Patient-First Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic

Over the past few weeks, the onslaught of coronavirus has catapulted the healthcare industry to quickly pivot and adapt its approach to care. Amid this global pandemic, remote care and telehealth solutions are now not only a necessity, they are our silver lining. The distribution of these remote health-related services allows for virtual care, education, treatment, intervention, monitoring, advice, even prescription refills, in a time when most cannot leave their homes. As such, these patient-first solutions are triaging demand and ensuring immediate, remote access to healthcare for all. We are lucky enough to support some of the leaders helping to drive forward this change. In this blog post we’ll introduce you to two clients that are adapting to and meeting the needs of patients during this unprecedented time. 

Physical Distance, Social Connection  

Having a voice and feeling heard are fundamental attributes of humanity—and whether these are enacted literally or metaphorically, communication is a lifeline, and a human connection can mean the difference between despair and hope. Twilio, a cloud communications platform, provides companies with the tools to build lines of communication and to manage engagement on a single platform.  As a company built by developers, for developers, Twilio supports a variety of COVID-specific solutions including telehealth video solutions, like the one built by a children’s hospital in a week, or secure hotlines, like Crisis Text Line, which experienced a 116% increase in traffic in the last week.

“What we need right now is physical distance and social connection,” Nancy Lublin, Crisis Text Line founder, told The Wall Street Journal. “Crisis Text Line is not a script and it’s not a robot; it’s an empathetic human being.”  Noting a sharp rise in virus-related anxiety, Lubin continued, saying that the conversations mirror places where cases are swelling and where schools and workplaces are shutting down. “If the first wave is anxiety, we are watching for a potential second wave that could possibly be child abuse, domestic violence, substance abuse. The side effects of being quarantined.”  

Immediate, Virtual Access to Providers

Recently, many vulnerabilities within the healthcare system are being exposed, including how patients connect with their primary care providers. Firefly Health turns primary care on its head by re-rationalizing healthcare delivery for all. Through its virtual primary care platform, patients are able to receive comprehensive, high-quality care from a personalized team to improve everyday health while defeating disease. Firefly offers proactive and continuous support to improve health outcomes, from the flu to depression, with in-app direct messaging, video and the revival of in-office visits in a post-COVID world. Additionally, with the surge of coronavirus-related anxiety and depression, Firefly’s virtual-first approach offering the integration of behavioral health into primary care is especially valuable for patients.  

“Our current healthcare system is built around disease and traumatic injury, but the industry is finally starting to rethink the primary care structure to care more about the patient every day — but it hasn’t done it quick enough as the coronavirus shows. It’s time to give patients care wherever, whenever they need,” said Executive Chairman Jonathan Bush. “Remote screening can help determine when patients need or don’t need a diagnostic test without making them come into a crowded waiting room, potentially infecting dozens of others. Overtime, as we accept how much of this care can be treated digitally, it will become the new normal, making everyone live safer, healthier lives.”

Embracing the Change

Today, more than ever, it is crucial for remote care and telehealth companies to take action and deliver new ways to provide immediate access to healthcare for patients, especially as stay-at-home orders continue to be mandated and social distancing is crucial to flattening the curve on COVID-19. The demand for remote access offerings will only continue, and Highwire PR is proud to be supporting leaders at the forefront of this evolution.

Lights Out on Your Events, Now What? Part Two: Integrate, Align, Reinforce, and Repeat

Last week, we took a look at how businesses can respond to the coronavirus pandemic, prioritize objectives and focus on audiences to fill the void of in-person events shutting down or going virtual. You can read my breakdown and suggestions in this Marketing Land piece. 

For part two in the series, we’re going to tap into the wisdom of crowds (remember those? #StayHome) and the beauty of truly integrated campaigns, amplified through the audience. 

Invoke the wisdom of crowds

So you’ve identified your audience, crafted some killer content and need to find reach. In many cases, amplification begins at home. Employee advocacy harnesses the combined social reach of your team. 

