Labs Special Edition: Password Security

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In light of nearly 2 million social media account passwords being compromised and circulated recently, let’s talk password security. Founding Partner AJ Gerritson stopped by the Fox News studio last night to discuss the recent security breach and steps you can take to protect yourself from the same fate.


While most of the accounts appear to belong to users outside the U.S., now is a good a time as ever to take your password security into consideration. This time of year is prime for hackers as many are shopping online for the holidays.


When it comes to online security, the best defense from hackers is a strong offense. When combing through the compromised passwords, researchers made a disturbing discovery: thousands used the same weak passwords, including ‘123456,’ ‘password,’ and ‘admin.’ Other common passwords include ‘abc123’, ‘iloveyou’ and ‘monkey,’ according to SplashData.

Facebook admitted that hackers are breaking into hundreds of thousands of accounts daily.  Out of more than a billion logins to the website every 24 hours, 600,000 can be attributed to hackers attempting to access users’ personal information.


So what makes a password strong?


  • Make them long. The longer the better; 8 characters minimum.
  • Make them wacky. Use a combination of numbers, symbols and letters – upper and lower case. “4M5a1r!keting” is a lot harder to crack than “451Marketing!”
  • Change them regularly. 
  • Avoid real words, as in ones in the dictionary. Hacking programs are becoming more sophisticated in their ability to go through databases of words, even with the addition of numbers and symbols
  • Avoid easy-to-guess words, even if they aren’t in the dictionary.
  • Avoid personal information including your name, company, hometown, pet name, and relatives’ names.
  • Avoid easily searchable information, such as your birthday or ZIP code.


What else can you do to protect yourself against hackers?

Keep a clean computer.

  • Don’t download anything from untrustworthy websites
  • Keep your anti-virus software up-to-date and running
  • Update your web browser

Get notified. Most social networks will allow you to set additional layers of security to protect your account. Activate these security measures and set up to receive text message alerts when your account is subject to suspicious activity, such as attempted access from an unrecognizable device.


Pro tip: Make sure your bank account password is unique. If a hacker were to gain access to your social media accounts, at least your bank account remains safe.


Better safe than sorry! What measures do you take to keep your online presence secure?


Get the Most Out of Vine for Your Brand

vineAre you using Vine yet? Many brands have been quick to jump on the bandwagon and start experimenting with these trendy, six-second video clips. However, it’s become clear that most are not using it to its full potential. Vine is so much more than quick collections of footage brands can throw at their consumers. With careful planning, Vine can become an effective tool to reach your fans. Here’s how to get the most out of your six seconds. Here are a few tips on creating engaging Vines for your consumers.


1 .Take Your Time
While brands were quick to use the platform, many did not take the time to strategize or create. A common trap we’ve seen brands falling into is trying to pack as much information as they can into a clip.

For example, NASCAR is all about speed. However, showing us clips of pitboxes at a blinding speed feels more like an assault on the eyes than a clever Vine.

 It’s an interesting concept, but information overload.


2. Know Your Audience

If you sell pizza, don’t Vine about ice cream. While something you may think a video is fun or interesting, it won’t do much for you without the presence of your product or brand.

Take a look at this clip from the Gap.

Not only are they giving exposure to their brand name, but they are showcasing their product in action. Super adorable action at that.


3. Added Value

Six seconds isn’t a ton of time, but clever brands will use this as an opportunity to offer a quick tutorial. Lucky Magazine is maximizing their effectiveness by posting these simple ways to style a denim shirt.

The Vine might not say Lucky Magazine, but it provides the answer to a need, and people will engage with it.


4. Lose the Shakes

Think of each Vine as an investment for your brand. Videos taken with a steady hand are more visually appealing than those that look sloppily put together.

This Vine from dove certainly provides value, but could definitely look cleaner.

This circles back to our first point: take your time. You wouldn’t show a television commercial you shot only once, would you? If you review your Vine and it looks a bit wobbly, film it again!


Best Practices in Public Relations


On Tuesday night, a couple of us from 451 Marketing went to the PRSA Boston “Best Practices in Public Relations” workshop at Schwartz MSL in Waltham, MA. This PRSA meeting featured panelists who were the 2012 Silver Anvil Award winners, the public relations profession’s most prestigious honor for campaigns. The panelists were Josh Rontal (@jrontal), Director of Digital Media Services of Brodeur Partners, Rebecca Manikian, Senior Account Supervisor of Cone Communications, and Mark. W. McClennan (@McClennan) of Schwartz MSL. During the meeting, each winner explained how they successfully conceived, created and delivered their winning campaigns. Below are the three campaigns and what we felt were the important takeaways from each.


American Cancer Society’s “More Birthdays” campaign

Brodeur Partners and The American Cancer Society developed the “More Birthdays” movement to help deepen understanding of how the Society saves lives in communities nationwide and to unite people passionately committed to creating a world with less cancer and more birthdays. The main campaign goal was to show how the Society was reinventing itself by simply and positively communicating its progress in saving lives from cancer and engaging new members in the fight.

Our key takeaways:

  • Listening makes all the difference. It is important to take a step back and listen to the community you are targeting. This will allow you to see what content will be most effective in targeting your audience and will give you insight into the types of responses the audience will have.
  • Segmentation of messages/creation of a diverse range of messages is central to an effective campaign. Not every message blasted out to a community will be responded to in the best way. It is important to feed the right message to the right people to get a positive response from a target audience.


Jockey Being Family campaign

Cone Communications and Jockey International, along with its Jockey Being Family partners and Adoption Resources of Wisconsin saw an opportunity to elevate awareness and educate public officials on issues within post-adoption services and foster care. Together, the partners launched Journey Home, which took 155 Wisconsin community leaders from six counties on a bus trip to gain perspective of a foster care and adoption experience through the eyes of a child. The campaign achieved the goal of elevating issue awareness and educating public officials on issues within post adoption services and foster care happenings in Wisconsin.

Our key takeaways:

  • Leverage relationships. Don’t reinvent the wheel.  If your clients have existing relationships with policy makers, influencers, etc., take advantage! Rather than starting from the ground up, tapping into existing relationships can make everything move a lot more quickly and smoothly.
  • Localize the issue. Sometimes the most effective way to make an impact and evoke emotions in your key audience is by making your audience aware of issues right in their back yard. By tapping into a specific area that makes sense for a client, like Wisconsin for Jockey, you can better connect with your audience to help educate them about what you’re doing, why it’s important, and what steps need to be taken. Giving Consumers Insight Into Their Risk of Identity Theft campaign

After researching and discovering that identify fraud risk information wasn’t available to consumers, Schwartz Communications and ID Analytics introduced, the first free consumer risk assessment tool for identify fraud. The campaign drove hundreds of thousands of site visits, resulted in 78% of articles written having the company’s top messages, and appearances on national broadcast.

Our key takeaways:

  • Plan for hiccups. Be aware that there might be challenges to face in a campaign in the form of critics and doubters, and create a backup plan to combat those challenges. Go after the biggest critics first, rather than letting them come to you. This will allow for a smoother, more strategized reaction.
  • Find the interesting points in your data. By asking interesting questions on surveys or combing through existing data to find the most interesting points, you can tap into what’s trending in the news and be part of the conversations.
  • Know the face of trust. It’s not always best to choose the CEO of a company to speak on behalf of a campaign just because they have a specific title. By choosing the correct spokesperson – one that can speak to the campaign and know its ins and outs – will make your message as authentic as possible.


What do you think are some “PR Best Practices” that we missed? Were you at the event? What were some of your key takeaways? Let us know in the comments section below.