Client Experts on the Future of Security

IoT, AI, Offense and (Cyber)Insurance

We are in the midst of a thrilling time in which many of our technological aspirations, from autonomous cars to highly advanced computing devices that fit comfortably in our pockets, are a practical reality. But along with the enhanced capabilities offered to businesses and individuals, comes increased risk.

For instance, IoT technology has helped create devices reminiscent of HAL 9000—but, much like the film character, it can be subject to major flaws. Fortunately, direct physical harm hasn’t been caused yet, but 2017 will surely be the year that cybersecurity stops being a news novelty to becomes a well-understood norm by all. The year to come is the year “cybersecurity” becomes just “security,” for even those outside the industry.

Taking from our all-star security client lineup, here’s what our experts are expecting in the year to come.

 

Affecting Trust

The savviest attackers are moving away from just data theft to targeting data integrity. Longer standing, reputational damage is becoming more common, especially in cases where the involvement of a nation-state is suspected. We’ve already seen these kinds of attacks in M&A scenarios with the Yahoo breaches and during the presidential election.

This kind of attack will continue to gain traction, especially within industries that rely on public confidence like medical facilities and financial institutions. Governments may also fall victim to attacks to spur on distrust in national institutions and processes (e.g. alleged Russian involvement in the presidential election).

Cyber Insurance Matures

Amid the slew of unmanageable threats, organizations will likely continue to increasingly take advantage of cybersecurity insurance. As the underwriting market responds, we can expect the due diligence requirements for underwriting to bolster greater spending on security controls. As such, we can expect security product purchasing decisions to be driven by cyber-insurance companies.

Expect cyber-insurance organizations to develop short lists of vendors and products that must be deployed to be compliant for insurance. CSO/CISOs will be asked by CFOs for these products and purchases may be directed top down if they’re lacking. We can also expect more vendors to offer guarantees and/or their own insurance offerings.

 

Finally Sifting Through Troves of Data

Machine learning and AI have recently come to the forefront across industries for good reason. Human’s cannot parse and make sense of all the data being generated today. Human’s simply can’t scale, work as long or be as detailed oriented like a well crafted and intelligent program, so expect further investments in neural networks and smart technology.

A caveat is that machine learning and AI will also be used for nefarious purposes. Hackers often mimic the same models as their targets for unlawful tools and distribution, often protected by the anonymity of the dark web. Just like machine learning algorithms sift through threat alerts, criminals will start using it to parse the troves of data they steal. Moreover, smart strains for malware (e.g polymorphic and metamorphic) have already entered the scene, capable of intelligently evading detection and even changing is composition to do so.

What do you think we have in store for the year to come?

If you’d like to here more from our experts, join us at Highwire’s third annual RSA Happy Hour—this time in conjunction with the Christian Science Monitor’s security vertical, Passcode, which will conducting live podcast interviews with some our experts.

 

How Bots, Voice Recognition & AI Are Changing the Consumer Tech Landscape

Last week’s CB Insights Innovation Summit focused on how chatbots, voice recognition and the future of AI are changing the tech landscape for consumers today.

Last week’s CB Insights Innovation Summit focused on how chatbots, voice recognition and the future of AI are changing the tech landscape for consumers today.

Last week’s CB Insights Innovation Summit focused on how chatbots, voice recognition and the future of AI are changing the tech landscape for consumers today. CNBC’s Ari Levy interviewed Arthur Johnson (VP Corporate Development and Global Partnerships at Twilio) and Jeremy Liew (Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners)  about how interfaces of the future are changing the ways both consumers and companies interact. Check out some of our key takeaways from the livestream.

You’ve Got to Bring Bots More to Life

At a high level, there are two main types of bots: bots that operate independently with completely automated responses and bots that operate through a messaging platform such as Facebook Messenger. And they aren’t exactly new. Bots have been used for over 10 years in customer service operations. But both Johnson and Liew agreed that in order for companies to build the next generation of successful bots, they must use personalization and a limited domain to compete in the crowded U.S. app landscape.

