Good PR professionals never like to be associated with the emerging tech PR firms that consistently tell fibs, making the whole profession look bad. Unfortunately, we’ve encountered these criminals (yes, I said it) more than once in our careers.
Below are eight pet peeves of mine that I’ve heard from other so called high-tech PR pros:
1. Dear reporter: Yes, of course I can get you on the phone with two big brand name customers and the client in 30 minutes to meet your deadline.
(Real scenario: The client mentioned that it just signed those two customers, but the PR pro doesn’t really know if they can speak with the media.)
2. Dear business press reporter: I’m calling to confirm your briefing request to speak with my client in follow up to the story you wrote yesterday.
(Real scenario: The reporter never requested the briefing. The PR pro can’t get a briefing any other way than by lying about the reporter having requested it.)
3. Dear client: It’s OK that you don’t have any big investors, market confirmation, customers or a story; my firm can get you on the cover of the Wall Street Journal.
(Real scenario: The PR firm needs your business and is saying anything to get another client onboard. How do you get a story on the cover of the WSJ without having an actual story? Come on people.)
4. Dear client: Of course the reporter at XYZ publication is interested in covering the upcoming announcement.
(Real scenario: The reporter just wanted the PR pro off the phone and is not interested.)
5. Dear prospective client: Yes, we have a worldwide presence.
(Real scenario: The PR person knows someone living or working in several different countries that will let her use office space or a bedroom to stay.)
6. Dear old client: Let me dig up that U.K. customer press reference list that I had when you ended our contract last month. I’ll try to see if we still have it.
(Real scenario: The PR flak never had a list of customers and will claim that she threw it out once she stopped working with the client.)
7. Dear reporter: My client does not have any competition. The fact that Apple just launched a product in this market is confirmation enough that we’ll be successful.
(Probable real scenario: The client has no chance.)
8. Dear client: We cannot provide you with any results from our PR campaigns because you were not able to provide us with the information needed to be successful.
(Real scenario: The PR professional never pushed the client to provide her with what she needed in the first month of working together. If she did, she could at least prove that she tried.)
Unfortunately, we’re just getting started. Help us add to the list. Whadda you got?
Image credit: duebymonday.com
The weather in Boston has been absolutely beautiful. It’s the perfect time for leaving the windows open and spring cleaning. Basement: check. House: check. Yard: check. Those were easy.
I then move on to cleaning out clothing, shoes, and accessories, which I have been avoiding for years. I tackle that project, and someone else is on the receiving end of a Christmas morning. I’m a planner, organizer and neat freak. I feel so good after this cleanse.
If I can clean up all of these things in my life, what about my dreaded email inbox? It was in major need of an overhaul and deep clean. So, I sat down one morning and spent the entire day spring cleaning my email. As I went through this tedious task, I realized that it doesn’t have to come down to this. If I stick to a few simple guidelines, my email will be much more manageable and organized in the future.
Here are 10 ways to keep your inbox in great shape all year long:
- Delete, delete, delete. If the topic is irrelevant, immediately delete the message.
- Organize your email and create folders. Once an email is read, save it in a folder.
- If there is an email in your inbox from three years ago, delete it. Make yourself a time frame for deleting old emails.
- Save money by instantly deleting shopping emails. Don’t be suckered in by the “Today only! Thirty percent off!” sale.
- Deal with each email one at a time and delete or classify it.
- If it needs action, flag it, rather than letting it get lost in the shuffle.
- Don’t fall victim to the chain email, no matter how much it pulls on your heartstrings. Once you receive one, get rid of it, and don’t forward it to others.
- If the message isn’t urgent, don’t red flag it. This can cause unnecessary heart palpitations.
- Don’t overdo recipients, replies to all and cc’s. There are so many unnecessary emails in my inbox from the reply-to-all option.
- Lastly, if it’s a simple note or question, talk to your co-workers first, either by phone, instant message or face to face.
Editors from Fortune, The Boston Globe, InformationWeek, ReadWriteWeb and BostInno painted a clear picture of the technology trends they are seeing for an audience of public relations specialists at the recent Tech’s Hot Trends event hosted by the Publicity Club of New England.
The journalists agreed that there is no comparing the technology industry on the East Coast with Silicon Valley. However, the media expressed that the East Coast and Boston areas are very supportive of startup technology companies. Below are some of the trends they’re seeing in our region and in the wider industry.
Trend: big data
The biggest trend the panel noted is “big data.” According to Gregory Gomer, the managing editor at Streetwise Media’s BostInno, many startups are trying to capitalize on big data and how it is changing the way companies operate.
