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Marketing, Technology, Uncategorized

5 Videoconferencing Tips to Conduct Meetings in the Era of COVID-19

Remote meetings can be tricky.

As a public relations and marketing firm in today’s market, and especially in the context of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and social distancing, we at Mecoy Communications know this all too well.

  Just yesterday, we tried to join an important crisis communications conference call that included 11 other people. After issues with 3 separate calls and 2 conference services later, the (understandably) flustered host finally got everyone together on a working line 20 minutes after the meeting was scheduled to start.

Unfortunately, in the limited time left and without the ability to see one another, we struggled to talk over each other and failed to make the most of our time. We ended up needing to reschedule the call (no easy task with 11 participants) as a videoconference.

This story is a dime a dozen, and even more relevant with Stay at Home Orders issues across the U.S. Now, more people than ever before are relying on technology like videoconferencing to keep business running as close to usual as possible.

From dealing with coronavirus to communicating with out-of-state clients and remote workers, videoconferencing is not just an answer to conducting meetings during quarantine, it can also serve as an invaluable tool to promote collaboration and improve productivity.

If you aren’t videoconferencing already, there has never been a more important time to catch up to the competition.

Given the current state of affairs with COVID-19, and the fact that American businesspeople hold approximately 11 million meetings a day, video and web conferencing have never been more relevant. With 52% of US-based employees working from home at least once a week and 89% of companies using multiple videoconferencing platforms, it seems that videoconferencing is an unavoidable part of our new, hyper-connected reality.

During the modern era of “social distancing”, videoconferencing services like Zoom, WebEx and Google Hangouts allow businesses and individuals to effectively conduct in-person virtual meetings that ensure all parties are heard and business continues as usual. They allow businesses and individuals to speak face-to-face with clients and employees, share presentations and files for review in real-time and even facilitate large-scale communications like investor conference calls.

Below are a few tips on setting up and executing a successful videoconferencing meeting:

  1. Choosing the Right Platform: First, choose the right platform for your needs. If you already have purchased an enterprise G-Suite account, then Google Hangouts is a free service that is easy to use. If not, Zoom and WebEx are two of the most popular options, each with a series of tiers to choose from. Review their respective strengths and price points and choose the tier and option that makes sense for your company’s needs. Make sure the platform you choose works with your hardware of choice. For example, if you prefer to use mobile videoconferencing, make sure that the platform you choose also has a functional mobile app. At Mecoy Communications, we use Zoom for its functionality, ease of use and price point.
  2. Know Your Tools: Make absolutely sure that you have a good internet connection to ensure there are no interruptions. Test your microphone input and speaker output prior to beginning the videoconference (most videoconference services will prompt you to do this before beginning, but audiocheck.net is a good resource in a pinch). Just as important is knowing how to use the videoconferencing software. This will allow you to avoid serious hiccups, and enable additional functionality including sharing your screen, muting yourself and recording the meeting.
  3. Location, Location, Location: Thinking about your location and being sure the background is what you want to be seen on camera will help viewers focus on what you’re saying and not on the distractions in the background. Make sure to test your lighting and camera angle before joining the meeting with a video preview (easily accessed in settings), and some platforms like Zoom even offer the option to “touch up your appearance” in the same menu (I suggest using it). Zoom and some other videoconferencing services offer virtual backgrounds as well, but make sure to choose something that matches the tenor of the audience and meeting. If you have an unfortunate earnings report to address with concerned investors, a Hawaiian beach with tiki torches is probably not the right background.
  4. Where to Look: Appearance is important both when speaking and listening. If you have the camera (on your laptop or whatever device you choose) at eye level, that will help the audience avoid looking up your nose or seeing a distorted image of you. Keeping your eyes on the screen and ignoring the video of yourself, if it’s visible, will help avoid a shifty-eyed look on the camera that can make you appear untrustworthy.
  5. What to Wear: Dress conservatively and avoid loud ties or intricate patterns that will distract the camera. If you’re wearing a jacket, using the old trick of ensuring your jacket is beneath your derriere avoids it riding up in the shoulders. Avoid wearing large, shiny or noisy jewelry that might cause a distraction. If you have contact lenses, we recommend wearing them instead of glasses to avoid potential glare.

During these trying times, we hope these tips and tricks will help you conduct remote meetings effectively and keep your business running as close to usual as possible.

At Mecoy Communications, we specialize in helping our clients define and execute crisis communications strategy both in-person and virtually. We are an agile, highly responsive network of Los Angeles-based specialists with decades of experience in crisis communications, media relations and public affairs. Our virtual team is ready to help at a moment’s notice — handling everything from developing plans and messaging to directly communicating with media, consumers and stakeholders.

