Gaia Group PR Blog

The 22101 Small Agency Awards

If We Can’t Brag About Our Clients, Whom Can We Brag About?

by Melissa Adams & Tori Montano

As a small, but mighty independent marketing communications firm, we have spent 2014 creating connections, conversations and community building for our awesome clients. This year, we’ve helped our clients (or business partners!) launch successful and high impact marketing strategies, internal communications, media relations and social media campaigns.

As the halfway point of the year came and went, we realized it was time for our partners to get the recognition they deserve. From there, the 22101 Small Agency Awards were born. We created these awards out of respect and admiration so that we are able to take a few minutes to brag about their amazing work.

This year, Gaia Group has “won” (well technically gave ourselves) five 22101 Small Agency Awards including “Best Media Relations Campaigns,” “Best Company Launch,” “Best use of Social Media,” and “Best Overall Small Agency of the Year,” thanks to stellar innovations and top-notch programs attributed to our clients. These will start us off and in typical Millennial style, everyone will receive an award this year!

While we patiently wait for the “awards” to be engraved and delivered to our office, <wink> we are thrilled to share some of our rock star clients accomplishments. Stay tuned for highlights!

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Digital health update: Where are we now?

by Tori Montano

It’s no surprise that over the past few years there have been significant changes in the healthcare industry. Whether it’s policy changes, increased patient awareness or new technologies, the industry began to shift in 2013 and hasn’t slowed down yet.  As 2014 approached, thought leaders and publications tried to calculate where the industry would take us this year, and what trends would have the biggest impact.

Our favorite forecast came from InformationWeek, where Ken Terry, a freelance healthcare writer who specializes in health IT, predicted 9 digital health trends for 2014. His trends included, wearable monitors, smart sensors, telehealth, Google Glass v. Kinect, speech recognition, IBM Watson, M-Health apps, cloud-based EHRs, and HISPS.

As we head into the 4th quarter, we thought it would be interesting to check-in on these predictions. Out of the 9 trends, we focused on our three favorites, wearable monitors, telehealth and M-health Apps.

Wearable Monitors

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From the Nike Fuleband, to the Fitbit, to the Garmin FR70, and now – the long awaited iWatch, wearable monitors are the hottest ticket in town these days. According to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) consumer interest in purchasing a wearable monitor quadrupled from 3% in 2012 to 13% in 2013, so it’s no wonder that Terry thought these devices would continue to gather traction in 2014.Reportlinker.com defines wearable monitors as devices with sensors that detect and monitor changes in the body such as; smart watches, health monitors, fitness tracking devices, pedometers, etc.

While we’re still in the beginning of this trend, interest in these devices is increasing at a continuous rate and researchers estimate that this sector could be worth anywhere between 5 and 50 billion dollars by 2018. Though, critics of the devices agree that wearables need to bring value to users, be easy to use, and simply integrate with other devices in order to become an essential part of daily life.

We’ll have to check back with this trend at the end of the year to see what happens! Stay tuned.

Telehealth

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The next predicted trend of 2014 is Telehealth, which was revolutionized by the Department of Veteran Affairs. In 2012, nearly half a million veterans received care remotely. Kerry foresaw that this trend would transfer over to the private sector in 2014.

Although there are some major obstacles to overcome like cross-state licensing, 2014 has shown that Terry was accurate about telehealth. Many have attributed the success to private insurers, the Affordable Care Act and employers. This June, the American Medical Association announced their policy “for ensuring the appropriate coverage of and payment for telemedicine,” a major step in the right direction for the industry.  In addition to this, we have seen key players endorse the field such as large enterprises, the U.S. government and hospitals and doctors offices.

This is a trend we feel will continue to develop, saving patients time and money!

mHealth Apps

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The last trend we checked in on is mobile health apps! Terry explained that this trend could only take off in 2014 if there was an easy way to distinguish the mobile health apps from all the other tens of thousands apps.

Well, mobile health and fitness’s big moment is finally here. According to Flurry, at the halfway point in the year and there has been a 62% increase in the usage of health and fitness apps since January 2014. This number can be compared to the 33% increase in usage of the mobile app industry in general.

