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Pre-Christmas Coverage Cup round-up

Coverage cupWelcome to this week’s bumper pre-Christmas Coverage Cup roundup! Over the course of December, we’ve helped our clients get some great coverage in a range of IT, vertical and national media. The Tier-3 Huntsman team news hijacked the Sony Pictures computer hacks, resulting in coverage in The Register and Computer Weekly. Remaining on the security theme, Egress revealed the findings of a Freedom of Information request to the Information Commissioner’s Office which showed that one-quarter of reported data breaches were caused by the accidental loss or destruction of personal data during the first three months of 2014. Due to some successful pitching of the findings the team achieved coverage in the likes of CBR and The Register.

Elsewhere, research carried out from JDA looked at the online delivery woes facing European shoppers, which resulted in coverage on Retail Systems, Essential Retail and Business Reporter. Also is the retail space, Trace One ran a media alert around the upcoming Food Information Regulation and achieved coverage on The Grocer, Food Manufacture and Retail Times.

Finally, the TAG Assessment team were really pleased to achieve coverage on the Daily Telegraph for an opinion piece looking at the state of the exam grading system.  Below is the list of all the Coverage Cup nominations over the last few weeks:

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Having no news is not an excuse for having no coverage: Get some facts, STAT

statistics-76198_640One of the biggest challenges in B2B Tech PR is the issue of news, or lack thereof. We are not in the business of having flashy new handsets to release, and while this does help us to avoid getting embroiled in any ‘bend-gate’-like sagas, it does mean that we have to be more inventive.

There are a number of tactics at our disposal, but one of the key ways to create news is through research and statistics. Journalists are often very keen to have new, independent statistics as they make for great headlines and can be used to get a broader picture of what is happening in the marketplace. We have found time and again that research is one of the best ways to get noticed, with the added bonus of being usable across the business for sales and marketing.

However, there is a lot of competition for airtime. The critical thing to make your research stand out is to ensure that the story you build is compelling enough for a journalist to see the news value – it needs to focus on the issues and customer challenges, not products. Journalists are bombarded with research every day, the only way to stand out is to really think about what will be interesting and tie research into current trends and issues. You need to know what message you want to get across and find a way of reinforcing this using third-party data to support your argument. There are many different ways to get this data, with pros and cons to each, but we have the experience to help guide clients on the best route to take, as well as generating creative ideas that get clients noticed. Here are some examples:

  • Analyst research: Having an analyst conduct research on your behalf often lends credibility making it more appealing to journalists. However, they can often be expensive, so it is important to think about the broader value and return on investment before embarking on such a project. Should you choose this route, it can be extremely rewarding. Take, for example, the recent iPass Global Market Index. The research not only received top level coverage in the likes of the Economist, BBC and The Independent – it was also turned into a global Wi-Fi map which is being used in customer meetings.
  • Headline-driven research: Using an analyst firm is not the only way to get verifiable stats, third-party research companies can too, often at a more reasonable price point. The strength of the story is extremely important though, as often these surveys can be met with journalist skepticism, if you get it right though you can get some fantastic results. For example, a mainframe research piece we conducted earlier this year resulted in nearly 20 pieces of coverage across trade and vertical press, such as ZDNet, The Register, The Manufacturer, and Retail Technology.
  • Freedom of Information requests: Under the Data Protection Act, all public bodies have to respond to any reasonable request for information made. This can be a particularly helpful tool if you are trying to illustrate the extent of a problem. Again, story creation is crucial. One example was a hardware encryption client, ViaSat; here we asked UK police forces how many electronic devices were stolen in 2013-2014, to show just how common theft is and why people should take care of their belongings. This resulted in tier one trade and national coverage in publications such as the Register and the
  • Media alerts: Another option for using statistics is to actually pull together information that is already in the public domain to create a call to action for the industry in the form of a media alert. An example of this was with our client ElasticHosts, an Infrastructure as a Service provider, who wanted to highlight the cost of wasted capacity to support a new product it had launched. By analysing existing data around under-utlilisation and comparing this with cloud spending, we were able to determine that $1.7 billion is wasted each year, resulting in 12 pieces of tier one coverage with the likes of ZDNet, Computing, and Cloud Pro.

Yet research and statistics are not the only way companies can get noticed and generate coverage outside of the news cycle; in my next blog, I’ll be looking at proactive pitching and how building a thought leadership platform can help to start conversations with the press outside of the regular feature calendar.

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Six top tips for organising and managing an international press trip

passport-315266_640Recently, I was tasked with organising press attendees and interviews for a client customer event in Barcelona. Now, I’m usually comfortable with organising and staffing press interviews. But doing this in another country, without immediate support from the Spark team, did test my comfort zone. Nevertheless, the event and the processes leading up to it all ran well and I learnt a lot. Here are my key tips from the experience:  

