Top Ad And Marketing Podcasts For PR Pros

The golden rule of public relations is to stay current and relevant. For PR pros, it’s not only expected, but part of our job to stay up-to-date on all industry trends and current affairs in the U.S. and beyond. While we have access to a wide breadth of digital platforms to consume our daily dose of news and information, let’s not ignore an essential medium for staying smart – podcasts.

Podcasts are mainstream

62 million Americans listen to podcasts each week, and the first ten months of 2019 saw a record 192,000 new podcasts launched. Because they’re easy to consume and offer a certain intimacy, brands are using podcasts to inform, entertain, and be visible. With WFH a new normal in the COVID era, listeners are consuming a vast array of podcasts across business, finance, education, entertainment, and more, and at different times of the day.

Here’s a roundup of some top advertising and marketing podcasts. It’s by no means is a complete list, but a good starting point if you’re looking to raise your podcast game.

AdExchanger Social Distancing With Friends

As most people stay home and practice social distancing, AdExchanger (the leading voice in ad tech) was quick to adapt and start a new podcast series titled, “Social Distancing With Friends.” In this new series, AdExchanger editors invite top industry newsmakers and practitioners in digital and data-driven advertising – all while under social isolation. They’ve featured a stellar lineup of industry experts including Innovid Founder Tal Chalozin, advertising legend Martin Sorrell, marketing veteran and DoubleVerify interim CEO Laura Desmond and many more. Each episode reflects on the company’s business, opportunities, and challenges as well as how they’re navigating these unusual times.

AdExchanger The Big Story

Yet another AdExchanger weekly series, hosted by the seasoned editorial team and featuring discussions and compelling conversations on the week’s top news stories affecting the industry.

AdAge Marketer’s Brief

Hosted by industry veteran and AdAge Assistant Managing Editor E.J. Scultz, this weekly podcast offers insights from industry leaders and looks at stories making waves across the marketing sector. It features brand marketers and CEOs in travel, retail, FMCG, health and wellness, among other high-growth and heavily COVID-affected industries.

Adweek Yeah, That’s Probably an Ad

Launched in 2016, Adweek Yeah, That’s Probably an Ad features co-hosts David Griner and Ko Im debating the highs and lows of creativity, advertising, marketing, media and technology. David and Ko are joined by Adweek’s news team every week in deep dives into a wide range of topics, including diversity and inclusion, social media influence, streaming media, women empowerment, etc.

The Mumbrellacast

Moving beyond the US, The Mumbrellacast from Mumbrella – Australia’s key ad trade media, this podcast throws light on the latest news in the Australian media, marketing and advertising industries. Every week features a rotating panel of hosts including Mumbrella’s news team, and they invite the adland’s key newsmakers to share their take on news and trends dominating the region.

AW 360 Great Minds

This is a fairly new podcast, but it looks promising! Matt Scheckner, widely recognized as the producer of Advertising Week (the world’s largest and premium advertising, marketing, media industry summit) sits down with great minds from all walks of life for thought-provoking conversations. The list of remarkable featured guests includes Martin Sorrell, Ndaba Mandela (Nelson Mandela’s Grandson) and Lisa Gilbert, CMO at IBM Japan, among other industry leaders.

The CMO Podcast with Jim Stengel

Hosted by industry trailblazer Jim Stengel (former CMO of the largest marketer in the world Procter & Gamble), the CMO podcast holds intimate style conversations with the industry’s most dynamic leaders. Highly rated and inspirational, every episode is packed with real-life experiences of business and success, sharp insights and storytelling. Jim goes deep into the thought process and motivation of the CMO and offers a unique perspective on their pivotal role that touches every facet of customer experience. His list of inspirational guests includes CMOs of Uber, Roku, KFC, Lowe’s and the list goes on.

Renegade Thinkers Unite

Renegade Thinkers Unite focuses on marketing innovators, uncovering the how, what and why behind their ongoing success. Hosted by award-winning marketer, author and entrepreneur Drew Neisser, this podcast is considered consistently refreshing and is packed full of marketing lessons that you can use in your day-to-day work.

AList Daily’s Marketing Today With Alan Hart

Alan Hart, host of Marketing Today, goes behind the scenes with the world’s best CMOs and business leaders. Alan does an excellent job bringing strategies, tips and advice from the marketing stalwarts. Each episode takes a deep dive into what makes a great brand, marketing campaign, or turnaround. His recent guests include Petco CMO, Head of Brand Marketing at Oreo and CMO Planet Fitness, to name a few. Alan keeps his conversation style quite casual and offers great takeaways on how to build a successful business.

