The Matchbox.

Jan. 17

Empower PR for Rapid Response Opportunities – Don’t Overthink It

In today’s 24/7 media cycle, the lead news changes quick – often multiple times a day. With mainstream news, we have become accustomed to and expect the constant shifting focus. And while the pace of B2B media is not quite as dizzying, it is still fast, particularly with a hot business topic.

We can count on some B2B topics that will live on seemingly forever (an adtech case in point – the demise of third-party cookies) but there are increasing opportunities to capitalize on breaking news or trends with rapid response media commentary. And it often requires added work on the part of the PR team and the subject matter expert to quickly leverage the opportunity.

The PR team can’t work in a vacuum, however. Talk about hot and controversial industry topics on regular catch-up calls or include them in internal discussions on pressing issues with your SMEs. That way the company’s tone and tenor on industry issues is clear. When you see relevant stories, share them. The more eyes and more shares the better. Taking advantage of these opportunities requires swift, decisive action, so don’t over process it – and don’t be afraid to take a contrarian point of view.

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Dec. 09

Four PR Trends to Implement in 2023

2022 was a pivotal year for communications pros as the industry faced ongoing challenges for engaging with media and clients in a hybrid world. Going into 2023, new challenges and opportunities will undoubtedly exist. As the business landscape evolves, here are four PR trends to keep tabs on as you plan campaigns for the new year: 

  1. Be Transparent: Moving into 2023, people are ready for fewer surprises and more transparency. It’s always best to lead with honesty and clarity – from working with clients and media to your internal staff. 

  2. Lean into the Social Universe: Social media will continue to serve as another channel to increase brand recognition and thought leadership, so ensure it’s included in your overall communications plan. It isn’t a set it and forget it effort either. Corporate and executive social media management requires regular, daily touchpoints to be effective and engaging.  

  3. Keep It Personal: This isn’t a new trend, but it’s even more imperative as we continue to work remotely or hybrid where it’s more difficult to reach reporters and influencers. Do your homework – personalize outreach to fit the reporter’s beat and reference their previous articles. 

  4. Make DEI Paramount: Don’t forget to build diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) into your 2023 PR strategy. DEI will continue to be a critical part of most companies’ long-term priorities, so incorporate it into the PR program.
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Nov. 11

Looking Ahead in EdTech: EDUCAUSE 2022 Wrap Up

In late October, the entire Y&A team had a chance to meet-up in Denver to attend the annual EDUCAUSE conference, the largest community gathering of IT technology, academic, industry and campus leaders advancing higher education through technology.

At the conference, we visited with past, present and future edtech clients and spoke to several industry leaders about the future of higher education and the critical role technology continues to play. We enjoyed listening to our client Anthology present at the interactive poster session in the exhibit hall and visiting with them in their marquee booth.

As 2023 fast approaches, we are excited to help all of our EdTech clients further communicate their vision for the future of higher education.

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Oct. 28

Y&A Wins Three MarCom Awards

We are thrilled to announce Y&A was recently recognized by the prestigious Marcom Awards for excellence in marketing and communications for client campaigns and placements. Achieving a platinum and gold award as well as an honorable mention, we were up against stiff competition from the 6,500+ entry applications submitted. MarCom Awards are given to those who have excelled in the field of communications via their ingenuity and hard work.

Here’s a snapshot of the award wins and associated campaigns/media placements for our clients UncommonX, Keynova Group and Anthology/Blackboard:

– Platinum Award in Strategic Communications – UncommonX – State of Cybersecurity for Midsize Organizations study which engaged senior members of IT departments from small to medium businesses across a variety of industries in which Y&A spearheaded the research campaign and garnered editorial coverage in several key cybersecurity trades and mainstream business media.
– Gold award for a Magazine Placement – Keynova gives Bank of America high marks for online banking in American Banker.
– Honorable mention for Online Placement – Blackboard to Merge With Anthology in $3 Billion EdTech Deal in Bloomberg.

These awards highlight the PR prowess and creativity of the Y&A team and our commitment to creating engaging work that keeps our clients at the forefront of industry conversations.

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Sep. 20

Want to amplify your brand on LinkedIn? Enlist your employees’ help

Social media is critical to consumer purchase decisions. Even though my kids joke about my use of “Mombook”, I do use Facebook to find and remind me about events, products and services. And in the B2B landscape, LinkedIn is the place to go to review the companies and people, products and services we choose to do business with.

As more B2B companies look to amplify their brand visibility on LinkedIn, company employees can be another PR channel and cheer section. So, make sure to keep your LinkedIn presence fresh and inspire the entire company to spread the word. This can be done by alerting employees to corporate social posts and/or news and/or providing template post copy for them. It also helps to provide a guide or handbook – with appropriate do’s, don’ts and disclaimers – to how you’d like them to help amplify your brand. Done well, this dedicated effort can result in more followers and increased social engagement but also a more engaged, positive work culture.

