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Working with Wireside: Campaign ROI, Spotlight on SDN

I’d like to highlight the launch of the SDN Consortium, which Wireside fully managed for the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Lab (UNH-IOL). This campaign, like many, began with a conversation with the executive leadership, where Wireside, having assessed the IOL’s assets and work in the SDN arena as well as industry trends, proactively made the recommendation to pursue a campaign on SDN that was not originally on the radar.

Appropriately assessing the value of the news, we recommended and pursued the media strategy to hold a virtual, domestic press conference for top tier tech trades and major industry analysts.  The goal was create industry awareness to support SDN Consortium Membership sales at $20,000 USD a piece.  This was not the industry’s first or the only SDN testing consortium so we played up the “best” angle.

Assets Wireside developed from scratch that required little to no edits by the client, included: campaign plan and timeline; press and analyst lists; key messages; press release; PitchEngine microsite; press conference save-the-date and official invitation; press conference script, run of show, and seed questions for QA; social media; and follow up correspondence with the media. We hosted a dry run and, afterwards, provided guidance for improvements in the verbal presentation and deck.

Media outreach via traditional and social means secured 20 RSVPs and 13 final attendees (we find 2:1 RSVP to attendee ratio is normal), along with an additional 8 journalists/analysts that requested materials.  Managing an embargo, we garnered 35 highly favorable feature stories, one mention and a very positive analyst report from a firm that is not on retainer with the client.  As of 8/18 the coverage garnered more than 8 million online impressions according to Cision; the Pitch Engine page garnered 7,576 impressions according to Pitch Engine; and the press release has been viewed 6,894 times according to Business Wire, who also reports a potential social media audience of nearly 350K from tweets, shares and retweets in the first week of press release publication.  Please see our clients in the news section, or just Google “SDN Consortium” and take your pick of the coverage secured by the Wireside team.

Wireside completed this campaign from start to finish in 10 weeks.  As a result of the Wireside launch, the client sold a membership straight away, a $20,000 value, and is currently in talks with others.  Taking into consideration the immediate membership sale, the advertising equivalency of the 35 feature stories, and the amount an analyst firm typically charges to author a report, the ROI on this campaign was very high.  In the words of the client contact, “We are all really excited about the extensive amount of coverage! Thanks to all the help from the Wireside team! This was a great success!”

The high degree of media and tech industry know how, customer service, attention to detail, nimbleness and flexibility, results and ROI described above are typical of Wireside.  If we can help you, please contact us!

 

 

Clay Risen Shares Candid Insights into NYT Op-Ed

Last week, the Richmond PRSA hosted a Q&A with Clay Risen, senior staff editor of The New York Times op-ed page. For over an hour, Risen walked us through the ins and outs of the op-ed department at The New York Times, which included his daily responsibilities and what it takes to successfully get an op-ed pitch in front of the staff.

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If your client has ambitions of getting an op-ed featured in The New York Times, here a few tips to consider from the senior staff editor:

The generic New York Times op-ed email inbox isn’t the best place to land your pitch

According to Risen, the New York Times op-ed email inbox receives about 500 emails daily, all of which are reviewed by a clerk. Half of those emails are spam, while the other half are actually aimed at a specific person. Between the emails that inundate the generic op-ed inbox and the ones that reach Risen directly, he only reads about 40 pitches a day. Thus, it’s important to bypass the generic op-ed inbox and reach out to the editors directly.

Worn out opinions and misused historical references aren’t going to cut it

With Risen only reviewing 40 pitches a day, most of which are rejected, it’s imperative that your pitch stand out. As with any publication, you have to know what the editor is looking for. Risen stated that he’s looking for interesting ideas and perspectives, timeliness and diverse points of view from a variety of regions. More specifically, he explained that he would like to see op-eds that explore issues in one region that are relatable to everyone, no matter where they are located. On the other hand, you can guarantee that a pitch clothed in worn out opinions about the latest happenings in politics won’t get you very far.

