Crenshaw Communications Reports Record Growth for 2021
Cliff Maroney named Vice President and Sasha Dookhoo named Director of B2B Tech to support expanding client roster and company growth
New York, NY, January 24, 2022 — Crenshaw Communications, a leading New York-based public relations agency specializing in PR for B2B, ad tech, and SaaS technology brands, today announced record increases for 2021 and personnel moves to support continued growth. This past year, Crenshaw saw a 23% revenue increase and has added nine organizations to its client list.
Cliff Maroney has been promoted to Vice President. He was previously a Director and has been with Crenshaw since 2012 where he has worked on B2B brands in cybersecurity, ecommerce, AI, and enterprise technology.
Additionally, Sasha Dookhoo joined the B2B team as Director. She brings a wealth of technology PR experience to Crenshaw, offering deep expertise in SaaS, AI/ML, enterprise tech and cleantech, as well as fintech and blockchain.
“As we continue to grow our company, we needed to make personnel hires and promotions to support our growing client roster,” noted Chris Harihar, Partner, Crenshaw Communications. “Cliff is the person everyone looks to for advice and guidance. His expertise and creative approach to new accounts have helped secure many top B2B tech brands. We are also excited to have Sasha on our senior leadership team to support and guide junior staff and direct business development initiatives.”
Cliff Maroney added, “I’m honored to work with such a great team. The B2B tech space is constantly changing and evolving to adapt to new trends and I am looking forward to the future of Crenshaw as a top B2B PR agency in the U.S.”
In the past year Crenshaw Communications has added new clients, including Chili Piper, People Data Labs, and Sleek Technologies. Longstanding clients include Fractal Analytics, National Cybersecurity Alliance and Smart Communications.
About Crenshaw Communications
Crenshaw Communications is a New York PR and content agency specializing in B2B public relations for high-growth technology companies. Whether the goal is to launch a new product, drive web traffic, or create a leadership brand position, Crenshaw extends PR tools and tactics beyond the limits of the traditional to create both earned coverage and word-of-mouth to build brands.
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.
A successful PR campaign is a strategic one. That starts with planning earned and branded content around the schedules of target publications, as well as key dates, milestone events, and industry happenings. Planning is vital to successful pitching and one essential component is the humble editorial calendar. It’s the worst-kept secret in most PR firms.
An edcal is a content roadmap that ensures a steady flow of media coverage, even absent major news announcements. It’s like an unsung hero of the public relations world — not flashy or creative, but vital to a robust media placement schedule. Here’s how edcals can boost earned media outcomes, track goals, and keep all the moving parts of a PR plan aligned.
What is an editorial calendar?
Editorial calendars are created by publications to help editors plan out future issues. Though they’re typically created for advertising purposes, edcals give a PR team a topic guide for creation of press releases, blog posts and content marketing. By laying out what content to create, when to pitch and whom to pitch, editorial calendars make PR both easier and more effective. Any tool that helps you stay organized is one worth investing time to set up. Edcals help streamline content marketing efforts and reduces the stress of not always knowing what to publish when.
As part of a good PR plan, the edcal can contain special dates, events and occurrences as well as the publication’s schedule. There are four types of content to plan for:
Date-specific content: Begin with dates that are known and likely won’t change, such as holidays, specific launch days or company announcements.
Evergreen content: Not tied to a particular day, evergreen content can be used any time.
Breaking news: While this type of news can’t be planned, it’s still an important part of editorial calendars because it allows the opportunity for prominent placements and can help build credibility with reporters.
Repurposed content: Refresh previous content and select successful pitch ideas and posts. By updating a headline or freshening a statistic and repackaging the material as a new story angle, you can repurpose most content.
How are editorial calendars used?
Edcals outline the content that media outlets will focus on for the entire year. In a similar way, we keep a calendar that outlines key topics for promotion, including proactive media pitches and social media posts for the year. With a structured plan in place, PR pros can space out appropriate brand announcements on relevant days. Timing is everything when it comes to earned media, so we naturally want to avoid releasing announcements that might be overshadowed by other news during a holiday season or the runup to a major election. Of course, unforeseen media opportunities will come up throughout the year and we may have to stray a bit from the calendar, but that’s the beauty of a flexible media plan.