Marketing Over Coffee

Weekly podcast Marketing Over Coffee covers both new and old marketing. Hosted by John Wall and Christopher Penn, each episode covers all aspects of marketing and business, SEO, analytics, email marketing and more. Regarded as the go-to-destination for people with no marketing background, this podcast offers guidance on how to build and market your brand. For someone with a small business, it’s a definite asset for learning marketing fundamentals and shaping a successful strategy.

Sure, I’m missing many other influential podcasts. While we all can only hope to go back to our normal lives soon and tune in to our favorites while commuting or running errands, for now, we can tune in from home and plan for the future. Happy listening!

Best Brand Moves During The Pandemic

The fallout from COVID-19 has ranged from tragic to merely awful, but the pandemic has also highlighted heroes – mostly first responders and other essential workers. It has also brought out the best in some companies and brands, with accompanying positive PR.

The abrupt shutdown of normal work and social life has caused many companies to pull back in their advertising and PR. Others have struggled to strike the right note in such a serious situation. But still others have stepped up. Here are my picks for best brand moves so far during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lowe’s builds its reputation

Last week, Lowe’s launched its #BuildThanks campaign, asking customers to post thank-you signs and other positive messages for COVID-dedicated medical professionals using the hashtag. The campaign doesn’t ask people to come to Lowe’s to buy materials; rather, it suggests using what they already have at home. But it does encourage participants to share their signs on social media, resulting in thousands of views and engaging local communities.

Coors Light lightens the mood 

Social media has been a tad depressing lately, with many expressing anxiety or sharing losses due to the pandemic. We can all use some levity, and this week we got it when 93-year-old Olive Veronesi of Seminole, Pa made a relatable request by holding up a sign reading, “I need more beer” while enjoying a Coors Light. Wouldn’t you know it, Molson Coors was listening.  It delivered 150 cans of Coors Light, and, of course, the social media coverage went viral. Olive’s plea – and the brand’s response – was even picked up by CNN. Talk about raising community spirits! I hope she shared.

P&G busts a move 

How do we persuade Gen Z-ers to follow social distancing guidelines? In March, P&G issued a challenge on TikTok for #DistanceDance to help do that in its home state of Ohio. The challenge generated billions of views and almost 2 million response videos, including from celebrities, college mascots and athletes. For every #PGpartner-tagged video, the company donates essential items to organizations like Feeding America.

Domino’s delivers 

Domino’s has given away 10 million slices of pizza as part of its “Feed the Need” campaign to thank essential workers at hospitals, medical centers, grocery stores, and more. Most of the franchises across the country are involved. They’ve even delivered 100 pies to my local hospital in NJ earlier this month! There’s no topping that move.

Hotels open their doors

My personal favorite move from an organization during this crisis is from the hotel industry. The American Hotel and Lodging Association, which includes hotel franchises Marriott, Hilton and Red Roof Inn, among others, has opened up beds free of charge to house health care workers and other first responders during the pandemic. The effort is called “Hotels for Hope” and is quite a meaningful step in keeping health care workers and their families safe.

How To Book Speaking Opps In The COVID Era

COVID-19 has crippled some industries, and it’s had an indirect effect on countless others. Even B2B technology companies – normally resistant to many ups and downs – rely on event PR to drive business development and thought leadership. SaaS businesses, like many B2B tech companies, devote big budgets to industry conferences and trade shows for sponsorships and speaking opportunities.

In fact, my job is to help client executives win high-level earned speaking engagements at technology conferences to complement or substitute for paid appearances. Yet in March, one by one, every major tech event announced a postponement or cancellation, from SXSW to Mobile World Congress to Cannes Lion – which initially postponed before fully canceling 2020 just last week. Now that all tech and other events have been nixed, what do speakers bureau managers do?

New speaking opportunities will open in 2020

Event marketers and executive thought leaders should now set sights on Q4 and 2021, of course. But there’s some good news in the conference world for PR planners. Event producers and programmers are scrambling to adapt. Many are racing to learn the fundamentals of live-streaming and online video production. While some have elected to cancel their conferences completely until 2021, others want to salvage their hard work and give registrants something for their money, shifting to ‘virtual’ events in a variety of formats. I’m seeing a transition to virtual forums, webinar series, town halls, and on-demand conferences. The LA Games Conference is now the LAGC Select online conference experience; SaaStock North America is now SaaStock Remote. Midwest Digital Marketing Conference is now MDMC20 On-Demand Digital Experience combined with a FREE LIVE 2-day virtual summit.

