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Coverage Cup round up w/c 3 November 2014

Coverage cupWelcome to this week’s Coverage Cup roundup. Last week, iPass released the findings of its global survey of Wi-Fi hotspots which garnered a lot of media interest. Through crafting a media-worthy story, which highlighted a number of key trends, the team was able to get some great media coverage including BBC News Online and The Independent. Elsewhere, the Trustmarque team achieved coverage on ComputerWorld UK around a cloud computing implementation it had done with Rhead Group. Finally, the Egress team secured some great coverage in the channel press following the launch of the company’s new channel programme.

These and some of the other coverage highlights are below:


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Coverage Cup round up from the last fortnight

Coverage cupWelcome to this week’s double, bumper edition Coverage Cup round up! To begin with, Compuware’s (now Dynatrace) acquisition by Thoma Bravo saw a great piece of coverage in Computing. Meanwhile the JDA team achieved x2 pieces of coverage in the FT’s recent supplement on IT and the supply chain, as a result of successfully securing a couple of interviews. The Trace One team have also had a busy fortnight, with the client included in a feature in New Scientist magazine this week, as well as having a letter published in The Grocer. Finally, iPass were featured in a national feature in the Daily Telegraph on ‘Smart travel tech for SMEs’.

These are just a handful of the highlights. Below is a selection of some of the other top pieces of coverage we have helped secure for clients over the last couple of weeks:

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Will the end of Google Authorship affect PR?

google-76522_640In August, Google announced the end of Google Authorship. If you are unsure of what Google Authorship really was – it was a tool that allowed users to mark up web pages so that the authorship can be attributed to a particular individual. It was launched in 2011 with the intention of granting authors the opportunity to connect with their content on the web and at the same time enable a process of author verification and rewarding authority content.  In essence it seemed like a good idea for Google at the time back in 2007 to influence page rankings based on the reputation of its authors by using digital signatures.

Google’s primary goal was to make its search results meaningful to the end user – the searcher. Although early data indicated Google Authorship helped the end user, as more data was compiled, the Google team came to the conclusion that the searcher did not benefit from the authorship feature. Google’s team also determined the author images distracted the searchers and cluttered their mobile experience.  A recent survey also found that 70% of authors made no effort in linking their content with authorship. In addition to that figure, out of 150 pages sampled, 50 did not have author pages, while ¾ gave no attribution to an author.

The struggle for PRs in the digital age is how to balance corporate thought leadership with individual thought leadership.  The tech industry is highly mobile; with the exception of the founder, many organisations don’t really have guaranteed longevity for their spokesperson.  So in some ways, going back to leading with the thought rather than the spokesperson makes our lives easier.  In B2B tech PR we’d rather focus on the vision of the management team, conveying the brand values and picking those who have a natural flair for communicating rather than worrying about who needs the biggest profile on Google+.   Obviously if I was the PR for Simon Cowell I’d have a very different perspective, and many hugely successful companies are based on the CEO brand e.g. Virgin.  But for most brands, even the biggest, there are multiple faces of the company.

The focus for most of our clients is on building the corporate brand and delivering the company story via whichever spokesperson is most suited to the opportunity.  They don’t have the budget to create the stable of clichés that are parodied programmes such as ‘Silicon Valley’.   We could do without concerns about ensuring equal billing on Google+ and building personal brands for each of the spokespeople.

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Coverage Cup round up w/c 13 October 2014

Coverage cupWelcome to this week’s Coverage Cup round up,  featuring our top hits from the last week.  It was an outstanding week for national coverage – resulting in happy clients and a hotly contested debate in the office over who should win the coveted coverage cup.   We are a competitive bunch and love the kudos that comes with a piece in the nationals. 

There is a nice mix of proactive pitching, issues response, features and interviews so opinion was divided on which was the most difficult to secure and therefore who should win.  Coverage in the nationals is usually as a result of persistence, speed, detective work and a little bit of luck so great to see that tenacity paying off.

For the Egress team, running an issues response on Dropbox’s supposed hack, spotting the story early and collaborating with the client to come up with a quick response resulted in coverage in the Daily Mail Online and The Telegraph.  The quote was also used by the Press Association leading to over 40 pieces of regional news stories. We managed to beat off the competition in the security sector that were no doubt clamouring to be included – an excellent result for a fairly new client we are working to build thought leadership for.

