When You Work is More Important than Where You Work

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Nearly 131 years ago, on May 1st, 1886, Chicago workers sparked a nationwide strike to end the brutal working conditions typical of the day. Their goal was to institute the long-sought 8 hour work day, which was first proposed to Congress by the National Labor Union in 1866. It wasn’t until June 26, 1940, that the efforts of labor organizers were finally realized with the creation of the 40 hour work week through an amendment of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

This was an important milestone in the history of workers rights, and it set up the norm of a 9-5 workday, at least in some industries.  While the regular schedule of a full-time job is a luxury to many part-time workers, it begs the question if this schedule actually makes sense for the 21st-century workforce. Should we do away with the traditional eight-hour workday that organizers literally fought and died for? To examine this question, we can look to research that aims to understand when we’re functioning at our best.

The study comes from two Cornell researchers, Michael Macy and Scott Golder. In 2011, they aggregated around 550m tweets from two million users in 84 countries from the previous two years. The goal was to uncover the emotional state experienced over the course of the day using an analysis technique called the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (try it for yourself here!). What they found were remarkably consistent trends across cultures that positive affect (enthusiasm, delight, activeness, and alertness) rises in the morning, peaks around nine or ten AM, and then starts a long decline to a low in the mid-afternoon, before rising again in the evening. The figure below from the study details both positive and negative affect over time.

 

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Graph from the study “Diurnal and Seasonal Mood Vary with Work, Sleep, and Daylength Across Diverse Cultures” by Scott A. Golder and Michael W. Macy

It’s worth noting that negative affect (NA), which includes distress, fear, anger, guilt, and disgust, isn’t a mirror image of positive affect (PA). A low level of PA means that there’s an absence of positive feelings, not the presence of negative feelings. Not surprisingly, Saturday has the lowest level of NA in the morning, whereas Monday has the highest.

All of this is detailed in Daniel H. Pink’s new book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, which comes to the conclusion that good decision making happens when our positive affect is highest, such as in the morning and late afternoon/early evening. 

One of the most helpful takeaways from Pink is a reinforcement of the idea that a rigid 9-5 schedule is harming productivity, as the afternoon work suffers from a high negative affect and low positive affect. This sort of data-informed workday is gaining traction at some companies, who are reworking their day to have important work and high-level meetings in the morning and less critical tasks in the early afternoon.

At Emerging Insider, we’ve taken this information to heart. We reworked our schedule to hold company-wide meetings in the morning, and you’ll often find people hitting the gym around two or three in the afternoon to get a quick workout and recharge our positive affect. We’ve always had a flexible company policy in terms of time – when you work and get results like we do it doesn’t matter so much if you’re sitting at a desk for eight hours or working from a coffee shop or at home on your own schedule. Our CEO is also known from time to time to round up the team in the afternoon to take a quick field-trip to our local ping-pong haunt to shake things up (big shout out to Mr. Ping Pong on Chicago Ave., your one-stop-shop for flowers, ping-pong and Uhaul rental in the Chicago area). Rather than fighting your body’s natural clock, work with it to unlock maximum productivity.

 


The Rise of Coworking: What it Means for Chicago

 

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Coworking spaces have exploded across major cities, providing the perfect combination of professional, personal and community-inspired environments for all levels of working individuals. As the antithesis of corporate offices, coworking spaces offer a unique atmosphere that is ideal for startups, freelancers, companies and other niche audiences seeking a transparent yet private place to work.

Many coworking spaces provide the advantages of working at home – coffee, beer, lounging areas, recreational activities – while retaining the energetic and dedicated atmosphere of like-minded individuals that professional environments offer.

As Chicago inches it’s way towards becoming the next tech hub, coworking spaces have provided a platform of opportunity for growth amongst startups and freelancers. Companies and niche audiences favor coworking spaces for the unique abundance of freedom and productivity amongst others seeking a similar environment. Coworking spaces throughout the Chicagoland area are acting like incubators for young companies and professionals, helping to mold a bright and innovative future for Chicago’s economy. The modern working ethics are changing, and coworking spaces are recognizing that. They provide an innovative solution for individuals seeking to further their business or careers, focusing more on their independence without isolating them.

