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How to Avoid the 7 Deadly Business Sins of the 21st Century

As an entrepreneur, it is both a privilege and a tremendous responsibility to build a company–often from mere ideation all the way to IPO.

A successful and fulfilling life, much like a business, offers many roads by which to travel. Some are filled to the brim with heartache yet, miraculously, overwhelming joy. While others fall prey to the fiery pit of misery and self-effacing failure. Truth be told, most of the outcomes have to do with the choices we make; and subsequently how we choose to react to things that are thrown our way.

So, if you’re going to spend half your adulthood building a business, how can you avoid turning both your soul and your life’s work over to the devil? Because as much as modern culture–obsessed with relativism and moral indifference–will tell you the two can be compartmentalized, I beg to differ.

Deadly business sins#1–Unconscious bias

We do not choose how, when, where, and in which environment we grow up. But as we mature into self-actualized adults, it is in our best interest to question beliefs and biases we have developed about people, places, and things. Fortunately for us, we don’t live in the 1950s anymore in terms of many of the “isms”–racism, sexism, you name it. It’s not perfect, but we have evolved. Subsequently, providing a platform for discourse about the modern day workplace, and how our “unconscious bias” affects our ability to grow and thrive, is one of the most important ways to avoid the killer behavior of building a one-dimensional company. Kool-aid was always bad for you.

The antidote? A variety of professional training resources exist along the lines of “diversity in the workplace” and “uncovering hidden bias.” Do yourself and your organization a favor and invest in one or two of these trainings. If you’re a tiny startup, then (in the very least) circulate reading materials or talk openly about how to avoid unconscious bias as you grow and scale your company.

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Creating Content Google Loves

A couple weeks ago I had the express pleasure of meeting up with Sally Falkow, founder of Meritus Media, at the PR News Google Conference in San Francisco.

Because I’m like, totally mature and non-competitive, and a rather supportive and cheerleader-y type of person in general…I decided not to be jealous or mad or irritated the she was speaking at the conference and I wasn’t. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that when I originally spoke to the organizer of the conference about ME speaking he informed me: “Sally Falkow is already covering that topic.”

Oh. Ok. Got it. Let me take a step back.

Sally’s what one might consider an “industry vet.” She was probably talking (in her very charming South African accent) about Digital and Social before it even existed. She’s new school but with old guard wisdom. Her accolades include things such as, oh say:

#1 – Top 50 Social Media Influencers on Twitter

#2 – 25 Women Who Rock Social Media

#3 – Top 10 PR Tech Pioneers

Because I am partially responsible for the crowning of her third title above, I take particular ownership and pride in the SOS (Success of Sally). When push comes to shove, she’s hands down one of my favorite people in the PR industry…so if it seems as though I gushing, I most definitely am.

The point of that intro? You need to know that when she gives you insights about something there is a 99.4% chance that she’s right. So listen up as she shares her take on “Creating Content Google Loves.” Then go kick some content ass and take some organic names.

Over to you Sally…

When we talk about creating content that Google loves, it might sound like putting the cart before the horse – as we’re constantly told we need to create content that our audience loves. As indeed we should. In this post I’m taking that as a given. But once you know what topics your audience is interested in and what they respond to, when you craft that content make sure that it is also content that Google loves.

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PR Search 2013 vs. 2014

Can you imagine a world without Search? Take a deep breath. Now think about all the things you search for in a day. Go on, do it. Now that you’ve thought about it, without Search… How would you know where to eat dinner in a new city? Or what your favorite celebrity is planning to […]


#MeasurePR + PRTech = PR’s Bright Future

Last Tuesday Rebekah co-hosted Shonali Burke’s first #measurePR Twitter chat of 2015 alongside Deirdre Breakenridge.

The topic? Why, PRTech of course.

Considering these are 3 of the smartest (not to mention loveliest) ladies to ever utter the letters PR, it’ll come as no surprise that the rousing chat was chock full of wisdom and key industry takeaways.

Curious about what hot topics were discussed, what PR pros should be paying attention to, and why PRTech is proving to a defining force in 2015?

Of course you are.

Below is a taste of the juicy chat tidbits as well as a few takeaways guaranteed to take your work to the next level.

Let’s get after it…

PR bright futureOn the importance of measuring PR:

  • “Understanding [PR] performance let’s you enhance, iterate.” – Julie Diaz-Asper
  • “If we want a seat at the ‘grown ups table’ we have to earn it via metrics.” – David Rockland
  • “We cannot say ‘PR drives bottom line’ and not embrace measurement. Either we’re integral or peripheral to business.” – John Friedman

In case it wasn’t clear from the astute observations above, PR measurement is a non negotiable. Proper measurement helps us optimize and improve, while clearly demonstrating the value PR. In regards to PR measurement, let’s make a pact here and now: We vow to be practical, produce great work, and measure our asses off. How about you?