We think that this is just the beginning for mobile health apps. These applications have the potential to make patients more active in managing their health and being more informed!

What do you think? What have been your favorite digital healthcare trends of the year? 


In cleantech, should innovation be put on the back burner?

When will “Going Green” become the ONLY option…

by Hannah M. Avery

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Going green has taken the world by storm. Long gone are the days of Styrofoam coffee cups and plastic water bottles filling the trash can. Now thermoses made from recycled trash and reusable, eco-friendly coffee cups are a common household item as well as a fashion accessory in everyone’s hands.

We are all intrigued with the next big thing to hit whether that be solar, wind, or electric energy—the options seem to grow by the minute. In fact, a whopping 75 percent of American adults purchase green products, according to a recent study. Everyone wants to do their part to ensure that they are participating in the popular “go green” movement. Although it is great that people are fully on board with supporting energy efficiency, should this lifestyle be presented in a more organic, sensible way?

A recent blog post on GreenBiz.com, Why innovation isn’t always the answer in cleantech, poses a valid question to think about – is it more important for cleantech to be the hottest, newest innovation or is it more important for it to be seen as a realistic, mainstream preference?

Although the initial appeal of having ground breaking green technology lures consumers into participating in the action, it is a double edge sword. The point of creating eco-friendly products is not so that the consumer has a choice, but so the eco-friendly option becomes the norm that everyone accepts. Creating these efficient products should knock the other products right off the shelf. Although it’s wonderful to advertise LED light bulbs as a new, green technology, it is time they are the basic standard light bulb found in every home.

Here are 5 tips to help you become a savvy green shopper. Soon enough it won’t even occur to you that making simple switches is the “green” thing to do, but the right thing to do. More tips like these can be found on www.virginiaenergysense.org

  1. Replace your incandescent light bulbs with LED lights to use 75% less energy.
  2. Look for the “ENERGY Star” label when purchasing home appliances to ensure that they meet the guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.
  3. Look for the “WaterSense” label when purchasing water-efficient fixtures and appliances to ensure that they are certified by the EPA, and are high performance appliances.
  4. Remember to avoid “greenwashing” – companies often package a product to make it seem organic, natural and eco-friendly but look for the green label so you are not just appealing to the packaging.
  5. Check out http://www.buygreen.com/ to verify that the products you buy are eco-friendly.

Innovation is a great thing —if someone invents a car that runs on grass clippings, by all means, make it the new must-have item. However, when it comes to everyday appliances and habits, we believe some things should just be automatic!

 


Lessons Learned from the Gaia Gals

by Hannah M. Avery

I vividly remember the rainy day that I locked myself away in my college campus library, determined to find an internship for the summer. Although initially I was looking for any internship that would take me, I soon realized that “any internship” was not going to cut it.

I wasn’t interested in having an internship just to slap down on my resume and forget about once summer ended. I wanted to walk away with experience and passion for the public relations field.  When I came across Gaia Group’s webpage and read through a previous intern’s blog post (ironic, huh?) I knew I had found a wonderful agency.

Although I am a Public Relations major at school, being engulfed into the profession proved to be totally different from studying the material in a textbook. I am so thankful that I found Gaia Group and was blessed with the opportunity to intern here for a short summer. I have learned so much more than I thought I could acquire from an internship – not only did I discover key aspects of the Public Relations and Marketing world, but I also learned the building blocks of a great business.

It only seems logical that now write a blog post to commemorate my time here at Gaia Group. I’ve compiled a list of lessons and tips learned along the journey of interning this summer.

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Culture is everything

One of the main reasons I loved coming to work every day was because of the people who surrounded me. Not only was the Gaia team welcoming, funny and all around amazing, but they were also great role models for the type of person I want to be later on in my business career. Having genuine, admirable people surround you at the office definitely adds to a positive work experience

It’s important to be passionate about what you are doing

I saw firsthand the dedication and drive that went into each and every one of their clients. Every detail from research to pitches to press releases was handled with extreme care. I could tell that what they were doing at work meant a lot to them, and that they strived for the best for their clients.

