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10 Ways PR Can Leverage LinkedIn

A few weeks ago I conducted an exclusive interview with two of LinkedIn’s leading tech ladies, Sarah Clatterbuck and Erica Lockheimer, alongside PR Manager Kenly Walker. We talked about everything from how to ensure your LinkedIn connections aren’t aware of your stalking habits, to how the company’s “women in tech” initiatives are setting an example […]


Smart Speak: Ditch the business jargon to build trust

As a professional communicator and nearly obsessive people observer, one thing I often find myself doing at events is listening in on conversations between individuals and groups of people. Some may call this eavesdropping; I like to think of it as homework.

While it may seem totally creepy, the rationale is simple: Through these types of observations, I gain knowledge and insights about the evolution of language, culture, business, and inadvertently modern-day communication.

More specifically, I hear the jargon that emerges as we attempt to codify language within certain industries.

Bryan E. Jones, VP of marketing North America and the Dell, makes the point that jargon is typically used for two reasons: “It’s either a shorthanded way to speak to colleagues or others in your industry (which is fine); or it’s a shield that says, ‘What I do is hard and complex and I want you to stay on your side of the line.'”

Anthony Ray, aka Sir Mix-A-Lot, puts it a little more bluntly: “People think it makes them sound smarter.” He adds: “It’s not just the tech industry that’s guilty of this. It happens in every industry under the sun.”

As a longtime entrepreneur (Appboy) and investor (T5 Capital), Mark Ghermezian has seen his fair share of jargon: “I understand why it exists, and there are definitely some environments where pulling out your ‘industry speak’ will work; but it’s all about context and knowing your audience.”

In terms of the technology and business landscape, and in order to decode and rethink some of the most overused and overrated terms, I asked Jones, Ray, and Ghermezian to give me their take.

ditch jargon speak smartHere are their thoughts on some of the most pervasive catch phrases, what they really mean, and suggestions on what we should we be saying instead.

1. “Social selling.”

This something I’ve been hearing rumblings of for the past year. “Social selling as opposed to unsocial selling is pretty ridiculous if you think about it,” says Jones. “As if we would ever say to a customer: ‘Hi, I don’t want to get to know you or your business, but I would like you to buy things from me. Is that OK?'”

Let’s stick to simply “selling” coupled with a genuine interest in our respective buyers, shall we?

2. “Disruption” and “paradigm.”

These two are like the startup world’s Bobbsey Twins: completely different, each with their own adventures, but often finding themselves together at last. Notes Ray candidly: “It goes a little something like this: Company X will completely disrupt the industry and totally shift the current paradigm.”

What to say instead?

“How about just telling us how you’re ‘different,’ and what real-world problem you are trying to solve,” says Ray. “Using jargon is often a cover up for fluff and truly smart folks will see straight through it.”

3. “Data-driven insights.”

“In my opinion, there’s no reason to track data that’s not going to benefit the customer relationship,” remarks Jones. “We have a tendency to want to track every detail, but it’s our responsibility to take a step back and question the utility of it all.”

In other words, we could think of this as “information that will enable us to make better decisions around the customer.” While “data-driven insights” sounds super smart, it doesn’t mean anything short of context and application.

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Big Data and the Human Experience

Dell 1,5, 10 Big DataLast week, I had the pleasure of spending 14 hours talking, thinking, and theorizing about the future of Big Data at Dell’s 1-5-10 Big Data event at San Francisco’s Clift Hotel. The conversations included thoughts and insights from some of the world’s biggest Big Data experts.

Did I mention Big Data?

Needless to say, I went to bed with Big Data on my mind.

The next morning, after a smooch from my pooch and grabbing a coffee to go, I jumped into an Uber with one Arman, two bags, and three changes of clothes…and headed back to my home in Marin.

Here’s what happened during that drive:

As Arman and I rode through the city toward the Golden Gate Bridge I decided to put my phone away and think about how my morning was being affected by Big Data.

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Dell, OneSpot, and AirPR on the New PR/Marketing Frontier

This week we bring you a guest post from Dell’s managing editor, the incomparable Ms. Stephanie Losee. Ms. Losee has been leading the brand journalism/content marketing charge for quite some time, so it only seemed fitting that we turn her loose on two of our favorite CEOs. We hope you enjoy this illuminating exchange!

Stephanie_Losee_HeadshotHow much longer are PR teams going to talk about “getting a seat at the table” of their organizations’ leadership? Steve Sachs, CEO of OneSpot, and Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer, CEO of AirPR are trying to put an end to that conversation. Both companies have launched platforms that attempt to give communications teams the numbers they need to prove their value once and for all.

Stephanie Losee: What do your platforms do? How do they compare to each other?

SFM headshotSharam Fouladgar-Mercer: AirPR is a technology platform to increase and measure PR performance. We currently have two products. Marketplace matches technology companies and innovative brands with the top PR professionals and small firms in the country. AirPR’s first-to-market measurement solution, Analyst, uses machine learning and proprietary technology to measure the ROI of PR. The product analyzes digital media activities from traffic to conversion to projected and/or actual revenue in addition to a variety of factors about your brand.

steve sachs headshotSteve Sachs: OneSpot is a content advertising platform. Many brands have done a great job of creating incredibly valuable, beautiful content, but they often find it’s extraordinarily difficult to get it in front of the right people. We help brands build meaningful audiences for their owned and earned content to drive business results by promoting their content in a very unique way. Our specialty is not just distributing content, but serially placing multiple pieces of content in front of the same user, individually targeted to their demonstrated interests. We call this capability Content Sequencing, and it’s something that only we offer. We’re complementary to AirPR in that we’re focused more on content distribution and sequencing.

SL: Which problem is your platform trying to solve?

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Social Business: Is Your Company Ready to Commit?

Last Thursday, Sharam and I had the pleasure of participating in Dell’s Social Business Think Tank, a roundtable discussion that looked at the challenges and opportunities of social media’s evolution within enterprise organizations.

#DellVenue Social Business Think TankCharlene Li, Altimeter Group’s CEO, moderated the panel, which included insightful contributions from a stellar panel of business leaders. A comprehensive list of participants can be found below and a full recording of the conversation can be found here (for those of you with 2 hours to kill).

In case you’ve got other things to do, allow me to synthesize.The discussion centered on the maturation of social business and how brands and businesses need to think about the evolving social landscape.

Social media is extending deeper into organizations and as strategies mature, there are molds to break and mindsets to shift. Social is revealing entirely new ways of doing business and that means shaking up the status quo.

Are you ready to embrace all that it means to be truly social?

Below are 3 challenges to think about and 3 (golden) opportunities to capitalize on as social business continues to blossom:

#SocBiz Challenge 1: The Buyer Rules

How, when, and why people buy has shifted dramatically. Consumers today are armed with more information than ever before. From search tools and reviews, to comparison pricing, buyers are in control of nearly the entire purchasing process leaving sales with very few tried a true tactics left in their arsenal.

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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 […]