Now Hiring: Assistant Account Executive

Crenshaw Communications, a New York-based public relations agency specializing in B2B technology PR, is seeking an Assistant Account Executive (AAE) to join our dynamic B2B technology team. This is an opportunity to work with well-known B2B tech companies in industries like adtech, martech, cyber security, enterprise SaaS, artificial intelligence, retail tech, etc.

Assistant Account Executives are junior members of our staff that hold responsibility for foundational client service activities, such as research and administration. Assistant Account Executives are client and media-facing, learning to interact with key stakeholders with guidance from senior staff. Assistant Account Executives play an important role in keeping teams organized, tracking activity status, recapping outcomes of meetings, tracking coverage and monitoring social conversations of clients and competitors and the industry. They typically have some PR experience – internship, part-time or full-time – in an agency setting or as an in-house comms or marketing team member. 

**This can be a remote position – you do not have to be located in New York!**

Here’s what you’ll be doing:

-Assist the group and all supervising account members in development and maintenance of media lists

-Create and distribute press releases to targeted media outlets

-Build relationships with key members of media and proactively pitch targeted outlets, including broadcast, print and new media

-Write and edit media materials, including media alerts, fact sheets, bios, and case studies

-Daily client communication to update, report on and discuss media relations

-Responsible for daily account management activities, such as agendas, recaps, activity reports, media monitoring and coordination of all necessary materials for client accounts

-Attend and facilitate media interviews; network with reporters and editors

-Assist in the research, writing and development of new business proposals and presentations

-Participate in brainstorming sessions to develop strategic/creative thinking for clients

-Work collaboratively with team members to develop and implement successful PR campaigns

-Respond in a timely and professional manner to client requests or needs

-Misc. research, duties and projects as required

Here’s what you have:

-Excellent written and verbal skills

-Undergraduate degree or equivalent ideally in the field of PR, Communications, Marketing, Business or Journalism

-Previous experience working in a PR agency

-Creative and energetic personality! 

Why you’ll love working here:

-Top award-winning B2B tech PR agency

-Competitive compensation, a comprehensive benefits package, 401(K), and a fantastic vacation policy

-Diverse range of clients

Perks include:

-Flexible work-from-home policy

-Summer Fridays

-Thursday team-building sessions/events

-Tight-knit team culture with regular outings

-Creative and collaborative environment that emphasizes your personal growth

Please apply here: https://bit.ly/3eKK0Q2 

Crenshaw Communications is committed to creating a diverse environment and is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age, or veteran status.

Notes From A Virtual PR Agency Intern

Guest post by Crenshaw Communications intern, Sarah O’Connell

Starting an internship at a top PR agency can be a little nerve-wracking even under ordinary circumstances. When the internship is entirely virtual, that’s a whole different story. Thanks to COVID-19, I, like many others, have started at a new workplace without meeting my team members in person. I’ve only been here a month and have already learned so much. Working from home might be a new experience for an intern, so it’s important to create a productive work environment for yourself. Here’s how I’ve done it.

Create a good routine 

Luckily, I have past experience working from home, so it was not a new concept. While it has its benefits, you want to make sure that you don’t get too comfortable while working remotely. Yes, it may be nice not to wake up early for your commute, but you want to give yourself ample time in the morning to get ready for the work day. Loungewear has been the craze since we entered WFH life, but changing into a real outfit makes me feel productive. 

Ask questions

With everyone being virtual, communication is far more important than before. We can’t just walk over to someone’s desk for quick clarification, but don’t let that hinder you. Ask questions. You might think you’re bothering your coworkers by interrupting them, but you aren’t. Make sure you’re clear on what’s expected of you. Your coworkers understand that you are new and are getting used to the workflow and processes of the job. If something’s confusing, instead of taking a guess at it, reach out to a team member for clarification. Everyone asks questions and you should never feel like yours aren’t important. They are. For me, Slack has been super helpful for reaching out to coworkers with a timely question.

