Another Reason Tech Startups Need PR

For a new technology business, the decision to commit to a PR agency or in-house PR consultant is a consequential one. It’s also occasionally controversial. Celebrity entrepreneurs like Mark Cuban have warned ambitious startups against spending on an outside PR firm. Cuban sees PR spend as wasteful and premature for most early-stage companies. He figures the founder should be able to do the job on his own – possibly an unrealistic idea for people who aren’t Mark Cuban. Others in the VC community argue that PR is essential to a successful fundraise, and they preach its ancillary benefits for talent recruiting, business development, and M&A. B2B companies in particular stand to gain from the right PR campaign, because B2B PR often involves vertical and trade press, which is easier to penetrate than mass media. For consumer brands, of course, PR can strike a spark that lights the fire of mass appeal. But can a PR campaign pay for itself?

The PR factor: are coverage and cash correlated?

A new study has identified a link between positive PR and capital raised, at least for some businesses. Data-driven UK consultancy Hard Numbers teamed with global research company CARMA for a look at the possible impact of media coverage on fund-raising for tech startup businesses in the UK.

The study focused on the critical Series B fundraise on the theory that the B round “is one of the most significant events for scale-up businesses” and a key inflection point for most startups. It examined 120 companies who raised a Series B round between January 2018 and July 2020 and compared the size of the first and second funding rounds. For the same period CARMA analysts looked at content generated by and about those businesses in the UK.

More media, more money

Companies with the largest increase in funds raised between rounds A and B also generated the most media coverage. The study documents an average of 206 pieces of media coverage for the high-fundraising businesses, as compared to 176 pieces for those with a “medium” increase in funds raised and only 146 pieces of coverage for companies that saw the lowest delta between funds raised between Series A and Series B. (I’m presuming the vast majority of coverage analyzed was positive.)

Not surprisingly, the data showed the most pronounced differential between fundraising rounds in the B2C sector. Other high-performing verticals when it came to monies raised were business productivity software and fintech.

It’s all interesting, if not definitive. The Hard Numbers study was limited to the UK, and the sample, while impressive, isn’t very large. Also, correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation. The results could simply mean that companies that are more mediaworthy will naturally attract greater investment for similar reasons, i.e., their business models or positioning simply warrant it. Of course, the study’s authors are natural champions of PR for early-stage businesses. But it comes as no surprise to me. I’ve always thought good PR is like money in the bank, but the maxim may be more literal than not. And there are plenty of other reasons for a new company to invest in PR.

Positive PR drives recruiting

We see this in our own small PR agency, but for a high-growth startup, employer branding is essential. Tech businesses in particular are navigating a red-hot talent marketplace for engineers, IT professionals, sales people, and many more types of positions. A reputation for being a great place to work, driven by PR as well as good word of mouth, is a priceless asset when it comes to recruiting the best.

The right PR helps generate demand

Earned media isn’t the most consistent generator of business demand for a company’s products or services; for that, direct-marketing and sales work more reliably, and they scale better than a PR program. But the splashy PR generated by big stories in key media outlets like TechCrunch or VentureBeat come with enormous credibility. That means influence.

PR drives SEO

The strength of A-list media domains translate to very real SEO value. A single big-hit PR placement in a top-tier publication can boost a company’s search results to the first page for months or even years. That can confer a tangible advantage over competitors. And who else is likely to be influenced by search results? VCs, of course.

Coverage begets coverage

Funders aren’t the only ones influenced by positive media coverage and page-one search results. Media are, too. It’s a well-known “secret” among PR people that media often follow other media. In particular, broadcast outlets follow print media. Each will develop their own angles and commentary, of course, but it’s a beautiful thing when media coverage snowballs, gaining acceleration and momentum as time goes on. Those earned media stories can be merchandised for recruiting, sales, and funding presentations.

The right PR helps generate demand

Earned media isn’t the most consistent generator of business demand for a company’s products or services; for that, direct-marketing and sales work better. But the splashy PR generated by stories in key media outlets like TechCrunch or VentureBeat come with enormous credibility.

That’s why most organizations bring on PR agencies, of course, and it holds true in the startup world. But it’s a mark of just how valuable many startups and their stakeholders view the right PR campaign that it’s not even the top reason on their lists.

