Podcast Transcripts

Episode 77 released December 11, 2022

A Close Look at Today’s Social Media Channels With Grey Group

Guests Joey Scarillo and Caine Fair, Grey Group

Transcript is computer-generated

Doug (00:04):

It was the holiday season and across all the channels, content managers were busily pre-planning their handles. The hashtags were placed in each post with care in hopes target audiences soon would be there. The children were nestled all snug in their beds, surfing through TikTok and texting with friends and mama on her iPad, and me on my Mac, checking out Facebook, sending messages on Slack. When suddenly a message said Elon Musk was trending, I sprang onto Twitter to watch the world ending more rapid than Trump his curses. They came and he shouted in caps and called them by name, Sanders Griffin, Biden, Pelosi, Trudeau Warren, the Babylon, b de boosting, not banning under freedom of speech, allowing them access, but not freedom of reach. But for all of this clatter with each post and each thread, well, I still believe there’s nothing to dread. Social itself is a permanent trend for new ideas, new discoveries, new engagements, new friends, a voice for non-truths, but exposure therein, democracy, imperfect, but no wall keeps us in. So may we exclaim as we post in plain sight. Happy holidays to all and to all a good night.

Nat King Cole (02:01):

Merry Christmas to you.

Doug (02:29):

My name is Doug Downs music off the top. Nat King Cole. The Christmas song written by Robert Wells and Mel Torme. They wrote that song in mid-July, <laugh> in the Blistering Heat. They say they were trying to think cool thoughts. It kinda worked. My guest this week are Joey Scarillo and Caine Fair of Greg Group. Joey, you’re joining us today from New York. How are things in the big Apple?

Joey Scarillo (02:51):

Things are great, great energy here. This time of year, as the year winds down things really, the excitement really picks up here. So

Doug (02:58):

I love it and kind kind of Christmasy Times Square, all decked out and all that stuff. It. Caine, you’re joining us from San Diego, no sense asking how the weather is never really seems to change 12 months of the year, but how are things where you are?

Caine Fair (03:13):

Yeah, we try to act Christmasy out here. We put up some lights every once in a while, but most Santas have board shorts on and a surfboard under his arm, but it’s still a little chilly. I’m in a sweatshirt.

Doug (03:25):

Yeah, yeah. The way it should be. Caine you’re the group director, social and connections at Grey Group, overseeing the development of social strategy, content creation, and influencer marketing for a variety of health, consumer, leisure, and tech brands. And I can see online that you have won or been part of groups that have won way too many awards to count, let alone mention. Congratulations on all those. Stranger to the stage. Joey, you’re a senior project manager at Gray Group podcast producer for one of our favorite podcasts, five things this week in social. Your experience goes back to the early two thousands, even spent some time working for Disney. Grey itself is a huge agency serving both consumer and health and wellness clients in 38 global offices. So today what we’re gonna do on the podcast is a kind of thought we’d have some casual fun. We’re talking about social media, and rather than dictate specific questions, because I’ve listened to your podcast your knowledge goes so deep into social media, I would just end up asking really stupid questions compared to what you can do.


You’d be explaining 1 0 1 to me. So we thought we’d play this scenario, given the time of year it is. I’ve got all these gifts in front of me that I need to unwrap. They’re all addressed to me, <laugh>, how it should be. But I need some help in understanding each gift, even how to use each gift. And I wonder if you wouldn’t, they’re all about social media. So I, I’ve enlisted you guys to help me out, so I appreciate that. So I will open the first gift and it’s oh, it’s Facebook. How do I use this

Caine Fair (05:12):

<laugh>? Wow. What a way to start the OG social platform. I guess the OG following MySpace, or a aim, I guess we’re probably the ones that kicked us all off. But yeah, Facebook has been kind of maybe shifted now, but since the beginning. The core of social has millions of users, massively successful, especially currently for the older audiences that are, are tapping into Facebook, more so than the younger demographics who have turned to other platforms at this time. But it’s still an incredible tool. I mean, we use Facebook’s algorithm as one of the most valued algorithms for targeting marketing capabilities. Their back end of analytics is incredibly powerful. It has one of the best success rates for driving traffic to other entities or digital platforms. So when you have product or content placements on Facebook, and we’ll get into Instagram of course, but they have a connected back.