Take a deep dive onto your accounts 

You may be familiar with the organizations you’re working with, but if not, take the time to research your accounts. Look at their websites, socials, press releases, everything. In public relations, It’s always a good idea to do a search of the company and check out their media coverage, since the same outlets may be close contacts for your team. You want to make sure you’re in the know so that you can get the most from participating in external and internal meetings. 

Write things down

It may seem old fashioned, but I’d be lost without my notebook. I have found it very helpful to write things, even when I have a laptop in front of me. This might not apply to everyone, but when it comes to typing up notes for a client or drafting a press release it’s helpful to have them written down next to me. I also apprecIate having them accessible when I need to quickly recall information.

When I first started and was instructed on how to conduct call recaps or daily digests, I wrote all the instructions in my notebook and bookmarked the page so I can easily go back in case I need a refresh. If writing things down doesn’t work for you, create folders on your laptop for each account or project you have and save all documented notes for easy access. 

Get involved in company virtual events 

At any internship, whether virtual or not, it’s important to participate in company happenings and get to know your colleagues. Crenshaw has made this very easy. We have company-wide check-ins at the beginning and end of each week, with a happy-hour meeting every other Thursday. These meetings are great opportunities to engage with colleagues. They’re mostly focused on the work we have planned or achieved for the week, but we also go off on tangents and talk about everyday life as well. If the company you work for doesn’t have regular team meetings, maybe you can suggest it and help organize them. 

Pay close attention 

One day you might be taking over the tasks that your teammates are doing so it’s a good idea to “study” the emails they send and observe how they work. Take the time to understand what they do and why they do it. When I started, I read through every email from team members to clients and went through the client files to see how press releases or media alerts were written. It’s also good to be curious. I reach out to team members about why they do things in certain ways to better understand how Crenshaw works with clients. For example, one of the companies I work on has several international PR teams, and I asked how we work together. Even though I don’t personally communicate with the global teams, it helped to understand how we interact, and my colleagues appreciated my interest.

_____

Starting a PR internship can be overwhelming at first but you will get the hang of it. Be patient and take each day as it comes. Remember, that onboarding an intern may also be a first for your manager, so it may take some time before things kick into gear and time will fly by. You may be working virtually, but you aren’t alone.

How Jeff Bezos Scored A PR Win

Not every billionaire CEO needs a big public relations team, apparently – just ask Elon Musk. But many successful founders do have an innate grasp of PR and media strategy. Sure, communications skills are learned, and years of experience really count in the PR biz. But when it comes to the hand-to-hand combat of media relations, an instinct for the game surely helps.

That’s the conclusion that Bloomberg Businessweek’s Brad Stone came to about Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and his tangle with the National Enquirer in 2019. In an excerpt from his new book, Amazon Unbound, Stone offers a fascinating tick-tock on the PR melodrama that played out after the Enquirer published salacious photos and texts involving the then-married Bezos and paramour Lauren Sanchez.  The story reads like a thriller. In Stone’s words, “It’s a tale that involves a scheming Hollywood manager, desperate tabloid newspaper editors, and spurious claims of political intrigue and international espionage. It’s also a look into Jeff Bezos’s mind and how he thinks unconventionally and always manages to come out on top.”

Precisely. Now, I don’t agree that Bezos is a PR mastermind in every sense of the word. In the first place, he could have likely avoided the scandal if he had behaved with more circumspection. It doesn’t take a media relations genius to figure that the press would at some point be all over the details of a new relationship that he didn’t bother to hide. But maybe that’s how moguls are.

The fascinating aspects of the Bezos tabloid scandal are instructive. If you unpack Stone’s behind-the-scenes story, you’ll spot some familiar and not-so-familiar PR rules about how to turn around a negative story. And Bezos played them perfectly.

