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San Francisco Baykeeper: Keeping San Francisco Bay Safe from Harm

One early morning in 2016, San Francisco Baykeeper’s pollution hotline began ringing frantically. Concerned swimmers and beachgoers reported trash littering the shoreline and wanted to know what could be done. Our field investigator monitored the area during one of our regular boat patrols, and our staff scientist quickly realized the fireworks extravaganza during the Super Bowl festivities had sprayed a plume of plastic and cardboard debris into the Bay and onto local beaches.

When regional agencies expressed a reluctance to do anything about the pollution, Baykeeper’s policy advocates contacted the fireworks company directly and advised them on best practices for preventing pollution from fireworks. The company agreed to use these best practices going forward. For the past two years, we’ve monitored the company’s fireworks shows, and our volunteers have held cleanups of shoreline areas where fireworks debris would be likely to wash up. Fortunately, there haven’t been any more signs of significant fireworks pollution around Bay Area beaches.

San Francisco Bay is the Bay Area’s heart and soul. People are drawn to this treasure for boating, fishing, swimming, paddling, kiting, wildlife viewing, and shoreline strolling. The beauty and moods of the Bay connect all who visit or live here to the rhythms of nature. The Bay and its shorelines are also home to seals, sea lions, birds, fish, and other wildlife, seasonally and year-round.

But in addition to trash, the Bay is also threatened by other significant sources of pollution, including industrial toxins, sewage spills, and oil. More than 1300 industrial facilities operate around the Bay.  Over 90 cities’ stormwater systems and wastewater plants contribute pollution to the Bay.  And close to 400 vessels cross the Bay every day. New threats also loom, including sea level rise caused by climate change.

In the face of these threats, Baykeeper has been San Francisco Bay’s champion for 29 years protecting the Bay from pollution and other harm.

To continue protecting San Francisco Bay, Baykeeper relies on generous partners like 10Fold who care about the health of the Bay. Our nonprofit organization has been a proud beneficiary of 10Fold’s Media SharkTank event for the past six years. 10Fold’s enthusiastic support for Bay protection has improved life on San Francisco Bay for both people and wildlife. Over the years, 10Fold’s generosity has helped Baykeeper:

  • Safeguard the Bay from industrial toxins from more than 40 industrial facilities;
  • Keep millions of gallons of sewage out of the Bay and local neighborhoods;
  • Achieve stronger protections that prevent oil spills in the Bay;
  • Conduct shoreline cleanups that remove trash before it can enter the Bay;
  • And much, much more!

Baykeeper is honored to be the beneficiary of Media SharkTank and to keep partnering with 10Fold to protect San Francisco Bay.

And a big part of the thanks goes to 10Fold’s Media SharkTank participants for sharing our commitment to this magnificent body of water that we all cherish. Together, we are creating a San Francisco Bay where the water is clean, the ecosystem is healthy, recreation is safe, and wildlife – including sharks – can thrive.

Sejal Choksi-Chugh is the Executive Director of San Francisco Baykeeper. To report pollution in San Francisco Bay, call Baykeeper’s hotline at 1-800-KEEP-BAY (1-800-533-7229), e-mail [email protected], or click “Report Pollution” at baykeeper.org.

By Sejal Choksi-Chugh

How to Be a Good Tech Influencer Fan – Jumpstart Your Rise to Social Stardom

Can anyone really begrudge the tech influencer groupie? It’s a small subset of the population that lives, breathes and adamantly follows the inside baseball goings-on in the world of IoT, IIoT, AI, ML, BI, OPM, APM and a host of other technological acronyms… While the numbers are few, make no mistake, the role is important.

Analysts, tech writers and contributors, serial entrepreneurs and venture capitalists are the highly esteemed and well-revered keepers of the keys to what the future will hold for us all, and hence naturals for the influence role. They know what the “next big thing” is. They’re aware of the marketing trends and commercial needs. They know how to decipher technical jargon and set aside the trending buzz terms to drill into what truly matters – and what will have the biggest impact.

Below are a few tips for building relationships that work with and for influencers:

Before you dive in, take some time to think about what kind of influencers are aligned with your market and business goals. Are you looking to gain insights for propelling your business forward from serial entrepreneurs? Are you seeking a better understanding of who your competition is in the marketplace? Do you want to generate stimulating conversations that will encourage influencers’ followers to notice you and start following what you’re doing? Are you hoping to parlay online social engagements into real-life media interview opportunities or analyst briefings? Do you want to build social status and influence (which can be “counted” with tools like BrandWatch and FollowerWonk based on levels of engagement, caliber of followers and more)? Do you want to collaborate on research projects? Gain access into professional communities or insight into new market research reports and papers? The list is a mile long and then some. Stop and think about what you want. Start small and focused and go forth from there.

Here at 10Fold, we regularly track, follow, and strategically engage with influencers on social media on behalf of our clients. That’s something that tends to be best to leave to the professionals, as engaging with the wrong contact in the wrong way at the wrong time could be disastrous for your reputation and lead to more closed doors than open opportunities. This starts with the all-powerful strategic search. We deploy social media listening tools to determine which influencers have a strong social authority (with algorithms that track engagement, follower numbers, social status of the influencers’ followers, growth and more) and couple that with an acute understanding of which tech influencers are actively writing, talking, researching, publishing, speaking and pontificating about niche areas of market movements in various facets of the tech industry.

Once you’ve solidified your list and as you start to track influencers, look around at their omnichannel online and offline footprints to determine how best to follow and engage with them. See where they’re speaking and what live industry events they are the most excited about attending. Keep an eye out for mentions of colleagues also playing in the space, as well as industry forums, groups and communities in which they are active players. Understand what they are passionate and what makes them tick. Join any TweetChats or LinkedIn Groups they are actively involved in. Check out guest blog posts, contributed articles, interviews, podcasts, videos, websites and any other avenues for which these target influencers are actively contributing, posting or sharing.