It’s a technique that requires some groundwork, but that pays dividends year-round. At the moment, with swathes of office workers logging on remotely, there’s no better time to tap into skyrocketing social media usage and begin turning your workforce into an amplification powerhouse.

Start with the simplest tool you almost certainly already have: LinkedIn. The social network recently rolled out Employee Notifications, letting you push an update to every employee directly from your company page. 

It makes distributing content incredibly easy, and requires very little training or even prep, since it leverages the page, employee audience and social posts you already have.

When you’re ready to step up to the next level, take a look at LinkedIn Elevate – the big brother to Employee Notifications, which includes a full suite of amplification tools, built on the same social network. 

Third-party platforms can extend the same techniques to Facebook and Twitter. While adding new networks increases the complexity of your employee advocacy efforts, it also greatly enhances your reach. 

When you’re ready to level-up, remember that managing such a program can be a full-time job. Employee communication needs to be clear, actionable and unambiguously designed for sharing. Employees can be nervous about inadvertently publicizing something that was meant to be confidential, so lay the groundwork and consider bringing in experts before embarking on an advocacy adventure alone.

Get some influence

Of course, one of the fastest ways to turbo-charge your campaigns is to integrate some influencers. Doing this correctly will take some time, not to mention some tools to identify, vet, onboard, and engage the right people to help spread your message. 

However, those investing the time and budget into getting it right now will see dividends in the months and years to come. A strong influencer program can be activated year-round, and dialed up to provide extra reach in coordination with your other paid, earned and owned activities. You’ll need to weigh analytics carefully when managing your influencer cohorts. We recommend looking for the Three-Rs: Relevance, Reach and Resonance.

Relevance should be obvious, but go deeper than bios and hashtags. Look for influencers who are regularly referenced by the wider community. Look for more than high-level key phrases, and build a panel of influencers who go from the highest level of general interest to true specialism and deep knowledge. Don’t be afraid to have some of your influencers truly geek out on your subject matter, as long as their audience is along for the ride. 

Reach is another metric that might seem simple, but is easily misunderstood. You’ll need to ensure influencers’ reach is evolving, growing and showing evidence of natural churn. You do not want to market to the same audience over and over. If you did, a one-off engagement would suffice.

Lastly, resonance. Map out the social networks of your influencers and look for tell-tale signs that they’re actually having an impact. Beware of those simply broadcasting to echo chambers. Instead, look for a healthy connection, conversation and engagement with the community. 

Integrate, align, reinforce, and repeat 

There’s probably nothing here you don’t already do, to one degree or another, but just as we’ve all become fantastically good at hand-washing in recent weeks, practice makes perfect. 

Without in-person events, now is your opportunity to practice more integrated marketing. Go beyond what you would usually do and up-level each aspect of your campaign activity. This is the time to draw everything together, and double down on what’s working, rather than reinvent a perfectly good wheel. Integrate, align, reinforce, and repeat. 

As we outlined in the first blog post in this series, your efforts should be integrated, objectives tightly aligned and each should reinforce some aspect of the other.  

When everything works together, everything works better. That means feeding thought leadership into employee advocacy programs, fueling paid with earned media mentions and funneling everything toward lead-generation in partnership with sales. As we all work increasingly remotely it’s ironic that we’re being given fresh reasons to work closer together.

Sharing What we Know – COVID-19 and the Media 

For those of us in the marketing communications field, being able to pivot on a dime and adapt to the news of the day is something we’re all accustomed to. The majority of daily news is typically centered around a business move by a major organization be it an acquisition, new product release or service offering that disrupts an existing industry. At times there are more significant news items that we need to adjust to but those are normally short-lived and delay a launch or campaign by one, possibly two days. And truth be told, these delays are usually isolated to the specific sector where the news has occurred. 

The current global health crisis that we are dealing with has impacted everyone around the globe. There is not one segment of our world that hasn’t been impacted one way or another, and this event is proving to be one of the most challenging times for marketing communications professionals that we’ve ever faced. 

