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Content Savvy: How GE is Leading the Journey to Brand Journalism

Posted by Paola Norambuena on December 3, 2014 11:50 AM

In a Wall Street Journal article this week, GE’s Gary Sheffer, Vice President Communications & Public Affairs, is quoted—in what will likely become a standard marketing quip—as saying, “We’re practicing what we believe to be journalism on a daily basis.”

In doing so, Sheffer highlighted one of the key challenges brands face today—it’s not just about making products, services or technologies we consume; it’s being the publishers, storytellers and journalists of our time. And there’s a great deal of wisdom in these words, because it’s this fundamental shift in role that helps brands like GE stay ahead.

As brands have understood the importance of content marketing or branded content, some have, more importantly, understood some of the defining characteristics of great journalism: find a unique angle, editing is everything—and stay true to your mission.Continue reading...

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PepsiCo CEO: Don't Cry Over Milk (or Work-Life Balance)

Posted by Sheila Shayon on July 2, 2014 05:20 PM

As women finally move up the corporate ladder in significant numbers, their personal philosophy and style are a study in contrast. Take it from one of the few female CEOs on the Fortune 500. “I don't think women can have it all. I just don't think so. We pretend we have it all. We pretend we can have it all,” stated Indra K. Nooyi, CEO of PepsiCo, in an interview at the Aspen Ideas Festival this week.

It's a different message from the Lean In female empowerment movement founded by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, whose go-for-it challenge to young women is, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

Another female CEO, General Motors head Mary Barra, was asked in a recent (and controversial) interview with Matt Lauer if she can be a good mother and run GM. "I think I can. I have a great team," Barra responded, "and I have a wonderful family and a supportive husband, and I'm pretty proud of my kids the way they're supporting me in this." The social tide quickly turned to question whether Lauer would ask the same of a male CEO, but to wonder why Barra didn't refute the blatantly gender-biased question.

As for the CEO of Yahoo, “The press may be in a world of its own making when it comes to reports on Marissa Mayer,” notes Forbes. “Instead of appearing like a leader who’s reviving what was a failing digital media company at a time when it’s on the cusp of monetizing billions of dollars to improve the company further, she’s a lady who falls asleep before a meeting.”Continue reading...

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Futuristic Brands Tout Flying Cars and Want to Send People to Mars

Posted by Dale Buss on August 6, 2013 06:17 PM

Since the dawn of manned flight, among the goals of big dreamers were flying an airplane that also is an automobile, and traveling to Mars.

As far as the first goal is concerned: check. The Terrafugia Transition "roadable" aircraft, which debuted at the New York Auto Show last year, made test flights at an experimental-aircraft convention in Wisconsin last week. And in regards to the second goal: We're still working on it, but an outfit called Mars One has come up with a remarkable new twist.

The startup behind the Transition had a successful first public outing for its invention at the EAA AirVenture fly-in in Oshkosh, Wis., which ended last weekend. One of the world's most important venues for showing off experimental and classic aircraft, EAA has had some fatalities over the years. But the Transition garnered nothing but oohs and aahs for its flawless performance at the show, where a prototype of the $279,000 machine indeed rolled down a road and then took off into the air.Continue reading...

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"Makers" Reminds Women How Far They've Come... And to Keep Going

Posted by Sheila Shayon on March 1, 2013 11:07 AM

It’s the kind of coincidence that can’t be let alone. The same week that Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer banned working from home in a move that caused major upheaval among the media and the public, “Makers: Women Who Make America,” premiered on PBS, telling the story of the last 50 years of the American women’s movement.

Beginning with the publication of Betty Friedan’s book “The Feminine Mystique,”— which is credited with codifying women’s ennui as housewives and mothers—the three-hour documentary puts the iconic Gloria Steinem, founder of Ms. Magazine, front and center discussing the 70s. “It was heady and exciting and naïve, imagining that if we just explained it to people, that it was so unjust, that surely it would change.” 

