Five Things I Learned During Work from Home Country

Working remote from India
Working Remote from India

Five Things I Learned During Work from Home Country

When mandatory remote work is a blessing in disguise

Working remote from India

Of all the things that went viral in the year 2020 (pun intended, of course), “Work from Home” seemed to prompt innumerable notions and opinions, and many hashtags of course. At R+K, like many agencies, working from home was fairly uncommon prior to COVID, but was immediately adopted in March 2020. The challenges and isolation of the quick transition to remote work caused anxiety and stress at first, but eventually became the new normal.

Of course, we all miss meeting our colleagues for coffee breaks, but the flexibility of working from your own space can bring new and exciting experiences. With time we all figured out a way to make remote work productive. In my case, I made it work from another country. From November 4 to December 7, I worked remotely from my home country of India. Here are five things I learned through the experience.

1. Ask anyway.
With the growing panic over the pandemic around the world, I yearned to visit my family back home in India. I was hesitant to broach it with my supervisor who, like everybody else, was dealing with the casualties of balancing work and home life in this new environment. But to my surprise, she reacted positively and even encouraged me to go ahead with the decision. Had I not asked, I would have missed out on a great opportunity.

2. Settle in and trust the process.
In any new scenario, don’t rush to perfect everything at once. I took time planning my trip and schedule and always kept my supervisor informed on my travel dates and time zones. When I arrived in India I took a week off to settle down, recuperate, and put on my designer hat to design my temporary workspace. Then I was ready to go! A new work environment can be daunting at first, but it always becomes familiar quicker than you think. Having a favorite plant, pen stand, or a family portrait from your old workspace can go a long way toward making you feel comfortable.

3. Smell the routine.
Following the same morning rituals and creating familiar smells can help get you mentally on track in a new environment. While I was in India, I didn’t do anything without my morning coffee, just like at home. Working between time zones, I even decided there is no right or wrong time for a coffee (not even 8 pm)! I recommend working out your time zones and setting reminders for the first few days to get accustomed to your new routine and what your colleagues might be experiencing on their end. During the process, ask questions and strive for updated feedback every day.

4. Never compare. The grass is always greener on the other side.
Tuck away your thoughts of self-doubt and give yourself a chance to grow. Performance pressure and comparisons can be frustrating, especially when everyone is adjusting to new work environments with varying hurdles to overcome. Remember you are doing just fine with what’s on your unique plate, and so is everybody else. Focus on your own situation and how you can make the best of it. Ask questions, maintain regular check-ins with your team and supervisor, and hey – a virtual party never hurts!

5. Enjoy it while it lasts.
Our scientists are striving every day to defeat the pandemic, and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s not over yet, but hope is on the horizon. In the meantime, cherish working from your cozy space and the other flexibilities remote work has allowed. You never know what you’ll miss when you’re back in the office.

working remote from India

With good communication, the possibilities for what may work for you are endless. I am thankful for my supervisor and teammates who always had my back and enabled me to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’m grateful to have ended 2020 on such a high note with the fantastic R+K team and family by my side. This is my pandemic story, and I would not have it any other way.

My closing advice is to take a break, breathe, and amaze yourself with the possibilities of cans over cants. And don’t forget to mask up!

By Afsha Iqbal, Digital Traffic Coordinator

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Apple Picks a Fight for Fun and Profit

Apple Privacy
Apple Privacy

Apple Picks a Fight for Fun and Profit

Three ways technology giant Apple benefits from the privacy controversy

We recently wrote about the impending Apple iOS 14 privacy updates which, with the goal of providing more transparency and privacy control for iPhone users, will severely limit advertiser targeting. As we prepped the blog post to publish, a colleague questioned why Apple would do this in a way that caused so much uproar, creating conflict with advertisers, developers, and other influential companies like Facebook. My answer? Why wouldn’t they?!

A refresher: 

  • Companies like Facebook and Google make money by selling ads; their products are free.
  • Apple makes money by selling (expensive) products; they (mostly) don’t sell ads.

For Apple, a company deeply invested in the privacy controversy as a marketing strategy, the conflict is a “win” as it furthers their desired position in the minds of consumers and the marketplace. It was Apple’s Tim Cook who famously reminded us in a 2014 open letter “when an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product.”

