Five Reasons Why B2B PR Works

I’m a late convert to B2B public relations. That’s probably because I started my career at consumer marketing PR agencies and enjoyed the work immensely for many years. For young practitioners especially, it’s heady to have bragging rights about working with brands like Starbucks, Apple, or Netflix.  For many firms, consumer work typically offered lower margins, and the PR budget was at the end of the brand food chain, but the glamor factor made up for that, or so we thought.

But in recent years my team and I have found B2B PR work to be exciting and profitable, particularly in key sectors. That’s mostly due to the prevalence of high-growth technology players, who move fast and are extraordinarily collaborative as clients. But it’s also because B2C work has changed. The rise of Direct-to-Consumer brands was a big factor in the shift. The Caspers and Harrys of the world relied more on a strong brand persona, aggressive performance marketing, and paid influencers than traditional earned media or sponsorships. There will always be specialist agencies to partner with such brands, but PR firms don’t typically win the lion’s share of the work. Then there are the cutbacks by key players like P&G, the world’s largest brand marketer. Meanwhile, B2B budgets have boomed.

As Arun Sundhaman writes in PRovokeMedia, “With consumer clients becoming increasingly focused on the per dollar value of their investment, budgets tightened, highlighting consumer PR’s profitability issues versus higher-margin areas such as healthcare and B2B. More than one PR agency leader told me that the consumer boom had ended at least 12 months prior to Covid’s emergence.”

I’m not predicting the death of consumer PR, but there are good reasons why B2B PR is a win for all stakeholders. Here’s how I learned to stop worrying and love B2B work.

B2B PR boosts SEO

Even major B2B categories are likely to be narrower than large consumer product or services industries, so they lend themselves to “long-tail” search terms. Those more specific keywords like “price optimization software” or “ad tech companies NY” get fewer searches but have a high conversion value. They are therefore far easier and less expensive to own, and a typical B2B PR agency team will focus its content on those terms. The result is a fairly effortless boost in organic search terms by likely sales prospects.

Quality content conveys expertise

The typical B2B sales cycle is lengthy and the cost of customer switching may be high – think data storage, logistics, or business financing. A solid B2B PR program offers ample tactics for a brand to educate its customers and convey its expertise through business conferences, content like bylined articles and white papers, customer seminars, and the like. This type of “soft sell” offers both positive visibility and credibility in the minds of customers who hold the business budget pursestrings.

Industry thought leadership is a differentiator

In a sea of sameness, the “thought capital” offered by a given B2B brand can be a powerful differentiator. Leaders who offer compelling ideas and opinions about trends, common customer problems, and emerging opportunities will naturally attract positive attention, and with it, prospects. Company stability and reputation are also key to a business purchase. The buyer isn’t forking over his own money for a PC or a car lease; he’s buying with corporate funds, and any problems may reflect poorly on his performance. Business reputation counts.

PR promotes customer success stories

Testimonials or reviews are powerful for any product category. But in a specialized vertical like business banking or HR software, a trade testimonial offers extra credibility. A published case history about a company that cut costs, grew the bottom line, or boosted morale after investing in that new software is more believable than an anonymous review. That type of case history is likely to be a staple of any good B2B content program, and its SEO benefits can last for years.

B2B budgets are wildly efficient

In my time working with top B2C brands, admittedly a golden age of consumer marketing, the PR budget often included sexy elements like big sports sponsorships or deals with celebrity endorsers who were sometimes available for media interviews. It was fun and exciting work, but often not very original. Sometimes we felt we inherited scraps from the marketing campaign – big scraps, to be sure, but that can limit creativity. More importantly, those budgets are available only to top consumer brands. The B2B world is a bit more democratic. No one’s trying to sponsor the Olympics here. B2B programs have a narrow focus, so most PR budgets work harder than those in a broad category like food and beverage. PR programs will vary widely in size and scope, but a hard-working B2B budget might come in at half the cost of a comparable program for a consumer product. When it comes to earned media outreach in particular, there is usually a finite universe of journalists and producers who cover a particular category, so the PR staff’s time is used efficiently and well. Moreover, a good agency team will be familiar with the key players in a smaller media community, which saves time and traction when it comes to placing news of a new product or key corporate development.

