great b2b podcast

How to Create an Awesome B2B Podcast

90 million Americans regularly consume podcasts. And B2B podcasts are an increasingly key part of that.

Listeners tend to be educated, affluent and loyal – the exact audience most B2B brands want to reach.

That’s why we were fascinated to talk with Clark Buckner, co-founder and partner of podcast consulting agency Relationary Marketing, for our July 2020 KG Connects webinar. He gave us the scoop on why B2B podcasting works so well and shed light on his five-step process for how to develop a great B2B webinar.

Does B2B podcasting work?

Yes, B2B podcasting works well for three reasons:

  1. Podcasts are intimate – When you listen to a podcast, it’s a real human speaking directly to you about something they’re passionate about and you’re interested in. It establishes a sense of shared experience that supports the idea of an established relationship.
  2. Podcasts are accessible – In the car, at work and especially streaming from smartphone on any number of apps, podcasts are a versatile medium for sharing and consuming high-quality content.
  3. Podcasts are passively consumed – While listenership has taken a small hit during pandemic as fewer people commuted, they’re still popular to consume while doing other things like going for walks, doing a workout or cooking dinner. Really, any time away from a screen provides both a captive and passive audience for podcasts.  

How do I start a B2B podcast?

Clark uses a tried-and-true formula when helping his clients launch a great B2B podcast:

  1. Content design
  2. Invite/preparation
  3. Recording
  4. Production
  5. Publishing

When viewed in a list, it’s easy to assume that each stage should be given equal consideration.

That’s not a wise approach.

Brands considering a podcast have intrinsic challenges. It’s labor intensive and rare to have all the right technology and skills internally to produce a great podcast.

Luckily the barrier to entry to podcasting has gone down as the space has matured (thanks largely to the wild success of the Serial podcast, recently acquired by The New York Times).

It’s now easier and more affordable for agencies and brands to work with a company like Relationary than to do it alone. But first, they need to master step one – content design.

What’s the first step of launching a B2B podcast?

The first step of launching a B2B podcast is content design. A lot of companies get caught up worrying about technology or guests or who will host it… all undoubtedly important questions, but not the first thing to worry about.

Clark recommends focusing exclusively on five elements of content design before stressing the small stuff.

  1. Goals – What does success look like for your podcast? Be specific about one or two goals that a podcast can uniquely achieve for you. Brand awareness, lead generation or helping existing customers get the most out of your platform are all good options. Given that you’d need 10,000 regular listeners to even consider selling ads, B2B podcasting is about relationships. Sell the mission and a belief in your team and company as trustworthy and capable partners.
  2. Target audience – Most B2B companies have highly targeted audiences. Will everyone in your consumer base pay attention to or be motivated by a podcast? Will prospects at different stages of the funnel be more interested that others? Once you know what the goal of the podcast is, you can define the audience and figure out what matters to them most.
  3. Episode structure – Will you do one-on-one interviews between a company employee and a guest? Will you have an independent podcaster lead these conversations instead? Or do you plan to only interview internal experts? You could also develop a narrative structure and tell stories of great case studies or have people you’ve helped record themselves telling a story. Options are limitless, but pick one that will work for you and stick with it.
  4. Episode frequency and length – How many interesting conversations can you really lead? How much time will you dedicate to the podcast and how much time do you expect your audience to give? Think of podcasts like a TV show, with seasons. Figure out each season’s episodes ahead of time and stick with a standard cadence and episode length. You can always change it up for season two.
  5. Title/marketing – Like any form of branded content, podcasts need to be promoted to attract attention. Figure out how you’ll recruit listeners and what kind of resources are available to bring in new listeners. Podcasts are far easier to produce than ever before, but without additional promotional effort on top of it, you’ll be sitting on great content with no listeners.

How do you go from plan to production?

With this foundation, it’s relatively easy to go through the rest of the steps as long as you have access to the right network, skillsets and technology.

Step 2: Prep

Figure out who you’re going to have on your podcast and how you’ll prep them to lead a conversation that serves your company’s goals. It’s great when your guests are the kind of experts who can talk at length about a number of interesting ideas. It’s your job to let them know what you need from them, and have a plan for keeping them on track.

Step 3: Record

Unsurprisingly, the environment you record in matters. Surprisingly, the tech doesn’t matter that much. It’s far more important to have a great environment. It’s better to use basic headphones that come with a phone and be in a quiet, confined space than use an expensive mic in an open space such as a kitchen.

Case in point: Clark usually has an office to record in, but working from home during the pandemic, he uses his closet.

Step 4: Produce (i.e. edit)

You’ll never get commercial grade quality from the raw footage you record. To polish the final product, work with a partner or invest in technology that offers sound editing and also content editing.

Don’t over-edit. You want it to sound human. Breathing sounds may feel awkward at first, but it’s elements like this that give podcasting it’s personal touch and relationship power.

Step 5: Publish

At this stage, most brands will send the final product off to their marketing team, creative directors or communications agency to help promote the material and drum up interest.

Like we said before, if people don’t know the content exists, they can’t listen and become loyal brand fans and customers.

Let’s talk about podcasts

If you’re interested in launching a B2B podcast or getting more visibility for one you already produce, we’d love to help you do it. Check out Clark’s full presentation or shoot us an email to set up a free 30-minute consultation.

content adaption plan

How to Adapt Long-Form Content Into a Wealth of Resources

Your time is limited. There’s no need to put extra hours into projects when simple tactics can help you get more done.

It’s the dream right? 

