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Marian Salzman

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Trendspotter and Adviser

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About Marian

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Keynote speaker Marian Salzman, CEO of PR Operations for Euro RSCG Worldwide PR, North America, has more than kept up with the rapid evolution of technology and society. She co-founded the first online market research company nearly 20 years ago—back in the days of 2400-baud modems and a novel new service called America Online (an early client)—and remains on the leading edge of understanding, and talking about, the social Web.

Leading trendspotter speaks directly to your audience

Named one of the world’s top five trendspotters, Marian Salzman, CEO of Euro RSCG Worldwide PR, an entrepreneurial agency network now ranked ninth in the world, is currently PRWeek’s PR Professional of the Year, among other top honors. Before heading ERWW PR, she was CMO at Porter Novelli, CMO at JWT Worldwide and CSO at Euro RSCG Worldwide. Among her most famous consumer campaigns are the launch of the metrosexual to create a marketplace for SAB Miller’s Peroni, Pepsi’s “It’s Like This,” and “It’s America Online.” She co-founded Cyberdialogue—the world’s first online market research company—in 1992.

Marian was named to New York magazine’s first “Cyber 60” list, in 1995, the same year she was honored by Crain’s New York Business as a “40 Under 40”; the following year, Fast Company said she was keeper of one of the best job titles on the planet: Director, Department of the Future.  Marian has executed thought leadership, reputation management and social media programs, including heading up the creation of Porter’s pop-up agency Jack + Bill, which in one year won the top awards from PRWeek, SABRE and Bulldog Reporter. Her four-part series on the brain for the Huffington Post won a 2011 Bronze SABRE award for Speech or Bylined Article and won best blog by the PR News Platinum PR Awards. She also blogs regularly at the Holmes Report, Adweek/Aol’s Fuel the Future, eurorscgpr.com and eurorscgsocial.com.

Marian is an adviser to the Berlin School of Creative Leadership’s M.B.A. program; author of 15 books published in more than 20 languages including Chinese, Norwegian, Portuguese and Spanish; president of the Fairfield County Public Relation Association; and an honors graduate of Brown. Her most notable campaign in the past two years was Wyclef Jean’s short-lived run for president of his ravaged homeland; despite 70 percent approval ratings and more than 10 billion media impressions, the musician-turned-philanthropist was disqualified by Haiti’s ruling cast of characters.

See keynotes with Marian Salzman

    Keynote by Speaker Marian Salzman

    Trends for the Near Future: Ten Trends that Will Redefine the Next Three to Five Years

    • Marian has been spotting trends for almost two decades.
    • She is best known for launching metrosexual mania in 2003, but she also created several other buzzes, including “It’s America Online,” “globesity” and “millennium blue.”
    • Marian talks about how spotting trends means tracking people, social momentum, brands, economies, companies—big business for people in many industries who need to be thinking ahead, for themselves and clients.
    • Some of her more recent trends include the surreality of life, hyperlocal as the new global, a lack of real intimacy in the era of “friends” and emo bling, hyperpolarization, cyberdisinhibition, kidsploitation and beware the mobmedia.


    Keynote by Speaker Marian Salzman

    Millennials: The Generation Making the Next Loudest Boom

    • In 2007, Marian told “60 Minutes” that millennials, people age 18 to 25, could be incorrigible.
    • “You can’t really ask them to live and breathe the company,” she told Morley Safer, “because they’re living and breathing themselves—and that keeps them very busy.”
    • And now? She has never been as optimistic about the power of young minds.
    • People under 30 changed the way we communicate (see the founders of Google and Facebook) and helped propel Barack Obama into the presidency.
    • The have a genuine passion for good, forcing businesses to clean up their act and pay up on their promises of social responsibility. And they are energetic and passionate about their own power (with the help of social media) to change the world.