“There are some interactions that are better suited for bot technology today than others,” said Twilio’s Johnson. “When you have limited domain, controlled environments and customer service interactions, these are better suited for bots. The more complicated interactions may not be suited for bot technology yet, but there is still a lot of promise in this area.”

Bigger companies like IBM, Facebook and Google will have a leg up on AI innovations, but smaller companies can tap into this technology and benefit as well. Multiple industries such as retail, food and healthcare will benefit from the major potential that exists in chatbots technology. For example, if customers can access bots from their favorite stores through social media sites, it will make customer service easier for both customers and retailers.

“In China, we saw WeChat was so successful because the web and apps were kinda crappy as alternative,” said Liew from Lightspeed Venture Partners. “Here in the West, the web and apps are pretty good for most use cases. The way a user is interacting with a customer service rep was better than it was there before. To drive chat, you have to get better.”

Keep an Eye on Voice Recognition

Recently, a lot of companies have tried to make money building AI communication products. Since AI models are difficult to build and train, this task has proven challenging. The panelists noted that Amazon’s Alexa [used to reference Alexa-driven products such as the Amazon Echo] and Google Home are currently leaders in the space. These devices, however, aren’t pocket-friendly. To compensate, developers are making cellphone apps that work with these products.

“These are new modalities that are open to you and these can generate new use cases,” said Liew. “For instance, being able to call an Uber from my Alexa app isn’t a new use case, it’s a new channel of behavior for existing companies.”

Liew mentioned that voice recognition could be the next best platform because you don’t have to use your hands to interact with Alexa or Google Home. Even individuals who have difficulty using apps and web browsers or those that are unable to read and write could benefit. The possibilities are endless.

“It’s eerily scary how natural [communicating with Alexa] is,” said Johnson. “I can talk fast, I can talk slow or even with an accent, but it’s accurate. That’s the secret sauce. I wanted it to remember my preferences and being able to tie all these preferences and different interfaces together will be a special experience.”

Future Concerns Around Security & Usability

Neither Liew nor Johnson mentioned how these devices will be protected from hacking. If an Alexa is connected to multiple devices and gets hacked, what will happen? Will you still be able to use your Nest thermostat and operate your IoT connected garage door opener? Even with the capabilities of connected devices, an attack could cause private information to be leaked.

Usability will also be a major factor for consumers. Neither the Alexa or the Google Home has a screen, which may turn-off some buyers. IoT connected devices also are not cheap. Consumers will also have to decide whether or not there they see value from paying more for a connected device even if it does make their lives easier.

These platforms are the foundation of the future. Voice recognition will influence the way all types of people use artificial intelligence to make everyday tasks easier. As bots become more mainstream, more companies will try to capitalize on the quickly crowding market.

Companies will need to develop unique bots that provide value for customers and avenues for smaller companies to tap into the technology. We’re excited to see how consumers will benefit from these advancements in upcoming years. 

CES 2017: Top Trends, Tips and Tricks

CES 2017

CES 2017 showed us that IoT, autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence are still major conversation drivers.

What were the big trends of CES 2017? IoT, autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence. This year we saw exciting advancements, especially in the IoT. And let’s not forget Alexa, the technology that stole everyone’s hearts. Here are some of the biggest trends we saw this year and the products behind them:

IoT Finally Connects the Dots

For the past few years, IoT devices have dominated the show floor at CES, but this is the first year we saw IoT products actually working together. A novel thought, no? This has always been the vision of IoT but instead of taking the next step in this “connected lifestyle” we’re trying to create, companies have crowded the market with new devices. The amount of integrations we saw with Alexa this year was a bit overwhelming, but it signals we might finally be going in the right direction. Yes, there are still hurdles to jump in IoT– particularly security and interoperability, but CES 2017 demonstrated we’re off to a good start.

