startup launch

How to build a successful PR campaign for a startup in 2014

One fairly safe bet for the coming 12 months is that we’ll see thousands more startups being launched—many with significant backing behind them.

Following the many successful tech IPOs of last year and the stories of new billionaires, not only is there plenty of money finding its way back into the startup ecosystem, but the allure of entrepreneurship is glowing brighter than ever.  So here are a few tips for those planning launch campaigns for startups in the year ahead.

1. Consider all available channels, platforms, and touch points. 
Don’t think in terms of traditional media vs. social media. Weigh all the relevant channels for reaching your target audiences, whether specific media, online communities, forums, or offline events. Develop a profile of your target user, and consider all the potential ways to reach that person. It will probably be a combination of many methods that will inform your target users and motivate them to take action.

2. People want to be involved, so let them be. 
The surging growth of crowd funding not only is testament to the growing appeal of investing in enterprising ideas, but also is indicative of people’s desire to be engaged and involved in bringing new products or services to market. They want to share their views on products and contribute to their success. Crowd funding is just one of many ways that startups can build a community of supporters before a launch.

3. Create great, digital-friendly content. 
Though journalists often still value formal written announcements with facts, dates, and media-friendly quotes, there are many other ways of disseminating a message through digital channels—whether it’s with photos, video or infographics.  For startups that are aligned with topical trends or defining new ones, serving as a source of insight through high-quality and informative content will help attract potential users.

4. Take a fully integrated approach. 
As well as working your media relations skills, managing social media channels, and engaging in great content creation and content marketing, make sure you consider paid media campaigns. Though you may want to avoid traditional media purchases and display ads, social media now presents an array of more subtle techniques for propagating the message and can be highly effective when used in conjunction with traditional PR tactics.

5. Use analytics to track progress and tweak strategy. 
Delivering a successful launch campaign can make all the difference, so you should keep reviewing progress and tweak your approach if necessary. When you’re using analytics, it shouldn’t be too difficult to spot which tactics are working and which need adjusting. It may also be worth realigning your budget so you can put a greater emphasis on the most effective channels and ensure maximum impact from the campaign.

(this blog was published in PR Daily)

LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman

10 reasons why PRs should love LinkedIn

While I’ve found LinkedIn useful for over a decade, it has truly blossomed in recent years.  So much so that it’s now become an intrinsic part of my work each day.  Admittedly the industries I work across - technology and communications – were relatively quick to adopt it as a business networking platform, making it particularly powerful.  However, other industries are now catching up fast and even the legal industry now seems to be getting on board.   Here’s why I’m spending so much time on LinkedIn and why anyone in PR should be doing the same thing:

1. LinkedIn as a platform for showcasing my experience – as well as serving as an enhanced online CV with recommendations, I can bring it to life with pictures and video.  I can use keywords to make my profile more search friendly as well as create additional profiles in different languages to help reach people in emerging markets.

2. LinkedIn as a source of great content – its transformation from networking platform to content publisher has been impressive and I regularly enjoy reading exclusive LinkedIn content as well as content it suggests from other sources and articles shared by the people in my network.

3. LinkedIn as a source of talent – I can search by name, company, keyword and location.  I can find the people I need to talk to whether they’re in London, San Francisco or Moscow.  No wonder it has become the primary tool for recruitment firms… and why businesses are increasingly doing their own recruitment. 

4. LinkedIn as a source of industry insight – it helps me build an understanding of journalists, prospects, businesses and particular areas of technology.

5. LinkedIn as a platform for clients – the Influencer Programme enables its authors to reach a potential audience of 259 million people.  The most read story by a contributor had 1.8m views!  Company pages and Groups are also highly effective for developing a community and engaging with stakeholders.  

6. LinkedIn as a source of media opportunities for my clients – I’m finding opportunities for clients in influential media via LinkedIn groups as journalists look to connect with industry experts directly.

7.  LinkedIn as a new business tool – the platform is hugely valuable in helping me find new business opportunities in the UK and beyond.  Indeed, one of my clients was secured through an approach on LinkedIn without any prior relationship with anyone in his business.

8. LinkedIn as an ad platform – I’m particularly fond of sponsored updates, which I can use for clients as well as for promoting my own case studies to people outside of my network.  It provides a powerful array of options for ad targeting – you can specify title, company, industry and location.

9.  LinkedIn as a tool for developing my contacts database – the ability to export contacts is helping me to expand my database for marketing tools like MailChimp.

10.  LinkedIn as an amplifier of my client’s media coverage – the ‘In the News’ feature often notifies a client’s entire network when he or she has been quoted in the media, adding additional value to my work. Brilliant!

(this blog was published in PR Daily)

Getting an interview on CNBC

Maximise the impact of your broadcast interview #prtips

So you’ve got yourself an interview on Bloomberg TV, you’ve prepared your messaging, memorised a few key phrases and made sure your not wearing a patterned shirt.  You’re a little nervous but excited to be going on live television and satisfied you’ve done everything to make the most of the opportunity.  Right?

Wrong!  Many people fail to maximise their opportunity on TV by not providing additional data points and insights to the news editor.  It’s easy to feel extremely grateful for the opportunity to be on the show and leave it at that, but broadcast news teams are normally very open to placing insights alongside the interviewee that illustrate the credibility of the spokesperson or company.  Indeed, they’re keen to show their viewers that they have access to the opinions that matter.

Here’s an example… an interview I recently secured on CNBC for Mark Tluszcz of Mangrove Capital Partners – one of the top technology dealmakers in Europe – on its flagship morning news show.  As we headed towards the studio in a taxi, I fired off an email to the editor with some background stats and insights on Mark and the firm.  And I watched the interview from the green room, waiting to see how it would pan out.