While organizations figure out what the immediate new normal is for them, business has continued to some degree. And part of that business is being able to reach your audiences – customers, prospects, partners and employees. One comment that has stuck with me from a past meeting with a prospect of ours was “the fastest, most efficient way for us to get in front of our audience is to be in the media.” That quote stands true today as the power of a targeted, well-thought-out media strategy allows you to engage in discussions that are driving people to make decisions and look for new ways of conducting business. 

A resource to the larger community

Our goal as an agency is to always keep our clients updated on the current media landscape as it relates to their business. Today, we need to be both transparent about the opportunities that are out there today while also flagging potential fits to much more specific topics such as COVID-19. During a recent internal meeting we made the decision to share this information with our larger community because, at a time like this, we need to be looking out for each other and lending a helping hand whenever possible. 

We have provided information on a number of media outlets and their plans around COVID-19 coverage and if they are planning to balance them with more general, industry-specific stories for their audiences. We plan on keeping this updated on our blog so you can check back for the latest updates. If there is an outlet that you’d like us to look at that we haven’t included below please reach out to me (jason@highwirepr.com) and we’ll provide what we have. 

Overall summary

  • Reporters are being reassigned and covering their beat through the lens of COVID-19
  • Healthcare trade reporters are still covering non-coronavirus news
  • The financial impact of this crisis is being aggressively covered. Fintech reporters are asking for points of view on what people should do with their investments given how volatile the markets are. Same goes for guidance on taxes and how the tax season might change. 
  • Most broadcast teams are adhering to social distancing and are having their reporters/news anchors video in from their home office

Outlets working remote (indefinitely): 

  • Bloomberg News
  • Boston Globe
  • CBS
  • CNET
  • CNBC
  • CyberScoop 
  • Financial Times 
  • Fortune
  • HuffPost — team leads making call for their bureaus, most working from home
  • ITPro (UK)
  • New York Times
  • TechTarget 
  • Vice Media (Brooklyn office) 
  • WIRED
  • WSJ (including Pro) 

COVID-19 Focus/Feedback

  • AP 
    • All teams are now focused on the virus even within the confines of their beat; and that all other stories and pitches are on hold for now and follow-up should be suspended. 
  • Bloomberg
  • Business Insider 
    • Business Insider: In response to our outreach we were told that they are all coronavirus for the most part right now and everything else is on hold.
  • CNBC
    • They are all in on anything and everything coronavirus related as well as the impact of the downturn in the economy on companies. 
    • Late this week they have started to bring on more tech executives who are discussing their organizations contribution to helping fight the pandemic, remote work and/or their views on the response within their sector.
  • CNN
    • Developed coronavirus podcast, which publishes each morning. Hosted by CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
  • Fast Company
    • At the moment, they are doing 90% stories related to the news. They are certainly interested in longer-term stories that are unrelated, but it may be awhile before they are able to tackle a lot of them if it seems that readers are unlikely to pay attention.
    • Still accepting/working on contributed articles that aren’t coronavirus related
  • Forbes
    • Mostly focused on COVID and the market for the short-term; open to hearing ideas, but most not focusing on anything else at the moment 
    • Forbes has more than doubled their breaking news team and launched newsletters dedicated to working from home and general coronavirus news
  • MIT Technology Review 
    • Has asked its writers to focus on two main things: questions about the virus and how it works, and discoveries and innovations that might help win the fight against it.
    • The publication also has a new COVID-19 newsletter
  • SiliconANGLE 
      • Wants to see pitches on how tech is being applied to managing this situation…. Remote workforce, load on infrastructures… and on people: how do you keep them motivated without being too onerous? What role does the cloud play in enabling people to work together?
      • Other topics include: How do you get people to work at home effectively who aren’t trained and have no technology orientation? How do you get them to be fluent when they are used to others helping them? People’s mood: isolation for a lot of people can be brutal at a time like this.
      • About 30% of Silicon Angle’s articles reference Covid-19 so far
  • TechRepublic 
    • Is covering a fair amount of Covid-19 stories but recently said they are looking for normal pitches/ones not related to COVID-19. 
  • The Information
    • Their afternoon briefing newsletter will now focus exclusively on COVID-19. 
  • WSJ
    • Given the directive that they’re all COVID-19 reporters now

What to do when the media needs to pivot their coverage?