This shift opens up some new earned speaking opportunities since some originally booked speakers may not opt to participate in newly online events.  In fact, there may be real opportunities for execs to win last-minute engagements if they’re willing to record talks or participate in Zoom interviews, panels, or roundtables. Further, since few live tech conferences routinely record sessions on video or audio, these new recorded event formats generate useful PR thought leadership and marketing content with the potential to be seen by more eyeballs than a standard live show.

Now is the time to grab vacated speaking slots

For the many conferences that have simply opted to postpone from spring until autumn or 2021, there may be vacated speaker spots due to the change of schedule. It could pay to reach out to event programmers and pitch your speaker, because no doubt their speaker rosters and agendas will be shifting.

Thought leaders and their reps should have their eyes on Q4 and 2021 with regard to traditional live presentations, since as a rule you must be pitching topics to programmers at least six months ahead. Additionally, since many conferences have rescheduled for October and November, the live tech event schedule will be jam-packed like never before. Big time executive spokespeople can only be in one place at a time, so speaking slots may open up that would not ordinarily be available.

Change up your stump speech

We’re all hoping that the virus will be contained by autumn, so that life can return to normal. Given the gravity of all that’s happening, however, business speakers should  consider talk topics that reflect on the crisis when pitching sessions for late 2020 and 2021. No doubt, tech conferences will be programming retrospective topics on lessons learned from the pandemic as it relates to our various sectors. Live-event producers are soldiering on, making the most out of a tough situation; and event marketers and executive thought leaders should do likewise. The premium on in-person experiences may take on greater importance than ever before!

COVID-19’s Impact On PR, Now And In The Future

In public relations, as in other businesses, working from home is the new normal. We have substituted in-person meetings for daily Zoom calls and happy hours are now virtual. This period of working outside the office has been an adjustment, but most PR pros have learned how to make the best out of a terrible situation.

Those of us in PR and communications have also seen a shift in the way we interact with journalists. Our approach to pitches and PR plans has adjusted to the current media cycle, which is filled with coronavirus stories. A lot has changed and we should expect many of the changes to be long-lasting. So, what impact has this new way of working already had, and how will it change our world when the pandemic is over?

Day-to-day outreach is more thoughtful

Have you noticed that all emails now start with, “I hope you are keeping safe” or “Hope you are well”? Both PR pros and journalists have had to adjust to this new work life and we’re mindful of the challenges and sensitivities involved. Now is not the time to be pitching anything self-promotional. For the moment, journalists are working almost exclusively on stories related to COVID-19. Pitching irrelevant or self-serving news will backfire. We don’t want to be blacklisted when the news cycle goes back to normal. The reason for our new sensitivity is a terrible one, but wouldn’t it be great if this new thoughtfulness became a permanent change?

Creating a crisis plan in real time

COVID-19 is a global crisis. No one was fully prepared for a pandemic of this scale. Companies have felt the impact on their business, and most have had to shift goals, strategies, and budgets to meet the challenge. In public relations, it can feel like a professional “crisis” when a client isn’t ready to pivot, cancel product rollouts, or postpone major events. It’s our job to try to make that happen., and there is one silver lining here. We now have the opportunity to incorporate lessons of COVID-19 into crisis planning for the future.  PRs can take this experience as a learning process, take what we’re seeing in the media landscape and what our clients are witnessing in day-to-day operations and turn it into more robust readiness if something like this should happen again, even on a smaller scale.

WFH? Will the lines keep blurring?

Working from home was the only option for many PR pros when it was deemed unsafe to travel to our offices, and we’re lucky to have the option. It has taken some time and ingenuity to create that perfect home office, but now we’ve made it work.  Perhaps those companies who don’t have flexible WFH policies will note a productivity increase during this time and change their policies. On the other hand, we may appreciate our away-from-home offices – including after-hours outings — more than ever once we’re permitted to return.

A permanent shift in workplace culture

We’ve gone from seeing co-workers every day to interacting only on Zoom. Normally it’s easy to pop into someone’s office for a chat about media strategy or a new client opportunity, but now most PR pros are scheduling video chats or foregoing spontaneous talk. Things we used to take for granted will seem more important when we adopt a regular work schedule again, and the longer that takes, the more appreciated they will be. Companies like ours have been doing a great job checking in with employees during a stressful and confusing period to make sure they feel supported. In a post-coronavirus world, we will want to keep dedicating that extra time to staff culture. Already, the remote working experiment has made agencies and their clients realize how valuable employee engagement and motivation are, and that insight is likely to continue after we return to “normal.” At the staff level we’ll be planning more happy hours, celebrating birthdays and personal victories in a big way, and generally going the extra distance to show how much we appreciate and missed our co-workers while everyone was isolated.