The wave of coworking has targeted and warmly embraced Chicago through its unique culture of innovation and hardworking midwest demeanor. Coworking made it’s way to Chicago over the last decade and is taking the area by storm with over 130 Coworking locations stretching from downtown to the suburbs. As the rise of coworking seeps into the cracks of the surrounding area, the opportunities become endless for individuals seeking to expand their network and create new relationships with other driven individuals.

The modern workplace is no longer restricted by cubicles and awkward water fountain chats, or long and dreadful early morning commutes down I-90. Likewise, the self-employed, freelancers and young startups now have access to a work environment that reflects their work ethic. So where does this place Chicago amongst other industry-driven cities? In the express lane to the top.


IPO Public Relations Preparation For Success

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We have taken our clients through our fair share of initial public offerings and each time their results have been most successful…when an intensive level of planning was involved. The process of deciding to take a company public must be well planned, well timed, and with a litany of core factors taken into account upfront.  

The PR call to action is to showcase a robust, active, compelling company across all industry touchpoints, especially prior to the quiet period and during the time right after. Additionally, aligning mass scale media to allow the entire investment community to have heard, seen and be interested in the company or brand is critical. IPO public relations must help to position the executive team, provide anchor points, create editorial calendars, and establish a communications plan for pre, during and Post-IPO. While all of these elements require a savvy PR team led by well-informed executives, we’ve done a bit of the homework for you. Please find our guide to your IPO calendar below.

2018 Emerging Insider IPO PR Guide


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Can tech succeed where international aid has failed?

The tech revolution has fundamentally changed the way we live. Our personal, professional, financial, and social habits have been irrevocably altered by the internet and smartphones, but although these innovations seem inescapable, there are billions of people who have missed out on these rapid changes. In many parts of the Global South, including parts of Africa and South Asia, life in many respects remains the way it was before the tech revolution. Forget about wifi – in many places, electricity and clean water are still difficult to find. But technological innovation and startups have been able to disrupt aspects of life in developing countries in seemingly small ways, taking on challenges that decades of humanitarian aid haven’t been able to address.

Cell phones have been a major driver of change and development in developing countries. Even in places without running water, most people have some access to a cell phone. Increasingly, these phones have some type of internet access. They are usually low cost, and in many countries, people pay per MB to use a data plan. While not at the same level of sophistication as the iPhones and Samsung Galaxies available to Western consumers, making cell phones accessible to people at all income levels has had far-reaching effects on the way people live their lives. The advent of Whatsapp, a low-cost and low-data messaging service that can be used internationally has changed communication for people at all income levels. Previously, immigration or even moving across the country meant communication with family members was all but impossible. Text messages in many places are prohibitively expensive, and a newly-married woman who moves to be with her husband’s family, as is the reality for many women in developing countries, may be completely isolated from her support system. Now, families can stay in touch with ease. Even international calling via data is more affordable, making it possible for loved ones to talk across borders.

Increasing access to mobile technology has also allowed for the development of mobile wallets, an innovative way of storing money and paying bills for the unbanked. In many parts of the Global South, banks are too difficult to access or too expensive to use for many people, especially women. Purchasing goods and paying bills becomes more difficult. But initiatives like M-Pesa in Kenya and MTN Mobile Money in southern Africa have found ingenious workarounds to these problems. People are able to put money on their SIM cards, and then transfer that money to pay for goods and services. These mobile wallets have allowed an entirely new demographic of people to take advantage of technology and enter the economy in ways previously denied to them.

Other innovations are based around aspects of life many Americans believe are basic necessities. It may seem hard for people in developed countries to believe, but 844 million people do not have access to clean water. By drinking unclean water they are exposed to dangerous bacteria and parasites. Furthermore, 2.3 billion people do not have sanitary toilets, a dangerous situation that increases the likelihood of a deadly cholera epidemic. Startups and tech companies have been looking for innovative ways to bridge the hygiene gap and allow people to access clean water. Lifestraw is one such company. They created a small straw-like purification system. It’s simple to use, easy to transport, and inexpensive. Other companies have created simple boilers, allowing people to purify large quantities of water at once. Startups bring a different perspective to decades-old development obstacles, injecting new ideas into the community.

