Boston Comic Con 2017 Was a Crowd Pleaser

What event brought 55,000 fans to Boston in August? Boston Comic Con. From August 11–13, Boston Comic Con celebrated its 10th anniversary giving fans an opportunity to experience the best in comic artistry and pop culture. This year’s show “true to comic, committed to fans” was held at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC) for the first time in order to accommodate the ever-growing audience drawn to this extremely popular event.

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Photo of Boston Comic Con 2017 show floor at BCEC

Boston Comic Con 2017 featured an incredible lineup of celebrity guests, comic creators, cosplayers and more than 100 events appealing to all ages.

Legendary comic creator Stan Lee drew more than 2,000 to his Q & A on Friday night, and continued to meet with thousands of fans throughout the weekend. Other celebrity guests who made waves on social media included John Barrowman of Arrow who witnessed an actual engagement by a Quincy, Mass. couple; new father Ian Somerhalder of Vampire Diaries; Karen Gillan and Matt Smith of Doctor Who; Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith of Jay and Silent Bob; Tim Curry, Barry Bostwick, Nell Campbell and Patricia Quinn of The Rocky Horror Picture Show; Eliza Dushku of Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Karl Urban of Star Trek; Anthony Daniels of Star Wars, Alan Tudyk of Firefly and Star Wars; and Charlie Cox of Daredevil.

Another big hit at this year’s Boston Comic Con was the Cosplay Costume contests for adults and kids that featured original home-made costumes derived from the comic, sci-fi, horror, anime and fantasy worlds.

Boston Comic Con 2017 also connected to the local community through a series of events leading up to the show including a Treasure Hunt at famous Boston landmarks, cosplayer appearance at Game of Thrones Night at Fenway Park, Faneuil Hall Marketplace’s 5th annual Costume Contest and free movie screening with celebrity guest appearance of actors Patricia Quinn and Nell Campbell of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and a visit by cosplayers to patients at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

One of the highlights of the Boston Comic Con 2017 show was the area featuring the New England Garrison of the 501st Legion, Alderaan Base of the Rebel Legion and the New England R2 Builders. The 501st display featured remote-controlled droids, the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, and costumed Star Wars characters. The 501st New England also collected $7,200 in donations to the National Alliance of Mental Health, Boston Chapter in memory of the late Carrie Fisher, the original Princess Leia.

Mark your calendars! Boston Comic Con 2018 will be held at the BCEC on August 10 – 12.

Boston Comic Con Celebrated 10th Anniversary with a Treasure Hunt

On July 29th, Boston Comic Con celebrated its 10th anniversary by giving fans an opportunity to win exclusive fan experiences for the upcoming Boston Comic Con August 11th – 13th by participating in a Boston-themed Treasure Hunt. The first ever Boston Comic Con Treasure Hunt was a huge success with 53 teams and over 100 participants.

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The teams had to navigate a route through downtown Boston, hitting some of the city’s historic spots along the way. The clues were delivered via Boston Comic Con’s Twitter handle (@BostonComicCon) and at each location there was a Boston Comic Con representative distributing special badges to those who solved the riddles.

The five “secret” locations were the Swan Boats, Edgar Allen Poe statue, New England Aquarium, Paul Revere statue in the North End and the Sam Adams statue outside of Faneuil Hall.

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The Edgar Allen Poe statue in downtown Boston, one of the locations of the Boston Comic Con Treasure Hunt.

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The first place winner won a celebrity photo op and two deluxe exhibition passes, second place won two premium passes and the third place winner received four single day passes for any day.

Each year Boston Comic Con attracts more than 50,000 fans and features over 500 exhibits. It is New England’s largest comic book convention.

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The O’Neill and Associates Boston Comic Con team

 

Demystifying the Facebook algorithm: A guide to reaching your audience

In the span of an internet minute, the content your organization shares online competes for the attention of millions of users—and for the assistance of the Facebook algorithm.

To provide an individual experience to each of its users, Facebook employs a complex algorithm, formerly known as EdgeRank, that ensures the content displayed in your news feed is interesting to you, specifically. Facebook wants to put engaging and entertaining content in your timeline. The company’s goal? To increase the time you spend on its website—and to up its share of the internet minute. While the algorithm and the tactics Facebook uses may change, that fundamental motivation is here to stay.

For companies and organizations, this means that simply posting content cannot guarantee reach. Having 5,000 likes on your page does not mean those 5,000 people are regularly seeing your posts in their News Feeds.

