Crenshaw Team ‘Retreats’ To Philly

The entire Crenshaw Communications team spent two days and nights in Philadelphia on its first annual company retreat. The jam packed two day schedule included sightseeing, team building, professional development, public speaking workshops, and a Philadelphia Flyers hockey game.

The crew’s favorite part was the molding of some young PR minds; teaching a seminar at Drexel University to the enthusiastic students of Professor Rosemary Rys’ Public Relations Campaign Planning class. Aside from a lot of fun and bonding, the Crenshaw team celebrated a successful 2019 while preparing for more growth in 2020.

10 Rules For Keeping (PR Agency) Clients

For a PR agency, what’s better than winning a new client?

Keeping the ones you have.

Naturally, any good PR firm wants to do both. But it costs a lot more to find a new client than to keep (and grow) current ones.
Research by Bain & Company shows that boosting customer retention rates by as little as 5% grows profits by 25% to 95%. In the PR business, client retention is tied to staff retention, and both impact the health of any creative services agency. There may always be “a hole in the bucket,” as an ex-boss used to say, but client churn is deadly.
So, how do we ensure we’re keeping our clients happy?

Don’t oversell.

Yes, it all starts with the proposal. In any competitive situation, it’s tempting to promise more than may be possible. But smart operators resist that temptation. In my big-agency career I’d sometimes cringe as the firm owner dropped names, bragged about his boldface contacts, and made absurd promises to prospective clients about the results my team would deliver. Years later, I try not to be that guy. In our field, we need to walk the line between being too modest and raising unrealistic expectations. With the latter, even when you win, you lose.

Agree on KPIs.

At a prior agency we had a nifty client selling proposition known as the 10/10/10 guarantee. Here’s how it worked: We’d reserve 10 percent of the agreed-upon fee. After 12 months, if we failed to meet goals, we’d forfeit that 10 percent.  If we exceeded goals, however, we’d pocket the full fee, plus a ten percent bonus. Clients loved it, but they rarely took us up on the guarantee, because their goals weren’t well defined. The ones with fuzzy goals were the most likely to leave. Agreed-upon KPIs is the best way to be aligned and a strong foundation for any client-agency relationship.

Get a fast start.

I’ve noticed a strong correlation between a fast start for a given PR program and the longevity of the client relationship. There’s so much that we don’t have perfect control of, like day-to-day media response or the climate for a marketing partnership. But one thing we can control is a swift and proactive onboarding and planning process. A sense of urgency is an asset in a PR professional, and in any event, a quick start shows hustle. A good onboarding will also lead to early tangible results, which are like money in the bank for later in the partnership.

Dig. Then dig deeper.

Much of our success has started with pulling quality information and insights from our clients. If that sounds obvious, well, yes, it is. But they tend to be busy tech entrepreneurs and executives, and it’s not always quick or easy to identify and translate the most powerful thought capital into results. But it’s our job.

Anticipate.

Most people who thrive on the agency side, at least in PR, have a built-in radar for what’s brewing. We become adept at anticipating all angles of a situation before offering advice. It’s directly linked to the curiosity point below, but it’s also a valuable management discipline. At one of my prior positions we adopted the management principle known as “completed staff work” – the commitment that any proposed action or recommendation would be fully vetted and analyzed before management (or the client) sees it and and need only be approved (or not) by the decision-maker. At the time, I was bored and a little resentful that we were made to attend seminars, but the principle still holds today, both internally and with client programs.

Be curious.

Especially about business. Agency people should be valued for our objectivity and depth of experience outside the client organization, yet sometimes we can be insular. Communications is only one function among many in the organization. A degree of knowledge and intellectual curiosity about the overall business, internal processes, and the backgrounds of team members are valuable for laying a foundation and getting out of the starting gate quickly. Also businesses are subject to change, and we can only benefit from being in the know.

Be accountable.

Of course, we all say what we mean and deliver on what we promise, but mistakes happen. Clients will forgive them if the PR team is accountable and honest.

Be a recommender.

Let’s face it; the tactics of media relations and content generation are similar from agency to agency. Many teams are good at the nuts and bolts of PR work. What clients are paying for, and what can set an agency team apart, is objective advice borne from expertise. If arms and legs are all a client needs from an agency, that service is likely to be interchangeable with the next team.

Be responsive.