Listen!
Understand their pet peeves, likes and dislikes. Read their tweets and posts. Favorite them to show your support. Share or retweet them if you like the content. Comment with thoughtful responses to further the conversation, as well as engaging (non-self-serving) questions to take a deeper dive into topics of interest. If they are encouraging feedback, share your personal (professional) experiences with the topic they’re speaking about – you never know, they just may want to connect further to learn more from you for a future story, paper of post. We use social media monitoring tools to help track this and flag opportunities for engagement for our clients. Find the cadence and listening structure that is right for you and fits within your schedule. (Be forewarned, this in and of itself can be a full-time job!)

Engage
The last stop on your rise to becoming a social media guru yourself will be in learning the nuanced and unspoken terms of engagement in the right place, with the right influencers, at the right time, with the right content. Once you’ve mastered this, by sharing your owned, original content frequently (but not too overtly) and sharing others’ content (with the right cadence and the right audiences), you’ll start gaining traction and will eventually earn your stripes with influencers who will start to tag and mention you. At that point, you may want to think about hiring an influencer to help boost awareness of your company. Stepping into a paid social campaign is a whole other ball game, which calls for another conversation, on another blog post at another time. (Luckily for you, we’ve already prepared the initial stepping stones there for you!) Visit our post on how to get started with paid campaigns here.

By Katie LeChase 

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As If a Mile Wasn’t High Enough, 10Fold Keeps Climbing

10Fold initially opened its new office in the heart of Denver’s River North (RiNo) Arts District, a vibrant business scene full of gifted talent. Shortly after a year, the Denver team outgrew our RiNo location and is excited to announce that we’re moving to a larger space in downtown Denver, just a block from Coors Field (map here).

Denver continues to expand its tech hub and startup scene. If the companies and opportunities in the thriving city are not enough to attract talented professionals, the 300 days of sunshine, amazing views of the Rocky Mountains and the fantastic food and brews will. In the last year,  our Denver team has grown nearly 50% and see the sky as the limit.

Speaking of growth opportunities, if you’re looking to explore a career opportunity in business-to-business, public relations for high tech companies or want to advance your PR career with a company that prides itself on professional growth opportunities and stellar culture, we’d love to speak with you! Feel free to reach out and contact us!

Meet the 10Fold Denver Team:

Bart Tillmans: Vice President of Marketing, Operations and Systems
Bart is 10Folds VP of Marketing, Operations and Systems and joined 10Fold in 2014. At 10Fold he is responsible for the continued and time critical operations of all practice services systems and reporting. Prior to 10Fold he worked in many National and International marketing positions for 3Com, Extreme Networks, Enterasys and Juniper Networks.

Sarah Thorson: Account Director
Sarah is an award-winning communications professional with 15 years of agency and in-house experience specializing in managing strategic marketing and communications initiatives for business-to-business technology companies.

Kimberly Diesel: Senior Account Manager
Kimberly has more than eight years of agency experience developing and implementing strategic communications, media relations and social media plans that support internal marketing goals and exceed client metrics.

Jackie Daane: Account Manager
Jackie has more than eight years of strategic communications experience in B2B tech verticals working with clients of all sizes, from Fortune 500 companies to entrepreneurial start-ups, to help drive sales objectives through media relations and content creation to support internal and external audiences.

Jake Kasowski: Senior Account Executive
Jake has more than four years of experience in media relations and strategic communications in B2B and B2C tech verticals with companies of various sizes, from early- and late-stage startups to seasoned tech companies. Jake has helped develop and execute communications campaigns for company and product launches, funding announcements, acquisitions and IPOs. Before joining 10Fold, Jake worked with clients in cleantech, telecommunications, aerospace, fintech and security industries.

Danielle Johannes: Senior Account Associate
Danielle has been with 10Fold for nearly a year. Danielle is responsible for supporting clients’ speaking and award programs, providing supporting documents, researching industry trends, managing social media and conducting media outreach, across enterprise software, security, big data, AI and IoT industries.

Abby Nolan: Intern
Abby joined the 10Fold team in September 2018 as an intern in the Enterprise practice. Abby received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in marketing from the University of Colorado Denver. She brings extensive writing and social media experience to the team.

Whether you head up marketing for a complex, technology company or you may want to find your home with 10Fold in the future, stop by and meet our expanding team!

Read the full press release here: 10Fold Launches Sixth Office to Keep Pace with High Demand for Integrated Communications

Enjoy your read? Check out our other content here.

By Danielle Johannes 

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B2B Product & Service Comparison Sites: The Major Players

In our first post in this blog series on crowdsourcing the evaluation of B2B product and service providers, we made the case that B2B companies are very much seeking a “Yelp”-type resource to help them understand which technologies are worth their investment. In that post, we examined Gartner Peer Insights and determined that the site is without question one of the best resources currently out there. In this post, we’ll take a deep dive into a handful of the other sites that are currently gaining popularity amongst B2B technology buyers.

Taking a step back, companies are increasingly clamoring for these comparison sites because the foundational technology infrastructure that helps a B2B company run its business – servers, storage appliances, networking gear, etc. – requires investments ranging from tens of thousands of dollars to millions, so making the wrong purchase can be costly. And the same is true for services most B2B companies invest in, including subscriptions with research and analyst firms (Gartner, IDC, Forrester, etc.) – which can each carry a price tag of $50,000 or more.

So, while Gartner Peer Insights looks to be the clear leader in the space, following is an overview of some of the other emerging sites that are making noise:

G2 Crowd
Billing itself as “real-time and unbiased user reviews help you objectively assess what is best for your business,” G2 Crowd’s review platform leverages nearly 500,000 independent and authenticated user reviews for more than 1.5 million buyers each month. The site offers reviews for a very wide range of B2B software, including CRM, content development, security and CAD, and also provides review of B2B services – such as branding agencies, IT outsourcing and on-demand staffing.

