Here, Chameleon and GPRN founder, Helen Holland, fires a few probing questions at Heather Kernahan, General Manager & EVP at Eastwick, to see what’s happening on the other side of the pond.

Tell us who you are and what you do
We’re Eastwick, an integrated communications firms for technology companies. We launched in Silicon Valley more than 20 years ago and now have offices in Sunnyvale, San Francisco and New York.

On tech…

What are the latest technology trends you are seeing coming out of California and the wider US?

I love technology because there is always something new. Trends around big data and cloud services continue advancing but there is also the beginning of a swing from software back to hardware as a technology focus in Silicon Valley. The rise of wearable devices and drones seems to be leading this and I expect hardware to become a bigger part of the conversation in 2015.

How is the tech landscape changing in the US – Are you seeing disruption from smaller, new kids on the block tech firms and how are the established brands responding?

From our viewpoint there is constant disruption of the market by startups. In the past few years more large tech companies have set up accelerator programs to fund and coach startups and many end up being acquired by the larger firms. A few examples are Citrix Startup Accelerator and Samsung, and Sprint. This is an interesting way to stay close to the disruption and the old saying “keep your friends close and your enemies closer” is true.

Is technology changing the way people do business?
Technology changes the way people do business always in all ways. A conversation we’re part of globally is the future of work and how technology facilitates working anywhere. I personally love that I can get a lot done from my smartphone and business expectations are changing because of the mobile equipped workforce. For the past few years I’ve told my team that they can be where they need to be when they need to be there. Sometimes that is working from on site with a client, or from one of our offices or from the car when you need to picks kids up from after school care.
Marketing technology also continues to explode with new kinds of solutions each week. This has a massive influence on how marketers and communications people do their work. Suddenly CMOs need to speak IT and are required to gain a new set of skills to keep up with the changing technology landscape.

On Communications…

Do you see any of these technology trends playing out into the communications world? How are these technologies being used in our world?

We have started to partner more with technology companies and work together to provide organizations with marketing technology and services. Influitive is a company we partner with to provide services to their amazing platform. We became a user of the technology first so we can understand how it fits into a marketing communications ecosystem and then we designed programs to surround it. Together we help companies engage their clients and develop advocates that lead to greater customer loyalty.

What other big trends are you seeing in the marketing communications world?

We’ve all been talking about paid, earned and owned for years and how they all blend together. The industry will continue to discuss this topic because there are too few examples of brands who aren’t still siloing these activities. A big trend that will increase over the next year is citizen marketing where customers work to monetize their loyalty and influence with brands. We see some of this exchange already with B2C brands and I believe it will work into B2B over the next few years. We’re already talking to some startups that provide platforms to facilitate this kind of exchange.

What channels are US businesses and consumers using? Do you feel that the companies you work with are really taking note of how their audiences want to consume information?
Mobile channels are huge and most people I work with wake up to Twitter as their news source and then they hit the daily papers and online media outlets like Re/Code. There are trendy channels that all clients want to be on and we advise them which will get them the best return for their target audiences. Getting access to clients’ web teams to see the channels that drive traffic is something we ask for more frequently. We need that data to help build the case for strategic communications programs with our clients.

And finally…

What’s the big thing we’ll all be talking about in 2015?
No matter which company or industry you’re in, we’ll all be talking about a talent drought in 2015. Getting connected to the right talent at the right time is tough for those of us in marketing communications and we’ll all need to build better plug and play skills for work as we move to dropping into more projects and integrating diverse talent periodically into our work.

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