The Matchbox.

Aug. 15

PR Lessons Learned; Domino’s Pizza’s Unorthodox Advertising Approach

Southwest’s Spirit Magazine recently spotlighted Domino’s Pizza’s turnaround campaign demonstrating that with the right strategy, even subpar tomato sauce can translate into increased sales. Designed by ad agency Crispin Porter & Bogusky, Domino’s’ campaign focused on its lackluster pizza through a television ad series that told the tale of its cardboard-tasting crust and its initiative to reinvigorate its pizza with better ingredients.  The campaign’s objective to tell the truth and win over former and new customers worked—netting Domino’s a 14.3 percent increase in sales per store and overall company growth from 2010 to 2011.

From technology solutions to pizza and everything in between, public relations campaigns can and should do the same by being upfront with product updates. Why?

  • Truthful communication appeals to human nature. Telling the truth demonstrates honest business practices and integrity and pushes organizations’ positive corporate cultures forward.
  • Customers look forward to enhancements. Upgrades to your software, websites or mobile apps are expected.  Don’t be afraid to communicate product revisions or new features, especially if the end result is a better customer experience.
  • Competition might not follow suit. While being upfront is a best practice approach, your competition might not take the same road.  This gives you an opportunity to one-up them by highlighting your differentiators and showing why customers should choose your product.
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Aug. 01

On Location – Y&A’s Annual Planning Retreat

Last week, the team enjoyed some much needed time together to reconnect, review and re-energize in St. Michaels, Md. Yes, we did partake in some beautiful views, gardens, gourmet food and even a mini-massage and caught up on our personal lives and goals, but in many cases the conversation reverted back to the agency, our clients and future goals. How can we do more with social media? What works with our current client structure and what can we improve? Who are we and where do we want to go?


Certainly we planned for and had an extremely productive, dedicated time over the course of two-days to discuss all things agency.  But funny enough, the “aha” moments seemed to occur while we were casually eating dinner or browsing, (yes, husbands, browsing…) in the little boutiques in St. Michaels. It’s always amazing to me that when you bring bright people together and leave some room for “down-time”, great things happen. So go on and enjoy those retreats. It will likely benefit the organization in the long-run.

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Jul. 19

The Spark: Summer Brings New Clients, Awards and Commentary on Client Relationships Built to Last

The Y&A team has been enjoying a busy summer so far, including welcoming new clients Interfolio and Wolfe Domain and celebrating several 2012 Hermes Creative Awards for standout client programs.

If you haven’t read our July issue of The Spark newsletter yet, click here to learn about utilizing awards to bolster your company’s market credibility and tapping into the right internal resources to zero in on media topics that speak directly to your buyer audiences. There’s also a great “My Two Cents” by Principal Jennifer MacLeid Qotb about our “Partner Til the End” client relationship philosophy and our successful client Rivermine/Emptoris, which was recently acquired by IBM. We’re fortunate to work with industry-driving technology leaders everyday and truly appreciate the opportunity to partner with each of our clients to help their businesses leap to the next level.

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Jul. 12

New Social-PR Tools Storify & Newsle

New social media resources are a dime a dozen for PR professionals and it can be a challenge to find the ones that will help bolster your PR programs and social media initiatives. Storify and Newsle are two sites that have emerged over the last few weeks as resources that can help strengthen your communication tactics.

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Storify lets users curate news articles, social media posts and visual content to create a “social” view of a topic and then embed that stream into a blog or website. The tool offers users another way to create a narrative using content from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, YouTube and more with an easy-to-use click and drag button. This is an excellent resource for weaving social content together to tell a story from many viewpoints. As one example, use Storify to recap an industry event for a blog post.  Here is a look at our story regarding BIA/Kelsey’s recent Mobile Local Media Conference.

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We discovered Newsle after a tip from Sarah Evans. Newsle finds articles about your LinkedIn connections, Facebook friends or other public figures and sends you instant alerts by email. Sign up for Newsle and connect your LinkedIn or Facebook account to begin tracking news. After reading an article, you can send friends a tweet or Facebook message about the item directly through the Newsle dashboard. Also, follow journalists to receive articles they’ve written and uncover articles that mention or quote key spokespeople within your organization or client company.