Right now we’re living and working with uncertainty. It’s not comfortable, but this, too, is an opportunity to appreciate what we previously took for granted, and to learn how to adapt to almost anything. This “new normal” will pass into another, even newer one, where our old ways of working will have changed yet again. Until then, stay in touch with your team on Slack, texting and Zoom. Be supportive and let’s welcome the “normal” that will come!

10 Zoom Meeting Hacks You May Not Know

A month ago, how many Zoom meetings had you attended? Chances are, they’ve doubled or tripled recently due our new way of working. PR pros and others are using Zoom and its competitors — Hangouts, MS Teams, and others — to check in with teammates and host new business meetings, weekly calls with clients, and media interviews. While a calendar that’s chock-full of virtual meetings may seem overwhelming, check out a few tips and hacks that not everyone knows.

Fun with backgrounds

Okay, you knew this one. Zooms can be a fun peek into co-workers’ homes, but that may not be appropriate for every call. One of our coworkers has an artistic nude directly in his camera sight line; it’s beautiful, but a bit distracting! If you’re concerned about your real background, consider a virtual one. They can be very professional if you choose a neutral image – maybe even use a picture of your office! Save fun virtual backgrounds like a beach or city skyline for your happy hours.

Integrate with Slack

Slack is an essential tool for PR pros when WFH. Did you know there’s a Zoom/Slack integration? You can start meetings right from Slack, just type in “/zoom” in your company channel to share a meeting link. Users will be reminded 10 minutes before the meeting starts.

Breakout rooms?

Yes, Zoom has breakout rooms. They’re perfect if during a large brainstorm if a few people want to break away and report back to the entire team. It’s almost the same thing as a smaller in-person meeting, and it’s very useful for spontaneous collaboration.

Annotate your meetings

If the presenter is sharing their screen, Zoom has a feature much like a built-in whiteboard. The presenter can virtually mark up the board like you would on an actual whiteboard. This is perfect for meetings for everyone’s ideas to be shared.

Use the spacebar to mute and unmute

Background noise can be distracting and annoying to other meeting attendees. Instead of clicking on the microphone every time you want to speak, just hit that spacebar for a faster response.

Minimize your audio echo

Do you feel like your computer gives off a lot of echo when you speak? Place a towel down under your computer when you are on video calls and it will absorb all the sound echoes.

Use a beauty filter

Have a new biz meeting scheduled and want to look presentable with no makeup or a DIY haircut? One of the least known features on Zoom is called ‘touch up.’ This feature will even out your skin and improve your lighting. It’s a great hack for improving your overall appearance on camera.

The waiting game

An awkward thing is being in a Zoom meeting where no one is speaking. If you’re the meeting organizer, enable a waiting room. Attendees can sign into a meeting early but the call will not begin until the organizer hits start.

Protect your call

We’ve all heard about Zoom-bombing. With so many people using it, there have been reports of hackers and unwelcome intrusions into meetings. Create a unique password and share only with team members attending the meeting. Remember you can lock your meeting, and use that waiting room! It’s also a good idea to make sure that only the host can share his screen.

Add a mascot to your next happy hour!

Virtual happy hours are meant for blowing off steam and enjoying time with co-workers. Why not add excitement next time with a baby goat or other animal? An animal sanctuary in California created a project called Goat 2 Meetings where for less than $100 a goat or llama will make a cameo in your next Zoom meeting! All proceeds benefit the sanctuary. It would make for a memorable happy hour or “morning zoo” coffee break!

In a post COVID-19 world, Zoom meetings may fade away as we return to in-person ones (we hope)! But what we’ve learned about our coworkers – which Laurie’s post outlines in an entertaining way here – will outlast the pandemic. Until then enjoy Zooming into the lives of family, friends, and co-workers.

Brands Bring Substance To COVID-19 Response

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended marketing and PR for nearly every major brand. Now, five weeks into the lockdown that has decimated many business sectors, most companies have settled into a new normal. Many have learned from early mistakes or half-measures and have scrapped old campaigns for new ones that make a positive impact for employees, customers, and communities.