A former boss of mine launched a three-year study among his agency’s former and current clients and found – to his shock –  that the clients cared less about big ideas than they did about how fast a team member got back to them with an answer to a question, or being on time for calls. Client service is made up of lots of tactical things, like meeting deadlines and returning emails. Proactivity is also valuable; if clients don’t hear from us, they may assume we’re not thinking about them or working on their business. An informal progress report goes a long way.

Choose your clients wisely.

Anyone who’s been around this business a while can look back on failed relationships and realize the red flags were there. We’ll do well to listen to our gut and align with clients who are truly a cultural, experience, and business fit with our own organization.

Book It! 8 PR Tips For Nailing TV Segments

As any good PR person knows, we consume news very differently than we did a decade ago, thanks to social media. Yet television talk and news has been surprisingly resilient.

Cable news, in fact, is booming. And for many of us in PR, there’s nothing better than getting your client a nice, juicy segment on TV. From GMA to CNN or Fox Business, a solid broadcast appearance packs a punch. A national TV segment typically has a large and high-quality reach in real time, it’s searchable for some time thereafter, and it can be amplified on social media.

Most earned media specialists want that coveted booking for their client and every PR person is pitching. So how can one break through? Here are eight tips to help get your pitch heard by TV bookers and producers. 

The Passover question

Why is this segment different from all other segments? As with any journalist, each day thousands of emails flood producers’ inboxes. From the subject line to the opening sentence is your time to get them wanting more. Be succinct, be clever and compelling. Make the words count. Don’t tease by being mysterious, don’t make it complicated, and for heaven’s sake, don’t make it long. These decision-makers are on hellish deadlines, and they’re looking for something they can use without a struggle.

Know broadcast deadlines

Whatever you do, don’t deliver your pitch right before a news show goes on the air or starts taping. Even if you have a great story, the pitch is likely to be lost in the rush before a show starts. By the same token, it’s usually a waste to pitch a producer or segment coordinator too far in advance. People who work in the news business don’t tend to plan much farther than a week or two in advance for obvious reasons. Make a point to know the air times and deadlines of every show you pitch.

Know the news cycle

If you’re pitching something that follows a breaking story, you’ll need to send your pitch before the next news cycle. Let’s say there’s been a major security breach and your client is a cybersecurity expert with an opinion on what happened. Particularly among business news shows, guest bookers are always looking for fresh faces to feature for extra commentary on the story of the day. But be advised that your client commentary needs to be ready and he might need to drop everything to appear as a guest on the show within hours.

Remember the quid pro quo

What do they want? Ratings. Who do they want to reach? Lots of viewers. Good, you both want the same thing. When you put your pitch together, be sure to include the value your segment will bring to their viewer. Let them know who you believe will respond to this story, and why is it important.

Broadcast follows print

Many media outlets compete with one another, but in general, print and broadcast have a symbiotic relationship. A TV producer or segment coordinator will get many of her story ideas from print or digital news outlets. If you can first nail a story in a major newspaper or web news site, it often makes sense to follow-up with a quick broadcast segment pitch. But the word here is “quick,” because, as with breaking news, the story may be old within 24-48 hours.

Be visual

Television is a visual medium, so use words to create a mental video the booker or producer will see in their mind’s eye as they read or hear the pitch. Can you do a demo? Do you have graph or chart that can be shown on-screen? Is your spokesperson exceptionally attractive, well-spoken, funny or engaging? Let them know how you envision the segment. Do the work so they don’t have to.

Dear XXXX?

You know those hundreds of blasts sent to your private email every day that you delete? Don’t have your pitch become one of those. Find a way to personalize it. Obviously, use the person’s first name, and spelled correctly, but work harder. Did you just see a segment on the show that you loved?  Is there a reason why the host will be perfect for the segment you pitch? Do some research to let them know why and how this segment is tailor-made for them.

Can we tawk?

Everyone will follow-up by email, so you’ll stand out if your follow-up is done by phone. Have your short pitch ready, and a smile in your voice the moment you say hello. It’s your mission to engage them the second they answer the phone. Talk. If they’re still listening, ask questions. If they’re not into it, find out what else they’re working on and if you might fit in. If you can’t fit with them, ask if there is someone else you to talk to. Keep going until you get an answer. And stay positive, because if you persevere that answer can be yes. 