Perhaps indicative of G2 Crowd’s ambitions to take market share from the “Big 3” analyst firms (Gartner, IDC and Forrester), the site also provides research reports. The Grid and Index Reports are released on a quarterly basis, and rank products based on reviews gathered from G2 Crowd’s user community, as well as data aggregated from online sources and social networks.

Capterra
Capterra’s tagline is “software selection simplified,” and the site features more than 500,000 validated user reviews. And if G2 Crowd’s range of software reviews is wide, then Capterra’s selection is G2 Crowd “on steroids” – with more than 600 software categories!

In addition, just like G2 Crowd, Capterra offers independent research – although not in the form of detailed reports along the lines of a Gartner Magic Quadrant or Forrester Wave, but rather collections of reviews and guides loosely coupled together under a “resources” banner.

Product Hunt
While G2 Crowd and Capterra appear to position themselves against Gartner Peer Insights to grab a slice of the B2B pie, Product Hunt has more of a developer focus. The site describes itself as “a place for product-loving enthusiasts to share and geek out about the latest mobile apps, websites, hardware projects, and tech creations.”

Backed by Y Combinator, Product Hunt has users submit products, which are listed in a linear format by day. The site includes a comments system and a voting system similar to Hacker News or Reddit, and the products with the most votes rise to the top of each day’s list.

With its voting-based system and major focus on consumer products, Product Hunt is likely not the first stop the average B2B technology buyer would make when evaluating all products – but it may serve as a good barometer of the types of technologies used by developers.

CNET
CNET positions itself as “the world’s leader in tech product reviews, news, prices, videos, forums, how-tos and more.” CNET is as much a publication as a product comparison site, and its reviews tend to lean towards the consumer than the B2B buyer – with the majority of reviews focusing on gadgets such as phones, cameras, headphones, etc.

CNET’s consumer focus likely means it’s not a “must-visit” destination for a B2B buyer – but the fact that it offers news on the B2B tech sector may make it an attractive additional resource for B2B tech shoppers.

So, there you have it – four resources that offer the B2B buyer varying degrees of insight into the products and services available to them (in addition to Gartner Peer Insights). Clearly, the market understands that B2B technology buyers do indeed benefit from crowdsourced reviews and research, and in the final blog post in this series, we’ll examine some of the lesser-known sites that might be diamonds in the rough. Stay tuned!

By Drew Smith 

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PR Hot Take – The Age of IoT in Media

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a technology phenomenon that is changing the market landscape and growing at an exponential rate. Trillions of dollars are already funnelled into IoT development each year, and that amount is forecasted to increase each quarter. IoT brings with it a wealth of market opportunities for everyone, almost no industry is untouched by IoT. With such a focus on IoT, it’s only fitting that the media leaps at the chance to leverage commercial IoT specifically, essentially causing a media evolution.

The question becomes, what does this mean for PR pros and their clients? Who’s who in the commercial IoT media game? Which topics, specifically, are they covering?

To answer these and other questions, we took a snapshot of the media landscape over the past three and a half months and have some interesting insights.

Background
Commercial IoT sits somewhere in between the IoT tech that connects consumer products (like our refrigerators) and industrial IoT (like connecting the machines manufacturing cars). Commercial IoT relates to those technologies that play an organizational role in society as opposed to a consumer-oriented or infrastructural one. Some examples include smart street lighting or connected car platforms that tell us when our car is due for service appointment. This means that media coverage of commercial IoT falls into both trade and business publications. So let’s get to the point: who’s covering commercial IoT?

When digging into researching commercial IoT coverage opportunities, we first identified keywords that the media uses. In our research, we identified eight search terms to narrow media commentary down from all IoT technology into only commercial applications. “IoT” and “commercial IoT” were the key phrases used. Of course, using general IoT could potentially yield both industrial and consumer IoT results, so those articles were filtered out. Other terms we included focused on commercial IoT applications, like “smart cities” and “smart buildings.” (It’s also good practice to include these phrases “+IoT”). Other commercial IoT applications to consider are “retail+IoT” and “real estate+IoT.”

We took these eight keywords and used Google News, TechNews and Meltwater to plot out a  90-day timeline of all coverage spanning from June through September 2018. From the selected time period, we pulled a snapshot of articles that covered our selected topics. Although we can’t guarantee we were able to pull every single piece of coverage, we did find more than 100 relevant articles. We then categorized them by date, publication, offered a qualitative assessment to categorize the article as a feature or a brief, and then we evaluated the type of publication – looking at trade and business publications.

Just for clarification —  at 10Fold we categorize briefs as articles that mention our keywords in three paragraphs or fewer. Features are articles that include content in more than three paragraphs. To separate trade and business press, publications are differentiated based on their audiences and their style of coverage (for example Forbes writes stories that demonstrate business impact for business audiences, whereas Datanami writes technology stories for CIOs and technical architects).  

Who’s Who and What’s What in Commercial IoT Media
Based on our snapshot, below is the coverage separated by publication.

This pie chart absolutely demonstrates that a lot of publications, both business and trade, are covering commercial IoT. This charts also shows us that there are a lot of publications covering commercial IoT, in fact, over 60 publications just based on this research. This means that there are a variety of options when it comes to article placement and lots of opportunities for placement.

Forbes seems to have the largest share of this pie. So think big. Landing a placement in Forbes is a huge accomplishment for any public relations professional. Its relative dominance in the media landscape means that commercial IoT must be a topic worth covering. However, the more interesting note is that, after Forbes, the majority of articles are written by trade publications such as  IoT For All, Information Age and ZDNet.

