By Mike Tomlinson
If there’s anything we at Engage love to see, it’s clients who are willing to jump into Twitter head-first. There’s really no better way to start exercising your social media muscles than to just… well, start participating in it! But after working with a number of clients over the years, we’ve seen many of the same questions pop up. In this blog post, we’ll explain what the difference is between @, #, and $ on Twitter—and how/when you should use them to your greatest advantage.
Let’s start by saying your immediate goal is to get a person or company’s attention and possibly get them to re-Tweet you, helping to amplify the reach of your message to an audience other than your own. Always reference their handle—for example, @EngagePR. That account will get a notification that someone is talking about them, and it will make them a lot more likely to re-Tweet you than if you’d just named their company without using their handle.
Then there are hashtags (#). Hashtags should be used more around general topics of conversation; for example, the RSA Conference has an official Twitter handle (@RSAConference) that people use when they have a question about the show, issue with their booth setup, etc. but the public uses the hashtag #RSAC (RSA Conference) for all conversations about RSA that don’t require RSA’s official account to chime in directly. Same thing goes for talking about industry trends, like over-the-top services (OTT); nobody “owns” OTT because it’s a general industry term. But to unify all conversations taking place about OTT apps and services we would use the hashtag #OTT, to inject ourselves into those specific conversations. General examples:
An important thing to remember about hashtags is that the best ones are recognizable and broad—not super-specific to proprietary company technology or solutions. Remember, the idea is to inject your brand into much larger conversations. If your company is hiring a Layer 3 Routing/Signaling Senior Systems Engineer, you wouldn’t want to hashtag #Layer3RoutingEngineer because it’s too long and too specific. A better choice would be to hashtag your Tweet with more general terms like #engineering and #careers so your message is looped into already ongoing conversations happening with much larger audiences. We encourage our clients engaged in long-term PR programs to develop and stick with an agreed-upon hashtag (especially if the goal is to create and own a new industry buzzword), but be warned: this can take quite a bit of time to get off the ground if your Twitter program is still in its infancy.
After you issue your tweet, anything that is #hashtagged will be hyperlinked as a keyword so anyone else on Twitter can join in on your conversation around this topic. But when you use a hashtag, nobody receives any notifications, so if your goal is to get recognized by a person or organization you’re always better off using their @Handle before a #Hashtag. It’s OK to break this rule when the person or group you’re trying to engage with does not have a Twitter handle, for example:
…just try not to use more than 2-3 hashtags per tweet (standard Twitter etiquette).
Then there are the cashtags ($). Cashtags—similar to hashtags in both name and purpose—allow you to join part of a larger conversation around any given topic, except cashtags are only to be used to indicate a company’s stock ticker symbol. When you issue a Tweet with a cashtag you’re speaking to everyone on Twitter interested in that stock. From a PR standpoint we suggest only using cashtags if you’re a publicly traded company announcing earnings press releases and earnings call dates/times. It’s a great way to tap into the investor community (which is very active on Twitter); however, we advise not using cashtags in day-to-day tweets (as too much cashtagging, or cashtagging inappropriately, could land you in trouble with the SEC). Here’s how we would construct a simple earnings Tweet using a cashtag assuming the company’s ticker symbol is C123:
And finally, the “period trick.” Whenever you start a tweet with someone’s handle it doesn’t get treated like a normal tweet. In this example below, only you, Smith Winery, and anyone on Twitter who follows BOTH you and @SmithWinery will be able to see this tweet on their main feed:
People will still be able to see the tweet if they go to your profile, but because you started your message with “@” Twitter treats it more like a private conversation directed specifically at someone. The way we get around this is by doing the “period trick”—sending a tweet with a period right before the @. You’ve probably seen it on Twitter before but didn’t realize its purpose:
See the subtle difference—a period at the very beginning? This allows us to start our tweet with someone’s Twitter handle, but doesn’t restrict the tweet from showing up anywhere-- it’s fully viewable by the entire Twitter public audience. Additionally, in the above example tweet you’re not only getting the attention of Smith Winery by using their official handle @SmithWinery, but you’re injecting yourself into all conversations around Merlot, Shiraz, and Sonoma. Knowing how and when to use @, #, $ and the “period trick” can make all the difference in your Tweet getting seen by hundreds of people (or more)—or none.
Confused? Don’t be! Exercise those social media muscles by Tweeting your questions to us at @EngagePR, and we’ll respond with our sagely advice. Happy Tweeting!
By Jacklyn Dolezal
Super Bowl XLVIII might be a game that most Broncos fans hope to forget, but it’s one that I will remember forever! These past two weeks have been a complete whirlwind. Now that the shock has finally worn off I can look back and reminisce on one of the luckiest and most amazing weeks of my life.
This being my second year living in California, I will always call Colorado home. I grew up in Highlands Ranch, graduated from the University of Colorado and always had a special place in my heart for the Denver Broncos. To my delight, the beloved Broncos beat the New England Patriots 26-16 on Sunday, January 19, to advance to the Super Bowl. That Monday, as I was getting my daily fix of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, I noticed she had a contest to send a “super” fan to the Super Bowl. Within the next 30 minutes, I had submitted for Ellen’s contest with one of the most unrehearsed submission videos to date.
After two days passed, while watching my submission video for the hundredth time, I officially lost all hope. That Thursday, on my way home from work, I got a phone call from a Northern Los Angeles area code. It was The Ellen DeGeneres Show. We then had a 45 minute phone conversation on why I loved the Broncos, which led to a six minute interview with the show’s supervisors. On Monday, January 26, around 6:45 p.m., I received the final call from the web department explaining that I had been selected to fly down to the studio to compete for the show’s ONE winning ticket to the Super Bowl.
