A Broad Abroad Talks Traveling Solo

Headshot Portraits

Paula Froelich, our favorite travel pro, is coming to Nashville to speak at our Red Letter Day and we couldn’t be more happy. Because she is the real thing – an adventure traveler, a storyteller, a speaker and an expert in travel marketing to women. In fact, she created a whole new travel category for women who travel solo – and enjoy it.

Overall, solo travelers comprise about 23% of all leisure travelers, according to the U.S. Travel Association and other research says nearly 40% of travelers say they would take a vacation by themselves if given the opportunity. Some 65% of women are taking vacations without a partner.

American women top the list in solo travel. Nine million American women traveled overseas alone last year. Reasons for solo leisure trips are different than business. The solo trips allow women to escape from everyday life, experience new cultures, travel at their own pace, and be free to make decisions and be themselves.

Couples like to take separate trips, especially when it comes to passions like adventure trips, interest-specific trips and taking up new activities.

Some might think that solo travel is for the 18-30 age group, but research suggests that the average solo traveler is 54.

Women often encounter special challenges in traveling solo such as getting the best rates when they travel solo. Dining solo or single rooms can still offer less than desirable options in some resorts. Travel companies are beginning to use less “romantic language” when marketing to solo travelers, understanding that not all solo travelers are single or looking to hook up.

Paula can help us navigate the travel space with ease. She was named one of Folio’s Top Women in Media in 2015 and is now Editor-at-Large at Yahoo. She spends her time traveling, writing, building partnerships and expanding her blog and video series “A Broad Abroad” across multiple platforms. In four short months as Editor in Chief of Yahoo Travel, Yahoo Travel became the largest travel content portal in the world, winning awards and consistently ranked #1 in the travel category under her leadership. Paula also launched several shows, including “A Broad Abroad,” the first female-hosted, travel adventure series of its kind.

Her adventures have taken her from Mexico to Egypt, from the ski slopes of Afghanistan to swimming with giant manta rays in Hawaii.

Banana Caramel Mini Muffins

IMG_3083You need to make something for a brunch, a small coffee gathering or just a Saturday morning. If you keep a cake mix in the pantry and a couple of bananas in the kitchen, you can always stir up these tasty tidbits.

Shortcut Spiced Banana Muffins

1 Spiced Cake Mix

2 large eggs

1/3 cup oil

¾ cup water

2 large ripe bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 12 mini loaf pans with non stick cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl, stir all ingredients together until smooth and well mixed. Put into mini muffin pans and bake 8 minutes OR until toothpick comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs attached. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes before removing from pan. Serve warm or cool. Top with Easy Caramel Frosting! Makes 45-55 small muffins depending on size of pans.

Easy Caramel Frosting

2 Tablespoons Butter

3 Tablespoons Milk

½ cup packed brown sugar

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, and mix in 3 tablespoons milk and brown sugar. Boil vigorously for 1 minute.

1 cup confectioners sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Remove from heat, and beat in 1/2 cup confectioners sugar. Cool slightly, and beat in the vanilla and remaining 1/2 cup confectioners sugar. Add more milk if the mixture is too thick.

Do You Watch Brand Videos with the Sound Off? Most People Do.

Carrie-dog_art

Okay, I admit some of my favorite videos on Facebook are things like dogs smiling, recipe videos, Dr. Jane Goodall releasing a gorilla back to nature, and a salsa dancing golden retriever.

And guess what? I watch all of them with the sound off. To marketers, that is autoplay video with sound. As much as 85% of video views on Facebook happen with the sound off, according to multiple publishers. Most of us have news feeds full of short videos that feature text or captions narrating what is being seen on screen. The videos usually have narration, music and sound effects, but marketers make sure the videos can be understand without sound.

The new rules seem to be that you have to catch someone’s attention in three seconds and without sound. According to MEC North America, their branded videos average 85-9o% silent video views. Silent doesn’t mean consumers are less engaged. Internal studies conducted by the agency showed that KPIs like brand lift and intent to purchase were not affected by whether the viewer watched the video with the sound on or off.

