We’re Hiring a VP of Marketing

Posted on January 8th, 2015

Our client is a Boston-based mobile startup founded by a team of highly regarded and experienced entrepreneurs. The company has secured a significant initial funding round and will launch its social communications app in early 2015.

We’re searching for a hands-on, highly analytical and strategic VP of Marketing to manage and lead the company’s launch. Reporting to the CEO, you will have a rare opportunity to develop a brand and its success from inception. Your mission will be to build, implement, and optimize the company’s cross-channel customer acquisition and customer retention framework. Our ideal candidate will be ROI-focused and have significant experience in B2C app marketing via online and offline channels, as well as:

  • Helping shape overall company direction/roadmap and execute against it in a hands-on manner;
  • Developing, implementing and optimizing marketing campaigns across all digital, paid, earned + owned channels (SEM, SEO, social, display, affiliate, email, grassroots, content, etc.);
  • Executing on tactics to grow awareness, traffic, engagement and conversion including events, promotions, partner marketing and channel programs;
  • Implementing marketing program performance analytics and learning;

Desired Skills and Experience

  • Experienced in a startup or telecom environment;
  • Launching and scaling of consumer mobile apps is highly desired;
  • Education should include a Bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, communication or related field

Interested applicant should apply via LinkedIn.

We’re Hiring a Digital Marketing Analyst

Posted on November 26th, 2014

DSC_0159We’re searching for an accomplished marketer and analyst to help manage all things digital for our clients – especially building, executing and managing world-class online experiences, including:

  • Maximizing the effectiveness of the company websites to drive lead and customer acquisition;
  • Delivering actionable insights and recommendations to the marketing team;
  • Providing marketing solutions through website optimization, SEO, PPC, email marketing, and integration with broader digital initiatives;
  • Analyzing campaigns, web metric trends and providing fast, accurate reports to improve and/or add functionality in order to gain the best ROI;
  • Utilizing marketing databases, marketing analytics platforms (e.g. Google Analytics, Adobe Site Catalyst), digital marketing technologies, marketing automation (e.g. Click Dimensions, HubSpot, Eloqua) and A/B testing;
  • Partnering with client Marketing teams to improve customer attraction and retention as well as IT & CRM Teams on broader digital marketing initiatives;

The ideal candidate will have 3+ years of digital marketing experience within a mid-to-large size high-growth company.   Education should include a Bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, communication or related field; MBA strongly preferred.

The position is based at Breakaway HQ in Back Bay / Boston, MA. Please apply via LinkedIn.

The Many Sins of the NFL’s PR Team

Posted on September 12th, 2014

The NFL has done a grave disservice to communications professionals around the world. It’s widely felt that flaks are soulless trend fuckers that “find opportunity” in tragic deaths or “spin” articles to keep unwanted negative attention from paying clients. All of these fears and stereotypes were confirmed as the NFL bungled its way through the entire Ray Rice case.

Almost from the word go, the NFL mishandled the Rice domestic abuse case with an alarming lack of empathy and understanding of public sentiment. As a lifelong optimist, I’m here to share the good news: there are many crisis communication lessons to be learned.

Roger Goodell

Lesson #1: Never Underestimate the Power of Multimedia in Driving a Story

The pivotal factor in the Ray Rice case were the videos. There have been 83 instances of domestic violence involving NFL players since 2000 but none were captured and viewed to the degree of Rice pulling his unconscious fiancée from the Revel Casino elevator. It could be argued that Terrell Suggs, Rice’s teammate, performed a more egregious act when he poured bleach over his wife and infant son during a fit of rage. Both are heinous, deplorable acts. Suggs didn’t miss a single down of football, however, because the matter was settled out of court. Rice’s video humanized the story and made it tangible for the millions that watched the savage act. This wasn’t a name on a police blotter any more; this was a person rendered unconscious by the person she loved.

Lesson #2: Manage Your Brand’s Narrative

During a crisis, you can’t act like nothing is happening. It’s time to circle your communications wagons: cancel any scheduled social posts, cut off your AdWords budget and delay any pending coverage (if possible). Anything that is released from the company will only be viewed through the scope of your current crisis and will be derided by the public.

