Can tech succeed where international aid has failed?

The tech revolution has fundamentally changed the way we live. Our personal, professional, financial, and social habits have been irrevocably altered by the internet and smartphones, but although these innovations seem inescapable, there are billions of people who have missed out on these rapid changes. In many parts of the Global South, including parts of Africa and South Asia, life in many respects remains the way it was before the tech revolution. Forget about wifi – in many places, electricity and clean water are still difficult to find. But technological innovation and startups have been able to disrupt aspects of life in developing countries in seemingly small ways, taking on challenges that decades of humanitarian aid haven’t been able to address.

Cell phones have been a major driver of change and development in developing countries. Even in places without running water, most people have some access to a cell phone. Increasingly, these phones have some type of internet access. They are usually low cost, and in many countries, people pay per MB to use a data plan. While not at the same level of sophistication as the iPhones and Samsung Galaxies available to Western consumers, making cell phones accessible to people at all income levels has had far-reaching effects on the way people live their lives. The advent of Whatsapp, a low-cost and low-data messaging service that can be used internationally has changed communication for people at all income levels. Previously, immigration or even moving across the country meant communication with family members was all but impossible. Text messages in many places are prohibitively expensive, and a newly-married woman who moves to be with her husband’s family, as is the reality for many women in developing countries, may be completely isolated from her support system. Now, families can stay in touch with ease. Even international calling via data is more affordable, making it possible for loved ones to talk across borders.

Increasing access to mobile technology has also allowed for the development of mobile wallets, an innovative way of storing money and paying bills for the unbanked. In many parts of the Global South, banks are too difficult to access or too expensive to use for many people, especially women. Purchasing goods and paying bills becomes more difficult. But initiatives like M-Pesa in Kenya and MTN Mobile Money in southern Africa have found ingenious workarounds to these problems. People are able to put money on their SIM cards, and then transfer that money to pay for goods and services. These mobile wallets have allowed an entirely new demographic of people to take advantage of technology and enter the economy in ways previously denied to them.

Other innovations are based around aspects of life many Americans believe are basic necessities. It may seem hard for people in developed countries to believe, but 844 million people do not have access to clean water. By drinking unclean water they are exposed to dangerous bacteria and parasites. Furthermore, 2.3 billion people do not have sanitary toilets, a dangerous situation that increases the likelihood of a deadly cholera epidemic. Startups and tech companies have been looking for innovative ways to bridge the hygiene gap and allow people to access clean water. Lifestraw is one such company. They created a small straw-like purification system. It’s simple to use, easy to transport, and inexpensive. Other companies have created simple boilers, allowing people to purify large quantities of water at once. Startups bring a different perspective to decades-old development obstacles, injecting new ideas into the community.

A final area that startups are disrupting is that of electricity and power. Life without lights is unimaginable to people in developed countries, and electricity is viewed as a basic need that must be met. The devastation in Puerto Rico, for example, caused by long-term electrical outages arguably outdid the hurricane that caused it. But in many parts of the Global South, lights are a luxury and the day ends when the sun goes down. It’s impossible to work or study after dark. Cell phones, which are a lifeline to the outside world, can’t be charged at home, and people may need to walk miles to find a place to purchase the opportunity to charge their phones. But like other challenges in development, tech startups have disrupted the field of electricity as well. The public sector’s initiatives attempt to install electricity wherever possible, which is an important goal but often slow and expensive. Tech startups have focused on getting electricity into people’s hands as quickly as possible. One such invention is the Soccket, a soccer ball that also functions as a lamp or charger. When kicked around for 30 minutes, Soccket can provide light for three hours. Although users have reported some issues with the hardware so far, it’s only a matter of time until the technology improves.

Extreme poverty and low human development may seem like an intractable problem, but tech startups have jumped in to start improving the lives of people in the Global South. The tech boom may have primarily touched people in western countries so far, but ultimately we all stand to benefit from increasing innovation. 