Preempt bad news where possible

“Get ahead of the story” is time-honored advice offered by PR experts to public figures on the edge of a nasty revelation. It nearly always holds up. On Monday, January 7, the Enquirer emailed Bezos “to request an interview with you about your love affair.” Bezos didn’t know it yet, but someone had tipped off the tabloid about the relationship. Sanchez’s own brother slipped it cozy photos of the couple together, screenshots of sexy texts, and details of future assignations so the paper could get its own photos. Bezos had to have been caught off-guard, but he didn’t flinch. He moved quickly, instructing his PR team to announce the news of his divorce by Wednesday morning. He thus gained a measure of control over the story and was able to lay it out on his own terms. The Enquirer, a weekly with a Monday pub date, had to rush out a special issue to protect its scoop. Bezos wasn’t able to stop the stories, but he avoided a reactive announcement of his marital status with a dignified statement about the couple’s decision to split.

Negotiate well

What followed the first flurry of stories about Bezos and Sanchez was a classic tabloid quid-pro-quo. The Enquirer wanted fresh material to move the story forward. Bezos decided to negotiate, but from a point of strength. The tabloid ultimately agreed to stop running the old photos and texts in exchange for an exclusive paparazzi shot of Sanchez in an airport. It was a low-stakes concession by team Bezos. The assurance that no more surprise photos or story angles would pop up — at least for a while — enabled Bezos to plan his counteroffensive.

Exploit your opponent’s weakness

This is a business maxim as old as Machiavelli, but it’s often relevant in a tough media relations situation. When Bezos was originally ambushed by the Enquirer, the tabloid held most of the cards. But it also had a big problem. Its shenanigans around “catch and kill” stories about ex-president Trump had caught the attention of SDNY prosecutors who smelled a possible campaign finance violation. The publication was on thin ice, financially weak and fearful of prosecution. Bezos was able to exploit its vulnerability in his ultimate response. That turned out to be a masterstroke, even though it wasn’t wholly true.

Tap specialist expertise

Suspicious about the leaked photos and worried about what was next, Bezos involved his longtime security consultant, Gavin de Becker, in his media counteroffensive. de Becker was more than a hired gun. He boasts a distinguished career and is a published author and recognized security expert. In an interview granted to the Daily Beast, de Becker fingered Sanchez’s brother as the tipster, which only elicited sympathy for the couple. More importantly, he implied that Bezos was targeted because of Trump’s resentment of him as the owner of The Washington Post. The security consultant’s status lent credibility to the accusation and focused attention on the Enquirer’s reputation as an apologist, and possible bagman, for former president Trump.

Disintermediate the press

They call it “media” for a reason. But today it’s easy for a powerful personality to disintermediate the MSM and go directly to the public with a message. It’s a strategy that arguably propelled Donald Trump – another high-level PR practitioner — to the presidency. Trump famously maligned the mainstream media and used Twitter as his direct platform of choice, and his example wasn’t lost on the rich and powerful. Bezos didn’t need to disparage media as Trump did; after all, he owns one of the most prestigious newspapers in the world. But he responded publicly to the National Enquirer’s offer of a “deal” not just in the media, but in a powerful personal essay on Medium, the social publishing platform. Of course it was picked up by every media outlet in the country.

Change the story

This was Bezos’s slam dunk. After skillfully using earned media to highlight his own version of the story, he went for the jugular in the Medium post. He used emails from the Enquirer’s owner, AMI, to his attorney to accuse the tabloid of extortion. As a coup de grace, he reported on his own embarrassing texts and suggested that the leaks amounted to political retribution. Astonishingly, he implied – without evidence — that the texts and photos were accessed by people with links to the Saudi Arabian government. The theory was that the Saudis were angered by WaPo’s reporting that Prince Mohammed bin Salman was linked to the murder of columnist Jamal Kashoggi. The bold charge that the Enquirer was trying to wreak political payback for Trump, and that a foreign actor might even be involved, was devastating.