While the intricacies of the algorithm remain a mystery to those outside Facebook, we know the algorithm at its most simple follows three main tenets—affinity, weight, and time decay. Affinity determines how relevant certain content is to you based on your previous activity, while weight and time decay prioritize posts based on post type (photos, videos, text posts) and relevancy (how old is your content?).

So, how do you compete for space on the news feeds of your audience? Following the algorithm, it is essential to generate original content that is relevant to the people who like your page. It must be easy to absorb, encourage user engagement through likes, shares and comments, and should be timely. For example, natively uploaded videos (which keep users on Facebook rather than redirecting them to other sites like YouTube) are much more likely to show up on your audience news feeds, as are photos that encourage user engagement and discussion in the comments section.

Engaging with hot-button issues, current news in your industry, or local trends are all ways to increase your exposure on the site.

If the message and content you send through Facebook is not going to be important or interesting in the eyes of your audience, you cannot expect reach or engagement.

Is Your Crisis Plan Ready for 2017 Realities?

By Anthony DeMaio

Running a network enterprise is exceedingly complicated. The global network of an airline like United makes the business particularly fraught. Industry pressures exacerbate problems and translate to frustration for passengers. What happened two weeks ago in Chicago was an unmitigated reputational disaster. Given the nature of the airline business today, passengers are well aware that operational disruptions can happen. However, this incident was extreme in every way. Today’s media landscape dictates that carriers need to be prepared with much better protocols than those employed at O’Hare.

First things first – flying is more affordable and more popular than it has ever been. Since the federal government deregulated the airline industry in 1978, fares have fallen by nearly 50 percent and passenger traffic has tripled. As much as we the flying public like to complain about the flying experience, the fact that it is uniquely accessible in the United States today can’t be denied.

Among the factors that keep ticket prices down is the practice of “capacity discipline,” an industry buzzword which roughly translates to “fuller flights.” In order to keep costs down, airlines do their best not to have more seats on a route or frequency than the market demands. In the United case ORD > SDF, that was 70 seats, as evidenced by the full flight. And while full flights can sometimes lead to boarding denials, most passengers would rather have a lower fare and take a chance on getting bumped than subsidize a bunch of empty seats. In rare cases, passengers need to be “re-accommodated.”

Other, external factors further complicate matters. While much has been made about United’s overbooking procedures, the flight in question was not technically oversold. Rather, a crew of four needed to be repositioned at the last second in order to work another flight out of Louisville. Any number of factors could have necessitated the deadheading crew including weather, a mechanical failure, poor scheduling or a growing and soon-to-be cataclysmic shortage of pilots.

The airlines remain a mystique industry. There is a certain amount of magic involved in hurtling through the sky at 500 miles per hour and ending up on the other side of the continent, the ocean, or the world in a matter of hours. The airlines need to do a better job of explaining that it isn’t magic, but rather the product of tens of thousands of employees constantly solving a giant and color-changing Rubik’s cube which get passengers to their destinations quickly, safely, and affordably.

So, too, do the airlines need to improve their communications and protocols. In the aftermath of this disgraceful episode, consumer advocates are rushing to push for improved federal regulations and lawmakers in Congress are introducing legislation. But certain problems are never going to go away. That means all carriers, not just United, need to take a hard look not only at what they’re doing but how they’re explaining their decisions. Social media has transformed the media. United’s bad month (including the “leggings incident” before the infamous “re-accommodation”) was made terrible by the wall-to-wall coverage provided by Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other channels. Social Media means there’s a reporter in every seat today, and their content can go viral in minutes. Book-aways, a plunging share price, and irreparable brand damage can result. The once iconic “Fly the Friendly Skies” is now and forever a punch line to a bad joke. All carriers would be wise to examine their crisis plans and employee training manuals to ensure they are up to 2017’s standards.

Business LifeCycle Video Series on MurphyKing.com

Murphy & King Business Lifecycle Pic

So, you want to be the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg? Chances are one in a million (or more) that you will be successful and create that new business model that will change the world.  According to the latest U.S. Census data, 452,835 businesses were born in 2014, well below the 500,000+ that were born every year from the late 1970’s to mid 2000s. The good news, according to the Labor Department’s 2015 numbers, is that startup (defined as being in business 1 year or less) births (240,000) are significantly outpacing deaths (206,000).

For all those thinking of establishing a new business, there are some fundamentals that you need to know.  Attorneys at the Boston-based boutique law firm of Murphy & King decided to share their knowledge of building a business, from startup to sell off, through a series of new videos they produced, available on their website www.murphyking.com. Additionally, Murphy & King attorneys will be featured on video segments and podcasts moderated by Radioentrepreneurs.com providing more in-depth information on specific business issues. Business LifeCycle video episodes debut every other Tuesday, www.Radioentrepreneurs.com segments run every other Thursday.