Trend: social data
Dan Rowinski, a writer for ReadWriteWeb, pointed out that the Facebook “Like” button is an underrated technology that generates a ton of data just from a click. InformationWeek Vice President of Editorial Eric Lundquist said that he is seeing chief information officers at sports organization who are looking at how to use social data to engage the community year round. Lindquist said that he feels many companies feel like they have to use cloud computing and big data. He also added that mobile is always evolving and growing.
Trend: creative capital
When asked how venture capitalists are spending their money, the panel agreed there has been no major shift in VC dollars. They said they felt the venture capitalist money is split between bio technology, life sciences and technology. However, they are seeing a great deal of money being spent in the enterprise software arena. Lindquist also pointed out that companies are looking to raise their own money through Kickstarter. He has even seen a startup company raise money itself just to attend South By Southwest.
What do you think are some of the biggest tech trends?
Bjoern Herrmann, Max Marmer and Ertan Dogrultan, creators of the Startup Genome, the data-driven research project that provides an in-depth look into what makes tech startups successful — and not so successful, are back and revealing the world’s top 25 startup ecosystems based on research from 16,000 startups.
It was no shock to see Silicon Valley at the top of the list, but Boston’s low ranking at number 18 is surprising.
This low ranking made no sense to me, and so I turned to Jason Evanish, co-founder of Greenhorn Connect, for answers. He made an important point: “The results are based on self-admitted qualitative data. As my first mentor in the Boston startup scene, John Prendergast used to tell me, ‘The plural of anecdote is not data.’ Our ranking is obviously incorrect and simply biased by an insufficient base of our startup community taking the survey. There is plenty of evidence out there to show we have the most funding per capita in the country, and we go toe-to-toe with NYC in Internet startups.”
TechCrunch’s article about the ranking discussed the data and summed it up with a simple statement, “Startups go where the money is — and historically, that’s been Silicon Valley, with Boston and New York City being mentioned as addenda. Yet, over the last few years, things have been changing, and today that’s more apparent than ever, as viable companies are popping up across the globe.”
There is obviously an influx in startups around the world today, but innovation and funding are still thriving here in Boston. For more insight, I turned to Matt Hooper, CEO and co-founder of SMAK, a Boston-based startup that uses a cloud-based rules engine to aggregate information from email accounts, social media sites, and devices into one location.
“For me, the bottom line is cash. It takes funds to operate and drive a business. Boston’s money seems to flow well at $500k and higher. Yet, a lot of heavy lifting on a product idea can be done for less than a $100k.”
When asked about the level of innovation at the universities, Hooper offered this nugget: "We have schools like Northeastern, Hult and Babson creating innovation programs to support the entrepreneurial spirit." But we need the big money companies like Bain, Fidelity, EMC and Staples to step it up by providing the funds so we can really start to accelerate the great talent we have here.”
What does the Startup Genome data reveal about your city’s startup ecosystem?
Most people wouldn’t equate failure with success, yet that is exactly the claim that Paul Arden makes in his book, “It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be.” Drawing upon his experience as an advertising executive, Arden provides insight into rising above market noise and becoming a leader. Three of his points examining creativity, involvement and weaknesses are applicable to PR and worth checking out:
- Rebellion drives creativity. It’s easy to see how this phrase could fit every business. Just because your company always writes a release about an award win, for example, don’t be afraid consider other ways to promote that accolade. To drive company awareness, it’s sometimes better to add the award win to your Pinterest page, and then used it as content for tweets and LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook updates. According to Arden, when you propose something out of the ordinary, the worst that can happen is that you get shot down.
- A happy client is an involved client. We need to keep stakeholders – clients, upper management, peers -- involved in every step of the PR campaign process, from brainstorming to execution and measurement. Each player within your company must feel as though he has ownership in PR and marketing efforts. Without this buy-in, it ’s difficult to complete tasks and reach goals. Just doing something yourself – although it might be easier – isn’t necessarily better.
- Point out your weaknesses and your company’s weakness. When presenting an idea, identify where it is the weakest before your audience does so first. Although it may seem harsh to bomb your own concept, as Arden states, “treat it like an advantage.” Work with various departments at your company to shore up weak spots, and not only will your ideas work better, but you will have built stronger relationships with key executives.
Have you read this book? How does it speak to you and your business?