    Keynote by Speaker Marian Salzman

    Consumerism in the Age of Less is More

    • The world has seen its share of change lately.
    • Now, a New Consumerism is taking hold.
    • People around the world are making changes to simplify their finances, their consumption, their lives—because it makes them feel good.
    • Significant portions of the populations in seven markets are trading hyperconsumerism for a consumption that’s more subdued, considered and sane, according to a survey by Euro RSCG Worldwide.
    • Four paradigms underlie the shift: rightsizing (owning less stuff), growing up (gaining control and accepting personal responsibility), seeking purposeful pleasure (being aware of their capacity to influence by what they buy) and embracing substance (finding what’s real).


    Keynote by Speaker Marian Salzman

    Teenagents and How They Are Reshaping…Everything

    • Teenagers are at a new frontier of social culture.
    • They’re changing the field of marketing, altering communications, inventing new lexicons and adopting still-embryonic innovations.
    • Once we were impressed, maybe even a little confounded, when a teen guided us through a new social technology. But today the situation is far beyond that.
    • Teens are the ones who are inventing, not guiding; they’re creating, not using.
    • The teens of today have never known a world without hyperconnectivity.
    • They’re finding that the moment they possess two critical things they never had before—the tools of social power and a reason to use them—they are transformed. And so is the rest of society because of it.


    Keynote by Speaker Marian Salzman

    Welcome to the Age of the Social Mind

    • There’s a whole new vocabulary in today’s social media–focused world: trialogues, square marketing, SoMe, hyperlocalization, virtual bully.
    • Size doesn’t matter; breadth and depth of connections do. Demography and geography aren’t so relevant anymore; intimacy is.
    • On the plus side, social networking is opening the world to causes, awareness, social responsibility, social action. And blurring is taken to the extreme: Life meets work for the ultimate convergence.
    • Yes, you can reach anyone, anytime, but that has led to an “always on” culture, making many of us feel the need to unplug.
    • Time is now the ultimate luxury item and our most precious resource.


    Keynote by Speaker Marian Salzman

    Social Media and Social Life: A Portrait of Today’s Connectivity

    • Americans have dramatically integrated social networking tools into their lives.
    • According to a definitive study by Euro RSCG Worldwide, the parent company of the PR agency Marian leads, their world is expanding and narrowing at the same time because of social media’s hyperlocalization quotient. And cyberdisinhibition—being more willing to behave online in ways they wouldn’t in person—has both emboldened users and led them to inappropriate behavior.
    • Plus, despite buzz to the contrary, online social networking is enhancing, not deteriorating, relationships among Americans and their involvement in political and humanitarian issues.
    • The study also guided Marian toward spotting some new trends, including the hugs of virtuality and preview dating.


    Keynote by Speaker Marian Salzman

    Global Consumer Insights & Social Media Tools for Harnessing What’s New!

    • The social media sphere has become the world’s richest soil for smart trends.
    • For the best opportunities to create breakthrough campaigns, build buzz and keep people talking about brands, tap trendsetters.
    • Marian shares what she thinks are the best websites and social networking sites to know for teasing out trends, talks about some of her recent trends and how they’re proving out, tells what her biggest trend hits have meant for markets, gives a competitive analysis of other top trendspotters and offers a list of top idea-exchange venues.


    Keynote by Speaker Marian Salzman

    Headstrong: How a Brain Tumor Made Me Stronger, Smarter and Saner (Or at Least Reshaped My Working Style)

    • In spring 2007, Marian was diagnosed with a brain tumor called a meningioma.
    • A frequent-flying top ad executive at the time, she was also keeping up a full schedule of media appearances and international speaking engagements.
    • Surgery followed, along with a successful recovery, but not without bumps in the road—and life changes, including a career switch to PR and a realignment of her philanthropic priorities.
    • Marian’s experience also changed her approach to creativity, making her more analytical and open to collaboration at work.
    • It led her to re-examine the concept of braininess in today’s world. And it made her ponder technology addictions, the information onslaught, multitasking—all au courant subjects that affect everyone, not just brain tumor patients.


    Keynote by Speaker Marian Salzman

    Lessons from Hurricane Wyclef

    • In August 2010, Marian experienced what she calls a phenomenon.
    • That’s not a small statement, coming from someone who has spent two decades navigating hairpin turns in the world of advertising and, more recently, PR.
    • As the leader of Wyclef Jean’s media and PR team during his monthlong bid for the presidency of Haiti—and who shepherded the campaign’s 11 billion total media impressions—she learned a few things.
    • Among them: Never underestimate the media feeding frenzy; details are everything when working with the media; strategy and preparedness are important in any kind of campaign, but so are proactive thinking and course correcting; and honesty is the only policy.


