3 Streaming Trends PR Pros Should Watch

Streaming is booming. From the powerhouse Netflix, to more niche apps like horror channel Shudder, Connected TV (CTV), and Over the Top (OTT) usage has become a part of everyday life. There are now well over 200 streaming services available today with 85% of U.S. households having at least one video streaming service subscription. That makes things more interesting, and possibly more complicated, for those who work in PR for ad tech and entertainment brands. 

With advertisers taking notice of the growth, there’s been an uptick in brands adding streaming to their media ad spend strategy, resulting in more streaming-specific PR goals for adtech providers. In fact, it was reported that CTV ad spending is expected to increase to 40% by the end of this year, totaling over $14.4B, with it being forecasted to reach $29.5B by 2024. 

Even with the increase in spending, the advertising environment for streaming is still working out issues related to measurement and fragmentation of platforms. Effective navigation of the space is critical for the key players who want to establish a leadership position in the category and get ahead of the competition.

Here are three key trends PR professionals in media and ad tech need to be aware of while developing strategy.

AVOD channels increasing their reach

Subscriber fatigue is real and has been seen firsthand with Netflix losing a whopping 1 million users in Q2 2022. Deloitte Global even predicted that at least 150 million paid subscriptions for subscription-based video-on-demand (SVOD) channels will be canceled by the year’s end. We are seeing an increase of advertising-based video-on-demand (AVOD) channels, such as HappyKids, and Fawesome, popularity leading to adjustments ad strategies. A channel that had a small audience number last year, may have had an explosion in growth this year. By staying aware of where the viewers are, brands are able to adjust campaign strategies to meet the market. 

With many turning to AVOD channels to meet their entertainment needs, brands are fighting it out to capture these highly competitive ad spots. Large SVOD channels have since begun to pivot their strategy, turning to a hybrid business model. This, in turn, is leading to an even greater pool of streaming ad inventory.

The rise of subscription tiers 

Early this year, we saw Netflix and Disney+ announce plans to offer subscription tiers. By dipping their toes into the AVOD market, these previously SVOD-only services are hoping these new pricing options attract subscribers while adding advertising to their revenue stream. While the new ad options provide a lower price tag for viewers whose wallets are tightening, some view it as a step back into the dark days of cable. 

Another risk of rising inventory is ad saturation. Ad-supported CTV/OTT need to stay vigilant to prevent the streaming ad space from bursting, sending viewers in the opposite direction. Equally important, PR people who position executives for speaking and content opportunities must ensure they approach the space with up-to-the-minute knowledge.

Growth of CTV/OTT ad tech

CTV/OTT ad budgets have been rising to keep up with the increase in media consumption. We see this in the current political season in which CTV spend is predicted to reach $1.4B. The increase has in turn sparked new innovations in the technology. We’ve also seen an increase in solution and agency partners as well. Buying CTV is quite different from linear as it’s much more granular and requires deep audience knowledge. This is why having the right partner will ensure ad dollars are being effectively spent.

These three top trends are shaping the streaming landscape and, thus, its communications. But it’s a fast-moving space, so stay tuned for future developments! 

Top Entrepreneur Podcasts PR Agencies Should Know

In the last ten years or so, podcasts have shot up in popularity, especially for PR agencies. Podcasts about entrepreneurism in particular can be a strong way for top executives and thought leaders to share their success stories and advice for budding business-builders. Every business leader has a strategy to share, and there’s a story behind nearly every company, young or old. 

Here at Crenshaw, we represent high-growth tech businesses, so these types of business are extremely useful. The entrepreneurial podcast space can be powerful. They are easy resources for listeners to reference as they are starting their own company or need inspiration on what they can do to propel an idea into a successful business.

In the past, we’ve recommended top retail podcasts PR pros should know for clients in relevant sectors. Here are six of the top entrepreneur podcasts for PR teams who want to secure meaningful  interviews in the podcast industry.  

