Setting the Tone in Little Havana

RockOrange is at the forefront of a cultural and creative resurgence, and it’s all taking place within blocks of our new home in Miami’s Little Havana. Just months following our move to a 17,000-square-foot creative campus in the heart of the historic neighborhood, we unveiled a new street art mural by local artist Daniel Fila, better known as Krave, setting the visual tone for the new “LiHa.”


Little Havana has seen a recent rise to prominence led by increased commercial and residential development, a thriving arts scene, cuisine and nightlife.

Our agency founders Miguel Piedra and David Naranjo, both Miami natives, had headquartered in the corporate suites of Blue Lagoon during the agency’s first three years (RockOrange was formed in 2013). The pair of Cuban-Americans, both raised in Miami, moved their headquarters to the area in 2016.

Last week, Krave, Miguel and David held a Facebook Live event showing everyone around the new jewel of LiHa. Check it out:

The mural, adorning the side of RockOrange’s headquarters, is a unique work of art reflecting the culture of a uniquely American area using familiar imagery: a Miami Metro Mover; a cigar-smoking gentleman wearing a panama hat; the renowned Cuban-America salsa performer, Celia Cruz; and Krave’s signature character, The Fresh Monkey. In a city where all neighborhoods come to be known by nicknames, six-foot-tall letters span the top of the mural spell out the word “LiHa,” cementing Little Havana’s new moniker.

Question Time with “The Rock”

The “Rock” in RockOrange, agency principal Miguel Piedra sat down with Bulldog Reporter to answer questions about his life as a PR professional.

Click through to read Miguel’s PR PROfile and find out what got him interested in a career in PR, his favorite journalist to work with, what he thinks the most misunderstood thing is about PR and the best thing about working at RockOrange.


Why is Agency Diversity So Important?

This week Verizon joined the growing list of global brands including HP and General Mills that are now demanding diversity from their agencies. With these very public calls to action, some are wondering if we’re at a tipping point in entering the age of inclusion in the agency sector? As our Principal, Miguel Piedra outlined in a recent blog post, diversity is baked into RockOrange’s DNA. We make diversity work for us, and for our clients. So with the issue being one so close to our hearts, this week we asked our RockStars – Why is Agency Diversity So Important?

You Can’t Force Diversity. Instead, Look For Places Where It Grows Naturally.

By Miguel Piedra, Principal & Managing Partner, RockOrange


Last month, Palo Alto-based computer hardware developer HP made news when its CMO issued an ultimatum to its PR and advertising partners, exhorting them to submit plans for those agencies to become more diverse in the next 30 days.

In the letter, Antonio Lucio put HP’s roster of agencies on notice. That includes some of the most prominent names in our industry: FleishmanHillard and Porter Novelli for PR; and BBDO, Fred & Farid, and Gyro for advertising.

Lucio’s goal is laudable. The communications and creative world is overwhelmingly white and male. Hispanics, African-Americans and women are chronically underrepresented—doubly so in leadership roles. This at least partly explains many of the embarrassingly tone deaf and cringe-worthy campaigns that have tried unsuccessfully to court these demographics. To understand a culture, one must have at least some mooring in that culture. To execute a successful campaign, you need at least one person in the room who understands the target demographic. Too often, there are none.

But for diversity to take hold and deliver real, positive outcomes, the organization must truly believe in it. Lucio’s heart is in the right place. But from an internal, agency perspective, I can see the natural progression of what will come from this strategy. Ultimatum delivered, the hiring partners will scramble to keep the business. No one is in business to lose money. So whether or not they believe in the core value of diversity becomes beside the point. They will have their talent acquisition and human resources teams do what is necessary to ensure the business is kept. But in the end, if someone is hired as a show pony, or as a token nod to diversity, that is how he or she will be treated. How does that achieve the desired end of viewing projects through different lenses?

Understand, diversity is two-pronged: you must first hire a collection of individuals from different backgrounds, and then empower them to have an effect on your business. It is hard to imagine an agency compelled to hire or promote to meet a client ultimatum will deign to do the latter. The only thing that gets more diversity is the Meet the Team page on their website.

Instead, brands like HP would do well to hire agencies that already value diversity and show the veracity of that belief through their staffing.

There are many agencies around the country that look and act like ours. At RockOrange we are not only minority owned, but more than two thirds of our agency is comprised of women and at any given moment we are 75-80 percent black or Hispanic. Our RockStars range in age from 22 to 50s. We draw from a rich array of life experiences, employing talent from all walks of life and socioeconomic backgrounds.

It wasn’t difficult to do this, and it wasn’t an accident. Miami is an overwhelmingly diverse city, a tapestry of black, white, brown, and all shades between, serving as a model for the next American generation. If you’re a believer in demographic data and population trends, Miami—and by extension our agency—looks a lot like how the country will look in 2050.

