analyst relations 201

Analyst Relations 201: Briefings and Beyond

Earlier this year, Kirsty laid out the basics of analyst relations for B2B tech companies. Today, we’re going to pick up where she left off and look at Analyst Relations 201.

Analyst briefing basics

The first part of Analyst Relations 201 is the briefing itself. In her blog, Kirsty walked readers through when and why to set up an analyst briefing and how to schedule those calls.

As she mentioned, you might be setting up an analyst briefing ahead of a company or product launch or to provide a company or product overview or update. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll use the company overview briefing for our example today.

First, you’ll want to have the right spokespeople in the briefing. If you’re a startup or smaller company, we recommend this be the CEO and someone from the product team. At a larger tech vendor, you might have a designated product marketer who handles analyst relationships.

Once you have your designated spokespeople identified, it’s time to focus on the content. Usually, we recommend using a sales deck as a starting point. The reason is two-fold:

  1. It already exists and contains much of the information analysts expect to receive;
  2. Analysts often provide ad-hoc feedback, so you can easily incorporate their suggested changes into your deck.

In addition to the information you already have in your sales deck, you’ll want to supplement this with details on your company structure, leadership team, go-to-market strategy, and a detailed product roadmap.

Remember, as Kirsty noted, some firms offer 30-minute briefings and others 60-minute briefings, so you’ll want a shorter and longer version of your analyst deck. If you’re looking for more guidance, Gartner offers guidelines, sample agendas and supporting content to help you prepare for briefings.

Analyst report inclusion

The ultimate goal of analyst relations for most vendors is report inclusion. And for reports that provide ranking or ratings — top marks. So how does a vendor get mentioned in one of these reports? Well, first you have to do the aforementioned briefings.

We often encounter prospects and clients who are hesitant to dedicate the time to briefings. But without doing so, you will NOT be included in reports.

Analysts have to know your company exists and what you do before they can write about you. This is also why it’s important that you do as many unpaid (we’ll talk about paid AR in a minute) briefings as the firm allows. You want your company to remain top of mind for each analyst that covers your solution area(s).

Once you’re on an analyst’s radar, they’ll reach out when they’re developing relevant reports. To ensure inclusion, you’ll want to closely manage RFI deadlines, secure customer references and communicate these priorities to your team.

When your company is cited well in a report, you’ll want to license the report to use in your sales and marketing efforts. For major reports, you might even consider doing a press release and distributing the news over the wire.

Paid analyst relationships

When we begin talking about analyst relations with any new prospect, the first thing we often hear is “We can’t afford AR.” Up until now, all of the things we’ve discussed are FREE (beyond the time investment and report licensing fees). But if you are ready to engage in a paid relationship with an analyst firm, there are a few things you’ll want to consider.

First, let’s talk about the benefits. By engaging with analysts on a paid basis, you open up the door for two-way dialogue. This means beyond briefings, you can also schedule inquiries to ask specific questions and receive insight into the market, prospects and competitors.

For Gartner, IDC and Forrester, this comes at a hefty price tag. But if properly managed and resources are dedicated to making the most out of the relationship, you can reap the rewards. Retail-focused firms RSR and IHL offer one-off consulting sessions and IHL also offers hourly “Ask the Analyst” calls.

Additionally, analyst firms like IHL and RSR can also create highly-customized unique research. This research can be used to support your ongoing marketing and sales processes, and drive unique media coverage.

Analyst Relations 201: to infinity and beyond

A robust analyst relations program can take your company to the next level. But you must first dedicate the time to analyst relations. To do so, it can be helpful to bring in an outside partner like Ketner Group. Please reach out and we can discuss how we can help you manage your AR program.

Still unsure about how analyst relations can be beneficial to your business? Join us for May’s KG Connects, “B2B Analyst Relations: The Secret Sauce to Your Communications Program.”

analyst relations 101 b2b technology

Analyst Relations 101: How B2B Tech Companies Benefit From Analyst Briefings

When we ask b2b technology companies about their approach to analyst relations, their replies are all over the map.

