Stuff and ThingsTop 50 UK PR Blogs 2013Top 50 UK PR Blogs 2013

To ping, or not to ping? That is the question

emailI suspect I’m not alone in occasionally wondering what the world of work was like before the advent of email. It’s strange to think that in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t that long ago at all that email didn’t exist, so there are likely a lot of people out there who remember first-hand what things were like.

Of course, for those of us in technology PR (or indeed any field of public relations), email has become indispensable as a communications tool. We rely on it to quickly ‘ping’ across information to our journalist counterparts with the minimum of fuss. It’s particularly helpful when it comes to sending out a press release. Gone are the days when our forebears had to stick it in a stamped envelope and hope to God it made it to the right person in time; now it’s just instant.

Oddly enough, I recently met someone who claimed to have been amongst the first PR people to email a press release to a journalist. He said that both parties described it as a revelation. You can see why; but nowadays, email has become so commonplace that it’s become as much a blessing as it is a curse.

While it’s a great means of efficiently sending out information or having a less intrusive chat with someone, email can be very impersonal. This makes it very difficult to engage a journalist in a two-way dialogue, so getting any feedback from them can be pretty tricky. As such, it’s important to treat email as just one tool in the communications arsenal, rather than to rely on it too much. Picking up the phone and having a conversation is just as relevant today as it was in the 70s, and will be in 2020.

I suspect that the same rings true across almost any industry sector, but for those of us working in tech PR, it’s particularly interesting trying to find the right balance.

On the one hand, journalists tell us they receive hundreds of emails every day, so even the most carefully crafted subject line could easily fall by the wayside. From our clients’ perspective, it’s also important that we can provide them with feedback on the response from the journalists that we’ve spoken with on their behalf, which puts email at another disadvantage.

However, at the same time, journalists are often incredibly pressed for time, so many tend to prefer an email over a phone call or suggestion to meet up in person. As a result, there is very clearly a fine line to tread between when it’s best to ping over a quick email or pick-up the phone. So how do you work out when one approach is better than another?

As a rule, I’d say there is no rule to knowing when an email will do, or when a phone call would be better. What’s most important for PR consultants is our knowledge of the media and the people we’re dealing with. This makes it much easier to gauge what their preferences will be, and which approach will work best in any given situation.

It’s the ability to judge each situation and make a call on which approach is most likely to secure the reaction we’re looking for that is so crucial to everything we do in PR. Getting it wrong can be disastrous; damaging the relationships we’ve worked so hard to build and ruining our chances of securing the all-important coverage that our clients need. So let’s not lose sight of the importance of making that judgement call every time we’ve got something to say.

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Coverage Cup round up w/c 18 January 2016

Coverage cupThe ViaSat team took last week’s Coverage Cup with a fantastic article in The Mirror. The in-depth article serves to reinforce the company’s position within the in-flight broadband market. Indeed, in-flight broadband was a popular topic as the iPass team secured coverage on TechWeek Europe regarding the company’s partnership with Panasonic Avionics.TechWeek Europe. Elsewhere, the Elsevier team secured coverage for a new product on GenomeWeb, a publication dedicated to molecular research and diagnostics.Finally, the Trustmarque team jumped quickly on the latest analyst predictions around public cloud growth, securing news hijacking coverage on Business Cloud News.

A full list of coverage cup nominations can be found below:

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Coverage Cup round up

Coverage cupLast week, JDA and Centiro released the findings of their Christmas Customer Pulse report receiving top-tier coverage in the likes of Business Reporter, The Grocer, AOL, Internet Retailing, Drapers and many other titles. Elsewhere in the world of security, Huntsman Security’s Piers Wilson appeared in Business Reporter responding to the news that WhatsApp was a victim of a malware threat. Meanwhile, Tony Pepper from Egress was quoted as a source of insight in SC Magazine and Information Age, while findings from Verizon’s 2015 Data Breach Investigations Report was used in The Banker. Finally, there were a couple of great hits in The Register with Trustmarque offering data migration advice and Compuware highlighting how it is enabling developers to use DevOps tools to manage mainframe code.

Who gets your vote this week?

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Is improved marketing measurement your New Year’s resolution?

measurementIn the old days technology PR was measured by the weight of the clippings book, the circulation and AVE (advertising value equivalent).  The good thing about AVE is that if you get a piece in a national newspaper, the ROI is a zillion times what the client spent.  One of the many bad things about AVE is that it doesn’t tell you anything about outcome – it’s another quantitative measure and unlike circulation it is not even factual.   

AVE today can be measured by a simple test – is it advertising or PR that is driving engagement with your company? This is easy to do, even using free tools, but requires collaboration between client and agency.  It’s more difficult to do retrospectively which is why it must be a New Year’s resolution.  Broadly speaking the most straightforward form of short-term measurement is an uplift in traffic as a result of a banner ad, email campaign or media story – the deeper you dig, the more insight is available.  Longer term the easiest way to see whether marketing is working is changes in your search ranking.  Are you on page one, ideally in the top three searches that come up? To make sure this happens you need to think about keywords. 

The first thing to look at is the SEO value of your keywords. Too popular and trying to own them will be extremely difficult.  Too obscure and no-one will actually use them and unless you are Google, gaining traction for a keyword is very difficult.  There’s no point in ranking highly for a term your prospects aren’t searching for.  You then need to measure what’s happening with your keywords on Google and how well they are working for you.

PR can add value here as high authority sites (e.g. top-tier online media) will be on page one of a Google search.  Ensuring you are in stories that include your preferred keywords, ideally with a backlink is the easiest and quickest way to drive engagement with your owned content.  A messaging session with your PR agency will deliver keywords that are based on what the media are writing about as well as reflecting your business’s differentiators.

The second thing to review is consistency – Are you using the same keywords across all content? Are you driving people from earned to owned content or, at least, making it easy to find? Are you maximising your use of authoritative third-party content?

Retailer John Wanamaker said in the early 20th century that half the money he spent on advertising was wasted; the trouble is he didn’t know which half.  A hundred years on and all companies finally have the answer to which half of their marketing spend is working.   Measurement has never been easier so make it a resolution for 2016 to squeeze every last drop of insight out of the data available. 

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Pre-Xmas Coverage Cup round up

Coverage cupFirst off, the SAP User Group hosted its annual conference attended by the likes of IT Pro, CBR, Computing, Computer Weekly, ComputerWorldUK and diginomica. This resulted in some great coverage from the event. Elsevier received several tier-1 hits over the last couple of weeks in Research Information, DDD Magazine and Scientific Computing. Several clients were also included in features across a number of top publications. Huntsman’s Piers Wilson was quoted in a feature on the new EU security law in V3. Piers also appeared alongside other industry experts in The Telegraph in a feature that assessed the impact of Cybercrime.  While Trustmarque provided expert comment for TechRadar Pro feature looking at the changing role of the IT department. Elsewhere, Light Reading and Total Telecom covered key findings from new Guavus research. Finally, JDA were featured in the Daily Mirror offering expert insight into the delivery challenges that faced retailers around Black Friday.

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