Our Blockchain PR Specialist on Staying Ahead of the Latest Scams


While cryptocurrencies make it incredibly easy to transfer funds to anyone in the world in an instant, this same ease makes it a prime target for hackers. This is why cyber-security is more important than ever if you’re wading into the wild west of cryptocurrency.


Lucas PenzeyMoog, our resident cryptocurrency authority and blockchain PR specialist, recently penned an article for cryptocoin.news on the rise of homograph spoofing attacks on the web. This is a subtle technique hackers use to trick you into visiting a copycat website by substituting visually-identical characters in the URL.
Click here to read the article and find out how to protect yourself from these pernicious attacks. You work hard to manage your crypto portfolio – make sure you take the right steps to protect your assets.  

4 Traits of a Great Hedge Fund PR agency


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.


Cannabis PR agency

4 Cannabis PR Agency Secrets For Startups

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!)  


Blockchain Marketing Agency Musings

Do you even Blockchain bro?

We’ve been helping to school marketers across fintech, video, ehealth and adtech better understand how to position novel blockchain endeavors. Check out our research on marketer sentiments and perceptions.

Blockchain and Marketer Perceptions  ExchangeWire

It’s the year of the Rooster, get cocky with China’s wealthy

China’s elite can be a tough crowd to roll with. Our day job is to reach them with your message, but in our spare time, we  provide insight as to what makes them tick across devices. Say Ni Hao to these insights..

The mobile habits of China’s wealthy– Jing Daily

Brand This:

It amazes us how often communicators rely on tired stories to try and hit the press when they have a stockpile of really amazing data. This data can provide the press with unlimited potential to share your news. We provided Tech.Co some basic reasons why.

Branded Data is the Key for Startup Marketing  Tech.co


4 PR Secrets Used by Tech Venture Capitalists

A hasty look at any solid startup communications plan can give off a basic, if not sophomoric value point to PR investments. While incumbent brands have to worry about everything from crisis campaigns to shareholder messaging. Most startups use PR to get themselves embedded in the minds of their target audiences.

For those that don’t know, there is a secret amongst the craftiest of VCs, advisors and investors: sometimes the goal isn’t to hit critical attention mass, or even provide thought leadership. Sometimes the press is used in far more covert and lucrative ways. Here are the top four hidden secrets from PR professionals for VC’s.

Intimidate Buyers into Acquisitions

This is a phrase used in the world of mergers and acquisitions. If you want a company to buy you, make sure you sell into their client base. This applies to the world of business-to-business as well as business-to-consumer companies. Outside of making a larger organization realize that both your targets might be accretive once together, it’s all about retaining market share and mindshare as top dog in the industry you may be in.

So how does PR work in this sense? PR allows entrants the ability to showcase strength and power without really possessing it via establishing a credible threat. An organization doesn’t need to spend massive branding dollars to feign a run at market share. All they need is a solid PR investment to hit the media in the right ways. If a company can show that they mean business through the media, they will become a potential threat. In the real world, the quickest way to kill a threat is to buy the threat. International innovator, Ticketbis, used this tactic to enter into the U.S. market, and recently got acquired within 10 months for 9 figures, using next to zero marketing investment, also with a less than a 5 figure monthly PR spend.

Keep Competitors Off Your Trail

Houdini could have become the greatest marketer known to man if he was advised to apply himself to the world of commerce and trade. Everyone from large consumer goods brands to small innovators have good reason to throw their competition off before a major release. All PR is not good PR. Especially if it leaks trade secrets, or tips off competitors.

Smart corporate manipulators know how to tip the scales in their favor. By making media relation noise with a straw man endeavor and keeping eyes fixated on the smaller side, an organization can buy their research and development department’s time, privacy and protection from the larger play at hand. By marketing the heck out of a secondary initiative through a feigned leak, brand drive, or light media relations, the real development has bought itself time for entry. Smart publicists know when to keep focus. Smart VC’s often know that the first to enter is usually the largest to exit and advise their communications teams.