Some companies have a deep well of opinions alongside an advanced strategy, long history and serious investment. Others haven’t even dipped their toe in the water.

No matter the existing approach, the good news is that developing and deploying a basic analyst relations strategy is not only quite straightforward, it offers serious long-term value.

Analyst briefings scheduled twice per year with a company executive can improve a tech company’s go-to-market strategy, product roadmap and lead generation.

Let’s dive in.

Why you should invest in analyst relations

The first thing to know about analysts is that their M.O. is to be industry experts.

Whether an analyst works for a big firm that touches many industries (such as Gartner or Forrester) or a niche firm devoted to a specific sector (such as RSR or IHL Group in retail), analysts typically get their start by working in their field. Take a look at a retail analyst and you’ll likely see they held an executive position with a retail organization.

analysts are industry experts

Once they transition to a career as an analyst, their job is to understand the industry, players, challenges and solutions, and explain this via reports. To gain this insight, analysts complete briefings with tech providers and end-users alike.

When you should schedule analyst briefings

The perfect time to schedule a briefing is when you need expert advice.

Pivotal moments during a company’s history such as before a company/product launch or rebrand, during executive transition, or after completing an annual strategy are all perfect times to seek outside perspective from an analyst.

Once you’ve established a relationship during a pivotal moment, you’re ready to nurture that relationship through recurring annual or biannual briefings.

Analysts will be able to provide perspective that impacts strategies such as:

  • Company go-to-market plan
  • Content marketing plan
  • Product positioning
  • Product roadmap
  • Sales strategy
  • Investor pitch deck

Who should staff analyst briefings

The best practice is to schedule analyst briefings with one or two company executives who can offer high-level insight into overall strategy. With this in mind, a CEO is a natural fit. If a CEO is not available for analyst briefings, a marketing executive can also often speak to overall strategy such as go-to-market approach, product marketing and solution set.

schedule analyst briefings with execs

If you’re scheduling an analyst briefing around a newsworthy event, you also may consider inviting executives related to the news. For example, if you’re scheduling a discussion about an upcoming product launch, invite your CEO and director of product.

How to schedule an analyst briefing

If your company is not investing in a paid, ongoing relationship or specific analyst project, the most likely way you’ll engage is via one-off briefings you schedule once or twice a year.

Analyst firms offer 30- or 60-minute briefings with non-clients; tech companies can request these briefings via an analyst firm’s website.

Once a briefing is requested, analysts can confirm or deny the briefing. The reason an analyst will schedule a briefing with a non-client is to gain a better understanding of their industry.

analyst briefing research

With this in mind, you’ll want to do your homework. Only request briefings with analysts that are a good match to your solution, and when you submit a request specifically share why the briefing will be valuable to them.

Extra credit! How to build long-term relationships with analysts

At the end of your analyst briefing be ready to discuss next steps. Analysts want to keep learning about their industry, so ask if they are open to continuing the relationship by connecting with you via email or social media.

If they’re open to sharing contact information, use it sparingly and be sure to provide value when you get in touch. Include analysts when getting out a press release on big company news, but don’t add them to your general newsletter blast unless they specifically ask to be included.

Make analyst relations a core part of your strategy

Companies are always at risk of becoming echo chambers, full of employees who have worked together effectively for so long that they struggle to develop unique points of view. Analyst briefings address this challenge directly by offering expert industry advice that deviates from the norm.

Creating a strong analyst relations strategy, even if it is minimal, ensures that your annual company plan and pivotal campaigns skillfully meet the market and prepare you for long-term success.

Next up: we’ll dive into how to make the most of analyst briefings in part two of this blog series. Stay tuned to learn how to create a great analyst briefing presentation.