The concept isn’t new. It’s how the broadcast industry existed for years. Unlike in some regions (the United Kingdom for one), broadcast TV and Radio have always been completely free in the US.  Broadcasters made money by selling their audiences to advertisers.

Apple has tried advertising and it hasn’t worked out. But most analysts would agree they’re doing pretty well right now without it. When they do need to revisit the ad-supported model, they’ll try again, on their terms. But for now, Apple sells shiny expensive hardware and services.

Facebook and Google also sell hardware – I own some and love it, but the great waterfalls of cash that rain down on those companies come from selling all the data they have on you.

Because Apple is not terribly invested in mining your data, they can lean into the idea of privacy. They own enough of their ecosystem that building its walls a little higher can be spun into a customer-friendly innovation and market-defying differentiator. In this position, they win in three ways: 

  1. They can adjust iOS 14 and rightly say they are handing their customers more control over their data and privacy.
  2. They start shining a spotlight on the business practices of their big-tech competitors, which don’t often do well in the spotlight.
  3. Facebook understandably throws a tantrum, giving Apple’s new privacy initiative a ton of free publicity.

There are many other fascinating and revealing dynamics, many of which are well outside my wheelhouse. For instance, tech developers have mostly lined up with Facebook, who has volunteered to go to battle for them. That’s not a small thing. Apple depends on those developers for their customer experience. But the Facebook/developer alliance presents a natural contrast to an Apple/consumer alliance. That’s a publicity win for Apple as well.

Unlike many of our blog posts, this post is opinion-based, so I’ll close with one more. I believe Apple is making the right bet and time will reveal Facebook, Google, and other free internet services to be on the wrong side of many issues. In the near future, there will be no more convincing consumers to sacrifice their privacy. In the battle over protecting consumer privacy versus collecting more personal information, the eventual winner is clear. That’s a fourth “win” for Apple.

By Grant Cassiday, Executive Director, Paid Media

 

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Apple iOS 14 Privacy Update Creates Challenges for Advertisers and Developers

Applie iOS 14 privacy impact on media
Applie iOS 14 privacy impact on media

Apple iOS 14 Privacy Update Creates Challenges for Advertisers and Developers

Big changes are underway at Apple. The technology giant has always prioritized consumer privacy, describing it as a human right and a “core value” of the company. Later this year it will become their policy.

Big changes are underway at Apple. The technology giant has always prioritized consumer privacy, describing it as a human right and a “core value” of the company. Later this year it will become their policy.

At last June’s Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC20), the company announced the iOS 14 update effective in 2021 would feature Enhanced Privacy, providing more transparency and privacy control for iPhone users. Advertisers must now set expectations for the year ahead.

All apps will now be required to obtain user permission before tracking via the identifier for advertisers (IDFA) tracking tag, which allows apps to aggregate data without personally identifiable user information (similar to how a cookie works on browsers). The IDFA tag identifies a device but not the personal user, so advertisers can customize campaigns and track the users who react to them without accessing personal user information. The new enhanced privacy features also alert the user when apps are accessing their camera and microphone.

Advertisers and publishers – most notably, Facebook – are concerned the new privacy features will affect ad monetization and user acquisition, forcing app developers to quickly rethink their ad-supported business models.

Developers Brace for Ad Revenue Plunge

Enhanced Privacy means advertisers are beholden to users opting-in to the IDFA tag if they want to:

  • track a user’s movement across apps and on the web
  • analyze conversion activity that results from advertising
  • serve targeted ads which generate more revenue for apps

While this new privacy update will improve transparency in the “developer-customer” relationship, Facebook has warned businesses that they could see up to a 50 percent drop in Audience Network ad revenue. Industry experts estimate that given the choice, 50-95 percent of users will select a limited ad tracking option rather than opt in.

Apple Offers Few Solutions for Advertisers

To date, Apple has offered little clarity on what type of tracking will be allowed. The company announced SKAdNetwork – similar to the “Privacy Sandbox” which enables Google to eliminate cookies from its Chrome browser – which can target within IDFA by sending aggregated information about app installs via an application program interface (API). However, advertisers and developers consider it to be a rudimentary solution. Apple needs to resolve some key issues before SKAdNetwork will considered a comprehensive solution. 

Advertisers Set Expectations

Regardless of its final form, Enhanced Privacy is not a goal Apple is likely to abandon, so what should advertisers expect?