5 Tips For Launching A PR Program In APAC

The Asia Pacific region contains many of the fastest-growing and lucrative business markets, especially for technology companies.

Why? Advancements like 5G, robotics, AI, and mobile technology infrastructure give it an edge. Many APAC countries are still developing rapidly and offer an entrepreneurial mindset; the region has leapfrogged Western technology cycles and is racing head of other markets.

Home to giants like ByteDance (TikTok’s parent company), Alibaba, Tencent, Flipkart and fueled by Amazon’s recent $1bn investment in India — APAC has long been a melting pot of digital technology innovation. For ad tech in particular, it’s a juggernaut, contributing 42% of the increase in global ad spending growth in 2019.

PR in APAC offers big opportunity (and hurdles)

The APAC tech boom has created immense opportunities for PR programs in the region, as well as many challenges. Major PR firms have long noticed the business potential; global agencies have strengthened their footprint through acquisition over the past decade, and independent firms have expanded and built alliances there. However, brands looking to enter the market with PR and digital content campaigns must have a command of the complexities inherent among APAC countries. 

At Crenshaw Communications, we work across a broad portfolio of tech clients to develop and execute successful PR campaigns. For someone looking to launch a successful tech PR program in APAC, here are a few things to consider at the start.

APAC is not homogeneous

It’s easy to underestimate the sheer scale and diversity behind the acronym. It comprises over 40 countries, home to over 4.46 billion people, who speak a staggering 2,300 languages. Each region is characterized by its own history and distinct culture. Some Asian markets, particularly mature ones like China and Singapore, have formal, hierarchical structures and business communication, requiring a long-term commitment to building relationships and alliances. Others, like Australia, are more casual and freewheeling and feature wide-open markets in most cases. Even attitudes toward work vary. In Singapore and India, starting work late and working overtime is considered ‘normal’, whereas in Australia it’s all about starting your day early and leaving work on time. 

Understand market tech trends

Beyond culture and language, technology trends are distinct in many APAC countries. For example, India’s digital ecosystem is rapidly evolving, with high mobile-phone penetration and increasingly connected devices. Vietnam is leading the region with the fastest growth in mobile payments, while Singapore is both driving global innovation and acting as a hub for the startup economy. Before launching a campaign, brands and marketers should understand the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead, and approach each market differently.
Another key aspect is to consider the time difference between different countries. Within APAC, there are 11 different time zones and it’s critical to factor in that when planning and implementing any PR programs across the region. 

Language differences spell opportunity

Because English is spoken in many APAC countries, some assume that regional languages don’t matter. But ignoring regional content can mean a large opportunity cost. There are roughly 22 official languages spoken across India and more than 10 in Southeast Asia. What’s more, many Indian consumers are more comfortable reading product information in their regional language. Yet Indian-language content on the web is limited. According to a Google/KPMG report, 60% of Indian internet users claim that limited Indian language content is a barrier to adoption of digital services like news and online payment.

Smart marketers also play upon regional differences and perception. When Spotify went hyperlocal last year with its debut campaign in India, it was able to reflect local culture, moods and social moments. This resulted in huge success. A successful PR campaign must account for local customer insights and nuances and communicators may want to look at hyper-localization strategies. 

Don’t ignore regional media

Digital advertising spend in regional media is set to grow from $300 million in 2018 to $3 billion by 2023. As in the U.S. the customer journey has become more complicated with the fragmentation of media and proliferation of devices. In India, which features a rich variety of vernacular languages, marketers and brands must constantly innovate to know their audience, build insights to create content in the right context and connect with consumers. 

Media groups are looking for growth opportunities in regional markets as the demand for regional content is soaring. Netflix — which has more than 2 million subscribers in India — will spend $400 million on Indian content for 2019 and 2020. We recommend that PR campaigns have a local spokesperson with a thorough understanding of the regional issues and socio-economic differences to navigate the evolving media landscape and connect with the media at a local level.

Think BIG about social platforms

In the Asia-Pacific region, social media is a powerful force and plays a vital role in consumers’ purchasing habits and decisions. According to a 2018 study of PR and communications trends in APAC, digital and social channel growth is at par with or even ahead of the West. Mobile communications was rated as more important than any “traditional” forms. When asked about the importance of different media channels over the next three years, 94 per cent of AsiaPacific practitioners said social media and social networks were most important, compared to 78.7 percent who rated print media as important and 54.6 percent who said television would rank highly in 2020.