Diversity Takes a Front Seat

Diversity has been a hot button topic in the tech space for years, with the criticism of low diversity growth hovering above companies from Google to Microsoft. But CES 2017 proved that we’re taking steps to combat this issue as an industry. A number of female-founded companies presented devices and gadgets geared towards women, including CEO Naomi Kelman of Willow, with a smart breast pump that slides into a nursing mother’s bra and allows for hands free pumping as well as Lea von Bidder of Ava and its fertility-tracking wristband.

The Consumer-Enterprise Crossover

The most impactful products — ones like standout star Amazon Alexa — will not solely be marketed or made for consumer-use, but will begin to offer enterprise use cases, as well. We saw this back in November, when Atlassian ecosystem partner, SoftServe, built out a function to allow Alexa to work with Atlassian’s HipChat platform. We will continue to see this trend as IoT evolves. After all, what worker doesn’t want a personal assistant?

Capturing the Media’s Attention

Whether you’re touting a veteran crowd pleaser or a break out star, the biggest obstacle at CES is getting in front of the right people. For companies attending the show this year, the timing was very difficult. Many members of the media arrived days before it started and left after the first day. But good news! The show dates are a week later: CES 2018 will be held January 9-12 (Tuesday to Friday), which gives us all an extra week to plan. With that in mind, we’ve put together a few tips for rising above the noise:

 

  • Start early: Start pitching press meetings and demos ahead of the show to shrink the competitive landscape. Press are grateful because they often find the show too large to see everything they want. The earlier you can get a product on a journalist’s radar, the better.
  • Pre-shows, pre-shows, pre-shows:  Pepcom, Showstoppers and CES Unveiled are simple solutions for presenting your product to press in an intimate venue. They quiet the noise of CES’s thirty-two thousand plus exhibitors and allow journalists to focus on your product.
  • Get on your feet: Don’t wait for journalists to find you. With over 170,000 attendees, most journalists can’t get through the entirety of CES, even in a full week’s time. You have to find them. Gather a portable version of your product and hit the aisles yourself!

 

Post co-authored by Stephanie Burke, Senior Account Executive, New York

Stephanie Burke is a senior account executive at Highwire PR. Stephanie supports corporate, consumer and enterprise technology clients, with an emphasis on campaign planning, media relations and events execution. From tech startups to today’s biggest brands, Stephanie supports and leads a variety of campaigns focused on building credibility and awareness of both products and brands.

 

 

Chicago Ideas Week at a Glance

What do creativity, navy seals and gender equality all have in common?

Chicago Ideas recently hosted its sixth annual Chicago Ideas Week, a festival that brings entrepreneurs, philanthropists, celebrities and other thought leaders from around the globe together to discuss topics from health to hip hop.

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-2-09-13-pm

Our Chicago team (plus a special guest from the San Francisco office, Celina Poonamallee) attended a few sessions throughout the week. The first being Creativity at Work, which reminded us that creativity is truly at the center of almost every field. A diverse lineup of speakers—including an astronomer, a New York Times reporter and the designer behind Nike’s Air Jordans—explained how they transformed their careers and lives by thinking outside the box.

Our favorite highlight of the session was Jesse Itzler, a millionaire entrepreneur and author of “Living with a SEAL: 31 Days Training with the Toughest Man on the Planet.” To say Itzler has a unique background would be an understatement: He sold his first two companies (to Berkshire Hathaway and Coca-Cola, respectively), ran 100 miles in under 24 hours, is married to the founder of Spanx and started his career as a rapper with his single “Shake It Like A White Girl.” Despite all these accomplishments, Itzler recently found himself functioning on autopilot. Naturally, he invited a Navy SEAL into his home for a month to “shake things up a bit” and then wrote a book about it.
screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-2-09-25-pm

Itzler explained that he sees creativity as a survival skill, a concept that should be familiar to anyone in the tech space. Innovations come to life in Silicon Valley every day. No organization, from legacy companies working towards digital transformation to startups trying to stand out from the crowd, can survive without creative ideas.

