Behind the scenes of Cole Haan’s Subway Stories campaign shoot
Why has it captured my attention (and that of New York)?
As noted in this great overview of the campaign from Luxury Daily, Cole Haan uses New York City’s iconic subway lines to spell the brand’s name (see picture attached) and showcase its products in the never-ending fashion show that is the New York subway system.
Cole Haan's facebook page
Couple these images with poetic story-telling verse and distribution across outdoor, social, mobile, online and print, and you get a brand that weaves itself into the very fabric of the city and allows consumers with an empire state of mind locally and internationally to shop according to their subway line of choice (content + communication + commerce).
It also launched a new hybrid men’s wingtip shoe and initially released it exclusively in its Soho store in downtown NYC (might have to try and get my hands on a pair). You can’t get much more New York than that!
The new Cole Haan mens shoe
What I love most about this campaign is that anyone who has taken a ride on the subway can relate to it. We all have our favourite subway encounters (some less memorable than others) and can picture or embed ourselves in one of the Cole Haan narratives.
Whether you prefer to get lost in the whimsical tales of New York commuters in Cole Haan shoes, or actively upload images of your individual style to contribute to the wider style storyboard of your neighbourhood, Cole Haan’s Subway Stories empowers the consumer to connect not only with the brand, but with the heart of the city – a maze of tracks and trains that carry more than five million people and their individual stories each and every day.
More than that, the campaign is accessible simultaneously across multiple platforms – whether you wish to purchase a pair of shoes or just escape for a few minutes.
When it has millions of people making trips daily around this city, Cole Haan’s work and ability to tie its brand to the daily space and ritual of this world below New York’s surface is invaluable.
Hat tip to Cole Haan and the team at BBH New York on their work with this campaign.
I know that each time I ride the subway I find myself thinking about Cole Haan and it’s only a matter of time before I head downtown for a visit to one of the New York stores.
What do you think?
Has this campaign captured your attention either online or around the streets and trains of New York? Do you have favourite examples of fashion brands utulising social media for storytelling?
How do small businesses plan and execute change communication?
I’ve always greatly admired change communication experts. Be it a corporation or your small one-shop business, change is never easy to implement or communicate.
Never was this more apparent to me than in recent weeks when two separate small businesses of which I am a community member implemented and communicated separate changes.
Sure, decreased barriers to entry across new media channels may mean that small businesses now have access to reach their consumers more than ever, but that doesn’t mean that there’s one cookie cutter model of change communication required – or that new media equals easier change communication research, planning and execution.
In fact, given the intimacy of some smaller communities, I’d argue that the impact of change upon them is equal to, if not greater than members of larger communities, and the work approach required to execute great change communication across them just as rigorous and comprehensive.
So, instead of a ‘top 5 tips’ post, I’m going to share with you below a few of my change communication observations for small businesses from the abovementioned examples.
Talk directly to the community about the impending change
One of the great advantages of being part of an intimate community is having that connection that makes direct communication (both in person and digital) possible. Talk openly and honestly to them about upcoming changes. One small business owner invited myself and another member of the community for a coffee to discuss possible changes they had in mind for coming months. As a consumer, it’s powerful to know that your thoughts and opinions are so highly valued.
Understand your community’s communication channels and habits
Yes, you may be a small business with the opportunity to speak in person with customers, but that doesn’t mean that you should ignore other channels. One small business owner I know shot a one-minute YouTube clip announcing the upcoming change and posted it in the company’s closed facebook group during the peak lunch hours of 12-2pm. Why? Because that’s when many of their community members have access to social media during the working day. The result? I watched the video in-between monitoring social media pages and drafted my questions that evening on the train ride home. All were answered that evening in person.
Be clear in outlining upcoming action
As a member of a small business community, there’s nothing more frustrating than having multiple changes made. Although there may be hiccups and action necessary to tweak and refine changes as they are made within your business, do your best to plan out and anticipate the change actions and timeline and communicate this clearly to your community members so you can manage their expectations. Anticipate key points and questions and prepare collateral to answer and respond to these concerns. Be sure to also give them contact details so they can discuss problems or issues with you throughout the process.
Follow through and keep the community updated
As outlined action is completed or implemented, it’s important to follow-up with your community to let them know about your progress, and that you are being transparent in sharing the change project with them.
Invite constant feedback
Expanding on my first point, take the opportunity to invite ongoing feedback from your community in a variety of ways such as surveys or focus groups. Ask how they are finding the changes; are they experiencing difficulties, have they noticed improvements in service or product as a result of the changes? Every piece of feedback is invaluable in shaping your changes and maintaining a premium service with an engaged and satisfied community.
At the end of the day, change communication is all about making the community feel comfortable, informed and satisfied. The risk of not planning and considering this communication during change is to risk losing your community to a rival small business.
While we are creatures of habit, it’s hard to deny that one of the constants in life is change – and if we are to continue to improve as businesses and communicators, change communication is something we cannot ignore as the channels and opportunities to develop and engage communities continue to flourish and diversify.
What do you think?
Have you worked across change communication before? Do you have any best practice insights to share for small businesses looking to communicate change? Have you encountered any outstanding change communication campaigns for small or large enterprises?