So let’s break those down too:

Owned content in this regard refers to contributed articles from outside companies or staff featured in publications. Vertical publications specifically refer to trade press beyond technology (real estate or retail, for example). You can see that trade publications dominate, with over 50 percent of the articles in our snapshot. Seeing that owned content is low, it’s reasonable to infer that commercial IoT is a big enough deal that media outlets aren’t hunting for content, and a reporter may take your interview!

It is also important to note that there is a fair amount of business press coverage on this topic, and in our experience, business coverage is almost always better in the eyes of your clients!

But let’s revisit those keywords. How does our snapshot break down? Why is that even important? Well, take a look at this chart:

We can see that including “IoT” in the search seems to reveal even more results. This is significant for two reasons: the first being that IoT is a buzzword for media. You could infer from this that including “IoT” in pitches might be an effective tool to capture  the attention of reporters. The other insight? Verticals are a big part of commercial IoT, including retail, real estate and smart cities. Relating IoT news to these topics makes it appealing to media that cover vertical applications.

The Role of Social Media
Social media will absolutely amplify your Commercial IoT coverage.  So let’s talk Twitter, one of the most accessible and common social platforms for public relations plans. We looked into which companies, people and media outlets play the greatest role in the commercial IoT social sphere. Like the media share of voice, we took a quick snapshot of commercial IoT on Twitter. For the purpose of this project, we used Kred’s influencer score, which uses an algorithm to assess how frequently accounts are Retweeted, Replied to, Mentioned and Followed on Twitter to rank each account as a number between 1-1000.

Based on our research, the top individual Twitter user talking about commercial IoT is Dr. Ganapathi Pulipaka, PhD (@gp_pulipaka), who currently works at Confidential. An established data scientist, Dr. Pulipaka has an influencer score of 823. His influence is due in part to his over 45,000 followers. The next top Twitter influencer is Dominic Halpin (@domhalps), the founder of TechNative, a business technology publication focusing on product news, user reviews, research, survey results, and interviews with digital business thought leaders. His influencer score is 806, and he has over 34,000 followers. These two Twitter users could be valuable assets for tech companies that want to engage their audiences on social media and boost their own influence within the IoT technology community.

As for the highest-influence companies talking about commercial IoT, IBM Developer (@IBMDeveloper) is number one, with an influencer score of 865. With over 90,000 followers, IBM Developer has a significantly higher follower count than the second highest influencer, TechNative. TechNative (@TechNativeWire) coincidentally relates to Dominic Halpin, our second most influential individual Twitter user. TechNative has an influencer score of 813 and just over 38,000 followers. From this, we can assume that engaging TechNative as a company and Dominic Haplin as an asset of that publication may improve social metrics.

But perhaps just as important as social influencers is hashtag traction. Hashtags alert audiences to topics they are interested in, and are a proven way to increase followers and encourage engagement. We broke down commercial IoT into three categories to search for popular hashtags: general IoT, smart city IoT and real estate IoT. Here’s what we found using Keyhole.co, a site that calculates the number of posts and number of unique users detected using a hashtag within the last two weeks:

Notable is that the top two hashtags are the same for all three categories. This means that #IoT and #blockchain are probably used together. As a public relations company, this means that it’s possible to leverage one of these hashtags in order to strengthen association with the other. Tech companies should be utilizing these topics together since it’s already expected by the Twitter-sphere. What’s important to take away from the above chart is that #IoT is significantly more present than other hashtags. As a side note, this #IoT could easily be applied beyond the realm of commercial IoT, but it is nearly impossible to reasonably distinguish the categories of usage. What’s important, though, is that #IoT is so present that companies need to utilize it in order to stay relevant.

So, what does all this mean?
The media landscape for commercial IoT is developing at a rapid rate due to the acceleration of the application of the technology. Based on our research, there are plenty of opportunities for coverage in both the business press and trade press. By following the insights about publications and reporters, and using keywords and hashtags – PR professionals should have a field day delivering commercial IoT coverage and building social audiences.  

By Chelsey Crowne  and Morgan Eisentstot 

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Why Every Media Interview Should be Treated Like You’re on TV!

As we continue the countdown to our 8th Annual Media SharkTank event – where leading tech-company C-level execs will have the chance to pitch a blockbuster lineup of business and broadcast press from the likes of the New York Times, Barron’s, Associated Press, FOX and NBC to name a handful – we would like to suggest how to “bait your hook” to reel in the sharks on October 25 (or any media for that matter, whether or not you are participating this year).

Here’s an insider tip to prepare to present at SharkTank – a tip that can be universally applied to almost any media interaction – just pretend like you’re on TV, really!  And the good news is you don’t always have to get dressed up or wear make-up (which are absolute necessities for broadcast showtime) – as these same tips also apply to the most common of business press interactions – the phone interview.

Whether the final media format is print or online, or TV, radio or a podcast, these top five pointers work like a charm.  Note: these tips are what most good broadcast media trainers will tell you, and I am here to say these “broadcast” tips work just as well for almost any media interaction whether you’re on the CBS Evening News or landing a story in The Wall Street Journal.