With increasing internet penetration, better data infrastructure, and an estimated 190M active Tik Tok users in the Southeast Asia region, social media and video consumption are unstoppable.  It’s not surprising that the region’s share of global spend will reach 35% in 2023, with massive growth coming from China. 

While social media giants like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter are popular in some APAC countries, native platforms continue to dominate. WeChat in China, LINE in Japan and WhatsApp in India are key native platforms. Furthermore, the growth of social influencers is transforming the landscape. Any PR or communications campaign in APAC will need to prioritize native platforms.

Because it will shape the future of digital innovation globally, APAC is THE market to watch. To capitalize on the fast digital growth, brands should consider the above factors and develop country-specific PR programs for high-impact, tech-savvy PR programs.

5 PR Takeaways From NRF 2020

Each year, right on the heels of CES, thousands of hungry retailers, vendors and influencers flood New York City’s Javits Center for the retail industry’s annual conference, NRF. In 2020, this PR professional was among them. NRF is at retail’s epicenter, unveiling exciting new vendors as well as key trends that define the industry for the year and beyond.

This year’s conference featured keynoters like Gwyneth Paltrow, Kevin Johnson of Starbucks, and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, but the innovations unveiled were even more exciting. Here are some of the hot topics and my biggest takeaways from “The Big Show.”

Data, data, and more data

From AI and machine learning to in-memory analytics and cloud computing, data was again center stage at NRF 2020. Given the proliferation of omnichannel retail, stores and others are creating huge amounts of data. The problem is, they’re having trouble keeping up with the data stream and the insights it may offer. Luckily, advanced data science is helping them cope. From preparation to analysis, retailers are adopting all sorts of data science tools in an overhaul of the data workflow. That portends an even greater investment in the retail data space in the year ahead.

Social consciousness and inclusivity

Consumers expect brands to meet a high bar when it comes to social awareness and inclusivity. Moreover, many shoppers will actually choose brands that meet these standards even if it means spending a few extra dollars or having to wait an extra day for products to arrive. This means brands are beginning to think about where their companies stand on a variety of issues — from body image to climate change — and where they can improve to meet the changing expectations of shoppers.

Dynamic everything

The word “dynamic” in retail isn’t just for pricing anymore…it’s being applied to everything. Price optimization has done wonders for retailers as they look to compete with online-first insurgents like Amazon and others. Retailers are applying this same dynamic logic to other areas such as promotions, sales, coupons and more.

This has the potential to disrupt the way retailers approach the sales cycle and completely redefine the way they customize experiences for shoppers. Timing and personalization are a huge part of driving purchase. So, if retailers can successfully apply dynamic strategies beyond pricing, we could be on the verge of massive disruption in the retail industry for both brands and shoppers alike.

Delivery service is exploding

With the robust success of restaurant delivery services like DoorDash and UberEats, it was only a matter of time until other retail verticals looked to get in on the “innovative delivery” act. However, doing so is easier said than done. Delivery orchestration has become much more complex over the last several years, thanks to the rise of new providers, and due to the rise of competing delivery options like “Buy Online, Pick-Up In-Store” (BOPIS) and same-day delivery. Therefore, there’s a large opportunity for solutions that can help brands meet changing shopper expectations for delivery in sectors from fashion to automotive.

Emphasis on international expansion

Among the many hot topics among retail pros at NRF was the boom in international representation at the conference. International players are certainly no stranger to NRF; however, 2020 saw a new focus on foreign players coming together at this year’s Big Show. In addition, many international players actually teamed up with compatriots — France, for example, had a shared booth for all its exhibitors — to promote the great work done within their respective countries. This bodes well for the health and innovation of the retail technology space for years to come.
But of course that isn’t everything that happened at NRF this year. What were some of your favorite trends and topics that came out of the event? Let us know here or on Twitter at @CrenshawComm.

6 B2B Tech Trends From CES 2020

CES 2020 is officially a wrap. Much of the news was about new gadgets and Big Tech announcements, but there was plenty of PR from B2B tech brands, too. What did the show tell us about the rest of the year? What dominated the conversation? Here are six trends that stood out.