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7 years of Intelligibility

Happy between week: the most highly anticipated time of year for yours truly. I’m not sure if it’s the lull in work tasks post Chrismukkah, or the anticipation for “starting anew”…but whatever the case, I love this particular time of the year.

I have jumped – no, leaped (more graceful if you are attempting to visualize) – to the assumption that, like me, you will spend an ample amount of time this week reading, organizing your Netflix queue, business planning for the New Year, and setting goals for how you are basically going to killit in 2015.

Oh, and obviously you are allocating a wee bit of time for “sale shopping,” because that is the economical thing to do.

If you’re not doing any of the above, and rather, you are sitting around lazily on the couch eating holiday leftovers, I commend you. You’re my hero. And please keep reading on because, despite your general lack of motivation at present, I believe you can still process the information.

This between week, I have momentarily set aside my PR hat and dug deep into the recesses of my Philosophy-degree trained brain, which I knew it would come in handy eventually. I would like to pose a theory about the next seven years (it takes balls to make long term predictions, high probability of being really really “off”) – mostly in terms of business and how it may affect us as communicators of digestible information rooted in data.

The initial philosophizing began a couple of weeks ago when I read a few particularly poignant excerpts from my current obsession: Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered. German Rhodes Scholar and economic advisor to a handful of governments, E.F. Schumacher, wrote the book and the original version was first published in 1973.

How’s that for evergreen? I highly recommend it.

Excerpt #1 (page 89):

When people ask for education they normally mean something more than mere training, something more than mere knowledge of facts, and something more than a mere diversion. Maybe they cannot themselves formulate precisely what they are looking for; but I think what they are really looking for is ideas that would make the world, and their own lives, intelligible to them.

When a thing is intelligible you have a sense of participation; when a thing is unintelligible you have a sense of estrangement. “Well, I don’t know,” you hear people say, as an impotent protest against the unintelligibility of the world as they meet it. If the mind cannot bring to the world a set – or, shall we say, a tool-box – of powerful ideas, the world must appear to it as chaos, a mass of unrelated phenomena, of meaningless events. Such a man is like a person in a strange land without any signs of civilization, without maps or signposts or indicators of any kind. Nothing has any meaning to him; nothing can hold his vital interest; he has no means of making anything intelligible to himself.

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How PRTech is reseeding the PR Landscape

This week we let go of our blog reins. Mostly because we don’t like to talk about ourselves, but also because we recently met an impressive young women named Alexis Anthony whose PR prowess deserves some love.

Rebekah met Alexis back in October at the Cision/Vocus #FutureofPR event in Washington D.C. Needless to say, she left a lasting impression. Alexis is currently studying Public Relations and Business Analytics (our favorite combo!) at the University of Maryland.

We were taken by her philosophy on PR’s evolution, so we picked her brain about the recent launch of our newest site: PRTech.co.

Alexis spent the day at AirPR last week and from everything we saw and heard, we are certain this lady personifies the PR professional of the future.

We hope you enjoy her take on PRTech’s role in creating a robust, thriving industry.

How PRTech is reseeding the PR Landscape

By Alexis Anthony

As odd as it sounds, PR pros could learn a thing or two from lawn care specialists. Yeah, weird idea I know, but bear with me. Imagine a golf course. Aside from the everyday mowing and trimming, ground gurus keep the fairways and greens in pristine condition through a process called reseeding.

They don’t actually re-plant seeds. They apply more seed where the grass is thin or bare to make it more robust and add structure to the landscape.

So how does this tie in to PR?

PRTech.co logo (b)We’ve talked again and again about the importance of PR measurement, data literacy, and understanding technology. It’s the industry revolution we call PRTech.

But many seasoned practitioners resist these emerging PR tenants because things like automation and universal analytics feel unnatural. After all, the industry has gotten along for 200 years without them, right?

What those practitioners may not see are the thin or bare patches their PR landscapes. Instead of thinking about PRTech as replanting the industry, we should see it as reseeding – filling barren cavities with data and technology.

Still with me? Here are three reasons we need to think of PRTech as a movement to reseed the industry and three ways we can jumpstart the process.

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5 PRedictions for 2015

With 2014 quickly rolling to a close, it’s about that time for everyone and their mother to bust out their crystal ball and make industry predictions for the coming year. Not one to buck the trend, we’re (#obviously) going to offer up our own take on what’s coming down the pipeline. However, much of the […]


9 Ways to Up Your PR Game

Whether you’re working in-house at a startup or running your own shop, you’ll discover one fundamental truth about PR: It’s changing faster than ever. These shifts include everything from the implications of brand journalism on the PR function to the dwindling number of journalists filling established newsrooms.