Entrepreneurs on Fire

The award-winning podcast hosted by John Lee Dumas has over 3,000 episodes where he talks with successful founders and picks apart their entrepreneurial stories in a unique way. Episodes are released almost daily, aimed to inspire and educate would-be entrepreneurs. This is a strong choice for anyone looking for some inspiration to enhance their business or kick off an entrepreneurial journey. At the end of each episode, John asks his guests to share key takeaways for his listeners to use in their entrepreneurial journeys.

Recent Guests: Kevin Moran & Matt Lombardi (Founders of Beam, wellness company), Chad Willardson (Founder & President of Pacific Capital, wealth management firm), Cary Jack (Founder & author of The Happy Hustle podcast)

How I Built This 

“How I Built This” is a weekly podcast that offers insights about the most successful people in the world, with a focus on marketing and business. It’s a great listen for those who love hearing motivational stories from highly successful founders about the ups and downs of building a new business. The host, Guy Raz, uses an “everyman” persona to ask his guests the hard questions to understand what it takes for entrepreneurs to succeed. Plus, “How I Built This” features attention-grabbing openers with terrific theme music. It’s an upbeat way to start the day.

Recent Guests: Alejandro Velez & Nikhil Arora (Co-Founders of Back To The Roots, organic gardening company), Don Katz (Founder of Audible), Christina Tosi (Founder of Milk Bar)

This Week in StartUps

Hosted by angel investor Jason Calacanis, This Week in Startups focuses on the tech industry. Jason talks with some of the world’s greatest founders, innovators, operators and investors for in-depth conversations about their business journeys. This is the ideal podcast for those looking to start their own company, seeking strategies on how to improve their business or who just want to stay on top of tech industry and startup news. Calanis also explains to his listeners how angel investing works and how he builds his companies. Listeners will get inspiration from others’ success stories and gain helpful tips on how to keep their startup thriving. 

Recent Guests: David Bennahum (CEO of Ready Games, gaming app), Aaron Wright (Co-Founder of OpenLaw, blockchain-based protocol for legal agreements), Ryan Engle (Founder & CEO of Golf Scope, AR app)


Mixergy is a podcast that brings interviews with some big names, but mostly interviews with lesser-known companies. Given that host Andrew Warner interviews lesser-known founders and entrepreneurs, the stories are fresh and typically haven’t been heard before. Warner gives listeners a deeper insight into the successes and failures of some of the greatest thought-leaders today. The goal is to provide tips and strategies on how to succeed and face challenges that may arise when starting a business. 

Recent Guests: Craig Hewitt (Founder of Castos podcast and analytics), Sahil Lavingia (Author of The Minimalist Entrepreneur, How Great Founders Do More with Less), Kenny Schumacher (Founder of Delesign) 

Master of Scale

Hosted by co-founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman, Master of Scale sets out to describe and prove theories that explain how some of the best entrepreneurs succeed. Hoffman and his guests talk about entrepreneurship, leadership, strategy, management and more. Guests share the stories and strategies that helped them grow their startups into well-known successful brands. Along with the success stories, guests share the failures and hardships they have faced as well and what they did to overcome them.

Recent Guests: Eric Schmidt (Former CEO of Google), Beth Ford (CEO of Land O’Lakes), John Foley (CEO of Peloton)

The Tim Ferriss Show

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the top-rated Business podcasts on Apple. In his episodes, Tim gets the inside scoop from world-class entrepreneurs on their strategies and tactics. This is an educational resource for budding entrepreneurs to listen to as they will hear real and raw conversations about succeeding. The podcast offers business tips, book recommendations, lifestyle hacks and fascinating exchanges. Tim gives his guest scenarios where things go awry and asks them how they, as an entrepreneur, would successfully get themselves out of that situation.

Recent Guests: David Blaine (Magician), Marco Canora (chef, restaurateur and television personality), Debbie Millman (Author, Designer, Host of Design Matters podcast)

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! 

5 Benefits Of Interning At A PR Firm

Guest post by Crenshaw Communications intern, Murphy Pressley

College is a transformation for students. We’re encouraged to evolve, both personally and professionally. This transformation does not come easily and is not solely due to the courses we’re offered. As we’re beginning our adult lives and preparing to be more independent, less impulsive, and more in control, a vital tool in any student’s growth is an internship —in my case, at a top PR agency.

