Conferences present significant opportunities for networking, client pipeline nurturing, partnership discussions, industry education and more as the in person forum drives stronger connections.
Similarly, speaking at conferences has a greater impact on attendees than presenting via webinars or phone conversations. As a result, vying for speaking opportunities at key trade shows or conferences can be extremely effective for elevating your businessâ€™ marketplace visibility and stature.
To increase your chances of being accepted as a conference speaker (not tied to a paid sponsorship) and to maximize secured speaking opportunities, here are a few tips for success.
â€˘ Target Topics: Know the conferenceâ€™s audience before suggesting possible presentation topics. Use this information as a basis for developing a solid abstract that speaks directly to their challenges and how your presentation or panelist perspective addresses them with specific takeaways.
â€˘ Avoid Self Promotion: While it makes sense that your thought leadership is rooted in your experience selling/delivering your companyâ€™s products and services, this is not the time for a sales pitch. Offering advice and guidance will effectively position you as an industry expert and therefore paint your company in a positive light.
â€˘ Note Panel Participants: To help gauge how your industry perspectives will fit within a particular panel, take the time to research the other panelistsâ€™ backgrounds and their businessesâ€™ value propositions. This step will help you prepare for the possibility of any competitive discussions or sensitive topic angles.
â€˘ Understand the Format: It is critical to have a sense of the flow of any speaking engagement prior to delivery. Ask questions about the format, including whether there will be a Q&A session at the end of the prepared discussion. This applies to keynotes, fireside chats and panel discussions.
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Whatâ€™s trending? In Pittsburgh, todayâ€™s trends are sunshine, food trucks (weâ€™re behind) and the Piratesâ€™ run at hanging above .500 this season. Staying ahead of trends and being able to forecast topics that will pique journalistsâ€™ interest is crucial for PR pros. A media pitch/article idea is only effective if it is timely and worthy of a reporterâ€™s time to pen the story.
So, how can we effectively identify and hook into trends?
- Twitter: The ultimate source for whatâ€™s trending is Twitter. Follow trending hashtags and reportersâ€™ feeds to tailor pitches or piggyback on a topic that is generating buzz.
- Regular, but respectful, contact with reporters: Some reporters are responsive to short touch-base emails. Dropping a quick line to a reporter youâ€™ve had previous contact with can be very effective for pinpointing what they are working on and how you and your clients can be supportive.
- Editorial calendars: Regularly reviewing key publicationsâ€™ editorial calendars is helpful for determining the trends that outlets are focused on for the next 6-12 months and the types of resources they are looking for long-term. Also, they give a broad sense of publicationsâ€™ overall focus and format. Revisit these calendars often to navigate evolving story ideas.
- Read, read, read: The most important, and the most obvious, tip is to read your key industry and business publications daily. This is truly the best way to identify trends that will help you maximize PR efforts.
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With the many opportunities to publish and repurpose content expanding and interest in reading lengthy white papers waning, many technology-driven companies have adopted eBooks as a way to educate BtoB consumers, generate leads and showcase thought leadership and market or product insights. The range of eBook implementation styles generally include designed PowerPoint-style pdfs or pdf brochure ware with easy-to-digest takeaways. The ideal length is 8-10 pages with a copy-light look and feel. Brevity and pithiness are key.
Marketing executives are fans but, as with most marketing activities, there is also a PR role/application. An eBook can help kick off a media pitching campaign, a press release, even a speaking opportunity. Of course it is great social content as well. Here are some rules of thumb to keep in mind when creating eBook copy or an eBook-driven campaign.
- Include PR in the conversation. The media relations team can provide unique insight into the industry interest of select topics and/or help develop topics that have both prospect and media relevance.
- Donâ€™t gate the content 100%. eBooks certainly can provide lead generation opportunities but it is important for PR to be able to offer reporters and bloggers an ungated viewing option.
- Have a distribution strategy. PR shouldnâ€™t be last on the list of distribution options. As with anything in marketing, an integrated plan is key for driving results. Siloed campaigns canâ€™t reach their full potential or target extended audiences.
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As partnership announcements are often a dime a dozen in journalists’ eyes, it’s important to think outside the box to maximizeÂ promotion efforts and clearly convey the unique market-facing impacts.
As the agency has promoted a number of partnershipsÂ for clients recently, we offer the following advice for extending the potential for media coverage.
- Utilize Trade ShowsÂ – If announcing the partnership at a trade show, offering onsite reporters a dual company interviewÂ opportunity can make a huge difference in garnering interest and coverage when handled well. Be sure to have demos available onÂ the fly, as well as key leave-behind materials.