Here at Highwire, we’ve been working tirelessly with our clients on alternative ways for them to stay engaged with their audiences, create campaigns that are tied to their new short-term business goals and help them dive deeper into their existing customer base. 

As part of this counsel, we’ve been having conversations with our partners across the media landscape to help inform our recommendations on not only what we bring to the market, but where do we look to place the content due to the changing coverage and needs across the media. With this pandemic drawing attention from all sectors and regions, the need to provide timely and informative reporting is critical for all media entities. And this affects the work that we do for our clients every day. It is our job to try and stay ahead of it while also bringing new ideas and opportunities to help them reach their goals.

Stay safe and healthy. 

Lights Out on Your Events, Now What? Part One: Objectives and Audience 

The coronavirus pandemic has cancelled conferences all over the world, leaving marketing teams scrambling for replacements to help meet their goals. Some companies are attempting all-in-one virtual replacements as a sales salvation, but in reality there is no single substitute for real-world events.

Our new piece in Marketing Land highlights what companies can do to fill the void left by in-person events. In this two-part blog series, we’re going to take a closer look into what teams can do right now that will help them get through this crisis, but also reinforce their long term strategy to be more successful in the future. First, let’s start with resetting objectives and putting your audience’s needs first.

A hard reset on objectives

It may not seem like it, but the cancellation of conferences worldwide gives you an opportunity to reassess your strategy. Instead of looking for an online version of a conference, stop and ask yourself these questions:

  • Which audiences were you hoping to connect with? What are those people doing instead? How are recent events impacting immediate concerns?
  • Is it all about sales and lead gen? Or were you looking for networking, brand building or product launch opportunities?
  • Were you attending out of habit, or with a clear, measurable purpose? If you can’t quantify the value of attending, finding a replacement will be extra tough, and perhaps unnecessary.

Once you answer these questions you’ll likely realize you can achieve similar results with a different strategy, ideally one which leverages activity you already have in place. This is the time to double down on integration, and make every aspect of your existing marcomms program work better, together. Here are some examples: 

  • Run a LinkedIn lead generation campaign with target audiences built from idealized attendee lists. It will almost certainly cost less than the budget you reserved on building a booth or even holding your own conference.
  • Connect with industry influencers and use live-streamed product demos to build awareness. Amplify with paid social and invite reporters to pose questions for an earned media hit.
  • Double down on your thought leadership and turn conference keynotes into long-form executive posts. Turn high value technical talks into gated white papers to boost consideration, while also driving leads.
  • Best of all, combine all of the above for a truly integrated campaign. When everything works together, everything works better.

It’s not just about relying more heavily on what you’ve always done. Keep in mind that you’re not alone looking for alternatives. Now more than ever you need quality, targeted content with clear purpose to break through the noise of online marketing.

Think audience-first and channel-native

How do you get the most compelling content possible? By being relevant first, and self promotional second. Your priority should be to understand your audience, clarify your point of view and align it with their needs. Do research on who your audience is and what they want and where they will see it: 

  • Use social media listening tools to not only follow conversations, but become involved in industry discussions. 
  • Conduct a content audit to discover the gaps between what you are producing and what your audience responds to.
  • Build personas. Understanding your audience’s demographic, psychographic and firmographic make-up is the key to finding relevance.

Say something that will get you noticed and do it where your audience already is: embrace social, podcasts, video, and put executives forward just as you would at a conference. 

Amplify your content with paid social to increase awareness and engagement. Be sure to optimize content by channel. Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin and, if you’re adventurous, TikTok, all require unique material to make the biggest impact. Presenting a native appearance on each platform is the difference between social pros and novices. 

There is no need to panic when a major conference is canceled. You have the tools at your disposal to streamline and integrate your marketing plans in ways that will help you prevail long term and make you smarter and more productive in the future. 

Finally, it’s important to revert to measurable and quantifiable value. Ask the difficult questions and be bold in creating the right content to reach your targeted audience. A hard look at your objectives can go a long way. Read more about what we suggest you do in this new reality in Marketing Land.