So here’s the new rules for Facebook video, make sure your content can be understood without sound by adding readable captions, easy-to-understand visuals and an engaging start to capture their attention.

Smart Cookies Everywhere!

2d339469-f24d-4c6c-823c-c10c7f73d37b

A little salute to all the smart cookies we know!  This is a favorite – my Mom’s oatmeal chocolate chip cookie dressed up just to make you smile.  These would be perfect for exam study groups, graduation parties or because it’s time for a snack.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

1 cup butter

2 eggs

1 cups flour

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup coconut

3 cups rolled oats

1 cup chocolate chips and/or toffee chips, optional

DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Blend sugars and shortening. Add beaten eggs. Sift dry ingredients together and add to first mixture. Stir in vanilla, coconut, oats and nuts. Mix well and drop from teaspoon onto greased cookie sheets. Flatten with the floured bottom of a glass. Bake in 375 degree oven until light brown – about 8 minutes.

Considering a Text Campaign? Know the Facts.

photo-1434123700504-d8cfba6a12c8Texting is the number one activity on our smartphones and is one of the most efficient marketing vehicles.  Brands invest in SMS campaigns because 90% of SMS messages are read within 3 minutes of receipt and almost 100% of all phone devices are SMS enabled.

Americans are addicted to texting on their smartphones. Pew Research discovered that text messaging (97%) is the most popular feature, followed by voice/video calls (92%), internet (89%) and email (88%).  Two-thirds of Millennials text more than 5 times a day.

But what do consumers think about text message marketing?  In a recent Direct Marketing Association survey, 70% of the sample revealed that they had responded to a marketing text message. To put this in perspective, the DMA adds that only 30% of those surveyed responded to a marketing email.

Another survey by SAP found the following:

64% of consumers think that businesses should converse with customers more often using SMS.

76% report that they are more likely to read a message sooner if it is an SMS/text message than if it is an email

70% feel using an SMS/text message is a good way for an organization to get their attention

64% think that organizations should use SMS/text messages more than they currently do

Texting is here to stay and brands need to find how it fits into their marketing.

 

8 Tips on Text Message Campaigns

iphone-for-texting-survey1Text campaigns can be used in multiple ways.  We have used it as a way to interact with healthcare workers who do not have time to access their office email frequently and for extremely loyal fans who want immediate, actionable interactions. Here are some things you should know about text campaigns.

1.  Create an Opt-in Campaign.  To develop a database, you will need to recruit participants through other channels.  In our instance, we used social media, direct mail and internal communications within hospitals – posters, digital media, flyer and table tents.  It is important to create a compelling reason for individuals to give up their privacy and allow your messages in.  We developed a giveaway for those who participated.  We also gave them clear communication on what to expect and why we were requesting their information.

2.  Have a clear call to action.  SMS campaigns are driven by 2 factors – the keyword and a short code. The keyword should be easy to remember for the brand.

3.  Make the offer easy to obtain.   Give them a promotional code in the message to use when they appear in your store/restaurant/site.  Make the landing page relevant to the SMS message if you send a link. Since some 50% of your subscribers will be responding via phone, make sure your page is responsive and clearly relates to the message you sent.

4.  Pay attention to frequency.  Ideally 2-4 texts per month is enough.  In fact, it is good to include your frequency in the “auto reply” to your keywords with something like “receive up to 4 text messages per month.”

5.  Respect your audience.  Realize that the persons who respond are really loyal to your brand.  Your text campaigns need to provide more than just selling messages.  Not all of the communication needs to be transaction-based.  You can provide helpful information to them, provide services not available to other consumers, send reminders, or invite them to events.

6.  Leverage the immediacy of texting.  A reminder of an event the day before, a news alert of a special need or weather closings are examples of the type of immediacy involved in text campaigns.