  • Less ad effectiveness and lower CPMs. Increased inventory with less effectiveness will drive down CPMs, which means developers who focus on monetizing ads and the value of the long-term user may need to reassess what they are willing to bid for advertising. Some apps may be able to develop a new formula at a lower CPM; others may not be able to find a business model that works.
  • Publishers could start to prioritize subscriptions over ads. If CPMs drop, publishers will make less money on their ad inventory. They could try to make up the difference through subscriptions. Or, publishers could use subscriptions as incentive for users to opt into IDFA (if Apple agrees to that model).
  • User experience of ads becomes crucial. Publishers and advertisers will have to offer value so their audiences will want targeted messages and opt into IDFA.
  • First party data will become even more important. This gives an advantage to large social media companies and Google. They have ample first party data collected from their networks to drive targeting and personalization. Targeting and personalization will be more difficult for publishers without an extensive logged-in user base.

Rhea + Kaiser is looking ahead to a digital ecosystem where privacy is king. We are working with our digital vendors on data sources and targeting solutions that are not reliant on cookie or IDFA technology. First party data and contextual targeting will likely be key to ad effectiveness. We will continue to work with publishers, creating ways to use new technologies for targeted advertising solutions.

R+K’s resident expert Erin Hickey, Media Planner, Paid Media, contributed to this post.

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Here’s Why Clients Should Love B2B Programmatic

B2B Programmatic
B2B Podcast

Here’s Why Clients Should Love B2B Programmatic

If your clients worry about tracking audiences to target their digital ads, here’s something to put their minds at ease.

Tracking is a fact of internet life. We may feel a little uncomfortable about it in theory, but in practice it doesn’t keep us from launching our browsers and visiting one site after another.

Nevertheless, for B2B advertisers, it’s natural to worry about what customers might think about being tracked. Customers expect to see business-related ads on industry websites, but as soon as those ads appear on ESPN.com or their local weather app, they know they’re being followed.

That client concern is, in fact, a positive sign, revealing their customer-first approach—which is as it should be. And while their worries are valid, the pluses of programmatic advertising may put their minds at ease.

What Makes an Ad Programmatic?

You can show your digital display ads to a B2B audience through direct buys on industry websites (endemic advertising), or you can target your audience programmatically. A programmatic buy reaches an industry’s audience regardless of the websites being viewed, and appears to the right people in an unrelated editorial environment.

Essentially, it’s an automated process of buying and selling digital ad inventory through an exchange connecting advertisers to publishers. It allows advertisers to target a specific audience based on geography, interests, behavior, web history, etc. and reach them wherever they are online.

Programmatic’s Three Big Pluses

Programmatic is an opportunity for B2B advertisers to expand their digital footprint far beyond the narrow reach of endemic industry websites (also known as vertical websites). Those sites are highly relevant to customers, but their reach is limited to small audiences made up of monthly unique visitors. Not only that, but many industry websites may not see engagement with monthly unique users on a consistent daily or weekly basis. Ad campaign messages limited to industry sites therefore can miss a sizable portion of the target audience.

So, aside from the limitations of endemic campaigns, what are the key benefits of programmatic advertising?  The easy answer is targeting, efficiency, and performance.

Real-time targeting
Campaigns reach a target on whatever site they choose to visit across the web, upping the chances of getting timely messages in front of current and potential customers.

Cost efficiency
Our 2020 programmatic display ad CPMs range from $2 – $12. Our 2020 CPMs for display ads on endemic sites range from $10- $250.

Marketing performance
For the B2B programmatic campaigns we managed in 2019, click-through-rate performance was 52% higher on average vs. endemic sites. Also, endemic cost-per-click was over 7x higher than programmatic.

How do Audiences Really Feel?

Despite the limitations of endemic advertising and the benefits of programmatic ads, the key issue remains: How does a B2B audience feel about seeing ads for their business on non-business sites? And how do they react when they’re using the web for their own entertainment on their own time, only to see your B2B ad?

Here at R+K, we’ve run years of programmatic campaigns for B2B clients investing in digital advertising, and honestly, we haven’t seen any customer backlash. For one client specifically, we’ve purchased hundreds of millions of programmatic impressions for dozens of different B2B brands over the past year, and not once has any agency, client, or publisher partner experienced customer complaints around ad targeting or customer tracking.

