Our business development team often works hand in hand with our intelligence unit to analyze a range of communications pain points that are felt by B2B startups and their marketing teams. To take the pulse appropriately, we garner data across every sales call as to what challenges innovators are facing and attempt to analyze this data across times, seasons, events, and even stages of company development.
One of the most pressing complaints we hear, is that startups see immense value from conference speakerships and panels, yet often have to pay high sponsorship fees to garner them. Sponsorship packages with speaking spots can easily start in the mid thousands and only go up from there for large, credible events. We have placed speakers at hundreds of events globally on an earned basis and with this, have some tips and secrets as to how to save your marketing budget, earn your speakership and successfully pitch event organizers.
If You Build the Asset, They Will Come:
A deep relationship with event organizers will always be the quickest and easiest path to garnering a participant spot on a desired panel, but all great relationships must start somewhere. The fact of the matter is that unless you have deep pockets, you are going to have to pitch. Event pitching is much like pitching the media, with the exception that differing assets are utilized as your ammunition.
Abstracts and Bios: Your first step to garnering B2B speakerships is the creation of diverse and compelling abstracts and bios. Abstracts are your detailed topical and biographical hook for pitching event organizers. Their core is to detail the expertise of the speaker and select an incredibly compelling topic or industry challenge that the speaker will address. All too many startups try to pitch the novelty of their company or product to garner a speakership, but this is a deadly mistake. Events get booked by exceptional topics and exceptional leaders that can address challenges or potential in their industry. A great abstract, coupled with a bio that can showcase industry expertise…is a force to be reckoned with.
Larger brands, whether they be B2B or B2C, are always going to be in demand as speakers and attendees. They draw the biggest crowds, have built-in marketing channels and come with higher levels of credibility than the most well funded of startups. If your team has any integration with a larger brand, whether it is a partner relationship, a client or even one of your own vendors, it can be very simple to present the notion of a conference co-presentation. Dream up a topic with your brand partner, garner their buy-in and approach conferences with a stellar pitch about the session, leading of course, with the brand’s appearance. (Bonus points if you can get your brand partner to co-market the session).
Use Data as a Sales-Point:
Audiences in today’s B2B landscape are compelled by novel data that can be brought to the trade show table and most startups are sitting on mountains of it without realizing it. The rule of thumb is that anything audiences are compelled by, is event-worth material. This means it is time to explore the data you have at your fingertips and figure out a way to interweave it with your event pitch. Whether it is noticing a trend across your buyers, or data generated directly from a platform of your own, the data is the story, not your company. Present an event pitch by highlighting a pressing new trend, issue or potential your data has showcased and you can offer to share it for the first time as a speaker.
Leverage Your PR Firm:
We may be biased, but if your communications agency is not garnering event speakerships for you and utilizing their skills to develop powerful event collateral and pitch their organizer relationships, they should not be involved with B2B publicity. It can take a lot to push your firm to go the extra mile, but great speaking positions lead to great thought leadership and great thought leadership leads to great press. The bottom line, it is in your and your firm’s best interest to pitch events like it was their job. Because it absolutely is.
Or if you want to fast track things…Give us a buzz. We can have you speaking in front of targeted audiences consistently across events, regions and sectors. Heck, we’ll even make sure the media is covering you each and and every time as well.
We have taken our clients through our fair share of initial public offerings and each time their results have been most successful…when an intensive level of planning was involved. The process of deciding to take a company public must be well planned, well timed, and with a litany of core factors taken into account upfront.
The PR call to action is to showcase a robust, active, compelling company across all industry touchpoints, especially prior to the quiet period and during the time right after. Additionally, aligning mass scale media to allow the entire investment community to have heard, seen and be interested in the company or brand is critical. IPO public relations must help to position the executive team, provide anchor points, create editorial calendars, and establish a communications plan for pre, during and Post-IPO. While all of these elements require a savvy PR team led by well-informed executives, we’ve done a bit of the homework for you. Please find our guide to your IPO calendar below.
2018 Emerging Insider IPO PR Guide
We’re biased of course, as the team at Emerging Insider has our fair share of experience in absolutely rocking, rolling and expanding business for funds of all manners via public relations and marketing, but we are a) picky with who we represent and b) certainly not the right choice for all.