 

Crenshaw Communications Wins 2020 PRSA-NY Big Apple

Crenshaw Communications Wins 2020 PRSA-NY Big Apple

Campaign for leading event success platform Bizzabo is honored

New York, NY, October 5, 2020 — Crenshaw Communications, a New York-based public relations agency specializing in B2B technology PR, has earned a top award from the Public Relations Society of America New York (PRSA-NY) in the B2B PR category for its outstanding campaign on behalf of Event Success Platform, Bizzabo. Winners were announced on September 30 during a virtual awards ceremony.

Crenshaw won in the category of Marketing Business-to-Business for Bizzabo’s “EMPOWERing Gender Diversity in Events.” The campaign highlighted the lack of gender diversity among speakers at events for key industries and culminated with a full-day conference on International Women’s Day showcasing business women in C-level positions.

“Bizzabo is a fantastic partner, and we’re honored to be recognized for such a worthwhile program,” commented Dorothy Crenshaw, founder and CEO of Crenshaw Communications. “It’s gratifying that PRSA-NY draws attention to the best work in PR, and it inspires us to continue to reach for excellence.”

The Big Apples are the gold standard for PR practitioners in the New York metro area and celebrate the best work of PR agencies, companies, governmental bodies, and not-for-profit organizations during the prior year.

To learn more, visit crenshawcommunciations.com

About Crenshaw Communications

Crenshaw Communications is a New York PR and content agency specializing in 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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How Paid And Organic Social Media Work Together In PR

Social media marketing and PR have become inseparable. That’s because social media plays a large role in most consumer and B2B PR programs. Of course, the right strategy is key to success, but for amplifying or growing the results of a strong PR program, the best option is usually a blend of paid and organic social media. Fully 86% of B2B marketers combine paid and organic social tactics. Here’s why.

Paid vs. organic social

Organic content uses free social media tools to share posts, photos, videos, and stories with the people who already follow a given brand or individual. The only way social media users can see posts organically is if a brand’s followers share its content or they’re following hashtags used by a brand to attract those searching for a specific topic. 

Organic social is the best way to begin to establish a connection with relevant audiences, but it has other benefits.

  • There is no cost to use it

  • Builds brand awareness

  • Extends the reach of thought leadership content 

  • Helps build a community around common topics or interests 

  • Develops campaigns with custom hashtags 

The reach of organic social sharing, however, is self-limiting. That’s where paid social media programs come in. While organic posting is key to reputation and relationship-building, algorithms that drive social content have made the paid social necessary for many campaigns. Its benefits are obvious.

  • Paid social connects brands with audiences that would not have discovered its content 

  • Paid campaigns can reinforce or amplify the message of organic social content

  • B2B companies can use audience targeting to reach industry decision-makers 

Integrating paid and organic social programs 

Organic social media reach is dwindling across most platforms. Organic posts on Facebook only reach about 5.5% of brand followers since Facebook’s algorithm decides which posts users see, and in what order. Here are some tips on finding the equilibrium of paid and organic social tactics for your social media strategy.

Where to post

The balance of paid and organic social media in a given program should be determined according to the social platform involved. The mix should vary according to program goals, and you may choose to incorporate more paid media one platform while organic may better suit another. Promoting a webinar can benefit more from paid posts on LinkedIn compared to Facebook, and audience engagement can thrive on Twitter when using organic tools such as polls and hashtags. People visit different social platforms for different reasons, and knowing which content to share and where to engage will play to the strength of each platform. 

Serve targeted ads based on organic audience

By using organic social media to build relationships with a given audience, you gain data insights about them. Information such as job title, age, and location can help build ads that are as relevant as possible. 

The beauty of social platforms is that they create lookalike audiences according to the data that closely matches a preferred audience segment. This could be webinar registrants or people who have actively engaged with brand content. A lookalike audience consists of people with similar demographics but are new to the brand and thus very valuable.

All promotion isn’t equal

Ads aren’t always the way to go – a captivating, creative organic post can generate buzz and compel your followers to share. In our view, organic social is most useful for amplifying an announcement, namely earned media coverage, change in leadership, or a new partnership. Use relevant hashtags and tag companies, people, or media outlets to ramp up impressions engagement. That being said, if the reach of organic posts isn’t meeting your goals, then you may want to back your content with spend.

