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Adam Singer on analytics, Jack Bauer, and PR success

When you’re a relatively new company, attempting to do something please don’t say disruptive or innovative here um, hmmmm, new… it’s extremely important to watch for influencers in your industry who have insights or opinions about what you’re doing.

Exhibit A: “Adam takes off the gloves”

AS rant

Adam Singer, who currently spends his days at the Google Compound Complex as Analytics Advocate, and moonlights as a forward thinking PR critic and founder of The Future Buzz, is one such person.

As you can see from Exhibit A, when we publicly launched our first product (Marketplace) he had a few opinions…which we welcomed.

OH! How boring life would be without challengers and dissenters!

Over the past year we’ve visited Adam at Google, lunched with him in San Francisco, awarded him a very prestigious “PRTech Award,” and even swapped quippy company T-shirts with him. Ahh, yes, this is a true PR match made in heaven. But it did take time.

Exhibit B: “Sharam and Adam play nicey poo”


Now, we bring you this illustrious – if not “coming out of sorts” – interview with one of our favorite Advocates.

Rebekah Iliff: Let’s start with an easy one. Can you tell us about your background and how your experience with PR has shaped your story?

Adam Singer: While in college, I was a total geek and created websites and grew digital communities in my free time (and monetized them instead of getting a part-time job). It was only after I entered the workforce and decided to get a “real job” that I ended up getting a trial by fire in PR. After my internship I ended up being hired as an account executive for a PR agency in Fort Lauderdale in 2005.

I hadn’t really studied PR save for a few journalism electives in college, but it turned out that my experience as a geek prepared me really well for the “new world” of PR.

Thrusting a social web, power user into the mix of a traditional PR agency early on proved to be valuable experience not just for me, but for my agency who promoted me from an account executive, to manager, to ultimately digital director within my first two years.

Continue reading…

Courting the Queen of Measurement: Katie Delahaye Paine

When we first started speaking with our “circle of trust” over a year ago in preparation for our Analyst launch, one name came up over and over again:

Katie Delahaye Paine.

Known by many as the “Queen of Measurement” (#QOM), she has been in the PR biz forever and runs a successful consultancy focused on PR Measurement. She regularly speaks on the subject, and is tapped for expert opinion on the evolving PR landscape.

Take, for example, her recent shout out surrounding the Vocus-Cision merger.

Not to spoil the interview, but she will say things like: “I can only speculate that stupid people doing dumb things don’t want to be measured.”

Well, I couldn’t agree more. I would also add that people doing small things don’t want to be measured.

Oh, and this: “The big shift has been away from HITS – how idiots track success –  towards more meaningful business oriented metrics that are tied to web analytics or opinion shifts.”

Sassy, irreverent, and not afraid to speak her mind, we bring you an interview with #QOM which will likely make you that much smarter.

Read on for more #QOMisms. They are JUST. SO. GOOD.

Katie Delahaye Paine headshotRebekah Iliff: You’ve been a pioneer in the field of measurement for more than twenty years. What’s kept your metrics fire burning bright after all these years?

Katie Delahaye Paine: One of the core beliefs I learned early on in my career was that you have to love the people you work with. I have been privileged throughout my career to work with the smartest most innovative communications professionals in the business. I can only speculate that stupid people doing dumb things don’t want to be measured, but for whatever reason I love the people I get to work with, love solving their problems, and love the challenges, especially when they say “we’ve never been able to measure what we do” – because chances are good, I can figure out a way to measure it.

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Serena Ehrlich from Business Wire sets the record straight

DON’T FORGET: The 5th Annual PR Summit in San Francisco is 1 month away! Be sure to buy your tickets. Here’s 20% off because we love you: http://bit.ly/1iXXuWE

Back in the fall of 2013, I wrote this blog post where I equated the press release to that annoying guy nobody wants to invite to a party, but for some reason everyone feels obligated to invite.

This type of behavior (inviting unwanted guests) entirely eludes me – probably because I’m not nice. Or something like that.