Women’s History Month: 5 Ways Cybersecurity Companies Can Create an Equitable Workforce

When it comes to representation of women, the cybersecurity industry has actually improved somewhat in recent years — the percentage of women in the industry jumped from 11% in 2013 to 20% in 2019. Still, 20% is hardly a stat to celebrate, and it’s clear that the security community has a lot more work to do to achieve an equitable workforce. 

The theme for International Women’s Day (IWD) this week was #EachForEqual, and the IWD organization is encouraging everyone to celebrate female achievement, raise awareness against bias, and take action for equality. In honor of that and Women’s History Month, Highwire has gathered recommendations for prioritizing diversity and creating more inclusive work environments.

Here are a few ways cyber companies (and all companies!) can join in on #EachForEqual:

    1. Establish a Diversity & Inclusion Committee

  • At Highwire, we’re proud to not only prioritize diverse hiring, but to have systems in place to educate everyone at the company about various races, sexual orientations, and religions throughout the world. Our D&I committee is dedicated to teaching every employee something new about minorities and global cultures each month, with the goal of creating a more inclusive culture. Committees like this help keep companies accountable for D&I and ensure employees from underrepresented groups feel celebrated and supported.

     2. Bring Your Daughter to Work Day

  • A new twist on an old tradition, “Bring Your Daughter to Work Day” is a great way to show young girls that they have a place in the cybersecurity industry from an early age and help them understand their freedom to choose whatever career they want. Hosting an all-girl hackathon is also a fun way to cultivate the next generation of cybersecurity pros. 

     3. Partner with Women and Minority Empowerment Organizations

  • Another way to highlight your company’s dedication to diversity and inclusion is by partnering with a nonprofit focused on the same. For instance, the International Consortium of Minority Cybersecurity Professionals strives for the consistent representation of women and minorities in cybersecurity with programs designed to foster recruitment, inclusion, and retention. Encourage your employees to become a mentor in their Mutual Match Mentor-Protégé Program, or host a lunch or dinner for those involved.

     4. Implement Unbiased Hiring Solutions and Practices

  • There are many systems for bias-free hiring, and it’s important to consider them all to determine what works best for your company’s needs. One option is anonymizing the resumé review process, because even something as simple as removing the name from a resume can reduce bias. A work sample test is a good next step in ensuring the candidate is evaluated on skill instead of gender, race, or another protected class. In addition, having women representation at the c-level and in the boardroom is a great way to attract more junior female candidates. 

      5. Offer Benefits that Support Women and Families

  • If you haven’t already, it’s time to make all employees feel equal through pay equity and benefits such as parental leave and daycare options for those who choose to become parents. These seemingly basic offerings can be the biggest considerations for top candidates.

As Beyoncé once sang, girls run the world…but not the cybersecurity industry just yet. Attracting more women to the industry will take time and commitment from industry leaders. Implementing strategies like the above is a good first step in creating a more equitable cybersecurity workforce.

VIDEO: Meet the #HWCyberSquad & get a firsthand look at top RSA trends

This year’s #RSAC2020 was one for the books. I’ve been attending the show for 14 years and I’m always on the lookout for what’s different or unique year-over-year. This year was more of the same in terms of the outcry for stronger security leadership and a different approach, attribution debates and the promise of a million and one new security tools that will “stop” the latest cyber attack. So, I focused on something different this year. The sheer awesome-ness of my #HWCyberSquad was striking. I have never been more inspired by my team, our clients, the depth of expertise, and the strength of our partnerships.

