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SG Insights

Insights on tech media, PR, content and social media
May 1 '12

The Upside of Imposter Syndrome: Lessons from Women in Tech

ImposterSutherlandGold’s VP of Digital + Content Tara-Nicholle Nelson waxes poetic in Forbes on the inevitable “impostor” syndrome that goes along with making big changes in your business and career - and, notably, how this relates to the discussions happening around women in tech. Here’s an excerpt:

In Silicon Valley, there is a movement of genteel outrage and increasingly organized action growing around the issue of diversity
in tech (or more accurately, the lack thereof).

Last year, Soledad O’Brien provoked much dialogue with a segment of her Black in America docu-series devoted to the dearth of African-American tech entrepreneurs. More recently, the New York Times chimed in with a smart and hopeful piece on the successes that are being made in another tech-and-diversity issue: the decreasing numbers of women who code. READ THE FULL ARTICLE

Apr 26 '12

Pebble: What’s Even More Impressive than $6M+ in Crowdfunding? A Built-In Evangelist Community

PebbleBy Jessica Swesey

Our client Pebble, a company that is creating an e-paper smartwatch, is full of great stories. The company now holds the record for largest funding pooled on crowdfunding website Kickstarter. The perseverance of founder and CEO Eric Migicovsky in the face of rejection from VCs is a classic tale of never giving up, and trying new avenues when traditional doors have closed. 

Even more interesting than the amazing crowdfunding numbers - $6 million from more than 45,000 backers in the first two weeks – is the opportunity unveiled by the attention and support of future customers. Aside from the money, Kickstarter has enabled Pebble to do an amazing thing: assemble a community of highly engaged evangelists before they’ve shipped one product. This feat alone is quite amazing considering it can take months or years for most brands to achieve this kind of attuned following.

The community of evangelists is important for Pebble because like the iPhone and Android, the smartwatch is more valuable when more developers create customized apps for it. Without this proven crowd of evangelists on Kickstarter, it would’ve been much more difficult to get developers interested. The backers on Kickstarter will now form the community that builds the apps for Pebble or requests apps to be built. In addition, Pebble has created a special offer for developers who back them on Kickstarter: early access to the SDK and a prototype watch delivered in August.

Crowdfunding not only supplied Pebble with the funds to get off the ground and ship the first round of smartwatches this fall, it also created an immediate sounding board for collecting ideas, feedback and soon actual apps that will run on the watches. It helped demonstrate real demand where traditional investors were not willing to risk money to find out whether that demand really existed. In many ways, the community is even more valuable than the investment funds. 

45,000 people can’t be wrong.

To read more about Pebble, visit Pebble’s project page on Kickstarter.

Also, check out some of the coverage so far:

Pebble Watch for iPhone and Android, The Most Successful Kickstarter Project Ever (Forbes)

Pebble Watch Touts ePaper Screen, Bluetooth Apps and High Demand (Time)

Forget the money, Kickstarter turns Pebble into a platform (GigaOm)

Pebble Smart Watch Raises Over $3M on Kickstarter After Asking for only $100K (TechCrunch)

Apr 25 '12

Can Video Hiring Replace In-Person Hiring?

A client of ours - Blue Jeans Network - is disrupting the video conferencing space with technology that makes it easy as pie to video conference anyone anywhere. As a true testament to their own technology, they actually used it in the hiring process with a candidate who was located in Kenya. They ended up hiring her without ever having met her in person. Stu Aaron, Chief Commercial Officer of Blue Jeans, gives all the details of the experience in an article he wrote for Recruiting Trends to show recruiters the benefits of simple video conferencing in the hiring process. Read the full article here.

BlueJeans video conf

Apr 6 '12

Companies Will Adapt to the Intelligent Web - or Die

AdaptRadiumOne CEO Gurbaksh Chahal shares his thoughts on leveraging social data to power the Intelligent Web and why he thinks that any ad tech companies not doing this will soon be irrelevant.

"The online world is witnessing an amazing change in how people consume and share content. Yet the potential for using social-media data in advertising is largely untapped. Advertisers are still largely invested in display advertising, a medium that in due time will produce diminished results because it is based in static, old data.

"The social Web is the way of the future. It’s where you’ll find consumers most of the time. It’s where we will learn more and more about what they are interested in, what catches their attention, what compels them to share. This real-time medium not only creates an expectation of instant information and content, but it generates a vast amount of data about what interests and engages consumers right now.

Read the full article published in AdAge here.

Mar 7 '12

Sh*t Consumers Care About

Modern Family

By Tara-Nicholle Nelson

Recently, a conversation with a colleague turned to the topic of shopping, and in particular, to my favorite consignment store. I love it, I said, because the owner seems to have exactly my tastes, so she only takes in the best stuff. I walk in there and fall in love with a disproportionately large percentage of the things in the store. The place has actually ruined me for shopping in other brick-and-mortar retail stores, because I feel like I have to cover all those square feet and do all that work to find maybe 1 or 2 things I love, if I’m lucky.


