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Ignite X is a recognized, integrated marketing agency in Silicon Valley that delivers content marketing, executive branding, and public relations services.  

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Ignite X specializes in helping technology startups grow their market visibility and brand. We bring expertise, connections and tenacity to helping brands break through the noise. Here are some of the things we've learned along the way. 

Filtering by Category: Client PR Relationship

The Rebirth of PR

Carmen Hughes

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I attended the Girls in Tech / Horn Group event that examined the notion of whether social media tools are killing PR.  The event was in part to address the ongoing backchannel blogger chatter, which is essentially asserting that PR is dying on the vine.  Kudos to the Horn Group and Girls in Tech for taking the opportunity to move beyond the negative bickering and look forward to the role that social media tools are having and how PR must harness them.  I agree with the stand that Sabrina Horn took in noting that, no, PR is far from dying and the industry is, in fact, on the cusp of being reborn. In other words, there is opportunity on the horizon for those agencies that choose to transform for the future.  The panelists were fantastic, each bringing a different and highly relevant perspective: Sam Whitmore of Media Survey served as the moderator and did an excellent job of prodding the audience for feedback while trying to cover a number of areas and keep all participants on track.  Susan Etlinger, from the agency-side, Jeremiah Owyang, provided the analyst and blogger perspective, and BoomTown’s Kara Swisher lent perspective from her traditional media experience.  Unfortunately, the 90 minutes didn’t afford the time to really dig down into how different social tools are enhancing PR or could be integrated more successfully.  Nevertheless, the exchange was positive and fruitful, providing some good take-aways.  Kara Swisher was vastly entertaining and provided a dose of reality related to the drama and antics some bloggers are exhibiting.

 

A few folks from the crowd provided a client perspective, noting that they want their agencies to be more expert at product marketing and SEO and web analytics.  Jeremiah was spot on in his assessment that today the PR industry has to build out core competencies in SEO, web analytics, product marketing, viral marketing and beyond in order to be able to offer a new brand of PR services and expertise to clients; This new brand of PR is one that will blend core practices of traditional PR with online marketing -- while harnessing existing and future tools that disseminate information faster and farther. There are indeed new revenue streams to be realized here for PR firms.  PR is at a crossroads in its need to evolve and become savvy in online advertising and other marketing competencies so that we can help clients navigate how they can most effectively apply their marketing efforts and dollars to drive company revenues. 

 

Like the auto industry’s need to retool their manufacturing plants, now is the time for the PR industry to also retool.  Future core services that we begin to offer clients need to be creative and closely align with how to leverage the expanding communication channels and the different avenues in which content and services and conversations are being disseminated, shared, and consumed.

Why Full Disclosure With PR Makes Sense

Carmen Hughes

fung_full_disclosure1.png Today my colleague and I were discussing the importance of clients being upfront with their PR team about issues or internal weaknesses that they’d prefer didn’t exist or that they presume aren’t relevant to PR. It is not wise for companies to undertake “partial disclosure” with their PR team. Inevitably the company’s “issue or deficiency” is bound to surface publicly, and it may not be a pretty scene when it does. Or it may simply and quietly drive away customers. We’ve seen this bad habit enough to recognize it is not an isolated situation by any means, and I’m sure happens with regularity at large companies just as it happens with the startups. Here are more reasons why full disclosure with your PR firm is the best approach:
  • PR firms can be like your legal counselor. By undertaking full disclosure with your PR, they have all the pieces on the table, whether those are good, bad, or (yes) ugly, but they can help you put a more effective long term strategy together. This strategy will help the company navigate what should have been the avoidable!
  • When your PR team knows straight up all of the company’s potholes and otherwise, they are in a much better position to counsel the client on the pros and cons. PR can give you the possible fallout: if you do x, then y might happen, etc. That way, the company can make better decisions on how to proceed --- or not. So, for instance, don’t oversell your product/service prematurely. Why? Well, when reporters and people begin to try your product, guess what? They probably won’t come back---ever, or anytime soon. When a company publicly launches but the product wasn’t ready for prime-time, they cannot have a “do-over.”
  • Rather than have your PR team unknowingly communicating hyperbole on a product, feature or benefit, if the PR team is truly “in the know,” they can adjust their emphasis on that benefit or feature that really doesn’t live up to the claim. Or, PR can tone down promoting a company’s position or approach vis-à-vis the competition, when in actuality; the company’s claim might be viewed as duplicitous by the press or blogger community.
  • If a product or service is really buggy or essentially vaporware, companies need to realize that this type of smoke-and-mirrors strategy is not likely to succeed for a sustainable period, so they should resist prematurely marketing a product or service that isn’t ready for prime time. They’ll be spending their resources more effectively, and they will gain more credibility with the public for releasing quality products/services when they are ready to go to market.

While this all sounds reasonable, we often see an overconfidence on the part of entrepreneurs that they won’t get called out publicly for this nonchalant approach. Then when something does surface, they call in PR asking for help.