Everything that happened next can be attributed to the fact that The Ellen DeGeneres Show knows how to treat their fans right. I arrived at LAX around 6:45 p.m. on Wednesday, January 29, where a car service was waiting to take me to the Sheraton Universal City Hotel. This would mark the first of many restless nights. The next morning, at exactly 11:00 a.m., I walked out to the valet where I was told I would be meeting the other Broncos fan invited by Ellen to compete on the show. I think both of our hearts sank when we finally realized only one of us would be going the Super Bowl. We arrived at the studio three hours before taping, which is also the moment we came face to face with the rest of our competition: The two Seattle Seahawks fans. Ten minutes before taping the show’s crew started to walk us down to the set. We could hear the pre-show music blasting and the audience screaming. If you think you’ve ever been nervous, try walking out in front of a crowd of 300 people while knowing you’re about to go on national television.
My three competitors and I were spread throughout the audience and were told to only come down to the stage once Ellen called our name. During one of the commercial breaks I noticed that the Ellen crew was pumping air into a crazy bounce house contraption. The three girls next to me start yelling, “that’s for you!” Just when you think you can’t get any more nervous… you can! The intro music played and Ellen called all four fans down to the show floor. We were then divided into two teams with one Broncos fan and one Seahawks fan on each. The first game, which involved the suspicious bounce house, was called the Fickle Finger of Fate. The first team to fall three times would not move on to the next round to compete for the ticket to the Super Bowl. Someone must have been watching over me that day because my team won!
After dominating the Fickle Finger of Fate, my Seahawks teammate and I moved on to a game the show called Grab My Ball Trivia. I don’t do well under pressure, especially when there are trivia questions added into the mix, so the answers I gave will go down in history as my most embarrassing moment. Those Seahawks fans are intense; she kicked my butt with a score of 5-2! I thought it was over, I’m not going to the Super Bowl. Ellen gave me a hug and said she was sorry, but that I would still be going home with a 50 inch TV. Ellen did her closing monologue and the show was about to wrap when she walked up to me and surprised me by taking back the TV and giving me a Super Bowl ticket instead. I fell to the floor in surprise and excitement. I WAS GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL!!
After taping wrapped up, the Ellen crew emailed us our itinerary with a 5:00 a.m. wakeup call the very next morning. The Seahawks fan and I met up with our film crew at the airport where our flight left LAX at 8:15 a.m. Filming started the second we got on the plane, so the attention we got from bystanders had only just begun. When you walk around with a film crew everyone stares and takes pictures of you even though they have no idea who you are. Once we landed in New York we were given the rest of the night to explore the city. To take it all in, the crew and I walked around Time Square, which had been completely shut down for the NFL Experience.
Filming began bright and early Saturday morning. The crew took us down to the NFL Experience where we had VIP access to all the exhibits. The Seahawks fan and I got to try kicking a field goal, stand next to the Lombardi Trophy and go down the Super Bowl Toboggan Run. Times Square was complete chaos. Filming ended Saturday night with a slice of real New York pizza.
The next day was Super Bowl Sunday; it had finally arrived! Around 11:00 a.m. we jumped on one of five media buses where the police escorted us to MetLife Stadium. Once we arrived we went directly to the media pavilion where we prepped for our interview with Phillip Phillips. After the interview, we spent a little time at the NFL tailgate where we got to see The Band Perry perform. We then got to experience pregame warm-ups on the field. I almost died standing so close to Demaryius Thomas and Peyton Manning. We were able to watch kickoff from the field, but by the time we got to our seats Seattle had already scored a safety. With 10 minutes left in the second quarter, we were ushered down to the field for the halftime show. Bruno Mars and The Red Hot Chili Peppers nailed it in a perfect performance that I got to experience while dancing on the field. The final score was Seattle, 43, and Denver, 8. Super Bowl XLVIII may not have been one of the Denver Broncos best performances but I still love my boys! We are forever united in orange!
I woke up the next morning at 5:00 a.m. for our 8:00 a.m. flight out of New Jersey (mind you I got home from the Super Bowl at 1:30 a.m.). We arrived at LAX two hours before taping started for our final appearance on Ellen. I felt like a hot mess. We arrived to the studio with 20 minutes to spare. We got to answer a few questions from Ellen and enjoyed the rest of the show from our seats in the audience – Check out the final footage here.
I feel like one of the luckiest girls in the world. Out of thousands of applicants, The Ellen Show picked me! Not only did I get to go to on the Ellen Show twice, appear on her show, travel to New York, and go to the Super Bowl, I got to meet an amazing Seahawks fan named Jeannie that I’ll keep in my life forever. Thank you Ellen for one of the most unbelievable weekends of my life.
By Paul Nolan, Director at CCgroup
In the world of mobile, and for many Engage clients, Mobile World Congress (MWC) is the event of the year. Nothing competes for its sheer size, ability to help make or break a company’s future, and intense competition to be seen and heard.
In the critical lead up to MWC, we asked one of our UK agency partners to offer up their insights on how companies can best leverage their investment in the event. Paul Nolan with the CCgroup shares his thoughts and provides access to a MWC How To Guide:
Three weeks and counting… Mobile World Congress is nearly upon us. The marketing departments from a very wide variety of global technology companies are in frenzied planning mode. Some had to contend with the unwanted distraction of CES, some didn’t. Mobile World Congress may have lost out to CES as far as being a consumer electronics focal point, but it remains the only truly global event of note for the mobile industry. And it goes from strength to strength.