Crenshaw Promotes Team Members

To kick off 2021, we are excited to announce two well deserved promotions.

Caroline Yodice has been promoted to Senior Account Supervisor. Caroline has been a star in Crenshaw’s ad tech group for almost three years, driving very successful programs for LiveIntent, Lotame, Innovid, Boostr, and MediaRadar.  Her clients and coworkers value her hard work and attention to detail and we’re excited to congratulate Caroline on her advancement to Senior Account Supervisor. She’ll be working closely with senior management on successful ad tech programs.

Adam Brett has been promoted from Assistant Account Executive to Account Executive. Adam joined us last February and he has embedded himself as a key team member on accounts like Verizon Media, Uberall, Lotame, and SecureAge, providing excellent media relations and account support. And, no matter what we throw at him, he’s happy to take it on, while asking to do more. We’re excited to see him develop as an AE.

Congrats to both!

 

In Praise of Trade PR For B2B Companies

All PR teams want to earn coverage in top-tier media outlets. Businesses looking to kickstart a PR campaign may shoot for stories in publications like The Wall Street Journal or New York Times. Naturally, this is because a splashy feature on these sites can generate instant visibility, and they reach a large audience.

At the same time, every PR plan should include another type of media – relevant trade publications. Trade pubs may seem unglamorous, but they have their own kind of superpower. Publications dedicated to a specific industry, whether healthcare, manufacturing, or financial services, may lack the broad reach of a national news site, but they engage the decision-makers critical to a B2B organization’s growth. There are good reasons why trade publications can be even more beneficial than the A-list press whose names everyone recognizes. They should be an integral part of any B2B PR strategy. 

Fewer paywalls = more eyeballs

Many top-tier pubs — like Forbes, Washington Post and WSJ, among others — are subscription-based or require registration. This weeds out many casual readers. While a number of trades — such as Adweek and WWD, for example — have also implemented paywalls for some or all content, the majority don’t require a commitment. And at companies where trade news content is relevant, those subscriptions are generally covered as a business expense. This means that most trades have a built-in audience of readers that are already engaged in their content.

More thought leadership opportunities

Over the past couple of years, many large publications have stopped accepting bylined articles and thought leadership pieces from outside companies. Others require membership fees. Of course, it’s still possible to be published on the opinion page of a prestigious national newspaper, but the topic must have broad national or international relevance. Trade publications, too, are selective with the content they accept, but most will entertain publication for a piece on a relevant topic. Many have small staffs and welcome high-quality content from knowledgeable figures in their industry. This results in greater opportunities for company leadership to get their point of view to valuable audiences in the form of bylined articles or other contributed content.

Trade readers are a niche audience 

When looking at trades and how they fit into PR efforts, bear in mind that quality is far more important than quantity. Trades fit comfortably here, as their readers are a niche audience who will not only understand the product or service of a given company in their industry, but could actually have a use for it. Plus, since journalists at these pubs dive more deeply into industry topics, a mention or focus on your brand helps educate those you need to reach.  

Take, for example, Small Biz Trends, one of the most popular publications targeted to small- and medium-sized business owners. If your company offers a solution that benefits small businesses, consistent coverage in a SMB-focused trade is obviously valuable. What’s more, it can be amplified through social platforms like LinkedIn, in prospect newsletters, sales presentations, and customer communications. 

Trade stories are foundational

A solid newsstream in relevant trades will often lay the groundwork for additional stories in more broadly focused media outlets. This is because the manufacturing beat reporter at, say, Bloomberg, will naturally be following manufacturing trades that cover industries like automotive and heavy equipment. Pharma journalists will read biotech and diagnostic trades, depending on their beat, and so on. Coverage begets more coverage, and a strong trade program is a terrific foundation.

Trade allow more in-depth storytelling

Pitching trade press can be easier than getting a story in a large media outlet. The bigger outlets are usually looking for a sexier story, such as a major financing announcement or testimonial from a prominent customer. Further, they often focus on larger companies and brands. Trades, on the other hand, are often interested in stories that might be smaller and less flashy, yet more in-depth. For example, a company’s announcement of a complex, highly technical tool may be hard to communicate to a wide audience, while a vertical trade may love it. 

— 

Trades can be overshadowed by other press, but it’s important for PR pros to appreciate the benefits of trade stories and to explain their value within the organization.