A final area that startups are disrupting is that of electricity and power. Life without lights is unimaginable to people in developed countries, and electricity is viewed as a basic need that must be met. The devastation in Puerto Rico, for example, caused by long-term electrical outages arguably outdid the hurricane that caused it. But in many parts of the Global South, lights are a luxury and the day ends when the sun goes down. It’s impossible to work or study after dark. Cell phones, which are a lifeline to the outside world, can’t be charged at home, and people may need to walk miles to find a place to purchase the opportunity to charge their phones. But like other challenges in development, tech startups have disrupted the field of electricity as well. The public sector’s initiatives attempt to install electricity wherever possible, which is an important goal but often slow and expensive. Tech startups have focused on getting electricity into people’s hands as quickly as possible. One such invention is the Soccket, a soccer ball that also functions as a lamp or charger. When kicked around for 30 minutes, Soccket can provide light for three hours. Although users have reported some issues with the hardware so far, it’s only a matter of time until the technology improves.

Extreme poverty and low human development may seem like an intractable problem, but tech startups have jumped in to start improving the lives of people in the Global South. The tech boom may have primarily touched people in western countries so far, but ultimately we all stand to benefit from increasing innovation. 


Our Blockchain PR Specialist on Staying Ahead of the Latest Scams

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While cryptocurrencies make it incredibly easy to transfer funds to anyone in the world in an instant, this same ease makes it a prime target for hackers. This is why cyber-security is more important than ever if you’re wading into the wild west of cryptocurrency.

 

Lucas PenzeyMoog, our resident cryptocurrency authority and blockchain PR specialist, recently penned an article for cryptocoin.news on the rise of homograph spoofing attacks on the web. This is a subtle technique hackers use to trick you into visiting a copycat website by substituting visually-identical characters in the URL.
Click here to read the article and find out how to protect yourself from these pernicious attacks. You work hard to manage your crypto portfolio – make sure you take the right steps to protect your assets.  


4 Traits of a Great Hedge Fund PR agency

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We’re biased of course, as the team at Emerging Insider has our fair share of experience in absolutely rocking, rolling and expanding business for funds of all manners via public relations and marketing, but we are a) picky with who we represent and b) certainly not the right choice for all.

Hedge fund PR is a separate beast from any other type of public relations project as the regulations tend to be more intense and the goals incredibly performance-driven. Many folks claim to be able to perform well here only to begin a campaign and realize they are in way over their heads. What are the top traits you should look for when screening a new firm?

Regulatory Savvy:  The benefit of a younger agency is their drive and knowledge of the newest forms of tech and media to help your initiatives flourish. The downfall is that they have yet to first-hand experience exactly what can happen in the finance world with even one small regulatory error in a marketing campaign. While one doesn’t need to show their scars, a great marketing agency should be able to wear the stripes they have earned and tell you how to avoid these pitfalls.   

Thought Leadership Pros:  Few things add to the credibility of a hedge fund than exceptional thought leadership in the form of written bylines for external publications. While media hits and expertise placements are powerful, thought leadership is often both more practical for a fund, while also being less thought-out by most agencies. In other words, engaging a firm that is able to consult, execute and perform the heavy lifting on thought leadership campaigns can be priceless. It all comes down to asking for examples, case studies and even examining their own third-party content in the market.

Industry experts: Funds are unique in that the marketing pros that deal with them must be well versed not only in the ins and outs of financial marketing, but also often the sector or industries in which the funds invest. If a fund is primarily playing with telecommunications, you best make sure your firm has experience, connections and know-how specifically in telecommunications.