For many college students, selecting a job or career post-graduation can be stressful.  Many students resort to part-time or temporary employment to earn extra income during college, but many of those jobs are short-term positions with little to no growth potential. An internship, on the other hand, can offer relevant career experience and even help secure that first job. 

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) found that, since 2013, 60% of each graduating class had participated in an internship and/or co-op at some point in their college career. On average, students who completed an internship are 15% less likely to be unemployed in the first years after college. It seems that even a single internship during college can increase the chances of long-term employment.  

Throughout my time in college, I’ve been fortunate to participate in some awesome internship programs. They helped me determine which sectors of PR I was most interested in, as well as what to look for in an employer and work environment. As an intern, I’m able to build my confidence and my resume at the same time, while also cultivating real-life networking opportunities. Here are key ways interning can benefit any student during their time in college.

Internships offer valuable (and real) work experience

Though formal college courses are presented by knowledgeable professors and test the ability to listen, reflect, and learn, they lack a dose of reality. You cannot teach experience. In fact, the only way to fully grasp what a professional environment is like is to experience it firsthand. When applying to and participating in internships, it’s important to explore your interests. Maybe you started working in the field most relevant to your major and realized it wasn’t for you. Interning is a perfect time to test the waters to see if this is a career you could envision for the next several years.​​ Internships show what the day-to-day looks like in an office while allowing for the application of knowledge and skills acquired in the classroom. One of the best perks of interning at a PR agency is being able to see how my day-to-day tasks are applied to services for our clients. By contrast, the classroom is full of hypotheticals. Through interning, students learn how to interact not only with their supervisors but with the clients themselves. Having these tangible relationships builds an intern’s verbal and written, communication skills. 

Explore different career paths

One of the first things I was attracted to about PR was how multi-faceted the industry is. It wasn’t until I started interning that I realized the world of public relations isn’t made up of only social media gurus and celebrity publicists. And while those may be both prominent and lucrative career paths, there is so much more to being a PR professional. In college, I’ve challenged myself to move between various PR sectors. Whether it was for a non-profit, luxury hospitality, B2B Tech, or even working on a popular TV show, PR internships offer exposure to a wide range of clients or situations. For me, each opportunity brought its own set of lessons and unpredictability.

Make a mistake, learn a lesson

An internship is a job. However, unlike post-graduation job placements, internships allow you to shamelessly investigate your field of interest. It’s the perfect time to be inquisitive and test your creativity. It’s also a good time to let yourself make mistakes and shake off any fear of failure. No one is expecting perfection; in fact, it’s expected that you will make mistakes. The defining moment of any misstep, however, is how you recover. This will not only make you marketable to a variety of prospective employers post-graduation, but it will bring a sense of confidence about your area of interest. 

Internships bring networking benefits 

The best career opportunities often come directly from referrals and personal connections. As the saying goes, “it’s not what you know but who you know.” Meeting new people and practicing networking skills is what entering the workforce is all about. How you lead your conversations and cultivate relationships depends entirely on your willingness to grow and put yourself out there. Also, networking with other people will undoubtedly improve communication skills. And then there are the practical benefits; applying for a position through a mutual connection will probably be more successful than going into the application and interview process blind. Through networking, the possibilities are endless. It’s not just about what others can do for you, but rather what you can do for each other. 

Know yourself better

Internships are pivotal opportunities for self-discovery. The internship is a time to develop skills, define strengths, and address weaknesses. Feedback from supervisors will provide unique learning opportunities, so if that feedback isn’t forthcoming, ask for it. Whether pre- or post-internship, learning to assert your own opinions and express ideas is a vital aspect of professional development. So, ask questions, observe, take risks, be open to constructive feedback, and adjust in order to succeed in your present and future environment. 

