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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