Simply passing an idea along for an op-ed can be best

When it comes whether or not you should send an initial draft of an op-ed or just an idea, most of the time doing the latter can work in your favor. Considering that Risen is regularly swamped with emails, he stated that sending along a shorter pitch or passing along an idea is a great start when you don’t have a complete op-ed. You’ll be happy to know that Risen makes it a point to respond to all of the pitches that he carefully reviews by the end of the day. According to Risen, you can feel free to follow up once via email if you don’t hear back.

Making the editor’s job easier will always get you the win

Our very own, Andrea Maclean, submitted a question to Risen that he answered during the email/ audience portion of the Q&A. The question was about Risen’s likes and dislikes when it comes to working with PR professionals. Risen stated that he appreciates when a publicist clearly communicates what they have to offer from a client, which makes his job easier when it comes to finding the appropriate source for an op-ed. Furthermore, toward the top of his list of dislikes were generic pitches along with cliché phrases and casual language used in professional writing.

Overall, Risen’s responses to the Q&A provided everyone with a candid look into his world as the senior staff editor of the New York Times op-ed page. Certainly, you can apply these tips when pitching your next op-ed to this world class media outlet.

Traveling to Tokyo? Pre-planning will make all the difference!

The Wireside Communications team travelled to Tokyo, Japan last fall to meet one of our largest clients and as the Operations Manager, I wanted to plan a stress free trip for them.  Fortunately, I found a great deal of information and advice online during my research to aid me in planning.  So, if you happen to stumble across this post, I hope it will make your trip to Tokyo easier to plan and more enjoyable. tk

Planning: Where do I start?  Travel magazines, websites and blogs hold a plethora of information that you can use to plan a successful trip.  You can find information ranging from flight tips, airport layouts, hotel reviews, sights to see, and the customs of the country you are visiting.  For example, do you want to know if you should tip in Japan and how much?  The answer is right there at your fingertips!

Airports: Where should I land?  Tokyo is accessible by two airports, The Tokyo International Airport (a.k.a. Haneda), and The Narita International Airport.  Both have their advantages.  Haneda is closer to Tokyo, which significantly reduces travel time into the city, but offers fewer flight options.  Narita is the main hub for international flights, which means you have many more options to choose from and that could save you quite a bit of money, but bear in mind your commute to the city will be longer.  Two of my co-workers flew into Haneda and one into Narita; all three of them made it to the hotel easily.

Transportation to hotel: How do I get to the city?  Japan is a country crisscrossed by trains, subways and buses.  If you’re planning a visit to Japan, we recommend several websites we found useful while planning our own company’s trip to Japan, including The Access Wayfinding for Haneda and The Route Navigator for Narita.  One tip that can make getting to your hotel easier is to use the Airport Limousine Bus.  This bus runs a route from both airports to the most popular hotels in Tokyo making it an easier option than taking the subway after an overnight flight.  The downside is the bus has a limited timetable.  Researching your travel options ahead of time will give you the information needed to navigate the Tokyo transit system and get you to your hotel in no time.

General Transportation: How do I navigate Tokyo?  Once you are in the city there are several transportation sites and apps to help you get around.  One of the easiest sites to use is HyperDia and you can find general information about transportation options at japan-guide.com.  Locals are very friendly and everyone my colleagues asked went out of their way to show them to their destination. Depending on your travel plans while in Japan, you might want to consider purchasing the Japanese Rail Pass (JR Pass).  This must be purchased ahead of time.  You will be mailed a voucher to exchange for the rail pass at the airport.  This rail pass is only for “Temporary Visitors” and you must get your passport stamped to indicate your visitor status. The Japan Rail Pass desk attendants speak English and the bigger subway stations have Information desks staffed by English speakers to help you out.

Accommodations: Where should I stay?  There are infinite options to choose from.  Most business travelers stay at a traditional business hotel recommended by colleagues or friends who have previously traveled to Japan.  I found the travel websites such as Expedia, Priceline and Travelocity to be very informative.   My colleagues chose to stay at the Dai-Ichi Hotel Tokyo, which was recommended by our clients.  This turned out to be a great decision since the hotel caters to the international business traveler and offered the usual amenities.  It also had the added benefit of being within walking distance to the office building where the team meetings were being held.  If you have a local contact, reach out for their advice; you will find their input invaluable during this phase of planning.