Makers is a very modern model of a truly cooperative effort. The project is funded by many companies and organizations including AOL, PBS, Unilever's Simple skincare brand, the Charles H. Revson Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

Narrated by Meryl Streep, the film focuses on the famous and infamous from Steinem and Abzug to Barbara Walters, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and barrier-breaker’s like tennis legend Billie Jean King.Continue reading...

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GE Takes Buzzfeed on a Trip Down Memory Lane

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 20, 2012 03:17 PM

Nostalgia is the new new as old ad icons, logos and brand-related memorabilia are making a comeback. (Exhibit A: General Mills reviving the Cheerios Kid and Jolly Green Giant). It's not just consumer packaged goods giants, and Giants, who are stepping out of a time machine, either.

In one of the more interested branded content moves we've seen recently, Buzzfeed has partnered with GE as presenting sponsor for "The BuzzFeed Time Machine," which re-skins Buzzfeed.com pages to reflect a chosen decade and what its coverage and ads would have looked like then.

Elsewhere on the site, there's GE Rewind, a digital trip down memory lane, and "Then and Again,” a GE-sponsored channel inviting Buzzfeed.com users to upload an old and new image side-by-side to show the evolution of their lives and likes through the years.Continue reading...

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Obama Books Hangout on Google+ for State of the Union Public Engagement

Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 23, 2012 03:03 PM

The first televised U.S. presidential candidates' debate, the 1960 between Senator John F. Kennedy (D-MA) and Vice President Richard Nixon (R-CA), illustrated the power and sway of the media in American politics. As the lore goes, TV viewers gave the debate to Kennedy while radio listeners gave it to Nixon.

In the midst of the Great Depression, March 12, 1933, the nation was held spellbound as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt assured his countrymen that their country would recover during Fireside Chats where Roosevelt shared his hopes and plans and invited the American people to "tell me your troubles."

Fast forward to 2012, and President Barack Obama and the White House will make digital history (again) as he plans to make himself available in a 45-minute live video chat room (dubbed a Hangout) on Google+ on Jan. 30 to answer questions arising from his State of the Union address delivered Tuesday night.Continue reading...

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Best Buy CEO Responds to Critics

Posted by Shirley Brady on January 6, 2012 03:55 PM

Following botched holiday web orders and a scathing media critique about the brand's strategy posted Monday on Forbes.com (title: "Why Best Buy is Going Out of Business Gradually"), Best Buy has been feeling the heat lately.

The consumer electronics retailer's CEO, Brian Dunn, today posted a frank (and rare) response on the company blog to address critics and reassure employees. Dunn apologized for the web ordering errors ("We worked to make amends with customers whose holidays were made less happy because of our mistake, and we're working diligently to make sure it doesn't happen again") and defended the company's strategy, including the need to create a seamless customer experience between physical and digital transactions.

He concluded, "we fully expect to receive our share of criticism – we’re a big company and we don’t always get everything right. But this is one of those times when I felt it was necessary not only to acknowledge our shortcomings, but to set the record straight on issues where facts are being obscured by rhetoric."

Read the embattled CEO's full letter and the responses here and tell us: Good move? Does Dunn come off as transparent or defensive?

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ConocoPhillips Campaign Touts Job-Creation Value of Natural-Gas Boom

Posted by Dale Buss on October 28, 2011 01:01 PM

Big Oil has joined other brand marketers, ranging from Amazon to AT&T, in harnessing the marketing appeal of jobs amid stubborn 9-percent-plus American unemployment. Specifically, ConocoPhillips, with the third-largest oil and gas reserves of any U.S. energy company, has launched a new "public-service" campaign touting natural gas not only as the nation's abundant, clean energy resource — but as a jobs creator as well.

"We wanted to inject the ConocoPhillips voice into the conversation," Davy Kong, spokeswoman for the Houston-based company, told brandchannel. "As a company, we recognize that we need to do a better job of talking about the natural-gas industry and its benefits and explaining them to the public."

In this economic environment, little gets Americans' attention more quickly than talk of jobs. And no industry has a better jobs story to tell right now than natural-gas exploration and development, what with "fracking" technology newly unlocking vast shale-natural gas supplies from Pennsylvania to Texas.Continue reading...

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