Is your startup ready for PR?

1We’d love to say that your startup should have a PR agency in place from the get go, however, this isn’t always the case. Regardless of how brilliant, innovative and unique your startup is you still need all your ducks in a row in order for a PR agency to create an effective strategy that will meet your business needs. Here are five questions that will help to determine whether you’re PR ready:

1. Do you know who you are and what your startup offers?
This may seem like an obvious question, but if you’re not 100% clear on what your company is, then startup PR will be a waste of money. You need a snappy elevator pitch, clear branding and a functioning platform or product so that PR efforts will support and work in unison with your business, without creating a huge disconnect.

2. Can you outline your goals?
If you don’t know what you want for your company, neither will a PR agency. What are your top business goals for the year and are they achievable? Do you want to acquire new client prospects? Increase website traffic? Attract investors? If you present clear goals to a good PR agency, you’ll be presented with a comprehensive media strategy designed to help you achieve them.

3. Do you have the time?
Many startups underestimate the amount of time it takes to actively engage with their PR agencies. PR is absolutely one of the most effective promotional investments you can make, however, to reach the goals you’ve set you will need also need to invest your time. Being brutally frank, the less input you have into the campaign, the lower the chances are of it achieving all the objectives you have set for it. Another important think to ask is how available is your CEO or spokesperson? If you want business profiling, you need to be prepared to be available to journalists – entirely on their terms – and if you stand them up, there’s a good chance there won’t be a second opportunity.

4. Do you have the budget?
Getting your big idea in front of the right journalists, investors and influencers is a top priority for any early-stage business, however, a full-scale PR programme with a top agency, isn’t always achievable for fledgling companies. Speak to PR agencies to see what they can offer, packages like Launchpad provide you with the PR expertise without the long term commitment.

5. Do you have a good story to tell?
As much as we’d love to believe that we can work PR magic, we need a story or news to work with. PR agencies will work with you to establish what your story is and how best to deliver it to the media and your target audience, however, if you have an interesting opinion or point of view on industry trends, topics and news… Even better! Having an interesting, insightful opinion will set you apart from startups and businesses competing for the same news space as you.

Words Ellie Cottrell

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Is your startup ready for PR?

PR Measurement: Why it is time to retire AVEs for good

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Once, not that long ago, the introduction of AVEs prompted PR people to put away their rulers in favour of a more commercial measurement technique for brands’ media coverage. But now, the continued use of AVEs smacks of a quiet desperation. They are like a sad embodiment of PR’s inferiority complex towards the advertising community in spreadsheet form.

In economics, cost and value clearly aren’t the same thing, so marrying the price of advertising space to the outputs of media relations programmes is really rather pointless. AVEs don’t enable us to understand and measure the benefit of activities that keep brands out of the headlines, messaging cut-through in editorial vs. that allowed in advertising placements. Perhaps most importantly though, they can’t measure an overall campaign and won’t help us to look at social or online media in any form.

So why are they still being used? AVEs are a comfort blanket. When clients or agencies find themselves reaching for metrics to prove the value of their work, AVEs are a convenient crutch.

There’s still a significant amount of education to be done across the industry to raise awareness of better alternatives. As agencies, we have a responsibility to service clients to the best to their ability – and that’s not always about saying yes. Agreeing to provide AVEs to a client is a lazy option. If clients ask for AVEs then we should do our best to advise on the latest practice, like AMEC’s Barcelona Principles, which have gathered momentum as industry support for them has grown.

Measuring the true impact of our campaigns remains challenging for agencies and in-house teams alike, but we need to become more savvy about using data to track and measure our work. Communications experts are not necessarily data experts, but we need to keep working to refine better ways of monitoring, collecting and analysing data, especially as the size, scope and nature of the work we do continues to evolve.

Words Sara Collinge

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PR Measurement: Why it is time to retire AVEs for good
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Choosing a global PR agency

Ambitious companies looking to expand to new territories face a number of challenges. Finding an office, hiring staff, thinking about infrastructure and getting through all of the red tape and paperwork have to be considered. On top of this they will need to think about how they connect with customers and partners in their new surroundings through global PR and marketing efforts.

While many companies have done perfectly well using a number of different agencies to cover different territories, dealing with just one agency should offer a simpler, more efficient and cohesive experience.

But this isn’t necessarily the case, so here are the questions that you should be asking yourself when you are choosing a global PR agency:

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Choosing a global PR agency
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How to get noticed without a PR agency

What’s the ideal time for a company to start thinking about PR?

Our answer (of course) would be: From the very beginning. However, while your product might still be on the drawing board, with no full-time employees on your books or revenue being generated, actually engaging with a PR agency doesn’t make sense.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t be working on your own PR already, though. There is plenty you can be planning, preparing and actually doing in order to facilitate future engagements with the media no matter what stage you are in your company’s journey.