Publicize Investors Before Product

It’s no secret that startups will select their VCs and investors based less on dollar amount gained than by actual advisory value of bringing on a certain team. The truth that is less discussed is that the most valuable marketing play is often an investment team. This can change the entire game for a startup.  It doesn’t matters if the investment group has zero participation in any facet of the business, because a well-known VC will inspire automatic faith, garner landscape confidence and compel potential customers, vendors, partners and especially other investors to take a long hard glance at the product/service. Think Mark Cuban or Sequoia Capital.

The savvy will use this knowledge to have their PR professionals brand their investors months before the marketplace knows of any potential investment. At the moment a funding round is launched, tying together a product combined with an all-star VC team creates a larger media response and a level of credibility that is nearly unattainable otherwise.

Market A Crisis

The wiliest of investors often rely on emotion based strategy and contrarian undertakings rather than cutting edge technologies and data. While most companies will work endless nights to reduce the nature of a crisis, it is beneficial to keep pushing it further into the public eye to establish a converted hero that can garner far more positive public attention for a company, especially for one that has had mixed reviews.

The best analogies come from a careful study of film, television and entertainers. As a population, we rarely fall for Dudley-do-right at first glance. Instead we like the rough around-the-edges, anti-hero who garners redemption by doing the right thing in the end. We’re enamored by the convert, by the one who sees the error in their ways. From the Grinch to Severus Snape, we clap for them at the end and reflect upon their true colors.

In public relations, this often means finding the right crisis, marketing it the right way, and establishing a turn-around hero who not just cleans up their act, but changes the nature of their organization for the better. This can often be a Hail Mary play to some of the most successful exits in history. It’s about taking something not lackluster, building up the crises and building up the redemption from it.

 This post was written by our CEO and originally found in Tech.Co


Welcome to The World of Cryptocurrency Marketing Scams


The initial coin offering (ICO) space is exploding with opportunities, as cryptocurrency becomes poised to permanently disrupt traditional systems of the financial world. A quick scan of the latest headlines pertaining to ICOs reveals just how much finance is flowing in, as millions of dollars are quickly raised by startups planning to revolutionize entire industries with blockchain technology.

Unfortunately, where there is lots of capital, there are plenty of scammers trying to purloin their share. And the faster a sector grows, the easier it becomes for them to do so, as purveyors of fraud quickly learn how to take advantage of newcomers’ knowledge gaps. In the cryptocurrency marketing world, a fool and his bitcoin are soon parted.

  1. Social Media Influencer scams

A quick search can yield a plethora of individuals offering social media promotion via their “thousands and thousands” of crypto followers. While the thought of this instant exposure and validation may sound attractive, the truth is that it’s usually nothing more than a con-game without any real benefit to a marketer. This is because their offer of multiple tweets, and re-tweets are to the very fake followers they paid $30 for.

To ensure you’re not paying to attract bots and zombie accounts try using an account auditing service like  twitteraudit or FollowerCheck. (Note: make sure to check when the audit report was created) If their followers are more than 30% fake, you are throwing money away.

  1. Pay to Play Press Releases and Article Submission

There are plenty of sites out there that offer paid press releases and articles that may seemingly enhance an ICO’s profile. They try to appear legitimate and industry-focused, but in general, the sites where your content will appear tend to have very little or no traffic, making them a tremendous waste of your promotional resources. In the entire industry perhaps twelve niche sites exist that have the right kind of traffic. The rest do not. End point.

Before you agree to invest in any sort of paid tactics of this nature, do your homework. Even checking the Alexa rankings of the sites where the release/article will go live is a great measure to protect yourself. Anything that is not ranked in the top 150,000 sites is not worth your time or marketing money. And never…ever… buy banner Ads from anyone, unless you take a time machine to 2004.

