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#DynamoDoes CES 2017

Ah, CES – another January, another batch of exciting tech, another return flight with broken bodies (but thankfully, not spirits).

Some things don’t change, but often the lineup of Dynamo attendees does – this time, it was Heather and myself taking up the challenge of dazzling lights and sleepless nights.

Here’s our highlights from the show this year – sadly, getting sprayed with champagne by Lil’ John at Hakkasan didn’t quite make the cut, mostly because Heather is intent on sending him a dry cleaning bill…

Concept Cars

The Mercedes Benz EQ concept car

Top billing had to be, much like 2016, automotive tech. CES has, for the last couple of years, been touted to overtake industry events such the Detroit Auto Show, and 2017 was seen by many as that tipping point. NVIDIA were the stars of the show here, making waves with their partnership with Mercedes on the concept car EQ (pictured), which drew crowds thanks to its sophisticated blend of electro wizardry and aesthetics.

NVIDIA also showcased their partnership with Audi, and revealed their joint commitment to delivering a self-driving car by 2020, complete with fully integrated AI and facial recognition. With many other companies reluctant to commit to a delivery date for their concepts, this partnership boldly revealing such a close date has showed us that the true ‘cars of the future’ are much closer than previously imagined.

Homer, you were ahead of your time, buddy.

World’s Fair

This year saw a much more global feel to previous shows, with 41% of companies exhibiting hailing from China. In addition, this year all Chinese companies weren’t confined to a specific section of the show floor, but rather all booths were intermingled. Also, CES 2017 saw a large influx of French companies, with around 240 hardware companies from the region showing their wares, and actually making up a third of the population of Eureka Park. The trend of growing international diversity year on year at the show is a fascinating development, and from an agency perspective, certainly creates ‘areas to watch’ in terms of innovation and exciting new businesses.

Eureka Park

Although the LVCC played host to the household names and multi-million dollar projects, Eureka Park was, personally, the most exciting part of the show. Cool new ideas – some frivolous, some with potentially useful global impact – were in abundance, with smaller, eager teams excited to show off their game-changing concepts. The techniques each company adopted (in some or all cases) in order to stand out as the next big thing can be broken down into simple categories:

  1. Pushing the capabilities of a current technology e.g. enhanced graphics, improved UI, use of peripherals (particularly in VR, with the use of haptics)
  2. Modifying a current technology to produce different user cases, and subsequently, our understanding of said technologies’ potential eg. a fireplace controlled by music – music driven objects are nothing new, but to be seen with fire was quite the thing, and certainly got us thinking about more capabilities of sound-driven technology
  3. Creating a visual, product driven solution to a previously nebulous concept/software driven project, thus driving forward consumer understanding – a great example of this is in the below picture, which we’ll leave you with. I jumped out of my skin when I saw this 3D face scanning booth (and the people at the booth got a good laugh at my expense).

Proving that heads on spikes that can be futuristic as well as historical.

We all know about face scanning, but to see a very realistic head on a spike is both disconcerting and intriguing – especially when you realise the model it’s based on (and the creator) is there watching your reaction! He was nice enough to pose for a photo though, so I didn’t feel completely embarrassed.

So we’re already looking forward to next year’s show now, and whether we’ll be driving more underwater 4K cameras, or learning more about pyjamas that energise you while you sleep, I’m confident that whichever capacity we’ll be attending in, and whoever we’re working with, it’ll certainly be memorable (apart from the blurry evening parties bit).


#FuturePRoof, a crowdsourced best practice for PR

Around a year ago I attended the launch of the first edition of #FuturePRoof, and was impressed both by how many senior level practitioners were involved, as well as the wisdom of their advice and strategy on running, managing, and developing public relations and marketing. The book contained essential advice for anyone working in PR, and was widely read and shared.

Today we see the launch and release of the follow up, #FutureProof: Edition Two. It’s available on kindle or you can buy a hard copy.