- Tie to a Larger Trend or Counter-TrendÂ – Illustrating how your partnership furthers or bucks a burgeoning industry trendÂ offers reporters a fresh news angle that goes beyond the simple partnership announcement. Your CEOâ€™s or CMO’s commentary willÂ be better received if the messaging ties back to real industry impacts.
- Name DropÂ – Playing up big industry names will yield added credibility for your organization. Even better, if the moreÂ prominent player is wiling to participate in media interviews, setup joint interviews so reporters can hear firsthand how yourÂ organization and an industry powerhouse are taking the market by storm.
*This post originally appeared in Y&Aâ€™s Spark Newsletter
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Today, engaging with customers on social media is a given for most businesses. However many are finding that if a sound strategy is not in place for responding to customer complaints/inquiries or if the various channels are used carelessly, this strategy can backfire.
Recently, a number of companies have been faulted for mishandling social media.
From creating insensitive posts in an attempt to create buzz, e.g., DiGiorno Pizzaâ€™s inappropriate use of the #WhyIStayed hashtag, to deleting customer complaints like Smuckerâ€™s, it seems like there are more fails than successes. Why? Perhaps companies arenâ€™t weaving social into their overarching PR/marketing strategy or they might be entrusting social to the wrong team or individual.
Whatever the situation, it is important for companies to reexamine their social approach and take it seriously to avoid any costly blunders. If not, these mistakes could be extremely costly, diminishing consumer trust in products and services and negatively impacting business and/or brand reputation.
*This post originally appeared in Y&A’s Spark Newsletter
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Any one who says there is no such thing as luck in PR, or business for that matter, hasnâ€™t experienced success. Sure success always relies on hard work and resilience, but striking gold usually involves a small dose of luck, mostly in timing. Call it fate, kismet, destiny, or fortune, with luck on your side here are three additional PR elements that must align for success.
Strategy â€“ No PR effort, big or small, reaches its full potential without a sound strategy. That means looking big picture at the overall objectives and project elements to determine the best approach.
Tactics â€“ Just as strategy is a guide for the best project outcomes, getting the tactics right matters. A successful PR campaign must respect basic media relations principles â€“ from reporter outreach and interactions to pitch and press release content and media interview best practices.
Tenacity â€“ Even with lady luckâ€™s blessing, dedication is essential. Sending a media pitch to targeted reporters with an advance on your news is important but more important is the effort the PR team puts into follow up with the key publications.
Whatever your PR goal is, success requires all four elements â€“ sound strategy, effective tactics, dedication and a little bit of luck. After all, a breaking news story can trump your news any day of the week.
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As the “Deflate-Gate” saga rages on and nearly half of Americans think the Patriots are culpable of the wrongdoing, the bigger issue called into question is image and messaging. From a public relations standpoint, rather than a legal or moral one, the Patriots have bungled or fumbled this mess from the onset. After nearly a week of silence, both the team’s head coach Bill Belichek and quarterback Tom Brady took to the podium during separate press conferences with questionable, ill-handled statements and answers to reporters’ questions. While I agree that Deflate-Gate is a minor issue when juxtaposed with world issues like terrorism, hunger, etc., I wouldn’t make the statement, “This isn’t ISIS, no one is dying.”
It was quite apparent following the press conferences, the PR team quickly convened behind closed doors and hosted a “Round Two” media event where answers were much more polished and precise from Belichek. With any crisis communications issue, regardless of whether the organization believes it is small ball or a huge organization-changing incident, getting in front of the messaging and treating it seriously can mean the difference between the public quickly moving on to another story or the media dragging it out for days as is the case with this incident. Both Belichek and Brady’s flippant attitude and responses to the controversy called into question their truthfulness and unfortunately now the team’s pre-Superbowl preparation and pride have been forever altered.
Sadly for football lovers, 2014 ranks as one of the worst handled PR years for the NFL and many of the teams. Let’s hope they clean up their image in 2015.
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As we jump into a new year, it’s beneficial for us to reexamine and refresh our media pitching approach. And, a recent conversation with tech journalist Kira Newman gave me a few ideas for doing just that.
Keep media pitches short. When reaching out to journalists with a new story idea, it is tempting to offer everything but the kitchen sink, but the reality is that we are operating in a 140-character world and pitches need to be more succinct than ever. Wait for a journalist to express interest and then offer supporting details and research.
Make your PR pitches human. Today, journalists are receptive to a personalized approach and even a more conversational tone. Taking cues from journalists’ tweets and previous stories and using that intelligence is necessary for building a relationship that will help you amplify coverage for a clientâ€™s or your own internal campaigns.
Just say no to jargon. In the tech world, it is easy to drift into jargon speak, but breaking down a new technology so everyone can understand will help you quickly convey product value and differentiators. Also, with so many jargon-filled emails running rampant, clear and concise descriptions can help you stand apart from competitors.
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