  1. Pay to Play Articles in Major Publications

You should always be sure to avoid cash for contributor coverage schemes (Pay for play articles) as an absolute rule of thumb. Not only are these usually a scam  that won’t result in anything of value, but they can also lead to legal issues. If a writer/consultant/agency promises to get an article about your ICO published on a well-known site by paying the journalist, kindly decline and seek out organic PR instead.

            4. Scam Agencies

Be wary of marketing and public relations firms that state they have represented dozens upon dozens of ICOs. First of all, the development of this space is still relatively new, so the veracity of that claim is unlikely. But even if it is true, given the intense amount of time and resources it takes to properly engage a campaign to promote an initial coin offering, that calls the quality of these efforts into question. Equal due diligence should be given to agencies that claim only focus on crypto. Most of the time, they are just as new to marketing as you are and don’t have the years and years of expertise far more qualified firms would.

If you really want to be sure you’re hiring an effective marketing organization, be sure to dig into the experiences they claim to have. It’s possible that much of what they have done involves one-off engagements rather than strategic partnerships with proven results. And when it comes to the intricacies of promoting an ICO, you’re most certainly going to want the latter.

The initial coin offering marketing world can seem like the wild, wild west in terms of unethical parties willing to go lawless to take advantage of all the money waiting to be made. By entering this space with your eyes wide open, while paying close attention to what’s really being offered, you can ensure you’re promoting your offer the right way with the right people.


3 Dangerous pitfalls for ICO public relations agencies and marketers

This post first appeared in The Next Web, written by our CEO, Zach.

Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) are a fascinating new beast within the startup world. These novel fundraising vehicles are part tech, part finance, and while offering huge profits, also invite a great deal of potential fraud. In their nascent stage, some quick-fire fortunes will likely lead to significant legal problems when it comes to marketing, public relations and promotion.

Investor Relations (IR) professionals have been watching the landscape activity with bemusement as they have seen this all before. Anyone who worked in small or microcap investment marketing during the early days of the digital boom remembers the arrests of naive advertisers entering the space. They also know a worldwide criminal element is endemic to the capital markets. “Pump and Dumps” were not just conducted by some sketchy Florida-based brokerages. Instead, they were often orchestrated by organized criminal groups ranging from gun runners to drug cartels as an easy method to obtain quick cash and launder money. Unfortunately, those same folks are already involved in the ICO atmosphere. These are just some of the challenges that face those entering the brave new world of cryptocurrency.

1. Prepare for Red Tape and Regulations

The days of ICO public relations agencies easily entering and operating within the ICO space are over. Recent SEC statements about initial coin offerings signify there will be greater regulatory and legal issues for those looking to promote this sector. Of these, the biggest concern may be that marketers have little idea whether any given ICO can or will be considered a securities offering.

Precedent indicates ICO advertising will be subject to a set of rules similar to those which govern stock promotion. While this article in no way intends to offer legal advice, the suggestion can be made that marketers across the board should familiarize themselves with the legalities of securities marketing worldwide. Laws of this nature can be intense, ruling over everything from the language of marketing to the techniques utilized as well as the general setup of companies and their third-party help.

At the very least, ICO marketers should study the information that exists on IR legislation with specific attention paid to blue sky laws, securities promotion laws (SEC rule 17b) and broker/dealer laws. Because the reality is that an initial coin offering may be subject to them all. If you’re marketing it incorrectly, this can result in both civil and criminal charges…and no campaign is worth that……….

Want to read the rest?  Visit the article on TheNextWeb


Leveraging Branded Data For Startup Marketing

Given the competitive nature of the technology startup landscape, the creation of noteworthy marketing may seem an insurmountable task. It’s not enough to have good content, because your rivals do too. Virtually everyone has built a social media presence touting their products. And it isn’t about using simple search engine optimization tools to boost your online efforts, as these can be accessed by anyone with a beginner’s guide to SEO.