Short and long term planners:  Many campaigns orchestrated by business or consumer brands may be capable of only maintaining a short term promotion to garner mindshare or direct actions for their clientele. Goals change and are variable. Funds however, require that a marketing firm put in both short term executions as well as long term strategy given the unique nature of the performance driven market. Every element must be in place, functioning and driving impact at all times, which is not the easiest of challenges.

 


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4 Cannabis PR Agency Secrets For Startups

The legal cannabis industry is filled with all manner of trials and tribulations for marketers and their agencies. Even with immense growth and potential in many traditional marketers, 57%  of marketers won’t even take on clients in the space as learned via a research study done by our team. For those that do, the challenges can be mitigated, but require in-depth knowledge of nuances that can occur. We will provide a series of in-depth posts based on the below topics.

1) Work the Lexicon:  Cannabis has a plethora of terms used to denote it: marijuana, weed, pot, ganja and countless others. Interestingly, differing terms are used in differing ways via search engines, for social sharing, and for the media. While Cannabis may the most common way the media in Canada refers to the plant, this is not the case for the U.S. And within the states, the south is different than the southwest. The term weed is most shared on facebook on Thursdays, while marijuana is Wednesday’s choice and people prefer varying content lengths depending on the term.

Bottom line, the top PR tip for the cannabis industry is to dive deep into Google trends, social analytics and content analytics before planning any marketing. (Stay tuned for our Cannabis Marketing White Paper on this very topic!)

2)   Be wary of regulations:  Across states and countries, messaging and format types, regulations vary for marketing cannabis products. While one social platform may ban an organization even for organic social posts, another may be open to all manner of advertising without limit. On the legal front, what may be legal advertising formats in one state may be illegal and open to repercussion in another. This is key to keep in mind when it comes to targeting and mass market advertising platforms. Any marketer engaging in advertising, including native/content driven formats, must be diligent in their research, targeting, copy and creative. (Stay tuned for our upcoming articles on targeting secrets!)

3)   Embrace specialists, but beware of opportunists: When a new industry begins to hit scale, many agencies and service providers will dedicate specialist groups to focus on them. These should always be embraced as they can provide a higher level of expertise. The double-edged sword here is that for every legitimate and skilled service provider that establishes a new core focus, an opportunist exists capitalizing off of an increasingly “cash-grab-able” buzzword.

These opportunists will usually appear flashy, have only one core focus (in this instance cannabis) and make more noise about their industry focus than real-world examples of their capabilities. A good service provider should have years of expertise and often showcase this ability across a few primary focus areas.  If your cannabis PR agency has never had a client in another industry, they may be missing out on crucial media relationships. If your cannabis marketing firm has never run ad campaigns on certain social platforms, they may be missing key data and intel. Bottom line, be wary. (Watch this space for our guide to identifying buzzword opportunists!)

4)   Comparables provide context:  The press deeply wants to cover the cannabis industry, but many are still traditionalists and do not understand the impact, potential, and trends of the landscape. The key to achieving positive media and press attention from not just the small group of cannabis-focused journalists, but across the mainstream consumer and business media is providing contextual comparisons.  It is often not enough to present a compelling story: you have to provide examples, comparables, and data from other industries to show the larger picture. While mainstream media may understand these items in traditional industries, it is up to startups, or a cannabis marketing agency, to spoon-feed in these nascent days. (Our latest cannabis case study will be out soon!)  


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How to Avoid Innovation Pitfalls for Emerging Tech Startups

Here at EI, we see plenty of startups looking to evangelize innovations. From augmented reality and health tech to the Internet of Things, a slew of new products and services are revolutionizing responses to both consumer needs and industry pain points. But the unfortunate truth is that 75% of these ventures will fail due to issues involving the brand’s business model, approach or focus.

For those looking to break into the competitive technology space, avoiding these common pitfalls will serve you well:

  1. Don’t aim for disruption. Aim for enhancement.

There’s an old guard protecting the landscape and a variety of organizations who believe they can disrupt it. What most do not realize is that the marketplace is already experiencing immense changes that can be categorized as less of a “disruption” and more so “business as usual” with a twist. Sure, there are technologies and behaviors that are altering many aspects of the business. And of course, there are industry giants poised to take on specific elements in the space. But the bottom line is that there are very smart, well-financed and protected organizations that are capable of rolling with the punches. Smart startups will seek to pinpoint challenges within the tech sector and craft innovations to address them. They will not look to upend a very profitable system, but seek to enhance it. Ultimately, they will figure out compelling ways to affect positive changes while realizing that disruption is not the key to success.

