I loved Rob Pegoraro's answer about "the Cloud" in his recent Washington Post column. His response to a jargon weary reader was terrific - "cloud computing is nothing more than a fancy phrase for having an Internet site host your data and the programs you use instead of keeping them on your computer." Later, he said "the Cloud" is often used as just a meaningless buzzword. He's right!
The number one demand from tech executives to their PR team is "get us business press." Unfortunately, business reporters are often reluctant to speak with tech executives because of their tendency to unleash a torrent of geek-speak. In most cases, the reporter, rightfully, has neither the time nor patience to sift through this verbal rubble looking for a story.
I have conducted media coaching sessions with hundreds of executives over the years - and to a person, they recognize that cliches, acronyms and jargon are a turn-off. Nonetheless, the vast majority can't break the addiction to using meaningless buzzwords as soon as the interview begins.
Executives must be able to explain, in easy to understand terms, how others benefit from using their product or service. Verizon's latest campaign is a useful example. While touting their 4G LTE technology they don't waste a second describing what it is (thank goodness). Rather, they explain the benefits - e.g. the ability to download a song in four seconds or watch live TV in mobile HD on a laptop.
If you want great business coverage in 2011, then learn to tell compelling - jargon free - business stories. Sounds simple, I know - but very few executives prepare and practice properly for interviews. Those that do make the effort often get the best results.
Happy New Year!
Tags: media coaching
, Rob Pegoraro
, Washington Post
Posted by John Moran on December 29, 2010 at 3:43 PM
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Last week we had about 100 marketers in the room for our breakfast roundtable on content marketing here at our headquarters outside of Boston. (Watch highlights from the first half of the event). We came up with an interesting premise for the event: one week before the event we would pick the name of an attendee out of a hat and create some free content for their company and show it at the event.
Cool idea, right? We thought it was, but I have to admit that my biggest concern was around how much cooperation we’d get from the marketer we chose. As it turned out, we chose a great company in downtown Boston, Exari (note: they’re not a Schwartz client), and their marketing team was more than willing to let us dive in, grab pieces of content they already had, film people in their offices, and immerse ourselves in their message for a week. Exari is a growing document assembly software company that helps companies automate the creation of NDAs, contracts and other legal documents. Here were the big issues, as we saw them:
• Exari was driving a lot of visitors to their site, but wasn’t converting enough to leads. The company has great blogs, but hasn't created a lot of content that merits asking for registration information
• A lot of Exari’s target customers (CFOs and other top executives) don’t necessarily know there is a software solution to address their document assembly woes
• Our SEO team noted that “NDA” is by far the most-searched term related to Exari’s products, so NDA-related content may be a good way to cast a big net
• The Exari site was in need of compelling video content to tell their product story.
So here’s what we did:
• We created a short (6 page) white paper for them with the word “NDA” in the title, focusing on the benefits of automating the creation of NDAs and other corporate documents. (Note: Exari is making final edits to the white paper now). We also had a new white paper template designed for them.
• We created a landing page for the white paper in HubSpot (Exari is a new HubSpot customer), to show how they could easily deploy the content on their site without involving their IT staff as well as offering them an easy way to collect visitor data through Hubspot’s contact forms.
• To help Exari highlight the business need for their solution, we got a group of CFOs and other executives to give us quick sound bites about the arduous process of manually creating documents. We also added a brief impromptu video intro from the Exari founder.
We presented the content at the event and got a great response from the attendees, and more importantly, from Exari. The speakers at our event also gave some good additional tips about the content. Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs.com, who has a great new book called Content Rules, made the point that you have to think very carefully about which content should be behind a registration wall; ideally it shouldn’t just be a re-hash of existing blog content. Brian Halligan, CEO of HubSpot (who also has a great book out), added that eBooks are great for lead generation, so it sometimes makes sense to take the content for a whitepaper and present it in eBook form.
Overall I believe we got our message across that creating content doesn’t have to feel like writing War and Peace. If we could do it in a week for a company that isn’t even a client, we think every marketer should take the plunge for their company.
Tags: content marketing
Posted by Matt Duffy on December 21, 2010 at 3:17 PM
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The new 2010 U.S. census data that is starting to be released today will have a profound impact on our economy. From shifting the balance of political power, to insights into changing American demographics, much of the data will take quite some time to digest.
Yet there are some practical concerns that public relations professionals should start incorporating starting today. Most importantly, the base numbers PR pros use when extrapolating from large, random-sample telephone surveys needs to change.
For the past 10 years of so, the more conservative approach has been to use the following data:
- Number of Americans (total): 281,421,908 - It's actually the resident population as citizenship is not factored in to the number.