10 Tech Buzzwords PR Folk Should Avoid In 2021

Unique, disruptive, innovative. From Silicon Valley to New York’s own “Silicon Alley,” PR people tend to use these tech buzzwords in press releases and marketing materials. They wind up in pitch decks, tech journalists’ inboxes, and in business meetings. We’ve all used them at one point or another — but shame on us. 

Tech culture is well-known for its overuse of buzzwords. And, although buzzwords can serve as convenient shorthand for complex thoughts, it’s not long before these terms become tired and worn out. They can even become obnoxious. 

Here are 10 of the most eye roll- inducing tech buzzwords and marketing speak that PR folk should try to avoid in 2021.

Disruptive – In a technology PR context, disruption is not only overused, but misused. The problem? Few of these technologies or products are actually disruptive. And, the truth is, a company can be extremely successful without being disruptive. The word is used to imply success, but that implication is often incorrect.

Big Data –  Big Data is overused because it’s so often used to describe any kind of data. Technically it refers to a set of data so large that traditional technology is unable to analyze it. Data about shoppers’ click actions on a large retailer’s website (think Amazon or Alibaba) would be a good example. The abuse of this term in business meetings, pitches, and press releases has turned it into nothing more than a cliche. As the words are coming out of one’s mouth, the receiver has already begun to daydream that they’re somewhere more interesting. 

Artificial Intelligence – The term Artificial Intelligence (AI) is thrown around quite a bit. It’s important to note that AI is a broad term that refers to the simulation of human intelligence in machines programmed to think like humans and mimic their actions. The word may also apply to any machine that exhibits traits associated with a human mind such as learning and problem-solving. With that said, however, AI has suffered from being overextended and overmarketed. It should be used only when AI is truly a key feature of a product or service, not to refer to a little automation. 

Groundbreaking – Much like “disruptive,” the word is tired and often inaccurate. Very few products or technologies are truly groundbreaking. And, that’s because not many actually create a new market where none existed. Some of the technologies that have earned the right to be considered groundbreaking include the telephone, personal computers, electric cars, and… you get the picture. 

World’s leading – Straight up hogwash. This is a buzz phrase that tries to imply something but actually says nothing. It’s as puffy a term as one can get.

Innovative – Innovative is one of the most overused terms in PR, marketing and business. Its overexposure has probably caught more attention than actual innovative technologies themselves. Plus, as a negative result of our overuse of the term, there’s been a loss of understanding when we say that more innovation is needed in a particular field or industry. Actions have consequences, people. 

Ecosystem – The word “ecosystem” actually has a pretty rich meaning. It is a community of living organisms in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment, interacting as a system. These biotic and abiotic components are linked through nutrient cycles and energy flows. However, thanks to its constant use as a buzzword in tech marketing, PR and business, it has lost all meaning. 

Next-generation – This phrase is used to describe a product that has been developed using the latest technology and will probably replace an existing product due to its technological leap forward. Yet, again, overuse has made it confusing. Most of us are now unsure when something is actually next-generation, or if it’s just the current generation trying to be cool. 

Actionable Insights – This is often thrown out in discussions about Big Data, but it doesn’t add much clarity. It refers to data that a company can then use to take concrete action, usually to identify causes of problems and their solutions. Yet there must be a better way to communicate what a company is doing with data and analytics. These words imply that lots of data is useless, and considering that businesses pour millions of dollars into data collection and analysis, it seems a poor choice of words at the very least. 

Leverage – Did you know that the term leverage actually has technical definitions in science as well as finance? You can use it in everyday speech and people will understand that you’re not actually referring to mechanical advantage, of course. But, the word is now becoming so common as a synonym for “use” that it has lost its true meaning. Let’s breathe life back into the word before we totally kill it off with our overuse and misuse. It can be your good deed for 2021. Instead, opt for a simpler word or phrase, like “use,” “learn from,” or “take advantage of.” 


Buzzwords appear in all work sectors, but there’s something about tech PR and marketing that seems to make them more common. Let’s work together to come up with fresher, more powerful and more precise language that will actually be more meaningful when communicating about our clients.

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.


Looking for help staying on top of the latest communications trends? Contact our PR team to find out how we can help.