And that’s a very, very, very powerful tool to help drive traffic to other platforms. So to your website, to inexperience beyond just a Facebook post and how we use it. People use it for a variety of reasons. We use it for personal updates, but as brands, we use it really for community building. I would say that’s the most important part of Facebook. It has very powerful engagement and community building elements to drive conversation drive, brand sentiment. Obviously it opens up a whole can of worms for conversations. But overall, it’s kind of the community based Facebook platform that we’ve used for brands and in recent times of Metaverse and all those other updates that we’ve seen from Facebook and Meta, they’ve been really looking at ways to innovate their platform as well. So it’s not just the STO yield Facebook that has always been the same.

Doug (07:04):

Excellent. There’s another, there’s a little gift attached to this one. It says it’s Instagram. I don’t know why these two were connected.

Joey Scarillo (07:12):

Well, I think they’re from the same manufacturer. Oh, yeah, batter batteries included. So Instagram, these days mean when we think about what Instagram’s main function is, it’s hard to ignore reels. Reels is Instagram’s TikTok feature. When you think about it compared to TikTok, it’s always behind the curve when it comes TikTok. TikTok just keeps winning and keeps winning in the video space. But there are a few things that Instagram does really well that I think is interesting for brands, and that’s around e-com and the seamless in-app purchasing that little shopping bag tab in your Instagram is a really great way to see things that might interest you and a great way for brands to find people who will buy their product. I think that Instagram’s AI does a really great job of bringing the right content to you, the things that you’re gonna wanna see.


I think Instagram knows that. I like to wear hats, so I get served hats and graphic tees quite a bit. So Instagram really knows its users and it, it’ll serve up products directly in the app that you can purchase. An interesting thing though about Instagram these days is that we saw throughout this past year, users and Instagram sort of think about Instagram differently. There was an episode earlier this year where powerful users of the platform, like the Kardashians, want Instagram to stay close to its roots in photo sharing and still be a place for static images. So Instagram, I think is a little bit at odds with what some of its users want but the interesting thing is that Instagram says, and oddly I do believe this, even though weed might not think it’s true, that we engage more with the video content. And so that video content really is what keeps people coming back to the platform, even if they say it’s not what they want. Quick stat here, according to a study by Hyper Audit reals generates only 22.1% of the content on the platform, but makes up 33.8% of the reach and 35.4% of the likes distribution compared to images, carousel and video. So I think when you look at the that and think about how a third of the likes are in video and in reels it just really proves that it’s what people are going for. And I mean, I interact with Reels way more than I wanna admit, but

Doug (10:07):

Yeah. Yeah, time killer. If I’ve heard. So if I post a video to my feed post Instagram now puts that automatically into my real damn the format, right? How that works now?

Joey Scarillo (10:20):

Yes, that is true, right Kane, right? That it goes right to

Caine Fair (10:23):

Reels if you put up a video. Yeah. Yeah. They’re gonna force it into the reels specs.

Doug (10:31):

Okay. Interesting. Interesting. And I actually thought that Reels had more viewership than 38%, so I’m presuming a lot. That’s really interesting to know. All right. It’s another gift here. Look, this one’s not wrapped well, it looks like it’s been kicked around a little bit. Oh, it’s Twitter <laugh>.

Caine Fair (10:53):

Yeah, that one’s been probably missed a couple addresses, picked up a couple post Men <laugh>, but it It has a couple wheels loose, but it made it

Doug (11:06):

Yep. Wheels, wheels, screws it Screw

Caine Fair (11:10):

<laugh> Twitter. Yeah. What a year what month? Really? What a November. Massive changes. I mean, I won’t even get into it. That could be a whole other podcast, but a couple big things that I find important with Twitter and just the use case of the platform for how you’re, as a brand or user using social media, Twitter has always been that go-to place for freedom of speech. It has been that unfiltered. It has been that short snippet thought-provoking platform that just drives culture. It allows people, no matter who you are, to have a voice and have the ability to shift culture with that. I think we’ve seen in the past couple years, really, and I think the core of this example comes from fake news, misinformation, politics, et cetera, but there’s just been this avalanche of, there’s just been this avalanche of chaos that’s arise from the opportunity to say whatever you want.


So Twitter, I mean, they’ve had some big changes. Elon Musk stepping in, doing what he wants to do to monetize the platform, of course had some hiccups along the way although it did bring an incredible rise in at user activities. So you can say what you want about that. One thing that I think that I find really important and powerful for this platform that will really shift the way it goes into 2023 and beyond is the way that they continuously push what they’re calling their birdwatch fact checking tool. <affirmative>. It’s just been updated actually recently to be called something else. I can’t even remember what it was called. It happened like last week. But essentially it’s put together a community based squad to go in and find those most impactful tweets and just make sure that what they’re saying are correct, so that we’re not getting information from people that we believe and trust, but it’s just actually just wrong.