Another session, Venture Capital: The Glass Ceiling No One Ever Talks About, put a spotlight on the gender gap that is too often overlooked in today’s market. The panel of women entrepreneurs  moderated by CNN’s Poppy Harlow included some incredible and inspiring women, including Sarah Kunst, founder and CEO of Proday; Beth Haggerty, co-founder of Parity Partners; and Shradha Agarwal, co-founder and president of Context Media.

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-2-09-34-pmThe panel began by describing the issue at hand: Less than 5 percent of all ventures receiving equity capital have women on their executive team. Driven by a natural gender bias, women entrepreneurs have been facing an uphill battle to achieve success compared to their male counterparts. One of the panelists, Shradha, even shared that when she and her business partner began pitching for their first round of funding, she was was asked not to attend the VC pitches in order to avoid the bias and enhance their odds at securing the financing.

This session hit a chord with us, causing us to reflect on how inspiring it is to work for a company founded by three strong women entrepreneurs. Because we are so luckily surrounded by a female-powered culture, it’s easy to forget that this gender gap is a critical issue in today’s society. We learned that to make an impact and change the stereotypes of the future, we need to change the culture. In the words of the panelist, start by simply showing up and speaking up. We need to amplify each other’s voices,both men and women. And we need be confident in our abilities, applaud success and recognize our accomplishments.

Whether it’s instilling some more creativity in our work or making changes to increase diversity and equality, we can all make an impact and implement real change.

What will you do to close the gap or shake things up?

Don’t forget to connect with us on Twitter @HighwirePR and check out @chicagoideas for highlights of Chicago Ideas Week.

Money2020 – The Future is Blockchain, China and Partnerships

“Is there a China play?” was probably the most repeated phrase of Money2020 2016. “Is this built on blockchain?” was likely the second. This year’s conference—by far the biggest of the six held thus far—saw companies like IBM, Google and Microsoft unveil to the world their plans to use the blockchain to reimagine payments ledgers. At the same time, hundreds of startups walked the show floor talking frictionless payments, NFC and China. It’s an exciting time to be in FinTech.

 

Blockchain

While the blockchain isn’t new, 2016 will be remembered as the year it truly went mainstream. Money2020 got off to bang on Sunday night with IBM’s VP of Blockchain leading a conversation around regulating distributed ledger technology. The panel—with participants from across the FinTech, legal and business communities—particularly discussed the question of how to protect consumers without stifling innovation. Of the numerous approaches discussed, the one that most clearly came through was greater transparency and partnership between FIs, the tech space and regulators.

 

But while IBM’s session showed an industry pretty much in lockstep, earlier that day Credit Suisse, NASDAQ and Overstock.com had starkly differing opinions on the commercial utility of blockchain. NASDAQ, which started trialing blockchain ledgers for settlement last year, argued that certain inefficiencies in the equities market could be solved by using elements of the blockchain, a position supported by others on the panel—in particular Credit Suisse. On the other hand, Overstock.com’s Judd Bagley fiercely disagreed. He asserted that the technology would make forensic investigation of settlements “virtually impossible” and that the average processing time of 10 minutes really wouldn’t be all that useful for retailers, especially as the Clearing House shifts to a near-real-time payments infrastructure.

 

China 

On Monday afternoon, the main stage saw Alibaba’s SVP of International Operations, Doug Feagin, followed by Google’s Global Head of Payments Pali Bhat. Unsurprisingly, Alibaba and its payments subsidiary Alipay are bullish on cracking the Chinese payments space, particularly its burgeoning mobile-first middle class. More surprising were Bhat’s comments that Google is “currently exploring ways to play in the market.”

 

Beyond the big players, a huge number of startups and mid-market companies are training their sights on the Chinese. The massive market size and upward economic mobility make it far too tempting a space to ignore. In fact, of the companies that I spoke to, at least three quarters were actively looking to penetrate the market in some way. Perhaps the most interesting of these were POS and payments companies looking to not only expand into China but to use it as a trial market for the U.S and Europe because of its pace of innovation and inclination to adopt new technologies.