Got Funding? Here’s How To Announce It

In B2B tech PR, an infusion of new capital is one of the best opportunities to drive quality media coverage at scale. This holds true whether you’re a startup or a more mature business. Funding announcements can offer instant credibility for a brand, validating the company’s strategy and vision.

Yet new funding rounds are a dime a dozen. According to CB Insights and PwC, there are between 5,000-6,000 VC deals per quarter in the U.S. alone. To maximize the news value and cut through the noise, you need the right funding announcement strategy.

Here’s how B2B tech companies can develop a standout funding PR strategy for their next round.

Be clear-eyed about your numbers

When a company lands new capital, sometimes they drink their own Kool-Aid as they assess the numbers.  They think that their round, regardless of size, should be covered far and wide. But that’s not how things work— not when there are dozens of notable deals pitched daily.

In funding PR, size matters. The bigger the round, the greater the opportunity. The deal size has a direct impact on the PR strategy and will shape the go-to-market approach. If you’ve raised less than $10 million, there will be significantly less interest versus a mega round of $100 million-plus. Key business outlets like The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and Forbes generally wont touch anything under $20 million.

A few years ago, when there were more tech reporters covering funding, you could drive a lot of coverage for smaller rounds. Unfortunately, that time has passed, with opportunities undercut by the consolidation and downsizing in media, and less of a “rush to cover” mentality among journalists.

Exclusive or embargo?

Per my colleague Richard Etchison, an exclusive typically means “offering a key tidbit, news item, or interview to a single journalist with the understanding that he or she will be first. The story can then be released to other media after the exclusive runs.” An embargo, on the other hand, means reaching out to a group of media in advance about an announcement and sharing the news with them, with the stipulation being that their stories can only be published at a certain time.

This is where the size of a round comes into play. From my experience, smaller rounds — less than $25 million — should generally be pitched as exclusives, because larger media outlets are increasingly passing on embargoed funding news. There is an obvious desire by these outlets to break news exclusively. And they receive so many funding pitches, an embargoed story on a small round has little value to them.

Of course, there is nuance here depending on the type of business being pitched, the sexiness of the technology, venture capital versus private equity, the notoriety of the founders, and other factors. But as a rule of thumb, embargoes outreach is most realistic and effective when the rounds are over $50 million.

Have a good story to tell

Too many B2B tech companies think that the numbers will speak for them and funding alone will drive good stories. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Capital announcements often require multiple elements to make them worthwhile for both media and business visibility.

With that in mind, funding storytelling should go beyond “we are expanding our sales and customer support teams,” to include details on technology innovations and growth (e.g., revenue growth year-over-year, client growth or new clients, new international offices, etc.). This allows you to maximize the moment in the spotlight and ensure that there will be interest in the company long after the funding news has dies down. Highlighting forthcoming innovations and growth can tee up future stories and pitches. See this post for more PR storytelling tips.

Go vertical the day of the announcement

Among tech media, funding story opportunities with “bigger” outlets are limited for most B2B tech companies. For example, Mashable, GigaOm, Pandodaily, CNET,  and TheNextWeb all used to cover B2B funding. But in a shifting media landscape, it’s now largely the domain of TechCrunch and VentureBeat (both great outlets), along with business publications like The Wall Street Journal and Forbes, where the bar for coverage can be very high. 

To drive air cover and wider visibility, funding announcements can be shared with other categories of media. For example, VC and PE trades like PEHub, Private Equity News (Dow Jones-owned) and FinSMEs are great targets, particularly after an exclusive or embargoed set of stories runs. There are also key newsletters that cover funding daily, such as Dan Primack’s indispensable Pro Rata for Axios and Polina Marinova’s must-read Term Sheet for Fortune. Relevant industry media, of course, should be pitched and local media are another option.

In reaching out to each vertical, make sure messages are tailored accordingly. This means the PE and VC media need basic facts about the deal, while industry media can use more meat on why the funding matters. Similarly, local media need to be told your company is “based in” whatever city you reside in. A lack of personalization will confuse press and make them think your pitch is irrelevant.