    Keynote by Speaker Marian Salzman

    Media Moments, Promoter Personalities and What It Takes to Be Famous

    • In an emerging culture where you can be famous for being famous, the news today is created around personalities, those of the instant celebrity kind. People to watch in the fame game run the gamut from Perez Hilton to David Perez of Cannes Lions fame. But notoriety is notoriously hard to sustain.
    • We barely remember the Octomom and Balloon Boy; whose 15 minutes will be up next?
    • On one hand, we’ve gotten so used to, and so bored by, reality TV shows turbocharged by 12-step dropouts that it takes new feats of extremism to get our attention.
    • On the other is the emerging yang: the desire for privacy, the rise of Facebook suicides and people taking themselves off the media grid.


    Keynote by Speaker Marian Salzman

    The Future of Retailing

    • Social media and a return to local community are putting retail stores in a strange but exciting place.
    • What’s needed now is an intelligent approach to retail that is supremely mindful of the customer, maybe even to a greater extent than a store’s product.
    • The rise of consumer social consciousness, the increasing importance of real-time communications, the blurring of public spaces and the spread of social media into all aspects of life are wrenching much-needed change and innovation into retail.
    • Eight trends include mobile retail, augmented reality, the Zara effect, politics and sector blurring.


    Keynote by Speaker Marian Salzman

    New Attitudes, Hours, Tools and Tactics

    • Three areas make up the core of today’s new business strategy, in Marian’s mind: Learning, Now and the Five C’s.
    • Learning includes treating the agency/business as its own most precious client (while nurturing true clients), knowing that both paid time off and workaholics are enemies of greatness, making training the corporate caffeine, and understanding Twitterville and causes as place for silent selling.
    • Part of Now includes her Now acronym: YWC (Yes, We Can), because anything is possible. And the Five C’s? Constant communications, cross-channel merchandising, collaboration, corrections and conversational currency.
    • Hear more to understand her bottom line: “Because good enough is not good at all.”

Interview with Marian Salzman

What is the message you hope people take away from your presentations? 

My presentations are meant to provoke business and thought leaders to think differently, to let their brains zag as well as zig, because that kind of disruptive, creative, load-it-on brainfood can lead people to see the big world and their business challenges very differently.

I typically talk about near-term business and consumer insights trends: What can you expect in the next three to five years, and how can you see the world differently so that you can spot opportunities on the horizon and hijack the waves of change, so that you can surf these waves masterfully and enjoy the journey as well as your success when you land at your destination?

I have specific topics I often talk about (trends in social media, what the millennials mean for the workplace or commerce, how communities are being reorganized around a 24/7/365 always-on mindset), but these are backdrops for inspiring audience members to unleash their inner trendspotters so that they can enjoy the ride—and make it profitable.

How do you prepare for speaking engagements? 

I immerse myself in my audience, their topic, the social media chatter around related issues … anything and everything I can tap to get comfortable with what’s happening in the zeitgeist that is making the topic fluid.

I never present an off-the-shelf presentation, although there are a few presentation rituals I do like: Find a few YouTube clips that are relevant and edit them to be hyper-appropriate, write some powerful slides and visualize them, search out some surprising data points, do a few Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn interviews to have new fodder, identify unexpected experts.

I love the learning side of my preparation, so I’m the woman who spends way too much time preparing for the one hour. I have a lust for learning the esoterica that contributes to the themes I ultimately incorporate into the trends.

What are some of the most important changes you have seen over the past 5 years? 

TMI. Too much information, no filters, unbelievable sharing, zero editing—which makes it great to get insightful information, but it means that everything I undertake comes with way too much emo drama. A simple question like “Is outsourcing off-trend in a U.S. presidential election year?” opens me up for tales of terror about how someone’s father-in-law cheated because he felt less masculine when he lost his job because his manufacturing plant relocated to Southeast Asia. TMI is not good for any of us. Filters help. I’d like a bit more information, but not the full monty.

