Tag Archives: Business Press

The Top Ten Reasons Media SharkTank™ Is a Must See!

I’ve always been a late-night TV talk show fan, and one of my favorite (and arguably the most funny) elements of these shows is the Top Ten Lists the show hosts depend on for laughs. Below are real reasons, delivered with some levity, to consider our eighth annual Media SharkTank.

Side note:  If you don’t know about Media SharkTank, it is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for tech execs to try out a company or product pitch with top US journalists. You’ll get unvarnished feedback without doing any damage to your brand. The interaction is completely “off the record.” You walk away with great tips, maybe a new media relationship, and if you are ready to have the story published, perhaps even coverage!

Reason 1: Practice in Private (for your own protection!).
If you were planning a singing career, would you debut on The Voice? No, you’d probably start in the shower, progress to the school choir, likely hire a voice coach, and then maybe audition for local appearances. Taking a business press appointment without practice is as risky as starting on a big stage without experience. In both cases, without the right approach, you risk your reputation and opportunity for a good review, and more importantly, a “call back.”

Reason 2: Deadlines Become the Inspiration.
Creating a great story for the business and broadcast press is one of those things tech execs always mean to get around to. However, it’s something they rarely think through until (usually) hours before their business press appointment. An event like this prevents procrastination!  It forces tech execs to think through their approach – and as mentioned earlier, practice makes perfect!

Reason 3: The Chances of Meeting 12 High-Caliber Journalists in One Place is About the Same as Winning the Lottery, 12 Times!
Maybe you’ve already had an opportunity to interview with a respected business or broadcast journalist. But did they give you unvarnished feedback on your pitch? Were you wondering why they didn’t include some of your messaging? Was the piece shorter than you anticipated? Did you interview, but not get a quote? Imagine getting feedback from not one or two but eight journalists, and having the opportunity to meet all 12! It’s truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Reason 4: Get a Sneak Peek, and a Jump On Next Year’s Media SharkTank!
It may be too early for you to pitch to the sharks – but it’s never too early to learn what it takes to impress the journalists and get a sneak peek at what the winning pitches sound like! The media judges score every pitch and the top three execs are asked to pitch in front of the crowd, and with this level of insight, you’ll be in the “pole position” to pitch next year. Plus, you’ll get a significant price break.

Reason 5: Money Makers Are in the House!
If 12 top journalists aren’t interesting enough, perhaps the fact that we’ve registered several venture capitalists for the event will get your attention. It’s your opportunity to casually network with people that may be interested in funding your next round!

Reason 6: There Won’t Be a Dull Moment!
Don’t you just hate the awkward pauses at networking events when you’ve run out of conversation starters? “Decent weather lately, huh?” There’s no need to worry about that at Media SharkTank because we’ve got lots of entertainment that supplement the conversations – including TapSnap, a fully customizable photo booth with social media integration that has props, and a caricature artist that can create a fantastic memory for you to take home. We’ve even hired a comedian card shark to entertain you!

Reason 7: Find a Friend.
Let’s face it, it can be lonely at the top – but at Media SharkTank you’ll be among kindred spirits. The top tech execs among large public companies, as well as entrepreneurs of well-funded startups, will all take advantage of this unique opportunity. You might find a great sounding board, or even a business partner, at Media SharkTank.

Reason 8: No-Risk Release.
Planning to announce something new, but not sure what will resonate with the business press? This may be the most economical way to determine if your announcement will play with the business press. Test your announcement with this group and get their assistance in making it work for business audiences. The media make comments and score your pitch based on pre-specified criteria. All of that information is available to you as a participant in Media SharkTank.

Reason 9: Support a Noble Cause.
San Francisco is undoubtedly one of most iconic cities in the world – and that status largely depends on the city’s natural beauty, featuring a gorgeous view of the San Francisco Bay. Honestly, would Tony Bennett have lost his heart in this city if the bay was littered with trash and debris? That’s why we have donated tens of thousands of dollars to San Francisco Bay Keeper, a charitable organization dedicated to keeping the bay clean and safe for its entire habitat!