So if you want to learn more about effective communications and how we might be able to help during these challenging times, please visit our website and reach out anytime.

Marketing, Technology

What The Hell is WeWork Up To?

On the National Front…

The Big Takeaway:

As coworking continues to grow, the nascent industry is still figuring out how to make money. WeWork is exploring optimizing space through data as a business model, a decision that may foreshadow the future of the coworking business model.

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Like any good story, the history of coworking begins with its main character: WeWork.

Since WeWork sprung upon the scene in 2011 (R.I.P. Green Desk), the coworking trend has dominated commercial real estate headlines. The company made news again last week by launching a “future cities” initiative to “help address problems spurred by globalization, urbanization, and climate change.”

Valued at $47 billion and with offices described by The New York Times as the result of “a stock-photo set of every boutique-hotel lobby from Palm Springs to Stockholm to Milan,” WeWork seems to embody the physical fulfillment of the millennial American dream— a place where modern entrepreneurial spirit meets flexible workspace.

With over 60 coworking offices and 30,000 clients across 32 countries, it is safe to say that WeWork has become the standard bearer for coworking.

The question is, will this phenomenon last? And what is WeWork anyways?

20180612_WeWork_Dalian_Lu___Common_Areas___Couch_Area_4.0

WeWork: The Coworking Giant

WeWork was originally founded as a community for creators with a focus on startups and freelancers, but has grown into a virtual real estate behemoth in recent years.

Influenced by their jet-setting CEO Adam Neumann’s passions, the newly rebranded We Company (with its mission “to elevate the world’s consciousness”) is making a clear effort to expand beyond WeWork’s core business of subleasing office space.

Forays into co-living (WeLive), wave pools, elementary schools (WeGrow), urban design and big wave surfer Laird Hamilton’s superfood are all pieces of this rapidly expanding “WeEverything” puzzle. This lack of focus can be puzzling- until you take a closer look at the challenges and opportunities of the coworking business model, particularly regarding the volatile real estate market and the growing value of data.

WeWork & the Coworking Model

WeWork does not call itself a real estate company. It prefers to think of itself as a technology platform that creates communities.

This makes sense from a business standpoint. As WorkSuites’ CEO Flip Howard pointed out last week, “When the market turns down, do these corporations that are paying two or three more times for their office space in exchange for a cool environment and flexibility stay?”

wework-enterprise-clients

It’s an important question and a potential issue that WeWork is actively seeking to avoid ahead of a potential recession.

Like all coworking companies, WeWork revolves around the provision, improvement and analysis of space. In its most basic sense, WeWork is a SaaS company— only instead of software, it offers Space as a Service.

This focus on space offers a unique set of challenges and opportunities: With its reliance on primarily short-term leases for revenue, WeWork is susceptible to taking a big financial hit if its corporate and entrepreneurially minded “members” decide to take their business elsewhere during economic downturns.

On the other hand, WeWork is able to collect valuable workplace data that can be used to track and optimize office space— a clear white space where “no one in the building industry has adequate information” according to WeWork’s Dave Fano. This data collection is not just limited to workspace- the aforementioned future cities initiative along with investments in schools, pools and food allow WeWork unparalleled insight into the modern work-life dynamic.

With its diverse acquisitions, WeWork is uniquely placed to collect and analyze data from a variety of sources to compile “the world’s largest data set on how people work and live.”

“Bldgs=Data”

As WeWork diversifies its portfolio, its data sets become valuable not only through sheer volume, but also through the interconnected nature of work and our daily lives. As Bloomberg reported last week, a WeWork t-shirt slogan “says a lot about where the shared workspace business is headed: bldgs=data.”

WeWork-ML-for-office-planning

Driven by its “Powered By We” data consultancy branch, WeWork recently ran pilot programs for corporate clients, “using the data gleaned to help them make decisions about redesign, building projects, and how to better manage existing offices.” Important data about occupancy, utility and efficiency is collected to better understand and serve building occupants— like “Google Analytics for space” according to Shiva Rajaraman, WeWork’s chief product officer.

After purchasing Teem, an analytics-driven conference room booking tool, and Euclid, a data platform that tracks employee identity and behavior, in the past year, it is clear that WeWork is further expanding its already considerable data collection and analysis capabilities.

In a time when data is commonly referred to as “the new oil,” it appears that WeWork is out to collect as much as it can.

Coworking rival Knotel is currently pursuing a similar path, involving the acquisition of proptech startup 42Floors and the debut of Baya, a blockchain-based listing service. As coworking continues to grow, it will be interesting to see if lesser-known competitors follow suit.

One thing is for certain- only time (and data) will tell if WeWork and its competitors are built to last.

 

 

Uncategorized

My Story

Diabetes has been a part of my life since my 7th birthday, and those who know me well are familiar with my story:

It’s the weekend before my birthday.