Get help with your analyst relations strategy

Ready to execute but need help? Ketner Group offers analyst relations as a core part of our communications services. Reach out, we’d love to talk shop.

product or business launch

The Five Steps to a Great Product or Business Launch

Unless you’re Amazon, a new product or business idea probably doesn’t start with a press release. And it probably shouldn’t. When it comes to a product or business launch or announcing the business itself, a more methodological approach is more likely to ensure that the offering and messaging are solid and ready for market.

With a public launch as your end goal, you should start by focusing on some behind-the-scenes work.

Five steps to a great product or business launch

Create a Go-to-Market Strategy

Once you’ve established the need for a new offering and have developed a prototype, the first step towards a public launch is creating a go-to-market (GTM) strategy. TechTarget defines a GTM strategy as:

A go-to-market strategy (GTM strategy) is an action plan that specifies how a company will reach target customers and achieve competitive advantage. The purpose of a GTM strategy is to provide a blueprint for delivering a product or service to the end customer, taking into account such factors as pricing and distribution. A GTM strategy is somewhat similar to a business plan, although the latter is broader in scope and considers additional factors like funding.

A GTM strategy outlines:

  1. A market definition
  2. Target customers
  3. Your distribution model
  4. Product messaging and positioning
  5. Price

With these five components established, you’re ready to move to the next phase of a public launch.

Vet Your Strategy and Messaging

Now that you have a GTM strategy in place, it’s time to vet it with third-party experts. First, review it with your outside PR agency. They can help you tweak your messaging and understand how each key audience will receive it before it’s put under any further scrutiny.

Start your launch by focusing on behind-the-scenes work.

Once you feel your strategy and messaging are solid, turn to the analyst community. If you’re in a position to pay for some additional outside advice, we recommend doing a full messaging review with an analyst.

If not, a round of analyst briefings will do the trick. While analysts are not able to provide robust advice during a complimentary briefing, many will still provide candid feedback. Pay close attention to the questions analysts ask during these briefings, as prospects and customers will likely have the same questions.

Finalize Messaging and Draft a Release

Now that you have spoken with key third parties, use any feedback to refine and finalize your messaging. Once you’ve done so, you’ll be in a good place to draft a press release announcing your offering.

To really strengthen your announcement, we always recommend including a use case from a beta customer. At the very least, source a forward-looking quote from a customer about why they selected the solution.

With strong messaging and a customer testimonial, you have the baseline for a strong release.

Pre-brief Key Media

When you’ve drafted a release, it’s time to begin media outreach. When launching a new product or company, we always recommend that you brief key media contacts ahead of the announcement. You’ll want to start this process the a week or two before your target PR launch date. By pre-briefing the media, you’ll ensure you have coverage the day of your announcement. To prepare for media briefings, review our best practices.

There are two options when it comes to pre-briefing the media:

1. An exclusive

In this scenario, you’re offering the story to just a single high-profile media contact. This approach works best if you have a strong customer use case and the customer is willing to speak with the media.

Remember: With an exclusive, you’re at the mercy of the reporter and any breaking news. That means you might have to be flexible with your launch date and be ready to announce your news as soon as the story publishes.

2. Pre-pitch a wider range of media contacts

A good number of targets is around 10-12; you don’t want to pre-pitch EVERYONE, rather focus on key contacts.

Remember: Make sure that all of your contacts agree to your embargo date. You don’t want the news to leak before your launch.

It’s Launch Day

Finally, it’s launch day! Today, you’ll distribute your product or business launch press release over the wire and conduct day of outreach to media contacts you didn’t pre-brief. You’ll also want to follow up with any media contacts you previously reached out to who haven’t yet covered the news.

During launch day, and throughout the following week, ensure key spokespeople are available to speak with media. If needed, block some time on calendars in anticipation of these requests.

As coverage appears, be sure to post to your website and share on your social media channels.