For Virtusa, it was about building a story that was strong enough to pitch as a proactive briefing with a company spokesperson.  Lauren’s recent post talks about the importance of helping the spokesperson deliver on what you’ve promised; in the case of proactive pitching, it is particularly important that you deliver what the journalist is expecting as it is not just one quote they are looking for, they are expecting the spokesperson to shape a whole piece.  The resulting BBC News Online coverage is fantastic. In addition, detective work on features and who was writing them got Virtusa into a Times report on gamification in the workplace.

The PQ team was also focused on demonstrating the credibility and knowledge of their spokesperson, ex-NSA technical director, Brian Snow.  This piece was again a result of building a story that was strong enough to pitch as a proactive briefing.  If the client and agency can effectively work together to anticipate hot topics and build a story around them during regular brainstorming sessions, then the coverage will position companies as thought leaders and result in excellent pieces, such as the below  Guardian piece. 

Daily Mail: ‘Your stuff is safe': Dropbox denies hack after anonymous post claims it has the personal details of up to 6.9 MILLION users

The Telegraph: Dropbox denies hacking claims

BBC News: The emergence of the counter-free bank branch

The Times: Serious ‘game’ of keeping good staff

The Guardian: Powerful quantum computers move a step closer to reality


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Beware of the technology journalist?

beware_of_the____Political party conference season can really spook a company spokesperson, even the most experienced will recoil in horror at the thought of a grilling from Nick Robinson.   Conference season may be over but the impact remains on anyone that has to face the press.  But with Halloween approaching maybe it is time to feel the fear and do it anyway.

Fear rather than a ‘scary’ journalist is the most common reason for missed opportunities.  Most IT journalists aren’t looking for a points scoring battle with the spokesperson, they are more typically on a deadline and need a good quote to support the angle they want their article to take. 

In fact, it is more common to trip yourself up.  Spokesperson stage fright can mean that the discussion before the interview is forgotten or ignored.  A reminder to ‘treat questions as an opportunity’ is often dismissed with; ‘you have to be joking; I’m just trying to get through the interview and hoping for one decent quote.’ 

But often journalists are the opposite of their reputation as belligerent and difficult. Sometimes the journalist will even spoon-feed the quote to the spokesperson e.g. “so would you say that we should expect a shake-up in the industry?”  Or “do you think this represents a change in the way that companies will operate?”  However, if the spokesperson has gone into the interview perceiving it to be a battle rather than a collaboration s/he may miss this golden opportunity. 

There are three things you need to remember when responding to questions.  The first is that the journalist will often deliver you the opportunity on a plate.  If the question is something that they want to quote you on then remember to paraphrase it as part of your quote.

The second is that you can influence the direction of the interview by answering questions in the right way.   If it is a difficult question or it misses the point you can shift the focus.  Your PR agency can teach you how to do this in advance.  There is no rush, demonstrate why you think it is more important to answer a different question and then deliver a killer quote. 

The third is that you should always answer the question unless there are exceptional circumstances.   Otherwise Jekyll could become Hyde (which takes us back to Nick Robinson again). This is a good example of where our spokesperson for Compuware really excelled at delivering the quotes the journalist wanted.    

Tech PRs also need to remember that our job doesn’t start or end with securing the interview.  Prior to calling the journalist we will have worked with the spokesperson to come up with some interesting ideas and we are as much to blame as the spokesperson if s/he doesn’t deliver what we’ve offered.  So in addition to reminding the spokesperson to spot the opportune questions as well as being on their guard for the tricky ones, we need to provide as much detail as we can on the planned piece beforehand. 

During the interview we must be ready to prompt the spokesperson so that the journalist gets what’s required for the piece. Once the interview is complete journalists will expect a follow-up call from us to check that we’ve delivered what we promised when we set up the interview and to provide supporting materials to complete the story. 

Finally, continuing on the Halloween theme, remember that no-one likes a zombie so relax and be effusive.  And if the interview is a frightening experience then blame us!

(Image: deviantART)

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