators, but also business and entrepreneurs, activists, policy makers, parents and students. Proponents and vendors of educational technology have always had a large presence at SXSWedu, and in 2014, app developers were especially prominent. This year in particular, a robust – and sometimes tense – discussion took place about whether educational technology serves its creators and the educational marketplace more than it serves students.  Keynoters Vivienne and Norma Ming challenged their audience to make technology less intrusive and to truly elevate the classroom experience; activist Diane Ravitch gave a provocative speech in which she argued the growth of education “reform” and the education industry in general – including ed tech – hurts kids more than it helps. On the flip side of the discussion, organizations including Amplify and the Pearson Foundation were among many who introduced new digital technologies and tools they say will transform learning and increase collaboration in learning environments. And a multitude of presenters, including gaming pioneer Nolan Bushnell, spoke on how game play and gaming technologies engage learners in new and exciting ways. The challenge going forward will be how to strike the right balance with technology so that it becomes transparent, serves to facilitate active learning, and furthers education.

Big data in education evolves.


In the recent past, much of the discussion around the use of big data in education has centered on privacy concerns. And while that conversation continues, it has also expanded. A number of SXSWedu sessions explored the practical applications of big data in education, and how organizers can distill, use and present data to stakeholders. CoSN CEO Keith Krueger talked about never losing sight of the goal to use educational data to personalize learning and impact student achievement, while Howard County (MD) School Superintendent Renee Foose discussed the need to build a data-driven culture.

Call for educational equality.  


Gaps in student achievement – when comparing students of different socio-economic, gender or minority backgrounds – are collectively acknowledged by SXSWedu attendees, who share a common desire to close those gaps and create an environment of educational equality. Many of the 2014 sessions focused on how to create equitable environments for all students. Keynoter Rod Paige, former U.S. Secretary of Education, urged policymakers and practitioners to work more collaboratively to ensure that policy is ultimately effective and adds value. In at least three other sessions, community leaders from Baltimore, MD, Denton, TX and Austin, TX  talked about the power of community schools initiatives to help address the needs of at-risk students and to strengthen public schools and communities. Other presenters discussed solutions to create academic success for at-risk populations such as black males and incarcerated juveniles. In related content, more speakers talked about how to bridge the digital divide, increasing students’ access to technology and by doing so, helping to improve educational equity.

Students speak up: Listen to us.


Some of the most persuasive voices at SXSWedu 2014 were those of the students themselves. From 17-year old featured speaker Jack Andraka, who at age 15 invented an inexpensive test for the early and rapid detection of pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancer, to Dripping Springs, TX high school freshman Katelynne Marsan, who showed off her prize-winning science fair project on the “Effects of Biased Verbal Instructions on Student Performance and Motivation”, the participating students at SXSWedu all clamored for a voice in their own education. They encouraged fellow students to explore their passions, pursue independent study, and not to be deterred by “stifling” classroom environments. And more importantly, they pleaded with teachers and researchers to foster, nurture and enable those students’ passions as well. Meanwhile, the for-students-by-students non-profit organization, Student Voice, led a problem-solving session to strengthen the role of student voices in education, which they say in turn will lead to improved student achievement and workforce readiness.

More programming highlights and insights from SXSWedu 2014 will be released on the coming days and weeks. To learn more about this year’s conference, check back here.

SXSWedu Executive Producer Ron Reed addresses attendees during the 2014 opening session

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Mega entertainer and cultural icon Beyoncé Knowles Carter was onto something when she released the 2011 female empowerment anthem “Run the World.” The single – performed for the likes of Oprah during her finale show – heralded the gains of women from graduating college to building a nation.

When she proclaims “we’re smart enough to make these millions, strong enough to bear the children and then get back to business,” the message seems to hit a little close to home in her role as both a woman and an African-American. In fact, if you look beyond the glitz and glamour of her profession, you’ll find that Mrs. Carter also plays a role that is familiar for many African-American women: a working mother.

In our second We are Black History blog posting, we spoke to the power of black women in the African-American community. Indeed, Nielsen’s third report on African-American consumers finds that women control 43 percent of the annual spending power for the black population and black women are more than three times as likely to be the head of their household in comparison to the general population. In addition to running the household and making the purchasing decisions, here’s what else Black women are running in 2014.