Mobile World Congress is set to be the biggest yet. I’m sure footfall will exceed the 72,000 visitors the event attracted last year. Especially since Mark Zuckerberg has confirmed he’ll deliver a keynote presentation this year. This has caused similar excitement to when Eric Schmidt made his bow in 2012. The only difference this year is that there is likely to be enough room to seat the Zuckerberg fan club.
While the internet and social media giants may be supplying all the ‘Hollywood moments’ at Mobile World Congress, it remains a massive deal for the more traditional mobile vendor community. It is, after all, a show by the operators for the operators. It remains a significant window shopping exercise for the primary buyers of the mobile industry.
So how does the vendor community maximize this opportunity? Well, based on ten years’ attendance, the vast majority of vendors point out that they make a success of the event before they get there. Companies hoping to rely on passing trade are likely to be massively disappointed. The secret is to capture operator attention before the show and save precious, highly expensive time in Barcelona for commercial discussions and sales meetings.
That does not mean to say that there isn’t value in briefing some of the 1,500+ attending media and analysts during the show. However, most of these influencers will happily admit to being more than a little distracted by show noise. This can impact their ability to either arrive on stands as expected or to actually write or action anything following an interview. The secret is achieving the right balance that best maximizes available news, opportunities at the show and diary space for sales meetings.
Our approach to successfully navigating MWC, Congress Crunch, can be downloaded for free here. If we can help you with preparations for future shows, or discuss your ongoing PR requirements at the show, drop us a line and we’ll make the necessary arrangements.
By Bob Eastwood
If Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) were a thing then I would dub it Lazarus, the chameleon-cat of technologies. Why? Like the biblical character Lazarus it is resurrected and, extending that metaphor, like a chameleon-cat it not only has nine lives but also the ability to change its color, name and functionality with each new resurrection. Being the oldest of the three technologies I’ve explored in blogs here at Engage including Big Data and SDN, DPI landed on the back side of Gartner’s hype cycle on the “Plateau of Productivity” and enjoyed a similar if less inflated hype cycle well over a decade ago. It promised to give network operators and administrators visibility into, and control over, what was happening on their networks. At the time, traffic visibility was about as clear as mud. During the 90's, DPI was initially developed and used with success in applications like firewalls, detection of network abuse, and rudimentary statistical analysis. However, the granular level of visibility and control it enables has proven so effective, in-demand and mutable that it continues to find new applications to this day meaning that Gartner’s “Plateau” for DPI would demonstrate a continuing growth slope up and to the right.
Unlike Shallow Packet Inspection which refers to the inspection of packet headers for optimization of traffic routing, DPI is a form of network traffic filtering that examines not only the packet header, but also the content of the data packets as they pass through an inspection point on the Internet’s infrastructure. The characteristics of the packets are referred to as signatures and can be categorized into groups to enable a variety of uses. These signatures are now numerous and sophisticated enough to provide awareness of characteristics such as subscriber ID and service plan, bandwidth usage, device type, location, application type, content categorization, network conditions, traffic management status, and routing and peering attributes among others. The most advanced of these technologies now provides this information in real-time, allowing users to drill down into these categories for monitoring, troubleshooting, reporting, new service creation and analytics.
While older and less popular with the media, DPI is no less important a technology for network operators, especially for its latest role assisting increasingly capacity-stressed mobile operators to optimize and monetize their networks and in its latest relationship as an enabler for the two other current tech celebrities, Big Data and SDN. Infonetics found that spending on standalone DPI solutions grew 30% year-over-year in 2013, driven largely by the mobile segment, and that it was on track to reach nearly $2B by 2017. DPI has become a strategic weapon for mobile operators as they seek to control traffic in increasingly congested networks and to monetize data by offering personalized service plans. It is especially important for keeping track of offerings like family plans that may see multiple mobile devices using network bandwidth in different geographic areas, and tracking that usage against one service plan or data cap.
In the 2000s, DPI found a new life, “color” and name and with a solution it enabled called policy enforcement, whereby operators could take the signatures and apply policy rules to manage and control network traffic for infrastructure optimization to reduce costs, to better plan CapEx, and for the creation and marketing of new usage-based services for improved monetization of network infrastructure investments. DPI now enables broadband offerings such as service tiers, shared data plans, and applications such as bandwidth on demand among others. As shown in the accompanying chart, these new policy enforcement applications are proving very important to operators.
So, what’s next for DPI? All the while capable of providing some level of visibility and monitoring, the relentless march of Moore’s law and its concomitant rate of improvement in processing speeds and the storage capabilities of databases are leading to DPI’s next application—providing real-time network intelligence through telecom analytics. By teaming up with its newest companions among Gartner’s hype cycle alumni, SDN and Big Data, DPI promises to live on in ever-mutable ways. The story of Lazarus the chameleon-cat is to be continued.
By Jeannette Bitz
At Engage, we believe that recent trends in technology, and in how people and businesses use it, are harbingers of some fundamental shifts in the media/PR landscape. In 2013 we saw more traction in mobile devices, the cloud and analytics, and the ways they are used are evolving and growing.
Consumers rely more than ever on their phones, tablets and other mobile devices, and we expect to see further strong growth in all of these markets. While mobile initiatives such as BYOD are still big business drivers, mobile is also becoming an increasingly important channel for the media and PR, presenting real opportunities - and challenges - for more business. For example, cloud computing, once thought of as an operations investment for businesses, has now become a disruptive force in consumer technology that changes everything from infrastructure services to how apps are distributed.