In order to see a return on investment, brands will ask about key performance indicators and metrics that have been met for each major time period. Having an editorial calendar can also help measure PR performance over the calendar year. Depending on how many pitch ideas there are mapped out on the edcal, PR teams can set goals for themselves, i.e. three or four published pieces per pitch angle or even set a quarterly goal like 30 stories per quarter based on four pitch ideas per month. You can track these goals right on the calendar, If you fall short, you’ll know to make them up in the next month.
Align the Team
An edcal can also align goals among PR, sales, marketing and higher-level executives so all messaging remains consistent from the top down. For example, a sales team can keep the team posted on important product updates, releases and announcements, and C-level group can share which industry events they’ll be attending that they want to be highlighted in content.
A social media strategy can also be aligned with the calendar to keep messaging and brand voice consistent across all channels. With an editorial calendar you can match your social media updates with the content you’re pitching. For every newly published piece of content, make sure you have several social shares to promote it over the following days and weeks. A long-term vision means you’re pushing a consistent brand voice and content that supports the company’s marketing goals. That’s where a solid PR plan works hardest.
As digital content consumption continues to grow, PR pros are always looking for ways to target specific audiences through social media. We know the power that social media campaigns can wield – from amplifying earned media that PR generates to marketing products. And adding influencers to the mix can boost those PR efforts exponentially.
Influencers who resonate with a specific segment help brands stay relevant by cutting through the digital noise. The blend of social media reach and trust in specific personalities can really amplify a campaign. Read on to find out how to craft the best collaboration.
Don’t count out influencers for B2B PR
The splashiest influencer marketing campaigns tend to be in beauty, fashion, and other lifestyle sectors, but don’t count it out for B2B PR. Many B2B categories, like software, have long selling cycles where customers spend significant time learning about products and services. Educational or service-oriented content that shares expertise is typically a big part of a B2B PR program, and that’s where expert influencers come in. A business leader or subject-matter expert (SME) who posts content in the form of bylined pieces, white papers, blog posts, or explainer videos can help differentiate a company and add personality to its brand.
Influencer marketing creates trust
In nearly any category peer recommendations can play a pivotal role in a buying decision. Ninety percent of people are more likely to trust others they see when scrolling through their feed versus a traditional marketing post by a brand that’s clearly pushing a product or service.
Influencers typically spend a significant amount of time – in most cases, years – building a relationship with a base of fans or followers. Their credibility (or lack of it) stems from how they show expertise while remaining relatable. The most successful will leverage their emotional connections with audiences to create brand loyalty and inspire people to try something new.
Micro-Influencers help manage risk
As engagement with traditional media channels like TV, radio, and print has declined, marketing with influencers offers a natural and low-pressure way to get brand-related information in front of a targeted audience.
Micro-influencers have between 5,000 to 100,000 followers and may operate in niche markets. Some will even have higher engagement and conversion rates compared to mega influencers with millions of followers, due to their perceived authenticity. These smaller-scale influencers can also be powerful for B2B PR efforts, where they offer the advantages of lower costs and the ability to generate social engagement that is more tightly focused in vertical sectors like financial services or business technology, for example.
Working with micro-influencers is also a way to manage risk and stretch a marketing or PR budget. A group of micro-influencers with small, but highly engaged audiences might be a wiser investment than partnering with a single, more expensive mega- influencer, and there’s always the flexibility to ramp up or down as things progress.
Finding the right influencer
The right fit is essential to a successful influencer campaign. Brands and their PR teams should look for the right partner based on a highly engaged following rather than a dazzling follower count. Here are other factors to keep in mind:
Look through the influencer’s content to see how it aligns with your messaging. The content and the audience of the influencer far outweigh the amount of traffic they receive.
Engagement is indicative of how frequently an influencer’s audience engages with their content. Frequency of fan engagement is a key sign of meaningful relationships.
Though it can actually be overrated, reach is a valid metric, and the trend line of an influencer’s reach is an important factor in planning a future relationship. It’s also vital to keep in mind the platforms prioritized by the target audience, of course. B2B brands will want to reach industry decision-makers who are typically more engaged on Twitter and LinkedIn, while consumer marketers may want to focus on Instagram or Snap.