You see, I have a rule - I have to LOVE a piece of clothing - I mean, it has to fit perfectly, be the perfect color, and look perfect on me before I’ll buy it.

When I articulated my “must love it to buy it” rule, the office-renowned shopaholic with whom I was having this conversation set her chin on her fist, sighed, looked up at me with her big blue eyes and said in her Brazilian accent, “I wish I could be like that. My bar ees reeeeeeelly looooow. I can’t help myself!”

The consumers you want to attract with your content?  They’re much more like I am than my pal.  I’ve moved a few times, downsized by a thousand square feet and have given several months’ Bay Area mortgage payments worth of NWTS (eBay-speak for New With Tags) clothing to St. Vincent de Paul when it became very clear I was never going to wear it, so paying to move it was senseless. All this has set my bar for buying new stuff and bringing it into my home very, very high.  

Consumers’ bar for new content they will try and content channels they will come back to is similarly high. See, most of us have what we call a Core Mix - a handful of sites we visit and get our content from on a habitual basis.  We wake up in the morning and check them, we check them when we get to work, and we check them over and over throughout the day. Once someone has their Core Mix set up, it’s pretty tough for a new content channel to break into that mix - even if we love the content on that site.  

It’s why I forget to check Suri’s Burn Book, sometimes for weeks on end, but I still check TMZ daily, having created the habit when one of my job duties was to scout leads on celebrity real estate stories. (Seriously - it was for work!)

The bar for content consumers care about is so high because our attention spans are short and the competition for a share of them is steep. Know it or not, your competition includes:


From Limbaugh’s slutty stone throwing and Santorum’s sex strictures to every single thing Princess Letizia has ever worn, the market for content is flooded with some pretty compelling (!) stuff, folks.

And beyond that, consumers’ barometer for giving a rat’s you-know-what is very, very tough to move - especially when the content is about or by products and brands. Consumers are all: “what’s in it for me?” and “so, who gives?” and “did you see Kanye’s last tweet” and otherwise obsessed with the glitches and tidbits of work and home and the daily dramas of their own lives.

So, what does it take to break your brand’s content and social media channels into a consumers’ Core Mix of sites they visit every day? It’s not enough to populate it regularly with timely content they love or value because it serves something they care about, but that is a prerequisite.

And here’s some good news: unless your brand, app, or site has the broadest of target markets, your content doesn’t have to be highly stimulating/entertaining/relevant/educational/solution-providing to everyone, or even to most people. It just has to be those things to the people YOU want to come to your site, buy your product or rely on you as a resource. And if you are clear on who your target consumer is, it’s a fairly short leap to figure out what they care about and crave to know or watch or hear or read, and then to feed those cravings with content.

Your consumers care about their aspirations and dreams, so if you can create content that helps them become a homeowner or an entrepreneur, they will keep coming back for more.

They care about the values that they claim as part of their identity, and about being involved with brands and communities who share them - a button you can activate with manifesto marketing.

They care about protecting what’s precious to them, like their kids, their health and their money.

They care about being entertained and being in the know.

They care about - and fixate on - their problems, and they crave content that is highly relevant to soothing their pain points or helps them feel understood and not alone in a situation they felt isolated or shamed about.

The brand-published content that consumers will come back to is the content that activates one of these buttons, tapping into the sh*t consumers care about, to steal a phrase from the viral video phenomenon. It’s rarely content about the brand, per se. The brand becomes the resource for the things the consumer already loves or hates.

So dig deep and ask yourself and your team: what does your target consumer care about (other than The Hunger Games and Mob Wives)? Like my bar for buying clothes, the content-consumers-care-about bar may be high. But when you can answer that question, you’ll know that that’s what your content should be about.

Feb 29 '12

Careers, Kids and Choices – for Women in Tech

By Lesley Gold

Sheryl Sandberg is a remarkable woman. There are few women (and men, for that matter) who aren’t envious of her career accomplishments. And while I’m pleased that she has taken up the cause of women and is telling them to put the “pedal to metal,” there is something about her message that rings hollow to me.

Unlike the critics in this New York Times piece, I don’t begrudge Sandberg her luck. I believe that we make our own luck, for one.  And I don’t fault her for wisely choosing men to champion her career. I was raised by a “femi-tunist”(feminist/opportunist) - my mom always told me if a man wants to open a door for you, you should walk right on through it!

In some ways I can relate to Sheryl and the career women she talks to and about. I know a little something about building a career - and about building a family. My foot has been on the career gas since I was 22 years old. I started my own business when I was 30, and six months later I was pregnant.  I have two children and took off less than three weeks from work with each of them. 

Giving birth is a super-human feat, and being a mother is full-time job. So, until Sheryl Sandberg can tell women how to either stop time or be in two places at once, the issue is not, as she says, that women need to go harder or have more courage, or hang in even through pregnancy, childbirth and child-rearing.  

The real issue is this: women are going to have to make some choices. 