Businesses are using mobile technology, cloud and analytics to drive value, whether they're using the Internet of Things (IoT) as a platform for new products or as a management tool, looking to reduce their IT investment or using the hard data produced by analytics to inform their business decisions. Not surprisingly, mobile, cloud and analytics are all interconnected. Short, bursty, cloud-based apps such as Vine are making uploading as important as downloading. The IoT, which had a banner year in 2013, is driving the growth of the mobile network and the mobile device market, and requires more resources in the cloud. The adoption of new IoT products such as Google Glass or 3D printing objects with built-in intelligence and connectivity would have seemed like science fiction not so long ago, will increase rapidly as costs decline and accessibility increases. While these technologies are still in the early stages of trial and implementation, experts believe adoption will expand in 2015 as economies of scale are achieved.
In the midst of all these changes, the deep patterns revealed by analytics give businesses new insights into their markets. As the tools businesses use to understand and respond to the evolving marketplace become more granular and sophisticated, businesses will be able to respond more rapidly to new developments.
The Media/PR Perspective
What impact do changes in mobile, cloud and analytics have on the media and PR? The media once focused on reporting news, but now savvier sites such as Light Reading are driving content and discussion by building online communities of like-minded people. Today the forms of communication employed by business and the media - and hence by PR - encompass more than just the written word; powerful communication tools such as infographics and video are now table stakes.
Owned, shared or paid-for content is becoming more prevalent, and PR has a great opportunity to support that trend. PR professionals are doing work that transcends the traditional boundaries of earned, owned or paid media generation. For example, the media is now looking to complement stories with video clips, which gives PR the opportunity to develop content and shape scripts for video. Clients want help with content creation, marketing and with driving their social media platforms such as LinkedIn or Twitter.
As a result, even PR agencies that have traditionally focused on enterprise technology clients must leverage B2C tactics and strategies to reach audiences directly and do so in ways that call for interaction. In this world of rapid change, agencies have an opportunity to respond to their clients' needs more quickly, with targeted and thoughtful strategies.
At Engage, our eye is on the intersection of the megatrends toward IoT, cloud, mobile and analytics. We're also keeping an eye on the opportunities and challenges they present to business and to our clients, as well as on how they impact the way we deliver PR. At the same time, we must still step back and see the big picture, and retain the human touch, because in the end, PR is still about communicating with people.
By Mike Tomlinson
The Engage Fantasy Football League has finished yet another grueling season, leaving three lucky winners basking in glory while the losers endure the agony of defeat and humiliation—until later this year in August when football picks up again! Our top three winners were:
While the fourth seed spot for the playoffs was highly contested, it would prove futile— all the Bashing, Brady-Bunching, and Raging was just too much for the rest of the league to handle. If there are any lessons to be learned from this season, it’s that autopicking can be a legitimate strategy and you should never underestimate the interns. Congratulations to all who played – we’ll see you in August for the next draft!
By Leslie Schmidt
To get into the Thanksgiving spirit, Engage has compiled a list of 20 mobile apps we’re grateful for this
year. We couldn’t imagine living our lives without the convenience, helpfulness and distraction (see: Candy Crush) these apps provide on a day-to-day basis. Have you thanked your apps today?
Travel & Entertainment
Food & Home
Hobbies & Shopping
Just ‘cause it’s cool
Above all, we’re thankful for the technology and companies that make these mobile apps possible.
Happy Thanksgiving to All!
By Roya Pakfetrat
Are you part of an internal marketing team that’s getting pressure from your CEO or board members to make the most out of your PR dollars? One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my years of PR agency life is that in order for a PR team to truly deliver results, you must treat the agency as a strategic partner. It’s up to the PR team to execute on a strategic PR plan, but it can’t be completed successfully without the assistance and input of an internal PR partner. I’ve found that savvy clients always strive to be unfaltering partners when it comes to public relations initiatives. Here are a number of ways your marketing team can “help us, help you” drive a successful media relations program around a launch.
Time is of the essence
We know things don’t always go as planned. But when we can plan – and there is a plan – your PR team has a higher chance of delivering big results. As you begin thinking about making your next big splash, your agency can begin to work with you to make sure you have all the necessary assets that will increase your chances of generating coverage. It’s never too soon to let your PR team know what’s being planned as far as product launches, customer announcements or custom data reports that will require their support. Even if a press release gets pushed out before it’s planned, having the team on board beforehand can make a world of a difference, mostly because they will already be up to speed on the news.
Spokespeople, spokespeople, spokespeople
Not only do you need to have someone (or sometimes more than one person) available to speak to the media, within the reporter’s deadline, those persons should have had some media training. If you want to increase your chances of results around a significant product launch (or other key announcements), be sure your designated spokespersons are readily accessible and available to speak, no matter the time zone challenges. All the better if that person is also able to speak and be viewed by media as an industry visionary – and an on-going resource (especially if the spokesperson is quick to respond and can think beyond their products or business). This doesn’t always mean selecting the most senior person on your team (and we know how busy their schedules can get) but rather think about someone that is easily accessible and has a good grasp of the importance of media relations, and is up to speed on the latest tactics and approaches with the media.
As publications continue to reduce their staff, many reporters don’t have time to meet about every product or piece of news they plan to cover; this is why deliverables are key. At a bare minimum, make sure you can provide a press release a few days in advance. Analyst and customer references should never be an afterthought. The same applies for images and videos. A proper launch should have all of these assets (and then some) to really ensure the media pay attention to your PR team.
As I was pulling this blog together, I asked some members of the Engage team to pass along some of their professional insights that relate to media relations. Here are some tips that are worth remembering:
Have any other questions related to working with a PR agency? Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Roya Pakfetrat
This week I attended the 4th annual SF App Show, which was held at YetiZen Innovation Lab in San Francisco. After some cocktails and mingling, the show was kicked off by Seth Socolow, SVP Strategic Partnerships at Airpush, who has been putting together these events to ensure mobile apps (and their developers) have a place to showcase their work.