Post-Trump, Can We Bring Back The Apology?

When he caught heat for escaping the frigid Texas weather for a few days of R&R in Cancun, Senator Ted Cruz fell back on family excuses. He was just trying to be a good dad, he explained. He was dropping off the kids at the resort, implying that he never intended to stay. Allies jumped in to defend Cruz by pointing out that as a federal legislator, he couldn’t do much to ease the state’s crisis anyway. Only after the truth was exposed by leaked texts did Cruz admit that his trip was “a mistake.”

Senator Cruz owned up to his spectacularly bad decision only after exhausting every other excuse – dragging out the story over five days and countless news cycles, and launching a thousand social memes. It’s a mistake that will stay with him for a long time, but a quick and sincere apology might have limited the damage.

Trump outrage eclipsed many sins

But there’s another factor in the Cruz debacle, as well as recent missteps by other elected officials, according to a recent item in The New York Times. That’s the relative absence of one Donald J. Trump from the national headlines. The story posits that, after six years, there’s no more opportunity to hide in the shadow cast by the ex-president’s huge media spotlight. “Trump has dominated the political conversation, prompting days of outrage, finger-pointing and general news cycle havoc with nearly every tweet. The audacious behavior of other politicians was often lost amid Mr. Trump’s obsessive desire to dominate the coverage.

That’s an interesting theory, and there’s likely some truth to it. How many stories did the ex-president’s tweets knock out of the digital headlines? Plenty of politicians tried to ride his coattails, but maybe they hid behind them as well.

Yet beyond the constant distraction Trump offered, his presidency – and the cultural and political divide that it accelerated – brought another legacy. The non-apology era. Like Cruz, many elected officials are afflicted with a reflexive refusal to take responsibility for a mistake, or to even admit they made one. Their formula for dealing with a problem or crisis is simple: Don’t. Don’t apologize, no matter what. Blame the media, point fingers at the other side, and be sure to stoke the culture war flames in the process.

It’s behavior that didn’t begin with Trump, and it’s not limited to Republicans. Look at New York’s own governor, who was lauded in the early weeks of the COVID pandemic for his regular communication with constituents. Cuomo now faces scathing criticism for underreporting the number of people who died from the virus in nursing homes. He has yet to admit to any wrongdoing, despite mounting evidence. Last week Assemblyman Ron Kim of Queens accused Cuomo of threatening to “destroy” him if he wouldn’t walk back claims that the administration hid data about COVID nursing home deaths.

Like other elected officials, Cuomo profited from Trump, but only because he wasn’t like him. The former president saw the pandemic as a threat to his standing and preferred to ignore it, while Cuomo embraced his role as COVID crisis communicator. And he was good at it. He conveyed caring and compassion. The contrast with the president made him look better than he otherwise would have. Now both Cuomo and Cruz are in the same boat; they can’t hide or benefit by comparison.

Once more, with feeling

The Trump megaphone is a lot quieter these days, so there’s greater scrutiny of all our public officials. My hope is that we can bring back the public apology. You know, the thing that PR people urge on their clients and decent people expect from their friends and colleagues. The process whereby a public figure acknowledges a wrong or hurt, takes responsibility, promises to correct it where possible, and tries to learn from his mistake. It’s been a long time, but I think we’ll know it when we see it.

10 Things To Know Before Dating a PR Pro

It’s Valentine’s Day, the traditional holiday for couples, and an occasion to show how much we appreciate the special people in our lives.

Let’s face it – dating can be awkward and uncomfortable. Many PR pros have very strong, type-A personalities and can seem intimidating, especially on first dates. In honor of Valentine’s Day, here are a few things you should know about the PR person you may be dating.  

We are planners – This should come as no surprise. In PR, we are very organized and are trained to plan events and programs. We write plans that cover several months and in our personal lives we may do the same. Nothing stresses out a PR person more than last-minute plans with very little thought. We will make the best of the situation but really appreciate a heads-up for date nights or planned events.

Yet we like fast response time – PR, especially a PR agency, is a fast-paced environment. On a daily basis, we are connected to Slack, e-mails, and texts to our team. If we can’t reach someone with one form of communication, we have back-up plans to get that quick response. Nothing is worse than being left on “read” with no response. PR people may even double-text or call when dating. Don’t take it personally; we just like confirmation that you read our message.