An organic post that performs well can be “boosted” by paying to get it in front of more people – one of the benefits of marrying paid and organic social. Boosting is the perfect introduction to paid social and is low-risk, since there’s no need to produce an ad designed for a specific campaign. A running of your weekly or monthly analytics report will include likes, conversions, and profile views to determine the top-performing posts for boosting.

A/B testing

Before finalizing the social media budget allocation, most of us will run different versions of an ad in front of a small audience to see which performs better. You will want to test copy, graphics, ad placement, and audience targeting before deciding on a set budget in order to maximize the campaign’s effectiveness. You can also test organic content performance by setting up manual split tests and tracking results by using UTM parameters.

Optimize for success

A winning B2B social media strategy will typically include both paid and organic social media elements. Determining which approach works best for a given brand will take some testing and adjustment, but once you find what works, the results will be well worth it.

Five Types Of Bylined Content That Work For PR

As outlined in my post on PR tips for effective bylines, bylined content is a powerful part of a B2B PR plan. It can help deliver key messages, communicate expertise and drive thought leadership for business brands. But there are many types of content that build credibility and leadership as part of a strategic PR program. Here are five of the most common.

Traditional Trend Piece

Content that explains a new or emerging trend is among the most valuable for business customers because it helps educate prospects. Educational content is particularly useful for any category with a long purchase cycle and steep learning curve, like software or insurance. Executives who are subject-matter experts can share relevant insights on business happenings. These will typically include a specific point of view about an industry trend, what it means, how businesses should prepare or respond, and possibly even how they can help, although this may only be implied. For example, we represent several ad tech companies at a time when major browsers like Chrome are phasing out support for third-party cookies. What does this mean for digital advertising? How can marketers cope? What does it do for publishers? These issues seem arcane for anyone outside the industry, but they’re hot-button topics in the ad tech lane because the community is rushing to adapt. As in any category, change represents opportunity for those who can seize it.

Personal/Lessons Learned

We love this type of piece because we represent high-growth technology companies often led by entrepreneurs, and they all have stories to tell. What’s more, these pieces are usually both well differentiated and authentic. The important thing to bear in mind for “lessons learned” content is that the most influential and widely shared articles will offer insights for the reader as well as an interesting personal experience. Right now, many businesses have learned and changed enormously as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among our base of clients there are some excellent stories about what they’ve learned, how they’ve adapted and how they’re continuing to navigate the situation as business leaders and as citizens. A “lessons learned” piece is also among the most versatile, and it can usually be augmented or even replaced by a video version. 

Service Content

This type of content can overlap with the “lessons learned” category, but it is typically more tactical and less personal. It may also be far more grounded in research. An effective service piece can be in the form of a whitepaper that offers proprietary industry data and outlines key steps for customers who face a specific decision or business dilemma. The best service articles are generous with data but offer clear tips, steps, or checklists for moving a business forward, responding to customer preferences, or effecting specific change. Service content is among the easiest and best types of content for incorporating different types of visuals beyond text, including digital graphics, charts, and short video snippets. 

Opinion/Contrarian Piece

This type of contributed content showcases a personal opinion on an important business, social, or cultural matter. Op-ed pieces and bylined articles are a staple in politics, but they’re equally effective for entrepreneurs and business leaders who want to communicate their ideas and build a reputation for bold thinking. The most effective such articles set out a single take or point of view and back it up with statistics, experience, or other evidence. An op-ed is a perfect vehicle for experts who want to help shape a public conversation. A contrarian opinion and/or a strong call to action can help an op-ed writer stand out. In our world, a less popular opinion may have a better chance of being published in an influential business or trade outlet – but only if it is authentic. 

Call-to-Action

A Call To Action, or CTA, can exist in nearly any type of content but it’s worth calling out because it is essential to achieving content marketing goals. The CTA tells a target audience what action they should take after reading through the post. The most basic CTAs involve encouraging the customer to buy a product or service. Other types might involve asking readers to share the content, make a donation, subscribe to emails, and so forth. CTAs should be short and concise so the reader knows exactly what to do and can easily follow through. 