  • Double, triple, quadruple check everything – for me, this mainly meant making sure that the interview times between press and spokespeople synced-up, were logged correctly and communicated to the right people. We also had to book transport and accommodation for our press, so ensuring that they were correct and sent to them in time was critical. As obvious as it may seem, conducting meticulous checks well in advance will ensure that there are no costly and embarrassing problems during the event.
  • Keeping everyone in the know – organising a big event is always a stressful occasion for a client. Therefore, it is important to provide regular updates of your progress to give them confidence that all the PR activity is well in hand. During the run-up to the event, be sure to communicate up-to-date schedules and also inform them of any potential issues. In hectic times, such work may often appear to go unnoticed but it is still valued nevertheless.
  • Leave prepared – prior to leaving for an event, make sure that you’ve packed everything needed to see you through your trip (i.e. – journalist/spokespeople contact numbers, briefing schedules, travel and hotel reservations, passport, etc.). Additionally you should check that you have sent briefing schedules and event itineraries to journalists/spokespeople before you leave. Be sure to bring spare briefing documents and itineraries with you, as someone is always likely to want one.
  • Accidental run-ins – during events, it is common for spokespeople diaries to be stretched, which could impact your press briefing timetable. However, I found it useful to stage catch-ups with the relevant spokespeople on the morning of their interviews to remind them of their commitments, confirm the briefing location, and to ask if they had any questions. Doing this will jog their memory and can also help you flag any problems with their schedule way ahead of time.
  • Customer care – following interviews, in particularly those involving a client’s customers, always be sure to thank the spokesperson for their participation and willingness to speak to the press. Events provide an extremely good opportunity to build relationships that could be used in the future to open new PR opportunities for your client. Creating a good impression is essential in helping you do this.
  • Don’t panic – you can be the most prepared person in the world and have an event press schedule organised down to a T. But there will always be occasions where problems occur that are simply beyond your control. During times like this, it’s important to keep a cool head. However, make sure you are able to provide your client with a realistic explanation of the issue, and if possible, a solution outlining what can be done to avoid such challenges in the future.
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Driving Tech PR Success Using Topical Issues

 mediaOne of the things that attracted me to PR (aside from the glamour and jet-setting lifestyle that’s taken me as far as the Birmingham NEC) was the fact that nothing stands still. Client messages change over time; markets evolve; and new stories give new ways to present client messages to the world. Indeed, the right story landing at the right time can be a godsend to a team; it lets you engage with your audience using something that really resonates with them, and can help refresh or boost messages that might otherwise be hard to communicate.

One such story was the 2013 horsemeat crisis. From a purely PR perspective, an event such as this was ideal for anyone with something relevant to say: it was high-profile, ongoing and, most importantly, nobody was directly harmed. From the point of view of our client Trace One,  the crisis was a perfect opportunity to discuss its key message, around the need for complete transparency throughout the manufacturing supply chain, particularly in food labelling and production, so that the potential for adulterating food is minimised, and that any food that is a risk can be swiftly removed from sale.

Of course, responding to a large, ongoing story doesn’t mean just slapping a quick quote together, punting it out to the four winds and then lying back and waiting for the coverage. Instead, the first thing we did was develop a clear, consistent message on the crisis that we could share with the media without deviation hesitation or repetition. With this message down, we could then respond both to the initial story and further developments as they happened: making sure Trace One’s involvement wasn’t just a flash in the pan but instead keeping Trace One and its thought leadership at the forefront of its audience’s minds.

However, sending out quotes can only do so much. Varying our tactics was crucial to making the most of the opportunity and spreading Trace One’s message as widely as possible.  As well as response to the ongoing story, we also arranged quotes and interviews for relevant editorial features and breaking stories that would advance the traceability message; drafted letter and opinion pieces for the retail press; and supported blog posts for Trace One’s site that allowed the company to place its take on events front and centre.

Beyond the immediate effects of the horsemeat crisis on retailers, we and Trace One soon realised that it could have lingering implications on consumer trust – after all, spending would likely drop if consumers believe there’s a good chance that meat is Redrum. This formed the basis of two projects. The first was a Freedom of Information request of councils across the UK, to find out just how many potential food safety incidents beyond horsemeat were lurking under the radar. This resulted in a media alert, covered in the industry and national press, which made it clear that, in a grotesquely mixed metaphor, horsemeat was only the tip of the iceberg.

This gave us the scale of the issue. Next was to judge just what shoppers wanted. To avoid focusing purely on a single incident, we developed research to judge the growth of the “savvy shopper” – consumers who pay attention to not only to costs, but also to health scares, fat content, ethical concerns and a host of other issues when choosing their food. Using this research, we could show the industry just what impact the crisis had had on their customer to date, and how they could go about winning back their trust.

In the whole time, our aim was clear: rather than simply waiting for relevant stories to fall into our laps, we made sure we were making our own opportunities to ensure consistent exposure for Trace One’s message. Throughout, we made sure that Trace One was engaging with the issue positively: offering advice and identifying ways to win back consumer trust, rather than simply going on the attack against other businesses or organisations.  

And the results? Well, consistent, top-level coverage has certainly helped. Indeed, Trace One’s profile is now such that organisations and publications are contacting them directly for their opinion and insight. Trace One is now seen as a key player in the field of transparency which, after all, is what we’re being paid for.

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Coverage Cup round up w/c 24 November 2014

Coverage cupWelcome to this week’s Coverage Cup round up! We’ve had some great pieces this week, including the JDA team successfully securing an opinion piece on The Guardian’s sustainable business section, looking at how 3D printing is set to shake up manufacturing supply chains. The Guavus team also placed an opinion piece on European Communications on how operators must integrate RAN and business analytics to strategically guide LTE spending. Elsewhere, the Dynatrace team jumped on the back of the Black Friday frenzy, and ran a successful news hijack on the need for better website performance, resulting in coverage on CBR and Retail Times. In addition, Verizon published its’ top enterprise technology trends for 2015, resulting in coverage on Total Telecom and Business Reporter. while the Tier-3 team offered comment around The IET’s ‘Ones to Watch’ report, resulting in coverage on Infosecurity and V3.

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