  •  Thursday night television and reality TV. While no group watches more television than African-Americans, black women, especially those 18-49, tend to be heavier viewers than their male counterparts[i]. ABC’s Scandal and VH1’s Love & Hip Hop Atlanta Season 2 dominated the televisions of African-Americans, attracting 2.1 million viewers (African-Americans 18-49) in the first half of 2013. This reflects black viewers’ preference for watching programs that include diverse casts and characters that represent black culture although the shows may not necessarily be representative of the everyday black experience.
  • Twitter. A 2013 study by the Pew Research Center uncovered that more than a quarter of all black Internet users are on Twitter, affectionately coined as “Black Twitter.” The Washington Post’s Soraya Nadia McDonald described the “Black Twitter” phenomena as a virtual community ready to hashtag out a response to culture issues. Not only are African-American women live tweeting about Olivia Pope and Fitz, they are also serving as activists and addressing cultural transgressions from former public relations executive Justin Sacco (#HasJustineLandedYet) to former Food Network personality Paula Deen (#PaulasBestDishes).
  • The hair aisle. Spike Lee set the stage with his infamous good and bad hair scene in 1988’s School Daze, so much so that in 2009 comedian Chris Rock released the documentary Good Hair. His film highlighted what many of us have known for years: hair care is a serious business for African-American women. Blacks consistently place a higher emphasis on grooming and beauty categories and regardless of the income level, blacks purchase ethnic hair and beauty aids nine times more than others[ii].
  • Pop culture. 73 percent of whites and 67 percent of Hispanics believe that blacks are a driving force on our popular culture[iii]. And VH1, which has 59 percent African-American viewership[iv], seems to agree. The American cable television network recently debuted “The Tanning of America,” a four-part documentary series that examines hip-hop as a pop cultural movement whose profound influence eventually paved the way for the election of Barack Obama.

African-American women are running more than just their households and purchasing decisions.

For information on this influencer group and how you can develop relevant messaging, strategies, and tactics, please contact the PN Multicultural Practice.


[i] Source: Nielsen 12/31/2012 to 6/30/13, Total Hours Spent Viewing includes Live TV viewing, DVR Playback, DVD Playback and Video Game Consoles

[ii] Source: Nielsen Homescan, total U.S. 52 weeks ending 12/29/2012, UPC-coded

[iii] Source: Burrell 40, 2011.

[iv] Source: Nielsen 12/31/2012-6/30/2013, Total Day, L+7 Projections, Average number of viewers in thousands

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The second installment of “We are Black History” focuses on key emerging groups within the African-American community. African-Americans account for 13.8 percent of the total United States population and they continue to thrive. The black population has grown 64 percent faster than the rest of the country since 2010, swelling to 43 million people. Blacks remain the largest racial minority in the country and their buying power is progressing at similar rate. According to recent forecast, by 2015 African-Americans will account for $1.1 trillion (as mentioned in our previous blog post) and $1.3 trillion by 2017, a jump of nearly 30 percent from $1 trillion in previous years. This figure is larger than the GDP of many countries in the world.

The tapestry of African-American communities is varied: we are not all the same. So how do you best use your marketing dollars to reach African-Americans? One smart way to approach may start with audience segmentation. There are three “sub-groups” that marketers are paying close attention to, as well as trends that offer a cultural thread to reach them. Let’s examine these three “sub-groups” and their purchasing power:

  • Powerful Women. Now that the spending power of black women is being recognized, brands are seeing the value of having a better understanding of this consumer group. Women control 43 percent of the annual spending power for the black population and comprise 54 percent of the adult black population. Black women are more than three times as likely to be the head of their household in comparison to the general population.  In fact, female black heads of household represent 29 percent of all black households, compared to 20 percent for the overall population.  As such, black women are more likely to be the primary decision maker across a wide variety of product categories. Black women are multi-dimensional, highly active consumers, whose definition of success includes owning their own businesses, accomplishing educational, career and financial goals, and connecting to their cultural heritage.
  • Millennial Influencers. Did you know that the black population, on average, is three years younger than the general population? It’s true. Blacks have an average age of 35, compared to the general market’s age of 38. More than half of the population, 53 percent, is under the age of 35, compared to 47 percent of the total market population. Known as early adopters of new technologies and communication tools, young African-Americans go beyond merely providing a strong base for brands – they are also key influencers. Black Millennials are also significantly more likely than Millennials of any other ethnic background to regularly use social networking sites to make sure they purchase the best product at the best price.
  • The Emerging South. Marketers and advertisers that create campaigns with an emphasis on geography are paying more attention to 12 key cities that have a high concentration of African-Americans for successful penetration of this important segment. African-Americans continue to live regionally and in the top major metropolitan areas. Collectively, 12 major U.S. cities have a black population over 17 million. However, the reverse migration from northern and eastern urban cities to large urban southern cities continues as 55 percent of blacks live in the South.

The evidence above highlights the spending power of a dynamic sector of African-Americans that include Powerful Women, Millennials and Emerging Southern Influencers. There is a lot of potential for marketers to tap into these groups by developing relevant messaging, strategies, and tactics. For more information on these groups, please reach out to the PN Multicultural Practice.

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