Mission Accomplished

Once you’ve successfully launched your product or business, there’s still a ton of work to be done. Your broader marketing strategy, from social media to email campaigns, should also support your new product or business launch and continue to reiterate the key advantages you provide by tying them into ongoing conversations.

If you’re planning a product or business launch but don’t know where to begin, reach out. Ketner Group has decades of experience doing just that. We’re here to help.

How to do media relations and PR during the pandemic

How to Approach PR During the Pandemic

The media relations landscape has never changed so quickly. Virtually overnight, media relations has pivoted to “all coronavirus, all the time,” as editors and reporters work feverishly to understand the impact of a virus that has upended all of our lives.

How can a PR agency communicate in a crisis like this? It can be summed up in a single word. Pivot—and the faster, the better.

In the last few weeks, we’ve worked closely with our clients to quickly adjust their communications programs and meet the needs of editors, reporters and other audiences.  Clients have stepped up to creatively collaborate with us and become part of the media conversations that are changing hour by hour. We’re proud of the way they’ve responded. And in working with media on behalf of our clients, we’ve identified four essential principles for PR during the coronavirus pandemic.

Read the room.

The worst thing PR professionals can do right now is send pitches that are tone-deaf or irrelevant. Now is the time to understand and respect the changing needs of editors and reporters, and only offer them the information that matters to them now. Save the routine communications for later; otherwise, you’ll lose the respect of the very people you’re trying to reach.

As one reporter recently shared on Twitter: “Dear PR friends, this is simply not the time to be casually dropping in to see what types of stories I’m working on or telling me about your client’s new skincare product. Please, spare my inbox just once in these trying times.”

Share your insights.

Does your company have unique insights that can help reporters better understand the current crisis? Now is the time to step forward, but only in an unbiased, non-promotional way.

For example, one of our clients, a leading national law firm, created a Coronavirus Resource Center to share insights on legal issues arising from COVID-19; it’s become a rich resource for business media. An ad-tech client created an infographic that advises brands on how to shift their advertising strategies in real time. We wrote an op-ed for another client on managing supply chain crises.  And we’re coordinating media interviews for another of our clients since one of their consultants is a former retail executive who helped his company navigate the SARS and H1N1 crises. We’re working with a number of our clients on media strategies during this crisis, and we’d be glad to share more examples.

Lead with empathy.

As my colleague Kirsty shared in her blog about how marketers can adapt to Covid-19, empathy is essential. Acknowledge that editors and reporters are operating in a high-stress, fast-changing environment. They’re working longer hours than usual, and they’re worried about their families and friends just like the rest of us. Even a simple recognition that you’re emailing them in a time of crisis will be appreciated.

Think beyond the current crisis.

In a webinar on the state of the retail economy today, IHL analyst Greg Buzek said there are two ways retailers will mark time after this year: BC (Before Coronavirus) and AC (After Coronavirus). We haven’t reached the AC phase yet, but it will happen. A new normal will emerge, and communication needs will shift.

We’ve already seen a few glimmers of hope. This week we surveyed key editors and reporters, asking them how we could better serve them as they cover the COVID-19 pandemic. A reporter for a top-tier national publication responded that her coronavirus coverage was actually starting to slow a bit, and she was returning to stories she was working on before the crisis.

There will be a time for new product press releases, customer announcements, case studies, blogs and thought leadership content that’s not focused on coronavirus. We’re not quite there yet. However, now is the time to begin planning, focusing on “AC” strategies, and developing the kind of content and media relations programs that will resonate in the AC era. Companies that do this will be the ones that succeed as we emerge from this present crisis.

Stack of newspapers that you will earn coverage in by following the advice in this blog.

How to Build a Great Retail Tech PR Program

Done right, a great retail tech PR program can have as strong an impact on a vendor’s success as their solutions have for the retailers they serve. As retailers look to innovate alongside Amazon and avoid being next years’ Sears, they’re turning to emergent technologies such as AI, machine learning, robotics, machine vision, and IoT.