I’d love to hear about your experiences and thoughts.
If you’re in media/communications/marketing/social media and have an hour to spare, I highly recommend checking out the full hour-long video discussion regarding the future of journalism. As an add-on, you might also like to check out the discussion on Twitter via the #heraldsunfoj hashtag.
Moderated by Steve and featuring Phil Gardner, Campbell Reid, Renee Barnes and Russell Howcroft, it discusses not only on journalism, but topics including marketing, advertising, paid content, communications and the wider use of social media by media organisations (particularly newspapers).
Pixels & Ink: A Discussion About the Future of Journalism
‘Media as a snack’ vs ‘Media as a four-course meal’
Steve described two types of media content in the current environment – that which we snack on in bite-sized pieces, and that which we delve deeper into (the four-course meal). Media need to understand consumer engagement with each form, as well as the ability they provide the consumer to share this content.
Content surplus as a bankable trend
In an era of self-publication (for brands as well as individuals) and increased noise we’re all faced with the problem of too much content and not enough time. For media companies, scaling this information and providing value through quality curation is a great opportunity to solve this problem for the consumer.
Steve’s top tips for being a quality curator:
Be knowledgeable and well read on your subject matter of choice
Save materials for later reading – it’s all an opportunity to be well informed and provide value to others
Focus on depth, not breadth. As Steve said, he knows a lot about a few things, and little about most things.
People want to engage with people
People ultimately want to engage with people. The same applies for brands and media. That is, people want to connect with the human element of a brand and those that work for the organisation. Just look at the spectacular success of Zappos and the introduction of Reuters’ ‘social pulse’ as examples of this.
Journalists and media are now community managers
Following on from the previous point, with media personnel now across social media as part of their day-to-day function sharing, curating and creating content – they now have to be adept at managing a community.
Those leading in the media field understand this, and see their role not only as a reporter/journalist/presenter – but as a brand ambassador who is able to acquire consumers and an build an audience through these channels.
Steve cited The New York Times’ Brian Stelter as the best example of this media professional – and I most certainly recommend following Brian and his colleague David Carr on Twitter and subscribing to them both on facebook if you’re interested in media and communications particularly.
Media need to understand the channels
Media need to invest the time and resources to not only understand the distribution process for established and emerging channels, but to investigate how content is being spread, which particular content is being spread, and by whom.
Steve’s top three emerging trends for media?
Building business models that incorporate curation,
Increased data mining and analytics about real-time engagement with media content (Steve used the particular example of chartbeat during the discussion), and
The increased importance of facebook’s open graph. Those media that understand and utilise the open graph to increase views, shares and engagement will improve their edgerank greatly. In short, those media that engage with facebook in this manner will be more valuable than those that don’t.
The public no longer sees media and social media as separate
The one point that Steve wanted the audience to take from the discussion is that the public don’t see media and social media as separate – they see them as one. For that reason, it’s up to media organisations to embrace and understand these channels, and how their story pervades across those with which they choose to engage.
What do you think?
Do you have any additional tips for being a curator or trends you think we’ll be seeing in media?
Were you there last night, and if so did any additional points stand out for you from the discussion?
What are your favourite media brands and who are your favourite media individuals engaging in social media. What about their practice do you particularly admire?
Now I’ve not been to the festival before, and am not certain to what extent social media has been included in previous festivals, but as a communicator I admired the the work of those behind the festival to integrate social media content and communication to drive engagement, and more importantly, sales.
As noted by Mashable’s Lauren Indvik in her round-up of the recent Fashion 2.0 awards, the industry has moved forward with innovation since the latter half of 2010 when it “was sincerely behind other industries in its adaptation of social media, live streaming, mobile and 3D (or, in some cases, “4D”) technology.”
The ongoing work of the team at LMFF this week is testament to that momentum and those strides forward made by the fashion industry.
To break it down for you, here’s an overview of the social and digital communication currently being executed by the LMFF team.
The LMFF website is the hub for everything festival related – including links to tickets, designers’ stores, images, festival highlights, news feed, city maps, seminars, sponsors and added social media properties. It also allows visitors to download their own festival planner, subscribe to the official newsletter (Swingtag) and receive the latest looks from the runway (not a bad way to build a nice database of fashion conscious consumers to communicate with, wouldn’t you agree?).
More than that, something about the site design almost has a bit of a Pinterest feel about it (or maybe that’s just me). Perhaps that will be the next platform to join the campaign for 2013?
If that wasn’t enough, the home page also houses links to the festival’s facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blog and iPhone app – so you can be sure there’s no shortage of timely content for festival-goers and fashion fans to consume and share at their convenience – and no shortage of points and platforms on which to spark discussions, float questions or provide feedback (they’re also using Instagram through their Twitter and facebook pages, and integrating YouTube advertisements that I’ve seen on videos these past few days).
To add to this, the festival is also playing host to a plethora of fashion bloggers, with the crowds creating their own fashion show and playground for fashion writers to snap and interview fellow fashion forward individuals. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen so many bloggers in one place since Blogworld New York in 2011! While I’m sure there are some bloggers receiving greater access to the shows and designers than others – the organisers clearly understand the rise of the blogger and citizen commentator in the industry. We are all self-publishers.