Calendar invites are a must – I’m guilty of sending my friends calendar invites weeks ahead of time just for brunch, because I may forget something that isn’t on my calendar. If you’re dating a PR pro, expect calendar invites for nearly everything from date night, vacations or even something small like grocery shopping. If it isn’t on our calendar, we could overbook ourselves. 

We’re great at negotiating – Dine in or take out? Walk in the park or walk by the beach? These are questions couples often ask. PR pros are trained to negotiate with media to get the best story for a client, and sometimes that carries over into our personal lives. We’re in the persuasion business after all. 

We’re attached to our phones – In dating, it can be rude to keep your phone out or to have the ringer on. But we do have those days where it may be after hours and we need to be connected in case of an emergency, especially working with international media or companies. Our worst fear is missing a message that needed immediate attention! 

We geek out over the latest tech announcements – For anyone who doesn’t work in tech, things like the latest product launch or software update are not important. Tech PR teams keep key dates on our radar to see if we can newsjack technology announcements or breaking stories for our clients. We are always looking for opportunities to join the conversations with media, so if we seem obsessed with tech news, please let us have our moment!

Communication is key – In any good relationship, communication is key. It helps anyone learn more about their date or partner to form a healthy relationship. PR people are master communicators – we have a degree in it. 

First date may feel like a media interview – First dates are often awkward and could have moments of silence – but that’s not as likely with a PR person. Going into the date, we will have created a mental list of question. Like media interviews, we often know what questions to expect. We are pros at creating briefing books for executives to prep them on what to expect. Expect a lot of Q&A on the first date.

We can turn any negative into a positive – Unfortunately not everything goes the way we anticipate in PR. The worst feeling is when you expect a client executive to be featured in an article and they are left out for some reason. While this is frustrating, we know how to make the best out of this situation. If our dinner reservation gets cancelled unexpectedly, we will quickly find a new one and it may be better than the original plans, so no worries about small setbacks. 

Expect the unexpected – PR is a fast-paced world. We start our day thinking our work is cut out for us. Then 15 more things are thrown at us. Dating a PR pro can be a lot like that. While we are planners, we do know how to handle the unexpected surprises in life. That’s what keeps it fun and interesting!   

Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at Crenshaw Communications!

The Art Of Analyst Relations: A PR POV

Media relations is a huge part of any PR program, given the third-party validation that comes with earned media. But for B2B companies — particularly in the technology space — sometimes the best way to get in front of a key audience isn’t just with trade and business press, but through industry analyst reports that influence media and customers.

Industry analyst relations (AR) can be a foundation for lead generation. And much like media relations, there are nuances involved. Understanding the art of AR is critical to building relationships with these influencers. With that in mind, here are a few things B2B companies need to know when it comes to AR.

Who are analysts?

Analysts, including those who cover the technology sectors where our clients do business, tend to have very deep knowledge of their areas. Journalists often juggle beats and handle pressing deadlines on a daily basis; analysts, by contrast, are paid to do research and write in-depth reports that may take months. Many are previous practitioners, executives, or researchers in their chosen sectors. 

They typically follow narrow categories or subcategories, from Application Performance Management to Wired and Wireless LAN Access Infrastructure. Even within a sector like ad tech, a publication may have a journalist dedicated to the entire programmatic advertising beat, while an analyst house will have someone specifically dedicated to demand side platforms (DSPs) alone.

Analyst versus journalist end goals

While there may be overlap between the questions and approaches of journalists and analysts, their end goals are different. Both are looking for a better understanding of trends and developments within a given space. However, analysts are doing so as a way to build research reports for buyers, while journalists are collecting points of view and reporting trends for general reader knowledge. Therefore, a degree of self-promotion is warranted when we connect with analysts, whereas journalists generally eschew an overly commercial or promotional POV.

Differences between analyst and media briefings

Given the differences in purview, analyst briefings are far more granular than typical media briefings. For example, while media briefings may get into what a company does, analyst briefings are much more geared towards how it actually does it. Moreover, companies need to demonstrate to analysts why their products are actually superior to others in their category. An analyst briefing is usually an excellent opportunity to differentiate a company from its competition.