That said, internet users who strongly object to having their activity tracked for advertising purposes always have the option of updating their privacy settings to block tracking cookies. This, too, has its benefits, since advertisers can remove people from their audience pool who are least likely to engage with their ads.

B2B audiences are digitally savvy people. They understand they’re being targeted with digital advertising whenever they go online, open an app, or visit social media. In our experience, the vast majority of business professionals have grown to accept this practice and don’t find it overly intrusive. The fact that people click on programmatic B2B ads at a rate that’s 52% higher on average than endemic sites definitely supports that conclusion.

Visit Marketing to Farmers for more R+K knowledge about endemic vs. programmatic advertising. Have questions about how programmatic advertising could enhance your marketing program? Contact R+K Business Development Director Gino Tomaro at gtomaro@rkconnect.com.

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Google Chrome Privacy Sandbox: What Does it Mean for Your Marketing Program?

Google Chrome Privacy Sandbox: - Impact on Marketing Program
Google Chrome Privacy Sandbox: - Impact on Marketing Program

Google Chrome Privacy Sandbox: What Does it Mean for Your Marketing Program?

Google announced it will phase out 3rd-party cookies by 2022. We’ll review what this means for brands and how they might adjust their marketing programs.

In a January 2020 blog post Justin Schuh, Director of Chrome Engineering at Google, announced Privacy Sandbox, a project designed to phase out 3rd-party cookies on its Chrome browser. It will take two years, with 3rd party cookies fully phased out by 2022. In the meantime, Google is working on alternative solutions that will make consumer data more secure but still allow for targeted advertising.

With this announcement, many of our peers and clients have asked what this means for their brands, their marketing strategy, and their own personal information. We’ve outlined our take on this news here.

What does this mean for marketers?

Programmatic advertising – which helps us target the right audience regardless of where they are – relies on 3rd party cookies for targeting and measurement. We explain the difference between programmatic and endemic advertising in this Marketing to Farmers post. These cookies are designed to follow users across the internet, tracking their behaviors to generate virtual user profiles. This is a powerful and effective tool for personalized advertising and conversion tracking but created concerns for consumer privacy.

So why mess with a good thing? By eliminating third-party cookies, Google better protects user data. It’s a move that forces the industry to adapt and come up with new ways to track conversions and target users. Consumers get greater protection, and programmatic publishers get alternate means of monetization.

Google Chrome represents 69% of online activity on desktop and 40% on mobile. Given that the leading mobile browser, Apple’s Safari, already prevented the use of tracking cookies in 2018, the ability to use 3rd-party cookies will be virtually gone when Google completes this transition in 2022.

What are some potential outcomes?

  • Google’s intended outcome is that 3rd party cookies become obsolete and replaced with a new universal solution that protects consumer data. One solution being tested: storing individual user-level information in the browser.  This allows access to certain information via an application programming interface (API), which allows apps to borrow data and interact in a specified way. This means the conversion would be tracked, but the user data would not be passed back. Several APIs have been proposed to solve for ad selection, conversion measurement, and fraud protection. One proposed API is a “trust token” designed to anonymously authenticate a user and distinguish them from bot traffic.
  • Publishers will likely try to scale/monetize their 1st-party data, through first-party cookies and by asking users to log in with an email and provide additional demographic data, allowing for more granular onsite targeting. 1st party cookies are not affected by these changes from Google, as this data is obtained through some form of consent or direct relationship with the user.
  • There could be a shift towards contextual targeting. Even if behavioral targeting is lost, it will still be possible to target a user based on keywords, time, and location. It will become increasingly important to make sure that ads are tailored to that context, since they can’t be personalized directly to the user. Premium publisher content may also experience a resurgence.
  • Brands may choose to leverage their email and CRM data more actively for targeted advertising.

What does this mean for our brands and yours?

The burden of finding an alternate targeting methodology largely falls on Google and a brand’s digital partners. Over the next two years, they will work together to develop solutions that allow some of the same capabilities as 3rd-party tags (behavioral targeting, conversion tracking, frequency capping, etc.).

At R+K, we’ll address this with each of our partners to understand and evaluate the new solution that they provide. Some programmatic partners have already anticipated this cookie-less shift and have robust data sets for targeting that are not reliant on 3rd-party cookies. Depending on the viability of these new solutions, there could be a shift in our recommendations for digital investment toward partners with robust 1st-party data or alternate forms of targeting (in particular, Social and CTV/OTT).