7.  Provide consistent communications.  Using the media consistently is important.  If you go months without connecting via SMS is likely going to cause a high unsubscribe rate with every send.  High profile brands typically send one text a week.  Every brand should develop their own optimized frequency.

8.  Measurement of campaigns.  Here are some types of metrics that can be used to measure your campaign – Subscriber Growth, Subscriber Churn, Keyword Engagement (using different keywords for different media to identify performance), Redemption Rate, and Cost per Redeeming Subscriber.

Mobile texting campaigns are a very private way to communicate with your consumers. And texting campaigns are a way to create stronger loyalty and engagement.  Go ahead and try it out.

Joanne Pulles on Making a Difference with the HCA Hope Fund

HiRes_4747171821053
As president of the HCA Hope Fund and the HCA Foundation, Joanne Pulles oversees activities that help and uplift thousands of HCA employees. We took the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the HCA Hope Fund to talk to Joanne about the Power of Hope. HCA Hope Fund has assisted more than 18,000 HCA employees and their families, but it is a marketing challenge to reach the more than 220,000 employees with the message of the Hope Fund.  Many healthcare employees are in clinical settings throughout the day without access to conventional methods.  Delivering  messages to them must take different forms like social media, texting, place-based media and direct mail.

1.  How did the HCA Hope Fund get started?

The HCA Hope Fund was born out of a desire from our employees to help their co-workers who had suffered loss after prominent natural disasters as well as individual losses from cancer, death, car accidents and more.  The out-pouring from employees in 2004 after Hurricane Charlie was the catalyst that launched our exploration to set up a fund as a public charity to help our 200,000 employees in times of crisis.  We had completed our application with the IRS for charitable status in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina devastated our employees and facilities in the Gulf Coast.  With an emergency ruling from the IRS in-hand, we quickly went into operation assisting hundreds of our employees who had lost homes in the storm.

2.  What makes the HCA Hope Fund unique?  

It’s prominence in our culture.  We share stories with our employees every month on the what the fund has meant to their colleagues during their personal crisis.  Personal stories are also told locally in our hospitals from employees who want to their co-workers to know how they have been helped when they needed it the most.

Our leadership support is outstanding – from our executives at corporate and from our hospital leadership across the country.  Not only do they give generously from their personal resources, they lend their voice in staff meetings and employee communications to signal the fund’s importance as part of our wonderful culture at HCA.

3. Who are other companies like HCA who have instituted Employee Emergency Assistance Fund?

Many, many companies have employee relief funds. Some do it through a fund at a community foundation, which is an easier entry point, especially if you just want a fund set up for disasters. Other companies do it like we do at HCA – establish their fund as a public charity and invite employees to support each other in a true “employees helping employees” model that helps workers in a multitude of situations beyond their control such as a serious illness or injury, death in the family, disasters and more.

We are part of a growing group of companies who hold a conference each year and have quarterly phone calls to share best practices. This group includes Home Depot, Levi Strauss, Dollar General, Asurion, Macy’s, Cracker Barrel, PetSmart, and many others.

4. How do you promote the fund? What type of messaging resonates with donors?

We use multiple channels to promote the fund: company email and print communications, at-home mailers, social media like Twitter and Facebook, and even posters still get the attention of our employees who work in busy clinical settings. We have a compelling value proposition for employees when we ask them to contribute financially:

1. It is something they care deeply about – their co-workers in a crisis

2. Thanks to HCA, we are able to offer employees the chance to double their impact through company matching funds, which is a strong motivator for donors and

3. HCA also pays for the staff time that is allocated to the fund so that we have the ability to let employee donors know that none of their contribution goes toward administrative expenses – 100% goes directly to an employee in need. Donors love the value they get from contributing to this fund.

5. What makes the Hope Fund an important choice for employees among other non-profits they might support?

We see giving to the community through other charities as equally important as supporting our own employees through the Hope Fund.  We support more than 1,000 charities with millions of dollars annually through our employee giving campaign, corporate sponsorships and The HCA Foundation.  We offer the same match opportunity to an employee’s charity of choice as we offer for own employee relief fund.  We promote the idea that employees should make at least two gifts – one to our employees in need through the Hope Fund and another to their charity of choice.