Between recipes, teaching toddlers, and rapping, there was literally something for everyone in the 8 apps that were showcased. Some apps are already available, while others are still working out a few minor kinks. Liberty Madison (aka #ThatTechGirl) hosted the event (which by the way was live streamed and can be found here for anyone that missed it) and had each app representative come on stage to demo their app, speak briefly about it and answer any audience questions. Here is a breakdown of some apps that might be worth checking out or in some cases staying tuned for!
Overall, it was a great event that I will likely attend again. The team did an excellent job of capturing the event with pictures and video. Next year, however, could be the year the show encourages its presenters and attendees to really go social. When it comes to the fiercely competitive mobile app market, having a well-established social media brand (especially on Twitter and Facebook) and spokespeople that are also social media savvy can make a huge difference in the reach and success of an app. I look forward to seeing if the SF App Show can help amplify some of the apps it will showcase in the future by including their own social campaign before, during, and after the show!
By Jeannette Bitz
With one tweet in mid-September, Twitter created a flurry of buzz. It only seems fitting that the social media giant announced their submission for their initial public offering through a tweet.
The company, which priced its IPO at $26 per share, valuing the seven-year-old company at over $18 billion is expected to start trading today. Aside from Twitter, 2013 is turning out to be a banner year for IPOs. According to Renaissance Capital, 191 IPOs have priced so far this year — that’s almost a 58 per cent increase over 2012. In addition, over 220 IPOs have been filed with the SEC year-to-date, just under 75 per cent than a year ago. Companies that have gone public this year have seen an average return of almost 30 per cent from the offer price.
I blogged about this in early 2012 when Facebook and Yelp announced their plans to file for IPO that year; however, the advice on what companies can do to prepare for an equity event are still more important today. One thing that seems certain is that companies (those that don’t consider marketing and PR as they are ramping up to an equity event) often see the impact in how they are valued when they IPO, or the value of the price of the company when they are acquired.
For companies that are considering an IPO or preparing to be acquired, it is important to emphasize the importance of maintaining visibility from the months leading up to the filing or acquisition, throughout the quiet period in the case of an IPO, and after the transaction or event has occurred. Most organizations have never undertaken this type of effort and may not realize the pivotal role that a PR agency can and should play in guiding them through the process.
One of the most important pieces of advice we offer our clients is to make sure the communications efforts continue to move forward. Even during a quiet period, companies must avoid placing their marketing and PR programs on auto-pilot, or even worse, shutting them down altogether. Although there will always be cautious lawyers on hand to pull back the reins, the reality is that a company can continue with most of its planned PR activities, such as issuing press releases or launching products, as long as it has already been engaging in these activities in the past.
Once you start thinking about an IPO or other equity event, make sure your PR and marketing efforts are in high-gear and focused on building your profile with prospects, customers, investors, and the media, to establish a business-as-usual level of outbound communications.
Here are five general guidelines that companies can leverage to continue to build momentum while preparing for an equity event:
It is important to know that your company will emerge from the IPO or acquisition as a substantially more significant company - from both a size and revenue perspective - with a greater burden of accountability. By putting a communications framework in place, your PR agency partner can help your organization extend the goodwill earned during the IPO or acquisition far into the future.
By Jacklyn Dolezal
BOO! That’s one term Engage has become extremely accustomed to these past couple weeks. With our annual tradition of cube “boo-ing” complete, the Engage office is ready to celebrate Halloween in style. As PR professionals suddenly transform into ghosts with dinosaurs for pets, there is no stopping the eeriness that comes over you as you step into this Alameda office. The plethora of Snickers, Reese’s, bright orange lights, and decorations has made Halloween 2013 one to remember. Don’t take my word for it, check out this slideshow and see for yourself how Engage celebrates the spookiest time of the year!
By Mike Tomlinson
Dominating the group with impressive 7-1 records are Jacklyn’s “The Brady Bunch” in first place and Jeannette’s “Bitzy’s Bashers” in second. The Brady Bunch is coming off a six-game winning streak despite the presence of flat-lining Tom Brady on the starting roster (Philip “Put Me In, Coach!” Rivers may be filing a grievance with the commissioner on this one). Bitzy’s Bashers—spawned by the random draft choices of the autopick gods—is giving The Brady Bunch a serious run for their money as they lurk closely behind and promise to be a serious contender for the number one spot well throughout the playoffs.
In the middle of the pack are “Caitlin’s Army Ants” in third place and “Raging Roya’s” in fourth, both with 5-3 records. Caitlin is also well-positioned to make the playoffs as she rides the Aaron Rodgers/Jordy Nelson gravy train, while Roya’s certainly raging—and rallying—currently in the strides of a three game winning streak. With Drew Brees and Matt Stafford alternately leading her team, Roya is nipping at the Army Ants’ heels (exoskeleton?) for third place dominance.
Judging by the way the season started, you’d think that whoever had the wisdom to draft Peyton Manning would have a guaranteed spot in the playoffs. Guess again, as Carrie’s “Boston Tebow Party” remains in just fifth place with a 4-4 record. With the team’s star players Peyton Manning, Wes Welker, and Reggie Bush out on a bye this week, Boston Tebow Party has some research to do and waiver wires to set if she wants to be a serious contender for EFL playoffs.
At the bottom of the pack are Leslie’s “Twerkin’ Tigers” in sixth and Mike’s “Bone Crushers” in seventh, both with 3-5 records. If only these two teams had the actual grace of Miley Cyrus’ twerking, they’d have a shot at the playoffs (at this point, the Bone Crushers would Macarena their way into the end zone if it would help them win). Filling out the loser’s bracket we have “Lauren’s Team”, “Bob’s Bruisers”, and “Fran’s Fine Team” with 2-6 records all around. Bob’s Bruisers’ owner was found in the locker room last Sunday delivering an impassioned “Al Pacino/Any Given Sunday”-esque rallying speech to his team, which is floundering despite the presence of some serious A-listers. He’ll have to come up with yet another game plan this week, as nearly half his team will be absent due to the 49ers bye.