It was a pretty cynical move. Instead of a tawdry backstabbing by his girlfriend’s brother, Bezos implied that foreign actors were trying to destroy his reputation for geopolitical reasons. Even today, there’s no evidence of that. But its impact was like a one-two punch. It was a twist on the game that celebrities play to challenge and blame powerful media brands for negative coverage. In this scenario, Bezos is the rich and powerful one, but he deftly turned the tables on the tabloid and used its sleazy past against it. By coming clean about his personal situation, he cast himself as a principled defender of journalism, truth, even democracy.

There’s a lot to question here, because the whole things boils down to a shady little shakedown of an indiscreet business mogul. But it’s also a pretty impressive master class in PR and media relations, or at least, tabloid relations. Bottom line, the whole messy episode is a footnote in Bezos’s life and career, and his reputation has probably never been stronger. That’s power.

5 PR Tips To Boost Your Company’s Media Appeal

In B2B public relations, we’re always trying to find ways to drive business and trade media interest for clients. Yet as every PR person knows, there isn’t always a timely newshook for the story you want to tell. And not every business is a household name. When gaining media traction is challenging, how can PR pros generate media attention for the stories they want to tell? Here are a few shortcuts that can help B2B PR pros spiff up their pitches, think creatively, and drive media coverage.

Look globally for reactive news

U.S. headlines can be a gold mine for reactive news opportunities, where a company latches on to a breaking news story with a smart take or point of view and gets coverage for it. But with many companies doing business internationally it’s smart to look outside our own media market for openings. PR pros and comms teams should consider developments in relevant international regions as a way to expand thought leadership for company executives. Moreover, given how interconnected the business world is today, international news stories, trends, and policy changes often have ripple effects that impact the U.S. market. Just because a political or economic movement was rolled out in the EU doesn’t mean that it won’t impact your stateside business or client.

Broaden the narrative

When it comes to offering content and commentary, most companies focus on a certain aspect of their industry. Yet, the knowledge pool within their organization likely extends far beyond that one area. For example, a retail tech business may focus on price optimization technology, but it may have executives who can speak to broader trends within certain retail verticals or retail as whole — trends like multichannel retailing; micro-fulfillment; or artificial intelligence applications. By looking to leverage diverse knowledge, PR pros and internal comms teams can dramatically raise the thought leadership profile of an entire organization and also generate new ideas for content and pitching. The key is to choose a relevant area and bridge back to your core product or service.

Don’t fear the vertical

It’s always great to generate coverage within top-tier technology publications like TechCrunch or VentureBeat. These outlets, however, tend to stick closer to high-level announcements or end-user benefit stories versus the nitty-gritty aspects that potential buyers study before making a significant B2B purchase. So it pays to go to overlooked areas; one of those within tech media, at least in my view, is developer and IT media. Granted, the data integration capabilities of a digital transformation tool may not be at the top of most executives’ reading lists. However, if a client is producing breakthrough technology and results — and they likely are — developer and IT media publications can really resonate with CIOs and work wonders when it comes to product reputation. Vertical stories can be powerful sales tools, and higher-order tech media tend to follow the key sector publications. So don’t be afraid to build pitches and content around the nuts and bolts specs of a product’s technology — they may be way more interesting to media than you think.

Use data and assets — or create your own

Whether in business, technology, or professional services media, one hugely attractive asset that can really bring a story to life is data. Almost all businesses are sitting on data that can be used to position themselves as a key media resource for information, trends, and forecasting. And if there’s not enough current data, it’s easy to create fresh assets by investing in a proprietary survey. Beyond just the immediate media benefits, data insights can be parlayed into white papers, supporting points for awards submissions, and bylined pieces that work to raise executive and brand visibility as well. 

Content, content, content

No one gets hits for every pitch they throw, and “no, thanks” is a common response in the PR world. But just because a journalist may not want a briefing with a company spokesperson doesn’t mean that a story or company point of view is weak. Instead, it actually opens up a whole new avenue to explore with a given pitch: bylined content. It’s true that bylines need to be “vendor- neutral” – that is, they can’t boast about a company’s product or service. The point of a good bylined article is to express a smart opinion on an issue of relevance to its customers, or offer solutions to an emerging problem or challenge. A deep-dive, long-form POV that a business spokesperson can offer is sometimes just as valuable — if not more so — than a quote or two in a broader media story.