But in an ecosystem full of marketing hype and hyperbole, retailers aren’t ready to trust an unknown commodity. In other words, they won’t just take your word for it. Innovation, without broad recognition, holds surprisingly little value. That’s where the influence you gain with a retail tech PR program comes in.

Retailers trust the media to be the gatekeepers of truth. Not just about the news stories, but trends and the impact and value of those trends.

Our clients at Ketner Group have been taking advantage of this to place themselves at the forefront of retail trend conversations for nearly three decades. By building close media relationships, they have earned coverage in publications ranging from The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Bloomberg and Forbes, to influential retail, grocery and CPG trade media.

How can your company create the best retail tech PR program? Keep these four principles in mind to increase your market visibility and attract new customers, partners and investors.

1. Define your unique story.

Does your company have a promising new solution for retailers? That’s great, but how can you stand out to decision-makers from the hundreds of other technology companies that are vying for attention?

It begins by creating concise, easily understood messaging that answers fundamental questions:

  • Who is your audience?
  • What specific challenges do they face?
  • How does your solution answer those challenges?
  • What are the benefits?
  • What do your customers say about you?
  • Do you have data and performance metrics to back up your claims?

Answering these questions isn’t an easy exercise. But it’s fundamental to creating a unique brand story that differentiates your company from your competitors in the market.

2. Consider the broader context.

Every problem/solution must fit into a larger context in order to find market acceptance. If your PR program is focused only on you, you’ll never get the results you want.

For example, one of the biggest disruptions in grocery retailing is the rapid rise of e-commerce, especially from Amazon and Instacart; grocers are moving quickly to deploy their own e-commerce and delivery solutions in order to retain customers and protect market share. It’s a trend that one of our clients directly addresses.

Other clients have introduced technology for fully automated, cashierless stores; solutions to help companies navigate major supply chain disruptions; AI technology that can identify new opportunities for profit while helping retailers cut their losses.

All these are just a few of the market dynamics that are reshaping retail. And to be successful in retail technology PR, it’s imperative to frame the context for your solution and show how it addresses significant business trends.

3. Know what to say, when to say it and who to say it to.

The life of a typical editor or reporter isn’t easy. Typically, it’s marked by tight deadlines, heavy workloads and information overload. Our job as PR professionals, in partnership with our clients, is to make their jobs easier with newsworthy, timely and relevant information.

What do editors want?

For starters, editors always welcome unique, compelling data that are unavailable from anyone else. The data should add a fresh dimension to an ongoing story or reveal a new conversation the industry should consider.

Editors also appreciate commentary from thought leaders on fast-breaking industry trends, as this can support their story development with an expert perspective. If you can provide a customer that’s willing to speak, so much the better; nothing adds to a story like the real-world perspective of a retailer.

4. Create a well-rounded retail tech PR program.

Much of this blog has dealt with media relations, and it’s typically a primary focus when companies decide to hire a PR agency. However, earned media is only one facet of a well-rounded PR program. As Ketner Group president Catherine Seeds made clear in her recent blog about what to do after NRF, an effective PR program also includes:

  • Analyst relations
  • Social media
  • Digital marketing
  • Speaking engagements
  • Event participation

Together with all forms of original content—ranging from blogs to thought leadership articles, case studies, e-books, white papers and more—these are the fundamental elements of a comprehensive PR program for retail technology companies and other businesses as well.

Companies that create comprehensive programs like this, usually in partnership with a PR agency, will reap a number of benefits. Charles Dimov, VP Marketing at our client ContractPodAI, underscored this point in a blog on the connection between PR and lead generation.

At Dimov’s former company (also a Ketner Group client and retail technology company), he implemented a disciplined method of tracking qualified leads. The company traced a third of the company’s leads to PR—a result that can make a significant difference in the bottom line.

So can a robust PR program pay dividends? The answer is “yes,” and hopefully these tips can help point you in the right direction, whether you’re a retail technology company or other B2B business. Now go out and build a great PR program (and contact us if you need help along the way)!