6. What are some new ways you are working to reach employees?

It is a challenge to reach our employees in the course of their very important work saving lives and providing critical care in our hospitals and surgery centers. Last year, we can began new experiments with social media to provide other popular channels to connect with employees. We also conducted our first text message campaign. We are now exploring the effectiveness of sending more mail to employees’ homes. This is important for us because, when you are trying to reach your own employees for charitable giving, you tend to over-rely on the cheap and easy methods like company email. But raising funds through direct mail is still the most important tool for most charities and continues to show a positive ROI. Given the clinical nature of our business, this channel may need to become a bigger part of our approach.

7. What are the metrics you use to determine how successful your donor campaigns are?

We measure dollars (in total and by business units) like every other charity because, at the end of the day, this is what it takes to help our employees when they need it most. But our primary message and focus is not dollars – we do not set or impose dollar goals on any campaign leader in a business unit. What we want is engagement. We ask employees to just join our movement for as little as $1 per pay period. We believe the thousands of inspiring stories from our employees who have been helped will motivate donors to give at an appropriate amount that fits their individual capacity. This has worked well for us thus far and we have thousands of donors who give at “Leadership Circle” levels, which for us means gifts of at least $500 annually.

8. What continues to excite you about the Hope Fund?

For me, it is the feedback we receive routinely from employees who have been helped. As I sit here responding to your question, I am thinking about the letter I read this morning from a married couple (both employees) who were in a serious car accident last year. She took three pages to re-count her accident that almost claimed her life. She never expected to need the help of a fund like ours, but now she wants to remind us all that life can literally change in a split second. Unexpected bills began to pile up while she recovered for a period of months and was not able to work. It was the gift from her fellow co-workers that gave her hope during the most difficult battle of her life.

 

Pound Cake Churros Por Favor

IMG_2489Isn’t it wonderful when trendy intersects with easy?  I had these churros first in a Roy Choi restaurant in Los Angeles.  Churros have a place on many menus today.  Our version is one of the most popular – Pound Cake Churros.  You could make your own pound cake if you have lots of time, or you could just call Sara Lee!  We chose to add chocolate and raspberry dipping sauces, but you could serve it with ice cream and chocolate milk.

Pound Cake Churros with Dipping Sauces

Ingredients

Canola oil for frying

1 frozen pound cake, thawed

3/4 cup sugar

2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon

Directions

Heat a deep pan over medium-high heat and add enough canola oil so that it reaches about 1 inch in depth.

With a knife, trim the crust off the pound cake and then cut it into thick slices. Then cut each slide into two logs.

In a large zip top plastic bag or in a large mixing bowl, add the sugar and the cinnamon and mix well.

Super Bowl Is Last of Appointment Viewing

GTY_Super_Bowl_ER_160201_12x5_1600Super Bowl 50 drew the third largest audience ever, just behind the 2015 and 2014 Super Bowl match-ups.  This Super Bowl also set another record – for the first time, national ads ran in the same spots on television and live stream, showing the importance of streaming coverage.  Research suggests that one in three consumers now watch live sports on a device other than a traditional television.  Cord cutters are struggling to see the relevance of TV in their world.

Super Bowl still has an amazing allure to those who want to watch the game in a social setting with family and friends. “Appointment viewing” still holds up well against digital streaming, because the social aspect is such a huge part of the experience.  In fact, the largest ratings are around the half-time show are as large as the game, with blockbuster performances by Beyonce, Bruno Mars and Coldplay.

This year’s Super Bowl posted significant  numbers when you look at the actual streaming coverage.  According to CBS, streaming coverage of the game on CBS and NFL properties averaged 1.4 million viewers, and viewers consumed more than 315 million minutes of coverage across laptops, desktops, tablets, connected TV devices and mobile phones.