I do have a personal interest in promoting it, as this time round I’ve contributed a chapter on best practice (aka top tips) in crowdfunding, but I think for anyone interested in public relations it’s a great read, informative and useful.

Thanks very much to the founder and editor, Sarah Hall, who crowdsourced 39 essays from luminaries all over the world for this outstanding edition.

In her words: “The success of #FuturePRoof shows that public relations practitioners are aware of the direction of travel and are no longer prepared for other disciplines to eat their lunch. Demand shows professionals want to close their competency gaps in order to provide strategic advice at management level.”

You can follow further conversations about the book with #FuturePRoof


There’s a new Dynamo in town…

After over a year’s worth of planning, structuring, form-filling, preparation, site visits, meetings, and everything in between, Dynamo is ready to welcome its new little sister – and she has a sunny Californian accent.

With US native Heather and myself making the move from London, Dynamo will be opening its brand new offices at GSVlabs in the gorgeous Redwood City, California. This puts Dynamo in the heart of Silicon Valley; which seems fitting, given our clients, experience, and expertise with tech start-ups.

GSVlabs, our new home, is about 25 minutes south of San Francisco, and prides itself on being a campus of global innovation, hosting tech entrepreneurs, acceleration programs, and key industry events. We couldn’t really have asked for something more ideal!

The US expansion has been a long time coming for Dynamo. We’ve always adopted a Silicon Valley mentality here, with the company operating in a style more akin to Google than what you would see in a typical UK office, albeit with our own quirks. We pride ourselves on creativity, innovation, drive, charisma, and getting the best results, and we see the ‘Dynamo way’ of doing things as key to the success of this extension.

This move is of huge benefit to our clients too. We work with so many companies in the US, so to have a team on the ground here is a no-brainer. Also, we pride ourselves on the fact that Dynamo has become a centre of excellence for crowdfunding, which is an area dominated by innovative West-Coast start-ups. Now we get the added bonus of more face time!

Everyone in the office is excited about this. Heather is from the Bay Area, she’s been back and forth between Cali and London for months now getting this all set up. The fact that she gets to be settled, amongst journalists and companies she has befriended over the years must be a joyous feeling. I’m excited to be taking up a new challenge, and putting my PR skills to the test in a different environment – as well as getting to meet all the people I’ve been mostly on email and phone with for so long. The team is excited – they’ll have somewhere to visit, and it means extra support for clients in different time zones. It really is win-win all round.

The next few months promise to be exciting for Dynamo, so we’ll be sure to check in with y’all with a progress report.

(Although I did promise my mum I wouldn’t start saying “y’all”).


Interaction and PR relevance at #SXSW

It’s always a pleasure to be back in Texas, particularly when there’s a tech event to attend, so we were thrilled to attend SXSW with our client Makeblock this year.

Austin has, for the last few years, been emerging as a solid favorite for start ups in the tech industry, and it isn’t difficult to see why. Low taxes and cost of living, a Silicon Valley culture, and a very open and friendly community make it a haven for tech lovers. (I’m personally a huge fan of Austin hospitality, and I’m already looking forward to my next fish taco fix!).

Having the huge draw of SXSW brings Austin to the forefront of the music, film, and tech industries during the month of March, with SXSW Interactive offering attendees the chance to see some of the most exciting innovations in robotics, design, IoT and more.

The first day of SXSW Interactive played host to the ‘Create’ exhibition, and of course featured a keynote by none other than Barack Obama, who called on leaders in tech to join him to “start coming up with new platforms, new ideas across disciplines, and across skill sets to solve some of the big problems we’re facing today.”

Interactive Experiences

One big takeaway from Interactive was the importance of, well… takeaways. Companies such as Sparkfun had a station where people could create and personalize their own scrolling LED lanyards, which were hugely popular. Our very own Makeblock offered people the chance to have their doodles and sketches burnt with a lasered onto wood blocks, and another stand had an entire booth with furniture that you could color in and draw all over. Needless to say, I spent a little too much time on that one during my breaks, and came back with a neckerchief covered in my garish scribbles.