  1. Proof of concept is king.

The technology world is a hype-filled place. The industry is fast-paced, ever-changing and offers plenty of monetary gain, so there’s plenty of people constantly trying to enter it. Some of them are great marketers, but that doesn’t mean their products will live up to the excitement they manage to create about them. If your organization is unable to provide a tangible product, all the hype in the world won’t help you. Even before promotional efforts begin, you must prove your technology actually works. There is no such thing as “we’re working out a few kinks.” If a product is ready, it’s ready; and if it’s not, it’s not. On top of proving this validity, a company must also prove the business case. In fact, this is the single most important task for any emerging tech brand. Your business case should be well-structured to perfectly capture the reason and need for your product. In this industry, the folks that live up to the hype and present a proof of concept are the ones that will flourish.

  1. Jump off the buzzword bandwagon for success that is not short-lived.

All too often, startups, innovators and well-established companies will create and innovate new products based on buzzwords alone. The problem with this approach is that buzzwords are fads, and by the time a product finally goes to market there may already be another buzzword in its place. Seeking to capitalize on specific trends is a short-term strategy based on novelty that doesn’t have any real staying power. Marketing a product solely built around a temporary buzzword is not only a giant gamble that typically doesn’t pay off, it’s also a crutch for the less creative to lean on. Instead of relying on words that may be huge today and gone tomorrow, create your own terms that will allow for profitable results.

Any promising startup can make these common mistakes, which is why we are here to help assist with creating and executing the best marketing strategy for your innovative product or service. By keeping these major blunders in mind while working to craft a paramount business approach, we’ll have the best possible chance of successfully launching you and your product into the technology marketplace.

 


How Augmented Reality Can Breathe New Life into Marketing Communications

Print ads are undoubtedly one of the most tried-and-true forms of marketing communications. But that doesn’t make them feel any less antiquated. Even when advertisements push the envelope with creative infusions that defy the standard construct, there’s only so much they can do to sell products or services in a way that makes consumers care or, at the very least, doesn’t bore them.

Augmented Reality (AR) is a real-time view of the physical world, altered with computer-generated stimuli, that has proven to be incredibly successful for marketing purposes by creating personalized content that fosters a meaningful connection to promotional print materials.

Home furnishings giant IKEA, for example, created an AR program to go along with their 2014 catalog. Users could scan the printed images of items they liked with an app which then allowed them to see how the furniture would look and fit inside a room. This approach not only turned catalog shopping into a new way to interact with a product before buying it, it also helped consumers avoid a dreaded pilgrimage to the world’s most intimidating furniture store.

Vespa, an Italian scooter company, used augmented reality to add functionality to their magazine campaign. By viewing the ads through an AR app, consumers could build their own customized scooter, selecting from various colors, styles and accessories. GPS instructions to the nearest Vespa dealer were also conveniently included.

The New Yorker integrated AR technology into the front and back covers of its magazine to modernize the experience of printed reading materials. Both featured an illustrated cityscape that, when seen through an augmented reality app, allowed readers to view the artwork as if they were a part of it, creating an entirely new way to engage with a traditional medium.

Each of these brands utilized AR techniques that elevated the consumer experience by giving good ol’ print pieces a much-needed face-lift. By including a call out to view them with an augmented reality app, you can literally make words jump off the page with things like product photos or service demonstrations that give a 360-degree view of every attribute.

Ultimately, augmented reality enables printed pieces to include additional creative and informative content that may not fit within a typical template. As marketers look to find ways this established form of communication can be revitalized to keep up with far more innovative tools, AR should be considered for the technology’s ability to monopolize a consumer’s attention span while deepening their relationship with what is being promoted.