Don’t forget the logistics
Logistics are a critical piece of any funding PR strategy. Here are the core elements of a funding strategy that need to be managed in advance of an announcement.

    • Timing – Announcing funding earlier in the day — between 6-8 AM ET — will provide more time to pitch day of, with inclusion in key newsletters that hit at 9 AM.

    • Images – Having logos for the company and key investors are important, and media will ask for them. Most critically, though, is  having a founder group shot and product screens where relevant.

    • Website – Once the funding news breaks, having a splashy headline on your website that links to a blog post from a founder can help communicate the news to prospects and clients.

    • Clients – As soon as the news breaks, a good PR person will advise client to reach out to customers and stakeholders with a tailored email message explaining the deal. Funding is great for clients because it shows them that they will have more resources down the road, in the form of customer support, better technology, or other benefits. All should be touted.

    • Internal Announcement – Businesses should try and wait until the last minute to announce funding news internally to employees. The reason for the secrecy is to avoid having the news leak prematurely. While it can be difficult to keep funding under wraps, the payoff will be worth it.

These basic steps B2B tech companies can take to ensure they optimize a capital raise. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter at @chrisharihar.

5 Ways To Ensure A Worthwhile Analyst Meeting

In today’s B2B PR, good analyst relations (AR) are essential. Technology analysts at firms like Gartner, Forrester and IDC can meaningfully shape the overall direction of a category and directly impact a B2B technology provider’s business. This can occur in two ways.

First, most analyst firms publish in-depth research that potential clients and existing customers buy on an ongoing basis. These reports are meant to guide technology decision makers on the best vendors, or at least the most relevant ones.

The most famous examples are Gartner’s Magic Quadrants and the Forrester Wave. Companies pay tens of thousands of dollars a year to have access to analyst reports, so vendors that are well positioned in the the reports benefit.

The second way analysts affect a category or industry is more informal. Analysts are constantly being tapped as thought leaders by media for stories, as expert panelists and speakers by event coordinators, and more. They have a platform to share their opinions and perspectives on who matters in a space.

This is why AR, and building bonds with relevant analysts, can help a business stay top-of-mind and be referenced. A mention by an analyst confers immediate third-party credibility for a solution by someone with real authority in the industry.

But how do B2B tech companies build long-term relationships with industry analysts? Many have paid relationships, of course. Any analyst company is more likely to listen to a client company, especially one in a hot category. But it is possible to get their attention without paying an analyst company? Ultimately, it all starts with an analyst meeting, and in maximizing the opportunity once secured. I’ve sat in on hundreds of analyst meetings over the last seven years. Here’s what I recommend.

Bring your best deck

Every analyst meeting, unless otherwise directed, should start with a cogent presentation that outlines a company’s mission statement, positioning and differentiators, core features, pricing, clients, use cases, and scale. These presentations should be more in-depth than a typical media overview, of course, given analysts’ level of expertise. And they should be less focused on marketing jargon — analysts can see right through that — and more focused on the technology. The overview should last roughly 10-15 minutes.

Bring your best demo

After B2B tech companies offer up an overview of their platform, it’s important to walk through and demo it. Again, this demo differs from a media demo, which is generally very top-level, if provided at all. Instead, an analyst demo should be more comprehensive and in the weeds, calling out any bells and whistles competitors don’t have. The demo should be the centerpiece of the briefing and take up the majority of the time. Given its importance, it’s critical to bring a top demo provider. If this means passing the baton from a CEO or C-suite exec to a product manager, then so be it. Whoever will deliver the best experience should be the demo point person.

Ask them what they think

Analyst meetings are an excellent opportunity for a software company to gather valuable feedback on company positioning, products and features, pricing, and more. Too many B2B technology companies will treat an analyst briefing as an opportunity to steamroll an analyst with an information dump. I find that the best meetings, however, are more conversational. Pausing to ask an analyst for their opinion on something leads to a more engaging dialogue, and will likely elicit candid insights and feedback that can shape your market strategy. This takes on even more importance if you’re not a paying Gartner or Forrester customer, since you have limited access to the analysts.