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Break the Cement Ceiling in Construction by Marketing to Women

Women in Construction
Women in Construction

Break the Cement Ceiling in Construction by Marketing to Women

Why male-dominated industries like construction should change the way they market to women.

In the United States, full-time professional women still battle to earn wages equal to their male counterparts. Though the gap has narrowed slightly in the last decade, women earn on average just over 80 percent of what men make.1 But there are some bright spots. Women in the construction industry earn 99.1 percent of what their male peers make.1

So why do so few women pursue construction jobs? The answer may lie in how they are marketed. At Rhea + Kaiser, we have a deep interest in construction – from our historical work with household names like Caterpillar, to current marketing strategy for PoreShield, a soy-based concrete durability enhancer used in construction and other projects. We wanted to learn more about the industry’s workforce and help explain this disparity.  

Laura Pager

Gale Construction Company President Laura Pager says the field is misrepresented. “I don’t think women realize there are good-paying, 40-hour per week jobs you can raise a family on in construction,” she explains.

Gale Construction is a SBA 8(a) Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB) General Contractor. Pager founded the company with friend Mike Gale in 1996. Today, she is the sole owner. They made their intro into the industry through small residential projects and municipal work. Bid by bid, they learned how to go after larger projects. Today, they almost exclusively manage federal projects out of six states and the District of Columbia, through offices in Joliet, Illinois; Maryland; Florida and one soon to open in St. Louis. Their biggest job to date supports the Army Corps in Florida.

“If you can do an Army Corps job, you can do anything.” Pager says, explaining the daunting procedures and paperwork behind federal contracts. “I didn’t know I was as tenacious as I am. I couldn’t have imagined in 1996 that I would enjoy the construction industry this much.”

As of December 2018, less than 10 percent of construction employees were women.2 Pager says the field is misrepresented to women, who do not realize there are desirable job opportunities in construction – even out in the field. “If you are a laborer, the work is physically difficult. But I have found over the years that women are better equipment operators than men. They are good with the machines, they are good truck drivers. Women have a lot of qualities that would make them successful in the trades.”

Pager says there is much room for improvement in the way the construction industry markets to women, and her own experience as a woman has changed the way she markets her business to customers. “I always say that I am a woman-owned construction company; it’s part of my tagline,” she explains. “I’m small business certified and certified as a WOSB, so contracting officers get credit for working with me.”

When she first entered the construction industry in the late ‘90s, Pager was mistaken for the stenographer in business meetings. When she walks onto a job site today, people know she is the prime contractor. Her advice to women who work in or are considering entering traditionally male-dominated fields is to prioritize knowledge and confidence. “As long as you know your business and your capabilities, you’ll put everyone at ease.

Now that she has broken the “cement ceiling,” Pager aspires to increase gender and racial diversity at all levels and roles in her organization and the industry at large. She is the director of the Federation of Women Contractors and has worked with legislators and lobbyists in Springfield and Washington, D.C. to improve female participation in state and federal contracts.

Significant strides will require reframing the way all prospective employees view the industry. “The well is drying up for qualified people who even realize these jobs exist – we need to get the trades back in schools,” Pager warns. She hopes to see continued interest in the field that has brought her professional success and fulfillment.

Pager says construction is challenging, but there is variety that many professionals crave. Most importantly, she adds, the community imprint is tangible. “I love that I can go back to an old job that we physically built – I can see it, touch it, feel it and walk on it. It is a very prideful thing.”

For more information about Laura Pager and Gale Construction, visit http://www.galeconstructioncompany.com/.

Gale Construction Company

[1] https://www.bls.gov/opub/reports/womens-databook/2019/home.htm

[2] National Association of Women in Construction

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Earning a Place in the Public Conversation

Earned Media
Earned Media

Earning a Place in the Public Conversation

Earned media goes beyond public relations to include opportunities to increase mind share.

When we announced the new R+K agency structure last year – reorganized to focus on paid, owned, and earned media and how we interact with the customer – there were a few questions, a little bit of uncertainty, and a lot of excitement. Personally, I was excited about evolving the way we talk about what we offer, from “public relations” to a focus on what we really achieve, earned media.