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How to get noticed without a PR agency
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What content marketing can do for your B2B brand

Content marketing is a term that most, if not all, B2B brands will have heard. So what is content marketing and what can it do for a B2B brand?

Brands in the B2B space need to use every tool at their disposal to reach, grow and engage their target audience. While earned media – coverage in relevant third-party publications that your audience consumes – and paid media such as advertising can get you so far, these are only part of the puzzle.

Increasingly brands are becoming aware of the fact that they need to be creating and filling up their own channels – or ‘owned media’ – in order to get the most best out of the momentum they have built up from other channels.

However, while it is easy to write a few blogs and stick them on your company website, to really get the most out of content requires a lot of hard work and dedication.

Here are the questions you should be asking yourself before taking the plunge with content marketing.

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What content marketing can do for your B2B brand
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How adtech companies can differentiate themselves

It is one of the deepest ironies in business, to me, that the sector which does the worst job at communicating itself is… the advertising industry.

The agencies started it. Most of them are a labyrinthine mess comprising hundreds of distinct operating units and sub-agencies. Behold, Publicis Groupe’s confusing announcement of Publicis One, a consolidation into, well, four divisions.

For an industry which prides itself on “storytelling”, this inability to effectively communicate a service offering should come as something of an embarrassment.

But ad land’s communication problem has been taken to new highs – or, should I say, lows – by a new wave of advertising company, one that doesn’t necessarily have storytelling at heart: the adtech vendor.

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How adtech companies can differentiate themselves
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Why the Trump administration needs to tell the truth

Clarity CEO Sami McCabe has recently written about how the PR industry should respond to Brexit and the Trump presidency. Associate Director Ashley Norris has also examined how Trump could actually prove to be a blessing in disguise for the media industry.

I, however, want to turn my attention to a key aspect of how Trump and his team are handling communications now they are actually in control. Barely three weeks in, there are plenty of great lessons for people working in comms and at brands who want to get their name known coming from the Trump administration. Most, it has to be said, would be listed in the section headed “Don’t” rather than the one titled “Do”.

One of the latest comes from Kellyanne Conway, who invented an incident – the Bowling Green massacre – in order to further justify the new policy that stops immigrants from seven nations entering the U.S. Now, as controversial as the policy itself may be, I want to focus on why what Kellyanne Conway did was such a big no-no from a comms point of view.

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Why the Trump administration needs to tell the truth
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Why Medium is still a great option for B2B brands

A couple of weeks ago Ev Williams, one of the founders of Twitter, came clean about some of the problems he was facing with his online publishing platform Medium.

He explained why 2016 had been a stellar year for Medium with “key metrics, such as readers and published posts up approximately 300% year on year.” Williams acknowledged, though, that the main ploy he had hatched for monetising the business – a native advertising solution – hadn’t worked out how he had envisaged. He added that he was having to make 50 staff – mainly in sales – redundant, while he and his team pondered a new direction for the platform.

So is it time, as some critics appear to have done already, to write off Medium as a long-term publishing prospect?

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Why Medium is still a great option for B2B brands
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How to get the best out of working with a PR agency

Entering into a relationship with a PR company isn’t something to be taken lightly. Carefully selecting the right agency is important – they need to understand your company and product, and have a clear vision of how you can work together. We’ve written before about how to select a PR agency – this article will guide you through what to do next.

1. Be prepared to work together
The key word here is ‘together’. You can’t simply sign the contract and assume that the coverage will start to roll in from that point on. It takes time to develop relationships with target media on your behalf, and for the agency to craft your story into something that will interest journalists. This requires your help and input – they’ll need to be able to pick your brains and really get to the bottom of what it is and the whys and wherefores of how you’re doing it.

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How to get the best out of working with a PR agency
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7 questions to help you choose a tech PR agency

No matter whether you are an established business that has been trading for decades, or a startup working out how to get the most from your angel investment, chances are that somewhere on your to-do list will be employing a tech PR agency.

There are many types of business communications that you can use to attract new customers or increase brand awareness, but in terms of value for money there is no more effective way of getting the message out about your services than working with a PR agency.

Tech PR agencies have evolved and become even more useful to their clients in recent years. For example, when Clarity started half a decade ago our focus was largely on media relations – in other words securing press coverage for our clients.

Now we specialise in integrated campaigns that often include content, social media and advertising as well as good old fashioned PR. We position ourselves as your trusted business adviser; someone who is there to challenge you and help your business to evolve. We can cover a lot of marketing areas for you and ensure that they work seamlessly in delivering a unified message.

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7 questions to help you choose a tech PR agency