Cybersecurity Pubs Every PR Pro Should Be Reading

Most of us who work at tech PR agencies stay glued to various media to track breaking news and inform reactive pitching to promote visibility for our clients. Yet our main goal is not always to secure top-tier media coverage, although that’s always a win. We may also work to earn media coverage that will be read by a rarefied audience that ranges from senior executives to CEOs. Often we work with trade journalists who cover highly technical categories and need commentary and background from specialized experts. 

Cybersecurity is one of those categories. From data hacks to new ransomware, PR pros who work in the cybersec space need to stay connected to developments and track trends in the business. Trade publications can be just as important as top outlets like The New York Times or Wall Street Journal. They often break news before anyone else. In fact, if you work in cybersecurity PR you should be reading these top publications on a daily basis.   

Dark Reading

Dark Reading is perfect for enterprise IT and network security professionals, providing the most up-to-date information about products, management strategies, architectures and security policy. It acts as a security dashboard for IT professionals who don’t have the time or the luxury of combing wirefeeds, multiple bug feeds or vendor sites to find out what’s new or how well it works. 

Wired: Threat Level

Threat Level, a subsection of Wired, offers insight into the latest news and happenings related to hacking, cyber crimes and new methods to protect personal data online. PR pros will also enjoy the in-depth stories with an insider’s view on cyber attacks.

ZDNet: Zero Day

Looking for new research on tech and IT, while reporting on the latest threats and vulnerabilities in the cybersec space? ZDNet’s Zero Day covers that while providing technical in-depth pieces which professionals will appreciate. 

CSO

Aimed for high-level security professionals, CSO offers content on security-related products and services to assist CSOs in the decision-making process. Their goal is to underscore the need for security personnel while building a high level of trust among chief security officers and tracking the tools and techniques they need to make smart decisions.

InfoWorld

InfoWorld is published for IT leaders who hope to bring their companies a competitive edge through understanding emerging technologies and advances. It focuses on personal computing in enterprise and offers reliable product information to corporate volume buyers who are purchasing for client-server environments. 

ThreatPost

Threatpost covers Internet and computer security news on virus alerts, new hacker threats and attacks, and advances in security research, webcasts and white papers. It’s also a great source for breaking news with expert commentary. 

SC Magazine

SC Media gives info security professionals the in-depth business and technical information they need to tackle the countless security challenges they face and establish risk management and compliance postures that underpin business strategies. It’s also a great place for in-depth op-eds by industry leaders on current trends and topics.

Krebs on Security

Founded by investigative reporter Brian Krebs, Krebs on Security provides content on day-to-day software and information technology, executing daily internet tasks and also good security practices. He also offers articles for not-so-savvy cyber pros by breaking down the latest cyber attacks and helping explain their impact.

CyberSecurity Dive

Under the Industry Dive umbrella is Cybersecurity Dive. It provides in-depth journalism and insight into the most important news and trends shaping cybersecurity, like breaches, vulnerability, threats, and more.

InfoSecurity Mag

Infosecurity Magazine has given readers over ten years of insight into the information security industry. It focuses on hot topics and trends, in-depth news analysis and opinion columns from industry experts. It’s also a great place for webinars and other free educational content!

Bleeping Computer

Bleeping Computer aims to serve as a helpful resource for novice computer users to learn the basics of computer tech. It’s also a good forum for discussion of trends, tools, and hot topics.

TechRepublic

TechRepublic serves as the ultimate professional resource and community for members of the IT sector, from CEOs, to IT professionals  and everyone whose job requires making decisions about technology. It includes a family of virtual communities called republics, which organize editorial by job function, providing expert niche content, as well as peer-to-peer advice. 

infoRisk Today

infoRisk Today covers topics in risk management, compliance, fraud, and information security. It provides credible, timely information that security leaders can use as they craft comprehensive information security strategies so critical in the industry.