After all – explaining Earned Media is a lot easier than the often-nebulous idea of Public Relations. Earned media is what we do to develop relationships and influence opinions toward the goal of greater awareness and positive perception – it’s how we earn the content and coverage that moves the needle in favor of our clients.  

Since I started in this industry more than 20 years ago, I’ve heard many non-PR clients and colleagues ask, “Can we do some PR for this project?” when what they really mean is “Can we do some media relations for this project?” Media relations has traditionally been the foundation of many PR programs. But as communications channels expand and opportunities grow, PR encompasses more and more practices.

Earning a Place in the Conversation

By looking at our department through the lens of Earned Media, we ensure plans are comprehensive and strategic – not just a bunch of independent tactics that are called a plan because they’re strewn together in a single presentation.

When we think about earned media, we expand the goal from where we can get media coverage to where we can earn mindshare. Some of the same channels are used by our colleagues in paid media. The difference is in how they are accessed. Earned media is achieved through one of the tenets of media relations – relationship building, rather than through paid promotion or a media buy.

Earned Media Can Be….

  • Social Media – When consumers are inspired to post about your brand on their channels.
  • SEO – When organic web content boosts your brand’s search ranking
  • Influencer Relations – When the positive perception of your brand entices influencers and bloggers to communicate about it
  • Customer Reviews – When customers advocate for your brand at no cost to the brand
  • Word of Mouth – When customers advocate for your brand to each other
  • Media Relations – When journalists write about your brand at no cost to the brand

Understanding Shared Media

During our restructure, a few people asked where Shared Media lives within our agency Paid-Owned-Earned model. At R+K, we believe Shared shouldn’t live on its own. It’s an aspiration of the earned, owned and even paid channels. In earned media, you earn trust so your target audience will share information about your brand on their channels. With owned media, you share information about your brand your way – on your channels. In paid media, you pay to promote your brand on channels. At R+K, we believe that shared media is content produced from either of these three categories that is then organically shared online.

As communications practices continue to advance and diversify, these definitions will undoubtedly change. The discussion around this evolution helps us continue to grow as practitioners and make us better marketers.  Do you have a different view of earned, owned, paid and shared media? We would love to hear from you on one of our social channels below.

By Amy McEvoy – Head of Earned Media

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Customer-centric Creative Fuels P-O-E Executions

Owned Media
Owned Media

Customer-centric Creative Fuels P-O-E Executions

Crash course in customer-driven owned media philosophy

Great creative is powerful. A well-made ad can make you laugh, or cry or get out your wallet and hand over your hard earned cash. But before that can happen there has to be an idea. And that idea must stem from an insight, rooted in a truth experienced by the customer – that’s where the tension and the interest lie.

When we realigned our departments by Paid, Owned and Earned channels (P-O-E), it was with the goal of putting the customer first. So, what does that mean exactly? It’s simple. Everything we do from planning to concepting to creative execution, is with our client’s customers in mind.

Last month we explained how this focus comes to life through paid media planning. Today, we’re giving you a crash course in how our Owned philosophy reflects our customer-first approach. At R+K, Owned comprises owned channels – such as blogs, social media, and branded materials, but also the creative concepts the fuel them.

P-O-E helps us to uncover insights and truths by encouraging cross-function collaboration throughout the entire process. Our creatives are included from the beginning so we can utilize their most valuable skill – solving problems with engaging solutions. After all, to reach our client’s customers we have to first grab their attention. Otherwise, the strategy, no matter how spot-on, won’t have a chance to make an impact.  

It’s why we strive to develop big ideas born from insights that work in service of the client’s customers and business goals. Then we go to work making sure those ideas can be executed across a variety of channels. This transforms ideas into deliverables such as a video, website or print ad our clients’ customers can engage with.

When each deliverable – no matter how small – is executed with the customer insight in mind, we’re able to reach the customer with relevant messages that capture their attention wherever we meet them. Creative campaigns have greater impact and resonance, and we’re able to make the most of every customer engagement.  

Stay tuned for our fourth and final post about this P-O-E approach. This time, we will walk you through how it is reflected in our Earned Media department.

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R+K Head of Earned Media Named to 20th Illinois Agricultural Leadership Class

Amy McEvoy iALF Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation
Amy McEvoy iALF Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation

R+K Head of Earned Media Named to 20th Illinois Agricultural Leadership Class

Amy McEvoy one of 24 agricultural leaders chosen for fellowship

Amy McEvoy, head of Earned Media at Rhea + Kaiser, was recently announced as a fellow for the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation (IALF) Class of 2022. McEvoy was selected to be part of the 20th class following a competitive application and interview process.