Hedge fund PR is a separate beast from any other type of public relations project as the regulations tend to be more intense and the goals incredibly performance-driven. Many folks claim to be able to perform well here only to begin a campaign and realize they are in way over their heads. What are the top traits you should look for when screening a new firm?
Regulatory Savvy: The benefit of a younger agency is their drive and knowledge of the newest forms of tech and media to help your initiatives flourish. The downfall is that they have yet to first-hand experience exactly what can happen in the finance world with even one small regulatory error in a marketing campaign. While one doesn’t need to show their scars, a great marketing agency should be able to wear the stripes they have earned and tell you how to avoid these pitfalls.
Thought Leadership Pros: Few things add to the credibility of a hedge fund than exceptional thought leadership in the form of written bylines for external publications. While media hits and expertise placements are powerful, thought leadership is often both more practical for a fund, while also being less thought-out by most agencies. In other words, engaging a firm that is able to consult, execute and perform the heavy lifting on thought leadership campaigns can be priceless. It all comes down to asking for examples, case studies and even examining their own third-party content in the market.
Industry experts: Funds are unique in that the marketing pros that deal with them must be well versed not only in the ins and outs of financial marketing, but also often the sector or industries in which the funds invest. If a fund is primarily playing with telecommunications, you best make sure your firm has experience, connections and know-how specifically in telecommunications.
Short and long term planners: Many campaigns orchestrated by business or consumer brands may be capable of only maintaining a short term promotion to garner mindshare or direct actions for their clientele. Goals change and are variable. Funds however, require that a marketing firm put in both short term executions as well as long term strategy given the unique nature of the performance driven market. Every element must be in place, functioning and driving impact at all times, which is not the easiest of challenges.
The legal cannabis industry is filled with all manner of trials and tribulations for marketers and their agencies. Even with immense growth and potential in many traditional marketers, 57% of marketers won’t even take on clients in the space as learned via a research study done by our team. For those that do, the challenges can be mitigated, but require in-depth knowledge of nuances that can occur. We will provide a series of in-depth posts based on the below topics.
1) Work the Lexicon: Cannabis has a plethora of terms used to denote it: marijuana, weed, pot, ganja and countless others. Interestingly, differing terms are used in differing ways via search engines, for social sharing, and for the media. While Cannabis may the most common way the media in Canada refers to the plant, this is not the case for the U.S. And within the states, the south is different than the southwest. The term weed is most shared on facebook on Thursdays, while marijuana is Wednesday’s choice and people prefer varying content lengths depending on the term.
Bottom line, the top PR tip for the cannabis industry is to dive deep into Google trends, social analytics and content analytics before planning any marketing. (Stay tuned for our Cannabis Marketing White Paper on this very topic!)
2) Be wary of regulations: Across states and countries, messaging and format types, regulations vary for marketing cannabis products. While one social platform may ban an organization even for organic social posts, another may be open to all manner of advertising without limit. On the legal front, what may be legal advertising formats in one state may be illegal and open to repercussion in another. This is key to keep in mind when it comes to targeting and mass market advertising platforms. Any marketer engaging in advertising, including native/content driven formats, must be diligent in their research, targeting, copy and creative. (Stay tuned for our upcoming articles on targeting secrets!)
3) Embrace specialists, but beware of opportunists: When a new industry begins to hit scale, many agencies and service providers will dedicate specialist groups to focus on them. These should always be embraced as they can provide a higher level of expertise. The double-edged sword here is that for every legitimate and skilled service provider that establishes a new core focus, an opportunist exists capitalizing off of an increasingly “cash-grab-able” buzzword.
These opportunists will usually appear flashy, have only one core focus (in this instance cannabis) and make more noise about their industry focus than real-world examples of their capabilities. A good service provider should have years of expertise and often showcase this ability across a few primary focus areas. If your cannabis PR agency has never had a client in another industry, they may be missing out on crucial media relationships. If your cannabis marketing firm has never run ad campaigns on certain social platforms, they may be missing key data and intel. Bottom line, be wary. (Watch this space for our guide to identifying buzzword opportunists!)