No matter how much you wish it were possible, you can’t be hobnobbing with Bill Gates at Davos and snuggling with your kids on your sofa at the same time. It’s a simple truth that we only have so many hours in any one day. 

Are her kids worse off because she is not there all the time for the big moments and the small moments? Are mine? I don’t know – but I do know that I am constantly aware when I’m not with my kids. And I also know that there are business trips I don’t take, networking events I skip and other career-builders I opt out of simply because I can’t be at two places at once. 

This is the choice I make.

I am not as successful as Sheryl. When you stand to make a billion-plus dollars from your work, as she does, it means that your family will benefit immensely from the time you spend away from them.  It’s easy to make these choices when the benefits are so overwhelming, so obvious.

But for the average career woman, the benefits of going to work compared with the costs are nowhere near as obvious as they are for Sheryl. Most working women constantly feel like they are falling short at home and at work. It’s much tougher to choose to put the pedal to the metal when you’re not sure whether the career tank is full of gas. And the sad truth is that most men and women WON’T ever have careers like Sheryl Sandberg’s, no matter how hard we work. 

To choose to spend your time at work over spending your time with your children is hard no matter how much we love our jobs. But it is far harder to make these choices when you’re not going to Davos or reaping huge financial rewards.

My message to women is that if you want a career and you want kids, expect to be making tough choices every day. Feel good about the choices you make. Enjoy the time you have.  Don’t regret what you didn’t do and who you weren’t with, what you didn’t achieve.  You can have it all, but you can’t be in two places at the same time.  The choices aren’t always obvious, but they are always yours.

Feb 22 '12

Super Bowl Can Be As Good for PR as It Is for Commercials

By Scott Sutherland

Very few events are as target-rich for creative PR than the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl continues to elicit massive coverage online, offline and on air. And the public’s appetite and interest for coverage of the game, the commercials and how they ranked is almost limitless.

So we decided to help our client Velti exploit this massive coverage and powerful audience interest. As we’ve done many times in the past, we worked with our partners at Harris Interactive to craft and execute a survey.

The key to having success with surveys is really knowing how to write good questions. And writing good questions really requires an intuitive sense on what kind of information the media is really searching for.

We were pretty sure this would be the year when the “Second Screen” phenomenon broke into the Super Bowl conversation. So, the week prior to the game, we crafted a survey that probed into how consumers expected to use their mobile devices during the game. Clearly, we were hoping the survey would show that consumers now see mobile phones as essential to their Super Bowl viewing experience.

What we learned surprised even us. Key findings in the research that got the most media attention seemed to be:

  • 83% of viewers who planned to use their mobile device expected to use it as much or more than they did during last year’s Super Bowl.
  •  30% of viewers under the age of 45 planned to watch the game with their device in hand.
  •  About half (47%) of all viewers age 18 and older said they expected to check or use their device up to 10 times during the game.
  •  During the famous — and sometimes infamous — halftime show, men were twice as likely as women (26% vs. 13%) to say they planned to turn their attention to their mobile devices.

Coverage of the survey results was pretty massive, including pieces in USA Today, Mashable, AFP and many, many more. It’s much tougher to very effectively measure coverage outside the U.S., but the AFP coverage was critical since our client serves clients around the world. Here’s a breakdown:

Number of Original Stories: 27

Number of Syndicated Posts: 42

Twitter Mentions:  1,633

Facebook Mentions:  347

LinkedIn Mentions: 374

Number of Press Release Pickups: 472

It was also interesting to see how the different social channels were used to distribute stories. Not surprisingly, Twitter was by far the most active distribution channel with 1,149 Tweets or Re-Tweets of media stories. What was surprising was  that the story was shared more frequently on LinkedIn than on Facebook.

Important Publications by Number of Mentions and Social Network

Facebook (Mentions)

CNN (148)

Mashable (82)

USA Today (47)

Twitter (Mentions)

Mashable (929)

USA Today (130)

CNN & AFP (tied) (90)

LinkedIn (Mentions)

Mashable (222)

Media Post (42)

Bloomberg (35)

Bloomberg and Media Post got more distribution on LinkedIn than USA Today or CNN. We were surprised also at the significant difference in number of shares of the Mashable post on Twitter versus Facebook. Mashable got more than 10 times the shares on Twitter than it did on Facebook. And USA Today got almost twice as many shares on Twitter than Facebook.

Not our first time at the Big Game…

At SG, we have a long history of executing successful creative programs around the Super Bowl. TiVo was actually SG’s very first client, and about ten years ago, we developed TiVo’s Super Bowl commercial report. The report measures audience engagement on commercials in households with TiVo, and has since become one of the premier reports of which commercials are the real winners of the game, every year.

I remember driving back from Tahoe after the infamous Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction.” I was on the phone with the TiVo data folks who were arguing they did not even want to pull the data measurement on it because they thought it was too unseemly.

Fortunately, we won them over! The PR around the TiVo measurement that showed it was the most replayed segment in Super Bowl history - and probably got the most earned media TiVo had ever recorded at that point in the company’s history.