See below for a few of this year’s highlights:

  • We kicked off the week with some incredible news — the #HWCyberSquad was named 2020 PR Team of the Year by Info Security Products Guide for the second year in a row. This team represents the true power of collaboration, creativity and drive.
  • Our detailed and thoughtful daily recaps (see Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3) captured RSA keynotes and all of the smart sessions hosted by our clients. We even got some standout coverage of our clients’ talks (see WIRED story featuring Chris Wysopal, founder and CTO of Veracode).
  • We connected with reporters that we respect and feel grateful to be able to work with day-in-and-day-out on top security stories (e.g. see our Q&A with Reporter Alyssa Newcomb/Fortune and recap of our Cult of the Dead Cow Book Club with Joe Menn/Reuters).
  • We hosted the annual Security Comms Happy Hour with our partner Meredith Corley and our friends at Offleash PR, W2Comms and Chen PR.
  • We had the largest team of talented cyber security professionals to-date onsite and took some time to celebrate our win with our annual Cyber Security Appreciate Dinner (six years running!)

What separates the #HWCyberSquad is our passion and dedication to our team and our clients, and to honing our craft as cybersecurity PR professionals. We are grounded in our Highwire values (passion, curiosity, creation, balance, and collaboration), and they guide us in everything we do. We pride ourselves on our ability to identify timely trends and topics that shape and inform our clients’ PR programs. After all, it’s a crazy-crowded market so you need practitioners that are always thinking two steps ahead.

With that, I am so excited to share this incredible “RSA Top Trends ” video produced by our very own #HWCyberSquad team. You don’t want to miss it.

Cheers to RSA 2020 and we look forward to seeing you all at Black Hat! 

Stay healthy!

Christine 

P.S. After the first conference of 2020, one thing is clear: Politics and policy continue to impact cybersecurity in almost every way. We’re investing time and talent into our policy expertise (you can check out an example here) and will be rolling out some exciting policy projects this year. Keep an eye out!

To Issue or Not Issue – The Momentum Release Edition

Image: Bank Phrom

 

The phrase “momentum release” is one used by PR and marketing professionals to describe a specific news announcement focused on depicting a company’s growth. The purpose of this type of announcement is to recap a successful year (or quarter) with the goal of leveraging the content as an asset for sales lead generation, social media content and often as a strategic tool to support a potential merger and acquisition, venture capital or exit discussions. For example, a typical momentum release includes business metrics such as the number of new customers and partners, growth in revenue (or market share), growth in specific industries, strategic hires, global expansions or new offices, prestigious award and analyst recognition, as well as new positioning and messaging. 

On the surface, a momentum release should serve as a great media asset. The problem is that this kind of announcement is not considered news and will be largely ignored by the media.

So, why bother? Is there ever a time when a momentum press release is worth the effort? The answer is yes AND no. 

 

When Does a Momentum Press Release Make Sense? 

The reason why this answer is so difficult is that the question PR professionals, as advisors, should ask their clients is not, “why do you want to issue a momentum press release?” but, “what is the business objective you are hoping to accomplish by issuing this press release?” If the answer is to simply create press interest, that will require a larger conversation about the definition of news. If the latter, and there are specific business goals in mind, a momentum press release can be a helpful tool. 

A few potential scenarios: 

  • Your client is a publicly traded company think Apple, Google, Amazon or Microsoft. Here is a recent example, detailing corporate earnings, operations metrics and customer gains. In this scenario, your client has beat reporters (reporters who are responsible for paying attention to your every move) who are interested in company growth metrics because of the impact this growth will have on industries, investors and ultimately consumers. 
  • Your client is an established challenger (as in this example) in a market that is being redefined by technology. As an established brand, your client is going up against companies who are covered by beat reporters. In this scenario, the beat reporters might be interested in your company’s growth metrics, especially if they showcase trends that could potentially impact the company they follow. Note that in this scenario, the information is mostly used as a reference but can, in some cases, result in introductory conversations with influential reporters and put your client on the radar of financial analysts. 

What if your client doesn’t fit nicely into either scenario? A momentum press release could still serve as a valuable assetbut its worth considering other options and tactics. 