The proliferation of advertising platforms means more methods to promote your organization but also more clutter to break through. That makes it necessary to find unique ways to distinguish yourself from the pack. Herein lies the beauty of branded data. It can be used to tell a story about your startup and its capabilities in a credible way that not only makes it shareable but also indefinitely usable.

If your brand isn’t leveraging its own data as a means of self-promotion, here are three reasons it should be:

Elevates Your Communications

If you struggle with finding reasons to talk about your startup that will matter to the press, then branded data is your solution. It allows anyone from tech producers to cloud innovators to create media-worthy stories that tap into human interest. Securing such coverage is just a matter of determining what data you have available and then utilizing it to create insightful narratives about consumer and business trends.

In its Big Data Executive Survey, NewVantage Partners found that 95 percent of respondents had taken on a collection and analysis program over the last five years. This means that nearly every organization is currently capable of amassing facts and figures that allow for limitless opportunities to garner press. While most tech companies will stick to releases about their latest product update or executive hire, branded data is far more newsworthy material that journalists will actually care to write about.

——-Read the rest of this article by our team at https://tech.co/branded-data-future-startup-marketing-2017-07

Walking the Tech PR Walk

As a marketing and communications firm, we’ll be honest, we utilize most of our energy and creative focus on our clients across adtech, fintech, travel and emerging media. We don’t rest until the press, analysts, investors, partners, and entire industry believes in their product or service as much as we do. This means that we often do not get the time to focus on getting attention ourselves. BUT…we also believe you shouldn’t use a penniless financial planner nor a communications firm without a bit of acclaim.

In accordance with this view, we wanted to take a moment to show off some light work we’ve done to help educate the industry, bring new communications techniques to the forefront and present a bit of our own leadership.  Below, find our stats and a bit of our own acclaim.

Our stats:

-We’ve launched over 25 startups, eight of those we ran the course with and took through either 8 or 9 figure exits, many of the the rest are growing with us still.

-We’ve assisted over 16 fortune 500 brands.

-We’ve been featured in journalist driven press articles on 119 differing occasions.

-We’ve contributed over 175 bylines to industry and mass market publications.

-We can count eight differing award wins over  history across the company and team.

-14 Keynote speakerships delivered.

-23 Panel sessions participated in.

Some Featured Research:

Augmented Reality:  www.forbes.com/sites/michaelhumphrey/2016/09/26/pokemon-go-user-survey-marketing-via-augmented-reality-will-be-complex

Blockchain Marketers:  https://www.exchangewire.com/blog/2017/07/06/blockchain-can-revolutionise-marketing-us-leads-europe-smart-home-development/  

China’s Digital Affluent: https://jingdaily.com/chinese-rich-mobile-boosts-individualism/

Ad Fraud :  https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/258668/6-billion-lost-to-fraudulent-ad-spend.html


Some General Press

Ad Fraud:  https://www.inc.com/bill-carmody/problematic-programmatic-media-buying.html

The Reinvention of PR: https://tech.co/startups-reinventing-ancient-industries-2016-05

Digital Video: https://www.theguardian.com/media-network/media-network-blog/2014/jan/17/three-factors-scupper-online-video-advertising

Startup Advice: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/296677

Work/Life/Fun: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-12/nine-professionals-on-their-workday-breaks

 Recruiting Thoughts: http://www.foxbusiness.com/features/2017/07/12/6-employers-weigh-in-on-benefits-and-drawbacks-boomerang-employees.html


Some Thought Leadership Bylines:

General PR: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/269920

Advice for Startups: https://thenextweb.com/entrepreneur/2016/08/22/is-telecommuting-killing-your-startup/#.tnw_jNX1gH0t

Branded Data: http://www.prnewsonline.com/earning-branded-content

Native Advertisinghttps://nativeadvertisinginstitute.com/blog/use-native-advertising-amplify-content/