  1. Speak in sound bites – on TV, “real estate” is finite, and reporters have to tell an entire story (what is known in broadcast news as a “package”) in 60-90 seconds, so you need to deliver catchy sound bites in 15 seconds or less. And do you think a New York Times reporter would love the same thing?  You better believe it! It is not uncommon for big-time business press reporters to immediately cease an interview after they hear that one awesome quote to round out their story – so be succinct.
  2. Use cocktail party lexicon – with a television audience typically representing almost every demographic of society, you need to use conversational, easy-to-understand language that caters to your “lowest common denominator.” Explain something as if you were just meeting someone at a cocktail party for the first time – who is not in the technology field – and you had to convey your complex, geeky tech solution in really basic language. Strike tech marketing jargon like “scalable” and “disruptive” from your verbal dictionary before you take control of the microphone!
  3. Provide vivid visuals to wow your audience – when preparing for broadcast news, you need to offer reporters and producers several “b-roll” ideas for their stories (because as beautiful or handsome as you are, they want more than your mugshot on the air). The same holds true for business press reporters who are also looking for digital photos, graphics, and images to complement their stories (not boring PowerPoint slides!). As the saying goes “a picture is worth a thousand words,” so think about your visuals that can really bring your story to life – whether on CNN or the cover of Forbes!
  4. Humanize your story – to be relatable is to be likeable, so you need to really connect with your viewing audience on TV and relate to business press reporters by sharing your story in a way that matters to them. When practicing your narrative before “showtime,” put your story through the filter of “what’s in it for them” – this will quickly make you pivot from a feature-centric message (where you are pontificating about your spiffy patented technology) into a benefit-rich story that impacts “everyday Joe” and helps to truly make a difference in people’s lives. If you can’t share customer stories on the record, use analogies or hypothetical use cases to convey the major impact your product has in society today and well into the future.
  5. Talk like a Toastmaster – while Toastmasters has been around for nearly 100 years (founded in 1924), the public speaking club still offers sage advice that you can take with you into every media interview – whether on NBC News live from Rockefeller Center or meeting with Fortune magazine in Manhattan or pitching a 10Fold Media SharkTank judge in San Francisco this month. One of Toastmaster’s most profound tips for all spokespeople to keep in mind: tell the reporter what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them!

If you keep in mind these five tips – whether for broadcast, print or online business press media – chances are most reporters will take your story “hook, line, and sinker,” and eventually lead to a “whale of a tale” on the evening news or front page of the newspaper!

By Ross Perich

Is My PR Program on Track? 7 Key Tells

As Yogi Berra famously said: “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going because you might not get there.”  Clearly, it’s critical that both you and your agency know what you’re aiming for.

What does your C-suite or Board and investors expect? Have you agreed KPIs with your key stakeholders so that there’s no mystery about what you are collaborating with the PR agency to achieve. If you’re a marketing professional, this is not always straightforward – how can you track the PR results to your quota of marketing qualified leads (MQL)? Depending on the company stage, focus and makeup of the marketing department, the answers to these questions could vary widely.

Below are seven ways to know that your partnership is working:

Sales has plenty of “air cover” – Are sales reps knocking on your door with industry articles mentioning competitors in-hand, demanding why your company isn’t featured in them, as well? While some industries are “hotter” than others and generate more media coverage, your PR team should be working to ensure that there is a steady stream of articles that your sales team can share with prospects.

Your company’s share of voice is improving vis-à-vis key competitors – Every company has competitors, and nothing sticks in the craw of an executive more than seeing those competitors in the news much more often than their company. If you’re a David in a field of Goliaths, it may not be immediately possible to outpace competitors in sheer quantity of media coverage, but your PR team can help you identify areas where you can compete – specific key terms, for example – and measure that quarter over quarter.

When your product sector is mentioned, your solution is often referenced – We often work with innovative companies that want to define a new sector or market category. But even first-movers can get eclipsed by noisy upstarts that come after them. The PR team should monitor the news carefully, track reporters who are following your market category and make sure that they receive frequent updates and are briefed on company news. The more that key industry reporters mention your company, the more likely that the wider tech and business press audience will pick up that your company is a key player.

Industry analysts invite your company to participate in critical industry reports – For any technology company selling to enterprises, engaging with industry analysts should be a component of the marketing strategy. Large analyst firms, like Gartner and Forrester, directly advise enterprise buyers on creating shortlists and defining the requirements for RFPs, etc. Boutique or niche analyst firms can advise on specific technology sectors and assist with marketing and PR efforts. Either way, proactively engaging with analysts will ensure that your company is invited to key reports, magic quadrants, market guides, etc. that serve as guides to prospective buyers.

Kudos from the board and C-suite – While we work most directly with marketing or communications roles, it may be hard to know exactly how the PR efforts are being recognized at senior levels within the company. Getting a compliment or “thank you” from the C-suite is a clear message that our work is on target.

Metrics you agreed with the PR agency on are met – Do you get to the end of the quarter and realize that your big launch has been pushed back (again) and there’s not much media coverage to show in your quarterly report to your boss? While it takes two to tango, your PR team should be working with you closely to ensure that serious gaps in coverage don’t undermine the success of the team. If the metrics you agreed upon a few months back are no longer reasonable, the PR team should bring ideas to the table that will generate valuable results for the company.

Your PR team is part of the integrated marketing team – The PR team is a critical “listening” group that has a finger on the pulse of how media and analysts are covering your industry. If you feel that PR pros can add value to your content calendar meetings and marketing strategy discussions, chances are they not only get what you’re aiming for as a business,  but have shown that they can bring creative and realistic ideas to the table to help you achieve your goals. When you feel that you are truly working in partnership with the PR team – you’re definitely on the right track.

Organizations vary widely in how much marketing support they have, what the C-suite cares about and what tools you can leverage to meet your unique goals. The above points are useful indicators to getting – and staying – on track for a successful company/PR agency relationship.. If you’re struggling to trust your team or don’t see the results you were expecting – it may be time to have a constructive conversation about how to re-orient the relationship to meet your goals.

By Caitlin Haskins 

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Where is our Business Press Coverage?

Building a strong brand is an essential element in the formula for achieving business success.  Having “an industry footprint” is important, irrespective of your industry, company size or location. While there are many approaches to building a brand, one of the fastest, and most effective is generating coverage in top-tier business media.  But that’s not easy.

That’s why 10Fold created Media SharkTank – on the premise that you’ll learn more about pitching your company if a half dozen members of the top-tier business media are sitting in front of you, reacting to your pitch, and providing suggestions for scoring coverage in their publications.