CCPA has an impact

The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) was a hot topic in Las Vegas. California’s version of GDPR has officially taken effect, though the state’s regulators have acknowledged they won’t truly enforce the rules until later this year. (If they really knew how to enforce the rules, they’d be doing it.) In a nutshell, CCPA formalizes data rights for California residents, allowing them to view and access data collected about them, request its deletion or to opt out.

As a result, whether you’re a brand, ad tech business, AI platform, or retailer, if you do business in California, you’re touched by the law. For that reason, CCPA was front-and-center at CES. One of the most well-attended panels, for example, was MediaLink’s “Future of Data-Driven Marketing,” featuring execs from companies like FOX and Havas. They discussed the ethics of data sourcing and activation to a packed room in Aria.

Security concerns grow

CES is a great venue for showcasing new and innovative products. But, in the IoT era, where every device — from a toothbrush to a toilet — is Internet-connected, journalists are more skeptical about the value of these products. IoT gimmick devices just aren’t cute anymore. Are they really worth the data privacy trade-off? That was a common question at CES. On top of that, the specter of state-sponsored security threats (like a cyberattack by lran or security flaws in ToTok) loomed large at the show. The good news is — if you’re in cybersecurity and want to boost your thought leadership chops, CES offered a great newsjacking opportunity.

Deals and consolidation in ad tech

This one’s for the ad tech folks, mostly. Whether it’s Rubicon buying Telaria or Unruly being sold to Tremor International, it’s clear that 2020 will be the year of the acquisition. Why? For starters, it’s the need for transparency and simplification in the category. Transparency has become more important because the more vendors a brand must work with, the murkier their investment and supply chain become. In terms of simplicity, why work with and pay for 10 tech partners when you can get the same value with five? CES 2020 was a place to discuss why consolidation is occurring, though the answers seemed obvious. What’s really cool about the show is that, behind closed doors, several big deals were likely just beginning. The CTV space is partcularly ripe for deals in 2020.

TV and streaming rule

Speaking of CTV, TV was probably the hottest topic at CES. Discussions centered on who will win the streaming wars and which entrants will have staying power. What streaming business model will consumers ultimately prefer — subscription or free and ad-supported? Will people actually pay for more than three to five content platforms? A Roku panel I attended on the state of the OTT industry featuring execs from Roku, Starz and CBS explored all of these themes. On the ads side, one of the key questions was whether ad-sustained streaming services can become more of a value-add for end users, with more interactive ads and greater personalization. And, of course, is Quibi real or not? At the show, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman tried to plead their case, though the category remains skeptical.

Diversity makes headlines

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) have a material impact on businesses. According to study after study, diversity and inclusion affect the bottom line. Yet, the technology sector — particularly the B2B tech sector — continues to do the bare minimum for bringing on underrepresented talent. And it’s not a pipeline problem, as some would have you believe. The talent is there. Instead, the underlying problem is that tech companies have been slow to recognize D&I as a cultural, operational and financial benefit. At CES, where tech teams were on display and speaker diversity was a focal point, D&I was apparent, even if a demographic breakdown of the speakers has yet to be released.

CES boosts brick-and-mortar retail

It’s no secret that brick-and-mortar retailers are struggling. Just last week, Pier 1 announced massive store closures, and layoffs are pending as more home decor buying goes digital. Traditional retailers were on hand, presumably having sobering discussions about what new consumer technologies are a value-add for their businesses. Whether it’s AR and VR for digital showrooming or robots that support curbside pickup, CES is an obvious environment to consider a post-Amazon future. Among the more interesting technologies were the drones, and not just as gimmicks this year. Japanese company Blue Innovation, for example, demoed an autonomous drone that can intelligently navigate a warehouse without human guidance, mapping the place and its inventory using AI. That type of tech can reduce retailer costs and streamline onerous supply chain issues.
Okay, these are just a few of the trends that I saw at CES 2020. What am I missing? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter at @chrisharihar.

25 Ad Tech Journalists To Follow On Twitter

As we race into another year, it’s time for PR pros to check their Twitter feeds to make sure we’re following the right people. 2020 is sure to be an innovative year for ad tech, thanks to CCPA and other industry happenings that are shaking up the status quo. By following the top journalists and influencers on Twitter, you’ll start the year more informed than ever.
Check out this list of 25 ad tech mavens as a starting point for your new follows in 2020. This is by no means a complete list of advertising journalists; they’re among those that are very active, often posting interesting and engaging updates about industry news.