Power: Can I use my electronics?  The power grid in Japan is very similar to what we use in the US.  The voltage is slightly lower in Japan, which means it might take longer to charge your electronics, but in most cases you will be able to plug in without a problem.  However, you will need an adapter for any device that has three prongs, as Japan uses a two-prong outlet system.  International adapters are easy to find at any airport; I purchased a small one at Best Buy.

Communication: Will my phone work?  Make sure you check with your cell phone provider and add a global plan if it is available.  Verizon’s global data and calling plan costs $80.00, but can be prorated based on length of stay.  For travelers who do not have this option do not fret!  One of my colleagues lives in Spain and her provider, Telefónica, did not offer a global plan option, so she purchased a no-calls, data-only 3G SIM card for about $60.  There are several Japanese companies such as Rentaphone or Softbank  that offer cell phones, SIM cards and pocket Wi-Fi devices to rent while in country.  You have the option to order online prior to your trip and have the devices delivered to your hotel or you can walk up to one the kiosks in the airport and take care of it when you land.  Most airports in Japan have vending machines where you can purchase SIM cards, mobile devices and other accessories.  The team relied on Wi-Fi when at the hotel and Skype to communicate with friends and family back home.

Finances: Can I use my credit card and the ATMs in Japan?  The easy, but not so helpful answer is sometimes.  The first step is to inform your bank of your upcoming trip, otherwise your purchases may get flagged as fraudulent.  You can usually use your credit card, but you definitely want to have cash on hand!  The majority of my colleagues’ purchases were made with cash while out and about in the city.  Not all ATMs in Japan will accept debit cards issued outside of the country so make sure you take advantage of the ATMs located in the airport.  The ATMs found in the post offices, 7-Eleven stores (of which there are many), the international ATMs at the major department stores and inside the Shinsei Bank branches will usually accept foreign debit cards for cash withdrawals.

Insurance: Should I purchase trip insurance?  We chose to purchase trip insurance through World Nomads for a nominal amount.  We felt this was a good bet given the overall cost of the trip.  There are other companies who sell travel insurance, but I found this plan to be the most reasonable.

Sightseeing:  What should I see?  There are so many fascinating sites to see in Tokyo that you will want to spend some time looking at travel blogs to see what inspires you.  If you are a confident traveler and like to strike out on your own, have at it.  For those travelers who like a readymade itinerary check out The Best of Tokyo in 3 or 5 days or see the highlights in 36 hrs by following the steps in the article 36 Hours in Tokyo, or if you’re busy working you could always opt for a fun and quickie bus tour, as my colleagues did.

Apps: Which ones should I download? If you get one and only one, get the iTranslate app, which is very handy for translating quick questions and text from English to Japanese.  Japan is a very tech savvy country and my co-workers had quite a few conversations using their iPhones. Do learn how to say at least please – onegaishimasu – and thank you – arigatō. The locals will appreciate it!

Traveling for business can be fun, and with advance planning you can take stress out of the equation.  By researching and learning about where you are headed you will be able to relax, sit back and enjoy your adventure!

 

 

 

 

PRSA’s Media Training Bible with Brad Phillips

Recently, President of Phillips Media Relations and author of The Media Training Bible, Brad Phillips, joined the Richmond PRSA to instruct PR pros on preparing themselves and their spokespeople for media interviews.  Below I’ve outlined highlights from the class.

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Three is the magic number

Brad recommends that speakers develop three main messages when going into an interview or preparing for a speech. Speakers should either focus on one main theme supported by three ideas, or three main concepts supported by interesting data and examples. There is no perfect answer as to why this is the best strategy, but our brains seem to like organizing information into bits of 3.  For example: Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; red, yellow, and green); and small, medium, and large. When an audience is given too many points, they tend to lose interest.  On the flipside, too few points or messages can lead to redundancy.