Truth be told, however, being nice has its distinct advantages. Namely: you tend to have a higher quality of life and meet people you wouldn’t otherwise meet. These people, the ones you may have otherwise ignored while clinging for dear life to your bitchy resting face, can end up being great advocates for you…if you take the time to get to know them, understand where they’re coming from, and ultimately relinquish your propensity to thinking “hey, I’m usually always right.”

In a moment of weakness, niceness, and extroversion, I accepted an invitation to a PR gathering in San Francisco hosted by Paul Wilke (whom I adore), the founder of @UprightComms. While there, over an assortment of wine and charcuterie, I met a woman by the name of Serena Ehrlich – who just happened to be the very friendly Director of Social and Evolving Media at Business Wire.

Oh, and she was also named the “top 25 women in mobile to watch”, “25 women who rock social media”, “best social media blogger for PR”, and a various assortment of other titles that tend to intimidate-slash-excite me.

In true social media culture fashion, we spoke to each other briefly in person at the little gathering but quickly launched a rather heated Twitter affair – which is entirely appropriate given her skill sets. We have serendipitously run into each other at PR-related events over the past year, the last of which was the “PR News’ PR Measurement Conference” in Washington DC – where Serena graciously gave me her perspective on why newswires are still relevant (despite Google’s algo updates and my seeming disdain for press releases) and how we can measure their impact more effectively.

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Spin May Suck, But Gini Dietrich Rocks

Have you ever had a moment in time where you’re thinking “wow, I’m on top of the world, I really know my $h!t” only to have your ego (rightly) deflated after a serendipitous brush with someone who, in actuality, is much more on top of it than you?

If that had ever happened to me, it would have likely happened when I came Twitter-face to Twitter-face with one Gini Dietrich.

Gini is the Angelina Jolie of the PR world IMHO.

She makes us all look like slackers. Just when you think she can’t possibly do ONE MORE THING a conversation like this happens:

Me: Hey Gini, whatcha doing?

Gini: Hi! So great to hear from you! I’m getting ready to speak on a panel in about 5 minutes on the future of PR.

Me: Oh geeez, should I call you back?

Gini: No, no, it’s totally fine. Right after that I have to jump on a plane and go to my book signing in New York.

Me: Oh wow, ok, well thanks for taking the time to speak with me.

Gini: No problem! It’s absolutely my pleasure. Can you hold for one second please…my husband is on the other line and he’s calling because my son is having this thing, and I need to conduct an emergency tracheotomy via satellite before I jump on stage. BRB.

Me: (Inner dialogue: I’m a loser) Sure, oh my God, no problem.

All (slight joking) aside, I caught up with Gini fresh on the heels of her Spin Sucks book launch…a book I highly recommend to anyone looking to get up to speed on this crazy PR evolution we’re experiencing.

Soak up Gini’s wise words, she’s a class PR act….

Rebekah Iliff: Let’s start with an simple one: What makes you so passionate about PR?

Gini Dietrich: I suppose it’s just from being in the industry as long as I have. I mean, what? I’ve only been out of college for five years. 🙂 Truly it’s because I don’t think we do a great job of doing our own PR. There are so many misconceptions about what we do (and don’t do) that it makes me a little nuts. I come from the line of thinking that if you don’t like something, you should do something about it.

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How integrating data fuels Optimizely’s potent PR

This week, The Holmes Report cited us in a post entitled: Are PR engineers the next big ‘thing’?

Growth hackers and data scientists step aside puuhleeease.

As fortuitous but somewhat strategic luck would have it, the journalist also cited Helen Phung of Optimizely in the article – who just so happens (let’s be clear though, nothing “just so happens” – #PRblackbox) to be our interview of the week.

Truth #1 – When Sharam introduced us a few months ago I was immediately intrigued by her “PR Prowess” and fundamental understanding of the nuances and nuisances of PR’s evolutionary future.

Truth #2 – We like totally stole her Twitter bio (PR Engineer) title and are now championing it like it ain’t nobody’s bidness.

Read on to find out why she’s the A/Bees knees and why Optimizely is making major PR waves.