Lara O’Reilly | @larakiara

Formerly of WSJ and Business Insider, Lara is a senior correspondent covering marketing at Digiday. A well-known name in the space, she is extraordinarily insightful and knows her stuff. Her cat content is also very enjoyable!

Marty Swant | @martyswant

Marty Swant is an experienced advertising reporter who went to Forbes this summer after spending four years at Adweek covering emerging tech, agencies, brands, and the growing intersection of Silicon Valley and D.C. He’s a great follow.

Anthony Ha | @anthonyha

Anthony covers ad tech as part of his advertising and media beat at TechCrunch. He’s one of the only people on the planet that can credibly write a story like this and also interview Will Smith. Before his tenure at TechCrunch, Anthony was at Adweek and VentureBeat.

Josh Sternberg | @joshsternberg

Josh is currently the Media and Tech editor at Adweek, where he oversees the team of reporters covering–you guessed it–ad tech! Previously, Josh held positions at NBC News, The Washington Post and Digiday. His Twitter also includes anecdotes of life after moving to the suburbs (relatable for this native New Yorker also living in NJ)!

Sahil Patel | @sizpatel

When I started working in PR, Sahil was a reporter at VideoInk. He then moved to Digiday to cover video. Today, he reports for WSJ’s CMO Today, with a focus on the ways that tech platforms, digital video and ad tech are changing the business of marketing. Sahil is a very funny and smart guy, so you’re sure to love his tweets.

Shoshana Wodinsky | @swodinsky 

Shoshana just joined Gizmodo after covering ad tech at Adweek. She’ll continue covering the space but from a consumer POV. Her account is great because she does a lot of investigative work and doesn’t hold back on pointing out weird or funky ad tech happenings on privacy, fraud, platforms, etc.

Lauren Johnson | @LaurenJohnson

Lauren joined Business Insider as a Senior advertising reporter in 2018, coming off a four-year stint at Adweek. She is a must-follow for breaking news and interesting takes on the industry, especially for all things video-related.

Jason Lynch | @jasonlynch

My favorite part of advertising has always been TV, and that brings us to Adweek’s TV editor, Jason Lynch. Jason heads up all TV content at Adweek, from programming to adtech. Definitely a good follow for those looking for TV insights especially given the rise of CTV.

Tanya Dua | @tanyadua

Back when I started PR, Tanya was covering brands at Digiday. Now, she’s at Business Insider where she still focuses on brands (DTC, in particular), while also covering ad tech. Her Twitter feed is a must-follow for juicy stories on all things advertising, media and marketing. 

Kelsey Sutton | @kelseymsutton

Kelsey Sutton is an editor at Adweek, where she covers the business of streaming television– a huge topic for this year and next as OTT continues to build buzz as the new big thing. She previously wrote about the media industry at POLITICO and at Mic.

Patrick Coffee | @PatrickCoffee

Another Adweek transplant now at Business Insider, Patrick Coffee is kind of an industry celeb known for managing the juicy AgencySpy blog. His current beat is breaking news, trends, and controversies affecting marketers, agencies, and platforms. It’s great stuff.

Lucia Moses | @lmoses

A longtime media reporter, Lucia Moses is now a deputy editor at Business Insider with a focus on how disruption is reshaping the landscape and new media models for the digital age. Recently, she’s focused on the rise and fall of media startups, the rise of the subscription economy, and the impact of tech giants’ moves on media and advertising–all key issues in 2020.

David Griner | @griner

A longtime writer and editor for Adweek, David currently leads coverage of advertising creativity and innovation and hosts Adweek’s weekly podcast, “Yeah, That’s Probably an Ad.” Previously, David was Adweek’s first social editor and a primary contributor for AdFreak. His account is one of the most amusing ones I follow.

Sarah Sluis | @SarahSluis

For the last five years, Sarah has been heading publisher coverage at AdExchanger, writing stories about the future of digital media, ad tech, and programmatic advertising, as well as moderating panels at industry events like including Programmatic IO, Industry Preview, Advertising Week and DMEXCO. She’s a must-follow.

Kristina Monllos | @kristinamonllos

After spending the last five years at Adweek as a Brand editor, Kristina joined Digiday this year as a Marketing editor. Apart from advertising takes, she also shares entertaining and culturally relevant posts.