The three-legged stool of messaging

Keeping the number 3 in mind, when constructing a solid message, a helpful visual is the three-legged support stool.  Imagine a three-legged stool, with each leg representing support for your message: stories, statistics and sound bites.  To put this into action, first, envision your message.  You want to put it into context, so you tell a story.  To support your story, you then cite statistics.  It’s important to keep in mind that numbers tend to not stick with an audience unless they are unexpected or shocking.  Lastly there are sound bites: what key piece of information do you want your audience to take away? Think of superlatives or extremes to give your audience to drive your point home. For example, “This is the biggest technology advancement in 50 years” – using an impressive superlative will keep your audience’s attention and hopefully stick with them after you’re done speaking.

Body Language do’s and don’ts

When giving a speech or being interviewed, it might be easy to focus only on the words you are saying and forget about your motions/actions..  As body language can make or break an interview or speech, Brad provided a few tips for proper body language.  First off, the use of gestures is a good thing.  Some people say the contrary, but as we are naturally expressive to some degree when we speak, we shouldn’t fight it when the spotlight is on us.  Fidgeting and quick movements are distracting, however, and should be avoided. Additionally, gestures actually improve listener comprehension, which many people don’t know.  If sitting while speaking, lean slightly forward to show engagement. This also makes it easier to gesture and be expressive while speaking.  Last, think about hand placement.  It can be easy to fidget and not know where to place your hands when you are nervous.  Get used to either resting your hands in your lap when sitting, or clasped in front of you if standing, or even keeping them by your sides when standing.

The power of tone

Maintaining a proper tone in speech is vital when all eyes are on you.  Though this may be obvious,  it can easily be forgotten when under pressure.  When speaking, think about a topic you are passionate about and speak as if you’re discussing that.  If asked a tough question, never sound defensive.  Instead, say something like, “Thank you for asking that question,” and move on with your point. Maintain an upbeat attitude even when being put on the spot or stumped.  It may be beneficial to practice having someone ask you tough questions and see how you react.

Brad’s tips on preparation for speeches and interviews, in conjunction with his website, http://www.mrmediatraining.com/, provide PR professionals with an arsenal to prepare themselves and their spokespeople for media success.

Wireside Recap: 2015 PRSA International Conference

I recently attended my first PRSA International Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The event, which was packed with educational sessions and networking opportunities, drew about 2,000 PR professionals from across the country.  Although each session brought something unique to the table, I want to highlight one of my favorite speakers from the conference, and key takeaways from his session.krr

Being part of a high-tech PR firm, I was eager to attend one session in particular.  David McCulloch, Sr. Director, Corporate Communications, Cisco, spoke on the session, “The ‘Internet of Things’: Are You Ready for the Opportunities and Risks?”  He provided some interesting examples to demonstrate the IoT in action.

  • The Henn Na Hotel (which translates to “Weird Hotel” in Japan) will be the world’s first hotel fully staffed by robots. These robots come in different forms; some made to look and have mannerisms like humans; others, like animals or cartoons. These robots speak several different languages: English, Japanese, Chinese and Korean. The robots perform duties such as checking guests in, carrying luggage, and cleaning rooms.
  • Physical sensor technology company Sensum uses sensors to detect the physiological changes of audience members during presentations. These sensors enable a company to determine whether audiences are surprised, excited, or bored. This diminishes the need for traditional pencil and paper surveys, providing the speaker with feedback with little to no effort from his or her audience. Additionally, this allows the speaker to garner genuine feedback that is not affected by hastily – or dishonestly – completed surveys. This also solves the common problem of surveys not being completed, period.
  • This past September, the Food and Drug Administration accepted an application to evaluate a new drug-sensor-app system that tracks when a pill has been taken. The drug under discussion is Abilify, an antipsychotic. The actual sensor will only be the size of a pencil tip. The app will come connected to a Band Aid-like sensor, worn on the body, which will know when a tiny chip hidden inside a pill is swallowed.  This way, if patients aren’t taking their pills, doctors will be alerted.
  • Target made headlines back in 2012, when the store found out about a high school girl’s pregnancy before her father did. The store was able to trace the teen’s buying patterns, and based on her recent purchases, began sending her coupons for baby products in the mail. Her disgruntled father, unaware of the pregnancy, stormed into Target and had it out with the manager. He later found out his daughter was, in fact, pregnant, and apologized to the manager.

McCulloch’s examples of the IoT in full-effect not only engaged his audience, but left some of us shocked – and possibly uneasy – about the evolution of technology and the ways businesses can utilize it to uncover personal details about consumers.