- Number of Americans (over 18): 209.1 million
- Number of households : 105.5 million
While we have to wait for many of the new numbers to come out, the main number is:
- Number of Americans: (total): 308,745,538
Hopefully in February 2011 we will have updated information on how many Americans are over 18 and how many households there are.
While the Schwartz Communications Research Group typically uses the over 18 number for extrapolation, the overall number is important to note. If a survey found 5% of Americans engaged in an activity, this has shifted from 14 million to 15.4 million.
Note: Public relations professionals need to be careful when extrapolating data to be sure that it truly was a random sample, the sample size was large enough and they are following proper survey methodology.
The other element to stand out for me was the budget for the U.S. Census. It was more than $7 billion. (Although they should be applauded for coming in more than $1.8 billion under budget). Now who else would love a research budget like that?
What other information is striking you based on the Census report?
Posted by Mark McClennan on at 1:04 PM
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By Anne Lundregan
From the start of his keynote speech, Bill Warner brought an unusual twist to Xconomy: 5X5: Five Cities, Five Big Tech Ideas last week.
Warner began his presentation by asking audience members to provide an “elevator” pitch on their startup company. Warner is authority on the subject – he’s a well-known start up evangelist and angel investor in the Boston area. He also founded two companies, Avid and Wildfire.
After listening to several ideas, he walked across the room and asked the audience to pick up their chairs and face them in the opposite direction to the back of the room.
Everyone who described their organizations started with their invention or technology, Warner noted. His goal, beginning with rearranging the furniture, was to provide a different perspective on creating and launching startups.
According to Warner, most companies start with an invention-focused approach. Even though the model works, Warner encouraged companies to embrace a different approach. Using playing cards as props, Warner encouraged the audience to “play from the heart.”
“People are pushed to follow their head versus their heart,” he said.
Leading from the heart was a recurring theme during Xconomy’s event, which spotlighted five transformative ideas from around the country. Each city where Xconomy has a presence (Boston, Detroit, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle) was represented. The ideas ranged from mobile robotics in the warehouse (Kiva Systems) to ending poverty by creating an efficient fuel source recycling nuclear waste (TerraPower).
Several emerging startups also had the opportunity to present their company in a short, “burst” presentation. Many said that their company was the result of a topic or idea that they were passionate about such as:
• Fashion Playtes—Lets young girls create and design clothes that they can wear. In addition to manufacturing the clothes, the site also features interactive games and plans to expand the social networking aspect.
• CarWoo—Frustrated with the car shopping experience, Founder and CEO Tommy McClung is hoping to change the way buyers and dealers interact with each other. With Car Woo, dealers compete online to provide buyers the best deals.
• peerTransfer—Iker Marcaide started peerTransfer while earning his MBA and Masters in Operations Management at MIT with the goal of lowering the fees and expenses associated with transferring money overseas.
It was refreshing to see how the companies featured at 5x5 underscored Warner’s theory; when starting a company, it’s important to start with your passion or lead from your heart. As Warner noted, invention can then become the pathway to make your intention or dream become reality, resulting in an idea that is truly transformative. We hope you will join Xconomy in 2011 as they report on the innovation and inspiration from many promising companies around the country.
, Fashion Playtes
, Kiva Systems
, peer Transfer
, San Diego
, San Francisco
, Terra Power
Posted by Davida Dinerman on December 17, 2010 at 1:09 PM
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The Consumer Electronics Show is just a few short weeks away, so while a good portion of the working world prepares for a relaxing December and takes time off to enjoy the holidays, companies heading to the show will put in long hours tweaking products and journalists will feverishly finish up their previews on what to expect or a show guide for "what's hot." Given the investment and energy companies put towards CES, it is essential to get some results. So how does a company get noticed at CES?
Schwartz is already having conversations with reporters as we make arrangements for two Schwartz clients attending CES this year—iTwin , a user-friendly hardware device for connecting two online computers, and HANNspree , who makes novelty televisions, laptops, computer monitors. In line with Schwartz’s research and these conversations with journalists, being part of a hot topic—such as 3-D TVs, tablet PCs , offerings that are personalized or anything “green” or just out of the ordinary (such as this water bottle that tells you when to drink!)— definitely helps you get some ink. (Although, to be fair, Freelance Writer Steve Morgenstern said he is interested in covering “everything that runs on electrons.”)
With more than 3,000 journalists planning to attend the main event, opinions on what’s hot at the show and what’s the next best thing is as diversified as the companies exhibiting. So finding out what is unique about your product and why consumers should care is key to standing out. You can’t boil the ocean and be all things to all people, so identify the problem or type of consumer your product or solution is ideal for and stick to it.
