ACC will merge with CTAM after 31 years

Reporters Panel during FORUM 2016 in NYC
The Reporters panel during FORUM 2016 in NYC.

The following post was submitted by Steve Jones, ACC Executive Director.
Last week, on November 3, the Association of Cable Communicators (ACC) announced it is in the process of merging operations with CTAM following the unanimous votes and support of both Boards. The association’s top programs and member services will be integrated into CTAM as well as the ACC membership.

Originally founded as the Cable Television Public Affairs Association, in 2016 the name was changed to the Association of Cable Communicators following a number of strategic planning and repositioning sessions held by the Board of Directors. The first planning meetings for the organization were held in 1983 and 1984 when you could fit nearly all the industry’s full-time public affairs professionals into a small room.

During the 1984 NCTA Show in Las Vegas, and in the summer of 1984, approximately 20 of the industry’s PR professionals held the first organizational meeting in conjunction with the CTAM Summit in New York. This group which represented virtually the entire population of the industry’s dedicated PR staff at the time, fit around a conference table. In comparison, CTAM drew more than 1,200 industry marketers that year, marking its tenth anniversary. There was discussion of making the organization part of CTAM from the beginning; however, the founding executives recognized the importance of the public affairs function and the need for human and capital resources to implement public affairs programs within the industry.

Motivated by this and the broader interest demonstrated at the earlier meeting, the core members reconvened to develop bylaws and formally established an independent organization in 1985. CTPAA filed papers as a Colorado non-profit and was certified as a 501 (c)(6) by the IRS in 1987. In 1992 the organization’s bylaws were reviewed and re-registered as a Delaware corporation.

Over the years the organization held its FORUM educational conference with numerous educational sessions, keynote speakers and networking opportunities for the industry’s communications executives. The Beacon Awards®, originally called the Crystal Awards in 1989, celebrated the best of the best initiatives and programs in cable communications and public affairs. And annually the Golden Beacon Award® recognized a communications or public affairs initiative that made an impact within the cable industry, while enhancing cable’s image nationwide.

The industry over the years has changed and grown through technical and programming innovations as well as riding the rolling waves of government regulations and economic conditions. In 2009 the industry weathered the great recession and continued to change with the advancement into the internet age and the start of industry consolidation. Now in 2016, following a number of major company mergers and economic changes, ACC has gone full circle and will now join forces with CTAM.

For the past 31 years, the association has been dedicated to supporting the learning, growth and development of cable industry communications at all levels. Thank you for your support. The Board and I are confident the combined organization will provide the industry’s communicators and marketers with a stronger, more robust association serving both disciplines and providing added value to all.

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Beacon Winner Insights: Cox Virginia Connects with WiFi Scavenger Hunt

FAA JD Check
Cox Communications Virginia’s SVP and Regional Manager, JD Myers, II presents a $5,000 check to the WiFi Scavenger Hunt winter, Fredericksburg All Ages.

The following guest post was submitted by Angelique LeBlanc of Cox Communications.

Can businesses increase the use of products and services while meeting specific social responsibility goals? Moreover, what could this type of campaign look like?

In 2014, Cox Communications Virginia was met with this opportunity: How can we drive visibility and customer usage for a new product, connect the campaign to our community philanthropy goals, and support nonprofits while bringing some exposure to local small businesses – and make it fun and engaging?

The solution: An interactive scavenger hunt involving social media.

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Fredericksburg All Ages member Alex gets his hair dyed blue to solve a WiFi Scavenger Hunt clue.

A total of 14 clues were e-mailed to the participating nonprofit organizations and also posted to our local website. We worked with a third-party company that specializes in creating scavenger hunts to create clues that were imaginative, challenging and fun. Teams then had two weeks to locate each hotspot and post a photograph for each clue to Twitter. They earned points based on the content and timing of their tweeted photographs.

We specifically had each clue lead to a location near a Cox WiFi hotspot that was either at or near Cox Virginia’s business clients in the Fredericksburg area. This allowed us to build relationships with the businesses but also give our business clients an opportunity to support their community alongside Cox.

Once the competitors found the hotspot, they needed to take a photograph and post it to their own Twitter pages while using “@CoxVA,” “#CoxVAWiFi” and “#Contest.” By mandating that the organization tweet in a specific way, we were able to reach their audiences as well as Cox Virginia’s own Twitter audience.

The WiFi scavenger hunt exceeded our expectations. Thirteen nonprofit teams registered for the hunt, with seven teams actively participated in solving clues and tweeting. Not only did the event help us generate great engagement on Twitter – 115 tweets reaching more than 27,400 accounts – but Cox WiFi usage in the Northern Virginia market reached a new daily high and total WiFi usage during the hunt increased by nearly 10 percent.

But by far, the best result was seeing all the participating teams network at the reception announcing the winner, Fredericksburg All Ages.

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Beacon Winner Insights: C-SPAN Bus Historically Black Colleges & Universities Tour

The following guest post was submitted by C-SPAN’s Heath Neiderer.

C-SPAN is proud to have won our first Multicultural Public Relations Beacon Award for our Historically Black Colleges and Universities Tour during Black History Month in 2015.

In partnership with our cable affiliates, C-SPAN marketing and programming staff coordinated a three-week tour to highlight the substantial role HBCUs have within America’s higher education system. The C-SPAN Bus – our 45-foot interactive learning center and mobile production studio – visited eight prominent HBCUs in six states and Washington, D.C., to conduct live programming with top university officials and connect college-aged students, educators, and community members with C-SPAN’s resources and services through exhibits aboard the Bus.