So they’ve been making huge strides, I think, in a variety of ways. One of them is just to clean up the platform. It’s it, some people hate it because they kind of like the wild, wild west nature of it, and that’s what it was based off of. But I think for the power that it has now, it, it has to be a little bit policed. And I think they’re, those pushes for watch and just verifications and whatnot is a really great one. And it, we’ve seen brands try to step out of Twitter because of the chaos that’s been going on, and I think these pushes are gonna be able to bring some calming to the brands that have raised eyebrows to jump back in.

Doug (13:52):

And just quickly a comment for me my mindset is different when I go on Twitter. So when I go on Instagram, I do go to reels and it’s kind of my brain jelly. I’m not put my brain into, I’m dozing off for a little bit, kind of the same with TikTok, which I don’t spend as much time on, but with Twitter, with LinkedIn, for sure, I’m in my conscious mind. With Twitter, I am kind of in my conscious mind. Is it the same for both of you? Is it a thinking platform and if anything ever happened to it, I would think something would replace it.

Joey Scarillo (14:30):

Yeah, it’s definitely more of a conscious platform. You have to lean in a little bit more rather than lean back. I think for me, when I’m on Twitter, I’m engaged, I’m trying to learn something, I’m trying to laugh at something. I’m trying to find out what’s going on in the world versus Yeah, you’re right. Versus reals, where I can of sit back and just start clicking mindlessly

Doug (15:05):

One in four, whether you live in Canada, the United States, great Britain or Australia, one in four people is now listening to podcasts weekly. Not just weekly, but multiple podcasts every week. It’s their preferred method of communication. If you aren’t podcasting, you are missing 25% of your audience at stories and strategies. We produce podcasts for clients anywhere in the world. Maybe a podcast is right for you or your organization. Want to talk about it, send me an email personally, Doug stories and strategies.ca, and we’ll set something up. Let’s talk podcasts ll Okay, another gift here. This one’s wrapped very nicely. What’s TikTok?

Caine Fair (15:58):

That one’s probably polished, probably come, comes with a builtin influencer. Yeah.

Doug (16:03):

Yeah. Not it does a builtin influencer. That’s right.

Caine Fair (16:07):

It probably gives you rules on how to share your new present with your friends.

Doug (16:12):


Caine Fair (16:13):

Yeah. TikTok is the star on top of the Christmas tree this year when it comes to social platforms. Massively important currently in the past couple years in not only the way that users are engaging with TikTok, but I’d say the biggest gold star that TikTok has is that it is single handedly shifting the way that other brands are thinking about social media. And it’s being the driving force for a lot of these innovations. From meta from YouTube from all these platforms that have been slightly stagnant. We see TikTok and most users are using TikTok as a video platform, but it actually has incredible audio power too. Recently, at least one of the success stories that TikTok has and shows the impact that it has on culture is someone who created a TikTok first song, just got Song of the year at the Grammy’s, and it was purely from TikTok. Wow, that shows, that’s the highs you could possibly get in music. And that song alongside Beyonce and Harry Styles and all these big time people was a atic.


And the power also of TikTok is the algorithm so sticky and so snackable and so incredibly accurate. There was a stat that came out about 20% of people are learning about new products in 2022 through TikTok. So there’s just this huge push for e-commerce, adding new e-commerce updates to their platform that are allowing people similar to what Joey’s talking about in Instagram. Just click right there, purchase a product, have those influencers, have the brands show a product and have it be seamless to be a purchase. And they actually also have an incredible amount of resources available and strong client and agency relationships to help brands create the most effective content, not just creatively, but how do they use the targeting? How do they use the analytics appropriately? What types of audiences should they be going after? What does the creative look like? They have a whole website and portal to just help people create the best content. So they’ve done a really great job of pushing social altogether, but the platform itself is just incredible.

Doug (18:39):

Wonderful. Okay, next one is LinkedIn.

Joey Scarillo (18:46):

Probably didn’t want to open that one because it was wrapped so nicely and your name was written so meticulously. I

Doug (18:52):

Don’t know what the font is, but it’s beautiful.

Joey Scarillo (18:55):



A beautiful font. When I think of LinkedIn, I don’t really think of major brands engaging on the platform other than for recruiting. As we know, LinkedIn has been a recruiting tool for a really long time for a lot of companies. But what I real, but where I go, where my brain goes when I think of LinkedIn is building personal brands and small businesses, smaller companies thought leadership, people who have something to say and need a professional platform to do it. I mean, the network for networking makes sense to advertise there. If you’re a B2B brand, it’s where to find other people in your industry. But I will admit, I love LinkedIn. The content there is mostly positive, inspirational, yeah, it’s very self-promote. But yeah, sometimes people who post on there are just posting about their accomplishments. But I think that’s still what makes it great, because there’s not a lot of political discourse. There’s not a lot of negativity, whereas you find that more on Twitter.