 

Issuing a Momentum Release – The Grey Options 

For many startups, especially those in new and emerging technologies, a momentum press release would have little impact since established challengers or publically traded giants might not exist as a comparison. There are also instances where while the growth of your organization might be worth celebrating, the figures are not enough to go up against an established market leader. Best practices in these situations include:

  • Turn the momentum press release into a blog post, as in this example. This can live on your website or on a third party platform such as Medium. This option gives your organization the ability to highlight overall growth but in a less formal manner that can be amplified through social media. For example, leveraging the growth stats could be part of a paid, targeted LinkedIn campaign that focuses on lead generation and overall awareness.  
  • Turn your momentum press release into a story that focuses on the problems your company is trying to solve and leverage the stats, particularly market and customer growth as proof points that support your narrative. This option will still require pulling together all the most recent growth metrics, but will result in a narrative that journalists will likely perceive as less self-serving and possibly allow for thought leadership conversations to take place, as the focus is more people and problem centric vs company focused. 

As you can see there are many options, each with its own benefits. What’s important for businesses to ask themselves is, “What are we hoping to accomplish by issuing a momentum press release?” If that question is difficult to answer, then it’s likely not the best approach to take. Instead, a discussion with your PR team to discuss your overall strategy should be the next priority on your list.   

How PR Can Best Support Sales

Image: Adeolu Eletu

 

There’s a lot that goes into creating a successful PR program, and one important element for consideration is how PR can support sales. This is an important aspect that can make or break a program because it can help prove the value of PR to stakeholders across the business.

Given that many companies recently held their SKO – and sales teams across the world are amped up to meet their quota for the quarter – now is a good time to revisit how PR can help sales teams meet their goals.

We’ll take a look at just a few of the ways PR teams can best support sales teams and help drive increased revenues for the business.

 

  1. Understand the sales organization’s goals for the quarter – and fiscal year 

What’s the goal? 

Sure, sales teams obviously want to increase sales, but is their overarching goal to penetrate a new market? Do they want to uplevel their approach or increase technical acumen to target (and succeed with) new buyer personas? Do they need to increase pipeline to establish steadily increasing revenues to eventually go public?

Understanding sales goals matters – because it directly impacts the direction and urgency of PR activity. 

If the business is shifting to an enterprise CIO buyer, it raises the importance of showcasing customer stories with CIO advocates or landing top-tier business coverage. 

On the other hand, targeting the enterprise architect means pursuing more “how-to” focused coverage in technical trade publications and providing that audience with the technical intel they need to thrive in their roles.

You want to be able to create campaigns and secure coverage that maps to the right buyer persona, otherwise, sales reps won’t benefit.

 

  1. Align on specific topics of interest that help sales teams close deals

So you learn sales goals and know the right enterprise persona to target, now what? You need to align on the right topics that support sales reps in conversations with customers and prospects.

It’s great that you earned coverage with a dream publication, but will it help sales reps close deals? 

Different types of articles in different publications will have different benefits, but if sales teams are drilling down and increasing quotas, you want to be able to provide the air cover they need to validate value drivers with customers and prospects. 

Driving campaigns and securing coverage isn’t enough – it needs to result in meaningful coverage that maps to the right business campaigns to ensure your PR program is driving tangible business impact.

For example, while it’s great to get your spokesperson on a morning TV show, a customer case study placement in a technology outlet may better aid sales conversations than a top-tier broadcast placement.

Take the time to understand what core differentiators solve critical pain points for customers and you’ll find your north star to map to.

 

  1. Leverage digital best practices to extend reach and garner traffic to your best stories

Once you place earned or paid coverage, it’s time to make it effective for sales teams.

There are digital best practices that can extend the reach and shelf life of coverage to drive stronger traffic – and support sales reps before they even step into their meetings or pick up the phone to call prospects.

For example, on LinkedIn, you can create paid campaigns with very narrow targeting to boost exposure to the earned coverage you just placed. If you have a sales team with a webinar in three weeks looking to boost attendance, LinkedIn offers a channel to leverage your coverage and target not only specific companies, titles and seniority, but member interests and skills. 

If the webinar is based on a certain kind of technology, like Salesforce, you can serve those ads to people who have “Salesforce” listed under their skills. That level of specificity can help your sales teams use your earned media wins to drive high-quality leads.    

That’s just the targeting. To take advantage of great targeting you need the right message and a clear call to action. Clear, concise language, coupled with equally clear and eye-catching graphics, make it more likely that your target audience will click on the ads in front of them. 