Immense emphasis on everything brainy, from brain health (are cellphones frying our skulls?) to conversations about constant education for personal and professional enhancement to trends that explore the future of American football (how many suicides will it take before we put the sport under the ultimate spotlight and decide it is just too unsafe?) to examinations of the real cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and their hidden injuries (traumatic brain injuries and PTSD).

Real-time newscrafting. We’re all making news as we’re consuming it, and this makes for an adrenaline-rushed world of all news seems to be breaking, even if it’s hard for everything to be happening simultaneously, in a frenzy, with epic implications for the masses. We’ve also all become narrowcasters, sharing the news we care about with the people we touch, our fans, friends and followers. I call this mycasting.

Local is the new global. Global is a given, and we take it for granted that we are exposed to inputs and implications from across the world all the time, everywhere. Instead, we are hunkering into our local communities and trying to make sense of our lives in very small geographic ranges. We want to eat locally grown food and we want to patronize local stores and we want to engage in local volunteerism. It’s as if we finally realize the ties that bind us are twofold: virtual, through all those aforementioned fans, friends and followers, and with our real neighbors, who are really right there.

The last big shift I will flag is the pressure of the underlying fear that seems to pervade everything. I’m afraid of the dog food (it’s been recalled), I’m afraid of my commute (we’re on constant terrorist watch, and what better target than a mass transportation center), I’m afraid of the country going broke (Greece has gone broke, so it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the dominos fall). Part of the problem of the always-on news environment is that we are always aware of the bad things that can happen in a blink, and we spend our lives preparing for the other shoe to drop. And real-time news coverage means we are there, live, when it does. Did I mention information overload? Time to take a nap. 🙂

Who or what inspires you? 

I am inspired by the desert, by dogs (especially retrievers who are single-minded about retrieving), and by people who have a passion and a skill and pursue it relentlessly. My work is inspired by that always-on news that makes my life bountiful and tense, abundant and scary.

How is social media changing consumers? 

We are all connected and live in a world where everyone and anyone is only X number of connections away. There is no limit to the number of conversations you can have in a day, and with Google and Wikipedia and YouTube and Twitter, the great encyclopedia of life is just a series of searches from your desktop, making life one big classroom. I can’t even imagine how we filled time before we started collecting textual experiences that almost resemble real ones: I almost talked to someone, I almost read a book, I almost researched a paper. SoMe is about a life of great instant almosts. Fabulous. Fast. Fun. Free.

How are your keynote presentations unique? 

I am unfiltered, overly prepared and terribly accessible. There is nothing boring, staid or straitlaced about my take on business, and I realize that life can’t be taken so seriously that you don’t stop and ponder the bigger questions. So it’s a mix of the obvious, the obscure, the random and the randy, bundled into a socially acceptable package that educates, entertains and expands the horizons of the audience.

What made you want to become a public speaker? 

I never wanted to be a public speaker, in fact. When I found myself speaking, I had to pinch myself and say, Keep going, they won’t know you are shy. I do enjoy sharing what I know and my take on the near future, and this gets me through the shy and awkward moments of standing in front of thousands when I am having a bad hair day or when I can’t pronounce an essential word.

I’ve had an insanely lucky and lovely life of travel and fabulous business experiences, and these tales are easy to share even if you (me) are slightly unsure of what’s interesting. I’ve discovered that provocative, humorous and thoughtful go a long way and that making people smarter is as good as feeding them a nice meal (and I am a terrible cook).

Can you give three tips for today’s business not to fall behind? 

  • Anticipate the worst, plan for the best, have three or four scenarios in mind, and always be gaming around the what-ifs.
  • Know your consumer—not what they tell you, but what’s really keeping them up at night—and how your competition sees them and their challenges and advantages. What would your consumer/customer whisper in your ear if he were your lover?
  • Failure is character building, so plan to fail often enough that you don’t get stuck in any one rut.
See keynotes with Marian Salzman
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Keynote topics with Marian Salzman