If I were to post something on Instagram like a professional win, my friends and family might engage with it, but they might not know exactly what it means. Whereas with LinkedIn in my professional network, they’re gonna understand the context. A great example of this is I told my mom that after we won the web, I sent her a picture of it and she didn’t know what it was. She thought it was a cup holder, and she was obviously very proud, but she had never seen a Webby Award before. So I screenshotted that conversation and I posted it to LinkedIn and everybody just loved it. It was really fun to see people to engage and celebrate my mom and all this. So LinkedIn’s really a great place for building that personal brand in a very organic way. And I find it’s that that’s kind of the best use for the platform for me. Humble, brags all the

Doug (21:06):

Way. Yeah. And hashtags are okay on LinkedIn. There’s been a lot of, oh yeah, for sure. Okay. Yeah. Oh, it’s Snapchat.

Caine Fair (21:16):

Snapchat. Snapchat hasn’t done much recently, to be honest. I loved mean Snapchat has been taken over. TikTok in my opinion, and Snapchat needs to do something. I’m hoping they do something to revive themselves in the importance and the hierarchy of social platforms currently. I know there are great use cases for it. There’s events and filters and geolocation targeting. They have done really, really well to bring to life experiences. They’ve recently, this year, even launched a web version of Snapchat to make it even more accessible to users and bring it into your daily life more. But yeah, Snapchat, I think this is one how people use it is just really dependent on your friend groups. I would say. I mean, me and Joey just had this conversation a couple days ago. It’s like, I was like, how do you use Snapchat? And I was like, well, I have a group of friends that we just pretty much randomly will send each other photos every so often just to check in. And then you see the younger demographic, that’s how they communicate. That’s their form of text messaging is Snapchat one place that Snapchat is hope, hopefully gonna be pushing for more and more as they just recently published a huge research study on the power of AR and the power of how brands can use AR and Snapchat to heighten their purchasing journey for users so they can see themselves wearing certain things or

Doug (22:50):

Interesting experience, certain things before they purchase it,

Caine Fair (22:52):

Just to get a taste of what it could be in real life, which I think is really, really interesting. And Snapchat has a great AR feature and they have a great AR set up for agencies and clients to build within that network or within that platform. I actually am calling Hear Me Out and calling Sleeper for 2023 Snapchat. I think they’re gonna be doing something next year. Wow. That will shift how we see the platform and will jump into a Ring of boxing match with TikTok and Instagram and the calling.

Doug (23:25):

Oh, fascinating. Okay. Hold you to that last one under the tree. And I got a notification on my phone two minutes ago that I had to open this one right away. Be Real. Which is the one, I think it’s you. It’s the newest one, right? It

Joey Scarillo (23:39):

Is the shiny

Doug (23:40):

New toy. I don’t get the business use here with this one. I see the fun.

Joey Scarillo (23:43):

I think we’re all waiting to see what the business use case is here other than brand building and engaging with your audience. So Be Real is the combative antithesis of social media. It goes against everything we know. Every convention that we do, it’s the anti Instagram. It is one of the best things about B R L is that it forces users to think differently about how to engage with the platform. And it also forces brands to think differently about how to use social media. It’s like Snapchat’s original idea of content going away. Unless of course you share it to other platforms, you can’t go back and search anybody’s Be real from a few days ago. So this idea that you can go on a brand’s Instagram feed see what they’ve been up to, browse products, maybe purchase something, all of that is gone with Be Real. The platform lives really in the moment. We discussed on our podcast a few months ago about the beauty brand Elf and their use of the platform. And so I started following them. I’m not their Target demo, but one thing that really impressed me is how quickly they jumped on board with this new platform, started to understand it, and they highlight products that they’re excited about and you can almost get a behind the scenes of what’s going on, which is kind of cool.

Doug (25:11):

People like that. Yeah.

Joey Scarillo (25:13):

Yes. Kane, you were saying that, you mentioned to me that the US men’s soccer team is doing a similar thing.

