Wait! What? 9/11: It’s Christmas for Techies and Fashionistas, Love and PR are One and the Same

week in review 911
Credit: Thinkstock

Happy Friday everyone! Though there was only one national holiday this week, the Apple event is well on its way to becoming a bank holiday itself! From channeling your inner child to channeling your inner serial dater, here’s a round up of some of the top industry stories from this week:

  • This week was all about the big Apple reveal! The Tech Elite flocked to Bill Graham Auditorium this Wednesday as the world was introduced to the new iPhone, Apple TV and…Apple Pencil? The Next Web’s roundup of the event can help you keep track of all the updates and innovations.
  • Another exclusive event for a different kind of elite crowd kicked off this week: New York Fashion Week. Once reserved for the rich and famous, technology has worked its way into the tents at Bryant Park, offering us plebs a piece of the action through live-streaming.
  • You may not be a kid anymore, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t treat September like a new beginning. Fast Company gives advice on how to recapture that “back to school” feeling and refresh your career.
  • Is finding love really about selling yourself? Comedian Aziz Ansari’s book Modern Romance looks at dating in the digital age, but it actually gives some pretty sound marketing advice as well! Whoever said that PR wasn’t romantic?
  • In more somber news, today marks the fourteenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks. WIRED takes a look at how the creators of the 9/11 museum took on the gargantuan task of creating a monument that would honor the memory of those who lost their lives and educate visitors about the tragic event.

That’s all folks! Tweet us your favorite stories of the week @BlancAndOtus.

Wait? What! 8/28: Get Back Into the End-of-Summer Grind With Tips from Buzzfeed, CIO and Instagram

Credit: Thinkstock
Credit: Thinkstock

TGIF! From a panel discussion with some of BuzzFeed’s top San Francisco writers to taking branding advice from Instagram it’s been a great week for us at B&O. Here’s a little recap of some of the top tech stories this week:

  • You’ve spent countless hours prepping for an interview, you know how to highlight your strengths and discuss your weaknesses, but do you know how to answer the oddball questions? CIO asks seven unusual questions to help you nail down that dream job.
  • Now that summer is coming to a close it’s time to get back into the grind of work. Are you ready to jump back in? Fast Company posted a video on how to tackle your work when you get back to the office after a long vacation.
  • Businesses are starting to change the way they brand through photography by taking some tips from Instagram on how to master the art of embracing the ‘perfectly imperfect.’
  • In this week’s offsite a few members of B&O traveled to Microsoft for an “Inside the Newsroom” event to have a panel discussion with a few noteworthy Buzzfeed writers and editors, Mat Honan, Jessica Misener and Nicole Nguyen. Want to craft an engaging pitch? Nicole suggests two brief sentences, a gif and a link to the product.
  • It’s time to bust three PR myths that could be hurting your career. Instead of focusing on landing that “it” piece in the Wall Street Journal, try focusing your efforts on getting a client’s story in a publication that target their audiences on a daily basis.

These were our favorite tidbits of the week. Share yours with us on Twitter @blancandotus!

Wait! What? 7/10: Let’s Get Social!

Facebook...like...obviously. (Thinkstock Photos)
Facebook…like…obviously. (Thinkstock Photos)

This week we bring you the social (Facebook) edition of Wait! What?

Facebook, Facebook, Facebook. It’s all about Marky Mark and his band of merry followers.

  • Sorry Jay-Z, it looks like this may be the end of TIDAL for good. Facebook is getting into the music game – the social network is reportedly bringing music videos and perhaps a music streaming service to its platform.
  • And in other video developments, Facebook has added floating videos, so you can watch and scroll at the same time. Our attention spans needed this.
  • Furthermore, media institutions finding it increasingly difficult to compete in the digital world are now giving up their autonomy and working with Facebook to publish articles on the platform.
  • Meerkat is also turning to FB to drive growth after being snubbed by Twitter. Hopefully, the social juggernaut can save the struggling live streaming service.
  • And in case Facebook’s apparent world domination is making you a little anxious, now there is Joyable, a new app to curb anxiety, which we initially found out about via an ad on Facebook.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @BlancandOtus! Have a great weekend!

Wait! What? 6/26: T-Swift and Apple shake off dispute, #LoveWins for brands

This is really, really colorful. (Thinkstock Photos)
This is really, really colorful. (Thinkstock Photos)

While you were recovering from the season finale of Game of Thrones, we were scouring the web for our favorite tech stories of the week. Take a break from your “Jon Snow’s not dead” debate – because it’s time for this week’s Wait! What?

  • Seriously, Taylor, we’re going to let you finish. Taylor Swift stood up to “The Man” so to speak by threatening to withhold her 1989 album from Apple Music…and then giving it back almost immediately when they responded with a very neutral letter. Victorious PR stunt?
  • Safety first, then teamwork. We are fascinated with Samsung’s new safety truck that features a video feed of the road ahead. It’s lane change time, y’all!
  • Speaking of driving, Uber is well on its way to a PR meltdown in France.
  • Even though few people actually own them, media can’t stop talking about smartwatches, because they’re futuristic and cool. So, how can marketers handle the challenge of the smartwatch? Embrace push notifications, be adaptive and create an ownable experience for publishers.
  • And finally, on a serious note, we are absolutely thrilled that the Supreme Court ruled to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states! Now check out these awesomely supportive tweets from brands that know what’s up.

