airpr-interviews

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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treat-yo-self-PR

In case you missed it, PR has gotten a lot more complex over the past five years. From understanding technology to broadening skill sets, the PR role has expanded to account for these changes.

I won’t go into great detail here, but if you need proof read this, this or even this.

With complexity comes opportunities to learn, grow, innovate, and create things that were once unimaginable. When seen through this lens, PR becomes a treasure trove.

Because this week was my “birthday week” (I actually celebrate the entire month in case you were wondering), but mostly because I’ve been traveling like a madwoman to keep up with all these PR shifts (AMEC Measurement Week, Social Media Week), I’d like to point you to two articles that have already been written – which means I didn’t have to come up with something new!

Creative background with pencil and speech bubble.The subject matter is one of my favorites: brand journalism.

From Dell’s TechPageOne to Adobe’s CMO.com, brands are taking control of their news, and PR folks are quickly becoming the equivalent of newsroom editors in many cases.

Article #1 – Thank you Wendy Marx, President of Marx Communications and writer for Fast Company, for flagging this Financial Times article.

P.S. – Read her FastCo stuff too, it’s gooooood!

Article #2 – Ignore the fact that I authored this Mashable article, it’s completely objective I swear; and HBD to me!

Enjoy the rest of your week…but more importantly, remember how difficult it is to be a PR pro today and give yourself a gigantic pat on the back. Or perhaps…go get a massage :)

Aren’t birthday weeks the best?

 

Social-Business-tips

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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office-space-lessons

Part of the beauty of being an entrepreneur is the uncanny ability to roll with the punches, adapt to change, and ultimately solve problems in a creative way. But whether you’re a first-time founder or a seasoned innovator one truth holds constant: markets do not giving a flying you know what about your product roadmap, company valuation, or engineering pedigrees.

Nope. In fact, the irony of a free market is just how little any of this seems to matter in terms of the ultimate success of a company. Dare I bring up examples of over-hyped companies whose IPOs flopped, over-funded companies who (after years and years) still don’t have an actual profit-making enterprise, or behemoth brands with billions of dollars in the bank who can’t seem to innovate their way out of an open box.

The point? As much as we try, it’s often hard to predict which entrepreneurial pursuits will wind up being lucrative, and which ones will take their rightful place in the graveyard of good ideas (or terrible ones) that suffered from bad timing, ill-equipped people, or poor product execution. Between all the plans and strategies and intentions of a business lie the actual and tactical components of what often end up leading to a big win; or on the other side of the coin, an ultimate failure.

Office space trendsLately, as our company prepares for rapid growth, I’ve been thinking about things differently, which basically means more tactically. From hiring to building a culture, what are factors that we need to consider as we prepare for the next phase?

Last week, I met with two gentlemen from CBRE, a global real estate and investment firm, to talk about office space. You know, to manifest our future digs, which will (obviously) include a yoga studio, a full kitchen, vaulted ceilings, and a spiral staircase. Uh-huh, right. What I learned, however, beyond that fact that the aforementioned criteria would likely send us into early bankruptcy, is just how insightful the statistics and data around office space trends are to understanding the current environment for aspiring businesses.

You ready?

From CBRE’s “U.S. Tech-Twenty: Measuring Market Impact” report, here are a few things you may want to noodle on as you build out your empire – which will require plenty of office space:

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Game-Theory-Strategy

DISCLAIMER: We going to get a bit geeky this week, so prepare to mull. 

Establishing value-driven measurement is an integral step in cementing PR’s seat at the table. But what about other catalysts (beyond metrics) that can used in rational, strategic decision making?

Below is a write up done by our stellar summer intern, Harry Rackmil. Harry brought a numerous insightful contributions to AirPR, one of which was his application of Game Theory to PR.

Besides being a fascinating read, Harry also cooked up some nifty visuals to illustrate the model’s important conclusions. Your head might spin a little during your first read, but that’s just your brain thanking you for seeking yet another angle that proves the value of PR. Enjoy!

Public Relations and Game Theory seem to have little in common, but that doesn’t mean they don’t pair nicely.

Game theory, to paraphrase Wikipedia, is the study of strategic decision making by rational, intelligent agents. It’s easy to see how this could apply to Public Relations – every decision in a PR campaign, from which messages to pitch to which journalists to target, is a carefully considered choice, influenced in part by the strategic choices of the competition’s rational.

But then again, “strategic decision making by rational, intelligent agents” is vague enough to cover just about everything. This is intentional – it means practically any strategic decision can be tweaked into a game modelled by a mathematical game theoretical framework with a few well-placed assumptions. But it also means some important details will have to be glossed over – John Nash never incorporated the influence of the blogosphere into his equilibrium calculations.

With a few simplifying assumptions we can apply game theory to a common situation in PR and explain why increasing PR investment might not increase sales, but not investing in PR at all will cause even more damage.

How PR relates to “competitive advantage.”

Let’s look at a very specific case when two competitors are vying for the same fixed pool of customers. This is certainly not the only PR hypothetical – it is often employed to bring in new customers, coax current customers into spending more, or simply prevent unforeseeable press disasters.

Think of a presidential election – television ads are airing constantly so almost everyone knows the candidates’ names (high brand awareness), but these ads weren’t convincing enough and a number of swing voters still haven’t decided. If nothing further is done, approximately half should vote for each candidate just by random chance. But if one candidate’s PR team gets an article published making a convincing appeal to these voters and the other candidate is silent, the first candidate could get all of their votes.

Now if the second candidate’s PR team gets a second, equally effective article published favoring their candidate, the decision isn’t so straightforward and the split is back to 50/50. So both candidates have spent a lot of money on PR and they’re no better off than if they’d never hired PR pros in the first place.

So if this is the outcome, why invest in PR at all?

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