Leverage bylined articles for maximum exposure

After deciding on your content mix, it’s important to make sure it is seen by the most relevant target audience. Any business can ensure that its pieces are seen by those who matter most: clients, prospects, referral sources, alumni, colleagues, internal staff, and, of course, the media outlets that influence different segments. Promoting content social media and encouraging others to share it as well is important for gaining maximum exposure for your piece. Direct marketing to customers and employees through timely emails is also useful. We will explore the best ways to merchandise business content in an upcoming post. 

 

How (And Why) PR Pros Should Use TikTok

There’s a new social media app taking the world by storm. It’s called TikTok. Ever heard of it? 

Seriously, TikTok has been on the PR radar for a long time, and most recently it made news for different reasons. Media interest peaked over the weekend with reports that a deal involving TikTok, Oracle and Wal-Mart would avert a ban of the app in the U.S. The agreement is still tentative, but it’s meant to resolve the simmering controversy about the app as a potential security risk.

TikTok’s users, however, don’t seem concerned. The app has surpassed Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat, with 1.65 billion downloads to date, more than 30 million active monthly users in the U.S., and more than 500 million active users worldwide. TikTok is currently the sixth largest social network in the world. 

What started out as a Snapchat-like platform for younger generations of social media influencers and general users for sharing video snippets has grown into an essential platform for marketing and advertising. Whether a brand’s focus is fitness, fashion, food, or anything else, TikTok can connect it to a highly desirable and sometimes elusive audience. 

Why TikTok? 

New and creative social channels should be key elements for consideration in any PR plan, especially for brands aiming to reach a younger audience. TikTok is essential for this demo, as 60% of U.S. users are between the ages of 16 and 24. The app is intrinsic to its users’ lives;  the average Tik Tok visitor opens the app more than eight times per day, spending about 46 minutes on it daily.  

One of the most appealing aspects of TikTok, especially for those younger users, is that everyone is a creator. It’s open to all formats, and there are no distinct guidelines or rules on how the app should be used. Creativity is the only rule. Videos range from singing and dancing, to comedy, reaction videos and challenges. On the flip side, users can find more serious content, with videos focused on topics like politics, climate change, and the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Depending on individual users’ personalized recommendations, TikTok plays videos instantly upon the app’s opening, immediately drawing viewers in. This is TikTok’s most central feature – its AI-driven algorithm that shows videos based on user preferences. This same feature helps guarantee that a brand’s videos will reach its target audience – an important distinction TikTok has over other social media platforms. 

TikTok is a powerful brand marketing platform

TikTok makes it easier than ever to promote a brand – reaching the right people in the right ways. Over the last year, it introduced self-serve advertising platforms, including branded hashtags, video ads, branded lenses and much more. Based on a company’s wants and needs, there are a variety of formats to choose from. 

Branded hashtags drive discovery

Branded hashtags encourage users to create videos with a certain hashtag, often accompanied by a specific song or dance move. Videos with branded hashtags are not only available in a user’s normal feed, but also in the Trending section of the Discover tab, making these videos widely viewable. In fact, with TikTok, users rely heavily on hashtags to navigate the app. It’s “For You” discovery page engages far more than Instagram’s “Discover” page, for example.

Pepsi’s #SwagStepChallenge, a great example of a branded hashtag campaign, spread like wildfire on TikTok, as well as on Twitter and Youtube. The challenge became the fastest hashtag challenge using a branded effect to reach one million video creations globally and a whopping 95.5 billion views through user generated content (UGC) on the platform.

Video ads for the win

Video ads are understandably the most common format for ad and marketing purposes on TikTok, with brand takeovers, in-feed videos and top-view videos being popular. Brand takeovers are pop-up ads that typically last 3-5 seconds. They can be videos, GIFs, or images that include links to a landing page. TikTok only allows one brand to take over a category per day, but it guarantees five million impressions, a promise that may well be worth the investment for many. Additionally, brands get immediate attention, as the ads display upon opening the app. 

Branded lenses jump on trends

With branded lenses, brands partner with TikTok to create 2D and 3D lenses for users to “try on” and share. Branded lenses also let companies land in the Trending section of the Discover tab for ten days. According to Prowly, about 64% of TikTok users have tried facial filters and lenses, making it another valuable option for marketers. 

Influencer partnerships spice it up

For any marketer wanting to incorporate TikTok into a brand PR strategy, TikTok influencers are essential. As on other platforms, TikTok influencer marketing ads partner brands with creators to generate and share sponsored content. When the partnership is authentic and the creators are given freedom, these partnerships can be highly successful. 