4) Comparables provide context: The press deeply wants to cover the cannabis industry, but many are still traditionalists and do not understand the impact, potential, and trends of the landscape. The key to achieving positive media and press attention from not just the small group of cannabis-focused journalists, but across the mainstream consumer and business media is providing contextual comparisons. It is often not enough to present a compelling story: you have to provide examples, comparables, and data from other industries to show the larger picture. While mainstream media may understand these items in traditional industries, it is up to startups, or a cannabis marketing agency, to spoon-feed in these nascent days. (Our latest cannabis case study will be out soon!)
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In 2016, winding your way around the World Wide Web feels less like surfing the Internet and more like an acid trip. Once a place where marketers felt comfortable presenting carefully curated content has become an assault of seemingly random sights and sounds driven to virality by the curious enjoyment of consumers. Sure the typical tales of the Kardashians, their romances and their stolen jewelry will likely remain a part of the mainstream media’s messaging, but it’s far more aberrant posts which are rising to the top of trending stories, where they find more staying power than can be bought with millions of brand dollars.
“Content Shock,” or the theory that a person can only consume so much content, is no longer just a scary hypothetical addition to the marketer’s lexicon. It has been with us for quite some time and grows increasingly apparent to those who pay attention to what goes viral. People have become so inundated with communications, be they push marketing or branded content, native or social, that linear ideas and images no longer hold the same magic they did less than a decade ago. These three trends showcase the psychology of social virality in a world where content marketers are dead and “differentiation agents” will have to take their place to ensure impactful messaging moving forward:
- Cat Breading: The Birth of Non-Linear Marketing
There are few forces more powerful to marketers than that of novelty and intrigue. Neurobiologists have even found a region of the midbrain referred to as its “novelty center” which responds to unique stimuli by activating the release of dopamine. But despite their best efforts, many advertisers are unable to inspire these emotions in consumers even while heavily investing in creative pieces designed to break the mold. That’s because even their most original offerings are no match for a picture of a cat with a piece of bread around its head.
What began as a Tumblr post in 2011 and became the subject of a South Park episode in 2012 is still available as a Snapchat filter option in 2016, without any sort of branded promotional dollars behind it. Why? Because bread cats are non-linear, if not downright absurd, and for that reason they demand attention and inspire loyalty. Their novelty is intriguing to a population tired of being bombarded by far more purposeful content provided by advertisers. To really be heard, modern marketers need to take a step back from deliberate attempts at established variation, instead looking towards ideas that use confusion to their own advantage by inspiring the strange delight of consumers.
- Boaty McBoatface: The Power of Crowdsourced Humor
Super Bowl ads still drive a relatively engaged audience at scale due to carefully scripted, humor-based creative formats with celebrity power baked in at an opportune time. But these expensive marketing efforts can pale in comparison to the amount of earned media that can be garnered by a crowdsourced non-advertisement. Consider the Internet frenzy created in May when a British government agency decided to let netizens decide the name of a $287 million research vessel.
Quicker than virtually any brand-driven call to action could inspire, hundreds of thousands of voters flocked to support the moniker “Boaty McBoatface” and organic virality was instantly achieved, with the naming convention still showing up in nominations for more recent, similar contests. The force at work driving the popularity of this concept is its open-ended, unscripted opportunity for humor. When audiences are allowed to determine the direction the content takes rather than having it forced upon them, they respond. The lesson to marketers here is a deep one. The Internet doesn’t just want freedom of expression. It wants control over the direction the conversation takes. It wants to decide, rather than be told, what is funny and brands may benefit from incredible viral potential by letting it making such choices.
- Buzzfeed Basics: The Switch from Bigger Pictures to Smaller Ones
The media has changed in far greater ways than just a shift to digital content. This evolution is reflected not only in how stories are being shared but also by what is being talked about. Today’s most widely circulated news/entertainment websites now offer many narratives driven by random people in unusual situations, with articles like “A Raccoon Stole This Guy’s Phone and The Hilarious Chase Was Caught On Video” enabling Buzzfeed to become the most popular viral site month after month. That so many highly read stories are now quick-fire tales of circumstances with absolutely no relevance outside of an entertaining diversion demonstrates how popular content is becoming reflective of the self-involved generation which is consuming it. To combat this gap between what audiences want and what brands are able to offer, marketers need to realize they will lose relevance if they rely on pushing their clients’ established storylines, instead engaging the media with unique assets more appealing to journalists’ current desire to cover the little things.
