In recent years, there has been a lot of hype around “big” data in the marketing world. Big data is extremely helpful with gathering quantitative information about new trends, behaviors and preferences, so it’s no wonder companies invest a lot of time and money sifting through and analyzing massive sets of data. However, what big data fails to do is explain why we do what we do. “Thick” data fills the gap. Thick data is qualitative information that provides insights into the everyday emotional lives of consumers. It goes beyond big data to explain why consumers have certain preferences, the reasons they behave the way they do, why certain trends stick and so on. Companies gather this data by conducting primary and secondary research in the form of surveys, focus groups, interviews, questionnaires, videos and other various methods. Ultimately, to understand people’s actions and what drives them to your business (or not), you need to understand the humanistic context in which they pursue these actions. It’s crucial for successful companies to analyze the emotional way in which people use their products or services to develop a better understanding of their customers. By using thick data, companies can develop a positive relationship with their customers and it becomes easier for those companies to maintain happy customers and attract new ones. Big data will tell you that in 2013, Samsung was able to sell 35 million more smartphones than Apple. But what can these companies really do with this data? Pat themselves on the back or hang their heads in shame? If you are in the market for a smartphone, you’re not going to buy a Samsung because they sold 35 million more than Apple. As a customer, you probably don’t even know this information. You may, however, buy a Samsung because they offer a multitude of models that you can customize to your preferences, and Apple’s product line is less diverse. Or perhaps you won’t buy an Apple smartphone because it’s not quite as durable, or they don’t have as wide a selection of phone colors as Samsung. Using thick data to figure out why more people are buying from Samsung is key for both companies to move forward and either keep dominating the market, or reinvent to gain dominance. At its core, business is about making bets on human behavior, and those bets backed by thick data are what business models should be based around. Take for example Lego, a successful company that was near collapse in the early 2000’s because they lost touch with their customers. After failed attempts to reposition the company with action figures and other concepts, Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, CEO of the Danish Lego firm, decided to engage in a major qualitative research project. Children in five major global cities were studied to help Lego better understand the emotional needs of children in relation to legos. After evaluating hours of video recordings of children playing with legos, a pattern emerged. Children were passionate about the “play experience” and the process of playing. Rather than the instant gratification of toys like action figures, children valued the experience of imagining and creating. The results were clear; Lego needed to go back to marketing its traditional building blocks and focus less on action figures and toys. Today, Lego is once again a successful company, and thick data proved to be its savior. While it’s impossible to read the minds of customers, thick data allows us to be closer than ever to predicting the quirks of human behavior. The problem with big data is that companies can get too caught up in numbers and charts and forget the humanistic reality of their customers’ lives. As this Wall Street Journal article puts it, “By outsourcing our thinking to Big Data, our ability to make sense of the world by careful observation begins to wither, just as you miss the feel and texture of a new city by navigating it only with the help of a GPS”. This is not to say big data is useless. It is a powerful and helpful tool companies should invest in. However, companies should also invest in gathering and analyzing thick data to uncover the deeper, more human meaning of big data. Together, thick data and big data give you an incredibly insightful advantage. -Jess Cook
Although techies from around the globe predictably flock to Apple’s famous World Wide Developers Conference, each year brings a new and unexpected twist to Apple’s established line of hardware and software; and this year was no exception. Beginning with the introduction of the next operating system for Mac and ending with improved developer features (including an all-new coding language called Swift), this year’s WWDC has given technophiles more than enough to chew on for the next few months. As expected, Apple’s Keynote followed a relatively traditional format, first introducing the next-in-line operating systems: OS X 10.10 and iOS 8. Like it’s predecessor, ‘Mavericks’ (named for the California Maverick waves), OS X 10.10 Yosemite is also named after a California landmark, and much like iOS 7, Yosemite swaps isomorphic icons for those of the flat variety and introduces increased window transparency. The new system has more than just looks, though. It features integrated calendar and location capabilities that not only let you schedule a beach trip, but also tell you how to get to the nearest beach; an improved Safari browsing experience; and Mail Drop, which enables the sending of large (up to 5GB) files through iCloud. As if that wasn't enough, the audience was thrown one more juicy apple with the introductions of iCloud Drive and Airdrop “handoff” - software advancements that allow users to not only access documents across devices, but also “pick up” documents from one device to another for increased continuity. Apple’s iOS 8 builds on the most popular features of iOS 7 by adding a new burst of initiative; actionable notifications. This new feature enables users to view message notifications and even comment or engage with them in the notification bar without