For example, David Dobrik, one of the most popular social media influencers, with more than 22 million TikTok followers, partnered with Chipotle for its Lid Flip Challenge, a Cinco de Mayo campaign to promote the chain’s free delivery for digital orders. Chipotle discovered that Gen Zers order delivery more than any other segment, making them the perfect audience. To participate in the challenge, users only needed a phone and a Chipotle burrito bowl. 

According to AdAge, in just the first six days of the Lid Flip Challenge with David Dobrik, 111,000 videos were submitted and the promotion garnered a record-breaking digital sales day for the chain, driving app downloads and delivery among the key Gen Z audience.

But Can It Work for B2B?

B2B companies might be hesitant about TikTok because it’s so consumer-oriented, but they shouldn’t count it out. Companies wanting to reach business customers have the same end goal of reaching and forming lasting relationships with their target audiences. So, for B2B companies, how can TikTok help? 

With any brand, it’s important to feel approachable. Stronger relationships can be formed when customers feel connected to your brand on a more personal level. TikTok users want the platform to stay a creative, authentic channel for human-to-human interaction. Do you have a CEO with a unique story? Maybe how he/she established the business, or maybe insights on building a strong culture at work? Sharing tips or short stories in visually appealing ways can engage viewers and make lasting impact. For example, marketer Adrian Brambila shares his success story on TikTok by explaining how he established himself as a marketing leader, and to date, his videos have generated more than 4.7 million likes. 

TikTok is overflowing with innovative, fresh ideas, so brands must be clever with their posts to be noticed. Even for brands thought of as “boring” that is doable. For example, just before the global shutdown in March, The Washington Post began sharing content on TikTok, but they weren’t posting videos of daily headlines. Rather, the outlet shared relatable videos on the daily struggles and adjustments of working from home, incorporating popular trends. They must be doing something right, because the content has generated more than 25.8 million likes. 

Staying relevant, influential and top-of-mind is important for all brands, whether B2B or B2C. Keeping up with content trends is one way of doing that, and some of the best, most buzzworthy ideas online are shared on TikTok. Viral TikTok videos make great templates for high-performing content on other platforms as well – Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. 

With TikTok, B2B companies can connect and engage with more of their audience and show prospects the more creative and personal side of their business. B2B companies not leveraging the app may be missing out on opportunities. 

TikTok: making connections and driving lasting impacts 

TikTok is the first app of its kind. What separates it from other social media platforms is the creativity it affords users. It lets them be both creators and viewers, and exposes them to an endless stream of personalized content. More importantly, the sense of community on TikTok is what draws users in and keeps them coming back for more. It will continue to play a key role in the PR efforts of brands appealing to younger users. If you’re looking to engage with the elusive teen or young 20s demographic, chances are you will find them on TikTok.

6 PR Tips For Staffing A Media Briefing

In B2B public relations, one of the things we do regularly is arrange media briefings on subjects relevant to our clients’ business. Often these briefings translate directly into coverage. But even if they don’t, these meetings are important. They’re useful for relationship building and keep the dialogue going until the time when a company executive’s quotes or comments can be used for a relevant story. 

PR people are nearly always involved in setting up these briefings, and at our agency, we always staff them as well. But to a less experienced PR person, this role can feel awkward. Am I in the way? A fifth wheel? Is this a waste of time when my client can handle it? The answer to these questions is no. A good PR rep should have a role in nearly any media briefing. Below are a few things we should keep in mind when staffing an interview:

Kick things off

It’s usually up to the PR representative to kick off the call and set the tone for the conversation to follow. At the start of each call or meeting, you will want to introduce the spokesperson and have them explain what their company does and what their role is there. Most journalists will do their own research ahead of an interview, but a verbal summary is a good conversation-starter. It also fulfills the important goal of giving the spokesperson a chance to reinforce their expertise on the topic at hand and to steer the interview to the story we want to share.

Be personable

People run late to meetings. If you’re waiting on a conference line and the journalist is first to join, it’s good to introduce yourself and thank them for taking the time to talk. Any good PR person sets up a brief for their client ahead of an interview, but it can also be an ice-breaker when waiting for the interview to start. That’s a good time to ask about a previous article they’ve written, current events or just how their day is going. Not only do you want your spokesperson to succeed, but creating a friendly relationship with a journalist will pave the way for future pitches.