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Jun. 26

Analyst Relations: What’s in it for vendors?

While some technology executives are skeptical of analyst firms because of their hefty price tags, analyst relations is a critical element of most technology vendors’ thought leadership and PR programs. Tech industry analysts ranging from Gartner to Forrester to Aberdeen and even smaller niche industry players provide significant value to vendors and enterprises, and almost all industry analysts will offer an annual briefing to vendors without charging a fee.

Tech vendors that brief industry analysts benefit from the opportunity to share their solutions and strategy with analysts who oftentimes recommend these solutions to enterprises and provide third-party vendor assessments to the overall marketplace. If you ask the right questions and pay close attention to their answers, many analysts also offer valuable insights/feedback on the competitive market in the briefings. Not to mention the chance to get on their radar for inclusion in future industry reports. For analysts, it is key for them to understand the whole market that they are advising and that includes a solid understanding of all provider offerings, differentiators, business models and case studies (PR note: include all these items in your next analyst briefing).

If there seems to be a good fit during the briefing, consider the value of a paid relationship as both parties – vendor and analyst – will have the opportunity to gain greater in-depth market knowledge. As a vendor you will get access to analyst reports (which range in a la carte pricing from several hundred to a few thousand dollars) and more interaction with analysts for one-off inquiries, advisory services and support for other vendor-driven marketing and public relations activities.

So before you turn down an analyst meeting—thinking they are just trying to sell you on a subscription/membership—remember the benefits you may be missing out on.


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Jun. 15

Tactically Speaking, Who Should “Own” Social Media?

As more and more social media channels pop up among an overwhelming, dizzying array of networks to manage, e.g., Pinterest, Instagram, SlideShare, the big debate on who should control social media within an organization is igniting.

Many of my PR colleagues believe that PR agencies should advise on PR strategy but leave the community management, e.g., day-to-day tweeting, posting, responding, to internal marketing folks. While the agency handles our clients’ social media needs on a case-by-case basis – whether developing an overall strategy, recommending occasional posts or engaging in soup-to-nuts social management – we often have a far better grasp on the content than our internal counterparts. Why? Because we operate as an extension of the team that doesn’t drink the corporate Kool-aid. We are objective.


In many ways, social media should be approached from the same perspective as traditional PR—It’s the job of the agency and the account team to learn our clients’ businesses inside and out. As such, we often find ourselves involved in business strategy conversations with our clients—well beyond the realm of PR—as we have invested ourselves in their business as well as the overall marketplace. This is critical to the success of the PR program and our ability to develop poignant bylines and media pitches and advise on analyst relations strategies and tactics, etc. Social media falls into the same bucket— we already know the hot topics as well as which hot buttons to press or avoid. In the end, a unified social media approach will yield better results than parsing it out. After all, how can you advise on strategy if you don’t know the tactics?

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Jun. 08

Statistics are a Goldmine News Hook

No matter the industry, statistics-related news items grab media attention. And, as fresh stats indicate the evolution and forward-looking trends of a given marketplace, they can be the perfect PR opportunity for companies to rise to the top of the media pipeline.

Releasing stats directly from your organization’s research or a commissioned study is ideal, but don’t discount the opportunity to comment on other organization’s stats and what they mean to your industry’s growth, how customers will be impacted, and if appropriate, recommended advice on how they should respond favorably. These types of insights will help forge your company spokespersons as thought leaders on the greater marketplace and its future.

A few pieces of advice:

Weigh In on Questions Beforehand: If you’ll have input into a research study before it kicks off, ensure that at least a handful of questions speak to hot issues that will yield poignant marketplace findings. Try to insert some angles that haven’t been reported on yet.

Provide an Infographic: Develop an eye-catching infographic that brings your key stats to life. Reporters are often more likely to cover research if clear, attractive visuals are available to accompany the story.

Contact Reporters ASAP: Once a study is complete, conduct media outreach as soon as possible to avoid stale data. Or, if commenting on another organization’s research, develop and push out your analysis points right away to be considered as a resource when reporters are in the midst of developing their stories.