having to switch to a designated app. This is especially good news for those of us who have experienced what it feels like to be in the middle of an important game when an even more important message comes in (read: you don’t ever have to actually leave your game of 2048). Additionally, this new mobile OS is growing brains with features like context-smart predictive texting and a search bar that automatically gathers relevant information, including apps or files that are outside of your phone. iOS 8 has grown a heart, too, with the all-new HealthKit, a group of apps and services that composites all of a user’s health information and apps into a single space to enable a comprehensive look into their wellbeing. Throw in vastly improved Siri capabilities, voice and video messaging, and enterprise device enrollment, and it is apparent that the iPhone has made one giant leap for cellularkind. Finally, Apple left its developers in awe with the introduction of a largely unforeseen new ability- the powers of an entirely new coding language. Named Swift, this new breed of programming language allows developers to use a relatively small amount of code for the creation of high-quality apps. Faster than the industry standard, Apple is already hedging its bets that Swift will become the standard sometime soon. Both iOS 8 and OS X 10.10 Yosemite will be available for free this fall. Want to know all the juicy details from WWDC 2014? Read The Guardian’s “as it happened” coverage here. -Melanie Katz, Summer 2014 Intern
Our clients often ask us about press release distribution services. Which one should they be using? Which is the best? What’s the difference? Our answer depends on what the client is looking to get out of a press release, their time and budget limitations and more. We’ve outlined the main criteria to help you determine which service to use for your next announcement. Note that our estimates and experience are based on releases distributed nationally. While we’re discussing PRWeb and Businesswire, there are other, similar services available. 1) Desired Results Businesswire: Press Coverage Businesswire complies with SEC regulations, making it a reliable source for information and enabling public companies to use this service to make required announcements. As a result, members of the media subscribe to Businesswire to stay up to date on company news. With more than 92,000 subscribing journalists and a distribution that goes out to more than 89,000 media outlets, your release is very likely to be seen by a relevant reporter and syndicated in top outlets like the Wall Street Journal. PRWeb: SEO On the other hand, PRWeb only has 30,000 journalist subscribers and therefore is less likely to get you or your company in the news. However, PRWeb is “committed to staying current with search marketing best practices,” meaning their distributed releases garner lots of social shares and help drive traffic to your site, improving your SEO. Just make sure to pack your PRWeb release with keywords and links back to your website. We send out regular PRWeb releases with the goal of improving SEO for one of our clients and have seen positive results. Bottom Line: If you’re making an important, newsworthy announcement that you want journalists to see and report on, use Businesswire. If you’re making a less important announcement but still want to put out a release or want to improve SEO, use PRWeb. 2) Release Requirements Businesswire: Less words, more links You’ll need to limit a Businesswire release to 400 words to avoid paying additional (and expensive) fees. That being said, you can add as many links as you would like. PRWeb: More words, less links On the other hand, PRWeb offers a flat rate for releases under 800 words, and frankly, your release shouldn’t be any longer. However, PRWeb only allows one link per 100 words in your release. Since PRWeb releases are often used to improve SEO, link limitations can be frustrating. Bottom Line: As a rule of thumb, press releases should always be as concise as possible. That being said, PRWeb allows for more words for your dollar, but it limits the amount of links. Businesswire is more expensive per word of your release, but you can fill it with as many links as you want. 3) Timing Businesswire: Immediate Release With Businesswire, you can schedule a release to go out whenever you want, whether you schedule it weeks in advance, a day in advance, or for immediate release. Sometimes it’s hard to agree on the final draft of a press release until the minute it should go out, so this feature of Businesswire is definitely useful. PRWeb: Schedule in Advance PRWeb requires at least 24 hours to review and schedule your release before it’s sent out. If you want to schedule something for immediate release, it’ll cost you an extra $100. You want to make sure you have everything for a release finalized at least two days before it need to go out, which isn’t always possible. Bottom Line: If you’re on tight timeline, Businesswire is your go-to source due to their responsiveness and efficiency, but if you’re announcement is less timely, PRWeb is definitely a more cost-effective solution. 4) Customer Service Businesswire:✭✭✭✩ After scheduling a release, a Businesswire representative will read it over and give you a call if they catch something misspelled or misplaced. Simply check the corresponding box while scheduling the release and Businesswire will call you to confirm before your release crosses the wire. They also have a customer service line you can call to ask questions or edit a release after you’ve scheduled it. PRWeb: ✭✭✩✩ PRWeb is much more hands off when it comes to the review process. They send an email with the link to the release once it’s crossed the wire, but it’s unlikely you’ll speak with an associate. They do have a 24-hour news desk line to call and a “support portal” where you can live chat with a PRWeb representative. Bottom Line: Businesswire representatives are more responsive and knowledgeable than those at PRWeb. 