High-quality content posted on a consistent basis correlates with the traffic and a higher rate of returning visitors, which, in turn, this increases audience engagement and reach.
Influencers with a smaller ratio of sponsored content appear more authentic and are more trusted by their audiences. Personal anecdotes with natural mention of a brand are also a good idea, as they often hold more weight than a review.
It’s also a good idea to see if a potential influencer has strong relationships with other influencers, and if so, how their respective audiences overlap. The overlap between their audience and yours is a key indicator of whether a campaign or long-term partnership will offer a high return-on-investment.
Influencer content and measurement goals
Explore the type of content that potential influencers publish and compare it with your audience’s preferences and behaviors.
Creating content with an influencer is a great way to build a relationship. Here are some ideas:
– Host a live Q&A
– Hold a webinar with an influencer as the host
– Write a series or blog together
– Record a podcast episode
Match metrics like reach and share of voice with your overall PR goals to examine the impact of your influencer.
Engage with your community and build relationships
Once the collaboration begins, it’s time to focus on building and strengthening relationships with your followers. Offering valuable content on a regular basis will lay a foundation, while aligning with an expert or influencer will deepen the engagement and build trust over time.
In PR, a content calendar is a key part of any public relations plan. For B2B clients like those we represent, it can include the topics and suggested resources for bylined articles, blog posts, social media posts, digital video, and longer-form content like white papers, among other elements. A good content calendar is like a roadmap that helps a brand tell its story. Here are some ways to construct a killer content calendar and get the most out of it.
Start with tentpole events and initiatives
Winging it is not an effective strategy, and taking the time to create a full content calendar will save time and alleviate stress in the long run. When building your calendar, start with upcoming company tentpole events and announcements, then fill in the rest according to seasonal marketing activities and anything else you find relevant. After, you can build out the corresponding content.
For example, you may plan for a company’s product launch to generate a press release, a social post linking to the press release across social channels, a social post with a top media placement across social channels, and an in-depth blog post for the company website. For social media specifically, quality and quantity combined make for the highest engagement. Companies that publish more than 16 posts a month typically generate three and a half times more traffic than those which publish less than four. Meaning, there should be frequent posts, varying in topics from article promotions to National Cookie Day, if you could think of a way that it’s relevant to your brand. Looking into lesser known holidays that may be relevant to brands in advance can make for fun social media posts!
Be sure to space out announcements
Content calendars are a visual way of seeing what’s in store for the future, making them effective for planning. Seeing all of a brand’s initiatives on paper makes it more obvious if announcements are scheduled too close together, or whether messages compete or overlap. Ideally, you want your messaging to be a progression; for example, a funding announcement, followed by senior-level hires, after which an ambitious new company initiative is unveiled. If news items aren’t planned carefully, the company’s announcements may not get the attention they deserve. Of course, a good plan will take into consideration major news-generating events like Election Day, for example, which should be avoided. Yet most external happenings are unpredictable, so it’s best to build in flexibility but not stress over unexpected events.
Refresh with formal creative sessions
You may be surprised by the new ideas you can generate when you schedule the time to sit down and think. Throughout the day, projects and deadlines may keep us busy, but forcing a focus on new ways to tell a brand’s story for the next month or quarter can give way to a productive brainstorming session, particularly if you have it with other team members. However, make sure that your meeting is a productive use of time for everyone (a recent study from the Harvard Business Reviewfound that 71% of senior managers said meetings in general are unproductive and inefficient.) During the brainstorm session, do not shut down any ideas, no matter how far-fetched they may seem, as you never know which remark can plant the seed for a great idea. Other tips for a productive brainstorm include coming prepared, creating a time cap, and taking thorough notes.
Measure performance daily
You can actually keep track internally of how many stories a particular company announcement garnered, or how well a social media post performed, right in your content calendar. Of course, every content calendar is different, but tracking the numbers right in the doc may work as a way to stay organized. You can even set goals, and if you fall short, adjust accordingly for the next quarter. Besides Excel and Google Sheets, some other tools for creating content calendars include monday.com, Smartsheet, and Wrike.