Rice’s 2-game suspension was announced on July 25 amidst a public roar of anger and resentment. Before the news cycle had finished on the Rice story, the NFL made a huge error when it conducted “business as usual” and announced Josh Gordon’s season-long suspension (16 games) for testing positive for marijuana. The disparity between these two punishments gave the story new legs as reporters stopped focusing on Ray Rice’s domestic abuse case and instead began to pry into the NFL’s systemic disciplinary issues. The media and public saw one player’s videotaped assault on his fiancée penalized less harshly than a dude who smoked a joint. When brands are under fire, they need to understand that all external communications are going to be heavily scrutinized and incorporated into the public narrative regardless of their relevance to one another.

Lesson #3: Don’t Fucking Lie

When TMZ released the graphic video of Rice actually striking his wife, NFL officials said that they hadn’t seen the tape. This statement was outright stupid because it created two unfavorable narratives: either the league looked stupid for rendering Rice’s discipline without viewing all of the evidence (best-case scenario) or the league was lying to the public.

Crisis communications shouldn’t operate within an “if/then” model. Complete transparency should be the goal during a crisis. Assume someone has an axe to grind with your organization or a reporter has a friend working within the company. The truth is inevitable so get out in front of a bad situation by not lying. Brands – particularly global brands – are remarkably thin-skinned at times. Rather than trying to avoid any negative publicity with a few “white lies,” buck up and take a short-term PR hit. Even today, Sept. 12, the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is trying to back up his claim that he never saw the full assault tape because he didn’t want to poke holes in Janay Rice’s story because he felt it was “insensitive.” It’s almost cliché: the league has painted itself into a corner because it is forced to lie to cover up for earlier lies. It’s comical to the point where the Benny Hill theme music should be played under any public statement Goodell makes moving forward.


Lesson #4: Speed is Not Your Friend

A mistake that many companies make during crises is to issue statements or resolutions without fully understanding the situation. The NFL was shocked at the overwhelming negative sentiment that resulted from their (inadequate) 2-game suspension for Rice. They’ve been on their heels ever since and have done almost nothing to slow down the news cycle around this story. The NFL comms team needed to re-evaluate their strategy to accommodate the public outcry. The league needed to take a Twix moment and regroup.

The trade-off to patience is that your organization is going to take some heat for not being responsive. It’s tough to face down a torch-carrying mob clamoring for insights “RIGHT NOW!” but a necessity to properly assess the situation and your strategy. Think of it in the context of Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin. Everyone is screaming for him to finish his latest book but he’s holding firm because he wants it to live up to the quality of its predecessors. If he rushes the book and it sucks, he will lose all of the great momentum he built with the book and HBO series. He’s tarnished his brand because of a fake deadline people are holding him to. It’s the same with communications plans. If you are only reacting to today’s story angles, you’re bound to make mistakes, overlook something and set yourself up for tomorrow’s headlines. I’d much rather my clients take a public beating for not being immediately available to comment on a developing situation than mismanage the public’s expectations and exacerbate an already bad situation.

Fancred, America Online and the Belleville Bulls

Posted on September 4th, 2014

When I was fifteen I had a friend and teammate leave to go play for the Belleville Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). To keep track of him I would dialup the portal to the internet, America Online, and scour OHL and team specific message boards for game information and stats. I would join late night OHL chat rooms to talk with what I believed/hoped to be female hockey fans. This was in 1994-1995.

Twenty years later our online sports experiences have hardly changed. To follow teams I have to go to specific team or league pages. Or even worse go to ESPN.com, whose online strategy mirrors their broadcast ethos, cover Lebron and Manziel. Facebook an option? Sure, if you want a side of sports with a heaping main dish of babies, religion and your friends’ parent’s politics. In all these situations content is dictated to you and there is limited engagement. So being a multi-sport, multi-team fan still becomes this fragmented clusterf#ck of searching for content and life.


When David Knies (Breakaway’s Chief of Strategy) first introduced me to Fancred I have to admit I cringed, “Another social network, really?” (The irony is not lost on me that I’m commenting on my social media fatigue and hater feelings towards the self aggrandizing, narcissistic online culture in an online blog).