It’s easy to overlook broadcast media opportunities for a variety of reasons. You might not be comfortable speaking on television, or you might think it’s impossible to secure a stint on air. Broadcast media can produce results that print media can’t, so stop doubting yourself and start preparing for these opportunities. Here are some of the rewards you’ll get in return:
1. Connections and networking: Appearing on a broadcast show helps you meet new people outside of the print publication world and widens your list of media targets. Making new connections results in more opportunities to get your message out.
2. No word count: An on-air segment allows you to say exactly what you want without worrying about the word counts that regulate print opportunities. On TV, you can be clear and concise, but also complete. Metis client Mark McGough, CEO of Ioxus, recently appeared on NBC’s Press: Here with reporters Kym McNicholas of PandoDaily and Jon Swartz of USA Today. He was able to discuss how to make electric vehicles more prominent -- without the constraints of the word count he would have faced in print.
3. Audience expansion: Although trade publications are great for targeting specific readers, there’s not much diversity in their respective audiences. A broadcast show is likely to reach different segments, enticing a variety of viewers to tune in.
4. Simple demonstrations: We’ve all heard that most people are visual learners. It’s difficult to demonstrate how a product works on paper. With a broadcast appearance, product demonstrations are simple, making potential customers interested instead of frustrated.
5. Credibility: Doing an on-air appearance usually means you’ll be speaking with a host, an industry expert or an audience member. Whoever it is, they’ll ask questions and there won’t be time for you to search for the answer. Instead, your quick response will demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about.
At the recent Publicity Club of New England event, Tech’s Hot Trends, a panel comprised of tech media shared thoughts on working with public relations specialists. When moderator Matthew Lloyd, director of communications at iRobot, asked about the relationships of public relations specialists and journalists, Eric Lundquist, vice president of editorial at InformationWeek, said that it should be called “public relationships rather than public relations.”
Reporters said not much has changed in their relationships with PR specialists other than they aren’t receiving faxes anymore. The consensus of the panel was that it is still challenging to find exciting ways to write about the mid-size company.
It seems the PR 101 tips that were true 10 years ago are still true in today’s environment. It’s a PR specialist’s job to reach out to the media and share company stories. The first step in doing that is building a relationship with the reporter. To learn more about the reporter, do your research. Look him up on LinkedIn, follow him on Twitter and read his most recent articles. After doing your research, you have the green light to pick up the phone and introduce yourself and your company. Ask the reporter if he has time to talk with you, and find out what he’s working on. Reference one of the reporter’s articles. Find a common interest to discuss. These are just some baby steps to take toward forming a relationship with a reporter.
Relationships grow over time. Once you get to know a reporter’s style, you’ll know what he or she expects. Reporters will remember you and your company if they had pleasant experiences working with you in the past. They don’t forget how you shaped your company story and handed it to them on a silver platter to make their job just a bit easier.
Lundquist said a challenging part of PR is knowing the influencers in the industry.
“We have deadlines, but we are curious. We like to hear from you when you have a good story,” said Lundquist.
Guest blog by Curt Raffi
For a long time, I’ve been interested in the intersection of technology and marketing. As the SaaS product marketing director at MetraTech Corp., I get a close look at how the software-as-a-service ecosystem works. In talking to our customers and stakeholders about monetizing for the consumption economy, I study technology, product development, market research, pricing models, marketing strategy, and more. In 2010, I was looking for a way to open that process up and start a conversation with others in the industry who were interested in the same trends.
LinkedIn seemed like a great place to do that, but there wasn’t any group on the professional networking site hosting such a conversation. So, I started a group myself. That group has led to dozens of valuable interactions every week, scores of new contacts, and a chance to lead important conversations in an emerging industry.
I started the Cloud and SaaS Startups group on LinkedIn in the fall of 2010. Today, we have more than 3,000 members, most of whom identify themselves as executive or senior-level professionals. We’ve had consistent week-over-week growth, and in the first week of February alone, our active membership started 26 discussions about pressing matters in SaaS.
If you want to lead conversations in your industry, below are three tips for curating a group on LinkedIn.
- Stay involved. Presumably, the focus of your LinkedIn group is a topic about which you feel passionate. So, don’t start the group and walk away. Dedicate time to fostering discussions, connecting with members, and sharing news, links and data.
- Keep it real. Make sure you’re creating a substantive resource for others. Share your knowledge; don’t use the group to sell, advertise or spread marketing messages.
- Be a gatekeeper. As group leader, you are making a commitment to members to cultivate the most useful and interesting information. Moderate discussions as often as possible and call out members who misuse the group for their own marketing purposes.
Curt Raffi is SaaS product marketing director at MetraTech Corp., a provider of agreements-based billing and compensation solutions, and a Metis client. Contact Curt.