Park future ideas so nothing is lost
You can make the most out of your content calendar by using it as a live document and keeping it constantly updated. It’s best to do a formal update once per quarter, according to the business or marketing plan, but you may choose to refresh it far more often. In addition to planned content, you can establish a “parking lot” for ideas and potential topics that may not fit in at the moment but can be useful later. It’s also effective to list social keywords for each piece of content to all creators are on track.
Include client quotes or thoughts
If you plan to newsjack an upcoming event, it can be helpful to get quotes or thoughts from the brand in advance, to be used for a future blog post or even reactive commentary. This can be stored right in your content calendar. By keeping all relevant materials together in one doc, you can prevent these thoughts from getting buried in your inbox. The nature of newsjacking is such that most often you won’t know the news in advance and you’ll have to act swiftly for your brand to be included in media coverage. Yet if you do happen to know of any events that may be relevant, then it’s great to be prepared.
Include competitive messaging
It may make sense to keep track of competitive content or even media coverage in your content calendar, in a separate tab. This makes for easy visualization for how your brand’s messaging and tone should stack up compared to competitors. After all, what we do is all about differentiation.
Planning and time management are very important in PR, so any system to help stay on track and on schedule is useful. Don’t be discouraged if some ideas are scrapped as things move around – you may even be able to use that content later on!
Since LinkedIn launched its Stories feature last month, it has won mixed reviews. But PR professionals shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss it!
Of course, with over 706 million global users, LinkedIn is the go-to social platform for B2B professionals, and it’s probably still the best way to build a network with colleagues, classmates and industry professionals. It’s also a great place to have conversations around hot topics in tech, leadership and current events.
LinkedIn Stories is similar to Instagram or Facebook stories, allowing users to post an update that will stay live for 24 hours. The story feature makes sense for Instagram and Facebook where you can share real-time updates, but why did LinkedIn feel they needed this feature?
According to LinkedIn, “LinkedIn Stories enable members and organizations to share images and short videos of their everyday professional moments.” In a pre-COVID world, this feature would have been great to use during industry conferences and events. While the timing of launch may be odd, this is definitely a feature PR pros should convince executives to include in their social strategy. Here are five ways to incorporate LinkedIn stories into yours.
Share professional tips
Instagram and Facebook stories are a great place to share real time pictures, videos and updates, so why not try this out on LinkedIn Stories? Create a social schedule of quotable tips from executives that can be shared a few times a week. The goal here is to share comments or quotes that are short but impactful. You want to grab your audience’s attention very quickly. Make sure content is easy to digest and you’re not cramming everything into one story. If you want to share five tips, create five slides and space out the updates to make a bigger impact.
Highlight ‘events’ in real time
One of the big trends of 2020 was a shift to virtual events, primarily on Zoom. In PR, we believe that securing speaking events for executives is a strong way to promote thought leadership and position clients as industry leaders. Share clips from virtual conferences with short soundbites of high-impact statements from business leaders. When the event is over, if you have access to a full recording, you can tease it in stories as well encouraging connections to watch the full talk if they missed it.
Host a Q&A
A fun feature on stories is opening a question on your story and asking for followers and connections to weigh in. Consider hosting a weekly or monthly Q&A around current events in a given industry, — maybe on new tech launches or reactive comments around breaking news. Create a two-way conversation between business leaders and their connections. If you’re looking for a way to spread out content, ask connections to submit questions in advance and answer them a few days later.
Preview company announcements and launches
One of the benefits of LinkedIn Stories is that when users log on, the stories will be featured at the top of the page before they start scrolling. Sometimes user posts can be lost in endless scrolling, but if you have a story, you have a better chance of higher engagement. Did your company just acquire funding or are launching a new tech offering? Tease this announcement in your story. Perhaps preview the headline of a press release to gauge attention and direct users to your company’s page or your own – wherever the press release link is live. Continue this momentum by posting any coverage you generate from the announcement.
Highlight personal and company achievements
LinkedIn is the perfect place to share job promotions and personal achievements. Use LinkedIn Stories to highlight these wins. On an executive’s LinkedIn Stories, you can also share personnel changes and moves highlighting achievements and accolades. Connections will see how proud a business leader is of their staff, for example, and positive encouragement motivates and inspires any team to exceed expectations.
How will you use LinkedIn stories? Let me know on Twitter @colleeno_pr.