Reason 10: Did we Mention the Food?
We want to make sure all of our guests are comfortable and well fed – and that’s why the top chefs at the Palace Hotel are planning some amazing food and beverages for our guests. Come for the garlic or sweet and sour chicken wings, truffle fries, salmon or sirloin sliders, the Tahitian Bigeye Tuna Poke, the cheese board, or the New York Cheesecake or chocolate covered strawberries – and a great selection of beverages and wine!

By Susan Thomas

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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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Think Business Press is Mission Impossible?

Commentators and pundits in the media like to point out that times have changed, and that the way to a splashy business feature for your client is not the same today as, say, 3-5 years ago.  To some extent, that’s true, but it’s also beside the point.  There may be a few new rules to observe, and they may complicate your life, but when has that not been true?  So let’s forget all that and focus on the here and now.

Let me share a few observations from my experience with our account teams in scoring coverage in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, WIRED, and other top outlets: such as this Forbes feature on software-testing firm Tricentis, or this WIRED feature on networking technology firm Barefoot Networks.

Tell a story.  One of the top network industry editors recently told a client of mine that “At the end of the day, I’m just a storyteller.”  In fact, the best business and trade editors and reporters are just that!  Those are the folks who either:
NO FOLD ICON 15x15  Take your pitch, envision the storyline behind it and write that story
NO FOLD ICON 15x15  Take your pitch, dump your storyline and write one of their own, or…
NO FOLD ICON 15x15  Reject your pitch.  So, never forget the storyline!  A pitch without a storyline is boring.

Case in point:  too many pitches by PR practitioners neglect to state the problem their client solves, and for whom.  And yet the problem is the core of the storyline!  Neglect it at your peril.  If you don’t know the problem, or can’t articulate it, don’t start pitching until you do.

Find the beat.  The ranks of business editors and reporters have thinned in the last few years, threatening to load more beats on the backs of the remaining staffers.  Those staffers who survive end up with unimaginable loads and responsibilities, which means that fewer and fewer pitches make the cut.  It’s simple math.  Worse yet, your client’s market or technology may fall between reporters’ beats rather than squarely within one, and the inevitable reply to your pitch is “Sorry, not my beat.”  (Left unsaid is this: “And nobody else’s beat either.”)

Too many pitches by PR practitioners neglect to state the problem their client solves, and for whom. Click To Tweet

Well then, it’s time to move on unless you can refashion your story to one the editor wants.  Better yet, take a look at the publication’s roster of contributing writers, one of whom might be a specialist in a topic suitable to your client.  Then go for it!

Find supporting data.  Would you buy a car without examining its “supporting data”?  Or course not.  And you don’t have to.  The sticker on the side window is replete with data.  Nor would a business reporter buy a pitch without supporting data. In the minds of reporters, data equates to either validation or proof – and may give your pitch enough credibility to get past their pitch filter.  A pitch without data is just a bunch of unsupported claims.

But be cautious of the “Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics” rule, and be sure to check your data before publishing it.

News may be irrelevant.  We tend to counsel our clients that news is the route to coverage.  And often it is.  Network-focused trade outlets such as Network World, eWeek, and InformationWeek thrive on news, because many of their readers are product buyers or influencers.  But any respectable business publication thrives on trends.  My clients are in technology, but most business reporters are attuned to markets, not technologies per se.  They don’t have “technology” in their titles, but, to my benefit, they have it in their blood.  They see the trends, they see innovators emerging, and they’re often obsessed with Battle Royals — who’s getting ahead and will dominate, and who will be a relic lost to history in a few years.  The big question for PR pros is not how they can insert their clients into the story, but which clients they can insert.