Amazon Prime Day public relations case study

Capturing Attention Around Prime Day with Our Client Adlucent

Update: since publishing this blog post, Adlucent has garnered additional pickup in seven more publications (plus syndicated publications) including AdWeek.

A couple of weeks ago, Amazon announced that its annual Prime Day would occur July 15 and 16 this year. Also occurring a couple of weeks ago, on the very same day as that announcement, we were psyched to have planned the release for our client Adlucent’s consumer survey and corresponding whitepaper, “Getting the Most out of Amazon Prime Day 2019.” 

The coordination of the survey and the resulting pick up is a super example of a well-positioned release and great team work. Since the release, the survey data has been incorporated into 10 articles (two of those top tiers and those not including syndicated publications), has lead to a handful of specific media inquiries and resulted in two industry analyst appointments. Not only has Adlucent given itself a name in Amazon Prime Day marketing. Even better, it has positioned Adlucent as an expert in the space of digital marketing.

What This Pickup Says About Our Client Relationship

As excited I am as a media person to have garnered this attention for our client, I’m even more excited about the way we worked with Adlucent to make this happen. From the very beginning, this report was a great collaboration. We helped develop the survey questions with Adlucent, wrote an outline from the results, passed the content over to Adlucent for final development and then planned together the most interesting story lines to pitch. 

In preparation for our go-live date, we prepared and distributed a media advisory, while Adlucent prepared for advertising and internal promo on their side. Since then, Adlucent has featured the report in their newsletter, followed up with leads who downloaded the survey, and promoted the content further via social media, while we’ve been active coordinating interviews and responding to follow up requests. 

This week, we’ll be keeping our eyes on developing Amazon news to see how we can continue to pitch Adlucent as an expert source in this category.

How This Prime Day Survey Promoted Adlucent As A Thought Leader

Outside of our collaboration, I want to also highlight the uniqueness of this report. The Adlucent consumer survey not only dug into what’s happening with Prime Day on Amazon. It also dug into what consumers are doing when it comes to shopping off Amazon around Prime Day. 

Adlucent found that 72% of consumers will look beyond Amazon to comparison shop on Prime Day in its survey of 1,000 consumers ages 18-64. This stat reflects the fact that Prime Day has become a sort of holiday of the back-to-school shopping season. Further, of the survey respondents who planned to go back-to-school shopping, 55% plan to do so on Amazon.

Adlucent used these results to inspire a list of recommendations for how brands can take advantage of the shopping phenomenon. Recommendations included creating lightning deals, promoting shopping on social and preparing your product listings for the extra visitors. But I’ll let you read on in the report itself to get that full list of advice. 

Where We’ve Received Prime Day Pickup

Last but not least, this wouldn’t be a celebration if we didn’t actively highlight the pickup we have received. In addition to our direct requests and interviews with analysts and journalists, we’ve seen pickup in:

Want To Talk About How To Get You Attention?

Interested in talking with us about how we can do some work like this with you? We’d love to! Just reach out. We’ll schedule a time to discuss how we can use media relations to position you as an expert.

Until Next Year NRF

NRF’s Big Show is officially over and we are back in Austin! After several cups of coffee consumed as well as analyst and media meetings coordinated for 13 clients, I think it’s safe to say this year’s show was one for the books. Check out what the Ketner Group team was up to while in the Big Apple.

nrfinfographic17

NRF 2017, Here We Come

In most industries, the holidays are a time to disengage from the hustle and bustle of work, plan for 2017 and clean out the junk folders to start the New Year feeling refreshed. But as we all know, quite the opposite is true in retail. And once a new calendar gets pinned to the wall, the heat really starts to turn up as we make final preparations for the biggest conference of our year, NRF’s BIG Show.