My first PRSA International Conference was an unforgettable experience. Not only was I provided with an opportunity to network with others in the field, I was also able to get a crash course in the do’s and don’ts of PR from some of the most prominent names in public relations.

 

The New Face of Influence is as Sweet as Pie

Over the past few years, the definition of influencer has undertaken a significant transformation.  Gone are the days where our daily dose of news is obtained during the 6 o’clock broadcast, delivered by legendary anchors behind a desk.  For the most part, we no longer read the headlines of yesterday in the form of a newspaper with a morning cup of coffee in hand (unless you’re my 75-year-old father, that is). pie

Media and analysts will continue to be a valued source of information but as PR professionals, we must continue to recognize that the face of those with the ability to influence our clients’ stakeholders is changing.  Through social media, we’ve seen the emergence of a new form of influencer.

Average people, who may or may not be experts in their own right, are taking to various social platforms to share their opinions and inadvertently inspiring others to take action.  In some cases, these social media stars are even benefiting financially.  For example, YouTube star PewDiePie earned $7.4 million from his YouTube channel last year.

A prime example of the power of social influence is the recent surge in sales for Patti LaBelle’s sweet potato pie, thanks to a James Wright Channel YouTube tribute to the tasty treat.  To date, the video has received 4.1 million views.  Viewers watch as the LA-based singer digs into the pie and channels the legendary soul singer, belting out tunes like “On My Own” and “Isn’t it a Shame.”

In response to the viral video, pie sales soared, selling at a rate of one pie per second for 72-straight hours the weekend before Thanksgiving.  As the exclusive retailer for the Patti LaBelle pastry, Wal-Mart’s across the country sold out of the pie – including our own local store where I captured the image to the right.

While building trusted relationships with traditional media and analysts is still, and will always be, an important step in establishing our clients’ brands, we must keep an eye out for those with the power to drive others into action – even as unconventional as it may seem at times.  Whether in B2B or B2C marketing, the need to identify and connect with influencers applies across the board as they may just be the direct line of communication to your clients’ target audience.

Networking Tips for Young Professionals

This week I’m attending my very first PRSA International Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.  The conference offers a mix of educational sessions and an opportunity to meet PR professionals from across the word.  In preparation for the event, I thought I’d provide some tips to my fellow young professionals for getting the most out of this and future networking opportunities.

  • Have your elevator pitch down-pat. A great elevator pitch is crucial to engage others during a networking event. You’re going to meet a lot of people, and if you want to grab their attention, you better do it quickly.  A great boss or supervisor will take the extra step to ensure you have yours perfected before attending your first networking event (I know mine did).  Introduce yourself and give a brief background on your company, for example: networking hello tags
    • Where is it located? How many locations do you have?
    • What do you specialize in?
    • What types of clients do you have? (If applicable)
    • What are your primary job responsibilities?

Be sure not to ramble on too long about yourself, though – elevator pitches are supposed to be quick!

  • Put down your phone. If you don’t know anyone at an event, the worst thing you can do is to be antisocial and glued to a mobile device!  When I first started attending networking events in college, I would often turn to my phone instead of actively introducing myself to others.  As you grow as a professional, that urge will disappear.  You will realize after your first few networking opportunities that having your phone as a crutch is only going to hurt you.  If you have your elevator pitch perfected, you can go confidently into a room full of strangers and share you story.
  • Be proactive. You may have handed out countless business cards to hundreds of contacts at every event you’ve attended. The next step is to sit back, relax and wait for them to start reaching out to you.  Right?    The only way you can be sure opportunity knocks is to reach out and grab it yourself.  Instead of waiting on others to come to you, call or email new contacts to touch base and remind them of you.  Even a quick note saying “it was great meeting you” puts the ball in their court, prompting a conversation.
  •  Become a follower. In most cases, you hear “be a leader” – but this case is an exception.  Creating new connections is the easy part of networking.  Maintaining them is the hard part.  You didn’t meet all these new people for nothing!  Find the social profiles of the people you met.  Connect with them on LinkedIn.  Follow their company on Twitter.  ‘Like’ their company’s Facebook page.  Stalk them online (just kidding).  You get the picture.  Follow them in every professional capacity you can, and when applicable, like and share the content they are posting so they know you have a genuine interested in what they are saying.