This event has had such a great impact that we are now celebrating eight years of bringing business press together with company executives.  With that, I want to share a few observations about how the business media landscape has shifted, and what drives a good story – even as the process, preparation, and delivery required for a strong pitch have remained constant.

“Cool Vendors” are cool, but not yet great
Smart business reporters are hungry to find vendors that are driving trends, and not just riding those trends.  And what client does not want to be mentioned as a trend driver by Fortune, or Barron’s, or CNBC?  So, winning a Cool Vendor mention in a Gartner report, or in a story in Fortune, Forbes or Bloomberg is an accomplishment.  But a little perspective:  If your company is one in 50 named a Cool Vendor, that’s good, but it’s not monumental to this crowd, unless, for example, you’re the only wireless vendor on the list.

Also consider that a cool vendor may have “all the right stuff” to be great, but there’s a deep chasm between potential and true greatness.  I’ve represented cool vendors that got my clients past the business editor’s first filter.  The remaining filters will be focused on how the company has used the potential to create a business event – meaning that they have used their vision to save companies in automotive millions of dollars, or they have reduced the cost of healthcare insurance by billions across America or they will transform the way giant industrial companies collect and analyze data – having a trillion dollar impact on the industrial world.  Simply put: members of the business press don’t like to speculate on what might happen – they far prefer what has happened.

The “What’s Hot” list of technologies is . . . well . . . hot!
There’s no end of industry lists, it seems.  After all, lists drive page views, they’re concise, and they’re memorable.

But there’s been a not-so-subtle shift in the significance of the “Hottest Technologies” lists that dominate business, tech, and scientific publications.  Some business reporters may only cover AI and machine learning – currently two of the hottest technologies, whereas others may almost exclusively focus on driverless vehicles or be assigned to “big company beats” such as Google, Facebook, Amazon or Uber.

But where does that leave you if you’re in the data storage space?  Dig deeper, and, chances are, you will find that nobody covers data storage at the publication you’re pursuing.  But persistence pays, and it may require only a Google search.  For example, search on “Forbes AND data storage,” and you’ll find that a respected industry analyst with 35 years in data storage also acts as a contributor to Forbes.  See a recent story here.

Never give up, even if hot technologies are winning.  I can imagine a killer story angle that links storage, AI and analytics – and no doubt you already have.  So go out and pitch that story!

Dig In: Sean Captain – Media Sharktank is a chance to clear many waters

And remember that the business media still prize any company that is disrupting major markets, picking up market share, and winning business at the expense of entrenched vendors.  The storage industry, for example, is an industry ripe for disruption.  That’s their stock in trade, and it’s not going to change anytime soon.

Good things come to those who persist
It’s common knowledge that proactively generating feature business coverage can take six months or more to secure, start to finish.  Even the first interaction – the icebreaker meeting — doesn’t come easy.  Today, business reporters and editors simply can’t take the time for a meet-and-greet, when they have a quota of feature pieces to write each week, in addition to breaking news.  They want the whole story, in a nutshell — they want disruption, they want validation, and they want proof as in customers.

Let’s face it, in the thinning ranks of business reporters, few are industry specialists.  They still need education, they need assurance that they’re getting the straight story, they want to connect with visionaries, and they want to talk to customers. Often industry research and reports your company has backed, or played a role in, can come in handy. Then, if it all feels right, the business reporter may even ask for an exclusive.

OK, no surprises so far, right?  What’s new is that an indirect approach to coverage is sometimes the set-up piece that may grease the skids for feature coverage at a later date. A simple Google search can reveal that some start-ups or up-and-comers are first getting coverage in contributed content submitted by a hired-gun writer – typically an industry insider (such as a former industry analyst) whose role is to demonstrate how the company is an innovator and is set to change an industry.  Business publications trust industry insiders because they been vetted for their knowledge and can demonstrate a successful track record of credible articles.

Although you are, undoubtedly, the best person to tell your story, you won’t have near the impact that a third-party expert will have with influential business press.

As a recap, follow this advice for securing business press coverage:

  1. Look well beyond the potential of a company, and ensure you have facts and anecdotes about the real business impact your company is having.
  2. Don’t despair because you aren’t on the “cool kids” list – there are plenty of older industries that experience exciting disruptions – you’ll just have to dig deeper.
  3. Your entree into the business press may not be the traditional way – that is, sitting for a story with a well-known reporter. It may be the clever alternate route of working with a technical industry expert that serves as a bridge for you into the business press.

If you’d like to know more, please consider joining 10Fold at SharkTank – this year it will be on October 25th at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, take a look at whom you could be pitching live and in-person at Media SharkTank.

By Gary Good 

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Finding a Great Fit with a Tech PR Agency

It’s fall, and it’s the time of year when many companies are building new budgets and considering hiring, or making changes, with their marketing and PR agencies in preparation for the new year. Not unlike updating a wardrobe, it’s important to find the right fit at the right price. Maybe you’ve outgrown your existing partner, or maybe this is the first time you have had the budget to hire an agency. In any case, if you are in the market to hire a tech PR or marketing agency, know there are (at least) three key common mistakes companies make when selecting an agency, including:
NO FOLD ICON 15x15 Narrowing search criteria to only agencies that have worked with big corporate giants (believe it or not, some of the expensive brands may not fit as well as you would hope);
NO FOLD ICON 15x15 Not prioritizing what’s most important in your program is like spending too much on button-down shirts and having no money left for the winter coat; and
NO FOLD ICON 15x15 Setting your budget artificially low for your PR and marketing partner is like buying a pair of pants on sale, but two sizes too small, in the hopes you will lose weight. Find a partner you trust to deliver the services you need.