This year, the Ketner Group team has been as busy as ever, meticulously preparing, pitching, coordinating and managing all sorts of client announcements and on-site briefings. As the newest member of the KG team and a rookie to the realities of NRF life, I have to admit it’s been impressive watching our team stay (mostly) stress-free, while securing some truly terrific opportunities for publicity next week, without losing sight of client needs in the now.

As our entire office goes wheels up this weekend, heading from sunny and warm Austin, Texas to the hopefully not-so-cold and not-so-gray Big Apple, I expect to feel the same excitement and confidence in our client outcomes as our veterans who have been mastering the NRF process for over ten years.

We look forward to seeing a lot of familiar faces, connecting with new clients and having NRF ’17 mark the start of another great year at Ketner Group, for our clients, and for the retail industry in general. Good luck everyone!

Ketner Group clients at NRF, and where to find them:

 

PRSA Corner: Breaking Through the Noise and Reaching Your Target Audience

ClpsEJ3UYAAqeNFWe recently attended and were the official sponsor of the June PRSA Austin Chapter Luncheon. The luncheon titled, “Media Relations: Insights from the Newsroom,” featured three journalist panelists who discussed how media has evolved over the years, the integration of skills and technology in media relations and how PR professionals can (and should) break through the noise to reach target audiences. Here are some highlights:

Tara Doolittle is the Viewpoints editor for the Austin American-Statesman and is in charge of the editorial pages and online commentary. She began as a rookie reporter in 1997 and has worked with the newspaper’s reporting teams covering education, city hall and lifestyle. As many journalists do, Tara receives over 400 emails a day, which means getting her attention is no easy task. Although she gives first priority to local pitches over others, she tells PR folks to send short pitches, know who you are pitching and focus on the journalist’s interests, and course, always be sensitive to deadlines. Other key take-aways from Tara:

  • For hard news and community engagement pitches, Tara recommends doing research on how other publications (in other areas) report certain trends and how those trends might play out locally. Look for ways to tell the local story. As well, Tara says PR professionals should “think broadly” because the Statesman is not just a print newspaper, but a multimedia content platform.
  • According to Tara, the digital space is the way to go, especially with social media and sharing. She recommends PR professionals think about this when it comes to pitches. Photos and videos are a great way to keep people on the website for longer periods of time – it’s a win-win for everyone!
  • Tara said the biggest struggle she faces as an editor for a daily local newspaper is serving three sets of readers because they all want different things: folks who don’t pay for online content; folks who do pay and read online content; and full subscribers.

Erin Quinn-Kong is the editor-in-chief of Austin Monthly and the editorial director of Austin MonthlyAustin HOME and austinmonthly.com. A Missouri native, she attended the University of Missouri School of Journalism and worked in New York City as an editor at Allure and Us Weekly before moving to Austin in 2008. Compared to the Statesman, Austin Monthly operates with a smaller staff who has to work very hard to keep up with daily and monthly deadlines. It’s a fast-paced environment (with a small staff), which definitely makes it hard for PR professionals to get the attention of the editorial team. Knowing that, Erin says it is critical for PR professionals to know why the story would work in her publication, and know who you’re pitching to and why. Other key take-aways from Erin:

  • Pitches come into play when they make a connection to something that relates to the local area, or that may have appeared “buzz worthy” on social media. That is the sweet spot on pitches!
  • Erin recommends asking them to coffee. As editors, she believes it is part of their job to know the PR people in town. Having the opportunity to be “face to face” with PR professionals is a much better way to connect than an email.
  • Her biggest challenges as the editor of Austin Monthly include creating boundaries between her job and life and the struggle of small budgets and staff combined with high expectations.