It’s okay to ask questions

It sounds like something that an elementary school teacher would say, but it is all too true. Everyone is afraid to ask unnecessary questions. It’s because we are human. Who would have thought, right? While you don’t want to be that person always barging into your coworker’s office and asking questions that you could have easily figured out yourself, you definitely don’t want to do an assignment completely wrong when you could have just clarified a few points. I learned that balance while at Gaia Group, and I know this will benefit me in the future.

Stay informed

When I first started interning at Gaia Group, I was not too familiar with digital or clean technology, but now I am coming away with a lot more knowledge and passion for a topic that was unfamiliar to me just a few months ago. You can love your job all you want but if you aren’t interested in the research behind the scenes, then you probably aren’t going to stay on top of the news, and sadly won’t be very much help. It takes a little bit of time to get used to the lingo, it will benefit you in the long run.

Organization is key

Make sure you keep your email inbox clean and answer emails as you get them. Gaia Group kindly provided me with my very own red initialed notebook that I wrote down everything I needed to remember for the day (and also so I could cross it off my to-do list. Come on, it’s the best part!)

Although I sadly have to make my way back to school, I am excited to go into my classes with the knowledge I have gained this summer. Thank you Gaia Group for giving me such a wonderful first experience in the industry!

 

 


Living in The Moment or Remembering The Moment

4 Steps To Making Sure Social Media Doesn’t Take Over Your Travels

by Hannah M. Avery

A crimson sunset gracefully sets on the Italian Riviera. You close your eyes and hear the waves crashing on dock, breathe in the salty air and take a mental note to remember this moment for a lifetime. Sounds pretty spectacular, right? Most of the time, mental moments like this don’t happen. Whenever there is a breathtaking sight, you can bet someone is going to pull out their phones to capture the experience. Somehow the organic element of “living in the moment” is gone as soon as someone sends a Snapchat or “checks-in” on Foursquare.

Social media is a powerful tool that can be used to capture, share, and express yourself in the environment around you. After all, what is the one thing that everyone tells you before you travel? “Take lots of pictures for me!” Traveling is more than experiencing, but also to bringing back pieces of the world to share with others. Whether that be in pictures, Instagram updates, Facebook posts, or even tweets – staying connected with home while traveling is always important.

So what is a respectable balance between living in the moment and having tangible proof and memories of your visit? Here are four tips to keep you connected; yet free from the addictive grasp that social media has on most of us.Capture 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

You see them everywhere—the extreme addicts who would rather go to a fast food restaurant with Wi-Fi than have a scenic picnic on the beach. At least you can Instagram the French fries, right? According to mediabistro.com, around 70% of travelers updated their Facebook status while they were on vacation. Although it is great to stay up-to-date with news, emails and keep up with friends and family, there comes a time when you need to put down the phone and live a little bit.

2. Capture the moment and then put it away

I personally love taking picture wherever I travel. There is no better way to embrace your inner tourist than with a camera in hand. Even if the photo isn’t spectacular, it is wonderful to be able to look back and remember my days through a diary of photos. Strangely enough, most times the photos I liked the best were ones where I wasn’t trying to be Picasso and create a masterpiece, but just simple snapshots throughout my day.

Take photos, gather memories – but look at them when you get home. Small changes like taking your phone off the table during dinner make a huge difference. Don’t spend all evening discretely (or not so discretely) checking Facebook to see how many likes you get on your photo.

3. Stay in touch

Take the time to send a quick postcard or letter to those you love. Although you are out experiencing new sights, tastes and sounds – the rest of you family and friends are left wishing they could be with you and wondering what you are doing on the other side of the world.

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Anyone can send a text, but it takes thought and planning to send something hand written. Sitting down with a pen in hand to write a personal message is an alien concept to many – don’t fall into this category! Even if you just send a couple sentences, it will mean so much to the lucky person receiving your card. As John Diaz from the San Francisco Chronicle pointed out, “Neither a thousand tweets nor an e-mail of any length can quite match the power or poignancy of a handwritten letter.”

4. Take time to reflect

Capture photos and videos. Describe your experiences to family and friends. But if you don’t take some time for yourself to absorb the experiences in your mind, then what are they really worth? Try going for walks or writing in a journal to unblock your thoughts from the hustle and bustle of a busy day.