 

Partnerships

If the blockchain and China represent the future of finance, then partnerships represent the current reality. In the past year, FIs and FinTechs have realized that they’re actually more alike than they are different—the ecosystem is stronger in unity. As evidenced by partnership announcements from Alipay’s alliances with U.S. and Chinese banks, Santender’s alternative lending approach driven by Kabbage and Lendkey, as well as OFX shoring up its SMB play through a partnership with fellow “down-underer” Xero, Money2020 2016 showed that when there’s money on the table, differences can be put aside.

 

Interested in learning more about Money2020 or what’s next in the FinTech space? Feel free to get in touch with my colleague Kim Paone or me—we’d be happy to chat!

 

What’s Hot in the Enterprise

VMWorld is only days away—sounding off the beginning of the enterprise conference season. Tracks range from discussing the software-defined data center and the ever-growing cloud, to security and the future of IT strategies in the face of evolving technology.

We can’t wait to see what new developments arise as some of the greatest minds in the space come together to talk shop. In light of what is sure to be an exciting month, here are few trends we think will be of note:

The Coming of Age of the Hybrid Cloud Era

Cloud-based enterprise IT has gone far in the last year, continuously going beyond the expectations with new applications, digital tools and software defined infrastructures that have enabled never before seen flexibility and efficiency.

But the cloud’s role in the enterprise has not reached its full potential. On-premises and hosted cloud environments are still too disjointed, a problem compounded by compliance, governance and a fear of change. The result is on-premises solutions that offer control but slow app delivery in one hand, and the public cloud that reduces control in exchange for speed in the other.

In the coming months and into next year, we will see the hybrid cloud become the norm, mature in its allocation within the enterprise. Gone will be the days in which the cloud was only there for support—becoming the center of business critical workflows.

Data Control and Sovereignty

With the major role the cloud now plays in many business processes, especially in distributed organizations, data management is a major concern. This is particularly important for companies that conduct business in places with restrictive data sovereignty laws like the EU.

As businesses continue to grow overseas, methods of data segmentation and hosting will be streamlined to accommodate changing international laws and consumer/customer concerns about security. And hybrid cloud deployments will be at the center as they make possible the housing and distribution of data wherever it is needed.

Software-Defined Networking

Enterprises are right there with consumers, adopting the latest digital tools. According to Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends Report, even companies outside the realm of tech are buying up tech companies to help them transition into a new era in which digitization has taken center stage. A trend further instigated by the tremendous focus on data and what can be done with it when collected and analyzed.

With time, software will get closer to the center of today’s businesses and those to come. We can expect even more new products and business models built for and around the software-defined organization.

What do you think is next for the enterprise?

Diversity in the Newsroom

A look into the “diverse” landscape of today’s businesses.

This past week a few Highwire employees escaped the office and headed past Market Street to the PPR Worldwide building for a de-brief on all things diversity.

PRSA and PPR held a joint panel to discuss the topic of diversity, specifically in today’s Silicon Valley tech scene. The conversation focused around the lack of diversity inside tech companies, LGBTQ rights, the gender pay gap, race-related campaigns like Black Lives Matter and Oscars So White, and ageism. It was an opportunity for the panelists to share their thoughts and views on how organizations can combat lacking diversity and what the media could do as an integral part in shedding light on these issues.

The event’s panelists included:

  • Raymond Ray, Smart Hustle Founder and entrepreneur (Moderator)
  • Salvador Rodriguez, Tech Diversity Editor, Inc. Magazine
  • Connie Guglielmo, Editor in Chief/News, CNET
  • Michelle Quinn, Columnist, Mercury News
  • Venise Wagner, Associate Professor of Journalism at San Francisco State University and Writer
  • Caroline Fairchild, New Economy Editor, LinkedIn

The conversation started of a with a general discussion on what diversity means to each panelist, some panelists focused on gender equality while others focused on age and race. No matter which sub-topic a panelist discussed one thing was certain—tech is severely lacking in the diversity department.