The “Business LifeCycle” series reviews various issues businesses face including starting a business, dealing with complex challenges while running a business, and selling or closing a business. The series highlights the firm’s attorneys’ expertise in assisting their clients in “unraveling complexity” for seemingly impossible and complicated cases in a straightforward manner.

Harold B. Murphy, co-founder, shareholder and attorney at Murphy & King said that the Business LifeCycle video series provides practical information for anyone interested in starting a business, growing a business, or exiting a business. “Our attorneys are the best in the business at unraveling complex situations and creating opportunities for our clients to be successful. We felt it was important to share our expertise,” said Murphy.

Murphy & King continues to be at the technological forefront of mid-sized law firms with its new “Business LifeCycle” series, following the launch of the first video series in September 2016.

Murphy & King’s Executive Director Bob Perry said it was imperative to the firm to continue to provide fresh video content and new information that will be of interest to the legal and business communities, and others interested in what it takes to start a business.

 “The response to the videos has been very positive as viewers get to know our attorneys and their expertise on a more personal level. We have a very high standard of delivering the best service to our clients and that standard also extends to the content we produce on our website and share on our social media,” said Perry.

Murphy & King worked with media consultant Greg Stone to produce the videos.  Greg said that professional services firms are increasingly looking for innovative ways to connect to their audiences, and video is one method that works.

“Pictures take words into a new direction, and moving pictures augment the impact farther.  A well-produced video can showcase your brains, charm, charisma or experience,” said Stone.

Radioentrepreneurs.com is another online platform that delivers high quality content targeted to the business community.  Jonathan Freedman, host of the Murphy & King business-related podcasts, says that attorneys have a great opportunity to get their message out there through the podcasts and video segments that are produced by Radioentrepreneurs.com

“Radio Entrepreneurs provides a platform for business people and business advisors to share their experience, knowledge and tell their stories with a worldwide business audience.  The attorneys at Murphy & King have utilized the Radio Entrepreneurs network to showcase how they distill and solve complex business issues on behalf of their clients.  In a short segment, the attorneys at Murphy & King have been able to differentiate their offerings and broaden exposure for their unique capabilities.  Radio Entrepreneurs distributes content across numerous social media platforms, gaining extensive exposure for guests,” said Freedman.

Law firms, just like other businesses, know that they need to have a professional presence online.  Murphy & King has taken that to another level by producing high quality content and videos with practical information that people can use in their latest video series “Business LifeCycle.” Look for more innovative marketing initiatives from Murphy & King in the future.

Teamsters Local 633 Right to Work Campaign

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This past January, O’Neill and Associates was approached by Teamsters Local 633, a New Hampshire-based labor union of employees in the transportation and delivery industry.  The Teamsters were concerned by the pending passage of “Right to Work” legislation in the New Hampshire State House. The proposed bill was expected to significantly weaken the strength of labor unions in NH. With only a few weeks until a final vote, O’Neill and Associates was able to launch a high-impact, month-long campaign to mobilize the Teamsters’ 4,700 members against Right to Work. O’Neill and Associates, in collaboration with the Teamsters, focused engagement efforts on three areas: traditional media, social/digital media, and member-to-member communication.

O’Neill and Associates helped generate news stories and editorials urging the House of Representatives to vote Right to Work down by targeting outreach to reporters, editors and freelance journalists on the hazards of the bill.

In addition to targeting traditional media outlets, O’Neill and Associates helped Teamsters Local 633 leverage their Facebook account to create and maintain online activism – motivating supporters and providing them with easy-to-understand action items. The Teamsters’ Facebook page was used to post low-dollar paid promotions as well as organic content, and served to amplify the key messages of the campaign and convert awareness into targeted action.

Finally, O’Neill and Associates was able to engage the union’s own members through an internal email campaign.  This campaign provided members with news updates, calls to action and contact information for key legislators.

The energy and enthusiasm throughout this one month campaign against Right to Work paid off.  On the day of the vote, a significant minority of New Hampshire House Republicans joined almost all House Democrats to block passage of the bill, in spite of a last-minute lobbying push by the Governor and Speaker of the House. The final outcome in New Hampshire was an outlier to the national trend of Republicans efforts to successfully implement Right to Work in many states, This campaign can now be a model for other labor unions around the country on how to defeat Right to Work in their communities.