Caine Fair (25:20):

Yeah, exactly. And you nailed it, Doug. It’s this raw behind the scenes access to these brands or these individuals that almost feels personalized to you, right? It’s like you see for the US men’s national team, of course, they’re over in the World Cup on a daily basis. They have their social media manager running around when they have the two minutes to take it be real, and they get the players together and take Goofy, be real. And it’s like, oh, these people are real. It humanizes a lot of these individuals that you’ve seen as archetype social icons or brands. The NFL does a great job. These are all sports related. Of course there are of course brands tapping into it. I know Nike does a great job. They do behind the scenes looks or shoe drops that are kind of custom to the platform. So there are brands tapping into it, but by no means is it optimized for

Joey Scarillo (26:14):

Brand and the aesthetic is not very curated, not very polished, maybe an inaction shot. It’s, it’s not a platform that will lead to major performance. But in my opinion, if brands are interested in the platform and they wanna appeal, especially to Gen Z, they should get on board with Be Real. It’s a low barrier of entry, easy to use, and I’m interested to see where it goes.

Doug (26:39):

Dynamite. Well, thank you both, Joey and Kane for being on the episode today. Really appreciate your time today. Of course, thank you. If you’d like to send a message to my guests, Joey Scilla Kane Fair, best way to do that is by email and I’ve got a link to their emails in the show notes. Check out their podcast five things this week in Social, apple and Spotify. Links are in the show notes as well. Stories and Strategies is a co-production of Jgr Communications and Stories and Strategies podcasts. If you like this episode, do us a favor connect with us on social. We’re on Twitter under story underscore strats. Our handles are in the show notes. Thanks for listening.


Episode 76 – released November 26, 2022

Taking a Stand on Social and Political Issues – Is it Worth it?

Guest Jay Webster, Cision

Transcript computer generated

Doug Downs (00:11):

Disney, not only the happiest place on Earth or so, the branding goes. It’s also one of the most respected and image conscious companies in the world. Self confession. We’ve gone to Disneyland twice as a family, and both times I’ve come back to work thinking I’ve got to start doing things differently for my clients. More like Disney. In March of 2022, the Walt Disney Company suddenly faced a crisis of its own making. Groups of employees were outraged. When CEO Bob Chopik didn’t publicly condemn a piece of Florida State legislation called the Parental Rights and Education Bill, or what opponents called the don’t say gay bill. In his first statement, Chopik said, Disney’s real influence was through the inspiring content we produce. That’s a familiar tactic. Hey, we just produced widgets. That’s our focus. Well, that sparked the anger. LGBTQ employees were furious and let ’em know.


Chap eventually apologized saying, you needed me to be a stronger ally in the fight for equal rights. And I let you down. I’m sorry. Disney denounced the bill and decided to freeze. All political donations in the state surveys are showing more than two thirds of consumers say they want companies to become more involved in social and political issues. Stop sitting on the fence, but is that what they really want? Or do people want companies to choose their side Today on stories and strategies, we talk with one global company that’s heard the message and has decided it’s time to speak up and not just wish upon a star. My name is Doug Dowds. Music Off the top When You Wish Upon a star composed by Lee Harline and Ned Washington, perform by the Neverland Orchestra. My guest this week is Jay Webster, decision Chief Product and Technology Officer and Cision Coms cloud president. Hello, Jay.

Jay Webster (02:32):

Hello, Doug. Thanks for having me.

Doug Downs (02:34):

Joining us today from New York, right?

Jay Webster (02:36):

<laugh>? No, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Doug Downs (02:38):

How are things in? You’re

Jay Webster (02:40):

Close though. You were close.

Doug Downs (02:41):

Not really. <laugh>

Jay Webster (02:43):

Things have cooled off. I spent three weeks in California and returned to 27 degrees last night, so just readjusting the internal thermostat.

Doug Downs (02:54):

But the Bengals won on the weekend, so they

Jay Webster (02:56):


Doug Downs (02:57):

The world’s in order here

Jay Webster (02:59):

For this week.

Doug Downs (03:00):

Jay, you like innovation. You have more than 25 years experience in MarTech ad tech and performance marketing. At Precision, you lead the execution of an innovation product roadmap, ensuring precision delivers for its customers with confidence. And part of your interest in innovation also has to do with digital development. And that’s something we’re gonna get to shortly, Jay. Many is the day that I’ve spent the first part of my morning reading reports from Cision in some way, shape, or form. I even had a joke that my decisions are made kind of in the morning from reading the media clip. So it’s a pleasure to connect with you. This whole idea, the willingness to take a position to speak out. Can you walk me through what exactly that means for communications and public relations professionals right now, including decision and what the benefits are?

