4 Reasons Your Startup Should Avoid Large PR Firms

There are so many justifications as to why a startup should hire a public relations firm that doing so is basically a no-brainer. After all, why wouldn’t you look to a team of seasoned experts able to approach what you’re selling from an objective, outside perspective rather than rely on your internal team members who don’t have the same range of experience or ability to overcome myopic points of view enabled by an emotional proximity to a pitch? Not doing so would just be silly.

But when it comes to selecting an agency, some serious thought must go into the size of the organization you choose. Here are four important reasons why a boutique firm is better equipped to handle your startup:

1. Big firms mean less attention.

Would you rather date somebody who already has a wide variety of demanding, high-maintenance significant others or someone who has time for you? Large PR agencies care less about doing everything they can to promote a small client and far more about the giant brands they can bill up to $30k per month. But ultimately, the joke is on them. Because boutique public relations firms know that hitting smaller accounts as hard as possible is what someday turns startups into huge, powerful brands.

2. Big firms have high turnover.

You should never get too attached to your account team at a large PR agency because chances are, they won’t always be your account team. Big firms are a revolving door for young, overworked talent which means these reps never have the time it takes to truly learn your industry. That makes your business their resume fodder. New public relations agents at huge organizations are more concerned with amazing startup launches they can reference during future job interviews than they are with building realistic and sustainable long-term strategies.

3. Big firms can play favorites.

As a small startup represented by a large agency, you’re a little fish in a big pond. And no agent wants his picture taken holding a guppy when there’s a 300-pound Marlin available for the shot. With the scale of clientele it takes to support a big PR firm, there will always be competitive clients on their roster that may be handed media opportunities before you are. Smaller firms are more likely to ensure that each of their clients is getting the available coverage that they deserve, regardless of their retainer size.

4. Big firms face bureaucracy.

One of the best things about small PR agencies is their ability to be nimble, pivoting as necessary to take advantage of breaking news and evolving trends that can be leveraged to promote a startup. But at large firms, anything truly innovative must often go through several levels of approval before it can be executed. Cutting through all that red tape inevitably takes up time that allows fantastic opportunities to quickly pass by.

When it comes to finding the right PR firm to represent your business, be sure to look past the established names and check out smaller agencies that will truly have your best interests at heart. Boutique agencies are not so far removed from the struggles startups face and are more likely to view themselves as a partner rather than just a paid ally of your organization.


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Is Content Marketing Dead?

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:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

 


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Marketing Roundup – Q2 2016

Q2 is in the books and our clients have not shown any signs of slowing down! Take a look at what our clients have brought to the media in the past quarter.

 

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Entrepreneur – 4 Digital Marketing Wins From This Year’s Presidential Candidates

Forbes – What Snapchat Means For The Future Of Social Media

MarketingLand – Look out for the MosQUito

CMO  – Six Trends Every Marketer Needs To Consider

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Washington Post  – Klinsmann and U.S. soccer team set for Copa America

Elite Daily – EDM Festivals May Actually Be Dying Out

About.com  – Copa America Centenario: Travel Guide for America’s Soccer Championship

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AdWeek – Survey: Facebook Is the Preferred Network for Video Sharing

Forbes  – Don’t Underestimate Humor, Authenticity Or Facebook … For Now

HubSpot – 10 Excellent Examples of Video Marketing on Facebook

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The Drum  – Furious survey: Netflix and YouTube biggest threats to traditional cable

RapidTVNews – Online, TV consumption co-existing – for now

 

 


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Laura’s Language: Using Plain Language In PR

Being dyslexic can be frustrating because you have a larger vocabulary than you can spell. When speaking out loud I think I sound intelligent and I understand the meaning of large words, but ask me how to spell them and I will just laugh. If you’ve read any of my previous columns you would know that spelling isn’t my strong suit, but I definitely have a lot of ideas. In college I would try to beef up my papers with bigger words browsing thesaurus.com for assistance.

