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What Beyonce and Lady Gaga have taught us about public relations

*Full Disclosure: This blog may or may not have been written while bumping Beyoncé’s new album from start to finish.

Last Friday reigning pop queen Beyoncé dropped her newest album on the world sans fanfare. Conventional music marketing wisdom would indicate an album release without a marketing campaign is superstar suicide:

No anticipation = No sales.

Oh, how we love seeing industries turned on their heads.

Queen Bey crushed all preconceived notions by selling over 800,000 copies in three days. Her massive success and novel approach got us thinking about her choice in marketing tactics (or lack thereof).

More pointedly: Is doing no PR sometimes the best kind of public relations? Just “B” the thing you are, if it’s good…people will come. Is shunning traditional marketing tactics in lieu of less trodden paths actually the more clever strategy?

Case and point: Lady Gaga released her album ARTPOP on November 6, 2013, preceded by a slew of the usual Gaga-eque public relations stunts and promotional fanfare. But her album kinda flopped – or at least didn’t hold a candle to BeyBey.

This week, I enlisted AirPR’s newest team member and PR Engineer, Leta Soza, to articulate and visualize the Top 5 lessons companies can learn from two of the world’s leading pop queens…and how their decisions contributed to their overall success…or failure.




Instead of launching a campaign stacked with public appearances and media hits, Mrs. Carter went straight to the people. She sought to minimize the space between the fans and the music by cutting out all the middlemen.

Don’t let someone else cultivate your relationships. Speak directly to your customers. You control your message and the minute you give that power to someone else, you lose the ability to drive the conversation.


With 17 tracks and 14 music videos, content creation was the top priority and provided ample opportunity for fans to gawk, geek out and gush. I mean, who doesn’t love watching B. shake her groove thang?

If you know what your customers want and love, use it to inspire consumable content. The more you give, the more you get.


Breaking with tradition, Beyoncé dropped her entire album in one fell swoop AND made sure it didn’t have an obvious hit single.

Placing all your proverbial eggs in one basket is dangerous. If you can’t deliver quality across the board, people will stop paying attention. Continue reading…

Top 22 “unsexier things” than PR big data

In Silicon Valley, Silicon Alley, Silicon Hills, and Silicon [insert any global tech region I may not be familiar with], big data is all the big rage.

As a founding team member for a company now selling a big data product (AirPR Analyst), I’ve been forced to come to terms with my lack of immediate enthusiasm for this term that seems as elusive as it does overhyped.

For me, it was on par with hookup dating apps.

PR big dataWhat does the “BIG” mean exactly?

Does it mean “a lot”? As in: “Wow, you have A LOT of data.”

Does it mean that when I envision this data I should be thinking about really really, physically large numbers? Like the biggest number three I could possibly imagine.

Or does it mean important? As in: “Whoa…your data is a really big deal. Huge.”

Regardless of its roots (I should have just Wikipedia’d it), I know one thing for a fact: it’s very unsexy.

Perhaps the only thing unsexier than saying “big data” is when you slap the term “PR” in front of it. I mean, talk about a buzz kill. That’s the tricky thing about building technology in an industry that hasn’t seen innovation in over a decade. Don’t get me wrong – we are doing a series of things to sexify PR – but it’s going to take some time.

Standby though. Our engineering team is really getting into it.

During these “sexifying of PR” brainstorms, it dawned on me that we definitely aren’t at the bottom of the barrel. In fact, I found at least 138 things most people would find much unsexier than PR big data.

To prove my point, I will now divulge the Top 22 things (out of 138) that are unsexier than PR big data:

#1 – Aluminum extrusions

#2 – CEOs with big egos

#3 – Weird mustaches on guys unless it’s “Movember”

#4 – Man-cleavage

#5 – Non-Virgin America flights

#6 – Accidentally texing a boy: “I’m going to the gyn” instead of “gym”

# 7 – People who think they’re cool because they know other people who they think are cool

# 8 – Bad kissers

# 9 – Not opening doors for girls

#10 – Taking credit for things other people obviously did Continue reading…

PR Measurement quiz: this could make you really rich

In celebratory celebration of the rolling press launch for our newest product, AirPR Analyst (PR Analytics = oh good I can see what’s working), which will continue over the next week – assuming the Twitter IPO doesn’t completely steal our thunder (GRRRR!) – I thought it would be entertaining to post a very serious PR […]

PR in less than 150 words

Today I woke up around 3:30 a.m., my body still adjusting to west coast time after spending a couple of weeks over yonder in New York. We’ve been eating, breathing, and [clearly not] sleeping AirPR to the max over the past 60 days…all in prep for our impending press launch. Stay tuned. But in the […]

Van Halen’s “Public Relations”

Last week, just for fun, I was doing random searches for “Public Relations” pretty much anywhere I could. Google. Bing. Ask.com. Facebook. LinkedIn. YouTube. You name it. This activity may seem like an ardent waste of time, however, it is extremely important in terms of understanding one’s organic position with the search engines. I can assure you, […]

The value of PR: what do podiatrists, glaziers, and plumbers have in common?