While it’s great that businesses have realized there’s huge disparity among employees, very few seem to be breaking down those barriers. Instead, organizations are just throwing money at diversity programs, hoping that fixes the problem. But they’re wrong.

According to the group, companies should be pushing for a cooperative effort from management and senior-level executives to build out a diversity program from the top down. Connie Guglielmo, CNET said it best, “Ask your CEO, are they part of the solution or are they the problem?” If your company can’t answer that question, you might want to rethink your diversity plan.

Michelle Quinn from The San Jose Mercury News discussed the disparities among age in the tech industry, noting there was little effort instilled from tech companies to retain employees over the age of 30 (crazy right?). One key point she shared on the topic of ageism included the lack of effort from businesses to implement and build out programs designed to encourage and retain older employees like a returnship program.

If one thing is certain on the topic of diversity, there continues to be a huge gap among the tech industry and in Silicon Valley. Senior management and the core leadership team needs to make a larger effort to create and follow through with a diversity plan. Leaders need to realize that without diversity, businesses won’t succeed.

What do you think makes a company diverse?  

Look Alive People, Look Alive

On the show floor of Internet Retailer Conference 2016

It’s that time of year again when all the brightest minds in e-commerce and retail come together for the annual Internet Retailer Conference in Chicago. We’ve seen the show grow tremendously over the years and, as expected, this year was even bigger and better than the last.

We spent a day walking the show floor of the exhibitor hall to get a pulse on the latest trends in e-commerce and the activity happening behind the scenes. In the process, we noticed a few trends that we thought would be helpful to share for exhibitors on trade show dos and don’ts. Here are a few takeaways that topped our list of observations:

Do:

  • Spend money on booth design and décor: You are spending significant resources, including money, talent and time, to exhibit at a conference so make sure to milk it for all it’s worth. At IRCE, there were dozens of booths with lackluster signage, minimal staff and dreary backdrops and color schemes. It’s surprising considering that something as simple as using bright colors can catch one’s attention and compel a stop by, not just a walk by. Be serious about exhibiting. If you are investing tens of thousands of dollars going to a tradeshow, have an inventive and effective booth so the right people can find you.
  • Free food and drinks will never be passé: Who can say no to free food and drinks, especially after being on your feet for hours on end? One company this year offered Bloody Mary’s and they were the hit of the show. In fact, we found ourselves on a goose chase in search of the satiating cocktail. It might be the oldest trick in the book but this type of incentive is always sure to lure prospects to your booth. Another company, Meridian, offered truffles in a mock Tiffany’s blue box as a thank you for stopping by.

Truffles in a mock Tiffany’s blue box

  • Invest in trade show messaging and training: As communication professionals, we were surprised at how many sales people could not simply articulate what their company did or how it’s unique from competitors. Remember, that if you use industry jargon, your prospects may be quick to look for an emergency exit. Prospects want to know in a simple way how they can benefit from your product or service. Make sure you make the most of your tradeshow experience and go the extra mile to properly train your spokespeople so they can seal the deal.

Don’t:

  • No Catnaps Allowed: We get it. Tradeshows are exhausting, but boy did we pass a lot of tired looking folks. Just like having a beautiful booth attracts prospects, so does a big smile on your sales reps’ faces. You might not get concerned when you don’t see a prospect that’s a high- value target, but you never know when someone is scouting your company from afar.
  • Don’t push marketing flyers: Marketing flyers are out, or they should be.  Several times, sales reps referred us to their brochures when we asked a question they couldn’t answer. But prospects are there to learn face-to-face what makes your company stand out. If they wanted to look at your marketing sell sheet, they could do so just as easily from the comfort of their office. Ditch the marketing flyers and sell sheets altogether—focus on making a personal connection.
  • If your messaging doesn’t stand out, you need something more. While on the hunt for stand out companies, we started to notice that everyone’s messaging was one and the same. Do something more to stand out from the pack whether it be a unique booth display or a marketing gimmick. Selfies or Magicians anyone?