Total Wine & More Shrewsbury Opening

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Attention all wine and beer lovers! On February 23rd, Total Wine & More opened its newest store in Massachusetts, located in the White City Shopping Center on Route 9 in Shrewsbury. The chain’s newest addition is its third store in Massachusetts.

Total Wine & More, the nation’s largest independently owned retailer of fine wine, spirit and beer, opened to the public on Thursday, February 23, but held a sneak peek preview event on Wednesday evening, bringing out more than 300 people to the new store. Customers and guests were encouraged to browse the aisles filled with more than 8,000 wines, 3,000 spirits, and 2,500 beers while enjoying beer and wine samplings.

The grand opening celebration include music, free wine and beer tastings, and catered hors d’oeuvres.  A champagne toast, courtesy of Moet Chandon, was offered as store management celebrated the ribbon cutting, officially opening the store for business.

To celebrate the Shrewsbury store’s grand opening, Total Wine & More partnered with the Worcester performing arts center, Mechanics Hall, which received 10 percent of all wine sales from the store’s opening weekend. Over the past year, Total Wine & More has worked with over 8,000 non-profit charitable organizations across the country, providing nearly $7 million in-cash and in-kind donations that has helped their partners raise more than $35 million for great causes.

Total Wine & More is optimistic that its new opening in Shrewsbury will help the community as a whole, bringing more than 50 jobs to the area as well as great offerings for customers including affordability and an unparalleled selection and expertise about beer and wine to Central Massachusetts.

Total Wine & More currently has stores in Natick, Everett, and Shrewsbury, in addition to over 170 stores nationwide.

Cramer Unveils “Motion Studios” as Video Becomes Essential to B2B Marketing

As the popularity of online video rises,

so does its ability to drive business for brands.

Experiential marketing agency Cramer today announced the launch of “Motion Studios,” a new unit within the company that partners with clients to develop video content and build it into their marketing strategies. Cramer Motion Studios’ services span the entirety of a video program’s lifecycle, from strategic planning and creative development through production and promotion, all with a focus on driving measurable business results for clients.

“Ninety-two percent of B2B customers watch video online – that’s a number too powerful for companies to ignore,” said Scott Palmer, Creative Director at Cramer. “As B2B brands jump on the video-marketing bandwagon, they have been missing the mark on doing so effectively, because they may not know how. That’s where Motion Studios comes in. We don’t just create high-quality videos, we ensure that companies use them strategically to achieve their marketing goals.”

Cramer’s launch of Motion Studios blends the agency’s expertise in video production, content marketing, and brand experiences for B2B audiences. The Hollywood-like studio at Cramer’s Greater Boston office is designed to meet the needs of a range of clients – whether they are on an indie film budget or a blockbuster budget.

“As more companies follow their audiences into the online video landscape, it continually becomes harder to capture and keep their customers’ attention,” said Julie Walker, Partner at Cramer. “The videos and, most importantly, the brands that standout today are producing state-of-the art, story-rich videos that incorporate high production qualities into their messaging and delivery.”

In launching Motion Studios, Cramer is responding to a marketplace need as illustrated in the following recently published statistics about online video consumption for B2B consumers:

  • 92 percent of B2B customers watch videos online.
  • 70 percent of the top 100 search listings on Google are video results.
  • There is an 80 percent increase in lead conversions when video is added to a marketing landing page.

“The data proves it: video is now critically important for B2B marketers, yet many brands don’t know where to begin,” said Brent Turner, SVP of Solutions at Cramer. “Your video needs to be timely, tailored, and tuned in to your marketing goals, and most importantly, to your audience. To get there, you need the power of a studio behind you and with you every step of the way. You need Cramer Motion Studios as your trusted partner.”

Cramer’s launch of Motion Studios comes after decades of developing award-winning videos in partnership with a collection of the world’s top brands, including ADP, Caterpillar, Fidelity, Genzyme, IBM, Staples, and UnitedHealthcare.

To learn more about Motion Studios at Cramer, visit: cramer.com/motionstudios

About Cramer

As a brand experience agency, Cramer is thriving in today’s new experiential era of marketing. The company’s fast growth has come as it has expanded its relationships with long-standing clients, while also landing a new roster of global brands, such as Caterpillar, GE, IBM, UPS, and Marriott. These clients trust Cramer to invent, craft, and fuel content-driven experiences, including meetings and events, activations, community and advocacy programs, mixed reality, and marketing campaigns. Visit cramer.com to see how Cramer achieves more with its clients.

Learn more about O’Neill and Associates’ communications services

#DemDebate: A Digital Analysis

By Senior Vice President Cosmo Macero Jr.