Become a valuable resource

Just as an analyst can share their opinions on your company’s positioning, a rising business can set itself up as a valuable information resource for the analyst. Don’t be afraid to share insights into current or future industry trends relevant to the analyst’s coverage. They appreciate an informed perspective from the front lines on the space and competitive landscape. This will show that you care about the demands of their job – and that your company is a thought leader. If you can become a reliable resource, your company and solution will resonate that much more with the analyst moving forward.

Make sure PR is in touch

Once a meeting has wrapped, PR teams should incorporate the analyst into their outreach plans. This means pinging them about significant platform updates, new product launches, customer wins, and more. This will allow a constant drumbeat and ongoing communications between formal briefings or meetings. (As with media, outreach must be tailored and personalized.) A failure to nurture these relationships can result in your outstanding solution not getting the visibility and market share it deserves.
AR is a key piece of any B2B technology PR or marketing program. Cultivating relationships with analysts can move the needle for your business and brand and elevate your positioning in the marketplace. These tips can help you maximize the value of an analyst meeting and ensure ROI. Are there any tips I’m missing? Let me know on Twitter at @chrisharihar.

PR Tips For Winning Business Awards

Placing a piece of industry hardware on the company mantle can be a nice PR win for a B2B company at any stage. Along with earned media visibility and recognition for thought capital, awards are an exciting way to build credibility and authority. Most importantly, awards represent a third-party endorsement. That’s valuable currency for rising into a higher consideration set.

Here are some tips from Crenshaw’s own Conferences and Awards Manager for filling the trophy case.

Awards are all about the outcomes

Whether entering a customer case study, product, or an individual award, the judges are looking for quantifiable demonstration of success. Don’t bother with the “customers have been very pleased with the product” or “our reputation has been enhanced…” Anecdotal evidence won’t earn the award; you’ll need as many hard campaign ROI numbers as possible for the entry. When submitting for a customer service award, be prepared to supply some numbers on customer reviews and testimonials. It’s also a good idea to consider data visualizations as a supporting document for some awards to substantiate the numbers.

Choose awards wisely

Industry awards exist for every vertical and niche, so choosing the right one is no simple task. Each awards competition will have multiple categories and/or subcategories, which naturally increases the chances of winning, but also adds complexity to the task. Your PR agency or team should have an existing database of awards from which they can compile a targeted list. More established companies may elect to focus on awards that have an editorial component; that is, awards produced or sponsored by media outlets.

For B2B technology companies, publications like The Drum, Digiday, Campaign, Forbes, and Ad Age all put on annual award programs. Major trade conferences and trade associations like IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) also dole out awards. Note that some of the high-profile business awards like Fortune Most Admired Companies, Glassdoor, and Forbes do not have a submission process. Instead, they evaluate companies based on their own metrics or on employee reviews, as is the case with Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work.

Award entries need not be dull

Industry competitions usually require entry reports of anywhere from 500 to 1500 words. Because the entries often explicitly list required elements, it might seem that a dry boilerplate document is called for. But like most any PR content, a quality awards entry should feature good storytelling. That’s not as challenging as one might assume. B2B campaign case studies have the same basic story structure. A customer has a problem, it enlists a solutions provider to help solve it, they form a strategy, execute the campaign, and solve the problem. Entry reports should read like simple stories, with rich, action-oriented language. No competition judge wants to be lulled to sleep reading dry, antiseptic entries.

Mark your calendar

Industry awards are usually annual, so businesses can and should plan an attack strategy well in advance. Consistent award wins can bolster a company’s reputation for product or service excellence. A PR team can even plan to enter its company’s new offerings into competitions many months down the line – basically targeting certain awards and categories for new products they anticipate to be successful. This type of planning helps prevent procrastination and can help shape the entry. Award entries can be costly, both in cash and staff time, so it helps to analyze all programs and prioritize the most prestigious, relevant, and promotable programs for the highest return-on-investment.