What other trade show do’s and don’ts come to mind from your experiences? Share your story!

Nikki Plati and Carolyn Adams pose for photobooth pictures

Nikki Plati and Carolyn Adams pose at the Pitney Bowes photobooth

Special thanks to Carolyn Adams for contributing to this piece

How to Create Buzz Around a User Conference Show

Prepping for a Big Event

kafka

IMG_3110

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

User conferences are a great way for technology companies to engage with their customers, partners and the broader IT ecosystem, as it provides a forum for exchanging ideas, sharing best practices and having fun together. They are also great venues for engaging with analysts, bloggers and journalists following a market. But all the activity means nothing without inciting the right kind of interest and maximizing its impact.

This spring we experienced this first hand as we worked with Confluent on the inaugural Kafka Summit and with Twilio on the fifth annual SIGNAL conference. Below are some of our key lessons learned and best practices around creating buzz before, during and after an event.

Before the Big Day

Planning and prepping for user conferences like Kafka Summit and SIGNAL should always begin with strategic thinking and an end goal in mind. Our approach typically begins by thinking about what we can do to track back to the business goals of our clients. For example, are we trying to help drive enterprise sales or downloads, strengthen and cultivate partnership relationships or raise awareness to help recruit top talent? Having a clear understanding of the team’s goals means that we can map out specific ways to support those desired outcomes.  

The Elements

In helping reach those goals, the following elements are crucial to the game plan:

1. Engagement: A conference brings together a unique community and it’s important that you communicate with all audiences. Here are a few ideas:

  • Capture Presentations, Insights and Interviews on Camera: Live streaming keynote presentations and other talks is a great way to broaden the reach for both your event and the experts on stage. If you can’t execute on that, at least capturing all the presentations on camera provides shareable content to use after the event. Further, we recommend hiring a separate video team (or two) in order to also record show floor interviews with customers, partners and other experts onsite. It’s an economical way to secure a large volume of interviews and also provides an interesting backdrop for B-roll footage you will need down the line. Don’t forget to bring video release waivers to get signed on the spot to help expedite approval for posting videos online.
  • Create an Event App: Offering participants an app to help them navigate your event and provide real-time feedback will keep them engaged. Solicit input on speakers, sessions, the food, the venue, registration process, and associated events like a hackathon or after party. Best of all you will receive immediate input on what resonated with your community and areas to improve on next time. The app also makes it simple to recap the event and share insights each day or at the close of the event.
  • Host a Party: Bringing everyone together after a day of sessions offers participants the opportunity to network in a casual environment. At Twilio’s SIGNAL, the two-day conference ended with a carnival-style bash where attendees could partake in coding challenges
    IMG_3127

    Twilio SIGNAL $Bash attendees playing robot Jenga.

    turned into games. Winners collected points that could be turned in for a variety of prizes. Additionally, participants were playing for the opportunity to join an elite group of Twilio developers that would get the first opportunity at hacking the technology behind Magic Leap.

 

 

 

2. Social Media: Social media is one of the best ways to keep the buzz going during the event. Having dedicated staff scheduled to attend specific sessions and to live tweet during the presentations is a great wTweetay to share key insights with your broader community. To do so effectively, define a strategy for what you want to achieve through social media and establish rules of engagement to help orchestrate a nice conversation flow. Also assign other team members to retweet, respond to questions and engage in the conversation. This approach worked well during Kafka Summit and the show became a sustained trending topic on Twitter —impressive for an inaugural event!