Jay Webster (03:56):

Yeah, well, I’ll do my best to describe that very complicated landscape. Well, I think that every year it would seem that this job gets more complicated, meaning the communications professional. It’s been said more than once since I’ve only been at Cision for nearly two years now, and it’s been said more than once, that communications is at the zenith of the profession, that there is no better time to be a comms professional than there is now. But I think it’s important to ask the question as why is that the frequency and volume of communication is at unprecedented highs, I believe because we’ve put the tools to broadcast basically into the hands of every citizen of this planet. And so it used to be that communications channels were controlled by more authoritative entities. The professional journalism was the stalwarts of truth and fact information, and that has really just all gone out the window now <affirmative>.


And it’s not enough that we put publishing tools in the hands of the citizenry like we did with the worldwide web, combined it with social graph data structure and algorithms that make it very easy to proliferate your message as a self-styled influencer. And so for the comms professional, I think it means a few things that being data savvy is no longer an option because of, again, the frequency and volume, just the decision making process in what to pay attention to, what story is important, what message is important, what social justice movement is important to my brand or my client. Just being able to sift through that every day and make decisions in and of itself is monumental challenge. And then I think that the decision whether or not to engage, how to advise the C-suite, I’m sure you’ve seen the data that over the past few years that the C-Suite is much, much less willing to freelance it when it comes to making public statements because we’ve all seen how quickly you can get into trouble should you say something untoward.


And so the pressure is now on to be more strategic. The pressure is now on to be much more reliable advisory to the C-suite in communications with the public. And then I think that the ability to do that in a very cross-functional environment is super important now. So I, I’ve spent 25 years in paid media and after two years in earned media, I can tell you that the earned media is not only the much, much more complex environment, it’s the much more the one with the most value. So the prize for being good at this is real staying power for your brand to develop an actual a personality, something that your customer, your client feels like they can actually connect with. To me, that’s the real prize in a really effective communication strategy. And that’s really what’s at stake now. Right?

Doug Downs (07:37):

See, I got you. But some of these topics being open and transparent and taking a position on a social issue, some of these topics are, they’re harsh, Roe v, Wade, <affirmative>, gun Control, vaccines, climate Change. What about companies who have delivered a position on these topics and others? What does it say about them for that transparency? I guess I’m asking what’s the win? Yeah,

Jay Webster (08:01):

That’s a great question because participation yet has yet pretty uneven and the data is actually kind of contradictory in some instances in this moment. I think companies willing to make it to take a very nuanced public stance if you just take Roe v. Wade as kind of the most incendiary thing we’ve had recently. So companies like JP Morgan who came out and just made a very plain statement that they intend to support all of their employees, they cover all of their expenses, that they end up impacted by this decision, that their mission is equal access to healthcare. I think that companies that delivered that message plainly, I think that they derive value from that. I think that they derived the good feelings of the people who work there. I feel like that was probably an excellent move for morale. And then I think that external reaction to that probably falls right along political lines, <affirmative> and try.


So you probably may have made a few friends, probably made a few enemies. But it’s really interesting in the breakdown of the data that the folks who support companies taking a stand for an important social issue like Roe v. Wade, are also kind of two or three times more likely to actually make a buying decision based on a company’s willingness to do that. Whereas people who are opposed to companies make taking a position ever in this arena are much less likely to make a buying decision based on whether or not they do. I thought that was just a kind of fascinating

Doug Downs (09:59):

Stat. And there’s a study that came out, I sent this to you in advance of the interview from peppercorn and Reagan communications indicating 18% of brands of very likely to speak out on social issues. 18%, that’s less than one in five. Yes. And that same study says they might be missing an opportunity here for me. <affirmative>, can you expand? You talk

Jay Webster (10:22):

To it there? Well, yeah, I think that the surface interpretation of that is, I think the same study said more than 50 per, approximately 50% of consumers say that they want companies to take a stand. So that would indicate that there’s another 32% of companies who are missing an opportunity to connect with a willing public.

Doug Downs (10:41):

I would ask, do I really mean that or do I, I want a company to take a stand if it agrees with me. Do you know what I mean? Sometimes I’ll say something and yeah,

Jay Webster (10:52):

I do. So I think that this is a trend that’s really gonna emerge for the next generation. So Gen Z, right? We’ve spent so many years talking about millennial that I think some people don’t realize that millennial are now the mass market. They’re

Doug Downs (11:12):

45 years old,

Jay Webster (11:13):

26, 26 to 41, right? They’re just like, they’re what we were when we started talking about ’em, right? But now, gen Z, 10 to 25, I believe is where Gen Z is right now. All of the survey data would indicate that Gen Z is very interested in transparency, not transparency over perfection, meaning that they’re not looking just for what do you believe in? If you believe with me, we wanna know either way so that we can make a decision. Do I wanna support your company? Do I wanna support your company? Why does your product product matter? Why does your product exist? Which is what I was getting at in your first question, how important comms is relative to paid advertising. Paid advertising, we’re gonna hammer you with frequency and one-to-one targeting, et cetera, et cetera. Whereas the effective use of comms and earned media, I think the companies that are willing, those 18% that are stepping out there now, they’re thinking about the future.