David had been working with Fancred founder Kash Razzaghi and his team on branding, strategy and positioning. As is often the case, our brand development work with companies at various stages leads to insights, which can often lead to actionable partnerships within our network, capital infusion (if needed) and on-going services. The mantra at Breakaway and its eco-system is to help build and develop brands. With our own Fancred profiles and David’s and our team’s insights we met with Kash and quickly realized that this is indeed something very different, and potentially solving a real need for a massive market with enthusiastic consumers.

Now I can “follow” the NHL, the Bruins, Capitals, Flames, Detroit Tigers, Bayern Munich, World Cup, Patriots, Packers, Union College Dutchmen and F1 racing; fragmented sports-related content neatly organized in one place from other fans, bloggers, analysts etc. I can engage in some trash talk during games or just browse pre-game and post game content.

Of course, being an early stage company some of these communities are still small, and with scale Fancred will need to ensure the content stays sports focused, but it is exciting to invest and back a strong team developing an online home for sports enthusiasts. We are finally witnessing an evolution beyond message boards, Facebook and America Online.

Even Though I Finished 22,545th – You Overwhelmed Me, Boston.

Posted on April 29th, 2014

I finished my 3rd Boston Marathon last Monday and can only compare the experience to what it must feel like being on a duck boat during a Boston championship parade. Overwhelming. I lost track of the number of times that I looked into the crowds and was completely overcome by the outpouring of emotion and goodwill.

Because there’s nothing like witnessing millions of people coming together to form something bigger. When the sum is much greater than the parts. Like watching your children grow up and do things you always hoped they would. I moved to Boston in 1994 and for years, the most unifying thing I saw in New England was a shared hatred and jealousy of things from New York. The Yankees. Derek Jeter. The financial services, publishing, fashion, media and other major industries. No matter what great things happened here, the region never seemed to shake its underdog mentality. The Sox, Patriots, Celtics + Bruins championships of the past decade started to pop this bubble – especially the Sox breaking the curse in 2004 – but what I saw on Marathon Monday was something bigger.

As the adidas campaign said, “We All Run Boston.” This city and region came together as it hasn’t since the Revolutionary War to take back what it had taken away from them and created something bigger at the same time. Something that the world overwhelmingly wanted to be part of. I saw reporters, runners, spectators, families, tourists and dignitaries from all over the world on Monday.

You know from the news that the crowds were enormous and estimated at over a million. Five deep on every barricade and sidewalk all the way to the finish line and up in trees on Comm Ave. Screaming, cheering and willing the field of runners on. Soldiers, police, armed patrols, technology on the ground, helicopters in the sky and thousands of undercover law enforcement mixed in the crowd ensuring we could run in safety. The thousands of tireless BAA volunteers who exhibited a level of dedication and customer service normally reserved for five-star resorts and restaurants. The charities and their tents, flags, banners and signs supporting runners fundraising for them.

For the runners on the other side of the barricades, it was even more amazing. As I always do for races, I wrote my name in large, bold letters on the front of my jersey so that I might get a few random cheers. On Monday, I heard my name thousands and thousands of times. I lost count. And I was in the last wave. The slowest one. Even though I ran a personal best by 29 minutes, my time was double that of the men’s winner. I finished in 22,545th place. Usually, most spectators are tired, sunburnt, buzzed and long gone by the time I go through. Not this year. The energy, spirit and goodwill from the people was cathartic. Not only getting over a tough, long winter but taking back our Marathon from the idiots who took lives last year. Millions living the Gospel of Big Papi, taking back “..our fucking city!”

A week later, I’m only beginning to remember that I got to run with the Hoyts on their final trip up Heartbreak Hill. Had former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis shake my hand after crossing the finish line. Right after Natalie Morales from NBC News gave me a high five. And saw Bob Kraft from the control booth clapping for the crowd crossing the finish line with me.

But all of that pales in comparison to what continues to build in Boston right now. There’s no limit to what a group of people unified by a common cause can do.

Even though Boston is nearly 400 years old, it feels like we’re just getting started.