3 Ways Augmented Reality Marketing Can Modernize Traditional Consumer Experiences

In a world of digitized transactions, face-to-face commerce can feel downright old school. We’ve grown accustomed to the convenient wealth of information available to us as part of the online consumer journey. Of course, this has made a web presence imperative to every successful marketing strategy. But there are plenty of industries which still rely heavily on in-person interactions. Fortunately, these established touchpoints can now leverage augmented reality (AR) technology to create customized engagement opportunities able to compete with the unique experiences brands can offer via the Internet.

AR is a real-time view of the physical world that has been altered with computer-generated stimuli such as graphics, video or sound. AR marketing enhances consumer encounters with personalized content that fosters a meaningful connection. And it can do so across industries where live exchanges with consumers inevitably mean more revenue. Here are three traditional in-person experiences that could stand to benefit from the modernization inherent in augmented reality.

1. Brick and mortar shops.

With competition from delivery services like Peapod and AmazonFresh, customer retention is of utmost importance to conventional grocery stores. Some chains have rolled out loyalty cards to satisfy their customers’ needs by tracking and offering discounts on frequently purchased items…and to give their cashiers more things to ask you about during checkout. According to Supermarket News, when retailers use shopper data mined from such programs and apply it to pricing, promotions and assortment, they can see a 4%-7% increase in gross profits.

Now imagine a customer loyalty platform which allows access to additional layers of purchaser information by incorporating augmented reality marketing in the form of personalized touchpoints that build a bond between the consumer and retailer. A PwC poll showed that 52% of respondents felt the in-store experience is a major feature that brings them back. So an app that scans the produce section, offering tips to help pick the freshest fruits and vegetables, or gives meal prep advice and side dish suggestions when selecting meats would give the store a competitive edge over its e-retailer counterparts by adding value to the shopping trip.

2. The real estate industry.

The real estate industry could use AR technology to take the home buying experience to the next level. Currently, agents spend up to $2,500 “staging” a property for potential purchasers by making it look like a cozy and comfortable model home, not unlike you do the first time you plan to invite a date back to your place. Tactics may include depersonalizing and decluttering or minimalizing furniture to show off the size of the space. By positioning a property in its best possible light, it will spend 72 percent less time on the market and generally sell for more money according to the Real Estate Staging Association.

But what if staging could be customized based on applying buyer preferences with augmented reality technology? A family likely to update a traditional home with modern design elements could view these modifications through a realtor’s AR app, or they could turn what was a basic guest room into an inviting children’s playroom by seeing bright colors on the walls and an overflowing toy chest. An empty backyard could be altered with images of a perfectly placed fire pit or a party-friendly pool and hot tub. By offering these visualizations, augmented reality tools can take buyers beyond the limitations of virtual video tours, actively making a house for sale feel less like someone else’s space and more like their very own dream home.

3. Entertainment and event marketing.

An effective hashtag can be crucial to promoting an event as these callouts help attendees organize their experiences and stay virtually connected to the occasion, which is why bridezillas now agonize over generating the perfect one. Better still is for marketers to actually provide participants with unique content they can share via social media to pique their friends’ and followers’ interest in what they’re up to.

An augmented reality application could easily place the image of a concert-goer on center stage right next to the performer, allowing them to forgo the expensive meet and greet tickets to get virtually up close and personal with their favorite singer or band. Similar technology could layer a photo of an excited football fan into a shot of the end zone without the risk of getting tackled by players twice his size. By including a feature that allows these generated photos to be screengrabbed and shared straight to Facebook, Instagram, etc. the interactivity of the event has been heightened with unique pictures far surpassing the average cell phone shots taken at concerts and games. Given that a Ticketfly study showed that almost a third of 18-34-year-olds are using their phones during half of an event or longer, organizers can and should be using AR to steer this usage in a way that will help sell future tickets.

From small businesses to large events, a variety of traditional industries could stand to benefit from these unprecedented augmented reality marketing opportunities. The sky truly is the limit, and it could very easily be augmented, by any organizations willing to take advantage of AR.