5) Cost Businesswire: $$$$ Businesswire charges $760 for the first 400 words in your press release for a US Distribution. They then charge $195 for every additional 100 words and an additional $95 for amplified visibility, engagement, analytics and measurement, that’s automatically added in. Attaching your company’s logo is free, but adding an additional multimedia file will cost you $425 for the first file and another $225 for each additional. These prices increase annually so, as you might imagine, Businesswire releases get pricey very quickly. PRWeb:$$ There are five pricing options for PR Web, which range from $99 to $499. We usually use the $249 “Advanced” distribution. This is a flat rate for releases under 800 words and also includes attachments like photos, documents or presentations. Bottom Line: Businesswire is much more expensive than PRWeb, but you also get much more in return, like the personal help and expertise of professionals who work behind the scenes. But if you’re working on a tight budget then PRWeb is your best bet. 6) Analytics Businesswire: Fast & detailed A Businesswire analytics report is available the day your press release goes out. It provides detailed information on which outlets picked up your release, links to the article, and how many impressions that site gets per month. It combines all information in a clean “NewsTrak” report PDF complete with links and logos, total views, link clicks and more. We typically extract and share the press coverage and links pages with our clients. PRWeb: Slow & confusing It usually takes about a week for PRWeb to deliver an analytics report. You have to click around quite a bit to find what you’re looking for and the report is overall less useful than Businesswire’s. Bottom Line: Businesswire’s NewsTrak analytics report is cleaner, more intuitive and more interactive than PRWeb’s report. There are many factors to consider when it comes to choosing a press release distribution service. The best advice I can offer is: if you’re making an important announcement, it’s worth the money to use Businesswire. If you’re looking to improve SEO, then putting out releases on PRWeb regularly is a relatively inexpensive way of driving traffic and keeping consumers updated. -Brigid Gorham
We were lucky enough to have our two interns Hannah and Dana stay on with us through both fall and spring semesters. Since starting at BIGfish in September, they’ve helped us execute countless projects by writing press releases, pitches, blog and social media posts and helping us plan events. We will certainly miss having Hannah and Dana in the office and we wish them the best! Read on to find out what they’ve learned during their time at BIGfish, what they’re most proud of, and what advice they have for future interns. Dana Harvey Hometown: Bayside, NY College: Boston College, Class of 2014 Major: Political Science What you’re most proud of from your time at BIGfish: I am most proud of my growth throughout my time at BIGfish. Being a Political Science major I did not come to BIGfish with a lot of communications experience, but I came with a love of writing and research paired with an eagerness to learn. The account team at BIGfish was very willing to train me and offer advice along the way. I found it very helpful to be able to write press releases, pitches, and blog posts, in addition to preparing media lists and assisting in the planning of events. Benefits of extending your internship: In extending my internship I was able to monitor our clients and their industries over my winter break in order to enter the second semester with a fresh perspective. In addition, it was great being familiar with the BIGfish team and with our clients, which allowed me to jump right into my work. Advice to future BIGfish interns: I would say that it is important to show your willingness and eagerness to learn. In a small agency there are always tasks to get done, so there are always opportunities to help out. In addition, don’t be shy when sharing your ideas with the account team. During brainstorming sessions it is really helpful to have new and innovative ideas for clients. Where you’d like to be in 5 years: In five years I would like to be working at a PR agency. Anything else? I am grateful to have been able to work and grow at BIGfish this school year. I found that the BIGfish account team was always willing to share their breadth of knowledge with me and to help me improve my PR skills. I can honestly say that I am walking away well prepared for my post-graduate career. Hannah Duffy Hometown: Washington, NJ College: Boston College, Class of 2014 Major: Communication; Applied Psychology and Human Development What you’re most proud of from your time at BIGfish: I’m proud of my growth and improvement while at BIGfish, specifically in my writing skills. My writing has become much sharper from the frequent writing of press releases, blog posts, pitches, tweets, articles, and more. Benefits of extending your internship: When I returned to BIGfish for my second semester, I hit the ground running. I already knew the clients, office environment, and expectations, so I was able to learn and grow more quickly. Advice to future BIGfish interns: Take initiative: Offering to help out with tasks that may not be assigned to you helps the team and helps you learn. Ask questions: Take advantage of the wealth of knowledge in this office. The team is extremely experienced and talented, so don’t be afraid to ask about their experiences. Get to know the clients: In my time here, I ended up feeling really invested in our clients. I found myself checking my email on my off days, checking to see how a Kickstarter campaign was going, or looking at what press hits came in. Explore each client to discover what kinds of industries interest you most. Where you’d like to be in 5 years: Working at a PR agency in Boston. Anything else? I feel lucky to have found such an educational, valuable, and fun internship. My experience at BIGfish has helped prepare me for the PR world that I’m excited to enter post-graduation!