As a PR professional I think it’s very important to understand the language of your field and the fields your clients work in. However, when speaking to journalists I find it is best to use plain language. Just tell them what you want right away and don’t leave them guessing. When I first started in PR I tried to fill my pitches with a lot of grand words and explanations, all with no responses. I’ve learned that if you speak “plainly” and get straight to the point in a short pitch you are way more likely to get a response. I will take a “no thank you” email over being ghosted any day!

So why is it that when I’m communicating with a journalist, who probably have a larger vocabulary and literary understanding than I do, I keep it simple? Well, because nobody has time for that! I know I don’t want to take five minutes to read an email that could have been explained in two. Neither does a busy journalist. Just keep it simple and everything will be easier.

 

Lots of love,

Laura

 

 


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Summer’s Sass: Pinterest Is Not Only For Hobby Inspiration

For those of you that think Pinterest is only for pinning recipes, planning a wedding, or picking out an outfit, you surely are mistaken.

I mean yeah that stuff is enjoyable, even I do that (you should see my puppy board)! But Pinterest is actually a great business tool. Not only does it work extremely well for restaurants and retail stores that want to show off their product and recipes, but for other business endeavors as well. Pinterest is honestly one of my favorite social apps, I follow literally everyone I possibly can and love “exploring” specific things I am searching for. I am so addicted to being an avid “pinner” and I’m proud of it!

Pinterest has so much traffic hitting its servers each day. I know this because half of the people that sit around me on the Metra are surfing on Pinterest, each one searching different boards. It has become one of those apps that people check daily, like they do with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. So considering all this scale why would you not want to contribute to Pinterest?

Let’s be honest, it is really easy to use Pinterest. It’s pretty self-explanatory and you can access it from any smart device. You can measure your pinning success with analytics to see how well you are pinning or posting to boards.

It’s a great way for PR professionals to connect with journalists. If your goal is to build a relationship with them go see what they are pinning to their public boards and use it as it as a conversation starter. You can see what they think is funny, what kind of pets they like and what kinds of food they like. This is something that would come in handy if you were to meet up for lunch.

Sincerely yours,

Summer


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Ryan’s Rant: Donald Trump and His Master PR Plan

Around this time every four years, the media goes into a frenzy covering the country’s potential political future. It’s an absolute free for all where no parties’ candidate is safe from the scandalous headlines and public scrutiny. However, this year’s race is one for the books.

Why am I writing about the current state of politics for a PR firm, you may ask? Because never before in our nation’s history has a candidate been so unbelievably talented at getting free press. And no, I’m not referring to Hillary Clinton.

Pushing all political opinions, Donald Trump currently and always has been a master craftsman at PR. No other presidential candidate in this century has gotten more free media coverage than Trump. How does he do it? Well every single remark, speech, event and move he makes is carefully plotted. While most statements he releases even make the most conservative squirm in their seats, the media thirsts for such controversy. If the media truly wanted to take a stand against the republican candidate, then they would cease to cover his campaign. But of course, media companies are in the business of viewership and nobody receives more views on both sides than Donald Trump.

Even before his campaigning days, Trump stirred up controversy. No matter how controversial the statement, whether it be by questioning Obama’s birth certificate, attacking Rosie O’Donnell or even providing excuses for rape in the military- he’s always gotten free press and it keeps his business booming.

Trump is now the leader of the Republican Party and only trails Hillary by 9 percent in most polls. The old saying goes “There’s no such thing as bad press.” While I certainly don’t agree with this, he makes it extremely difficult for me to prove my point.

 

All the best,

Ryan

 

 


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Laura’s Language: A Millennial Dyslexic’s Love/Hate Relationship with Abbreviated Spelling

In the early 2000’s, my fellow classmates and I had to write out everything by hand. This included papers, spelling tests and secret notes we passed to each other. In grade school it was rare to have a computer at home and if you did it was usually off limits to anyone but your parents. Within a very short period of time between grade school and middle school, having computers at school and at home became the norm. We were playing games on the computer and learning that we could talk to our friends in a secret language called IM. The shorthand language was easy for me to pick up and hard for me to mess up.

I thought computers were wonderful because spellcheck would “fix” all my grammar and spelling mistakes but papers still came back to me covered in red marks. How could this be? Well because I was choosing the wrong words from my spellcheck options and slipping in IM shorthand without noticing it! It had become so ingrained in my mind that when I saw the shorthand it looked normal to me.