The Super Bowl has managed to continue to capture an amazing television audience when television viewing is changing at a fast pace.  What does that mean?  Well, online audiences are an important part of the viewing audience.   Recently an NFL game aired exclusively on Yahoo and the NFL is looking for a digital partner for the Thursday Night Football.

The rights to the Super Bowl are tied up by the networks until 2022, but after that time, this last bastion of appointment viewing might look mighty different.  We might be tuning in to Hulu, Netflix or Apple for our annual football fix.

Meet Courtney Seiter and Buffer

lM8OzyGsQdfGYzY3iniEdhW4TsMz3VtyX3fp1a2Ve7gCourtney Seiter is a great fount of information on social media and culture.  She is a writer and editor at Buffer, focusing on the intersection of social media and workplace culture. Her writing has appeared in TIME, Fast Company, Lifehacker, Inc. and more. On the side, she’s the co-founder of Girls to the Moon, an amateur DJ and an excellent dog petter.
1. Tell us about Buffer and what makes it different from other social media tools.
Sure thing! Buffer is a tool that helps individuals and companies share easily to social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+. Buffer will help you find the best times to post for the most engagement, and then you can fill up your queue so you’re always in touch with your audience. We offer great analytics so you’ll always know how you’re doing and have the insights you need to keep improving. I think our customer support sets us apart; we treat each and every customer with the utmost respect and gratitude, because they’re why we exist!
2. We understand that Buffer has a unique organizational structure, unusual employee benefits and commitment to total transparency.  Tell us a little about it.  
Buffer is a very cool and different type of company; I feel very lucky! We’re a remote team of 60+, with teammates scattered all across the globe. We get together every 6 months or so at a different location–we’ve been to Cape Town, New York, Sydney, Reykjavik and next up in January is Honolulu! We have cool perks like unlimited paid vacation ( plus an extra bonus you only get if you take a vacation!) and free Kindles and all the Kindle books you can read for yourself and your family. We’re also very devoted to transparency as one of our 10 core values, so anyone can learn all about our salaries, our revenue, our team demographics, and what every cent of their subscription to Buffer goes toward. (P.S. We’re hiring!)
3. How are you creating a welcoming environment for teammates and customers? 
Awesome question! Our customers come from all walks of life, all around the world; and we believe our team should reflect that diversity in order to make the best product decisions and create the happiest and most inclusive culture. We have a unique opportunity to add teammates from anywhere in the world! So we’re working toward being very deliberate about growing our culture in a way that celebrates our unique differences. We’re getting news of our open roles to new, different and underrepresented groups and tracking closely how we’re doing with growing the team in a diverse way. We have a lot of important work to do here, and a lot to learn. It’s an exciting project to work on!
 
4. What are you currently working on?  How does your role affect inclusiveness at Buffer?
My role at Buffer is a mix of culture, content and inclusivism, which is such an awesome opportunity. I edit and write for Buffer: Open, our blog that focuses on workplace culture topics. I get the coolest opportunity to share the stories of my teammates, open up about how we work and promote all kinds of unique and innovative workplace culture strategies and movements. It’s also a perfect fit for sharing openly all the experiments we and others are trying to create more diverse and inclusive work environments.
5. What’s new for social media in 2016?  Do you have any crystal ball prognostications for the new year?
I loved seeing the rise of tools like Periscope and Blab this year; it felt like a return to the kind of real-time engagement that made social media so special from the start. In 2016, I predict and hope for more movement in this direction, toward more authentic moments and conversations!
6. What are your passion projects outside of Buffer?  
 
I love working with kids to create a more just future for the next generation. I am a founder of Girls to the Moon, a startup that works to empower young girls to own their confidence and passions. And I’m a tutor and volunteer at Fannie Battle, an amazing program providing resources for underprivileged youth in East Nashville.
7. Bonus:  What didn’t I ask you that I should have?  
Hmm, good one! Well, if you’re in need of any book recommendations, I’ve been reading a book a week throughout 2015 focusing on awesome lady authors. You can find all my selections here!