The Matchbox.

Jul. 29

Extending the Value of White Papers

White papers continue to be a strong marketing asset as they demonstrate thought leadership and serve as informative guides for customers and prospects. However, once the white paper is written, it must be properly promoted to reap the full benefit. Here are some tips:

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 12.13.11 PM1. Write a series of blog posts

While white paper content can be complex, a company blog is the perfect place to break down the topic via a series of posts. Include links throughout to drive readers to the full white paper to extend the mileage of your efforts.

2. Develop a contributed column

A byline article or two, drawing on specific themes from the white paper, can help expand the white paper’s reach and further covey a company’s expertise. To keep the article concise, focus on one viewpoint.

3. Create a media pitch

If the white paper includes a timely news angle, contact reporters with a brief media pitch offering the white paper as a resource along with a company spokesperson as an expert on the topic.

4. Collaborate with sales

Work closely with the sales team to make sure your white paper efforts are aligned with their needs. This might include steering content toward a particular topic or industry. Once the paper is written, ensure the sales team shares it with their list of prospects and existing customers.

*This post originally appeared in Y&A’s Spark Newsletter

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Jul. 17

No Bad Blood – The Power of PR Giants

This post originally appeared as a My Two Cents column in the July issue of Young & Associates’ newsletter The Spark. The full newsletter can be read here.


When Taylor Swift penned an open letter to Apple protesting their plans not to compensate artists during the 3-month free trial period of Apple Music, it was no David vs Goliath. However, what could have been a publicity nightmare for Apple turned into a huge PR boost.

How many people really took note of the coming Apple Music launch before Swift spoke out? The pre-launch anticipation for Apple Music certainly pales in comparison to the launch of a new iPhone. But the giant PR machines that have made Swift and Apple the beloved brands that they are proved their PR prowess.

Kudos to Swift for using her media influence – and her own blog as the medium – to speak for musicians of all sizes and hats off to Apple for a swift response. Apple’s very “2015” Twitter response ensured there’d be no Bad Blood when they chose not to Shake It Off and continue the Love Story.

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Jul. 09

Please and Thank You Go A Long Way

After returning from maternity leave, I was immediately presented with a clear case of poor email etiquette. Astonished at the lack of professionalism, I began thinking about communication ethics in our now 24/7 crazy work and personal lives, particularly with social media playing a dominant role. light-sign-typography-lighting-mediumWhile it can be easy to fall into shorthand communication reminiscent of texting to quickly convey a point or ask a question over email, spending a few extra moments to take care in email communications can mean the difference in having a positive impact or ruffling feathers regardless of the intended recipient (client, vendor or colleague). Here are a few do’s and don’ts for proper communication:

Do Add Please and Thank You: Most professionals today set-up email signatures that include a closing line “Best, Mary” or “Thanks! Bill”. While that’s nice, consider including a please and thank you in the body of the email. People notice!

Do Re-read Emails: Nothing is worse than receiving an email that is curt, terse or riffled with errors as it shows you didn’t care enough to take the extra minute to be professional.

Don’t Over Do It: While common courtesy and manners can take you a long way, it’s not necessary to harken back to the 1800s with overloaded formalities. Keep it polite but not too formal.

Don’t Send If You Would Be Offended: If it sounds rude or short to you or you are concerned it may not be well received, don’t send it. In the end it will save you countless hours of time and headache and will help avoid cleaning up a mess based on a reactionary/knee jerk, rushed and rude email.

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Jun. 19

Take the Mic: Conference Speaking Tips

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 business’ 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.

• Target Topics: Know the conference’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.

• Avoid Self Promotion: While it makes sense that your thought leadership is rooted in your experience selling/delivering your company’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.

• Note Panel Participants: To help gauge how your industry perspectives will fit within a particular panel, take the time to research the other panelists’ backgrounds and their businesses’ value propositions. This step will help you prepare for the possibility of any competitive discussions or sensitive topic angles.

