Imposter Syndrome – An Adtech PR Love Story (Ending With A Breakup)

Let’s be honest – those that say they’ve never known “Imposter Syndrome” are lying. Whether you experience these feelings regularly or not, we’ve all been there. Yet for me, “Imposter Syndrome” has contributed to my professional success in tech PR. At the same time, I think the term should disappear entirely. Post-blog, I will remove this word from my vocabulary, and passionately challenge those who say it exists.  

Defining Imposter Syndrome 

To understand “Imposter Syndrome,” we must first identify its general meaning and impact. According to Ruchika Tulshyan and Jodi-Ann Burey at Harvard Business Review, “‘Imposter Syndrome’ is loosely defined as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. It disproportionately affects high-achieving people who find it difficult to accept their accomplishments. Many question whether they’re deserving of accolades.” For more context and insight into the term and its flawed foundation, see their piece. 

Imposter Syndrome in Practice 

I’ve held “Imposter Syndrome” closely throughout my entire professional career – from when I was proofreading newsletters, to managing email campaigns, to communicating with clients, to managing a team. It’s always been there. It also reared its head as I settled into my new role in adtech PR. Because of my client-side background and dedication to my work, I’ve moved up quickly in a high-growth environment. It’s a new and ever-changing role, and I find myself occasionally not accepting how far I’ve come in such a short period of time. And – for those wondering –  specializing in a male-dominated field like adtech does not help.

Let yourself feel things in the workplace. Don’t lump them into a diagnosis. 

Upon further reflection (and after reading Ruchika and Jodi-Ann’s piece) I realized how demeaning the term actually is. It not only implies a disorder, but also a fraudulent act, and I treated it as such. I was giving it the power to take over my thoughts rather than allowing myself the joy of just doing a good job. But, while recognizing the impact of the term itself, I can’t help but notice the positives. Uncertainty offers the motivation to exceed the expectations I’ve set for myself, cultivate supportive environments for others, and develop a managerial style that is open and transparent. 

Yes – people have feelings of insecurity, vulnerability, and self-doubt in the workplace as well as in social situations. But, rather than trying to coin a term for these feelings of insecurity, let’s advocate for discussion about them. Ask your employees how they’re feeling, what areas they’re not as confident in, and share your own uncertainties. In turn, managers will better understand the needs of their employees, employees will feel heard and supported, and everyone will recognize the value of vulnerability. 

Addressing The “Scaries” In Ad Tech

It’s the spooky season, which to me, as director of ad tech here at Crenshaw, is the perfect time to address some of the scariest business and PR issues looming in the ad tech space today. It can be challenging to address some of the highly sensitive issues in the media, but there is usually a way to do so that benefits the company and industry at large. Here is my list of ad tech “scaries” and how ad tech providers can manage these issues with the press. 

Privacy laws spook marketers

GDPR was the slow-moving zombie that eventually arrived at our doorsteps in 2019. Now the privacy zombies are coming faster and more frequently. In reality the privacy regulations are well-intended and will protect consumers. The best way to address privacy in the press is to talk about how the company has invested in privacy, and how privacy has been folded into the product roadmap. Have you hired a Chief Privacy Officer? How are you getting consent from consumers? How have you adjusted your partnerships to account for privacy? However, beware! You must be careful to not to BS reporters about privacy policies, they can smell it a mile away. It’s essential to offer proof points that support all protocols.

Apple’s changes threaten doom

The loss of IDFA was the jump-scare that none of us were prepared for. And, just last week we saw Snap Inc.’s stock tumble after it forecast slower growth this quarter due to recent changes in Apple App Store privacy rules. The changes have marketers scrambling, which gives ad tech the opportunity to be Ellen Ripley, the hero of this horror story. Marketers need guidance, and these changes are the perfect way for ad tech companies to use thought leadership to assure brands that they are not alone. All players are working on solutions to keep advertising effective. 