Big Brands, Big Budgets
While not an absolute, it’s safe to assume that if the agencies you talk to mention only big brand names on their client list, they are also used to having large budgets to work with. Companies commanding a large share of voice spend a minimum of $25,000 per month and frequently spend $100,000 per month (or more) to dominate the industry narrative. Unless you are prepared for this level of monthly retainer, you may not want to shop in the designer section.

And, just because an agency is working with a tech superstar today, it doesn’t mean that same agency built that company’s share of voice and industry footprint. Rather than simply being dazzled by the logo on the slide, ask questions about when they began working with the company and what the company’s share of voice was at the time. Know their budget and the results they got that company – and ask how long it took them to achieve those results. And, ask if the same team members on that superstar account will also be on your account. Agency knowledge doesn’t necessarily transfer between team members.

Dig In: Sean Captain – Media SharkTank is a chance to clear many waters

Now, don’t get me wrong, 10Fold has worked with some tech superstars throughout the years (and we naturally love to brag about them – take AppDynamics or Nimble Storage, for example). The important thing to know is that we worked with them from the beginning – and starting out their budgets were much smaller.

To make a sound decision, compare your budget to the average client budget for that agency. If they match, move forward – and if they don’t, keep looking.

No agency can be all things to all clients, and when priorities are clear, agencies with integrity will bow out if the requests don’t match their capabilities. Click To Tweet

Knowing What You Want is 90% of the Battle
It’s hard to choose an agency when the agencies say the same things. Most agencies have honed their pitches to cover their bases – that’s why it’s really important to be specific about what you are looking for. And this is especially true if your budget is limited. No agency can be all things to all clients, and when priorities are clear, agencies with integrity will bow out if the requests don’t match their capabilities.

As an example, we recently replaced an agency where priorities had been unclear. The encumbent had exclusively focused on getting mentions of the CEO in business press articles focused on corporate culture. The client had originally agreed that business press was important, but after six months, the client realized the agency lacked the technical depth to secure articles about their technology that would be meaningful to their buyers. The previous agency had no clue that what they were delivering wasn’t matching expectations. Almost any and all visibility can be helpful, especially when you are just starting out – but it is important to decide what you really want, so the agency can have impact.

Also, make sure your proposed agency spend is directly aligned with that specific priority. If you must command 60 percent of the share of voice in application monitoring solutions, then make sure 60 percent of your spend is on media programs and verify that with your agency partner. Understanding how the agency will address your goals and objectives is key. What has the agency agreed to do for the budget? Are they offering you guarantees about the outcomes? Think about calculating a price per deliverable based on their proposal and make sure the value they propose aligns with yours. We recommend focusing on fewer services, so that there are meaningful results for each program and less fragmentation of the team. Savvy shoppers know to take an inventory of their current wardrobe before a shopping trip, and likewise you should know what is included in your agency budget and then align those results to the way you are being measured internally.

Trust is the Best Way to Build an Agency Relationship – Don’t Be Tempted by “A Deal”
When faced with a decision between agencies, it’s easy to get tempted by a low monthly retainer. Just like the loud sweater you bought on impulse at the half-off sale, you may regret picking the cheap agency. Cheap usually translates to a lot of work on your part. One agency we replaced was described as “such a deal” when they were originally selected until the marketing exec realized that they were sending speaking plans with simply the names and dates of conferences, with no other context (such as audience size or titles that attend, or even sponsors). If your bonus (or even job) is dependent on your ability to produce great visibility, find an agency you trust.

As you likely know from your own recruiting program, great talent is not cheap, and the same is true for agency staff. And, agency spend is not just staffing, it’s also the expenses associated with research and reporting tools to deliver the great service that most savvy marketing execs are expecting. If you are buying at a lower price point, then set your expectations accordingly. Get to know and trust the team for deliverables, and make sure those agreements are clear.

Dig In: Is it Time for Media Training? Three Questions to Test Your Media Savvy

Ask any agency you are considering which tools they use,  and ask them for sample reports. Also ask to meet the key staff allocated for your account so you can understand each of their roles and responsibilities,  and ask for examples of results they have achieved for others similar to your company.

Simply put: the staffing and overhead costs cannot exceed the budget. If an agency spends more to deliver service then it makes, it’s a recipe for bad business.

Fall means more than just colder weather and wardrobe changes. It means every tech marketing executive is expected to produce a budget and some may choose to revisit their ongoing agency relationships. If you are making changes in your PR firm, then think carefully about how you will make the decision and remember these simple tips:
NO FOLD ICON 15x15 Big client logos frequently translate to big budgets. Determine if your spend fits nicely within the agency’s parameters.
NO FOLD ICON 15x15 Prioritize your “must have outcomes” and verify the agency can deliver on those. Ask for case studies of companies similar to yours that demonstrate the capabilities you need.
NO FOLD ICON 15x15 Don’t fall for “a deal” – build trust and align agreements to your budget.

Happy shopping!

By Susan Thomas

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SnapChat for B2B Tech – Say What?

Since its release in 2011, SnapChat has been known as a fun way for young people to goof around and send non-committal messages to their friends. The platform is based on the idea of a 24-hour cycle – no image lasts longer than a day. Nothing you post will last forever, a conundrum that has been a staple of the Internet since its beginning, plaguing those who’ve made poor decisions in the past.  Of course, SnapChat isn’t just for the individual user. Numerous consumer brands use the channel to engage with current and potential customers, using the same tactics that SnapChat was invented for – to have a lot of fun and then move on.

‘Well that makes sense,’ you say, ‘but it’s hardly applicable for serious B2B technology companies looking to build relationships and brand awareness with customers and prospects. Surely vendor companies selling to business audiences are not on SnapChat, right? I mean, why would they bother?’

The SnapChat Difference
Think about this: companies are not people themselves, but they are made up of people. Individuals. SnapChat has over 180 million users every day. It’s safe to assume that at least some portion of these users work for companies that are clients or potential clients of B2B companies. Bloomberg even claims that SnapChat has more active users than Twitter.