As any respectable team manager knows ANYTHING can happen in Fantasy Football. With six games left in the regular season, it’s [almost] anyone’s game! Good luck to everyone and may the best team win!
Without Them Your Product Is Doomed to Fail
By Doug Kennedy
I’ve worked in and around Silicon Valley for close to 20 years and have been involved in many product launches, some successful and some not. One thing I've learned over the years is that while in most cases CEOs can raise money, what a company does with that money makes all the difference to a successful launch.
Understanding how revenue is driven is crucial to creating a long-term sustainable business. Great leaders get input from a wide range of data points, and the executives they hire allow them to make pinpoint decisions that move the business forward. I call this running a democratic dictatorship: everyone provides their recommendations and guidance, but in the end someone acts as a corporate dictator and makes the final decision.
I've also learned that timing is equally important to a successful launch. CEOs and companies in general often rush products out before they're ready because they want to highlight the product at a key tradeshow, introduce it before the holidays, or beat a competitor to market. As we all know, however, being first to market does not necessarily make a product the market winner.
What happens when the leader doesn’t understand how to take the product to market? I’ve watched numerous companies fail because they did not follow basic launch principals, or what I refer to as the four pillars of a successful launch. It doesn’t matter if you're launching the next mobile device management application, the newest cloud service offering or an ice cream company, the foundation of a successful launch begins here.
1) A Unique Product Offering
Contrary to what most people think, the new product should not only be truly innovative and have a wow factor but also either solve a problem or have features or functions that compel someone to buy it. If the product is another me-too, or doesn’t properly serve a business or consumer need, there is virtually nothing public relations or marketing can do to resuscitate the launch.
2) A Distribution Channel
Before even establishing a launch date, build a solid distribution channel and create a solid distribution plan. If the customer cannot find the product, if the product is not readily available, and if retailers or resellers are not interested in selling the product, sales will be limited and the launch will fail.
3) A Marketing Plan
Every product release needs to be supported by an effective marketing plan - whether advertising, social media, direct mail or events - that pulls on the consumer emotionally or provides an understanding of how the product will act as a solution.
4) Public-Relations Support
Last, each product launch needs a public-relations strategy with well-defined product positioning and product messaging that ties the components of the launch together in a well-thought-out, strategic manner.
In far too many cases CEOs and management teams ignore these four pillars of business, and the leaders of each pillar operate independently, moving in different directions. Even if all four pillars are effectively proceeding towards a launch, there's no guarantee the launch will be successful. Many things can derail a launch, but it’s safe to say that if your launch is missing one of these pillars, it will fail.
So why can't companies figure this out? In some cases it’s due to the pressure CEOs receive from their VC partners. In other cases the decisions are driven by CFOs, and the first budget items they cut are the intangible items that seem non-essential to the company, such as public relations and marketing. In most cases, however, the head of the company simply does not understand the impact of these four pillars on selling product and driving revenue.
As a solution I recommend reviewing the path successful products have taken and drawing on their similarities for your own plan. Were the products good? Did the company have a solid distribution plan? How did the company market its product? Did public relations clearly articulate the product, the company and its value? Gaining a deeper understanding of what constitutes a successful lunch - and then creating and sticking to a well-rounded launch plan - will increase the chances that your own product launch will be successful.
By Leslie Schmidt
To keep up with our annual tradition, the employees of Engage volunteered our time to a program that supports the county of Alameda and the surrounding areas. This year we chose to join a supportive housing community known as the Alameda Point Collaborative (APC) in their efforts to provide the necessary resources to families and individuals striving to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty. We specifically volunteered our support to the APC’s farm, which aims to provide residents participating in the On-the-Job training program with a way to develop leadership skills while addressing important food security issues through their work on the farm. By spending the day with the APC, we were able to experience urban food production by harvesting pumpkins and providing a helpful hand with overall maintenance of the two-acre piece of land.
In addition to the farm, the APC offers a number of other volunteer service programs including the community garden, ploughshares nursery, landscape services, Educational Center and Teen Center allowing large groups, small groups and individuals options to find the program that works best for them. If you’re looking for an opportunity to volunteer your time while soaking up the sun and supporting your local community, we highly recommend visiting APC’s website.
Please enjoy our short slideshow of our day volunteering for the APC!
By Jacklyn Dolezal
George, Jane, Judy and Rosie - do any of those names ring a bell? Of course they do because they’re the Jetsons! This famous primetime 80’s animated sitcom featured a space age family residing in Orbit City with their housekeeping robot maid Rosie, their futuristic aerocar (that resembles a flying saucer), and R.U.D.I, George’s work computer and one of his best friends. Our worlds could not have been farther apart until the term “Internet of Everything” arrived. The Internet of Everything (IoE) is reshaping every aspect of our lives – including how and when we work.
We’ve come a long way since the 50’s, when a meeting only happened when co-workers walked into a conference room and had a face-to-face conversation. Today we have the ever-expanding collection of connected devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops as well as online meeting places, video conferencing, and online document sharing; all of which are changing the way we communicate with co-workers and clients. In some offices, robots have even been embraced in the work environment, acting as virtual receptionists and HR representatives.