Feb 11 Morehouse Pres and SGA
Dr. John Silvanus Wilson, left, participated in C-SPAN’s call-in program, Washington Journal, during the HBCU Tour.

The following takeaways were key to the tour’s success:


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Beacon Winner Insights: Remembering the Great War

The following guest post was submitted by Kim Gilmore, Sr. Historian, A+E Networks. HISTORY® won a 2015 Beacon Award for Educational Materials.

2014 marked the onset of a five-year commemoration of World War I, also known as “The Great War.” By the war’s end, some 9 million soldiers lost their lives, and hundreds of thousands of civilians were forever changed by the conflict. The war laid the groundwork for today’s interconnected geopolitics, and had a tremendous influence on the technology and medicine. Yet even though there are many dedicated WWI scholars and aficionados, many Americans probably draw a blank when someone asks them what happened during World War I and why it matters today. At HISTORY® we took this as a challenge: how can we inspire people of all ages, particularly students, to learn and care about the impact of WWI and how it shaped our contemporary world?

canadian-soldiers-going-over-trench-PThroughout Europe, the 100-year anniversary of the war kicked off with major fanfare. Many people probably saw images of the stunning art installation at the Tower of London, which featured hundreds of thousands of ceramic poppies. (Poppies, as many readers probably know, became a way to memorialize the fallen soldiers of WWI after Lt. Col. John McCrae’s poem “In Flanders Fields” made its mark as a popular WWI poem.) The United States World War One Centennial Commission has started its own major effort to observe the anniversary of the Great War in the U.S. At HISTORY, we felt that it was important to introduce more Americans to the contours of this important world event at the start of the commemoration period.


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Beacon Winner Insights: Fighting for Fort Polk


The following guest post was submitted by Suddenlink Senior Director of Corporate Communications Gene Regan.

Opportunity knocked in 2014 and 2015 for the Suddenlink team in Leesville, La., located near the U.S. Army’s installation at Fort Polk.

Local community leaders had formed a coalition, dubbed Fort Polk Progress, to help persuade the U.S. Army to maintain existing troops and administrative personnel in the area, despite the prospect of massive cuts at up to 30 Army installations around the country in the summer of 2015.  Suddenlink contributed to the effort in a variety of ways, including donated ad time for television PSAs, social media outreach, and technical assistance for concurrent “listening sessions” between federal decision-makers and Fort Polk supporters.

As a result, the U.S. Army’s Environmental Command (AEC) tallied nearly 35,000 letters or petitions of support from the Ft. Polk area, which represented nearly one of every three such submissions the AEC received – more than from any other area facing potential cuts. Importantly, in contrast to other installations targeted for potential cuts, the Army’s ultimate decision had relatively limited impact on Fort Polk.

What Made the Greatest Impact on this Campaign?


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Business Narratives: Connective Beats Creative

The following guest post was submitted by Jay Rhoderick with Thaler Pekar & Partners.

Communication is becoming ever more digital and virtual, especially in the cable industry.  But ironically, one of the most powerful means of reaching and keeping customers interested is old-fashioned analog: the well-told story.

Story is a device for creating connection.  While some of our favorite stories from childhood may contain shockingly original or outrageous moments, when it comes to finding and sharing stories for business, audiences are drawn in much more by connectivity than creativity.  And we connect with an audience, in part, through the storytelling mechanism of granular sensory language. Now, we are not creating a great work of art with the story we’re sharing as a marketing or publicity tool, nor are we attempting to transform an executive into a world-class raconteur with the story we give them to share at meetings or pitches.  Instead, we are creating connection and interest with our audience.

Consider the following brief story …


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Social Media Measurement: Tracking Effectiveness

As part of ACC’s ongoing webinar series, four panelists – Jeremy Art, C-SPAN; Ying Shen, Cisco; John Solit, NCTA; and Kristy Zach, Time Warner Cable – recently discussed how their organizations use social media tools, measure results, track effectiveness, and report results to top executives. Although they employ somewhat different approaches, all agreed that tracking results is key to assessing the effectiveness of social media strategies and campaigns and their alignment with larger organizational goals.


As communication practitioners, one of the first rules of social media is to select platforms where you are able to reach the greatest numbers of your target audience. Nearly two thirds or 63% of all Facebook and Twitter users view these platforms as news sources.

If you are trying to reach reporters, a CJR October 2014 study found that approximately 59% of all journalists are active on Twitter – and the percentage has presumably grown since. In addition, 24.6% of verified Twitter users are journalists, with an average of 140,000 followers each. As a group, individuals working in the media trail only athletes/sports figures and entertainers in terms of number of followers. In contrast, only 20% of social media users are on Twitter.


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4 Key Elements to Social Media Campaigns

As part of ACC’s ongoing webinar series, hosts Mallard Holliday with Cox and Emily Kaiser with Discovery recently discussed how they achieve communications goals in social media campaigns. While the barriers to entry on social media are low, it’s important to consider the risks and requirements to truly engage online users. Mallard and Emily recommended four key elements to consider when developing your next social media campaign.

Put Content First

Content remains king when it comes to social media management. Each social media platform demands a specific set of assets, in unique formats and with a specialized viewpoint. Simply cropping the same image for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat and your blog will not equate to wider engagement across all platforms.

To follow platform best practices, be sure you know the vibe and the trends specific to each audience. Once you understand the platform and your target audience, create customized content. And if your team doesn’t have the resources to produce a large volume of unique content, limit your campaign to the most active platforms.


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