The demographics on SnapChat might, in popular culture, appear to be just teenagers, but research shows that 41% of all 18- to 34-year-olds in the U.S. use SnapChat daily. So while SnapChat’s primary users might be perceived as teens below 18, a large portion of users are older and are starting their careers in a variety of industries.  This is not that different from the Facebook effect where social pass-along or sharing of media coverage by individuals being written about or quoted in the news makes the channel a major amplifier of earned media coverage.

Beyond the numbers game (considering an account is free to create and has the benefit of these high audience numbers), SnapChat offers special features that can improve engagement. With geofilters and the 24-hour rotation, SnapChat is positioned to offer new opportunities for B2B companies. These features can keep companies relevant with trends, able to cycle new posts every day, and be in the know with hot topics from filters that often have nods to pop culture like movies and music festivals.

Making a SnapChat account is easy enough. Knowing how to use it is a whole other beast to tame. Consider three major uses for SnapChat: integrated communications, engagement, and recruiting.

Integrated Communications
This seems like an obvious one, but consider the value from SnapChat when used as part of an integrated campaign. Cross-channel promotion is one of the strongest benefits SnapChat offers. B2B companies can post with tags that lead viewers to other social platforms like Twitter or Facebook.

Building one-on-one conversations with users, regardless of where they are., means B2B companies can engage decision makers and innovative thinkers anytime, anywhere. You can showcase your products, your company, your tech, your people as an individual experience for each viewer.

Demoing your product becomes a personal experience too. SnapChat can offer video demos that aren’t stale. These videos act as live action demos. Users opt in to engage with the demo by way of simply watching it.

Consider the last time your B2B company sent out a press release. It goes out online and reaches reporters and analysts. But it’s a slow go. You have to wait for stories to be written, wait for briefings to happen. SnapChat gives you the chance to fill that time immediately. You can post brief interviews about the press release, share a  video of it officially going over the wire, showcase the product or service or partnership that’s at the center of your release. SnapChat integrates the instant feedback loop of social media with the traditional style of reporter outreach and pitching.

You can even schedule your posts with StoryHeap, just like you’d use Hootsuite for other social. You’ll not only be able to time your posts but you can archive your stories and access analytics like views, screenshots, open rate and complete rate. That means that you can have a social plan that utilizes the quirkiness of SnapChat with the momentum of your brand’s current social campaigns.

SnapChat also excels in providing individual viewers with exclusive access not only to product demos but thought leaders. Take Mark Suster (@msuster on SnapChat), a VC with Upfront Ventures, for example. Suster has invested in a variety of companies and has years of financial and marketing advice in the startup realm to draw from. He uses SnapChat to pass these tips on to an audience of executives, entrepreneurs and anyone who can make a SnapChat account. This one-on-one access provides high level thought leadership in a casual, low-stakes environment. Suster has even kept an archive of his stories at snapstorms.com.

Engagement
Individual potential clients can be a part of the daily operation of a B2B company through exclusive interviews, insider scoops and event or tradeshow video.

Utilizing geofilters from industry events not only provide the audience with a view into where and how the company is engaging with an industry, but also showcases company observations and insights gained at these events, where not everyone can attend in person. Including insider scoops from these events makes SnapChat, users, who could be current or potential customers, feel included and in-the-know while further establishing your company as a thought leader. Take DocuSign’s (@DocuSignInc on SnapChat) custom geofilter at Domain-Specific Modeling in 2016. Attendees were able to simply add the image overlay to their stories and have bought into the brand’s storytelling. Not only did the user engage with DocuSign but every viewer of their stories – their friends on SnapChat – saw the geofilter too.

Bringing these kinds of events directly to SnapChat users can make them feel like a part of the company’s’ activities in real time. They see where you’re going. They see what you value. They understand your brand as more than just a name. Your enterprise and everyone who contributes to it, projects a personality. Doing things like showcasing your employees or your facilities like IBM (@ibm on SnapChat) did in their SnapChat stories, can make your company feel relevant to viewers. In the B2B world, this can differentiate your company from others who may focus relentlessly on products and engineering specs before they engage and build context for a relationship.

Recruiting
By displaying the daily work of a company, SnapChat can help you showcase your employees as real people. Potential employees get to see what it’s really like to work for your company. You can show – versus simply talking about – company perks, culture and philosophy. Professionals in all stages of their careers can see the value in working for your company.  And who doesn’t have a recruiting challenge these days whether it’s for engineers or masterful marketers.

A great example of this is Cisco’s “WeAreCisco tribe.” This recruiting and careers team took over the Cisco company SnapChat (@wearecisco on SnapChat) in 2016. They kicked it off with a blog post to generate awareness and excitement, providing a preview of what viewers might see. Cisco featured employees at annual events, working in the office and exemplifying the Cisco brand. They had one major goal: showcase what it’s like to work at Cisco and encourage others to work there too.

Beyond reaching potential employees, other professionals in your client target industry can see your business environment. Decision makers at companies that buy B2B services can be recruited as new clients simply by seeing how well a company is run (in addition to the product/service demos, of course).

Using SnapChat as a recruiting channel can break through some of the hype found in the tech world, and help establish your company as an authentic voice. Just like the audience, a B2B company is made of individual people – maybe even SnapChat users themselves – that contribute to the philosophy and the quality of the company.

B2B Opportunity Awaits
Going to an industry conference or event? Schedule a fun story about the product you’re showcasing. Post live videos of your travels there. Promote your Twitter page that has links to the full press release. Use a local geofilter to show where you are.

The SnapChat benefit is endless. Even for B2B companies. And if you’re not using it yet, it’s time to join. And if you are, we’d love to hear what working for you and lessons learned.  Of course we’d also love to field any questions you may have.

By Morgan Eisenstot

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