But our adherence to diversity as a value is rooted in more than simple geography. Many of our team members have worked in homogenous environments where everyone is from the same place and brings similar experiences. The effect is a deafening echo chamber where disagreement is viewed as dissention. Lack of diversity fosters groupthink, narrowing the collective view. The narrower the view, the broader the blind spot. It’s a dangerous way to do business. It’s how a campaign winds up comparing Naomi Campbell to a chocolate bar. It’s how every Latino menu item at national chains ends up being “spicy” or “fiery”.

For executives like Lucio who understand the underlying business proposition behind diversity, there are alternatives to shoehorning it into the vast organizations they hire—admirable a goal though it may be. Our agency has diversity baked into its very DNA. And while we work with mostly national or international brands, everyone’s unique point of view is not just respected—it’s required. We make diversity work for us, and for our clients.

Instead, try working with agencies that are already built that way. As someone who has worked on both the client side as a chief communicator and the agency side as an owner, I can attest that the work product is guaranteed to be more authentic and appealing when it comes from a room of different people with diverging opinions.

An agency that needs to be told to make itself more diverse has a long hill to climb before it becomes truly diverse. For those who see the value, there’s no such thing as scrambling to keep the business with token hires.

RockOrange Takes It’s RockStars Back-to-School

class is in session

“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
– Benjamin Franklin

Ever hear of “labeling theory”? In social psychology, it’s associated with concepts like self-fulfilling prophecy and stereotyping—and while these may have mostly negative applications in real-world conversations around social deviance, labeling theory has a simple premise that leads our strategic approach to employee enrichment:

If Sara sees Johnny and thinks, “Johnny’s such a great leader”, then when Sara interacts with Johnny, she’s going to treat him as such—likely admiring his accountability, decisiveness, inspiration and confidence (you know, the stuff of great leaders). Then, when Johnny picks up on how Sara treats him, he will likely react in ways that align with Sara’s expectations. And the two go back and forth, reinforcing Sara’s assumptions and Johnny’s behavior.

So, we asked ourselves, what kinds of traits do we want to label our team members with here at RockOrange so they grow to embody those characteristics and build an organic, FRESH work culture? The answer came right to us over enchiladas and Coronas at SXSW in Austin, TX earlier this year:

• We want them to be leaders and innovators.
• We want them to feel and act like owners.
• We want them to create fresh ideas and feel they are in a safe environment to share and grow those ideas.
• We want to create a system that keeps them up to speed on the latest trends, tools and resources, and updates in agency processes and capabilities.
• We want to equip them with the information they need to be the badass marketers we want them to be.

But how do we do this? We decided to take ‘em back to good ol’ university. That is, we chose to figuratively relive the classroom setting: hosting captivating public presentations built collectively using the “team project” approach (except everyone participates; if you were that person in college that ducked out of your group project and did jack, you can’t sit with us), listening and learning, asking questions, participating in meaningful conversations, and sure… enjoying the occasional (ahem, daily) celebratory libation after class.

Welcome to “RockU” — a 20-week program filled with “snackable” 30-minute and in-depth one-to-two hour courses and sessions every couple of weeks. “RockU” focuses on further developing our RockStars to help them reach their highest potential as communications professionals by tapping expert team members in multiple focus areas to educate the team. Basically, we encourage them to “share the knowledge” with the rest of us, because well… duh.

With complex project timelines, demanding clients, and varying RockStar schedules, getting everyone in a room for an hour is definitely a challenge, but where there’s a will, there’s a Grace! (Damn, I miss that show.)

We’re approaching week seven in our program and, as Dean of “RockU”, I’m happy to report overwhelming participation and positive reviews for each of the sessions so far. While there is room for improvement (there always is), I know the program is working because the guts and glory of the agency, our RockStars, lead it. From leadership members to FOOCs (fresh out of college), these guys are creating meaningful, interactive sessions around topics like Research and Data, Project Planning, and Productive Brainstorming that are setting and raising the bar for what the “RockOrange Way” is.

We collect anonymous feedback after each session and here are some of my fave:

What was your favorite part of the session?

“Understanding that our clients are constantly evolving.”
“Learning about new communications trends that affect the way we interact with our clients.”
“I enjoyed the Kim Kardashian analogies.”
“The successful, real world examples of how the proposed research method worked.”
“Learning the workflow for the department and how it affects my role here.”
“Free smores.”

Check out our “RockU” course schedule below and share your thoughts with us on session and program suggestions! Get at me here so we can challenge the team with new topics and continue to raise the bar (and have post-class cocktails). And let us know if you’re interested in becoming our next RockStar… we’re always looking for great talent.


Until then, happy learning!