Video has become an increasingly popular medium to help get your message across. In a recent Nielsen survey, 70 percent of global consumers watch online video…and more than half of them are watching at work. For a show like CES, putting together demos in advance of the show and then embedding videos in press releases, sending in pitches, or running in a loop at your booth at CES gives reporters the ability to receive product information and see it in action on their terms. Videos captured at the show also have the ability to extend beyond CES. They can also be used on your corporate website, used to spruce up your YouTube Channel, or embedded into a customer mailing summarizing your CES experience.
We hope to see you at CES! Be sure to follow us @schwartzcomm to see what we’re up to at the show. If you’d like additional information on Schwartz’s media relations or video services for CES, please feel free to get in touch.
Posted by Andrea Hawley
Posted by Kim Angell on December 10, 2010 at 2:38 PM
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One of my very good friends and a former co-worker here at Schwartz, Beth Monaghan, invited me to coffee early last week with Scott Kirsner, a well-respected Boston Globe reporter who covers entrepreneurs and emerging companies in New England.
We intended to discuss the topic of embargoes, which are when a PR person asks a reporter to hold a specific piece of news until a certain date and time. When I first started in tech PR back in the late 90s, an embargo was rarely used, because there was no such thing as an online outlet, and the weekly tech pubs for the most part published on the same day (with the exception of the infamous InternetWeek). Embargoes are a big deal now, and Beth wrote a great post that outlines that part of our discussion.
Beyond embargoes, Beth, Scott and I had a great chat on a few other PR issues that are important to entrepreneurs. We ended up providing nice general PR advice. Here's a partial transcript (thanks to Beth for transcribing):
Beth: There is a huge value in entrepreneurs having relationships with the media. Our job is not to be the relationship with the media, it’s to facilitate it. I don’t have a problem with entrepreneur doing outreach. At the same time, when you’re a small company, you may have the ability to do that because there’s a finite universe of media you’re talking to, but as you grow, scaling to do PR on that level is never going to be feasible.
Ross: My number one piece of advice for entrepreneurs who would like to do their own PR is to remember that the publications that you care about are probably not the publications that your strategic audiences care about…What really excites me about PR now is that there is an ability to have a lot of science and to be specific about the audiences we’re targeting based on the response and results we’re seeing, and to cater to that as we go through the process. A lot of times, that’s the type of science that’s missing when you deal with the emotional side of the equation [CEOs wanting coverage in the outlets they read].
Beyond the advice I provide above, I invite entrepreneurs to call me or any of my co-workers here at Schwartz. I think many of would like to hear how PR is changing---how it's becoming more a part of marketing and how new techniques exist to connect PR to action.
Below is an embedded player so you can listen to the portion of our talk that dealt with PR and entrepreneurs. You should also check out Beth's post. I should point out that Scott, at one point in the conversation, offers some general commentary about the cost of a PR firm, such a Schwartz. I am worried that concerns over cost cause many entrepreneurs to avoid talking to firms; even if it's not in your budget now, we are happy to provide guidance to any entrepreneur at any point in their company's development.
I mentioned to Beth and Scott that our talk was very informative to me and it would be great to make the discussion a "series." I hope to sit down with them again soon. You will see more posts on this from either Beth or me, and the entire recording will also be posted online in the near future.
Tags: entrepreneur PR
, entrepreneur public relations
, tech marketing
, tech PR
, technology PR
Posted by Ross Levanto on December 2, 2010 at 1:38 PM
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The great news that Laura Kempke and Ross Levanto have been promoted to senior vice president at Schwartz Communications is satisfying and significant. It’s satisfying to me because I’ve had the good fortune to work with both of them for more than a dozen years here at the agency. Both are a sort of laboratory experiment: if you were to design the perfect strategic senior PR person you’d get Laura and Ross. They’re brilliant, omnivorously curious, able to pull the most important essence from mountains of complex information…and yet they still do hands-on work for their clients.
These promotions are significant because of what they say about the rapid changes and the new direction of the PR profession. Both Laura and Ross were early to recognize the importance of SEO, content marketing and the execute/measure/refine cycle. Several years ago they each took on the role of advocate/guru – educating the agency and encouraging (sometimes forcing) us to deploy these techniques for our clients. As a result – to the great benefit of our clients -- Schwartz was an early adopter of PR 2.0 techniques. Laura and Ross are still our go-to gurus, and every time I think I’ve finally figured it all out I hear about something else and I take the familiar walk down the hall to where they sit. “Hey, what do you know about this (fill in the latest online thing)?” They patiently take a few minutes to explain it to me, and usually show me how they’ve already used it for a client. Check out what they have to say for yourself.
To get some advice from Laura on closed loop marketing visit
http://web.schwartzcomm.com/closed-loop-content-marketing-services and if you want to hear Ross opine on the integration of PR and marketing check out http://web.schwartzcomm.com/the-integration-between-pr-and-marketing
Posted by Dave Close on at 9:44 AM
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