Shop the Runway
Of course, at the end of the day the consumer of this content is left with the burning question: Where and when can I buy these looks? Enter ‘Shop the Runway’ (video above). Allowing the consumer to purchase in-store or online, the site capitalizes on all the great content by giving them a portal through which they can take virtually immediate action with their designer(s) of choice (it’s available via web and the iPhone app). Each designer is allocated their own page, incorporating YouTube footage of their runway show, still images of their collection, and a map of the country with a stockist search by postcode.
Communication + Commerce
The team at LMFF clearly understand that with the connectivity and reach of social media, and the appetite and expectation of the marketplace to consume and share content related to products and brands they love and want, they are now communicating not only with a trade audience, but direct to consumers.
More than that, the LMFF are dealing directly with consumers who expect the ability to take immediate action and seek instant gratification not only in the form of sharing and dialogue, but equally (if not more so) in the form of purchase.
With their content marketing coordinated across an array of media, they are able to track engagement with individual designers, as well as clicks through to online retailers (measuring communication efforts). This connects community and content to commerce and sales, and demonstrates and positions the festival not only as an economic boost for the local economy, but also of direct value to the designers, retailers and exhibitors.
Yes, new platforms and tools will emerge, but with this latest initiative and communication effort, the LMFF has positioned itself as a bridge between this content and commerce for both consumers and designers – and with all the results and lessons from this year, I’m sure that the platforms and communication will only continue to get better as the fashion industry takes even more steps forward in this field.
Kudos to the social media and communication team at LMFF on all their great work. Looking forward to seeing what you’ve got in store for 2013.
What do you think?
Do you have any favourite fashion or luxury brands employing social media marketing and communication? If so, what is it that you enjoy about their communication? Which platforms are they using especially well to engage?
In the post, Michael discusses the bridge between the business of business and the business of PR, and the opportunity each communicator has to help bridge that gap.
That is, to learn and understand the business of your clients or organisation, and employ communication to improve and positively impact that business.
As Michael Writes:
“When I worked at large agencies, it was required that my team knew what my clients did, made, sold, et.al., and I pushed for them to learn as much about how things were done/made/sold. Today, my team knows as much about the client’s operations as they do about its marketing function.
Why? Because the more we know about how a client operates, the more of an opportunity there is for us to create better programming.”
Having started my career as the sole (in-house) communicator (excluding the Marketing Manager and Coordinator) in a national media organisation, Michael’s words resonated with me greatly, and got me thinking about my own time learning the ropes and business of my employer.
It certainly was a steep learning curve – but one I consider myself pretty fortunate to have had.
So, adding to Michael’s post, here are a few of my own tips for getting to know the business of PR for your clients or company. While these come from my own experience on the client side, I hope that all can be adapted and utilised to help pros on the agency side also.
Connect in person
Obviously this one is easier if you work in-house – but the same applies for agency. When you are working across and with multiple business units to communicate both internally and externally, there is no substitute for face time. Make the effort to initiate contact and introductions with people across the business. Letting them know who you are what you do (or will be doing) will go a long way towards establishing strong ties, relationships and channels of information within the business.
Sit in on meetings
This is a great way to further develop relationships with heads of business units, and to get to know those individuals that drive and work within these departments. During the course of your time working with the organisation you may find yourself regularly working with these individuals. Understanding their projects, timelines and day-to-day business will only help build your knowledge of the organisation and allow you to proactively forward-plan.
Organise one-on-one meetings with business heads
Okay, so this one might be a little bit harder to coordinate. These individuals are usually super busy and pressed for time. However, they’re in a senior position because of their knowledge and business acumen, and one-on-one time to learn about them and their team is invaluable. Many of the meetings I had with business heads were over a coffee – giving each of us the time to ask questions and learn more about one another. Looking back, I have no doubt these advanced my knowledge of the business, its people and the wider industry ten times over.
This follows on from the last point, but at no point should you shy away from asking questions. Building your knowledge and understanding of the business will assist in establishing your own intellectual capital around the company and drive results for you and the organisation.
Read up on trade and industry news
This was brought up by Michael in his post, and I couldn’t agree more with him on this point. Whatever niche or sector of business your client or company is in, take the time to read up on news and any trade or B2B media in that area. Reading trade content was a daily routine throughout my time at the organisation – and I can’t tell you how much it helped in planning, reviewing and executing communication for the business.
Remember – you may be the expert in the business of PR and communication, but it’s others that are experts in the business of their business – so take the time and be proactive in seeking feedback from these experienced and knowledgeable heads. This doesn’t have to wait until the quarterly performance review – each and every piece of communication is an opportunity to learn, grow and improve.
So, there you have it – a few of my tips to help you get to know the business of PR based on my own time as an in-house communicator.
What strategies have you employed to get to know the business of PR? Do you have any tips to share with fellow communicators? If you’re in the agency space, how do you adapt to learning the business of PR for multiple clients?
I’d love to hear about your experiences and thoughts.