Leverage the win

The whole point of winning awards is to brag about them. PR and marketing will amplify the win in owned media channels, collateral, and perhaps a press release or email. Place the official award logo on company webpages; write about the win in a blog post; feature it in the newsletter; include it in new business pitches; and don’t forget to celebrate the win within the company, especially if it showcases a star employee. Naturally, news of the win will be shared on all social channels, so make sure any customer permissions are in place well in advance. Many awards feature ceremonies or galas, which can offer further opportunities for industry exposure, customer networking, and even extra PR. See our earlier post for more on leveraging award wins. Now go and bring home the hardware!

3 Best Practices For Using Data In B2B PR

Media love data. As most PR people know, data offers a powerful news hook in a way that even a product launch or partnership often doesn’t. It can easily feed a story to make it stronger, and data-driven stories can easily be made visual, which adds to their appeal. Business and tech media in particular have an ongoing appetite for research, studies and surveys.

For B2B companies, this presents a massive PR opportunity. To meet media demand, B2B tech brands in particular can build out their own research assets. An asset that can earn branded media coverage is valuable — and that’s not all. Data-driven coverage can establish a brand as a category expert or leader. Moreover, it can attract the attention of media, analysts, and business customers. It’s pull marketing 101. These audiences look for category insight and find… you!

Our client Uberall is a good example. Uberall is a Berlin-based location marketing platform that seeks to build its brand here in the US. To help it be seen as an expert on location marketing, one of our first initiatives was to develop branded research on “near me” mobile searches. Our first study drove story volume and quality while also presenting Uberall and its team as rightful authorities on location-based marketing.

But developing research and generating data that media find worthwhile is easier said than done. To be successful, here are three best practices that B2B tech companies and startups need to keep in mind.

Your data only goes so far

When I start discussing branded research possibilities with a client, their first inclination is to point to their own data. This is natural. Most scaled B2B tech companies are sitting on a pile of interesting data. It’s also inexpensive and easy to access. But, more often than not, internal data doesn’t work for B2B PR. Keep in mind that a company’s data is usually selective because it’s based on customer research. Unless you have massive scale, it’s not often representative of a mass category or even a segment.

Media tend to be conservative when it comes to covering a brand’s own data as well. This is why the best ongoing research programs for B2B PR rely on a combination of client data and third-party paid research. Third-party “commissioned” research delivers a fuller sample and is often seen as more credible. For leading data management platform Lotame, for example, their data and third-party surveys are both important, and they often work together.

Don’t make research a sales pitch

It’s important to develop research and data that speaks to core themes, messages and products. BUT it’s equally vital to be restrained in how self-promotional the data is, or media simply won’t cover it. They are inherently skeptical of research from brands because they know brands have a vested interest in the subject matter. So the best research work is grounded in hot buttons and trends, with the brand’s core themes and messages lightly baked in. For B2B tech brands, walking that line is important. This is meant to be a soft sell, not a hard commercial pitch. It’s pull marketing to promote a sense of thought leadership. That’s why brands should avoid featuring their name in the headline of any survey content like a press release. Focus on the findings instead.

A good example is recent research done by event success platform Bizzabo. It’s a rare example of a client’s internal data analysis being more compelling than an outside survey or study. Bizzabo examined the gender split among the keynote and panel speakers across 60,000 conferences, and the research showed that we have a long way to go in achieving gender diversity. Bizzabo let its data shine and was featured in Bloomberg, NPR, MarketWatch, VentureBeat, and more.

Don’t run away from consumers

When B2B tech brands consider research options, they can be quick to write off developing data that polls or surveys consumers. For example, a technology startup that offers delivery and returns software to retailers may say no to polling 1,000 consumers about BOPIS or mobile shopping. Instead, they ask that the focus be on polling retail executives. This is a mistake. Consumer survey data can be pitched effectively to relevant B2B media just like a poll of 300 retail executives can. Additionally, consumer surveys are often sexier to a wider group of media  — instead of pitching only retail trades, you can level up to business and technology — and can be done at a fraction of the cost.
By keeping in mind the balance between media and client needs, B2B brands can create a reservoir of data that hits the sweet spot, drives visibility and builds leadership over time.