Behemoths build ‘walled gardens’

After years in the industry it’s hard not to think of Facebook and Google as the Jason Voorhees and Freddy Kruger of ad tech. They take most of the money in advertising, play by their own rules, and face few consequences. It’s frustrating. However, PR gives ad tech companies the chance to have a voice as well. If you aren’t partnered with these godzillas, go ahead and speak out against them–reporters LOVE it. Comment on bad news, discuss why marketers and publishers get screwed, or better yet, conduct research about the impact on marketers and publishers. There are endless opportunities in PR to challenge the giants. 

Third-party cookies disappear

Meanwhile, cookies are going poof! This news has been known for a while, but like Michael Myers, the news and its consequences keep rearing their ugly heads. We see new reports and studies highlighting the money at risk when this frankly outdated technology disappears. Marketers and publishers are right to fear the decline of cookies, but again, it’s another opportunity to shine. Everyone has been testing solutions, and it’s time to talk about them. Promote case studies of the incredible work you’ve done with your identifier or new contextual solutions. Media want to see what is getting results, and who offers innovative solutions.

A dreaded result of change: layoffs

As a serious consequence of changes in the ecosystem, some companies will face layoffs. From a communications perspective, it is vital to prepare clear reasoning and outline support steps for both the impacts and the press, addressing why staff reductions happen and what the future looks like as a result. Companies that don’t adequately prepare for an unpleasant communication like this are my idea of a true horror story.

If you’re an ad tech company struggling to handle these “scary” topics from a comms perspective, please reach out. We’d love to help you navigate your way through this haunted house. 

Happy Halloween! 

Announcement From Our Ad Tech Team

Crenshaw Communications Grows Ad Tech PR Team

Caroline Yodice named Director of Ad Tech to support expanding client roster

New York, NY, October 14, 2021 — Crenshaw Communications, a leading New York-based public relations agency specializing in PR for B2B and SaaS technology brands, today announced key personnel moves in support of its growing ad tech PR unit.

Caroline Yodice has been named Director of Ad Tech, reporting to Partner Chris Harihar. She was previously a Senior Account Supervisor. 

“As a category, ad tech has exploded over the past few years,” observed Chris Harihar. “At Crenshaw Communications, we have a history of successfully supporting a range of ad tech brands, from high-growth startups to larger public companies. Caroline’s expertise and experience in this space are matched only by her enthusiasm for it. She’s already killing it as Director of Ad Tech.” 

Caroline Yodice added, “There’s not a more exciting industry right now than ad tech. I’m delighted to lead our team and eager to support the expansion of our account roster and status as the top ad tech PR agency in the US.”

Additionally, Hannah Kasoff has joined the agency’s ad tech group. Hannah was most recently Associate Marketing Manager at Mediaocean, where she managed demand generation efforts for the US. 

Crenshaw Communications has also recently added new clients, including Connatix, the next-generation video technology company for publishers, and BrandTotal, a leading social competitive intelligence and brand analytics platform. Longstanding clients include Yahoo, DoubleVerify, Innovid, Lotame, and LiveIntent. 

For more information about Crenshaw Communications and how it can support ad tech brands and businesses, contact Chris Harihar at chris@crenshawcomm.com

About Crenshaw Communications

Crenshaw Communications is a New York PR and content agency specializing in B2B public relations for high-growth technology companies. Whether the goal is to launch a new product, drive web traffic, or create a leadership brand position, Crenshaw extends PR tools and tactics beyond the limits of the traditional to create both earned coverage and word-of-mouth in order to build brands.

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5 Ad Tech PR Predictions For 2020

Not every tech PR agency is familiar with the ad tech category, but it keeps growing in size and significance. The boom comes thanks to data privacy concerns and the call from major advertisers for greater transparency and control over their digital advertising.

To some, ad tech is a baffling alphabet soup of acronyms, like DMP, DSP, SSP, and CCPA. For us, it’s a huge and growing part of our business and an exciting category. The opportunities are expanding.