3. Press and Analysts: Last but certainly not least, is the important role journalists play in making a conference a success. A conference is an opportunity to highlight the excitement around your company, from new partners to new products, and journalists play a crucial role in amplifying these messages. With press, the key is to start by building relationships months in advance to build familiarity. Once you get closer to the date, inviting press to attend the event, asking them to moderate sessions and sharing the news under embargo will help to drive awareness and give you the opportunity to highlight specific information. Another important element is to make sure your press collateral is in order—do you have spokespeople ready for impromptu conversations, have you connected with partners and customers about their interest in connecting with press and do you have images and stats ready to be shared? Finally, don’t forget about the visual stories and feel good stories you can tell both during and after. At Twilio SIGNAL, the children of employees using code to sell Lemonade was a huge attraction.

In all, by following our recommendations (and working with an awesome PR firm) you’ll be set up for success. To learn more about the success that comes through careful planning, you can read this InformationWeek article by Jessica Davis highlighting Kafka Summit’s success.

Share your story. What have you seen that’s worked well?

*This blog was written with help from Andrea Torres, senior account executive in Highwire’s San Francisco office.

Inside The Newsroom: Bloomberg’s Pitching Playbook

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 11.33.12 AM

Bloomberg editors share their thoughts on how pitch successfully

As one of the most influential business publications in the world, reaching millions of people from 150 bureaus around the world, Bloomberg looms large in the world of PR. Securing a thoughtful and strategic business story in Bloomberg can make your client’s day. Unfortunately, every other PR professional knows that too. With so much competition, it can be a challenge to convince a reporter that yours is the story that will interest their readers.

At a panel discussion in Bloomberg’s San Francisco Bureau last Tuesday, three Bloomberg editors – Brad Stone, the senior executive editor heading up Bloomberg’s Technology reporting; Mark Milian, a tech editor overseeing startups and venture capital; and Danielle Culbertson, the managing editor of Bloomberg TV and Radio in San Francisco – shared their thoughts on how to capture a reporter’s attention. Here are the three main takeaways from their discussion.

Informed, Short and Sharp

When asked about pitching, all the panelists agreed that the best pitches share two common traits: they are well researched and concise.

At a global publication like Bloomberg, each reporter writes on a specific beats but also has his or her own specific interests. Even though it takes time and effort, reading their stories and identifying the reporter’s interests goes a long way towards capturing their attention.

“If you say ‘I read these five stories you wrote and I think you’ll be interested in this story because…’ no reporter can resist,” said Milian. “You’ll at least get them to read your pitch.”

The other point to remember is that reporters get a lot of pitches. Getting to the point quickly will go a long way towards getting a reporter to read your pitch. It is easy to fall into the temptation of trying to share your client’s whole life story in one email, but this creates an intimidating body of text that a time-restricted reporter is likely to delete/ignore, and often buries the most interesting point. There will be time to share key messages and background later in the press release or during an interview. Panelists said that using bullet points instead of paragraphs can go a long way towards breaking through an email triage test.

Unfortunately, even a precise pitch will fail if it can’t meet one major benchmark.

Is It Interesting?

Though it is hardly a new rule, the panelists said the benchmark to keep in mind when reaching out to a reporter is: “Is it interesting?”

As extensions of our clients’ teams, it is easy to get invested in their story. So sometimes it helps to take a step back, forget everything you know about your client and ask yourself who will take the time to read this story if it gets published. If you do not immediately include yourself (among others), it may be time to brainstorm a new angle.

Also remember that it is not just the reporter’s interest you have to capture, but their readers’. In the case of Bloomberg, the readers are informed businesspeople and investors. When considering what story you want to tell, the panelists recommended keeping it broad enough to appeal to people who may not have specific technical knowledge.

The Role of Editors

While it differs from publication to publication, at Bloomberg the editors view their role as focused on supporting the writers rather than dictating content.

“I see my role as more developing story ideas and reviewing copy,” Stone said.

While the panelists said that they are usually more than happy to forward a pitch to right person, it is the writers who are interacting with the breaking news and proposing stories. Reaching out to and building a relationship with the reporter who most closely aligns with your company is the most likely path to success.

Do these tips align with your experience when working with media? Connect with us on Twitter and let us know your thoughts on building enduring reporter relationships.