Certainly, creating unique content remains an important aspect of a communications strategy, but unless consumers’ needs for authentic virality drivers are taken into account, all of the marketing dollars in the world are no match for the psychology which leads consumers to crave non-linear randomness in what messages they find worthwhile.
Americans love for sports should come as no surprise. Football, baseball and basketball have reigned as the country’s most beloved sporting events and have done so for decades. While these sports will forever be a staple in American culture, recently a new contender has peaked the interest of millions.
Raking in tens of billions in global revenue every year, soccer has long been the world’s most popular and profitable sport. In the United States, the global sport has previously been dismissed as a game for soccer moms and kids – that is, until recently. Ticketbis, an international secondary ticketing platform, recently released a report on soccer tourism that measured international purchases to European league matches. The “Goalnomics” report revealed that a staggering 60 percent of purchases for Premiere League matches were made by Americans. (La Liga followed second with 26 percent of American purchases)
The new found data from the Goalnomics report was so fascinating that we had to spread the news. See what Brian Blickenstaff at Vice Sports had to say about the data from our clients at Ticketbis.
Developing a productive relationship with the media is tough. I have witnessed both publicists and founders go into a complete meltdown over their efforts. In recent years, it has become more difficult to receive media placements thanks to shrinking newsrooms and overwhelmed journalists. However, when done correctly, a media placement can be more effective than any advertising, social media and marketing efforts combined.
To ensure that your story is told by the media, here are the five golden rules of media relations:
- Build a targeted media list. Building a media list can be extremely time consuming, but it is one of the most important processes in beginning the outreach process. Communications professionals often rely on software to build media lists; however, to really zero in on media relevant to your company, nothing replaces Google News. Search for your competitors to see if journalists found their stories intriguing and pay attention to the coverage they are receiving. Are they releasing data, company culture news or raising funding? These are the journalists you should be targeting as well.
- Research, research, research. Now that you’ve spent hours building a media list, it’s time to research the hell out of these journalists. Not only should you be reading over their most recent articles, but you should also check out their social media profiles and read their bios.
Reading every article a journalist has penned can be extremely time consuming. As a general rule of thumb, read three articles to completion, then peruse their headlines to get a feel for what they cover.
When reading the journalists’ work, take note of the tone in which they write. Are they dry and factually driven? Do they write with a sense of humor? You’ll want to use this information and match their tone when you reach out to them.
- Focus on the relationship, not the pitch. The No. 1 mistake people make when pitching the media is treating them like they are robots. Journalists are real people — do not be afraid to have a personality when reaching out to them. Before sending journalists a story idea, reach out and introduce yourself and your business, and ask if they would be interested in receiving updates on the company’s achievements. Also ask if they are in need of any information for pieces they are working on. Always remember that media relations is not the same as advertising. Just like in every other relationship in life, it is give and take.
- Prepare and be prompt
Nothing will put you on a journalist’s shit list faster than not being prepared or timely. As I stated earlier, journalists are extremely busy people with strict deadlines. If they are doing you the courtesy of including your company in an upcoming piece, you need to respond promptly and have all information readily available. What information, you ask? Have ready any quotes, pictures of your work and employees, a media kit and any other information the journalist may need. Also, you should always be available to hop on a call with the journalist. No matter how busy your day may be, making the time for an urgent 15-minute phone call can mean the difference between a syndicated article in Forbes and praying that people read your company news on your blog.
- Be prepared to follow up. Sometimes a media list was perfectly fleshed out, you did great research and you crafted the perfect pitch, but you won’t get a response. Chances are the journalist’s inbox was inundated and they just didn’t see your email. Always follow up after a week of pitching to see if the journalist had a chance to read your email. You’d be surprised how many times I’ve scored a placement after following up with a journalist. Just like you, they can miss emails.
