Constantly Curious

Our Thoughts and Insights

Baby bore or something more?

Consumer Trends & Insight, Employee Engagement
Parents_at_Work

When was the last time a co-worker assailed you with a tale about their kids? Perhaps they even threw in a few photos on their phone for good measure.

When was the last time a co-worker assailed you with a tale about their kids? Perhaps they even threw in a few photos on their phone for good measure. As a dad myself, I’m sure I’ve been as guilty as anyone of sometimes mistaking polite interest for encouragement to unleash yet another story about my son eating grass. Shocking as it seems to us proud parents, most people would probably rather just get on with their job.

Consequently, my eye was drawn to this week’s story on the BBC, which confirmed that talking about your kids at work is a big no no. Yet the reason is rather more serious than simply sparing colleagues another ‘hilarious’ anecdote about nappy changing. Instead, like so many things seem to be these days, the topic was discussed through the lens of gender balance.

The article begins by suggesting that unlike men, many women feel duty bound to limit the amount they discuss their children at work. In some cases, they even opt to conceal the fact they have them completely. Why?  For fear it will be seen as evidence of a lessening commitment and ultimately impinge upon their career prospects. Certain stats appear to back it up too, with the Fawcett Society finding that 46% of us believe a woman becomes less committed to her job after having a baby. The corresponding figure for men is 11%.

Whether or not this is an accurate picture (and the article goes on to present an alternative, more positive viewpoint), it is depressing reading. In a world where it’s possible to work from virtually anywhere and have face-to-face meetings with people in separate continents without leaving your desk, how can that kind of anachronistic view still exist in any modern business?

Fortunately, I can say from my own experience that Edelman is no such place. There are a number of women across the firm – many of them in senior leadership roles – who are living proof that, here, it is possible to build both a family and a rewarding career at the same time. Likewise since becoming a dad, I’ve received considerable support in shifting to a part-time role that gives me Wednesdays at home with the kids – something I know other male colleagues are also doing.

And that, for me, is the point. This isn’t about women v men or even the ongoing existence of unconscious bias. It’s about understanding that traditional family roles are fundamentally changing. Most mums don’t just stay at home and lots of dads don’t only ‘do parenting’ at weekends. To retain the brightest and best people, companies therefore have to be flexible and fleet of foot enough to reflect that in their operating model.

Whether it’s a mum or dad needing to leave for the nursery pick-up or someone else wanting to get to their art class on time, having commitments outside of work are not an inhibitor to doing a good job. If anything, it indicates the kind of balanced lifestyle and well-rounded personality generally needed to succeed, certainly in an industry like communications. After all, our job is to talk to people – from Baby Boomers to Millennials – in ways that are engaging and relevant to their lives. It follows, then, that our workforce should be able to reflect and empathise with our audiences’ diversity.

Besides, whether parent or Pokémon Go fan (are those two things mutually exclusive?), having a life outside the office is why most of us come here in the first place. And no amount of baby talk at the water cooler is going to change that.

Where’s the smart thinking for making future cities relevant?

Innovation, Technology, Trust
smart_cities_IoT

When our cities can finally profess to being ‘smart’, they’ll be able to do some really cool stuff. With everything connected, public services, traffic, parking and lighting will all be brought right into the 21st century. It’ll mean easy control and updates on the move, and things generally running more smoothly and efficiently.

When our cities can finally profess to being ‘smart’, they’ll be able to do some really cool stuff. With everything connected, public services, traffic, parking and lighting will all be brought right into the 21st century. It’ll mean easy control and updates on the move, and things generally running more smoothly and efficiently.

For someone like me who works with technology brands every day, it’s a very exciting concept. But not everyone thinks the same and therein lies the problem for the companies rolling out smart city technology. The longer the innovations remain a whizzy plaything for geeks and not a mass market proposition, the more firms will struggle to gain traction. Currently, almost a quarter of people are unclear of any one main benefit of smart cities, according to YouGov and Arquiva research.

There are a number of moving parts in play here, particularly securing funding to get smart city projects off the ground. But at its heart, gaining the support from the public is also a key piece of the puzzle needed to justify the investment.

For me, it all boils down to this paradox. With smart cities, the cities themselves have the task of gaining the buy-in from the public for something they don’t directly pay for. Although citizens buy those services via their taxes, that’s a different kind of transaction to buying an app of our choosing. And so even though we will use the services, we don’t have an immediate connection to the technology powering them. It’s a chicken and egg situation for the forward-thinking cities with the vision to become smart.