That’s all – join us next week for a fresh new batch of news at the heart of PR and technology.

Wait! What? 6/19: Enter the taco emoji

Yum. (Thinkstock Photos)
Yum. (Thinkstock Photos)

With the exciting win from the Golden State Warriors you might have missed out on quite a bit of news. Here’s a little recap of some of the week’s top articles on tech and marketing:

  • What do the Pillsbury Doughboy, Tony the Tiger and Mr. Clean all have in common? Brand awareness. Who would have thought that our favorite childhood mascots would teach us a thing or two about charming audiences?
  • Never fear, the taco emoji is finally here! Earlier this week the makers of Unicode Consortium released a new set of emojis complete with popcorn, a cheese wedge and of course, the taco.
  • Facebook engineered its algorithm to better detect and track user interaction on the news feed. The latest update can actually track how long users take to read a post.
  • ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Like A Girl and Love Has No Labels topped the charts as some of the best marketing campaigns from this year’s Facebook Awards.
  • According to researchers, the perfect blog post contains social buttons, an average of 3.2 images and an average number of 9.96 links through out. Seems like overkill, but hey.

What were some of your favorite tidbits from this week? Send us a tweet @BlancandOtus.

Should We All Scream for Live Stream?

Thinkstock Photos
Thinkstock Photos

It wasn’t that long ago when social media changed the way we looked at PR and marketing.

No, seriously. The very first tweet was sent out in 2006, but for a good half-decade, most were simply tweeting to let everyone know what they were having for lunch. I never fell into that category. Over the past several years, companies have now gotten a firm grasp on how they can leverage social media to engage their different audiences.

Now comes the latest social content evolution: live streaming.

Live streaming apps like Meerkat, Periscope and Hang w/ are now all the rage for sharing content, and are perfect for real-time viewing. People and brands are using these apps to share thoughts, answer questions and connect more personally to their followers, in the moment. But since the concept of live streaming content is still in its infancy, some of us are still trying to decipher how this latest form of sharing can be leveraged.

There are many pros for content marketers using live streaming apps to promote their brand. For starters, it can be used as a live “ask me anything” segment with the company’s CEO or other key figures. Having a prominent brand advocate speak live to the company’s audience makes for great expert commentary and brand transparency (because sometimes blog posts and event tweets can sound robotic when all your content is so carefully edited). It can also be used to stream live company events, announce a promotion or offer a great limited-time deal. A celebrity takeover might also work wonders for the company – imagine if Steph Curry or LeBron James live-streamed a party at the Google campus. This could easily go more viral than your typical 30-second TV spot – and without any media buy required.

Now for the cons. Live streaming means you’re doing it all in one take, meaning if you screw up, you can’t get all Bill O’Reilly and ask for a do-over. Second, some live streaming apps have a built-in forum for followers to comment in real-time. You know what that means? Trolls! Even though trolling has been around longer than email, it can still be a nuisance when the comments are directly attached to your brand’s content. Periscope has tried to control the situation with its follow-only mode, which allows for only your Twitter followers to view your stream and content. But that doesn’t do much good for companies with tons of followers (some trolls, undoubtedly) or that are looking to engage non-followers. If you have an idea on how to keep all trolls off live streaming apps, then the rest of the Internet will be happy to pay you millions of dollars to have them removed from other platforms, too.

Most importantly, understand that there are great risks when live streaming on behalf of your brand. Trolls can be ignored during those “ask me anything” segments, but what about those who begin asking questions about topics you really don’t want to discuss? Just like any live in-studio interview, be prepared for any unforeseen questions that might come your way. It’s up to you if you choose to ignore it, or want to acknowledge it. Regardless of how you want to handle it, remember that everyone’s looking at you, and it’s important to stay composed throughout the recording.

My advice: Though live streaming at our fingertips isn’t necessarily a “thing” just yet, it could be very soon. And if you want to leverage this new technology to push your brand and messaging, be sure to have a fully scoped plan behind your campaign. It’s just like shooting a live, one-take commercial … and the feedback will be instantaneous. So know what you want to say, have the right person in front of the camera and please be safe when filming live.