Sometimes the content gods do a little magic and enlighten you to information that seems almost too good to be true.

Case in point: yesterday I received this article from PR Daily in my inbox, the short of which went something like this:

On the Top 200 jobs list culled together by CareerCast (by the way, I’ve never heard of this site before), public relations executive ranked #73. News reporter ranked dead spanking last at #200.

Before we get excited not to be last, let’s look at a few careers topping PR…ones clearly less stressful with perhaps a better hiring outlook, but certainly lacking the earning potential.


#23 – podiatrist

#59 – glazier

#66 – plumber

I would also like to point out that public relations executive jobs generally lack these three factors, which (I think) should bump the number to at least 69:

“Gross” factor – podiatrist

“What the hell is that?” factor – glazier

“The butt of every joke” factor – plumber

It’s easy to get caught up, and somewhat defensive, about PR’s ranking on the Top 200 jobs list; but I implore you to keep reading. Any feelings of inferiority will soon be assuaged.  Continue reading…

PR TIP: Don’t be a loser at SXSW 2013

Ahhh, SXSW. That time of year when every startup under the sun flees to the quaint, country-loving town of Austin, Texas only to have their big launch plans hijacked by the likes of Amex and Pepsi. And this year, possibly Uber and Airbnb too.

But have no fear, despite its recent saturation and seemingly oversubscribed experience, SXSW offers many unique opportunities for those willing to plan ahead, take things with a gigantic grain of salt (with a side of BBQ), and ultimately enjoy the company of others who have figured out how to maximize their ROI: Return on Interactive.

SXSW meeting calendar
An insider’s look at a perfectly organized schedule for AirPR execs at SXSW soon to be ruined by reality.

From one recently reformed SXSW-avoidant professional to another, here are the dos and don’ts for ensuring that [during your reflective flight home] you don’t feel like you’ve completely wasted your time, money, energy, or worse…lost your sanity.

#1 DO

Do make sure you attend at least 2 panels or keynote events a day. This will give you plenty of content to talk about later when you’re trying to awkwardly network with a bunch of drunk people at an after party. It will also give you plenty of stuff to Tweet about and post to your Facebook wall so that you appear to be #intheknow.

#2 DON’T

Don’t try to stack meetings with potentially important individuals between 8am and 11am because you likely won’t make it. Be kind to yourself and accept this reality. We know you are trying to impress the boss, but simply don’t do it. You will fail, which is worse than not scheduling a meeting in the first place. BONUS: Sunday, March 10, 2013 is conveniently Daylight Savings, so you better push those meetings back to noon.

#3 DO

Do RSVP to every party that looks halfway decent so you have plenty of party-hopping choices and can also pull the “Where’s Waldo” stunt for people you are trying to avoid. This tip is really geared more towards investors and other folks with money who end up being inundated with requests from startup founders. Journalists also fall into this category. Continue reading…

PR Controversy: Bees in the Bonnet

After the funding announcement on TechCrunch, we had some interesting reactions (to say the least) to our news. Below are our top 5 favorite tweet-threads from the launch. What is it they say? All press is good press?

Stephanie Smirnov ‏@ssmirnov
Cue righteous indignation of PR ppl who feel they aren’t broken >
@cassieboorn:Air PR Nabs $1M to fix PR industry

Brandee Barker ‏@brandee
AirPR, 1) ANY advisors IN PR? 2) good PR is a party in NY? to which no
one I know was invited, 3) sourcing OK, but how is quality vetted?

Sylvie Tongco ‏@SylvieT
Hmm PR “platform.” You mean consultants? AirPR Nabs $1M To Help
Startups Find Better PR http://tcrn.ch/VEHlXg

Amy Ziari ‏@aziari
So basically this is a headhunter for startups to find PR firms. Why
form a “startup” for this vs. consulting

*Conversation between TechCrunch writer Ryan Lawler and some folks…

Ryan Lawler ‏@ryanlawler
@davezatz Mostly agree. But also see lots of worthy startups struggle
due to shitty PR, w/little understanding of what to do better @sohear

Continue reading…