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How Major Brands are Adding Snapchat to Their Arsenal

by Tori Montano, Associate

As mobile apps such as Twitter, Vine and Instagram are changing the way marketers think – how does the rising popularity of Snapchat fit into the picture? While big brands utilize Snapchat to reach a younger demographic, what does it take for a smaller business to be successful in the medium? Let’s start with step one…

What exactly is Snapchat?
For those of you who are not aware of the company that turned down $3 Billion from Facebook in November 2013, Snapchat, is a photo-messaging app used to send photos to friends that vanish 10 seconds after opening. Last October Snapchat rolled out a feature called Stories, which allows users to string together photos and videos to a feed for 24 hours before it disappears.

Snapchat is extremely popular among millennials, which many attribute to the privacy and lack of long-term history feature that the app offers. Snapchat allows users to send pictures without having to worry about who sees them or  if the pictures will show up somewhere else later.

Fast Facts:
• Snapchat has an estimated 26 million active users in the U.S.
• About 400 million snaps (photos and videos) are sent a day
• The core audience on Snapchat is ages 13-25
• 70% of Snapchat users are women

Four Easy Steps for Integrating Snapchat into Your Marketing Plan
Since late 2013 many brands have begun incorporating Snapchat into their social strategies. Among the list of active users are consumer-brands such as, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Audi, Acura, FreePeople and PacSun. The beauty of Snapchat is it’s truly a free platform that allows companies to engage on a more personal level with fans and followers. Here’s a simple Snapchat plan that anyone can follow.

There are four simple steps to use Snapchat in your next campaign:

  1. Engage followers on existing social network
    Cross-promotion across multiple platforms is key when adding a new channel to your current marketing plan. McDonald’s began promoting their Snapchat platform with teaser pictures on both their Twitter and Facebook pages to engage current followers.mc1
  2. Provide exclusive access and content for Snapchat friends
    Now that you’ve promoted your Snapchat page, it is important to give users an incentive to add you! One of the biggest challenges Snapchat presents is getting users to take the action to add search and add a company. Here’s a simple way that Seventeen Magazine addressed these issues by offering exclusive content to their fans.twit
  3. Introduce a new product or raise awareness
    Since Snapchat Stories only last 24 hours, companies can keep users interested with an enticing video or contest. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Turkey and Denmark implemented a campaign to raise awareness about endangered and threatened species. Users are being asked to screenshot these “selfies” and share them on their own accounts and across social media.Grey Panda LastSelfie
  4. Request an action from Snapchat fans
    One of Snapchat’s biggest criticisms is that it doesn’t have the same high-level analytics and measurement tools as other social platforms. To counteract this problem you can ask your users to complete an action and monitor whether that action happened in a 24-hour period. At the end of one of McDonald’s Snapchat Stories they asked fans to follow them on Twitter!mcd

Other Ways Brands are Using Snap Chat (& You Can Too!):
• Introduce a new product
• Sending one-on-one Snapchats
• Send reminders
• Reward audience for engaging with your brand
• Go behind-the-scenes
• Offer Exclusivity
• Provide Discounts
• Host Contests

Do you think Snapchat is a good tool to help support your social campaigns? Let us know how you plan to use it!


What I’ve Learned at Gaia Group

by Lindsay Buchanan, Associate

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Sadly, my time as a Gaia Group employee has come to a close. With law school on the horizon, it’s time for me to bid the firm “adieu.” However, I’ll always cherish these lessons that I learned from the Gaia gals.  If you are seeking a job or even an internship position, perhaps some of the advice below will be helpful in providing guidance on agency life!

Never underestimate your own power.

During my fifth week at work, I was asked to run point on event support for a large-scale two-day client event. Suddenly, I was at the helm of communications for a 200-person summit. Although, I’m a self-starter, I was initially terrified to be “in charge.” That fear quickly dissipated when I realized that–thanks to my managers at Gaia Group– I was completely informed and capable of completing the tasks at hand. At Gaia Group, the leadership doesn’t believe in keeping other members of the organization in the dark: they believe in managing up and fostering a completely team-oriented environment. From Day One, I was included on emails, calls, event planning meetings, and updated on all pertinent information. I met with client contacts, worked closely on marketing materials, and acquired a considerable knowledge of all of the power players, jargon, and hot topics in our client’s industry.  I realized that I had all the tools that I needed to succeed. More than that, knowing that my managers had enough faith in me to allow me to take the lead made all the difference.