It’s tough to deny that IoE will change the workplace forever. Imagine a world where copiers and printers sense they are low on paper or toner and automatically enter a work order. Consider a warehouse that stocks only to a minimum because warehouse managers have enabled sensors to automatically trigger ordering and shipping of products or goods. HR managers will use predictive analysis to understand expected workloads and skills needed in the future to ensure company growth and success. Buildings will adjust themselves accordingly, depending on the temperature outside. Inter-connected equipment and devices will save money by reducing the loss of product rate. We will also rely on connected cars to save us time on our daily commute. Manufacturers, such as GM and BMW, are already adding LTE information and real-time diagnostics to their new connected cars. By analyzing and eliminating traffic jams, the connected car will save drivers minutes if not hours on their daily commute.
When looking at the way IoE is changing the workplace, we must decide if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Should we be skeptical of this impressive new technology? It’s true, IoE will allow companies and governments to collect and monitor information on ordinary people and it will enable the government and police agencies to know what you own and what you do with it. The more we rely on the internet, the more dependent and interconnected the world becomes and the less autonomy and privacy we will have. So we should ask ourselves, is IoE really altering the workplace for the better?
Regardless of our stance, IoE is changing the future of the workplace and changing it fast. With all of these luxuries comes the debate of how this powerful new technology will change our world forever. If it was up to you, how would you like IoE to change your workplace?
By Jeannette Bitz
It’s been Engage’s philosophy since its founding to work with our clients to develop strong programs that provide consistent messaging that not only increases visibility, but generate leads. Doing everything from managing day-to-day activity and content development to engaging with influencers and potential customers via social media channels such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+, we work with clients to identify programs that are going to have the greatest impact. We also take accountability for our program and measure how successful our campaigns are in terms of improved client visibility and ROI.
To better understand how businesses manage messaging, content development and other marketing challenges, Engage recently surveyed a group of experienced marketing executives, asking them to rank their challenges on a scale of 1 (least challenging) to 5 (most challenging). Respondents were also invited to comment in writing about the challenges they face.
The thought-provoking “Top Challenges for Marketing Executives” are as follows:
The two most-recognized challenges identified by the respondents included the need for consistency and integration internally (across business units) and externally (across marketing channels). Not surprisingly, the need for consistent, unified messaging was one of the topic comments shared.
"(We need a) unified corporate objective and message – agreement with C-suite, product leadership, marketing, engineering, sales, etc... everyone has a point of view which ultimately fragments our brand strength."
"Marketing leadership that drives one company message (based on data) that speaks to solving customer problems (not technical benefits)."
Integrate customer-driven messaging: Messaging from multiple business units must be integrated and customer-driven. Potential customers searching the web can come up with hundreds, even thousands, of sites/articles on a company, but those views need to be converted to sales. If information is confusing or contradictory, or does not speak to their needs, potential customers may lose interest - and the company may lose out on sales.
Don’t skimp on the right marketing investments: To help ensure consistency, a chief marketing officer (CMO) or vice president of marketing executive should ensure that all communications support the corporate mission. PR, including the rapidly evolving area of content creation, also referred to by some as “owned” media, is also critical to developing, orchestrating and integrating messaging across channels. These areas are critical since they touch influencers such as editors, analysts, social media, and websites as well as reach direct to end-users, and support the full marketing spectrum including business development and sales.
Implement cross-channel content programs: Engage is seeing greater impetus and demand from clients for support in building and implementing cross-channel content programs that ensure a consistent and planned focus on agreed topics, technologies, and products and services, all within orchestrated time-frames and aligned across different business units and marketing channels. It makes a lot of sense, but it takes some wrangling!
Not surprisingly the need to quantify marketing results also came through in our survey.
"(We need) a clearer correlation between PR campaigns and success metrics using data to justify the investment."
"(We need) a way to quantify the many B2B marketing activities we are engaging in to see how effective our messaging and activities are, versus pure 'share of voice' – which doesn't necessarily mean we are being listened to."
From our perspective, marketing, sales and business development (however you ultimately define these roles) needs to be integrated in both strategy and processes. The information businesses share or make available to be searched for and found by your customers or prospects should be clear and consistent. That consistency and clarity around a shared company-wide business goal means businesses are also more likely to measure results and commit the resources needed to achieve that goal.
Measure and track your success: At Engage, measuring success is an integral part of all our programs, and we pay particular attention to measurable objectives, new approaches to driving business goals and frequent review of results. We leverage social media measurement tools to generate reports about the amount of traffic driven from social platforms to the client's website, the key influencers we engaged with, the success of specific types of content (press release, white paper, etc.) and more.
Once companies have aligned their content and focus, they can quickly see tremendous gains in their marketing, SEO and PR efforts. From a 140-character tweet to an analyst briefing deck, to a speaking gig, to a Thought Leadership opinion piece, to a story pitched to the business media, all messages and content must function as an integrated communications strategy that ultimately supports demand-generation. The graphic below shows how all the elements of marketing based PR interrelate to drive coverage, increase influence and make information easier to find. If you’d like to learn more about how Engage works with clients to build integrated programs that match the way prospects search for and receive information, please give us a call, reach us on Twitter or LinkedIn, or send an email. We look forward to talking.
By Jacklyn “Commish” Dolezal
With September 5th marking the first game of the 2013-2014 NFL season, the Engage office began gearing up for a little more than just cheering on their own favorite football team. Each Engage employee put their beloved NFL team aside and welcomed the arrival of this year’s Fantasy Football season. It’s the 16 weeks of the year when each Sunday is spent screaming at the TV, as you sit on the couch anxiously awaiting for your points to accumulate.
On August 29th, Engage went from co-workers to competitors when they participated in their annual Fantasy Football snake draft. This year, the highly desired number 1 overall pick went to Caitlin’s Army Ants, who decided to go with the safe and reliable QB Aaron Rodgers. With Adrian Peterson and Doug Martin still up for grabs, it was a tough decision for the second overall pick, but The Brady Bunch couldn’t pass on RB machine, Adrian Peterson. Bitzy’s Bashers swooped in on RB Doug Martin with the third overall pick.