Today I have to use my laptop every day for work. I have to send emails, write out thought leadership outlines, and write blog columns like this. Sometimes I will read something I wrote in a hurry and find abbreviated spelling snuck into it. Could you imagine emailing an editor and it having “are” spelled “r”? It doesn’t get much more embarrassing than that.

I don’t know if other millennials have these issues but I’ve been trying to retrain my brain to type in full words. While it is convenient to use when you only have a few seconds to send a text I greatly encourage you all to join me in bringing back full words. It’s hard enough to learn correct English so why would I want to fill my brain with useless short text that I can’t use anywhere else? I know shorthand writing will always be apart of how I write and I think it’s because it was a big part of my core learning. The good thing is everyone still understands shorthand writing. The bad thing is people will give you crap about it.

 

LOL (lots of love),

Laura


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Laura’s Language: PR Jargon

My first few days as a PR intern were filled with questions, mistakes, and misunderstandings. Every field has its own jargon and PR is no exception. Looking back I should have asked more questions because no one expects an intern to know everything. Now that I’m more seasoned in the language of PR I thought it would be nice to share what I have learned with ya’ll.

 

For all those struggling with jargon, you are not alone!

  1. Getting a Hit = Earning a media placement for your client.
  2. Traction = When your placement or press release has been picked up in the media and is getting widespread attention.
  3. Buzz/Trending = What everyone is talking about in the news and on social media.
  4. Branding = Using consistent language to describe your client or company and how you want the world to view you.
  5. Market = City.
  6. Pitching = Presenting an idea to a journalist, editor, or reporter.
  7. Media Contacts = Editors and journalist you have created good relationships with.
  8. Angle = A specific emphasis for a story being presented to the media.
  9. Bylines = Bio of the author of a thought leadership piece.
  10. Boilerplate = Short company description that usually appears at the bottom of a press release.

 

I hope you find this helpful! If you are still confused you can always use Google… I always do.

 

Lots of Love,

Laura

 

 


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Summer’s Sass: Don’t Forget To Tweet!

You can’t even imagine how important Twitter is to a PR professional, journalists, business owners and their employees. Over the years this social app has swept not only the nation, but the world. Tweeting is a quick, easy and pleasant way to connect with people around the world.

As a PR professional Twitter is a necessity. Not a tool. A necessity!! Twitter allows a way for us to interact with journalists of all different publications. On many occasions this is how we start, build and maintain relationships, which is key to being successful. For example; if you don’t know who you’re trying to pitch, what they write about, or what they enjoy then it is very likely they will delete your pitch and move onto the next one. A relationship via Twitter can eliminate this from happening.

When I was younger Twitter was just a vehicle for me to tell my friends that I was eating pizza or watching a movie. Now it’s a vehicle I use to associate with people that I haven’t seen in years or strangers I’ve never met. Also, chances are that you’re probably already a proud owner of a Twitter account, which you are not utilizing correctly. But who am I to tell you how to live your life? Well, you should listen to me but if you don’t then that’s cool too……not… ANYWAYS, use twitter to market yourself. Like the things you like, re-tweet the posts that make you laugh, but just don’t forget that there will always be eyes constantly scanning your activity and your twitter page. You need to let your light shine through but still be smart about it.

 

Also don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, we post some awesome stuff  –  @EmergingInsider

 

 Sincerely Yours,

 

Summer


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PR Exit Strategy: Data and Branded Content’s Role in Media Relations

There is a giant discrepancy between what people believe is the work of a communications/PR firm and what the work actually entails. This is never more true than the idealized opinions of startups versus the (often brave) firms and agencies that represent them. The common belief seems to hold that a few calls, and a couple of pitches to media friendlies means your startup will be featured the next day on every top-tier publication and outlet that exists.

The truth is that the countless hours, days and weeks of planning, strategy and executions to follow are rarely seen, but there is a great equalizer. For startups that actually have the foresight to go through the months it really takes to execute a killer PR plan, they may be in for results they couldn’t have ever dreamed of…

Read the full article at bulldogreporter.com