Work for your network, and it will work for you.

One of my wisest professors always said, “Networking shouldn’t be about what you can get or use from others; it should be about how you can help each other grow.” Our fearless leader, Gaia Group president Laura Taylor, is the living example of that principle.  Her success lies in the fact that others trust her, respect her, and appreciate her because she gives of herself, completely.  That goodness radiates throughout the entire team. She can often be found setting aside twenty minutes to talk to a burgeoning businesswoman, doing pro bono work for causes and people she believes in, or treating her employees to lunch to make sure they know they’re important. She does so much for so many people, and in return, her network rewards her with words of thanks and referrals. From observing her and the other Gaia Group employees, I’ve learned that the key to growing happiness in your career comes from the selfless deeds you do for others.

Think small.

I know. Let me explain. In order to specialize and be the best in your industry, you’ve got to think small: know everything about your industry (backward and forward), be precise, comb through every tiny detail, segment your research, and apply it to your client’s specific organization. Thinking small is imperative, but the real challenge is applying small, specific thoughts to big issues to create big wins for the client. This is where Gaia Group excels. Collectively, the professionals at Gaia Group are experts in the areas of cleantech PR, technology, public affairs, social media, editing, and media relations. They’ve thought “small” enough to become experts in a number of industries in order to make giant impacts for their clients.

All ideas are good ideas.

One of the main reasons that I felt like a true member of the Gaia Group team from early on in my employment was that I was treated as if my experiences and thoughts were completely essential to the organization. I think that’s the beauty of Gaia Group: every team member brings something different (and equally important) to the table.  Every idea I ever had was treated with validity and complete respect. In my previous experiences interning at several different organizations, I was rarely ever asked for my opinion on client work. Now, at a PR firm with incredibly talented, seasoned PR vets, I (a first-year associate) was asked for my input almost every single day! Using a more collaborative team strategy allows Gaia Group to pull from a wealth of amazing ideas and produce exemplary results for their clients.

What I will miss most is the camaraderie I share with my fellow team members. There really isn’t a rotten egg in the whole crew. The warmth and dedication that lives in each member of the team is infectious. It touches everyone they work with– just ask any of their clients! I’ll definitely be back to the new McLean office to visit!


11 Perfect Post Ideas for Your Company Blog

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At Gaia Group, we do a lot of blogging for our clients. Blog integration is one of the most important keys to digital success. Blogging adds tremendous social and SEO value to any organization’s marketing strategy. However, we understand that it can be difficult to come up with consistent, relevant, exciting content for your company’s blog. With these 11 fail-proof ideas, you will never be at a loss for words.

  1. “Top” Lists - “Top 10″-type lists are perfect for driving traffic to your blog. “Top” lists are memorable, practical, and help us organize our thoughts. These lists are great for SEO, especially if you tag included photographs very well and share on feed-based sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
  2. “Lessons Learned” Posts – These posts take events from the zeitgeist and liken them to an industry issue. Lessons learned posts are wonderful for engagement, and they vary blog content from the “usual.” These posts include eye-grabbing headlines like ” Five PR Lessons Learned from Beyonce’s Grammy’s performance” or “What the New iPhone Commercial Says about Millenial Marketing.”
  3. Write News Roundups – Posting occasional entries filled with links to industry news sites or other reputable blogs. After each link, write a short blurb with analysis. This increases your SEO and builds your credibility as an industry thought leader. News and link roundups also build relationships; when other thought leaders see traffic directed to their site from yours, it opens your organization up for more partnerships and collaborative opportunities.
  4. Post Trend Updates – Is there a new issue or trend sweeping your industry? Write about it! How does the trend help? Hurt? How has your organization adjusted to the changes the trend influences?
  5. Include Feature Stories about the Organization – Write about employee programs, someone on the team who deserves to be recognized, or a special social responsibility initiative you have going on. This will give stakeholders an inside look at your organization’s mission and values.
  6. Debunk Common Myths – Is there a common myth in your industry? Debunk it in a blog posts, and talk about how your organization operates outside of that myth.
  7. Interview a Client or Customer – Who can speak better about your product or services than you can? Schedule a sit-down with a trusted client, and post the conversation to give potential customers an idea of what to expect from your organization.
  8. Share a List of Your Favorite Industry Blogs - This one works similarly to the news roundup. These types of posts are best for building partnerships and influence as an industry leader.
  9. Share Conference Takeaways – Did you learn a lot at the conference you attended last week? Great! Share with your stakeholders! You can also pick up a lot of the conference’s traffic: chances are, people who didn’t attend are looking for a summary.
  10. Post an Industry-Relevant Infographic - Write a quick blurb about an interesting industry infographic, and make sure to html tag the photo!
  11. Take a Poll - The best way to engage with your stakeholders is to reach out and talk to them. When you ask others for specific action or feedback, you’ll get it!