Tim Peterson | @petersontee

Tim Peterson knows the industry extremely well. After stints at MarketingLand, AdAge and Adweek, Tim joined Digiday in 2018 and has become a go-to advertising reporter. He often shares his articles on his feed, ensuring you never miss his quality reporting.

Gavin Dunaway | @AdMonsterGavin

As Editorial Director at AdMonsters for almost the last decade, Gavin has his finger on the pulse of what’s going on in ad tech. In addition to programming the company’s well-known conference content, Gavin writes magazine-style feature stories on the biggest trends in digital advertising, including all flavors of programmatic, mobile and viewability.

John Koetsier  | @johnkoetsier

Now a data expert and consultant, John was a full-time tech journalist for VentureBeat for years. He wrote regularly while building VentureBeat’s research division, VB Insight. He’s also written for Business Insider, TechCrunch, ReadWrite, Inc., and more. Since he doesn’t want to quit writing just yet, he currently contributes to Forbes and VentureBeat and actively posts on Twitter with insightful takes on industry news.

Ronan Shields | @ronan_shields 

A long time ad tech journalist, Ronan is definitely one of the most informed reporters in the space. I check his author profile page once a day to see what he’s writing about. He doesn’t tweet a ton but when he does it’s always with a link to a big story.

Kerry Flynn | @kerrymflynn

Kerry is a CNN media reporter who previously worked at Digiday and Mashable. Kerry is incredibly smart on the industry, but also shares heart-warming content to break up the news. I also hear she’s a great karaoke singer 😉

George Slefo | @georgeslefo

George covers the ad tech beat for Ad Age. Before he wrote for Ad Age, he was at the Chicago Sun-Times. He’s a must-follow for anyone in the space.

Patience Haggin  | @patiencehaggin

Patience was a VC reporter at WSJ, but switched over to the adtech beat in February. She’s written some excellent pieces on privacy, with a recent focus on politics, given the runup to the 2020 election.

Meg Graham  | @megancgraham

Meg Graham is the tech reporter at CNBC covering advertising and marketing. Previously, she covered agencies at AdAge. Meg is very active on Twitter and a great source of quality content for your feed.

Craig Silverman  | @CraigSilverman

Craig isn’t really an ad tech reporter, but he does write a lot about ad fraud and misinformation, both key concerns of the industry. He’s the media reporter at Buzzfeed, and a well-known, award-winning expert in “fake news.”

Mike Shields  | @digitalshields

Mike Shields has been covering the industry for many years, with key publications from Business Insider and WSJ to Digiday and Adweek on his resume. While he no longer writes full time, he occasionally moonlights on Business Insider and is always posting about the big news of the day.
For honorable mentions, I highly recommend following @AdTechPotus on Twitter. As both a political and ad tech junkie, this account’s content is everything I could want and more.
I’d also recommend following NYT’s Taylor Lorenz. Taylor doesn’t cover ad tech, but she’s worth following because her takes on digital culture and memes inform a lot of ad coverage today. And she’s one of the best at documenting new online platforms like TikTok, which are growing as ad businesses.
Who am I missing from the list? Let me know on Twitter at @CaroYodice.

Top Cybersecurity Trends For PR In 2020

2019 was a landmark year for those who work in cybersecurity PR, and not in a good way. Many organizations fell victim to breaches, hacks and leaks — at an average cost per incident of nearly $4 billion.

From Capital One and Facebook, to the AMCA, Georgia Tech and more — each shows that no sector is off-limits to attack by bad actors. A varied threat landscape has driven extensive cybersec media coverage. And while data breaches, ransomware and malware attacks are among the “normal” cybersec vulnerabilities, 2020 brings additional issues that will warrant increased exposure. They include attacks by foreign actors, insider threats, the growing cybersecurity skills shortage, AI-enabled attacks and the consequences of business’ migration to cloud infrastructures. 

Each is relevant fodder for PR teams looking to take advantage of their clients’ expertise as thought leaders. Reactively, pros will have to look for a way to position execs (CISOs, CIOs, CROs, research teams) to talk about how these trends compound a much larger issue — that most organizations aren’t equipped to mitigate cyberattacks from multiple avenues at once. And regardless of how well prepared a company may be to deal with an incident, breaches and attacks will happen – so advance PR prep is also in order.