This is why we always recommend that clients present either an in-depth deck or a product demo as part of an analyst briefing. It’s useful to have an informal script to ensure that the company representative is hitting all the key points and differentiators. A deck is also a useful “takeaway” for reference when an analyst drafts a report.

Navigating the pay-to-play landscape

One of the biggest differences between analyst relations and media relations is the pay-to-play nature of the analyst firm business model. A paid “partnership” allows for more frequent briefings, more in-depth coverage, analyst participation in company webinars and other various perks. Yet those organizations who lack an AR budget can still have a successful relationship with an analyst. Access is more limited for non-paying partners, so you need to make each interaction count. This means connecting with the right analyst and having a finely tuned presentation that will make an impact.

Additionally, PR teams need to get creative about staying top-of-mind with analysts. By sending over one-off monthly company updates or setting up off-the-record conversations companies can circumvent the pay-to-play landscape and build long-term analyst relationships that will result in valuable earned coverage in industry reports.

How PR and AR work together

We think of analyst reports as great prospecting tools for B2B tech companies, because they are. This is particularly true in complex and expensive categories like SaaS, ad tech, cybersecurity and AI. A relevant analyst report can save a business customer valuable time in researching a company-wide purchase. But major analyst reports like Gartner’s Magic Quadrants, for example, are also influential for journalists who cover those categories. That’s why PR teams work hard to prepare clients for analyst meetings and to promote positive reports after they’re published. 

Don’t forget the up-and-comers

Most PR people are familiar with the well recognized analyst firms like Gartner, Forrester,  and IDC, and others. But it pays to research emerging analyst companies and those niche and up-and-coming firms such as Ovum, 451 and Ventana, that have a relevant orientation. A report from a highly specialized analyst firm can have a big impact, so smart PR teams will track all players and reach out well in advance of the publication of key reports.  

Press Release Newswire Services – Worth The Cost?

In the PR world, press releases are our bread and butter. They’ve been a staple of the business for decades because they serve a distinct purpose: to inform the media of news. However, in the age of the 24/7 digital news cycle, the role of the press release is up for debate — and some consider them obsolete.

But are they really? Have reporters stopped asking to see the full release when you contact them about news – a partnership, company milestone, new product or a big hire? No. Businesses use different media to tell their story in this evolving PR environment, but press releases REMAIN an effective and trustworthy source of information for companies big and small. They’re here to stay.

But a press release is only as good as its distribution. Is it enough to post it on your own website or blog? Probably not. So, should PR teams use newswire services to push news out? Many are expensive and those costs can add up. 

What is newswire distribution?

For a fee, any organization can upload their press release to a newswire service that distributes it directly to news organizations, much like the original news agencies like Associated Press fed reports to newspapers in the early days of electronic journalism. Companies opt for newswire distribution because it’s quick, efficient, and guaranteed. It has also traditionally offered a temporary boost for search rankings for the organizations generating the news, although that has changed. A few of the top picks for press release distribution services include:

Business Wire – Known for robust targeting, outlet-type choices, multimedia options and its ability to distribute across 100,000 premium outlets (broadcast, digital and print). Keep a check on their pricing as they’re expensive.

GlobeNewswire – Offers real-time monitoring of online news, print, and social media and a 360-degree view of your performance.

PR Newswire – More on the affordable side and best suited for mid-sized business news. This Cision-owned media distribution platform boasts a network of over 3,000 newsrooms (like The New York Times, ABC News, BuzzFeed and more). 

PRWeb – Like PR Newswire, PR Web is also owned by Cision and usually a low-cost distribution option.

Other lower-priced options for tighter budgets can include eMailWire, PR.com and NewwireNext among others. Their cost range is well within $300 for the packages offered.

Distribution to news agencies, editorial offices and terminals as well as associated news sites is guaranteed in most cases, but coverage is not. At the higher end, costs can run nearly $2000 for an announcement of average length, depending on the distribution. Naturally companies may question the value of newswire distribution services, which offer pros and cons.

Benefits of using a newswire

Reach: Newswire services reach an extensive network, so a newswire release will reach online news sites, portals, databases, and websites devoted to specific industries. You can also choose to have your press release sent to regional, national, or international media. Additionally, they offer analytics that show, for example, how many people viewed your release, where the news appeared online, the number of unique visitors, and monthly page views. The comprehensive reports can be helpful.

