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Coverage Cup round up w/c 2 February 2015

Coverage cupAnother good week of client coverage here at Spark. First of all, Fruition Partners and Guavus both featured in The Times ‘Future of Outsourcing’ supplement after some successful pitching by their resepctive teams. Next up, the Trustmarque team secured two great pieces in Computing and E-Health Insider, looking at how the company is implementing new software for Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh (WWL) NHS Trust. Finally, the Dynatrace team placed a fascinating opinion piece with Global Banking & Finance Review on the future of customer-centric banking and the implications for IT departments.

Below is a selection of the best of the rest of last week’s coverage: 


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How to test whether you are qualified to comment on a technology trend

Tech TrendsMany analyst houses and big consultancies have released their top technology focus areas for 2015.  The Economist and PWC are suggesting private cloud, data mining and analytics, and cyber security will top the agenda for 2015. Gartner is also tipping cloud as a major focus area, among other technologies such as the Internet of Things and 3D printing.

Any PR agency worth their salt will try to shoehorn their client messages to fit these subjects. After all, these are the topics the industry cares most about and consequently that the media will write most about. However, enthusiasm quickly turns to boredom as journalists’ inboxes fill with pitch upon pitch that starts with much the same sentence about private cloud or the Internet of Things. 

So, how can you make sure that journalists don’t view your content with the same level of interest as requests for help to transfer money out of Nigeria? As usual, original content is king. We always ask our clients what they have to say on the hot topics of the year, but it needs to be more than a soundbite. Our job is to dig until we’ve got something that will make our pitch stand out. Here’s an example from The Guardian of the results of that time investment.

But how do you build a killer pitch that avoids a journalist’s trash folder? You start by rewinding to several stages before the media pitch. First, analyse how you want your customers to perceive you in relation to the trend. If you can convince customers that you have a part to play in addressing the challenges around a technology trend, then you are halfway there with journalists. Some useful questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the ‘big’ problem that your customers are looking to solve? What is the opportunity they are missing and how does your offering specifically address their challenges?
  2. Are you behind the curve or too far ahead of the pace? Where are your customers on the journey to solving this problem? Do they know it is or will become a ‘big’ problem (be honest, is it really a big problem or is the link to the technology trend you are suggesting too tenuous)?
  3. Do you feel confident that you currently articulate your offering in relation to the technology trend in a way that resonates with customers?

If you aren’t able to answer the above, then it’s most likely that you haven’t spent enough time working on your value proposition in order to create in-depth, quality content. Most topics are more akin to a marathon than a sprint, so spend time on building a campaign that will engage your target audience. Define what your customers or prospects think at the moment, tie this into a wider trends story and then sound out everyone and anyone in the company that you can ‘mine’ for facts and anecdotes; this will give you the detail and the differentiators that will give your opinion credibility. The aim is to join the dots between what your ‘buyer’ wants (that might be a journalist or a customer depending on whom the content is aimed at) and what you want to say.   

In general, you will need to take a slightly different approach with journalists than customers. The trend rather than your solution will take centre stage and having a piece of original content, such as a research report, really helps build credibility with the media.

Now more than ever, it’s all about the strength of the story for both journalists and customers.  Messaging and storyboarding used to be a fairly infrequent activity; tied to starting a new PR campaign when launching a solution, or updating a product. But it has now become a quarterly activity for many of our clients. It is key to creating a unique point of view, which is the basis for a regular supply of quality content to feed to prospects, customer and journalists. You need to keep one step ahead of the competitionand that means innovating not just on product, but also on the story that you tell. 

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Coverage Cup round-up w/c 26 January 2015

Coverage cupWhile the weather outside remains pretty cold, things are starting to warm up on the coverage front. The latest version of next-generation security software Carbon Black 5.0 launched with the Bit9 team scoring pieces in ComputerWorldUK and V3 about how it could be a game-changer. The Egress team news hijacked Global Data Protection Day with its FoI stats about 93% of data breaches being down to human error. The result was some great coverage in the IT and security press. Finally, the iPass team successfully placed a CEO opinion piece with asking if Google or Facebook will be your future Wi-Fi provider.

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Coverage Cup round-up

Coverage cupAs we collectively get over the January blues, there has been plenty of client press coverage to raise the spirits. Firstly, the JDA team continued to get mileage from its Christmas shopping survey, with some great coverage in Drapers.  Christmas also featured for the Guavus team in a Land Mobile article about Santa using GPS. Next up the iPass team successfully pitched a story to Computer Weekly about how SAS was using the iPass global Wi-Fi network to support all its flight crews. The Dynatrace team were active as well getting some excellent coverage in Computing, that looked at the new-look Compuware. Finally, the Egress team secured a great pieced in IT Security Guru about the potential for identity theft when dealing with mortgage applications. 


Below is a list of all the coverage highlights over the last couple of weeks:

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5 tips in 5 minutes – making sure media interviews run to plan

MicrophoneMedia interviews are a much-vaunted, much-loved staple of any PR programme worth its salt, but, like anything in PR, they can go horribly wrong. But even when an interview isn’t a complete car crash, as any PR pro will know, a lot of interviews can end up being merely a so-so experience – instead of being a sound-bite stuffed, charming-the-pants-off-journalists result that we all hope for.

It’s important to remember that every spokesperson you have is different. Some will have been media trained up the eyeballs over a long career in the C-Suite, others will be doing their first ever interview having never knowingly spoken to a journalist in their life. It’s also important to remember that interviews are arranged for any number of reasons, and so the approach you and your spokesperson take will differ accordingly. It might be a ten-minute chat on the phone to grab a few quotes for a feature, or it might be an in-depth hour-long profile piece.

Whatever the reason and however experienced your spokesperson might be – ensuring that you prepare the spokesperson thoroughly and give them all the information and context they need to feel confident, will pay dividends down the line. It goes without saying that providing a briefing note with valuable background on journalists, publications and talking points is essential. But often, more important that simply sending a document, is personally pre-briefing your spokesperson. Your spokesperson is highly likely to be a very busy individual, fully digesting all the info in a briefing document may not be high on their list of priorities.

So if nothing else, grab that five minutes before your spokesperson even utters a word and remember to reiterate the basics – here are just a few to get started:

  • Speak slow – remind spokespeople not to hurry or speak quickly, and to make a conscious effort to slow down – ensuring that the journalist can catch/record comments
  • Press pause – hand in hand with speaking too fast, is not giving the journalist a chance to speak, tell your spokesperson to pause when they’ve finished speaking to allow the journalist to ask questions
  • Check in – periodically, it’s useful for spokespeople to check with the journalist that they understand the comments they are making
  • Listen closely – remind spokespeople to really listen to the question a journalist poses and do their best to answer it specifically rather than too generally
  • Not knowing is OK – it’s fine not to know something, your spokesperson shouldn’t be afraid to decline to answer a question if they can’t answer, it’s far better than fudging it!
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