Firstly, they kicked off the interview with its ‘Street Cred’ insert – which featured some background on Mark as well as referencing how he has featured in the Forbes Midas List three years running.  They also featured a stat on the size of the venture capital industry to wake investors up to its maturity in Europe….

CNBC's Street Cred slider
CNBC’s Street Cred shot

Further into the interview, they pulled up the ‘Company Profile’ – with his key successes and his area of focus.  They stated that the firm was the first investor in Skype (which tends to get people’s attention), his interest in consumer internet ideas and his expertise on technology in Russia…

CNBC’s Company Profile shot

Then it was the icing on the cake – they pulled up a ‘Company Performance’ shot explaining why Mangrove is one of the top 20 venture capital firms globally and flagging that it turned its investment in Wix from $10m into $170m….

CNBC Company Performance
CNBC’s Company Performance shot

Suffice to say I delighted with that result as well as Mark’s performance on camera.   The early morning interview was a great way to start a busy day of media briefings .

If you don’t ask you don’t get!

Getting into Wall Street Journal

PR Case Study: How to raise a VC’s profile around a portfolio IPO – Take a Peek! #startups #VC

Europe’s top performing early-stage venture capital firm Mangrove Capital Partners, famous for being the first investor in Skype, was looking to raise its profile around the NASDAQ listing of its portfolio company Wix.com.  Executing corporate communications around a listing can be a tricky business, especially given regulations on quiet periods, so it required a considered approach and some delicate media management skills.

Having learnt more about the firm and its approach to investing, we set about creating messaging and tailored story lines for a variety of business, venture capital and technology media.  As well as hosting a series of media interviews in advance of the listing, we also piggy-backed Twitter’s IPO – securing a live interview in Bloomberg TV’s flagship news show, on the morning of Wix.com’s float.  We also issued a timely press release with a variety of media-friendly quotes to European and US media as trading in Wix.com commenced.

Bloomberg TV
Live interview on Bloomberg TV

The result was a series of media placements – including Wall Street Journal Europe, New York Times, Bloomberg TV, VentureBeat, peHUB and Alt Assets – which demonstrated the firm’s expertise and met its strategic objectives of reaching the global investor community as well as technology entrepreneurs.

Grabyo launch campaign

How @Grabyo became the hottest startup in #SocialTV

Real-time TV clip-sharing platform Grabyo approached me back in June this year.  It had created a slick product and was looking to launch in just nine days – when its first project with Sky went live.  The founder was looking to raise awareness among the broadcast, advertising and technology industries in order to support customer and partner acquisition, help attract talent and drive interest among the venture capital community.  While most PR agencies wouldn’t have taken him seriously, I was impressed by his technology and his ability to win a project with a major UK broadcaster so quickly… and so I leapt at the opportunity!  Working around the clock to develop a launch plan as well as prepare the company messaging and launch materials, I advised taking the ‘exclusive’ approach and pre-briefed TechCrunch – which went on to write a fantastic in-depth story as his project went live.

Image

In the following four months, I was able to generate 41 media articles and blogs with a potential print, online and social reach of over 15m.  Coverage included in-depth stories in Broadcast Magazine, Campaign, Marketing Week, Media Week, The Drum, TechCrunch, The Next Web, The Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent and The Evening Standard, all of which was posted online and on Twitter.  Ever since his first media coverage, his phones haven’t stopped ringing, he has declined funding offers from broadcasters as well as an invitation from one of the top VC’s in Europe, and has been invited to present to every major social network.  In less than six months, Grabyo has gone from fledgling startup to one of the hottest businesses in social TV – just a shame I haven’t been able to secure a stake in his business!

broadcast interview

3 easy steps for securing a broadcast interview

Securing an interview on broadcast media is not only great for awareness building, but it helps position the company/spokesperson as an expert on key topics, issues and trends – and getting on the BBC or Bloomberg isn’t as difficult as you might think.

Back when I was working for Content Technologies, security news was regularly hitting headlines.  Remember the ILOVEYOU virus or the infamous Claire Swires who had to go into hiding after her graphic email was shared around the world?  It was rich pickings and I was in and out of broadcaster studios twice a week!  With technology now very much of mainstream interest, broadcasters are covering technology more and more – so here’s a few quick pointers…

1. Identify the major issues that are relevant to the business as well as areas of expertise – e.g if you provide business continuity services, then clearly you can comment on the business impact of major demonstrations or incidents (but be wary of ambulance chasing).

2. Track the news through the day and plan ahead where possible so you can be quick to respond.  Broadcasters tend to cover the top stories of the day or week so focus on major news and act swiftly, before it becomes yesterday’s news.

3. Put some thought into your pitch – consider how you can position your spokesperson as a trusted expert and why your company is best placed to comment (and don’t pitch them until you know your spokesperson is comfortable commenting as broadcasters don’t have a huge amount of time to waste).  Then send a succinct email, that will stand out from the rest, to the planning team.

Once you’ve secured a spot, the hard work begins – prepping your spokesperson to ensure a great interview.  It’s over pretty quickly so its important to have the key messages front of mind.

Here’s a piece I secured for venture capital investor Michael Jackson off the back of the Twitter IPO.  As well as providing plenty of prepping, the team at Bloomberg were well briefed which not only helped structure the interview but also ensured a powerful sequence of TV straps.  

 

Accelerating growth for startups and VCs through PR, social media and content marketing.

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