Cosmo Macero Jr.Hillary Clinton entered last night’s Democratic Presidential Debate riding high expectations but facing even higher stakes – with a significant portion of the political pundit class calling it a crucial and even dangerous moment for a campaign that has been unable to shake Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

But the 2 ½ hour debate at Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas took on a largely different tone than the Republican battles that had preceded it. And Clinton largely met the challenge of the night: appearing the most presidential in a crowd rounded out by one fringe political thinker and three candidates with little or no name recognition beyond the Beltway.

O’Neill and Associates used social media listening platforms to analyze conversations on over 20 different social media channels as well as trending hashtags, concepts, mentions, and perhaps most importantly – sentiment.

A targeted analysis of Hillary Clinton mentions in Massachusetts largely reflected what Clinton aides and supporters were celebrating after the candidates left the stage: the debate was, at minimum, a successfully navigated challenge and perhaps a meaningful step forward for Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Her first – and largest – spike came during her introduction with 4,090 mentions, the overwhelming majority of which reflected positive sentiment. By the night’s end, analysis showed that the conversations surrounding her on social media were overwhelmingly positive.

The review of more than 8,000 social media conversations in Massachusetts, most of which took place on Twitter and Facebook, found Secretary Clinton earning either positive or neutral mentions close to 80 percent of the time throughout the duration of the CNN/Facebook-sponsored debate.

Clinton support and interest drove key social media metrics – with trending hashtags such as #imwithher and #hillary2016 appearing in hundreds of conversations originated by Massachusetts social media users. The social media landscape across the Bay State also lent support when Clinton rivals started firing political shots, such as former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee’s early remark that he has been unmarked by scandal.

But Clinton’s big win for the night came courtesy of Sanders, when he forcefully called for an end to the furor over Clinton’s use of private email when she was Secretary of State saying the American people are sick and tired of hearing about Clinton’s “damn emails,”  prompting loud applause as the two shook hands.

The remark become instant social media gold – quickly trending as a keyword and concept in New England – with upwards of three times as many mentions on social media than any other trending phrase of the night.

Ultimately, in the debate, it was Sanders who several times found himself in the position of having to play defense from rivals and debate moderator Anderson Cooper alike: on his gun policy record; for his refusal to serve in Vietnam; and over his questionable electability as a Democratic-socialist.

Throughout the debate, O’Neill and Associates also took a closer look at digital conversations in the New England states, focusing on industry building blocks and issues important to voters such as healthcare, jobs and the economy, education, energy, and immigration. Social media listening tools showed that hashtags related to Sanders were trending anywhere from double to up to seven times more than hashtags in support of Clinton – underscoring the strong support he has garnered.

The debate itself was largely received positively in New England when measured by social media engagement. Almost twice as many debate mentions were classified positive as were negative, according to the O’Neill and Associates analysis – with a large percentage categorized as neutral.

“We’ve seen, firsthand, that ‘buzz’ alone can’t take the place of strong candidates who are thoughtful, experienced and prepared,” said former Lieutenant Governor Thomas P. O’Neill III, founder and CEO of O’Neill and Associates. “We deserve a healthy, honest and substantive debate from presidential candidates who are asking for our vote, and I think the American people got that from the Democratic candidates.”

Most of the candidates occupied common ground on core Democratic issues such as income inequality, the fallout from bank mergers and the mortgage crisis, climate change, college affordability and the plight of the urban poor and minorities in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The O’Neill and Associates analysis also confirmed that social media is leveling the playing field between big media organizations and individuals, by providing a platform and the opportunity to amplify any one individual’s voice. While major regional news organizations like the Boston Globe (@bostonglobe) and Boston Herald (@bostonherald) delivered the highest influencer scores and potential reach, individuals such as Boston tech writer David Weinberger (@davidweinberger), Cambridge journalist Beena Sarwar (@beenasarwar) and Boston entrepreneur Robin Chase (@rmchase) demonstrated that heavy engagement on social media can magnify your message exponentially.

Cosmo Macero Jr. is a senior vice president in the O’Neill and Associates communications practice. Contact him: cosmo@oneillandassoc.com; 617-646-1017; follow him on Twitter @cosmomacero.

Facebook to Add Dislike Button

By  Tony Catinella
Account Executive at O’Neill and Associates

FB Like

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced today that Facebook is developing a “Dislike” button.

Zuckerberg said the feature will be created to give users the option to express feelings other than “liking,” according to Business Insider.

Facebook’s executives said they have been working on it for awhile, and it hopes to launch it soon.