Trendjacking rules.  Trendjacking is a technique honored by the legions of practitioners who want to associate their clients with a trend or practice that will drive a market ahead.  Will trendjacking drive major feature coverage for your client in the business media?  Not likely. But smart business reporters are hungry to find vendors who 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?  In an industry with a sizable TAM (Total Available Market (multiple millions or billions of dollars), even if your client is mentioned alongside five other companies in the segment, would  you turn down the opportunity?  I’d take that opportunity in a nanosecond!  Think of it this way:  Fortune just named my client as one of a half dozen companies that are leading the way in a multi-billion-dollar industry!

That’s a huge win in itself.  And could that single mention open opportunities for a feature on just your client in the months ahead?  Believe it, and make it happen.  Patience and timeliness are everything.

By Gary Good

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Reaching the High Bar: What Business Press Want From Their Sources

Placement in business press is the gold standard by which your PR efforts are measured. Publications like Forbes, Fortune, Wall Street Journal and others represent a high bar because of their prestige, influence and broad reach. When our clients get a feature in Bloomberg or New York times, it’s usually framed and hung in the office foyer or otherwise worthy of front and center placement on the home page of the company web site.

However, for most clients — especially smaller start-ups – it seems that business press is all but out of reach for anyone not included on the Fortune 500. And there’s a grain of truth to that. For one, unless your name is Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook or the like, there’s little chance that business press will cover any straight product announcements. Meanwhile, business publications – congruent with the media industry in general – are dealing with shrinking staffs that have little time to address the hundreds of pitches they see in their inboxes on a daily basis.

For many of the same reasons, funding coverage – once eagerly sought by business press reporters – is also diminishing. For the last several years, VCs have invested liberally in the start-up community, and as a result, many funding announcements are often deprioritized or ignored altogether by reporters. And while VCs have only recently started to pull back, reporters now seldom cover announcements less than $25M.

So what are business press reporters actually looking for?

They’re looking to tell a story.
A company and/or product by themselves are not interesting. But when placed in the context of a broader trend or story, stand-alone products have the potential garner attention from even the most scrutinizing tier one reporters. When crafting the announcement, ask yourself, what does this mean for the industry? Customers? Is this part an ongoing or more significant story that is unfolding? Could this be a catalyst for change? The release of a cloud storage platform, for example, might actually capture their attention when put in the context of a story on how niche life science firms are adjusting to both storing significantly more data and adhering to new compliance regulations aimed at protecting it. Viewing your story from the lens of a reporter will give you the ability to pre-emptively address their objections while also crafting a narrative that they’ll actually want to write.

They’re looking for simple explanations.
Business press are catering to a broad audience, with the majority of their readers in the business community. While readership may include some technology experts, most will only have a laymen’s understanding of technology industry concepts. Therefore, don’t assume the reporter knows as much as you do about your subject (chances are they don’t). Provide simple and clear narratives, with minimal use of industry jargon. Queue up an elevator pitch that can easily illustrate what your company does in one to two sentences. Break down explanations – even if the journalist has the press release or you think they’re familiar with the topic (simplified explanations will often make the best quotes.) And during the interview, do provide the reporter real-world examples or scenarios that allow them to “see” what you’re explaining. This could be a description of how a security threat halts operations of critical infrastructure that your solution can remediate, or depiction of video systems for sporting events that generate petabytes of data to be stored and secured by your platform. Bolstering your assertions with these kinds of descriptions will ultimately help reporters understand how your product or service will affect the lives of their readers.

They’re looking to build a relationship.
Business press reporters are bombarded with hundreds of pitches every day – the vast majority of which end up deleted because the PR professionals failed to do their due diligence ahead of time. Most pitches are untargeted and blasted out to hundreds of journalists all at once, with little knowledge about, or relevance to, the reporter’s audience. Instead, take the time to get to know a reporter by regularly reading and commenting on their stories, following them on Twitter and LinkedIn, and connecting at tradeshows and events (that’s where 10Fold shines). This up-front investment will soon pay off, even if a story isn’t generated from every interaction. By keeping up this steady cadence, reporters will eventually trust you enough to come to you for a comment or with a story idea. And those relationships are the ones that will last.

By Stefanie Hoffman 

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