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Nice Girl, Author, Entrepreneur and #PRStudChat Co-founder Gets Lippy

In PR, an industry largely driven by the female constituency, there are two distinct camps: the mean girls and the nice girls. The “PR mean girl” is not a stereotype – it’s a living, breathing, actual creature. And it totally sucks.

When I shifted into the tech side of PR, I needed to know who my advocates would be…because they were (and are) the ones who would support us in moving the proverbial PR needle.

Before we launched our second product, I asked my former colleague, Kelly Byrd, to give me her Top 10 list of PR nice girls – because our first product had surfaced the mean girls, and I wanted to arm myself with “reinforcements”.

At the top of her list?

Deirdre Breckenridge presentingA very talented, beautiful, kind, and extremely intelligent gal by the name of Deidre Breakenridge. In addition to being the CEO of Pure Performance Communications, she co-founded #PRStudChat and is the author of five (YES FIVE!) PR and social media focused books.

If it’s not obvious by the following interview I conducted with her a few weeks ago, I have a serious serious serious #nicegirlcrush on this woman.

And I imagine you will too…

Rebekah Iliff: You have been at the forefront during the convergence of marketing and technology. What are the 3 biggest things in your opinion that have changed over the last decade due to this fusion? 

Deirdre Breakenridge: We’ve experienced so many changes over the past 10 years, but here are the top three that come to mind as a turning point in our communications:

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5 tips from Randi Zuckerberg on striking a tech-life balance

Randi Zuckerberg’s ascension to the “voice of reason” in our fast-paced, digitally-enhanced, technology-connected age couldn’t have come at a better time.

In her recently launched book Dot Complicated, Randi addresses some of the most pressing issues of our time, how to put up boundaries around technology, and essentially build a life that is tech-interdependent.

Bonus about Randi: She’s about as sweet as they come and totally sincere in her mission to enforce positive tech role modeling. However, she does have a lil’ sass. Love.

My favorite quote ever came during Dell World 2013 a few weeks ago while she was doing an interview with Moira Forbes.

When asked how she responded to Mark when he first wanted to bring her into “The Facebook” fold:

“Why would I want to work for your stupid, little startup?”

Ah-hem. Well?

From Facebook to the frontlines of untangling our wired lives, here are some seriously useful insights and thoughts from Ms. Zuckerberg…

Rebekah Iliff: If the core of a person’s life is a narrative, should this be true for businesses and how would an industry like PR support this?

Randi Zuckerberg: In this day and age, a business absolutely needs a narrative to succeed. As social media and an online presence becomes an increasingly integral part of the marketing plan for any business, companies have to fine-tune their persona and voice to fit the story they are promoting for their business. The businesses that are transparent and authentic are the ones that will draw (and keep) the most loyal consumers. An important role for PR is to encourage clients to really be thoughtful about how they present their brand to the world via social media and general online presence.

RI: You talk about a couple of “crisis comms” situations, both personal and professional, in your book. Are situations like these something you should tackle alone or is it important to have support? (*cough cough..PR)

RZ: Today, the lines are blurred between personal and professional crisis comms. Thanks to social media, every employee (from intern to executive) reflects and adds to the reputation of their firm. That’s why we need to always be careful of what we post online, even to our personal networks. For personal crises, it’s fine to handle them on your own, or with the advice of friends and family. The moment it implicates your company, however, it’s a good idea to have the support of a PR team. Also, make sure to train your employees to proactively communicate with customers, instead of waiting to act reactively after a crisis occurs. Continue reading…

Hacking Hammerling: what this tech PR queen bee gets right

A few months ago, after writing this blog post bemoaning an Inc.com article about how simple it is to do your own PR, I received this tweet from Brooke Hammerling – who is quite well known in tech PR circles.

Brooke tweet

There have been a few other tweets from @brooke over the course of the past year (most a lil’ snarky, but I like snark so it’s all good) with regard to AirPR. In my opinion, these tweets serve to generate a healthy dialogue among skeptics…because most great PR people know how to incite conversation. It’s what they do…they get things moving.