Let the interview play out, but pay attention

If on the phone or Zoom, the PR person staffing the interview should go on mute once things begin. The journalist wants to speak to the expert or executive because they’re knowledgeable about a specific topic, so don’t crowd them. A good PR rep will listen closely and take notes on key points made during the conversation. Company spokespersons often share useful information or data we might not even know during a journalist discussion that can be applied to future outreach. Especially in tech PR, journalists often request data to back up a claim and the PR staffer will of course need to take care of any follow-up. We particularly like listening to briefings with C-level executives because they typically share information freely, have strong points of view about key topics, and will often say something we haven’t heard before.

Chime in if necessary

Occasionally a PR person will need to step in and make a course-correction. It happens rarely, but sometimes a spokesperson can go for too long on a tangent where they wander away from the question. Or they may divulge information not intended to be public. (This one’s tricky and must be addressed right away.) Conversely, the journalist may stray into areas that have been agreed as off-limits for a particular conversation. If this happens, PR pros shouldn’t be afraid to chime in and get things back on track. If a lack of focus is a frequent problem for a given spokesperson, it’s worth a media training session to heighten their comfort level and preparation for future conversations.

Follow up 

Be sure to follow up with a journalist after the interview. Besides offering thanks, you will want to recap the major points discussed and note any specific requests for data or clarification. You will also want to know how the journalist reacted to the information and whether anything was incomplete or unclear. As PR pros we never want to be overbearing, but if you’re expecting a story to go live quickly and don’t see anything, you will need to follow up again to get a sense of timing.

Offer spokesperson feedback

It’s also important to offer feedback to the executive or expert spokesperson who participated in the interview. We like to be constructive, but candid. It may be that the exec didn’t explain his line of business fully, or that he spoke over the head of a non-expert. Or, maybe he was thorough but could have gotten to the point a little faster. Constructive feedback will strengthen the relationship and help all parties improve even a good performance.

Newsletters Every PR Pro Should Subscribe To

Every good PR person has the same best friend – email. In the business of public relations, email is essential for communicating with partners, journalists and future clients. We’re not alone in this, but in the communication business, email still reigns supreme. It keeps us up-to-date on meetings, client communications and industry changes. In fact, email newsletters are a fast way for PRs to scan the daily headlines from a given publication in the hope that a long awaited exclusive has finally gone live, or simply to shape the day’s media outreach. Are you looking to spice up your inbox? Check out these 10 newsletters every PR pro should read.

PR News: The Skinny

Curated by PR News, The Skinny details the top stories in the communication industry, covering social media, crisis management, media relations, content marketing, technology, and digital PR.

PR Daily News Feed

For those just starting out in PR or seasoned pros, PR Daily News Feed newsletter gives a great overview on recent campaigns from brands, thought leadership articles on hot PR topics and often reposts of content from PR firms.  

AdExchanger

AdExchanger’s newsletter gives subscribers access to business intelligence they won’t find anywhere else, exclusive invites to peer networking events, and ‘members-only’ discounts at industry conferences, while providing insight into all things adtech.

Digiday 5 Things to Know

For tech PR pros, Digiday is a great publication and considered a top tier placement. Their weekly newsletter shares an overview of their articles about publishers in this online era and digital trends to keep an eye on.

NRF Smartbrief

For retail junkies, this one is a no-brainer. NRF SmartBrief is a free daily e-mail newsletter offering the latest need-to-know news and industry information on store closing and retail innovations.

CNN Reliable Sources

CNN’s Reliable Sources newsletter gives daily analysis of how the world’s most powerful news organizations are covering the biggest stories, including media and entertainment. Our own Chris Harihar has been featured in a few issues for his commentary! 

The Daily Skimm

A personal favorite of mine, The Skimm is great for those who want fast headlines and a very short blurb on what they need to know about hot topics of the day. It gives you the who, what, where and why in one convenient place.

The Morning Brew

If you’re looking to stay up-to-date on the business world, The Morning Brew provides all the need-to-know business developments. It prides itself on being “the only newsletter where you’ll see Federal Reserve policy, Spotify streams, IPOs, and Shaquille O’Neal all in a single email.” 