Because look at what happened in blm, right? So in Black Lives Matter happened, everybody ran to get on that message bandwagon, if you will, <affirmative>. But there were a lot of companies that suffered from that by not really examining how they should do that. So you’ve got a bunch of companies, so it’s like interesting, you’ve supported politicians who are directly opposed to this in the past because there is an army of Gen Z folks out there with a keyboard that will immediately test the veracity of your claims if you support something like Black Lives Matter. Whereas then you have Ben and Jerry’s on the other side who their entire company has been about social justice since it’s founding. So when they come out and make the statement, it’s not questioned is inauthentic, is authentic. And so I think that companies now who are thinking about the future, they’re trying to build that authentic narrative, a corporate voice right now, and it’s really not. But the impact isn’t always about right now. I think that those willing to take the chance who are in those 18% are gonna benefit from that in the long run

Doug Downs (13:35):

Investment for the future.

Jay Webster (13:36):


Doug Downs (13:43):

A 2019 report by the BBC found consumers are more engaged during the branded parts of a podcast than they are during the rest of the content. A 12% higher memory and coding. That same study found podcasts, increase awareness of your brand by 89%, favorability of your brand by 24%, and purchase intent, whatever that means for you by 14%, maybe a podcast is right for you and your brand. Send me an email personally and let’s just talk about it, Doug, at stories and strategies.ca, let’s talk podcasts. Sion, part of your business is helping people get the word out. I would go decision for a news release, let’s say <affirmative>. Well, what if my news release doesn’t quite fit with decision’s, social perspective on something? Can I still be your client?

Jay Webster (14:48):

Yeah, that never happens. The short answer is yes, of course you can. No, this is a multipart answer. So there are limits to that. So when Russia invaded Ukraine the same week, we discontinued business with all Russian entities to make sure that we were not supporting the spread of any information misinformation regarding that conflict. But on the other hand, we make a set of very powerful tools and anything else designed for good, it could potentially be used for evil. And that’s where I think that all companies in that business, whether it be software or pharmaceuticals, that is an ongoing exercise that requires some level of vigilance. And in our case, one that does not infringe on First Amendment rights, but at the same time is not totally unchecked. And so in some cases, like with the Russian invasion, it’s pretty easy to figure that one out.


But in other cases it is very nuanced. So we have many clients in the political arena and just judging from the macro data, it’s safe to assume that half excision and half of the country doesn’t agree with whatever that politician has to say and is using our platform to message and the other half do. And so in that instance, yeah, I mean we definitely provide tools to companies who we are not completely in line with in terms of their policy or their message. And as you would imagine, pretty challenging to police that on a daily basis. Right?

Doug Downs (17:02):

Yeah. What about employees? I mean, you have just under 5,000 employees decision <affirmative>, they’re not all going to agree. For some it’s blue and for some it’s red. Yes. How do you look after the house, so to speak, by taking a state?

Jay Webster (17:18):

Yeah, so I’m part of a fairly new management team that came decision at the beginning of 21. And my management philosophy is one of complete transparency. And so when our employees do not agree that we have that, if we’ve got account that they don’t like, we definitely hear about it and absolutely engage in the conversation. But at the end of the day, it’s just that, it’s a conversation as to why and how things occur. Now, if one of our employees were to uncover something untoward or nefarious, we would take that very seriously and if it warranted action, we would take it. But we do provide a forum to provide feedback anonymously or so I have a forum that’s just up that anybody can put anything into a hundred percent anonymous. And it just comes to me. We’ve had other issues where internally we didn’t see something coming. So I’ll just be very transparent with you, Doug, and share that last year we were gonna participate in an eSports league, and the game was Overwatch, and you probably followed some of the scandal at Blizzard Entertainment with a institutionalized sexual harassment and discrimination. I had read something about that issue, but just briefly and had forgotten about it. And when we announced that we were gonna do this great thing, I heard about it and we backed out at the tournament <laugh>.


And then since then, it’s been acquired by Microsoft and they’ve regained their good standing. So there’s forum for employees to communicate. And like I said, if there’s anything that’s ever actually untoward, we would definitely take that very seriously.