Stefanie Arufe
Business Development Manager and “RockU” Dean

Tales of a RockStar Intern

By Nicole Cil

We’ve all heard stories of those horrible internships where you:

A) Do absolutely nothing

B) Get coffee for your boss/clean the dirty bathrooms

C) Never actually learn the tips and tricks of your particular field

D)Being referred to as “the intern”

E) Or, quite possibly, all of the above


I was finishing up my freshman year as a double major in public relations and modern languages at the University of Miami and started thinking about applying for internships. While I’ve heard these terrible, terrible tales about family and friends’ internships, I still decided to hand in my resume and hope for the best. Sure enough, shortly after sending over my resume, I got a call that I’d been accepted to join the RockStar internship program and that they would be expecting my arrival at the beginning of May.

My first day, I arrived at the agency promptly and was introduced to everyone. Right off the bat, I was included in a meeting and given a project to lead and complete within a week. Excited, I came home and told my family and friends all about my first day and how busy and interesting it was.

The next couple of days, weeks, and months were the same. My second week at RockOrange, they hosted a Team Building Event at one of our client’s super cool locations – Zoological Wildlife Foundation Miami – where we got to play with tiger cubs and find out about my teammates through some fun challenges. Tt was then that I thought this internship exceeded everything I had hoped to accomplish during my time here.

I got to really know everyone in the office and make friends. I wasn’t just “the intern,” I was Nicole and sometimes even “Coco.” RockOrange is a family, not just a company. I was included in meetings, e-mail threads, and important conversations. I was kept in the loop and always had something to do, which never happened to just be “clean the bathroom” or “go get me some coffee.” I learned more than I could imagine learning in just three-and-a-half short months. Though I had spent two semesters of studying public relations at the University of Miami, I learned the tricks of the trade very quickly here at RockOrange. Pitching, press releases, and media lists became daily tasks, not just a far away tale of something they taught us at school that we may or may not have to do when we actually enter the field of PR.

“Frances, people in PR actually use Gantt Charts?” I remember asking my immediate supervisor. “I had thought these were just things they have to teach us in school, I didn’t know they were actually useful.”

I felt so accomplished using my knowledge from my class and putting it to use here with an actual, real life client.

I’m very grateful to say that I had an excellent internship experience this summer. I’m sad to see my time come to an end at RockOrange, but I’ll always remember what I’ve learned here and the people I met here. I can’t wait to come visit again soon.

They say the view from the top is the best, but the view from the bottom can be pretty good too.


The ABT’s (Always Be Thinking) of Great Agency Marketing

The marketing landscape is evolving rapidly. The rise of the always-on, constantly connected consumer means that campaigns need to evolve and be dynamic. They must live where the consumer lives (which is mostly digital) and speak to an audience whose loyalty is built through a more personal social engagement versus the hard-sell mentality of more traditional advertising.

That’s why brand marketers are looking to step up their collaboration with agency partners. The complexity of what is required to design, execute, and report on multi-touch, multi-disciplinary marketing campaigns requires more resources and knowledge than ever before and those skill sets, and time to execute, often live outside of in-house capabilities.

As agency partners we have a commitment to our clients to help them not just stay on trend, but to keep one-step ahead of those trends, and to deliver campaigns that will help build brand loyalty with our clients’ target audiences. That’s why we need to know our ABT’s. We need to Always Be Thinking for and on behalf of our clients to ensure that we continue to demonstrate the value of the agency-client relationship.

Here are some ways we think you can do that.

Think in Real-Time

Recent years have seen the growth of real-time and responsive marketing as brands look to create shareable, relevant content that places the brand at the center of unfolding social conversations and viral trends. To do this successfully requires marketers to think on their feet. Response time is key and the benchmark was set by Oreo during Super Bowl XLVII when the lights in the stadium went out for 34 minutes, enough time for the brand to ideate and post it’s now infamous ‘dunk in the dark’ tweet.


Another more recent example of the value of this responsive marketing approach is how brands have quickly capitalized on the Pokémon GO craze. With more than 7.5 million downloads of the game in the U.S. in the first week alone and with users spending more time playing the game than on popular social apps including Snapchat, Twitter and even Facebook, creative (and quickly executed) campaigns like the ones in this Street Fight article from brands including Applebee’s and Virgin Mobile are driving huge amounts of foot traffic and conversions.


Leverage New Technologies

With a whopping 3,874 marketing technologies represented on a single slide, Scott Brinker’s Marketing Technology Landscape chart is the best visual representation of just how complex today’s marketing landscape has become.


As agency partners it’s our job to help our clients navigate these technologies, understanding what’s going to work best (and by work best I mean provide the best ROI) for the campaigns being designed.