Referral traffic: Since you have full control over the content of a press release, you also have the opportunity to include backlinks to your website. 

Translation: If your release needs to be sent to a non-English country and requires translation, newswire offers that as well (but at an additional cost).

Where newswire lacks

No coverage guarantees: Sure, the release reaches multiple news outlets, but wire distribution does not guarantee coverage. It doesn’t ensure that a reporter will open or read the release. An impressive-looking report doesn’t necessarily mean that major media actually used the announcement in their coverage.

Cost:  Newswires range in cost, but many are expensive. The cost depends on the length of the press release and the scope of the distribution. For GlobeNewswire release distribution in North America, the cost stands at $600 for first 400 words and goes up to $140 for each additional 100 words. Similarly, price point is a caveat for Business Wire and is better suited for large PR and marketing budgets.

SEO value: Since Google made press releases nofollow links, SEO impact is less likely. So a release should be written to gain the type of coverage that will itself boost SEO – that is, from high-value media domains, not for a quick bump.

For companies that are publicly traded, financial announcements always warrant a newswire distribution due to timely disclosure regulations. However, for small or mid-sized companies, spending thousands of dollars on non-financial announcements is probably not worthwhile.

Those organizations should instead focus on developing the right media strategy (exclusive or embargo outreach) to get media attention and coverage, then plan to amplify the news by sharing on their website, social media channels and direct marketing. 

Newswires aren’t earned media 

My take: To generate the right amount of noise and quality coverage, newswire services are NOT the only answer. They should be used sparingly, usually for major announcements, and approached as a means to an end, not the end in itself. 

Besides quarterly earnings, news around key company hire, an acquisition, big product launches and brand partnerships, among others, should probably be distributed via newswire. Other announcements should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to manage budgets properly. And to spark reporters’ interest in covering the news for maximum mileage, nothing beats that time-honored public relations tactic — one-on-one outreach.

Crenshaw Clients Nominated for Campaign US Female Frontier Awards

Our clients are trailblazers! Campaign US announced the honorees for the third annual Female Frontier awards, celebrating female leaders and rising stars breaking boundaries in a historically male-dominated industry. Congrats to Jessica Hogue, GM of measurement and analytics, Innovid, Stephanie Geno, SVP of marketing, Innovid, and Rathi Murthy, chief technology officer, Verizon Media! All have been named as finalists. 

Nominees have been selected by a panel of industry leaders from top agencies and brands, based on their leadership and demonstrated ability to make positive change. Winners will be announced on March 4. Good luck to all!

7 Occasions When PR And Marketing Must Work Together

Between the PR and marketing functions of any organization there can be creative tension or even competition. Sometimes that’s because each team struggles for their rightful piece of the same budget pie, especially during lean times. But the conflict typically runs deeper. PR and marketing are perceived very differently, especially in a corporate environment. Marketing is a line function responsible for generating sales, business growth and profits. PR, on the other hand, with its ties to reputation and crisis management, is thought to play a more defensive role, designed to protect the corporate brand.

This isn’t really the case, of course, or at least it’s not that simple. A strategic PR campaign can build real corporate and product brand value, especially over time. A great brand marketing PR campaign can even drive leads and sales. But it’s not a contest. The smartest organizations know that both marketing and PR are essential and that the two should work in concert. And there are specific situations when it’s particularly important for PR and marketing functions to team up.

A new product launch

A solid marketing strategy can drive quick awareness for a new product or service. That’s because paid advertising generates reach and frequency of message to inform specific audiences. As a complement, a strategic PR campaign is also valuable, especially for a complicated or high-end product launch. PR-generated content offers a depth that helps educate customers about a complex product or a new category. Earned media stories and interviews bring credibility to the more commercial ad and marketing messages. This is particularly true for B2B categories where products or services need explanation and customers face a learning curve. It’s also the case with tech products that must continually improve and innovate to meet customer needs and take advantage of emerging technology. You basically can’t have one without the other.