 Haley Cihock is Executive Producer for KXAN. With 15 years of experience in broadcast news, she writes, edits and manages a team of producers, anchors, editors and field reporters working on the noon newscasts across two channels. According to Haley, the best stories come from community engagement – listening to the buzz around town, hearing what local citizens are talking about – and then figuring out how to cover the story. She believes that Austin has an engaged audience and people in the city really want to talk. At KXAN, social media is a huge tool for listening for potential stories. Other key take-aways from Haley:

  • Make no mistake, there is limited “on air” time, so Haley recommends that PR professionals pass story ideas and news to the digital side to get more bang for the buck. Using multichannel media is a great way to disperse the message, and it is how stories evolve, especially when it is resonating with people. Haley also says the evolution of media means that things are moving faster and faster, things get lost, so PR folks should try more than one platform to tell their story.
  • As an on-air journalist, Haley has to think of the bigger picture, but often times receives “micro” pitches from PR professionals. Pitches have to be bigger than just one thing. It is important to think beyond your client or your one story – try to make connections that could turn into bigger feature stories.
  • Her biggest challenges as an on-air journalist is always trying to be the first with the story, but to also to get the story right and do it better than anyone else. Erin believes that, for TV journalists, the challenges haven’t changed much, but the ways of approaching them are changing. Her two biggest pieces of advice is to not send video to the newsroom (they have to shoot their own) and to not send gifts to on-air journalists.

Retail’s BIG Show: #NRF16 Client Recap, Part Two

If there is any indication that this year’s NRF show was the most exciting yet, it’s that we need two whole blog posts to recap just how great it was. Our clients were among the best and brightest out on that show floor, demonstrating cutting-edge retail technology and hosting thought-provoking BIG !dea sessions. They were invaluable additions to the educational atmosphere of one of the industry’s longest-running events, but don’t just take our word for it, see for yourself:

Photo courtesy of Kathleen See
Photo courtesy of Kathleen See

Predictix

Continuing to stay “one step ahead of the competition,” as observed in PYMNTS, Predictix announced during the show that it has entered a strategic partnership with Infor to resell Predictix applications to its customers as a part of Infor CloudSuite Retail. This announcement, along with Predictix’s impressive 40% YOY SaaS growth, generated buzz for the predictive analytics company. Adding to the excitement, Aaron Surasky, Senior Director, Assortment Planning and Analysis for The Home Depot, led an NRF BIG !deas session where he discussed how retailers are working with Predictix to create differentiated, locally relevant assortments while operating multiple channels and stores to an audience of more than 200.

Check out some additional awesome coverage of Predictix from the show by Apparel, Retail TouchPoints, B2Becommerceworld and Just-Style.

Shopatron

The week was an exciting one for Shopatron as well, which announced that “it is now part of a unified omnichannel commerce solutions company called Kibo,” by merging with MarketLive and Fiverun according to RIS News . In a MultiChannel Merchant recap of the companies’ merge, Shopatron founder Ed Stevens (now COO of Kibo) and MarketLive founder Ken Burke “talk about how the responsive redesign and the enhanced back-end capabilities helped Modell’s {Sporting Goods] become an omnichannel success story this holiday season.”

Starmount

In the world of omnichannel, just-style was impressed with Starmount’s newly-unveiled Store Inventory application, which helps retailers maintain more accurate store inventory and allows store associates “to engage customers and process transactions.” Starmount used its time at NRF to demonstrate how this addition to its Customer Engagement Suite is an asset to retailers.

Thoughtworks

Included as a “Top 10 Takeaway” by RIS News, Thoughtworks took the opportunity at NF to highlight the new e-commerce engine it built for Mitchells‘ website. In addition to putting a spotlight on its latest project, Thoughtworks also connected with many retail industry professionals to learn from and share with the behind-the-scenes retail software experts.

Unata

In addition to meeting and networking with other members of the retail community, this year’s NRF for Unata also highlighted a major endeavor that is in-progress between the digital grocery solutions company and regional grocery chain, Lowes Foods. In a video interview with Retail Touchpoints, Michael Moore, CMO for Lowes Foods, spoke on how the partnership is “bringing to life a whole new customer experience” known as “retail-tainment” with the help of Unata.