I hope some of these tips were useful to you!  What networking tips do you have for young professionals?

 

The Rules of Engagement: Impacting the Bottom Line from the Inside

We recently attended a PRSA seminar and though the agenda covered a variety of topics, one theme echoed across the board: employee engagement.  Surveys from a range of sources place the national employee engagement level around 30 percent, meaning that 70 percent of employees – regardless of industry – are non-engaged in the work place.  The number is staggering and the implications are even worse: if employees are not reaching their full potential then the companies they work for can never achieve maximum output.  Unengaged employees have a direct impact on the bottom line, with Gallup estimating that active disengagement costs the U.S. $450 to $550 billion each year.  office7

Over the past few years, driven a great deal by the latest and largest generation in the workforce – the millennials – there has been a shift in the structure of company benefits and incentives.  While pay is still an important factor, its relevance has been toppled by a deeper connection to a company and respect and recognition within an organization.  Employees, especially those among a generation that’s shaking and shaping the workforce, want to know that the company they are working for is making a difference and in turn, that they are doing the same, and that their hard work is being recognized and rewarded.  By definition, employee engagement is the willingness and ability to contribute to a company’s success.  In order to foster this type of connection between a company and its team members, an employee-centric culture must exist within the work environment.

Company perks, such as flexibility in work hours and casual Friday, play a key role in employee satisfaction, but are only one component to achieving complete engagement.  Building a team that has an inherent interest in the work they are doing and the guiding principles of the business is the best way to fuel a company’s productivity and improve overall well-being.  Based on extensive research, Gallup’s “State of the American Workplace” report, companies should consider the following to optimize employee engagement and positively influence the bottom line:

  • Hire the right people. Seminar speakers Abbie Fink, vice president and general manager of Phoenix-based HMA Public Relations, and Tom Hoog, former president and CEO of Hill & Knowlton, emphasized that organizations should hire for fit, not skills.  We should assume that potential employees have the specific skills required to do the job.  What we can’t assume though, is that they are a natural fit for our organization based on the impressive background summarized in their resume.  Take time to get to know candidates during the interview process and ask questions that can help you determine if their goals and aspirations are in line with those of the company.  Especially at the managerial level, seek those that will support, mentor and effectively lead their teams.
  • Recognize team members’ strengths and empower them to build upon those strengths. Research shows that employees who use their strengths on the job everyday are six times more likely to be engaged on the job.  While some strengths emerge naturally, others may not be as obvious and as a result, may remain dormant and not effectively utilized.  One resource used by many organizations as a means to tap into talent is StrengthsFinder.  Companies will see great benefit from recognizing the strengths of its employees and empowering them to nurture and expand those skills to achieve full potential.
  • Focus on the well-being of employees. Gallup research showed that employees who are engaged in their jobs are generally in better health and have healthier habits than employees who are not engaged or are actively disengaged.  Supporting the well-being of employees helps companies keep their health costs lower and output higher.  Initiate programs aimed at improving the health of employees and hold team members accountable by setting realistic goals.

It’s up to each agency to cultivate their own culture from within and create a work environment that fosters employee engagement.  Here at Wireside, we fully recognize that our team is our most important asset and take steps to let them know how much they’re valued.  The workplace culture is reflective of the collaborative spirit of the agency.  While the work is fast-paced and challenging, the agency ethos is to be supportive and transparent.  As a small agency, we have the flexibility to design work perks around the things that matter most to our employees.  For example, we often send our team to fun, off-site learning seminars and extend business trips to accommodate time for personal travel/exploration.  This year, some of our team members went on a once in a lifetime adventure in Kyoto, Japan as an opportunity to get to know each other better and share a truly special experience.

What methods, practices or principles has your organization implemented to enhance employee engagement?

 

Today on The Jetsons: Drones Delivering This Holiday?