How To Convince A Reporter to Cover Your Story

One of the most frustrating parts of working in PR or media relations is getting the “too busy” response. You have a solid pitch or a compelling announcement, but the feedback from media is that they have too much going on to cover this story. While breaking news will often take precedence, skilled PR teams will do everything they can to nail that interview or story.

People who move up at PR agencies know the best tips and tricks for persuading media why a story is newsworthy. We know what makes the perfect pitch. Still, we avoid using words like “guarantee” or “definite” when predicting media coverage. In the end, it is up to the journalist or their editor if our news is worth their time. 

What can PR pros do to convince reporters to cover their story when they claim they are too busy?

Show them how the story fits with their audience

Why is this newsworthy or timely? Put yourself in the shoes of the publication’s audience. Who is reading this potential article, would it be interesting to them? Give useful information for their readers will want to know. We want to keep and form relationships with key media. Help guide them on the possible story you’d like to explore. Grab their attention with that snappy subject line and prove to them in the pitch why you are a credible news source. We know everyone is busy in the news world but with the right attention grabber, you’ll never have to worry about someone being too busy for your story.    

Have supporting assets 

They say a picture is worth a thousand pitches. You don’t want to miss out on that opportunity if a journalist asks for additional assets like images or graphics. When preparing to pitch this story, think about what assets the media could use in addition to commentary. For larger announcements, create a Dropbox file with anything media could use in addition to the usual executive headshots, visuals, and company logos. Journalists are often juggling several stories, and sometimes great visuals can make the difference.  

Be flexible 

Are you pitching a timely story or trend that won’t be relevant in a few days or a founder story that can be discussed at any time? If it’s the latter, consider revamping the timeline for a quieter news cycle. Any good PR pro knows when not to pitch company profile pieces. If a journalist says no, tell them you understand and ask if you could check back in a few weeks to revisit the conversation. Work with them and keep them on your radar for a better time.  

Shift gears as a last resort 

If after all, your PR tricks for convincing journalists don’t work but you feel strongly that your company is a great resource, offer your spokesperson to talk about another topic within their area of expertise. Gauge the journalists’ attention by asking what else they’re working on and how you can incorporate your company into that article. As PR pros, we understand the value of the “thought capital” that executives and subject-matter experts offer. We should bank a full roster of topics that they can easily discuss with media with little prep time. Just because a journalist said no to the topic you originally pitched them does not mean no to future conversations. Try to convince them that you have new data coming out soon that you’d love for them to get a first glance at, when the time is right, or tease an exclusive story to them. Journalists love having the opportunity to break a story first and by dangling something in front of them, you may have them on the hook for your next story. 

How do you work with media in covering your story during a busy newscycle? Let me know on Twitter @colleeno_pr

5 Tips For Killer PR Case Studies

Every PR person knows that strong customer case studies are powerful additions to the B2B PR toolkit. They also work well for sales and marketing. A great case study can actually help move prospects down the sales funnel to the point where they’re ready to buy. Ideally, it serves as a third-party testimonial for a company or its product, building credibility and demonstrating key product attributes.

Most customer success stories are written to generate earned media coverage, or to run as bylined pieces in trade or business media. They’re also an asset for industry award submissions. But what makes for a stellar piece of case study content that will win awards and attract media attention? A big part of my job is writing award entries for our various ad tech, martech, AI, and cybersecurity clients. Their customer success stories make up the substance of almost all our submissions. Here are a few fundamentals I’ve gleaned by crafting award entries for our B2B technology clients.

Anatomy of a successful B2B case study

Virtually every case study contains the same basic structure, and the order should be logical to guide the reader. As Digiday explains, “using our prompts to prove how X client was able to achieve Y through the use of your platform.” That sums it up nicely.

