About

Learn more about the W2O Center for Social Commerce.

About the W2O Center for Social Commerce

The W2O Center for Social Commerce (CSC) was formed in 2012 as a partnership between the Newhouse School and W2O—an analytics-driven, healthcare communications brand under Real Chemistry, a global health innovation company. The CSC was made possible by W2O/Real Chemistry’s CEO/founder Jim Weiss (’87) and Audra Weiss (’89), and is aimed at ensuring students are immersed and educated in the digital world.  The CSC develops programming on social commerce, social media, technology, analytics and the influence they each play on our society and industry, providing students with cutting-edge skills and insight that will enable them to stand out amongst their peers as they enter the workforce.

Our Team

Jim Weiss ’87

FOUNDER/DONOR, W2O CENTER FOR SOCIAL COMMERCE
FOUNDER/CEO, REAL CHEMISTRY

Jim Weiss
Jim Weiss

Jim and Audra Weiss (’89)—both Syracuse alumni—founded the W2O Center for Social Commerce in 2012 as a unique academic-industry partnership between the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and W2O, an analytics-oriented, insight-driven, healthcare marketing communications firm under Real Chemistry, a global health innovation company. Weiss has nearly 30 years of experience in strategic marketing and communications focused primarily in the healthcare and technology sectors. Under Weiss’s leadership, Real Chemistry has grown from a one-person consultancy in 2001 to an integrated global operation comprising 12 companies, 15 offices and approximately 1,600 people. Today, the company generates nearly $140 million in revenue annually and serves some of the world’s leading companies and brands.

Weiss ranks among the 500 Most Important People in the Global PR industry (2015, 2017) and PR Week’s Powerlist (2012, 2013, 2014) and was recently named a Top 25 Innovator in Communications (2014). Recently, he was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Cancer Research Institute, where he serves on the Marketing Subcommittee. Weiss was inducted into the Newhouse School’s Hall of Fame and honored as one of its 50Forward most accomplished graduates of the last 50 years.


Gary Grates G’99

CO-DIRECTOR, W2O CENTER FOR SOCIAL COMMERCE
PRINCIPAL, REAL CHEMISTRY

Gary Grates
Gary Grates

Gary Grates serves as co-director of the W2O Center for Social Commerce and is a globally renowned and respected expert in change management communications, crisis/issues protocol, employee engagement and corporate strategy execution. He counsels senior leaders from global organizations in the areas of reputation, leadership transition, M&A integration, crisis/issues management, labor-management relations, organizational effectiveness, employee engagement, function optimization, internal communications improvement, strategy implementation and change management.

Grates has more than 25 years of experience counseling more than one hundred organizations and CEOs including Kraft, Nissan, GM, Carrier/United Technologies, Pfizer, Sanofi, Merck, Exxon/Mobil, P&G, Shell, PepsiCo, Visa, eBay, Chevron, Organon, Viatris, Ipsen, Vale, British Airways, Otsuka, VW, Volvo, Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Busch/InBev and Harley-Davidson.

A frequent lecturer and author on issues facing corporate management and communications professionals worldwide, Grates has been referred to as the “thought leader” in change management communications and effective employee-management relations. He has published more than 200 articles/white papers on the strategic importance of communications in achieving business excellence.

Grates is an adjunct professor at Newhouse, a teaching professor at ABERJE —the Brazilian Public Relations Association, a former trustee of Utica College of Syracuse University, a member of the Arthur W. Page Society, PRSA, IABC, National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), Board of Directors at the Plank Center and the Institute for PR Research (IPR).

Grates was named one of the Newhouse School’s Top 40 most accomplished graduates. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Utica College of Syracuse University and a master’s degree from the Newhouse School.


Beth Egan ’88

CO-DIRECTOR, W2O CENTER FOR SOCIAL COMMERCE
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, ADVERTISING

Beth Egan is associate professor of advertising at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communication. As a 25-year veteran of the advertising media industry she leads the media planning and data & analytics curricula. By forming partnerships with leading companies in the industry such as The Trade Desk, Amazon and Google, students earn valuable industry certifications to help launch their careers. She is also the author of “Media Planning Essentials,” the first online, digital-first media planning textbook.

Egan’s research interests include applying machine learning techniques to develop predictive models of television audience retention. These models can be used to optimize ad curation and provide television networks with tools to maximize their revenue models. She is also working on employing psychophysiological research techniques to understand how people perceive branded content implicitly. This research can help inform both the creation and placement of branded content.

Having led the strategic media planning for Coca Cola, AT&T Mobility, Kraft/Nabisco, Campbells and L’Oreal Paris, Egan is skilled at providing strategic communications solutions built off of sound business analytics. Her solid understanding of the holistic business situation delivers creative, unique approaches to the marketplace.

Egan is the co-chair of the IAB’s Inclusion Institute Community and Engagement committee and board member for Pencils for Kids, Inc. NYC. She holds a bachelor’s degree in advertising from Syracuse University and an MBA from Southern Methodist University.

About W2O and Real Chemistry

Founded by Jim Weiss in 2001 and built on an ethos of entrepreneurship, staying fluid and doing the right thing, W2O—now part of Real Chemistry, a global health innovation company—has achieved nearly 20 years of uninterrupted growth while remaining fiercely independent. The firm is an alchemic mix of 1,600 people and hundreds of clients and partners—working from bench to bedside—to make the world a healthier place.

Driven by data, W2O is an analytics-driven, digital-first integrated communications, marketing and public relations brand reaching healthcare and consumer audiences. W2O seeks to become the partner of choice to empower optimal healthcare knowledge, access and outcomes – now and in the future.

Contact

For questions regarding the W2O Center for Social Commerce, please contact our co-directors, Gary Grates or Beth Egan.

For more information, please visit W2OGroup.com and RealChemistry.com, and connect with us on Twitter via @W2OGroup, @SocCommSU and @RealChemistry.