Good targeting means nothing without good coverage – and good coverage can go a long way to support sales teams. 

 

Think long-term success

The goal of PR isn’t just to place articles – but to drive meaningful stories that support the sales organization in an impactful way and benefit the business. 

Effective strategies and campaigns require a deep understanding of what makes the sales organization successful, so you can replicate valuable coverage over and over again.

If you don’t know what the sales team needs, now is the time to find out and get conversations rolling to drive a successful PR program. We’re here to help – email us at hi@highwirepr.com to learn more.

Privacy, Antitrust and Google Ads

Digital advertising is in a tight spot. Dominated by a handful of players — Google, Facebook and Twitter —  the industry’s fortunes rise and fall with decisions of Tech Giants. In the last year or so, the forces of antitrust, privacy and misinformation have started driving Big Tech to make some changes. The industry needs to pay close attention to events outside of its immediate sphere — particularly politics and policy —  if it wants to continue to thrive in the face of the business altering changes will just keep coming.

Google: Antitrust and Privacy

Google dominates search ads, and, with Facebook, controls more than 60% of the broader digital ad market, according to one estimate (although the possible waning effectiveness of Google ads was on display in the end-of-year 2019 financial report). With information on how billions of users move around the internet, what they click on, when they drop off and what they buy, Google ad data is a goldmine for marketers. For years, there has been pressure for Google to share more about their users with the ad industry. 

Google has resisted. This resistance has added some marketers to the growing call to investigate Google for antitrust issues (for a quick, interesting read about the the history of antitrust in the US and the argument for using it against Big Tech — not just Google– check out Tim Wu’s The Curse of Bigness). Some presidential candidates have built a Big Tech Breakup into their platforms. The EU is already a step ahead, announcing in February a plan to restrict machine-learning technologies. 

Realizing the issue is not going away any time soon, Bloomberg reports that Google has been considering a breakup of its business before regulators demand a breakup in some future scenario. Specifically, Google seems to be considering a preemptive spin-off of Adsense to shake off US and European antitrust investigations, at least for a time. It’s anyone’s guess what will happen to Google’s ad data if that happens. 

And, right there — the personal data Google has amassed, gold for marketers — is the other force shaping the future of advertising. Worries over privacy have started becoming codified — in laws like GDPR and CCP. Google, as well as other tech companies, has started limiting, not expanding as marketers would like, what information leaves its platform in an attempt to avoid theoretically huge fines. 

Google announced in January that it was starting a two year journey to completely remove support for third-party cookies on Chrome. This will cause massive changes to the advertising industry that depends on marketers’ ability to track users across the web. Google, wanting to preemptively calm the panic, over the summer announced a proposal for a Privacy Sandbox —  “an initiative aimed at evolving the web with architecture that advances privacy, while continuing to support a free and open ecosystem.” According to TechCrunch, this would 

“ideally still allow advertisers to show you relevant ads while also allowing you to share as little about you and your browsing history as possible.” It’s still unclear exactly what this looks like. 

Then, in February, Google took the next step and started limiting access to key tools that track ad spending, focusing on the ads that persuade people to install apps — a corner of the advertising world that generates billions of dollars of revenue for Google and other tech giants. The move sent panic through the halls of marketing agencies — it is now harder to independently track conversions. According to Adweek, some estimate it could depreciate campaign result visibility by more than 50%.

Unfortunately for marketers’ blood pressure, this is just the beginning. Already a reality in Europe, by Q3 2020, Google plans to stop advertisers from pulling data about who clicks on their web banner and video ads out of Google’s system. 

Privacy and antitrust are forcing Google to make changes that have outsized effects on the advertising industry that has grown up around Google’s data treasure trove. Google’s moves in the last year and the increasing likelihood of more drastic actions in the year to come, throw into high relief exactly the power of the search giant (too much, say the antitrusters). Marketers need to be flexible and adaptable and pay close attention to the bigger, macro trends that are (finally) forcing Big Tech’s hand.