First, state the problem that the customer needed to solve with the use of your company’s technology. Second, outline the objective of the campaign. Next, detail the strategy used to achieve campaign goals, followed by a description of the actual execution of the campaign, which is where the tech solution gets the spotlight. Finally, summarize the success of the campaign in both qualitative and quantitative terms, citing as many success metrics as possible. Additionally, every great case study includes one or more testimonial quotes from the user.

Quantifiable success beats anecdotal info

The most important case study ingredient is its demonstrable success. Even the most well-written and compelling story won’t succeed if the results aren’t evident. The case must show the customer’s success in the language of hard metrics. Anecdotal descriptions along the lines of “campaign achieved a great increase in inbound leads and awareness” will not bring home the trophy. It’s not likely to attract the attention of reporters, either. For most major industry awards, the ‘tangible results’ portion represents 40% of the judges’ criteria. The KPIs can vary depending on the the technology spotlighted. In martech and ad tech, metrics such as CPM, impressions, CPA, lift, clicks, and cost-per-lead are common. While these are all excellent measures of a solution’s effectiveness, judges tend to value metrics like ROI and ROAS (return on ad spend) the most. While it can be challenging for solutions providers to get customers to agree to go public with ROI and revenue numbers, they should make every effort to capture such proof points.

Tell a compelling story for the win!

The above elements of a case study may appear coldly methodical, but they’re not the only key ingredient. To make the content live and breathe for journalists, prospects, and judges, package them in a story format with a beginning, middle, and end. Especially in the B2B tech world, where software and data solutions are festooned with esoteric, highly technical jargon, the PR writer must translate abstract concepts and algorithmic technology into easy-to-understand language. Even in high tech, a case study is simply people trying to solve a problem and finding a way to success against obstacles.  An award submission should be tough to write, so that it’s easy to read. Judges see hundreds of entries, so the narrative must keep them engaged. Poor storytelling will make an entry dead on arrival.

Get creative with solutions

Although 40% of award criteria are judged on the hard numbers, the other important factor to a winning case is the creativity of the campaign. Again, judges in major media and tech awards like The Drum and Digiday read lots of entries that may sound similar. If the approach was truly innovative, the case has a greater chance of making the shortlist. Case study writers should accentuate any creativity or innovation used to achieve the user’s goals. We can’t control the innovation quotient, but it should be a key factor when considering whether to submit for an award.

Big brands use cases are often winners

If a well-known brand has used your solution in an interesting way to meet business objectives, you should prioritize getting approvals on a public case study with them.

When it comes to both winning awards and generating media opportunities, the marquee brand names attract attention from media and awards judges. Asking for a customer’s permission to brag about their solution can be daunting for a B2B marketing or PR team. Yet awards can be an easier sell, since the brand will earn exposure if they win. So, customer success teams that are adept at gaining approvals for public case studies set their brands up for greater success in PR. Plus, awards wins and glowing mentions in the press can improve client relationships, so it’s worth the ask.

Robust public-facing case studies are critical to a B2B company’s success, especially in competitive sectors that feature a lengthy buyer’s journey. Case studies are absolutely compulsory when it comes to competing for tech industry product awards. While early-stage companies and startups may not have the customer track record to produce such success stories, they should be proactive in setting the stage to create them down the road, building client relationships that will make it natural to ask for approvals when the time comes.

You can check out some great customer success pages of our clients like Verizon Media and event success platform Bizzabo.

PR Tips for Planning a Virtual Panel

As most PR agencies know, a speakers program is an excellent tactic for building thought leadership and brand recognition in the B2B space. A well organized panel discussion around a key industry issue or trend lets a leadership team showcase expertise to clients, prospects and often trade journalists. By targeting prospects, it can also help fill the sales funnel.

However, putting together a panel can be complicated at a time when most of us are still staying put at home, juggling childcare, work, and life all at once. While many elements are the same, there are some key differences to consider when developing a panel that will be hosted online as opposed to in-person.

Here are some tips for PR professionals to plan and successfully execute a virtual panel for their executives.