What should PR pros anticipate within cybersecurity landscape in the next year? Here are the top trends — based on client conversations, journalist insight and industry expertise — that’ll give teams the edge, along with a warning for cybersec communicators.

Cyber attacks on industries outside of “tech” will see more exposure

Today, every company is a technology company. Major retailers’ e-commerce platforms are booming. Financial services companies are getting into cryptocurrencies and have invested heavily in mobile experiences. The healthcare and insurance industries — notorious for being slower to adapt to emerging tech — are in the throes of digital transformation initiatives involving cloud migration and AI. Everything is connected, which means every industry is vulnerable in some way. In 2020, cybersecurity PR pros should be well versed in how the threat landscape can affect many different business sectors at once and at any given time. By staying up-to-date on multiple verticals outside of pure ‘tech’ – especially those most frequently targeted by cyber attacks like healthcare, financial services, government, and energy — PR teams can ensure they’re prepared to take advantage of newsjacking opportunities in the event of a hack, keep their clients apprised of the latest news and generally be more effective at meeting industry trends and client needs.

Following new publications and key reporters in important verticals on Twitter, setting the right Google alerts and generally being vigilant through research each day will help PR pros advance client thought leadership. 

IoT’s vulnerability will take center stage

The internet of things has been a tech obsession for the better part of the last ten years. However, as IoT capabilities and connectivity have evolved, so have the vulnerabilities that put consumers at risk. 2019 alone has seen a spike in reports that show how easy it is to hack smart speakers. Coverage highlighted vulnerability and negligent security practices surrounding Amazon’s Ring cameras — where hackers gained entry and terrorized users through their own devices — and saw the FBI warning people that smart TVs can be compromised and used by bad actors to listen and watch them without their knowledge.

Especially in the wake of the incredible Ring coverage from the likes of Motherboard, Gizmodo, The Verge and others, cybersecurity PR teams should brace themselves for IoT debate to rage on in 2020. As the possibilities of the connected world expand, companies should be monitoring consumer data and implementing internal security protocols to protect customers, like 2FA out of the box (rather than blaming users).

For PR teams, these events have a silver lining and open up new opportunities for positioning cybersecurity execs as experts. Pros should have commentary in place for proactive/reactive outreach opportunities speaking on the larger impact of these events on consumer trust. Finally, they can use the trend as a fresh reason to offer best practices for consumers to protect themselves as threats proliferate.

Cybersec workforce shortage grows

Despite a constantly changing tech landscape and increased connectivity between people and devices, the cybersecurity space is notably short on qualified talent. Demand for talent isn’t showing any signs of slowing — the Bureau of Labor Statistics projected a 32% rise in available positions for infosec analysts between 2018 and 2028. Fifty-three percent of IT pros, however, have said they lack the security knowledge to safeguard the organizations they work for. If this trend continues and the need for skilled cybersec experts keeps surpassing their availability, industries around the globe could potentially see greater losses in revenue and consumer trust. The talent shortage could also be a significant contributing factor for a greater frequency in breaches, hacks and leaks in 2020.

The cybersecurity talent gap isn’t going to close overnight, so PR teams should take advantage of the attention the issue commands. Proactive and reactive commentary strategies, as well as bylines positioning cybersec clients’ expertise on how to solve the problem in the long term will further thought leadership. Additionally, highlighting ways businesses can circumvent a lack of talent internally (like investing in AI and contracting with third-party cybersecurity vendors) or how they should evolve their own hiring practices (better training and sourcing, for example) will make for strong story angles to address the issue in the new year.

Attribution announcements must be clear and credible

When an attack happens, security providers and others often clamor to publicly identify the attack and its source. There’s a natural incentive for us to make such announcements to show leadership and expertise. But there’s a risk of misinformation that may grow in 2020. In the event of an attack by foreign state actors, our government often doesn’t want to identify the culprits, even when it knows who they are. It often leaves that to cybersec companies in order to guard the intelligence sources or methods used to track down bad actors.
The problem is that as foreign-government-backed attacks proliferate, security companies or hack victims may by tempted to blame foreign actors even when they’re not involved. Foreign hackers themselves may even claim credit where it’s not due. This situation is more likely following the U.S. airstrike on Iran, amid widespread speculation that Iran could retaliate through cyber attacks. It’s important for communicators to make any attribution claims or assessment in a rigorous way, based on quality information. The last thing we need is a credibility crisis in cybesec communications.