Ad Tech Industry Changes Drive PR Opportunities

As an industry, ad tech saw considerable change in 2019. A patchwork of privacy regulations has challenged all the major players. At the same time, browser companies like Apple, Mozilla and Google have taken aim at cookie-based tracking. These changes set up occasions for lively public discussions for clients. As channels, Connected TV (CTV) and streaming media (over-the-top, or OTT) surged this year, with more advertisers investing in these platforms than ever before.  CTV ad spend alone will rise to $7 billion by year’s end.

Media covered these areas accordingly. Compliance, privacy and ITP/cookie-tracking weren’t just the domain of marketing and ad tech trade press. The issues drove headlines more broadly, across business and top-tier technology media. The power of CTV and OTT advertising was also covered as consumer adoption has grown. Savvy PR pros took advantage of the storytelling opportunities, inserting a client point of view on large issues and building thought capital to distinguish them from competitors.
But what can we expect in 2020? What industry changes will drive the news cycle and create ad tech PR opportunities for companies in the category? Here are four predictions based on conversations I’ve had with clients, colleagues, journalists, and analysts.

CCPA is the latest privacy regulation

The California Consumer Privacy Act or “CCPA,” finally takes effect on January 1, 2020. Like GDPR, it will dominate the news cycle for months, with media wondering about enforcement, who’s compliant (or not) and overall industry impact. In fact, a quick scan of Google Trends shows us that consumer interest in CCPA is rising as we approach January — so media will follow.
Ad Tech PR Predictions For 2020It’s a fertile newsjacking opportunity for ad tech companies who want to present themselves as good corporate citizens, or to downplay the business effect of CCPA, or simply to show leadership on the issue of privacy. My recommendation: rather than conduct phone interviews around a topic this sensitive, develop prepared content in the form of a whitepaper or blog to share with media contacts.

DOOH is hot

Digital Out of Home (DOOH), ads on digital signs in subways, airports, shopping centers, and more, will step into the spotlight in 2020. It’s taking a bigger chunk of Out of Home (OOH) ad spending as more inventory becomes available. Buyers are also ramping up their DOOH investments as the targeting and buying options become more programmatic and data-driven. Ad tech players who offer capabilities and solutions in this emerging channel will be in demand in 2020 and should take advantage.

SPO is the new ad tech buzzword

Supply path optimization or “SPO” might be the buzziest ad tech acronym of 2019. SPO refers to DSPs and ad buyers being choosy about specific content. In doing so, they get more efficient and transparent routes to media. This cuts down on the volume of queries for buy-side vendors while lowering prices for potential inventory. It boils down to streamlining how the demand side and supply side interact.

As the ad tech landscape has become more convoluted, SPO will be a top ad tech PR trend in the New Year. However, ad tech PR pros should keep in mind that it’s a fairly technical topic and not likely to drive interest among mainstream business publications — at least for now. Alternatively, ad trade media have been all over it with great explainer articles. In 2020, I expect media to seek out companies claiming to “clean the supply path.” Adtech companies can make use of this trend.

ACR data will be a key focus

The beauty of ad tech and digital advertising in general is in its targeting. But what happens when consumers migrate from traditional TV to smarter devices? In 2020, everyone will be talking about ACR data. ACR data allows marketers to understand viewership behavior across CTV inventory and devices, so it’s core to targeting ads on CTV. Yet ACR data currently faces several challenges. It’s hard to scale, although that will change quickly as CTV grows. Other issues, like device fragmentation, are more entrenched. Different CTV product manufacturers have different ACR guidelines in place. End-user privacy is also an issue, given new regulations.

This is an obvious PR opportunity for ad tech companies in the CTV space. Most advertising reporters, especially on the trade side, know about ACR data. But they may need more background on ACR challenges, particularly as new privacy regulations go into effect. There’s also an opportunity to brief ad tech reporters at business publications, because they might not yet be focused on ACR data.

As we head into 2020, these are some of the top ad tech PR trends to watch out for. What am I missing? Let me know on Twitter at @chrisharihar.