As someone sitting squarely in the midst of these seismic shifts, which include the bubbling up of an entire marketing category called PRTech, I’ve had the great pleasure of speaking with many of the industry’s leading minds and picking their brains for best “tips and tricks” for upping your PR game.

From automated-marketing tools to modern skill sets, check out what the best and brightest are using to keep them winning.

Gmail plugins that will have you embracing email

Ugh. Email: the bane of many business professionals’ existence. It’s not that email isn’t useful; it’s just that there is so darn much of it. So how can you turn your email, or shall I say Gmail, into a mecca of usefulness?

According to Kristen Tischhauser, managing partner at talkTECH, Rapportive is one of the greatest inventions to date for the PR pro.

“This free, social CRM tool plugs right into your Gmail and provides a photo of your contact, an overview of their LinkedIn profile, company, title, location, Twitter, and connections you have in common,” she says.

I’ve used it, and she’s right. Rapportive saves minutes (those precious minutes!) of time because you can get all the pertinent info directly in the sidebar of your email.

Nora Wolf, a New York-based publicist, makes a good point: “Being a good publicist means diligently following up and not allowing any emails to slip through the cracks.”

For her, it’s Boomerang that does the trick.

“Boomerang helps me keep track of the numerous emails I send every day by letting me set a date and time for the email to return back to me. It works really well for long lead stories, reminding me to check back three, four, six months later when an article finally is published. A lot happens in six months and I want to make sure I always send thank-you notes and get a copy of the publication.”

This is another one I can put my “stamp” on. Boomerang has literally saved me from myself on numerous occasions and has reduced my anxiety around forgetting to follow up.

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Getting First Dibs on the Future of PR and Media

When a writer for Fast Company agrees to write a “first dibs” article for your company blog, it is all at once flattering (OMG! She’s gonna do that for lil’ ol’ us??), but also – ah hem – kind of scary.

Because…what if…everyone likes her better?

Inflated egos notwithstanding (and in true entrepreneurial fashion) this week we are thrilled to take the risk of Wendy Marx eclipsing us so that you…yes YOU…can gain interesting insights from one of the PR industry’s finest.

Read. Enjoy. Tweet. Discuss. Comment. Re-post. We promise not to be offended or to take it personally if this goes viral:

Getting First Dibs on the Future of PR and Media

By Wendy Marx

Want a peak into the future of PR and media?

Expect to see in the coming years a more ballsy, diverse PR profession that is less obsessed with scoring a big hit in old-time media than capitalizing on niche and non-traditional media. And expect to see a reimagining of media storytelling tools and tactics coupled with a new PR-journalist alliance.

At least those were the prognostications of some seers of PR and journalism at a PRSA Tri State District event titled “PRX: The Future of Media.”

One fact is patently clear: PR and its first cousin, journalism, are in a whirlwind of evolution of redefining themselves.

What’s ahead and how do you succeed? These PR and media crystal ball gazers articulated a roadmap of the future. Here are ways they recommended to get your own toehold on the future:

Shed the veneer of sameness

Decrying the commoditization of PR practitioners who are spit out of the PR factory in the same mold, Fred Cook, President and CEO of global PR agency Golin, urged the mostly female audience to dare to fail and keep more balls (or ideas) on the table. “Failure is the best way to success in your career,” said Cook, who regaled the audience with his failures as a doorman, chauffer, tennis player, and school teacher as chronicled in his book, Improvise: Unconventional Career Advise from an Unlikely CEO.

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Living in the world where #EveryonesACritic

FUN FACT ALERT: Did you know over 80% of consumers today now consult online reviews before making a purchase? This may seem #captainobvious to you in today’s smartphone-saturated world, but there is more than meets the eye beyond the number of Yelp stars on a business page.

In Everyone’s a Critic, Bill Tancer (New York Times Best Selling author of Click, who also happens to be one of our trusted AirPR Advisors) takes the first in-depth look into the world of online reviews and how sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and many others are changing the way we interact and make buying decisions. As Mr.Tancer aptly states: “Today everything is reviewable”.

Now if that isn’t some serious pre-Halloween fright, I don’t know what is.

everyones a criticDo you remember when online reviews first hit the scene? It was a terrifying, heart-wrenching, reality check for many. To a certain extent, fear of a bad review is what drove professionals to pay attention to peoples’ online feedback, but what was uncovered proved to be so much more.

Once the initial shock factor wore off, businesses large and small recognized that reviews actually provided a wealth of useful (and untapped) customer information. The feedback loop was driven by transparency and thus unearthed incredible insights businesses could use to drive customer preference and choice.

So, what has this got to do with PR?

Candidly: A whole-heckava-lot.

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