Doug Downs (19:23):

And the process is iterative. I get it. Last question, A key aspect of your role at SIS and excision itself in Four Decisions clients is digital innovation. You’ve recently acquired Startup Fact, ma, a news media monitoring and analytics product that uses AI to identify and track narratives online. So it could theoretically be looking at this podcast and extracting a narrative. It could. Can you tell me what that means for brands? Increasingly, I am attracted to more and more ai, and I get the dangers. We’ve done a whole episode on some of the potential dangers of ai, but it is increasingly an exceptionally useful tool for marketing and comms.

Jay Webster (20:10):

And let me be the first to say that I don’t believe that AI solves everything. I’m actually a big fan of the book, weapons of Maths Destruction, <laugh>. So, okay, algorithms can be biased in any case. In fact, MA is a really interesting piece of technology. So originally fact, MA was founded to help to sort out the fake news issue. So Mark Cuban was their seed investor, and really that was their mission to root out and expose fake news, supposed to become an unbiased fact checker that could work at scale. Now that, that’s very hard model to commercialize as a standalone for lots of reasons. And so when the company brought in a new leader, gentleman by name of Anthony Cousins, who’s actually joining us, ats, who’s a lifelong communications professional, he was able to see a really interesting application for the PR comms pro. And that application is that, as we talked about at the beginning of this podcast, the volume of information that you have to deal with every day and the channels through which that information flows, and the influencer, if you will, from whom it flows.


And so most tools, now you have to dive into a channel to do your discovery. So if you wanna attract sentiment, generally you would do that. What’s the sentiment in Twitter? What can I discover in Twitter? Then I would do the same thing in Reddit, and then maybe I would do the same thing in Lexus Nexus, et cetera, et cetera. That requires you to write queries, to know what you’re looking for when really comms professional and office operating at scale, just wanna know what are the key messages that are emerging about my brand? What should I pay attention to? And so what fact MA enables us to do is to surface elucidate those messages regardless of the channel in which they’re being proliferated. From there, then we can determine who is the influencer responsible for spreading whatever this message is. Good or bad. Could be a journalist, could be a freelancer, could be a podcaster, could just be somebody with a massive following on Twitter, and then we can determine what is the body of work, what is the stance of this individual influencer?


Do they have an agenda? And from that, able to sort through all of this and present to you the college professional, here are the things you need to pay attention to. And the studies that we did with fact, the diligence process were actually pretty fascinating. So one of the best one was actually on Twitter, and this is pre Elon’s acquisition of Twitter. We determined that overwhelmingly there was support for his acquisition of Twitter, interesting <laugh>, and that you wouldn’t necessarily believe that if you were just reading what’s out there. But the interesting part is, at the same time, absolutely no love for the man <laugh>, Elon Musk. And so yes, he wanted to buy it, it was positive. And then <laugh>, no, not a lot of love for Elon. The person I

Doug Downs (23:59):

Could see a lot of stakeholder engagement uses for a tool, what fact Mata is offering as well. I’ve done surveys where I’ll get 2000, 3000 written pieces of feedback and I’m still pouring through those as a human <affirmative> trying to do exactly what fact MA is designed to do and create the narratives in the themes that I’m hearing. And it’s hard cuz humans get tired and humans get cranky and humans get very, very jaded after a wild

Jay Webster (24:26):

Song. And so we will have to be just as vigilant in the development maintenance of the algorithms that drive fact ma, so that we don’t end up in an overfit biased situation. That’s just automatic, right? It’s no better than a human, but you really can see the direct application of the fake news detection, if you will, and this particular use of the technology, because you know really need to know, what am I looking at here? This ProPublica, they did an investigative piece and they really found something. Or is this just a group from next door that made up a conspiracy theory and it got traction? Being able to know that I think when you’re in the C-Suite is super important these days. And that’s K, that’s kind of what we’re gonna endeavor to do.

Doug Downs (25:22):

Jay, thank you for your time today.

Jay Webster (25:24):

Oh, it’s my pleasure. It’s great to meet you.

Doug Downs (25:27):

Great to meet you too. Hope things continue to go well in Cincinnati

Jay Webster (25:31):

<laugh>. Thank you.

Doug Downs (25:33):

If you’d like to send a message to my guest, Jay Webster ands itself, you can follow Cision on Twitter. It’s at Precision Global Stories and Strategies is a co-production of Jgr Communications and Stories and Strategies podcasts. We’re hoping that you might leave a rating for this podcast on either Apple or Spotify, but more than anything else, if you like this episode, do us a favor, tell just one friend. Thanks for listening.


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