I leap out of bed at 7 A.M. sharp, eager for Saturday morning cartoons and sugary breakfast cereal.

I turn on the TV (almost assuredly Pokémon), bolt down a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and chug a glass of orange juice.

I throw it up almost immediately.

My parents are concerned. They make me another bowl of what we later learn is pure carbohydrates.

I throw that up too.

This is not the first sign that something is off. I have already lost almost 15 pounds in the past couple weeks alone. I am using the bathroom constantly, and, despite my enthusiasm for early morning cartoons, I have little energy and frequent mood swings.

My parents are smart people. They immediately take me to a local hospital. Four hospitals and countless doctors, nurses and non-diagnoses later, we finally arrive at the Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center.

The nurses inject me with an IV. Fortunately, it only takes them 12 tries to find my vein.

The diagnosis is clear: Type One Diabetes.

As a near-7-year-old (the age you almost are is apparently very important at that age), I know exactly what this means.

I start writing a will. I begin with my bike, and quickly realize I have nothing else to give and no one to leave it to.

(Note to future doctors: telling a kid he has DIE-abetes requires some serious explanation)

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I tell this story because I believe it gives some measure of insight into the culture shock that is being diagnosed with diabetes — both for an individual and their family.

I remember my family’s worry and confusion. I remember them trying to explain what diabetes was — and why it happened to me — to friends who visited me in the hospital.

I remember those same friends and classmates asking if hanging out with me would make them sick too.

I imagine getting diabetes is not too different from finding out that you are a parent: Sure, there are books to read and doctors to consult, but the experience is inherently personal. It’s a learning experience that not only tells you who are, but also helps shape the person you become.

And I’ve experienced plenty. Constant diet monitoring and injections included; I am intimately familiar with the tough times everyone associates with diabetes. There is no question that this disease is a daily battle for all involved, and there are no days off.

But realizing your own mortality at an early age has its advantages. I know that tomorrow is never guaranteed, and I have tried to live my life accordingly.

I am a better man for having Type One Diabetes. It has taught me patience, the importance of self-care and most importantly, it has taught me how to overcome adversity.

In my professional life, I started two businesses, launched two podcasts and maintain a personal blog (that you are currently reading). I worked on the team that won the PRWeek Best in Corporate Branding Award and wrote a thought leadership platform on artificial intelligence for an $11 billion technology company.

As a counselor at Camp Conrad Chinnock, I led a group of diabetic kids 25 miles uphill to summit the highest peak in Southern California.

I ran a marathon earlier this year, and, with your help, I will bike 100 miles in Sonoma, California this August (sober, I promise).

But the point of this story isn’t me. The point is to help young diabetics like my little sister, Grace, and thousands of kids who don’t know what having diabetes is like. Hopefully they never will.

It’s for that reason that I served as the South Bay Charity Walk Ambassador and a Congressional Advocate for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation funding. With the help and hard work of my family and the diabetic community, we raised tens of thousands of dollars for diabetes research, providing medical coverage and life-saving technology for thousands of fellow diabetics.

So, if you managed to make it this far, here’s what I ask: Give what you can.

Every little bit helps. Each dollar you donate goes straight to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the leading global organization funding Type One Diabetes research.

With your help, we can build a world where 7-year olds don’t need to learn how to inject themselves, much less think about writing a will.

Together, we can turn Type One into Type None.

Thank you.

Link to Donate: https://www.facebook.com/donate/516186725818614/?fundraiser_source=profile_tile

 

 

Commercial Real Estate, Marketing, Technology

Coworking in Southern California

In Local News…

The Big Takeaway:

Coworking is becoming a major player in the Southern California market, with multiple coworking companies including WeWork making substantial investments in these markets. Regardless of the industry’s permanence, local firms and competitors need to learn from these companies and adopt successful practices as coworking grows.

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WeWork is far from the only coworking space in Southern California.

With JLL opening a coworking satellite office in San Diego last week and Carr Workplaces recently re-entering the LA market, the conversation around coworking in Southern California is heating up.

According to BisNow, coworking space grew almost 62% in the top 20 office markets in the U.S. from 2017-2018. The industry is twice as prevalent in urban markets compared to suburban ones, and it is particularly popular with “large technology industries and entrepreneur populations.” There is room for growth too- according to Jeff Langdon of Adaptive Office Resources, the amount of commercial office space dedicated to shared office space is expected to grow 8-10% in the next few years.

Competing With Coworking

As these coworking companies grow in Southern California, traditional office owners have struggled to keep up with the competition.

At companies like WeWork there are plenty of advantages for members: around-the-clock access, additional amenities, an attractive client meeting location- and of course free beer. These amenities aren’t just window dressing- they affect productivity too.