The Social Media Examiner

If you love all things social media, this newsletter is a roundup of articles and social media marketing news for the PR pro who wants to be current on the latest social trends. 

HARO

Don’t all PR people want to Help A Reporter Out? HARO is daily email newsletter outlining requests for sources or experts on specific topics from journalists, ranging from technology, healthcare, consumer and business. It is a great way to connect with new journalists for media coverage!

What are your must read daily newsletters? Let me know on Twitter @colleeno_pr.

Crenshaw Announces Two Promotions

As summer comes to a close, we are proud to announce two promotions at Crenshaw Communications. After nearly 2.5 years at Crenshaw, Katharine Riggs has been promoted from Account Executive to Senior Account Executive. Katharine established herself as a first-rate media guru on accounts like MediaRadar and Fractal Analytics. She works hard to support our clients and her team on everything from media relations to content, and we’re excited to see her grow into this new role. 

Ilana Weinberger has been promoted from Assistant Account Executive to Account Executive. Since Ilana joined in March 2019, she has offered excellent media and account support across clients like Bnai Zion Foundation, DoubleVerify, LiveIntent, Arkadium, and SmartGlass. No matter what we throw at Ilana, she takes it on and delivers excellent work. We’re delighted to see her develop now as an AE. 

Pictured above: Ilana Weinberger (L) & Katharine Riggs (R)

6 Ways To Break Through The Noise In PR

Public relations professionals are always seeking new ways to get their clients’ stories out – from pinning down the right message to crafting a perfectly tailored journalist pitch. It’s not always easy. If you have a client or your business is looking to build buzz, here are a few ways to break through the noise and be heard.

Use strong language

It’s critical to know where your business sits within its category. At Crenshaw we work with clients in B2B technology industries like adtech and cybersecurity, and it’s a challenge to understand every specific niche and sub-niche. But good messaging is based on a deep understanding of key audiences and influencers and a thorough exploration of the company history and its value proposition. To be meaningful, company messages need to go beyond jargon. Translate them into relevant language that isn’t techspeak or a list of corporate buzzwords. Use examples. Look for analogies and emphasize benefits, not just features.

Tap your inner contrarian

It pays to be different. An unpopular or contrarian opinion can help you stand out or inspire support from others and start a whole new conversation. Agencies and clients alike need to be monitoring current trends in the industry. If the business is acting differently than others, that can be a story, but even a different opinion about industry trends, the future of your business category, customer behavior, or the financial markets can help distinguish a business leader as an interesting thinker. The opinion, however, must be authentic, well-founded and well articulated.

Turn over every stone

In our experience, something the client company has overlooked might resonate big time with media. We had a entrepreneurial client who had been approached at a very early stage in the life of his business by a much larger company, but he turned down their offer to acquire his business. That inflection point in his company’s history and his personal reasons for deciding as he did became the basis for our storytelling. Another client narrowly survived a terrorist bombing while traveling for vacation. The experience led him to question what he was doing in his life and career and became a motive for what he did later – launch an entirely new business.

Stalk journalists

Not literally, of course. Yet understanding the top journalists in your industry helps cut through the noise. It’s good to start with 20 media at first-tier publications, whether it be at a mainstream outlet like the New York Times or a trade like Adweek. Grabbing their attention can be tricky but is made far easier by studying their coverage and engaging with them personally or on social platforms. Setting up in-person meetings over coffee or food will give the client face time to sell their story. If a company wants to be in a specific publication, agencies should find the best journalist and sell a story perfectly catered to their beat. PR professionals need to constantly study those relevant journalists, understanding what stories they’re planning and building rapport. To sum it up, help the journalist help you.

Have an engaging pitch

This one’s obvious, but it’s easy to fall short. The art of writing a pitch is one thing, but having the journalist actually engage with the pitch is a different beast. After pulling in the journalist with a catchy subject, it’s best to follow with a pitch that’s pithy, direct, and easy to understand. If the pitch goes too far into the weeds they may not even finish reading it, leaving it with the hundreds of other mediocre pitches they saw that day. Stick with useful information that imparts the right messages and let the journalist take it from there. Once an interview is set up, it’s important to prepare the spokesperson in a similar way. Gently keep them from going off on tangents and focus on colorful language and snappy quotes.