• 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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Jun. 02

4 Tips for Identifying Media Trends

PittsburghWhat’s trending? In Pittsburgh, today’s trends are sunshine, food trucks (we’re behind) and the Pirates’ run at hanging above .500 this season. Staying ahead of trends and being able to forecast topics that will pique journalists’ interest is crucial for PR pros. A media pitch/article idea is only effective if it is timely and worthy of a reporter’s time to pen the story.

So, how can we effectively identify and hook into trends?

  • Twitter: The ultimate source for what’s trending is Twitter. Follow trending hashtags and reporters’ 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 you’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 publications’ 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 publications’ 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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May. 08

eBooks Are All the Rage

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.
  • Don’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 shouldn’t be last on the list of distribution options. As with anything in marketing, an integrated plan is key for driving results. Siloed campaigns can’t reach their full potential or target extended audiences.
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Apr. 21

Maximizing Partnership Announcements

As partnership announcements are often a dime a dozen in journalists’ eyes, it’s important to think outside the box to maximize promotion efforts and clearly convey the unique market-facing impacts.

As the agency has promoted a number of partnerships for clients recently, we offer the following advice for extending the potential for media coverage.

  • Utilize Trade Shows – If announcing the partnership at a trade show, offering onsite reporters a dual company interview opportunity can make a huge difference in garnering interest and coverage when handled well. Be sure to have demos available on the fly, as well as key leave-behind materials.
  • Tie to a Larger Trend or Counter-Trend – Illustrating how your partnership furthers or bucks a burgeoning industry trend offers reporters a fresh news angle that goes beyond the simple partnership announcement. Your CEO’s or CMO’s commentary will be better received if the messaging ties back to real industry impacts.
  • Name Drop – Playing up big industry names will yield added credibility for your organization. Even better, if the more prominent player is wiling to participate in media interviews, setup joint interviews so reporters can hear firsthand how your organization and an industry powerhouse are taking the market by storm.


*This post originally appeared in Y&A’s Spark Newsletter

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Mar. 26

Avoiding Social Fails

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 Pizza’s inappropriate use of the #WhyIStayed hashtag, to deleting customer complaints like Smucker’s, it seems like there are more fails than successes. Why? Perhaps companies aren’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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Mar. 17

Striking PR Gold

Any one who says there is no such thing as luck in PR, or business for that matter, hasn’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 – 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 – 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 – from reporter outreach and interactions to pitch and press release content and media interview best practices.

Tenacity – Even with lady luck’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 – 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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Mar. 03

M&A PR: A Different Beast

Over the years, Y&A has developed and overseen public relations plans for mergers, acquisitions, combinations and other M&A scenarios on behalf of clients. Whether these transactions are large or small, the process is nonetheless complex and requires sophisticated coordination of many moving parts to ensure that the right amount of information is communicated both internally and externally to customers, partners, media and the analyst community. Following are some key PR takeaways to keep in mind if your organization is acquiring another organization or if you are in the acquiree position.

  • Develop a Sound Communications Plan – Start with a plan of action that outlines every communication-related piece of the acquisition or merger puzzle. This exercise allows an organization to anticipate each angle that must be addressed in advance–from HR employee letters to partner and customer emails to various media/analyst materials–and yields a realistic roadmap with ownership for the entire process.
  • Rally Around Key Messages – This isn’t the time to improvise. Aligning all communications around a set of key messages enables a unified message to be pushed out and will reduce the chances of confusion and frustration across the board. Of course, all materials will contain varying versions of the messaging depending on the audience, but keeping the core components on the same page is critical.
  • Stay Fluid on Timing – Even with the best laid plans, timing is often in flux for M&A activity as anticipated deal closing dates can (and do frequently) shift. Keeping a flexible mindset can help mitigate additional stress and keep executives’ expectations realistic. Once a media announcement date has been set, offer advances to media and analysts to give them an opportunity to jump on the news before it breaks.

M&A activity can present lucrative opportunities for companies to take major growth steps forward. Taking the time to formulate a solid PR strategy around the initiative is well worth the effort as building a positive perception of the new company among employees, stakeholders, media and analysts will help ensure that the organization starts off on the right foot.

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