According to a study conducted by Harvard Business Review, employees who work in a coworking space are more efficient than those who work in traditional spaces. Employees notice the difference too- “71% of people who join a work space see an increase in creativity and 62% report an improved standard of living,” according to another global survey.

Coworking proponents agree that added flexibility is a key component of its value. According to a recent survey, only 10% of workers think pay is more important than having autonomy over their work schedule.

The social aspect is a distinct advantage as well. According to the same HBR coworking study, “Coworkers reported that having a community to work in helps them create structures and discipline that motivates them.”

Not Just For Small Business

With its additional flexibility and social aspect, coworking is not just popular with small-scale startups and independent business owners. It also can serve as an ideal “test office” for larger companies looking to expand in new markets.

Companies like Bank of America, Salesforce and Microsoft have adopted the coworking model in select markets. They point to advantages in recruiting flexibility, improved innovation and creativity, cost effectiveness and most importantly setting up a “launch pad” temporary headquarters for potential future expansion.

As these companies continue to rely more on coworking spaces’ unique values, traditional office space providers must look to their competitors to adapt to changing demands.

Shifting Paradigms

For traditional Southern California office spaces, lessons can be learned. In order to effectively compete with coworking spaces, and to improve employee productivity, office space owners need to model successful examples.

First, office owners should look to embrace cross-departmental communication with open office design. In coworking spaces, employees across companies and industries act as resources by trading skills, giving advice, and sharing insights. The same principle can be applied in a traditional office: opening up the floorplan and incentivizing cross-departmental cooperation can help inspire employees to reach out to the next cubicle for new solutions to an old problem.

Second, office spaces must emphasize employee autonomy. Companies can achieve maximum productivity from employees by trusting them with their time. By catering to employees’ individual work styles, studies show that you will facilitate a happier, more productive work environment.

By focusing on these proven strategies, traditional office space owners in Southern California can better compete with coworking spaces in the short term while improving tenant satisfaction and productivity in the long term.

Marketing, Technology

Admission: The Social Ecosystem for Events in Los Angeles

People who live in LA know this city has a bigger problem than traffic.

It goes without saying that Los Angeles has a diverse population and an even more eclectic event scene. With over 5000 clubs and bars along with an unparalleled live music scene, it is clear that LA is the Mecca of modern nightlife.

Yet in the half hour Angelenos find between work and life, we still can’t figure out what to do with ourselves. There is so much going on around us that it becomes impossible to separate signals from the noise. In this age of information overload, it’s vital that we identify sources we can rely on.

That is why we have Yelp for food, Facebook for friends and Instagram to see what happened last night. But what about an app that answers the eternal question of ‘what’s going on tonight?

 Despite the advent of ticketing and event discovery tools like Meetup and Eventbrite, no dedicated application exists to provide a single platform for the universal experience of going out.

This is where Admission comes in.

Admission is the first community-driven event ecosystem that seamlessly connects people, organizers and venues in Los Angeles. It is the only social discovery app that moves beyond simple event discovery by providing members with the ability to discover, experience and enjoy events- all without ever leaving the platform. Admission empowers fellow Angelenos to create their own profiles, follow their favorite organizers and venues, purchase tickets and stay up-to-date with every LA event. It is the ultimate one-stop-shop for events: a single app to discover, experience and enjoy Los Angeles.

Those of you that attended our launch party last Saturday had the opportunity to learn a bit about the Admission vision. We are a tight-knit community of LA natives with a singular mission: To create a single platform for events in Los Angeles. We love the eclectic energy of this city and we want to help our friends, along with the Admission community as a whole, experience everything Los Angeles has to offer. From underground DIY functions to events at venues including The Moroccan Lounge and The Peppermint Club, Admission has built a community and reputation founded on throwing and promoting the best events Los Angeles has to offer.

That’s why the Admission app empowers community members to not only explore local social, music and art scenes, but also to create their own profile and follow their favorite organizers and venues in the LA area. With the help of our dedicated community, we are creating a resource that helps people feel comfortable in their own city. An app that looks out for your best interest, curated by the people you trust, without overwhelming ads or dubious algorithms that claim to know you better than yourself.

As of today, Admission has built and launched a curated events platform and is continuing to develop its tech stack, produce events, and grow its user base in Los Angeles. In the near future, we will launch additional features to ensure that our community never needs to leave the Admission app throughout the duration of an event. From discovery, to RSVP and purchasing, from paying for drinks to reliving the event through photos and posts the next day, Admission aims for the audacious goal of becoming Los Angeles’ only online and offline event community.

Download the app today to join our community and become a part of the first social ecosystem for events in Los Angeles.

Admission: Do More Than Just Discover