Schedule it during the work day

In the old days before the pandemic, most people would attend industry panels after office hours in order to network. It was a fun way to catch up with colleagues and contacts, learn something new, and grab a drink to decompress after work. That is not the case today. People are tired of screens and want to sign off after work to be with their families or just relax (the Clubhouse trend aside). To accommodate zoom fatigue, virtual panels may attract more attendees when they’re scheduled in the afternoon.

Diversity is pivotal

This point isn’t limited to virtual panels, but the problem of all white male panels —sometimes known as “manels” — has come to a head during the pandemic. No one wants to be part of a discussion in front of a Zoom screen filled with people who look exactly the same. A lack of diversity will detract from the topic at hand and could even have a negative impact on the reputations of those involved. 

Diversity isn’t limited to race and gender either. You also want panelists of different business backgrounds who can offer a variety of viewpoints. In ad tech, for example, we (ideally) want to include the perspectives of analysts, agencies, vendors, publishers, and brands to get a full understanding of a topic.

Start promoting early

Your panel will be competing with other online events and work responsibilities. The best way to get ahead of that is to promote early and often so people remember to make the time to listen in. This means your companies’ social handles should promote it, all of the panelists’ social handles should promote it, and it should go out to your email distribution list at least two weeks before the event. An email reminder one or two days before is also recommended.

The power of the prep call

PR should set up a prep call for all panelists to make sure everyone is comfortable and has an idea of what the moderator will ask in front of the audience. It benefits the moderator as well, who is more likely to get an informed answer if panelists can prepare. Preparing also includes making sure everyone’s tech works. No one wants a Zoom audio issue! 

Plan for unforeseen circumstances

We’re in an unprecedented health emergency and things can come up, so it’s important to be prepared and flexible. Get the contact information for all panelists in case something arises at the last minute, whether an ill family member or a technical problem. This is also why it’s smart to secure four diverse panelists (in addition to your executive) in case one has to back out. That way you still have a robust panel. 

Interactivity is key

The potential for attendees to multitask in an online panel is much higher compared to an in-person event. The panel needs to be able to hold audience attention, which makes engagement key.  Consider the use of topical virtual polls to keep the audience focused throughout. In addition, encourage audience questions and have the panelists answer them.

To that end…

Ask panelists to keep answers brief

Attention spans are short so having panelists keep answers brief will ensure that the audience stays engaged. It will also ensure that the panelist’s messaging is heard, making the most of the panel opportunity for them as well. 

Record the conversation

Ensure that the panel is recorded so you can repurpose the content in several ways. You can send the recording to everyone who couldn’t make it, including reporters, who can hold onto it for future articles. PR and marketing can also use the insights discussed to develop other content such as pitches, bylines, blog posts, and more.

Think about providing extras

If you have a little extra budget, it’s a nice touch to send out a small gift card to the attendees. This shows them that you appreciate their taking time to engage and fosters a positive relationship. You could also have the panelists provide company swag to attendees who ask questions. There are different ways to be creative with this.

Vaccines are rolling out, but we aren’t yet at a point where we can return to in-person gatherings. If your execs are eager to speak to audiences, we highly recommend a virtual panel with a timely topic. Reach out if you’d like help putting the event together!

Crenshaw Nominated For 2021 SABRE Award

The Crenshaw  team is delighted to have received a nomination for the 2021 SABRE Awards North America. The  SABRE Awards recognize Superior Achievement in Branding Reputation and Engagement from among more than 2,000 entries. 

This year, we have been nominated in the Business-To-Business Marketing category for our work on behalf of the National Cybersecurity Alliance “#BeCyberSmart” campaign. The NCSA program highlights the importance of digital security hygiene with a month-long promotion in October. In 2020 Cybersecurity Awareness Month focused in part on the importance of securing connected devices used at home and at work, given the surge in work from home for many people. The campaign generated 55+ media placements with more than 400 million media impressions in CNBC, USA Today, Politico, Washington Post and Digital Trends.

SABRE winners will be announced May 11 during a virtual awards ceremony. Good luck to all who are nominated!