Wait! What? 6/12: Non-Sportsball News of the Week

"Let's take a break from this to discuss the latest technology trends." (Thinkstock)
“Let’s take a break from this to discuss the latest technology trends.” (Thinkstock)

While you were all busy cheering on the Warriors this past week (Cleveland fans, please see yourselves out immediately) and contemplating whether anyone actually looks good in Golden State yellow (the answer is no), we generously took some time out of our rigorous viewing schedules and compiled some top tech newsbites for you:

  • Somewhere, a Target PR intern scheduled their first press release this week. We’re going to assume it was also their last. Whoops.
  • In news that really rocked the tech world this week, Blackberry and Android are contemplating what could potentially be the least consequential business partnership ever.
  • A little blue bird told us that Dick Costolo stepped down as Twitter’s CEO this week, but we’re not really sure since we were too busy checking our Snapchat stories and Instagram feeds to care.
  • Whoever called Mayweather v. Pacquiao the fight of the decade definitely did not anticipate Apple Music v. Spotify. In one corner, Taylor Swift and Drake. In the other, everyone who’s been listening to music since iTunes stopped being a thing in 2011.
  • And in what was legitimately the coolest tech development of the week, Facebook and Microsoft announced that the Xbox One will be in virtual reality thanks to Oculus Rift starting in 2016. We’re brushing up on our Super Smash Bros skills this very moment.

Now, back to sports.

Wait! What? 6/5: Swipe right for funding; Google’s magical ocean view

Thinkstock Photos
Thinkstock Photos

While you were busy gawking at #CaitlynJenner’s new following (2.3 million fans on Twitter — more than Obama), we were catching up on some crazy tech news you might have missed. Here it is:

  • Be prepared for excessive temptation to kick in: Instagram just launched a Shop Now button, allowing users to shop outside the app with a click. All of those #filtered photographs just got so much more enticing.
  • Ever wondered what lies in the deep, dark depths of the ocean? Thanks to Google Maps Street View Oceans, you can now see spinner dolphins, humpback whales, giant turtles… and gain access to 70% of the untapped territory on our planet.
  • Better Re: The solution to all panic caused by dead or dying phones. Just pop an old battery inside Better Re and it becomes a portable charger for anything that uses a USB cable.
  • Swipe right for…potential equity crowdfunding investment opportunities? Unusual matchmaking app Tendr launched in the U.K. on Wednesday. It allows investors to “star” investment opportunities, promising to remove friction and thereby increase efficiency in deal sourcing.
  • Finally, meet Huggable, the robotic teddy bear. He’s a high-tech puppet that lives in pediatric hospitals to help alleviate anxiety, pain and isolation. He can even talk and play with patients with the aid of a remote operator. Touching, but also further evidence robots will be taking over in the near future.

And that concludes this week’s news bites. Go out and celebrate the first weekend of June with some time on the beach. Or at least enjoy the ocean through the lens of Google Street View. See you next Friday!

Wait! What? 5/29: Justice for gifs, a robot cheetah

You can finally post this robot cheetah gif on Facebook. #progress #hope #change (Source: futurist-foresight.tumblr.com)
You can finally post this robot cheetah gif on Facebook. #progress #hope #change (Source: futurist-foresight.tumblr.com)

Hey there, Friday people! It’s been a short week, but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve some cool tech stories. Let’s get this weekend started off right:

  • Google held a big fancy party for itself this weekend and announced about 18 million new projects in development. Even still, that didn’t seem to be enough for some journalists. They must have been holding out for Google Glass 2.0.
  • Comcast, like the Houston Rockets, couldn’t seem to close the deal to buy Time Warner. But this week Charter announced that it had scooped up the company for a cool $55B.
  • Finally the pressure to actually type responses to friends and loved ones has been obliterated completely – gifs now work on Facebook; this is not a drill.  On the flip side this is totally a drill.
  • You ever get the feeling you’re being followed? Well according to recent reports it may be because Facebook Messenger tracks you by default – so you know, check your settings.
  • MIT has created a robot cheetah and they’ve taught it to jump without losing its pace. While it may terrify some of you, the video is insanely awesome.

Now that you’ve had your fill of tech news, go out there and rewatch the new Mad Max for the second, or third, or fourth time.

Wait! What? 5/22: A handy-dandy email helper, a rapping robot and so much more

Thinkstock
Thinkstock

Hey there, Friday people! Here are a few weird tech stories to start your holiday weekend:

  • Having trouble writing emails? Can’t figure out what to say? Crystal can help – the startup uses public online data about email recipients to help writers craft the perfect note. Finally, a purpose for obsessive Internet stalking.
  • It looks like the music industry could be facing another major setback. DeepBeat, the world’s first AI rapper is taking the stage. He may be crap now, but just wait for 2.0.
  • Has Periscope won? Looks like Meerkat is going to have to go through a major overhaul if it wants to stay relevant…but those critters are just so damn cute.
  • For any identical twins out there, your days of trading places are over. New DNA technology makes it easier for police to catch the right twin. Hopefully this will stem the recent tide of identical twin-related crimes we’ve been seeing.
  • Light Phone is the newest iteration of technology that mimics low-tech gadgets of yore. In this case, the mythical cell phone. While it’s only $100, you have to own a smartphone for it to work. So I suggest an alternative – revive your Sidekick and ditch dumb-smart tech forever. Be free!

That’s all for now; go enjoy the long weekend! And be sure to follow us on Twitter @BlancandOtus.