Lindsay Buchanan is an Associate at Gaia Group. You can follow her at @LBuchananPR or check out her blog, Southern Belle Stylista.


Positive Social Sharing for Brands: Amazing or Annoying?

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It recently came to my attention that an old high school classmate was overheard complaining about my social media usage. She complained that I only post about  “every positive thing” in my life, and that it was “annoying.” I was initially offended: I couldn’t figure out why a person I haven’t thought about since I was 18 years old would care enough to complain about my positive social shares. However, because 60% of my job is to create, measure, and study social media interactions – I considered her opinion and rationalized it in a professional context. Is positive social sharing irritating to some people because it seems fake? If so, what kind of implications does that have for social content for major brands?

Share Diverse Brand Information

As marketers, we’re encouraged to shape perceptions, promote positives, and spin negatives. However, we also have to be careful not to alienate our clients’ blog readers, Facebook page fans, and followers. There’s nothing wrong with being positive, just as long as you’re being truthful and sharing diversified content.

Reduce Brand’s Fans’ “Fear of Missing Out,” And Save Reputation

Perhaps, my old classmate was just suffering from social media envy. This “epidemic” was the subject of a particularly interesting New York Post article. The immediacy of physically seeing someone’s happiness or success can give people a severe “fear of missing out.” Similarly, social fans who feel left out and unheard are far more vocal than if they have no complaints about the brand and its content. According to a survey quoted in a Mediapost article, on average, social media users who have had bad service experiences tell 53 other people about the experience; that’s almost three times the number of people that non-social media users tell. To limit negative news and help fans feel included, cater your content to your audience, and respond to posted issues social quickly and respectfully.

Spread Positivity With Comments and Likes

In order to counteract Internet negativity, I routinely comment on engagement photos, baby pictures, and school acceptances, congratulating my fellow happy social media pals. In a similar way, brands need to share the love. When active brand lovers mention you on Twitter or comment on your Facebook photo, respond! Building relationships with your organization’s digital friends only strengthens brand loyalty, broadens your impressions and reach, and pays the positivity forward. Brands that talk back to their fans online are more likely to receive more favorable comments more often. This spreads reinforces a positive, branded digital culture.

Don’t Try To Please The “Un-Pleaseable”

Although, after some self-reflection, I decided that I disagreed with my former classmate, her opinion taught me a valuable career lesson: always consider the naysayers. In the words of Dita Von Teese, “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be someone who hates peaches.” When creating digital content, write for your target and listen to their criticism, but don’t get caught up in trying to please a consistently negative “fan.” Web activity sometimes fosters a subculture of nonsensical contrarianism. Don’t try to be everything to everyone: be the best you can be for the people who need or hire you.


Client In the News: There’s More to the Super Bowl than Meets the Eye

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One of our clients, Haystax Technologies, was just featured in a CNET article . Their technology is “designed to pull in huge flow of raw data — things like camera feeds, radiological monitors, RFID and GPS systems, and social media — and algorithmically bring the most important data points to the top.”

In short, their product helps first responders find a needle in the proverbial haystack.

Check out the article here.