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Aug. 31

The ABCs of DEI

As more American companies embrace dedicated Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, they’re baking it into everything they do. From efforts by fast-food chains to increase diverse franchisee ownership of U.S. restaurants through low-interest loans, to a freight transporter in Connecticut being the first company in the industry to establish a DEI office, promoting these initiatives is important to build relationships and goodwill.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when incorporating DEI initiatives and research into a PR plan including thought leadership, social media, messaging and media outreach:

  • Stick to what you know: Develop bylined articles on a topic you are already an expert in. For example, an edtech company can draft an article about ways higher ed institutions can improve DEI efforts to attract and retain students.
  • Prioritize the cause: Stay away from self-serving outreach. DEI initiatives exist to create an inclusive, welcoming environment for all – they shouldn’t be used as a stunt to edge out the competition. The key is to focus on the cause, be genuine and be respectful.
  • Stick with it: Being a diverse, equitable and inclusive company should not be a fleeting priority or one that only lasts long enough to send out a press release. Instead, build DEI messaging into ongoing efforts across the organization.
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Jul. 19

Is It a Messaging or Facts Problem?

Often when issues arise within a business and there is negative chatter in the air (media, poor analyst reports, competitor fodder), all eyes turn to the marketing department and PR to manage the “messaging problem”. And while crisp concise messaging is incredibly important to convey a company’s unique value prop, problems with product offerings, poor customer service or leadership issues cannot be wished away with razzle dazzle messaging or press release announcements.  In these cases, the organization has a facts problem, not a messaging one.

Utilize your marketing team as investigators to determine the root cause of the issue and then build a cross-departmental team to begin addressing and fixing it. By acknowledging the problem and demonstrating pro-activity around solutions, the facts will begin to change and thereby the narrative of the story will as well. As an example, after resolving known issues with customer implementations, invite those clients to participate in future product pilot launches and report on the entire journey. Every company has challenges but it’s not magic words that will save the day.

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Jun. 21

Going the Extra Mile in Media Monitoring

Helping secure media coverage isn’t a PR pros only job in the media relations journey. Knowing what the media is reporting on requires more than simply keeping an eye on byline articles and stories published. Here are several best practices to ensure your media monitoring goes above and beyond the call of duty.

Compile a Media Coverage Report

Whether it’s in the form of a weekly email or a spreadsheet maintained over time, a structured report of media coverage enables marketing and other company leaders to quickly access the information and include it in presentations to show stakeholders how the brand is being positioned externally. 

Exhaust All Search Options

Not all media coverage, good or bad, will have the company’s name in the headline or even in the first few paragraphs, so relying on one keyword or monitoring tool to catch all media coverage can cause important articles to slip through the cracks. Use multiple streams to monitor for coverage.

Stay Vigilant After Significant Events

How a company is reported in the media will vary when a major announcement, merger or crisis develops. To be prepared with effective responses, monitor the news and social media as it breaks to keep company representatives and stakeholders updated and strategically ready for possible interview requests.

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May. 12

PR During Unprecedented Times: 3 Tips for Media Outreach

As PR pros continue to work closely with clients during a time of consistent change and an era of historical events, they face new challenges that come with garnering media coverage in the new reality of life in 2022. 

Below are three tips for navigating the industry’s “new normal” while ensuring clients’ stories are told tastefully and efficiently:

Stand Out from the Content Clutter – Media are bombarded with companies offering thought leadership topics and expert opinions. That means your clients’ competition for coverage is heightened, so it is critical to find a unique hook to push through the information overload.

Online or Bust – The pandemic prompted every industry to undergo a digital transformation overnight and it stuck. While the move to virtual life hasn’t been easy, it is our reality, and working alongside clients to turn virtual challenges into opportunities is the best way to move forward. 

Relevance is Key – It is essential to stay updated on daily news and the economic impacts. A worst-case scenario would be pitching a media outlet with content that is now irrelevant or no longer fits the topic’s narrative. Review editorial calendars, develop client case studies and ensure your client’s narrative is appropriate and valuable.

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Apr. 19

Don’t April Fools Me

I like to think I have a sense of humor, but I am not a prankster. And it shows on April Fool’s Day when it seems everyone uses social media posts to try and punk their loyal customers. I am not a fan. Sure, it is in good fun, but there are varying degrees of efficacy. My 13-year-old’s prank of switching bags of cereal to different boxes is funny and harmless. My 9-year-old creating toothpaste Oreos is not so funny and gross.

So, when it comes to posting April Fool’s Day pranks via corporate social media or creating fake press releases, my two cents is to stay away. The risk is not worth the reward. And definitely don’t announce real news on April 1 as it could be easily dismissed.

Attention spans today are so short that even a well-intentioned joke can be taken the wrong way – especially if read scrolling through a social media feed. And for news organizations, even the niche ones that post fake news stories in the spirit of April Fool’s Day – the results are doubly impactful as readers, listeners, viewers are tuning in for helpful information.

Leave the jokes to the comedians, where, as we’ve recently seen, it can still be a risky move.

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