Be visual

Striking visuals are a great way to make an impact. Not only are they attention-grabbing, but the right visuals will be more engaging for viewers. When we hear information, we’re likely to remember only 10% of it three days later. By contrast, we will retain 65% of the information if paired with a visual. Taking advantage of infographics, still images, and video will be much more eye-appealing, and it makes a journalist’s job easier if strong visuals are involved. Accompanying data reports with graphics can offer a big boost to a story, too. General rule of thumb, if a visual makes sense for the story, go for it.

Want To Work In Tech PR? Here Are 5 Questions

Tech PR is an intensely competitive sector. Jobs are more in demand than ever, as brands in every vertical and size have come to recognize the value of positive reputation and third-party endorsement. As it has grown, PR has become more specialized, which has affected recruiting. Filling PR agency positions is harder than in the past, when press relationships, networking ability, and writing chops were all that mattered.
Specialized agencies have specialized needs. Take my agency; we focus on tech PR, with a particular focus in B2B technology. Press relationships, strong networking, and content skills still matter, but they’re table stakes. Understanding and articulating strategy as it relates to tech and vertical trade media and currency in hot topics like artificial intelligence or blockchain — these qualifications are now equally critical for success. With that in mind, here are five questions that anyone interested in tech PR — especially B2B tech PR — should be able to address in a job interview.

Good questions for a tech PR interview

 

1. Where do you get your news?

This is a make-or-break question— at least for some of us here. If you’re being interviewed for a role that supports several ad tech clients, for example, you might be expected to rattle off several relevant publications like Adweek, AdAge, Digiday, and AdExchanger. If you’re expected to support clients that build B2B AI solutions, you might boost your cred if you get news from publications like Forbes, TechCrunch, Wall Street Journal, and CIO.

2. How would you support a product launch for [insert client]?

I like to ask candidates how they would support specific product launches from a media relations point of view for our B2B tech clients. Sometimes we get down in the weeds, discussing whether an embargoed or exclusive strategy might work, and though smart people can disagree, we’re usually looking for a realistic and informed approach. Would the New York Times care about an exclusive for a feature update from an AI-powered supply chain platform? Unless it’s a game-changing innovation, probably not. But VentureBeat or SupplyChainBrain might. Answers to these hypothetical strategy questions are very telling.

3. What are three interesting tech trends you keep reading about?

Successful tech PR pros routinely keep their ears to the ground, monitoring hot topics and trends for general intelligence and newsjacking opportunities. Being able to name several high tech trends — from AI to blockchain to voice and beyond — that are interesting or relevant can showcase your interest in the space and reveal an ability to identify new media engagement opportunities for clients. If you’re hired by a tech PR agency, you will eat, sleep, and speak these trends on day one, so you had better have some knowledge and interest in the sector.

4. Are you on Twitter?

This seems like a dumb question. Most in tech PR use Twitter religiously, either to catch breaking news in real time or to build relationships with key media. But that’s the point. I ask this question a lot and am always surprised by how few candidates can claim a true Twitter presence. For a tech PR expert, it’s this generation’s new RSS feed. If you tell me you don’t use it much, or, even worse, aren’t on it, I’m immediately skeptical.

5. What’s your crisis PR background?

In technology PR work, there is no shortage of land mines. I once worked on a well-known e-commerce platform that allowed you to design and sell personalized merchandise. At first glance, it seemed like a “safe” brand, unlikely to encounter reputation threats. But it turned out that a small group of designers were creating veiled racist apparel and selling it through the service. Problems erupt in this sector, often unexpectedly and with long-lasting impact. In B2B tech, the threats can be even worse, with data privacy and compliance issues potentially often lurking below the surface of the public conversation. One bad moment can lay waste to a brand reputation. For these reasons, I always ask about a candidate’s last client “crisis” and how they helped navigate it. If someone with several years’ experience can’t name anything significant, I may question their readiness for an account position.

These are several questions that, if answered adeptly, can help you land a coveted tech PR agency role. And, if you’re an agency, these questions can help you weed out weak candidates and compete for the best talent. As any industry becomes more competitive and specialized, asking the right questions will be essential to candidates and employees alike. See this earlier post for more on how to nail a dream PR job.