While much of what we read is inherently newsworthy or based on daily events, journalists and reporters also heavily rely on news tips and other information. Having the ability to deliver a good pitch and build strong relationships with the media can go a long way when sharing your news. With these tips in your media relations pocket, you will be better prepared to position your company and form long-lasting relationships with members of the media.
Imagine you injure your arm in a nasty skiing accident. Naturally, you head over to your general practitioner to get it checked out. While the doctor is giving your arm the once over, he also mentions that he can provide you with some psychotherapy to treat any PTSD that may have been caused by the fall. On top of that, he can perform a mean root canal and give an exceptional sports massage.
Chances are you would run out of the office quicker than his nurse could mouth “quack.” Yet, this same behavior — deemed ridiculous in most professions — is considered the norm across countless public relations and communications agencies today.
This holds especially true for startups, and it is the main reason they are not seeing placements that drive results. To get the full scoop on why niche PR agencies are a must, and what three questions every company should ask before choosing a PR firm, read the entire story written by our CEO Zachary Weiner. You can find it in full on Agency Post.
It’s time we as an industry evolve. But to modernize simple PR takes more than change; it takes a revolution. And we’re proud to lead the way…
I have an uncle who refuses to use a computer. My family bought him one and he hasn’t taken it out of the box. And this isn’t your crazy uncle Al who has no real need for technology; my uncle builds houses. In fact, he constructs multi-million dollar homes. Now, we all can see why it may be rather important that he owns a computer, or at the very least, an email address. And while he has been wildly successful and I deeply respect him and his profession, resisting change is just bad. But in his defense he is just one man, he is not an entire industry. Imagine if an entire industry resisted change to hold on to the past. Now that would be mighty irresponsible.
Welcome to public relations! Honestly, what does “public relations” even mean these days! It was a term originally defined by Ivy Lee in the early 1900s, and since then has undergone plenty of unsuccessful attempts at redevelopment and revival by the World Assembly of Public Relations Associations and the Public Relations Society of America. But what may have been relevant in the early 1900s up until late 1990s is simply not today. Companies are looking to “relate” to the public about as much as millionaires are looking to “relate” to the homeless, especially in a B2B marketplace. No, companies want to “relate” to the people that matter to them, which is typically a smaller, more concentrated group and not the general public. Trying to reach the entire population or a general audience is a classic example of resisting change-something the entire industry is guilty of.
Let’s not even get into the fact that there are entirely too many differing marketing buckets, which makes it next to impossible to understand who does what. As Robin Thicke said, it’s those blurred lines. They’re not helping anyone in this already confused industry, where more toes are being stepped on than at a Jay Z and Beyoncé concert.
So, allow us to be the industry’s saving grace as we dub ourselves the world’s first content relations firm. Picture us as the cohesive glue needed to put the fragmented pieces back together and unify disparate marketing silos. Our main goal as a content relations firm is to creatively convey our clients’ messages in a way that will effectively get their products and services in front of those who matter most. Whether that means implementing innovative strategies or analyzing content, our objective remains the same: to turn simple messages into stories, and ideas into actions no matter if the content is earned, owned or paid. And since our prime focus is content, we cannot succeed without creating the most stellar content this planet has ever seen, telling compelling corporate stories in a never-before-seen way.
And while the PRSA may say public relations encompasses this type of focus, we beg to differ. Actually, we just blatantly disagree—respectfully, of course. To us, the traditional definition of public relations does not do our tactic justice, which is why we feel we need to rebrand ourselves and, eventually, the industry.
But small steps, right? For now, we are re-launching our firm under the belief that content is at the heart of media, social marketing, digital, SEO and experimental campaigns that drive action. Content fuels results and an attentive and relevant audience. Story-telling prevails over everything else. So consider this the obituary for public relations. It has died. It ceases to exist in the digital realm. And in its place a new form of marketing has emerged that is larger, stronger and more qualified for the digital world. The digital world encompasses far too many opportunities to stay narrow and traditional. Our clients are always innovating, and so are we.
Rest peacefully public relations. You did good, but all great things must come to an end. Luckily we have something even greater taking your place: content relations.