PR relevance, not trendiness

This got me thinking – what experiences or takeaways should we be providing to people that delivers more than a simple USB or business card? Much like a lot of current VR campaigns, companies can often miss the mark by shoehorning a trend into what they deliver, as opposed to it being intrinsic to their brand. Basic stationery from an advanced technology company, a keychain from a robotics manufacturer, a tote bag from a mobile game – what is the relevance? These things are a nice to have, but the opportunity to excel is in giving people something they want, could find useful, and will remember your brand for.

Nick Morey
Nick Morey
Categories: Client, Events, Global, US

How the PR Dynamos survived CES 2016

This was my first year attending CES, and as a PR who has previously helped clients plan for the show, I had heard all kinds of stories from people about the madness of CES. It definitely didn’t disappoint. CES 2016 was bigger than ever; more than 170,000 attendees (a stat provided by a very knowledgeable cabbie), a huge amount of automotive tech announcements, and a generous helping of virtual reality demos (including this).

Four Dynamos in total attended the show, and I was lucky enough to be front and centre on the booth of our client, Jide Technology, showing off Remix OS. For those who have never been or for those who are interested, here are a few tips/tricks/stories of how we survived and made a success of CES 2016.

Ellen, Senior Account Manager

Flat(ish) shoes, lip balm and Diet Coke – these are probably the most important things for me, in that order, whilst at CES. The show is spread out over several locations including the main convention centre and The Sands which is adjoined to The Venetian Hotel. You’ll be doing A LOT of walking over the three days of the show hence the flat(ish) shoes, and thanks to the air conditioning and desert air expect your skin to dry out so stock up on lip balm and moisturiser. The Diet Coke is because I don’t drink coffee and I need some caffeine after the long days and nights.

post-2016-ces-neeo

Other than that, I find it really useful to have plenty of time with the client, in this case NEEO, before the show kicks off so that they are comfortable with exactly what is going on, when and where. If your client doesn’t have a booth at CES but still wants to attend, I’d definitely recommend exhibiting at events like ShowStoppers or Pepcom within CES.

Finally, make sure you find the time to have fun and explore Vegas! CES can be intense so make the most of being in Las Vegas and check out the many hotels and shows.

Heather, Vice President of North America

Ellen’s definitely right about the chap stick, and as my Mom would say, make sure you drink lots of water. Again, this comes back to CES being held in the middle of the desert, and although you might have had a big night before, it’s likely dehydration that is causing the headache.

post-2016-ces-city-scape

About that big night before… it’s probably best if you try not to book briefings in the morning and also encourage your client to keep important business meetings for the afternoon. The likelihood of someone not turning up is very high while at CES, both because of big sponsored parties and late nights working.

Paul, Co-Founder and Co-CEO

During the day at the show, forget about sending any emails. If you’re trying to get in touch with someone, use an app like WeChat or WhatsApp – chances are most people use either one of these. Towards the end of the show, expect many meetings to be at best tired, at worst people simply won’t turn up so do take into your planning no-shows.

post-2016-ces-nvidia

Owen, Senior Account Executive

Preparation is always a key part of supporting a client who is attending CES and setting up journalist briefings in advance is one part of that. Though it’s not until you’ve waited in line for a taxi or shuttle bus for 30 minutes and ran to your next client meeting that you realise appointments quickly go out the window. Add this to the huge space that CES controls across Las Vegas and you’re left with a jumbled schedule. The key? Be flexible, and make sure your client can be too. If that fails, there’s always the excellent Monorail:

post-2016-ces-monorail

Oh and although phone signal is generally non-existent in the convention centres, bring a portable battery with you for those times when you are able to connect to free hotel Wi-Fi.

All in all, CES 2016 was a fantastic event to attend. It was a great opportunity to finally meet an international client whom I’d been working with for some time, to speak to a huge number of journalists, and to see some of the industry’s latest and greatest products.


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