It’s also our job as agencies to keep abreast of new technologies and leverage them to our client’s advantage. And I’m including social media in the bracket of technology. While Snapchat may be the social channel de jour (here are four great Snapchat marketing case studies from The Content Strategist,) there’s always a new social app or feature round the corner – you’ve just got to keep thinking outside the box with the application.

For example, before the official release of Facebook Live, RockOrange incepted and managed the first-ever Facebook Fashion show to promote the launch of our client Macy’s Hispanic-backed clothing line – Thalia Sodi for Macy’s. The show aired live on Thalia’s Facebook page to millions of fans around the world and RockOrange reached across social media platforms and promoted the hashtag #thaliaformacys, which became a top trending term during the event and in the hours that followed.

Beyond the immediate success of the show, our Facebook Live Streaming was a trendsetter for numerous other brands that would execute similar campaigns in the following year. The trend has been followed most recently by Versace, Kate Spade, IDENTITIES, organizers of London and New York Fashion Weeks, and, ahem, Crochet Empire’s jock strap fashion show, just to name a few.

Share Your Thoughts

Last but not least, don’t forget to share your thoughts and ideas with the client. Because if a great idea happens in an agency but no one tells the client did it really happen?

Nine times out of 10 the client may reject your idea for reasons including lack of budget or that they don’t feel it’s a good fit, but that one time they say, “go for it” gives the agency the chance to really prove added value and potentially get a new piece of business.

RockOrange welcomes its newest RockStar, Frances Ramos, to its award-winning agency

Frances is a seasoned publicist who specializes in media and influencer relationships that organically grow brand footprints in U.S. Hispanic and Latin America markets.

She comes to RO after five years of agency experience. She has worked with a slew of Fortune 500 clients, including McDonalds, Target and AT&T. While engaged with McDonalds, Frances helped create public relations and social media campaigns for the company’s education, food and music platforms.

Most recently, Frances helped MasterCard promote financial technology and electronic payments as a preferred method of payment in Latin America. Frances’ deep understanding of how to connect a brand’s values with Hispanic consumers makes her a valuable new member of the RO team.

A graduate of the University of Central Florida, Frances is an avid writer and part-time fashion blogger. Her blog,, is a series of dispatches from Frances’ inner “fashionista,” where she details and documents trends in the fashion world.

“I want to bring some spunk to RO,” she said. “Everyone at RockOrange is really talented and motivated and I’m looking forward to growing with the team.”

RockOrange Part of Team Recognized for Helping Broker Peace Between World’s Biggest Burger Chains


Last Tuesday, the prestigious Cannes Lion Awards, considered by many the gold standard for industry recognition in advertising, twice recognized the McWhopper campaign, ideated by Young & Rubicam New Zealand.

As part of RockOrange’s ongoing relationship with Burger King, our team was recognized for its work to deliver a robust issue management process just in case the call for peace didn’t go according to plan. RockOrange also worked closely with Burger King’s other agencies on marketing ideation and materials review.

The Grand Prix awards, won in the media and print & publishing categories, went for the revolutionary campaign that saw Burger King bring competitors to the table to put aside their petty differences and raise money for the cause of peace.

“I think our Grand Prix reflects so much of what it good about the industry,” said jury president Nick Waters, CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network Asia Pacific, in an interview with AdWeek. “This is a case of a big brand. And big brands sometimes find it difficult to move quickly. This is a case of a big brand taking on an even bigger competitor, moving quickly, being bold, acting within the brand, acting cheekily, reacting to events, bringing consumers in.”

The campaign began with an open letter to McDonalds CEO Steve Easterbrook, offering an olive branch in the form of a shared burger in honor of Peace Day. The burger would use ingredients from both McDonalds Quarter Pounder sandwich and Burger King’s Whopper sandwich. The chains would meet in Atlanta—a midway point between the brands’ respective headquarters in Illinois and Miami—and open a McWhopper pop-up, with proceeds going to Peace One Day, a non-profit organization dedicating to spreading peace.

And while archrival McDonalds refused Burger King’s overtures, other fast casual and quick service restaurant brands like Denny’s, Wayback Burger, Krystal and Giraffas all opted into the campaign, successfully creating the Peace Whopper.

This is far from the first recognition for RockOrange, which earned a nod for PR News’ ‘Facebook PR Campaign of the Year’ in April, and was named ‘New Agency of the Year’ by the Bulldog Reporter and The Holmes Report in 2014.

The Cannes Lion Grand Prix awards were accepted by Young & Rubicam New Zealand, who conceived the campaign. Agency partners Code & Theory, Alison Brod Public Relations and The David Agency were recognized as well.

How Do You Selfie?

Apparently the average Millennial may take up to around 25,700 selfies during their lifetime spending more than an hour each week taking and posting the images to social media sites.

So today, in honor of #NationalSelfieDay, we asked – how do you Selfie?  


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