A sudden market shift or crisis

Perception can lag reality, and no brand wants to be left behind when things turn. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, big brands instantly adjusted advertising to suit a more sober public mood and show empathy for customers. At the same time, they needed to make sure that their customers, employees, and communities heard from the companies behind the brands. Corporations raced to tell their publics what they were prepared to do to support them. Any crisis situation, loosely defined as a circumstance likely to negatively impact reputation, calls for an all-hands-on-deck response that integrates paid, owned and earned media to meet the moment. Even common market shifts, as when a nimble new competitor steals thunder from established players, call for a cooperative effort to communicate that a brand or a business has adapted to market changes.

A milestone event

A corporate celebration or brand anniversary is a time-honored example of the power of PR and marketing working in concert to tell the same story. Most such occasions are foreseeable, so there’s usually ample lead time to align the various corporate functions, from HR to PR and beyond. In reality, most corporate anniversaries don’t have deep inherent news value. Yet they can offer a great excuse to launch a celebration or frame a new positioning. Savvy marketing and PR teams will dream up tactics that take advantage of the anniversary hook to tell a story about the organization’s history and values. Or they may tie it to new announcements, success metrics, a timely rebranding, or exciting future plans. It calls for a multi-layered campaign supported not only by traditional and digital PR tactics, but with special events for employees and stakeholders, paid and earned social media campaigns, executive visibility, and new creative concepts designed to move the brand forward. The options are endless, and it’s a time to think big, which means involving the best brains.

A major market research initiative

Lots of people think market research is just for marketing, naturally. But it can be advantageous to loop in the PR team before data parameters and goals are set. For one thing, good PR campaigns are increasingly informed by data. Research into audiences and issues that impact a brand category can help us understand our publics and keep things on track. But it’s also likely that with a few tweaks, the PR group can add elements that can turn an inside-baseball component into a mediaworthy story or a way to frame a campaign. This usually involves minimal added cost. For example, a pharma brand may mount quantitative research around an emerging health condition to assess attitudes around key symptoms. With the addition of a few closed-ended questions that invite respondents to make analogies for their illness or rate their emotions around flareups, a fresh storyline around the condition may emerge based on the data.

An influencer marketing campaign

According to a new report from marketing consultancy Ebiquity, influencer marketing often starts with the PR department, particularly when budgets are constrained. But as it matures and budgets grow, the branding team often takes over. “The longer brands work with influencers, the more confident and competent they become in running those relationships themselves, and the more comfortable they are navigating a key part of the influencer marketing challenge, managing the content and creative output.” Influencer marketing may belong in the brand group of many organizations, yet it’s most effective when it’s credible and authentic. A PR sensibility can help ensure both. From the personalities or experts involved to the content and media contact that is orchestrated, the two can and should work together on the overall plan, no matter who’s in charge of the care and feeding of influencers.

Message planning

There’s nothing worse than when one corporate function’s messaging dilutes or conflicts with that of another. The PR outreach may emphasize product exclusivity and premium quality, while advertising and promotion are running a monthly discount to boost sales. Not exactly contradictory, but not the best timing. We all know we should integrate planning and ensure alignment. Yet the best intentions to map PR to a marketing calendar can be sidetracked when things are siloed and everyone is rushing to hit metrics and meet deadlines. But at least one joint planning meeting per quarter can pay off for most brands, and information-sharing should be the norm. Marketing teams have regular access to information like analytics, leads, conversions, and sales trends. PR and social media staff, for their part, are the first responders for brand reputation changes, customer complaints, or opportunities for (positive and negative) social virality. In an era where information and opinion are often intermingled, PR and marketing should share data and coordinate on a regular basis. Otherwise they are throwing away opportunities.

A brand relaunch or comeback

When Patrick Doyle took the helm at Domino’s Pizza, the brand was struggling with poor reviews of its mediocre pizza. To make things worse, a couple of rogue Domino’s employees had posted a video where they put nasty things on the pizzas before baking them, and the prank went viral. Yuck. Doyle mustered the troops and made plans for a brand transformation that turned out to be historic. It led with an unprecedented ad campaign in which Domino’s admitted its pizza simply wasn’t very good and pledged to reformulate its recipe. It changed not only the product but its website, pizza boxes, and brand. To top it off, Doyle himself became the ambassador for the new and improved Domino’s through a kind of PR apology tour of one-on-one media interviews and high-level speaking opportunities. It combined all the ingredients for a successful brand recovery.