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May. 21

Right Here, Right Now: Tips for Getting News to Journalists

Timing a news announcement when reporters are looking for news to cover or focused on a specific trend or topic takes thoughtful planning (and sometimes a bit of luck) but following a few suggestions can help you make that critical connection.

For breaking news, send as soon as possible to targeted journalists.  Some reporters, but not all, will review the news in advance and hold publishing with an embargo. Make sure they honor embargos in advance, so you don’t overstep your legal or investor team or release product news before the solution or feature is ready for customers.

When alerting reporters to news, target Tuesday through Thursday between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Sending information just after the hour, at 9:12 a.m. for example, might avoid the rush of news or press releases sent by other companies. The goal is to get the news out in the morning while reporters are determining what they are covering that day. Afternoons and Fridays are out as reporters are already filing their stories and avoid holidays or other major pre-planned news announcements, e.g., Facebook’s IPO, the Royal Wedding, even major industry conferences (if you are a BtoB provider).

If you are sending a press release through a newswire, like PRWeb, contact them for recommendations on distribution timing. For example, PRWeb suggests scheduling releases via their wire at 3 a.m. ET, so news populates across their network of partner sites and is available for reporters first thing in the morning.

For all communications, monitor analytics available via Google Analytics, an email distribution partner or other media monitoring tools, to determine the timing that is right for you and your audience. This will vary based on your organization and the type of news you are trying to communicate.

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May. 14

5 Tips to Maximize Media Coverage Mileage

A primary goal of any PR program is securing media coverage. Having a news outlet write about your company, quote your executives or use your client case study as an illustration of an industry best practice is an unbiased validation of your company’s approach, solution and success. However, once the media coverage comes, many companies are unaware of all the opportunities to maximize the visibility through other relevant sales, social media and marketing channels. Here are five ways to fully leverage media coverage generated.

  1. Website – Including media coverage on your website demonstrates that your company is worth talking about. All company websites should have a newsroom for posting recent press releases and websites. If you don’t, make it a priority. News coverage can be highlighted with media logos and/or a description of the article. You could also give your homepage a dynamic content boost by including a newsfeed on the home page.
  2. Social Media – Social media is all about sharing so make sure to post company news on Facebook and Twitter. A note about Facebook: be selective about which articles you share as most people are fine to see daily corporate posts but no one wants their newsfeed clogged with corporate news. Twitter, however, is a place where you should retweet all coverage. Mix it up by also offering a quick overview of the article and don’t forget to credit the news source with their handle, e.g., via @Forbes.
  3. Newsletter – If you have a company newsletter you should be highlighting recent and relevant news coverage with your customers, prospects and employees. It is a great way to mix up the often copy-heavy design by including the headlines and links to 2-3 recent articles.
  4. Sales Collateral – Nothing expresses a company’s value more than third-party media validation. Arm your sales team with appropriate media coverage to demonstrate the company’s thought leadership, market presence and reputation.
  5. Blog – Most blogs are in need of content – something to break up the barrage of thought leadership and how-to’s. Institute a monthly recap of recent news coverage or write your own synopsis of a story that featured your company.


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May. 01

Step Outside Your Bubble for More Media Opportunities

This is a timeless issue – many companies only want to discuss topics directly related to their product or service. While this sweet spot is undeniable, it doesn’t have to mark the boundary of what corporate spokespersons can comment on. In fact, only entertaining topics that solely focus directly on a company’s products or services can prevent the business from reaching its full media coverage potential, not to mention stifle their potential visibility in related marketplaces. is great example. While beginning its path as a CRM software provider, the company, thanks in much part to Marc Benioff and a savvy PR/marketing team,  has transformed itself and entire industries including SaaS and Cloud computing. The company looked beyond the CRM marketplace and pushed the envelope – not only in it’s technology but it’s forward-looking views that distinguished as a revolutionary leader. Bottom line – thoroughly evaluate what your business means to the future of your industry and the greater marketplace – and don’t be afraid to discuss periphery topics. It just may be the door-opener to a new market or expanded use of your solution.

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