With two weeks under our belt, L’s Twerkin Tigers and Bitzy’s Bashers have started their season off right, undefeated. Even with rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, L’s Twerkin Tigers has an overall strong team with WR Victor Cruz and RB’s Arian Foster and Marshawn Lynch. Bitzy’s Bashers secret weapons are her RB’s Doug Martin and Matt Forte, with a combined 55 points in two weeks of play. She can also thank the New Orleans Saint’s TE Jimmy Graham for 23 points in week two.
But it’s the newbie Boston Tebow Party who’s come up on everyone’s radar. With the unstoppable Peyton Manning accumulating 60 fantasy points in week one of competition and his go-to WR Wes Welker, her Engage competitors need to step up their A game in matchups against this team.
Rounding off the loser’s bracket is Bob’s Bruisers and Lauren’s Team going 0-2. Bob’s Bruisers should think about dropping the reigning Super Bowl Champion’s Baltimore defense now that Ray Lewis has retired. It’s also about time he diversifies those so-called “bruisers.” His downfall may be starting three 49ers: QB Colin Kaepernick, RB Fran Gore and TE Vernon Davis (FYI Bob, the 49ers aren’t the only team in the NFL). While Lauren’s Team has scored the highest overall total points, she was unlucky when it came to her matchups. In week one, she was matched up against Boston Tebow Party and Peyton Manning’s 60 fantasy points. In week two, she played Caitlin’s Army Ants, when the Green Bay Packers crushed the Washington Redskins, which gave Aaron Rodgers a solid 46 points and WR Jordy Nelson 18 points. Now that’s what you call fantasy bad luck. With starting WR’s like Julio Jones, Demaryius Thomas, Torrey smith and RB’s Jamaal Charles and Ray Rice, she’s certainly not a team to underestimate.
Players will get injured and hidden gems will break out, it’s too early to predict who’s going to make the Engage PR playoffs. With 14 weeks left of competition, it’s anyone’s game.
By Carrie Fung
Some of us know reddit as a hub for cute cat pictures, but it also serves a legitimate platform for thought leaders and businesses to engage with their audiences in a fun, informal way. For the purposes of this post, I will discuss 3 qualities of reddit that may raise a few eyebrows when considering its use in PR:
User Demographic & Recent Growth
First and foremost, the reddit community is curious in nature, self-aware, and generally well-meaning. Anonymity and free speech are cherished on reddit, and disagreements generally spawn extremely insightful discussions.
According to reddit, the site scored over 67 million unique visitors who viewed a total of 4 trillion different links (that’s trillion with a ‘T’) last month. And a recent study conducted by Pew Research found a total of 6% of online adults use reddit today, with men twice as likely as women to be redditors. Their 6% may seem dwarfed compared to Facebook’s 67%, but redditors are everywhere, and picking one out of a lineup is pretty easy. Simply ask “When does the narwhal bacon?” If their answer is “Midnight,” then you have found yourself a redditor!
Organization via subreddits
With Pew Research citing a limited demographic, it’s understandable to have reservations. However, the division of reddit into subreddits (independent reddit sub-communities that are self-monitored by users and volunteer moderators) makes it possible to streamline your content. With over 5,000 active subreddits and the option to create your own, there is no shortage of options for finding the most relevant community. Subreddits range from /r/news where users submit interesting news articles, to /r/Random_Acts_of_Pizza which recently made headlines for sending pizzas to a young cancer patient.
Perhaps one of the more intriguing subreddits to the PR professional is /r/IAmA, where users will share who they are, or their experiences in an open forum and discussion called an Ask Me Anything session. Victoria Taylor, reddit’s director of communications and former PR professional, explained that “The AMA is notable in that it is essentially the only ‘editorial’ aspect of the site.”
The New York Times article, "reddit's Wide Audience Drives the Interview," shares a handful of notable names who have participated in the past, and provides more details into can be expected from the experience. Sessions with notable figures tend to be scheduled in advance, placed on the AMA calendar, and can be so highly anticipated the thread alone can crash reddit’s servers.
“It is important to approach AMAs carefully and be aware that this may not be a fit for every project or client,” says Taylor. “But for those who embrace the opportunity, it can be tremendously powerful (as well as a lot of fun).”
Curation & Syndication
When posts and comments are submitted, they are subject to crowdsource curation. reddit’s voting system allows for a truly democratic news platform where good content gets upvoted to the top and poor content sinks with downvotes – regardless of editorial bias, and free from information gatekeepers and news silos.
Content from years past can be posted today, and still get upvoted to the top page. This is commonly seen on the /r/TodayILearned subreddit. Content syndication on reddit allows for your content to be applicable for longer periods of time, reaching more readers than before.
Both organizations and public figures have great PR potential here due to the ability to engage directly with specific audiences via subreddits. But anyone using reddit for PR should keep in mind that most redditors don’t take kindly to blatant self-promotion or spoon-fed information. If you’re unsure of whether or not your client is a good fit for an AMA, or need help finding where your content would fit best, the aforementioned Victoria Taylor (/u/chooter) can help answer any questions you may have.
Ultimately, the decision to incorporate reddit into your social media campaign is entirely dependent on whether or not you truly understand the reddit culture. Above all, remember to remain selfless, open-minded, comment frequently, and reddit can deliver some serious PR results.
tl;dr (too long; didn’t read)
reddit is a platform that has not been implemented into many social media plans, but has the potential to deliver great PR results if used correctly.