There’s a pressing need to prepare for the future by reducing pollution and congestion and improving public services. Smart technology can help address these concerns, and they will become more pressing in years to come. As urban populations balloon, it’s necessary to connect our cities in order to allow citizens to co-exist. According to one report from LSE, Shanghai is growing at a rate of 53 people every hour. Meanwhile, London will grow by another million people by 2030.

Part of the challenge of getting citizens on side is getting them more acquainted with those initiating and rolling out the solutions. Many citizens see government and local authorities as the initiators of smart city projects. However, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer, only 41% of the general population trust government to keep pace with changing times. Whereas the figure for trust in business to keep pace with changing times is 61%.

There’s a golden opportunity for businesses to take advantage of the smart city phenomenon. The private sector, as the specialists in technology, can become the active party that will lead the charge in smart city implementation. Rather than putting technology implementation first, if they can create a dialogue with citizens allowing them to shape city services around their needs, they will help smart cities become a reality.

Edelman Briefing: Theresa May's New Government

Government Affairs
Theresa_May_Goverment_Edelman

Theresa May is the very picture of a political survivor, her skill comes in her ability to get her head down and get on with the job. Edelman has prepared a full briefing on Theresa May's new government.

Theresa May is the very picture of a political survivor. She spent 17 years on the Conservative front benches before becoming leader, and an astonishing 6 of these years were spent as Home Secretary. She did not achieve this success, as others may have done, by building a power base of loyal MPs willing to absorb shock waves around her or being what is now known as “clubbable”. Theresa’s skill comes in her ability to get her head down and get on with the job.

Edelman has prepared a full briefing on Theresa May’s new government, to read it please click here or see below.

For more information, please contact Gurpreet Brar on +44 (0)20 3047 2466 or at gurpreet.brar@edelman.com.

Image: pcruciatti / Shutterstock.com

Why augmented reality can right the wrongs of bad ads

Entertainment, Media, Technology
PokemonGo_AugmentedReality

The release of Pokemon Go has been huge. Users are overjoyed with the reinvention of a much loved franchise; and schadenfreude is rife amongst non-users and media with stories of explorers’ mishaps and missteps. We can be almost certain that tech providers who have been quiet - or unsuccessful - with their own augmented reality projects will now have confidence to bring new ideas to the world following this global proof-of-concept.

The release of Pokemon Go has been huge. Users are overjoyed with the reinvention of a much loved franchise; and schadenfreude is rife amongst non-users and media with stories of explorers’ mishaps and missteps. We can be almost certain that tech providers who have been quiet – or unsuccessful – with their own augmented reality projects will now have confidence to bring new ideas to the world following this global proof-of-concept.

Whether we love or love to hate the game or platform, monetisation of augmented reality is now on the agenda. Niantic, the developers behind Pokemon Go, has already revealed sponsored locations are part of its strategy, and so there’s an opportunity for brands. However, companies will need to think creatively and act with insight to make the most out of the platform. There are already notable examples, particularly amongst small businesses, with a favourite being a New York pizzeria owner who spent just $10 to lure Pokemon, and in turn hungry players, to his store.

Stories such as this show the benefit for businesses who trade based on location or travel/ movement. However, with first-movers taking the most obvious opportunities, the Meowth is already out of the bag. The risk is that advertisers and communicators will transplant or retrofit approaches or mediums from other platforms just to get in on the action.

Of course, one hopes the creators won’t plant a billboard in front of a wild Charmander but some will have such limited thinking. The risk with this is that AR goes the way of the desktop and/ or mobile internet where advertising became a nuisance simply blocked by users. The most successful brands will enhance the experience for users or demonstrate value, or simply do something creative and new within the parameters of this world.

We could easily predict that a footwear brand might create an item allowing for a greater radius in which you can catch Pokemon: either a clothing brand with limited edition avatar apparel or an eyewear company that grants the ability to see more around you. Or perhaps even a ride-sharing company whose drivers appear in-game, giving rides so players can cover more ground – and perhaps also in exchange for a special level-up bonus for using the service. This doesn’t even take into account what will no doubt be countless bricks-and-mortar locations who serendipitously found themselves to be a PokeStop, inviting players in to buy their real-world wares.

Brands have the opportunity to engage users not just in a whole new way, but a whole new world, from the ground-up; and the hindsight of this one.

Image: Wachiwit / Shutterstock.com

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