I recently attended a PRSA talk titled, “Send in the Drones – Keeping Journalists out of Harm’s Way,” where Rose Mooney, executive director, Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership gave attendees a full debrief on the what, why and how of drones and their use in journalism. drone

Being a part of a high-tech PR agency, as well as a consumer, I was interested to learn more about this emerging technology and how its use cases seem to be evolving.  Originally designed for military use, the flying copters have made their way into other industries such as farming and will soon be landing into the hands of thousands, and maybe even millions, of Americans.  Drones are expected to be one of the hottest gifts this holiday season and top retailers are seeing far greater value in the gadget than being just another item (literally) flying off the shelves.  In case you haven’t heard, Walmart recently asked the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) permission to test drones for making deliveries to customers in its parking lots and to customers’ homes.  After testing drones within facility walls, the major retailer wants to follow in Amazon’s footsteps with its drone efforts.

Earlier this year, the FAA began allowing Amazon to test drones for its new delivery system, Amazon Prime Air.  This was step one in turning Amazon’s new, futuristic delivery service into a reality.  Amazon Prime Air’s goal is “to safely get packages into customers’ hands in 30 minutes or less using small unmanned aerial vehicles,” according to the Amazon website.  You can view a demo of Amazon Prime Air here.  Pretty cool, huh?

Of course, not everyone is completely on board with the idea of drones.  According to a recent Fortune article , FAA official Rich Swayze says that as many as one million drones could be sold during this year’s holiday season.  These UAVs (unmanned aircraft vehicles) have proven to be dangerous on several occasions in the past.  For example, pilots have reported drones flying too close to their aircrafts, and some drones have even obstructed firefighting efforts.  The FAA is moving quickly to regulate the use of drones.  Educational efforts are also underway by big box electronic retailers like Best Buy who have begun offering e-learning courses on proper use and safety regulations for recreational drones.

But the reservations of the FAA aren’t stopping Amazon.  CEO Jeff Bezos says that someday, drones will be “as common as seeing a mail truck.”  Furthermore, the company has requested that specific air space be designated for commercial drones so it can do quick deliveries.  Although this plan has been in the works for several years, it will take several more to actually be implemented.

In the meantime, we’ll look to the skies to watch this Jetson’s inspired world unfold.  Have you seen a drone in action?  If so, do you think they are the delivery force of the future?  And more importantly,  will you be adding a drone to your Christmas list?

The Race through Richmond

There’s a feeling in this city, before even the smallest of snowstorms hit, when the masses stock up on necessities and determine their fight or flight approach.  As 100,000 of the world’s best cyclists from more than 70 countries and 450,000 spectators transcend upon Richmond for the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Road World Championships, that feeling is once again in the air.  With road closures and an intentional influx of people at a level never previously seen in this area, locals are faced with the options of staying put to experience one of the greatest global sporting spectacles or heading out of town for the nine-day event (many of the latter are cashing in on social commerce opportunities like AirBnB). Richmond2015

From September 19-27, men and women will compete in 12 World Championship races through the capital city of the Commonwealth.  A sampling of these races include: Elite Men and Women, Under 23 Men, and Junior Men and Women.  This will be the first time the annual event has been held in the United States since 1986.  Recent locations include Ponferrada, Spain; Florence, Italy; Valkenburg, Netherlands; and Copenhagen, Denmark.  The location is chosen by the UCI through a competitive bidding process similar to the Olympic Games.

Eyes from across the globe will be fixated on our beautiful River City; the event will be covered by more than 500 media outlets and broadcast to a worldwide audience of more than 300 million people.  Live digital streaming of all races will be available via a new, state-of-the-art Richmond 2015 mobile app for iOS and Android devices.  International exposure is not the only benefit for the host city; the Road World Championships are expected to have an economic impact of $158 million on the state of Virginia.

One of our Superior Production Exchange neighbors, Tijo Media, was recently named the official video partner of Richmond 2015, the organizer of the 2015 UCI Road World Championships.  We even offered a “helping hand” for one of the promo video spots, but sadly, Christine’s champagne toast was edited out!  Check out the video here:  http://richmond2015.com/2015/09/02/richmond-2015-partners-with-tijo-media/.

Wireside’s HQ is located directly on one of the racing routes and we are certainly gearing up for the all of the excitement to come!