It’s not about the logo

Early into the social distancing phase, several brands acknowledged the situation through visuals. They changed their logos in solidarity with the new guidelines, and the effect was…awkward. The familiar McDonald’s arches were strangely pulled apart. Coca-cola sponsored a sign in New York’s (sadly empty) Times Square that featured distance between each letter of its logo, with the tagline, “Staying apart is the best way to stay connected.” While well-intended, the “quarantine” logos won mixed reviews. As Brian Braiker, former editor-in-chief of AdAge put it, “Understanding the situation, shutting up and doing something helpful is really the only way to go here.”

I tend to agree. As the pandemic and its impact have grown, many companies recognized it was time to go beyond social distancing PSAs or offers of fun branded Zoom backgrounds. It’s not about the logo; in fact, it’s not about you.

Since then, many companies have tried to inject more substance into their pandemic responses. Quite a few launched ad campaigns recognizing their own employees. Kraft/Heinz created a beautiful and empowering campaign by having factory workers shoot smartphone video ads celebrating themselves. Midwestern supermarket chain Hy-Vee produced a “hero” video homage to its grocery workers, complete with the original Bonnie Tyler soundtrack. But I couldn’t help but think – for the price of the video ads and promotion, why not simply offer extra pay to those on the front retail lines? Maybe Hy-Vee did both. But the most PR-powerful gesture may have been by Yum Brands. Its CEO announced he would forego the remainder of this year’s base salary of $900,000 to fund bonuses for 1200 general managers at its restaurants. That’s putting your money where the mouths are.

Real help for those who need it

The third phase of the pandemic has brought the most substantive PR and marketing campaigns.

Big Tech has stepped up. Google reached into its deep pockets and rolled out an $800 million program of direct financial assistance, ad credits, and grants to businesses with active Google adwords accounts. Self-serving? Sure, what helps its advertisers helps Google, but it’s real money where it’s needed. To sweeten the program, Google pledged $250 million in ad credits to the World Health Organization (WHO) and other public health agencies. It’s also throwing $20 million in Cloud services to researchers studying COVID-19 vaccines and therapies.

Facebook, meanwhile is dramatically expanding its Community Help feature to address the pandemic. It’s also increasing grants to small businesses, letting companies fundraise on their own pages, and introducing a place for people to discover digital gift cards for their favorite local businesses. WhatsApp has partnered with WHO, UNICEF, and other groups to create a Coronavirus Hub that checks facts about the virus. Facebook, too, is working to correct misinformation and rumors. But it has also used technology in an innovative way. In partnership with researchers at Carnegie Mellon, it launched a survey map of self-reported symptoms people are experiencing during the pandemic. The aggregate data makes for an interactive map of daily, county-by-county updates on symptoms.  The goal is to help officials pinpoint where supplies may be needed or predict a COVID-19 resurgence.

Youth brands fight bad info, promote mental health

Snapchat has taken a slightly different tack, but one designed for its core audience of teens and young adults. It expanded and accelerated a feature called “Here for You”, which locates safety resources from local experts when users search for topics related to “anxiety, depression, stress, grief, suicidal thoughts, and bullying.” That’s a positive move, but a more creative one was its latest AR filter, which lets users donate directly to WHO’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. It’s also giving publishers covering COVID-19 on its Discover platform a swipe-up-to-donate feature. Over 68 million Snapchatters have viewed COVID-19-related content, so the potential reach is significant.

Another on-target youth-oriented campaign is by Jansport, the backpack brand. It launched #unpackthatchallenge – a program of food donations whereby students create TikTok videos as they unpack their home desks.

Rallying around small business

But the best and most meaningful work might be done by those companies who serve the many small businesses that were slammed by the pandemic. Intuit’s QuickBooks, for example, has teamed with GoFundMe for a small business relief fund. And can you imagine being a retail store without e-commerce capabilities right now? eBay rolled out a $100 million e-commerce accelerator open to retailers that only have a brick and mortar presence. New businesses can run an eBay store free with guidance and resources from the company for three months, with no selling fees.

Backlash over loan distribution

There have been some real reputation losers, along with the occasional tone-deaf message. This morning Shake Shack announced it would return $10 million in funds under the PPP program – the $349 billion in forgivable loans administered by the SBA. But the announcement brought jeers on social media because Shake Shack’s motives were in question. The beef? Due to its size and number of locations, it wasn’t strictly eligible for the loan in the first place. There was similar anger over Ruth’s Chris, the swanky steakhouse chain that gobbled up $20 million in SBA funds and was a target of a fierce backlash over monies allocated to chain restaurants and other large corporations over small, locally owned and operated businesses. Similarly, many large banks charged with administering the loans with little notice have seen their reputations battered, and their best hope is a round-two from the government. Stay tuned.