Beginning August 2020, McEvoy will participate in 15 seminars over 19 months to build the skills, knowledge and character to confront the most urgent and pressing issues of global and local food security and sustainability. The  program is designed to equip fellows with the skillset and experiences necessary to become policy and decision makers for the agricultural industry.

Fellows in the Class of 2022 represent a broad spectrum of food and agricultural interests and bring diverse agricultural experiences, from farming to multi-national agricultural business. For the first time in the history of the leadership program, the class will have more women than men; McEvoy is one of 14 women selected to be part of the 20th class.

“Though agriculture has always been a vital sector of the U.S. economy, the pandemic we’ve experienced since the start of 2020 has reinforced just how essential its workforce is to each of our lives,” said McEvoy. “Advocacy for the agriculture industry is critically important – now more than ever, and I’m honored and excited to help meet this such a vital need.”

Over the coming months, McEvoy will share updates and insights on the R+K blog Marketing to Farmers. To learn more about the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation, visit: agleadership.org.

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Ensuring the 3Rs of Media Through Paid Channels

Media Through Paid Channels
Media Through Paid Channels

Ensuring the 3Rs of Media Through Paid Channels

A few weeks ago, we talked about our agency restructure to focus on Paid, Owned and Earned media, with promise of more details on each individual discipline.

The purpose of this restructure was to ensure the customer — or, rather, the client’s customer — is always at the forefront of what we do and how we communicate.

Clients – and agencies – always have a vision of what will make an impact.  A highly visible placement, such as a digital takeover splash page or the back cover of a magazine, can be tempting. But we are not the customer. What is the right way to reach them? Just because there is the potential for a lot of eyeballs, doesn’t mean they’re the right ones.

Planning for Paid channels is just as important as the negotiating and buying process. Following are the three key tenets that lead our Paid team’s customer-first approach to media planning.

Right Person

First and foremost, Paid media needs to appear where it has the best chance to reach the target audience. But who are they? Before they embark on a media plan, the Paid team asks ”what data do we have to clearly locate the right audience for the message?” We prioritize these data-driven methods:

  • 1st Party Data: Data collected or owned by the client with which we’re working, including customer data, sales data, sales leads and prospects, competitive and market share data, website analytics, etc.  
  • 2nd Party Data: Another source’s 1st party data about your customers. This includes lists rented or purchased for marketing needs.
  • 3rd Party Data:  Information aggregated from multiple sources by an entity that doesn’t have a relationship with customers but that provides scale not available with 1st party data

Right Time

Once we’ve identified the current and prospective customers, our Paid team looks at when customers will be the most receptive to our clients’ messages. Today’s media is much more permission-based, asking customers to engage, and timing of this request is vital to success.

We ask a lot of questions to identify that ideal opportunity to engage:

  • Which media channels dominate the customer’s time? 
  • How do the customer’s media use habits shift during the day? The year?
  • What purchasing cycles are apparent in the customer’s behavior?
  • How are current economic conditions impacting customer expenditures?

Right Place

The third component that is vital to any media planning process is determining where customers will be. For example, a few decades ago, just about every noon news broadcast in rural areas included the daily farm report. That’s when farmers almost always came in for dinner. As farmers’ schedules became more erratic, noon farm reports went away as farmers were watching less. Some questions that help us determine the right place are:

  • Which channels does the customer use to stay informed? Which do they rely on to make decisions?
  • In the always-connected environment, is the target audience depending on mobile for personal or professional use?  
  • Are the media channels designed for this customer pursuing a digital-first publishing approach?
  • How does the customer’s use of multiple media channels (web sites, TV, print, social, etc.) contribute to fragmentation of the core audience? 

This is an overview of our approach to putting the customer first in Paid Media. Every customer-first campaign manifests itself in paid channels differently, based on how they are shaped by objectives and strategy. But when we put ourselves in the customer’s shoes and follow the data, we can always find the perfect intersection of our message with their needs.

Stay tuned for upcoming posts when we’ll talk more about our Owned and Earned teams. We’ll talk about how they are different from the conventional Creative and PR departments, especially when it comes to content development.

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