I’ve watched Brew PR (her firm) for the past several years, and I respect what they do and how they do it. And mostly, Brooke is spot on when she talks about PR and what it takes to get your story out there.

This week I wanted to highlight three important points about PR with the assistance of Brooke’s insights and AirPR’s data. Now THAT is a powerful, snark-on-snark, combo.

In a recent post on First Round Capital’s blog, Brooke provides a very solid argument about why startups don’t “get” media. It’s a brilliant overview of how startups and founders should be thinking about PR. You should read it after you read my post, obviously.

#1 – A solid media plan needs a runway of three to six months

She asserts: “Even if you have a couple weeks and marketing material, that’s not enough. It’s not going to be effective and it’s going to look fake. When a company does this — and plenty still do — nine times out of 10 a launch will get botched, and they never get another shot at it.”

Our data show: “911” PR doesn’t work and many of companies we see come through our Marketplace (and we subsequently “reject” from the platform) believe they can hire someone today and be on the cover of Time next week. These misaligned expectations will kill any attempt at a productive PR campaign. Messaging, narrative, and product positioning take planning. For a startup, I think six months is probably a little long, but certainly 60-90 days should be standard planning period prior to launch. Continue reading…

Porter Gale talks Virgin America, Networks, Marketing, and PR

I have often thought, as I stand in line head directly to the Virgin Terminal at SFO: “Life would be perfect if everything felt like Virgin America.”

This is not a joke. These words have actually crossed my mind.

I’m not sure if this means I travel too much, not enough (#firstworldfantasies), or simply appreciate the fact that I feel cooler and safer and VIP-er when I fly this airline. Whatever they have managed to do to my brain I know they’ve done to countless others…because this is a regular topic of conversation at elitist startup-tech-entrepreneur-influencer-social-innovation type gatherings.

In fact, I’ve overheard folks drop this line as they talk about their impending travel plans to God knows where (definitely somewhere cool, where I’m probably not invited, and likely bordering the town of Douchebaggeria or Getoverurselfistan).


“Yeah, I’m just gonna jump on the first Virgin flight tomorrow morning – it’s kinda a last minute trip. Should be pretty dope.”

Not just a flight. A Virgin flight.

I know. Scary. But this has happened on multiple occasions.

Naturally, when I found out that Porter Gale – not only the author of the popular Your Network is Your Net Worth but also the former VP of Marketing for Virgin America – was joining AirPR as an advisor I was elated.

Forget status. Forget in-flight wifi. Forget those purple lights that make me feel like I’m en route to a Paris nightclub. And forget the uber-model staff.

What I want to know is…how did this marketing genius manage to make me want the entire world to operate Like a Virgin?

But I digress…

How did you “fall” into marketing? 

As an undergrad at Boston University, I studied business with a concentration in Marketing. After graduating in the late ‘80s, a recession was in full swing. I went on interview after interview after interview. Finally, after many months I landed an internship at an advertising agency, called Martin/Williams, in Minneapolis. Some of my first tasks included stuffing direct mail envelopes and proof reading ad copy for the Marvin Windows account team. It wasn’t a glamorous start, but it was a foot in the door.

As Vice President of Marketing at Virgin America, what were some of the challenges you experienced with PR?

During my time at Virgin America, corporate communications and public relations was managed by a top-notch executive named Abby Lunardini. Hands down, she is the best public relations person I’ve worked with. As a result, I would describe the group as uncovering numerous opportunities not challenges. Abby and her team were very skilled at leveraging events, partnerships and relationships with digital influencers to generate buzz. The team was so strong, that one constant challenge was to not over-extend and to keep the team focused on key priorities. Continue reading…

Digital Marketing is the science. PR is the art.

A few weeks ago I had the elitist pleasure of joining a slew of folks much brighter and more accomplished than I at Dell’s #InspireHouse in the Hamptons. I was met at the door by a very sweet Ellen Kampinsky, Senior Editor at Newsweek/Daily Beast (if I had a specific “starstruck face” I would have […]