When it comes to content, this dream is easy to turn into reality. By creating one long-form piece of content–whether an eBook, whitepaper or research report–, you give yourself a base to work with. Simply adapt that content by editing it down into a wealth of resources that extend your reach and allow you to achieve a wide variety of goals.

longform content editing process

The long-form content adaptation equation

To adapt a piece of long-form content into a variety of resources, follow these steps:

  1. Write one long-form piece of content.
  2. Incorporate three custom graphics.
  3. Publish it as gated content on a landing page.
  4. Create three abstracts for three byline articles based on the content, pitch each abstract to a unique trade publication; write if picked up. If your bylines aren’t placed, publish these articles to your blog and/or as LinkedIn articles.
  5. Create and pitch two-five proactive pitches inspired by the content to targeted media.

Once you’re done, you’ll have created the following pieces of content:

  • One long-form piece of content
  • Three custom graphics
  • One landing page
  • Three articles

5 simple steps for adaptation

Origami Day: why this content plan works

Earlier this year, we worked with Origami Day to help them create a communications plan. During our sessions, we discussed what Samantha Lane, time management coach and creator of Origami Day, refers to as a “content extraction plan.”

As an organization expert, she encouraged us to share our strategies for repurposing long-form content with the world. Thank you for inspiring this blog, Samantha!

“Quarterly long-form content was a huge victory in fixing bottlenecks in my business. Knowing that ‘batching’ is an effective way to accomplish more with less, I was already creating content around monthly themes. However, Kirsty helped me see the value in zooming out to quarterly themes and long-form pieces of content,” said Samantha.

“This was such a good way to stretch ideas even farther and increase efficiency even more.  I love being able to set four themes for an entire year, write four long-form pieces, and use those for 12 months’ worth of value for my customers. Not to mention, it’s a great foundation for anyone considering starting a blog or writing a book.”

Let’s talk content

Ready to give the content adaptation plan a try? If you’re having trouble getting started with long-form content on your own, we offer a free, thirty-minute consultation that may help your wheels start turning! Just contact us.

Media Training

The Media Training Playbook

Every organization needs to make big decisions about their media relations approach. You must determine who within your organization will own the program and identify the conversations you want to lead. Once you’ve done this, you need to ensure your spokespeople are media trained and ready to take an interview on short notice.

Building muscle memory through media training

You wouldn’t send your sports team out to compete against their rival without practicing plays. The team has to build muscle memory and develop chemistry. Media training works exactly the same way. It builds your spokesperson’s muscle memory and familiarizes them with the process. With practice and coaching, they will know a series of plays to implement based on the type of interview.

media training is like sports

Types of interviews:

Your spokesperson may need to take an interview in the following formats:

  • Written responses via email that quote them directly in print or digital articles;
  • A phone interview or on-camera conference call that will quote the spokesperson throughout digital and print articles;
  • A podcast recording that will feature a Q&A style interview that turns into the basis for an article or is printed as submitted;
  • Broadcast interview in which the journalist will utilize an (on average) 30-second video segment of the spokesperson’s interview – sometimes these segments are live.

It’s important to note that each medium brings nuances in the way your spokesperson needs to deliver their message to be effective. Therefore, as you begin your organization’s media training journey it’s important to emphasize the differences in interview formats. The spokesperson’s technique will have to change with each.

For example, broadcast requires an additional set of skills as the spokesperson has to convey key messages via body language in addition to speaking. For broadcast, we usually like to bring in additional partners that solely focus on this medium in order to really help the spokesperson prepare for all of the nuances that broadcast demands.

Every time I advise clients on preparing for a broadcast interview, I kindly ask them to stay away from sounding and looking like Ricky Bobby on this now iconic scene from the film Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Take a look, and you’ll see why!

Developing a media training process for each type of interview – whether creating an internal training process or bringing in an outside professional – is key.

media training plays

Media training – how to get started

As you build a media training program or work with an agency such as ours to get your spokespeople trained, we recommend the following “plays” to build out your media training playbook:

Play #1 – Knowing why to prepare for a media interview

In coordinating with spokespeople for media interviews, it’s important to discuss the importance of training. They need to know why training matters and how it will help them in the long run. Getting your spokespeople bought in early on in the process is critical to ensuring future interview success.

Play #2 – Spokesperson Do’s and Don’ts

A critical part of media training involves walking spokespeople through things they should and should not do during the interview. For example, letting your spokesperson know which customers they can or cannot name publicly, as well as which facts and figures they can reference versus ones they cannot speak to, is key.

Everything a spokesperson tells the journalist is deemed “on the record”. If something they say isn’t fit for print, the spokesperson must explicitly get the journalist to agree that the information is strictly “off the record” before sharing. This can be very helpful to help them understand context without revealing private info publicly.

Play #3 – Different methods of answering questions

It’s important to identify different ways and tactics spokespeople can use to respond to questions. For example, at times, a journalist’s question may be long winded and a spokesperson’s natural tendency may be to go off on a tangent.

Identify these characteristics and walk the spokesperson through various ways of answering a question. The goal is to deliver quotable soundbites that stand out within the journalist’s report.

You should also practice scenarios in which the spokesperson must politely decline to answer a question if they do not have an answer for it or cannot publicly speak to it.

Play #4 – Practice, Practice, Practice

Once you’ve run through the initial plays, it’s time to put all of that muscle memory into gear and walk through several mock interviews. The spokesperson should be walked through interview exercises designed specifically for the kind of stories and reporters they’ll speak to.

As you do so, identify each reporter’s interview and reporting style and discuss what they respond to and how the spokesperson can adjust their messaging to be more effective for each journalist.

Practice makes perfect! As you start media training your spokesperson, ensure you are going over the above plays and getting them prepared to perform “on the field.”

If you need additional help, Ketner Group is available to help your spokespeople hit the ground running and achieve success! Contact us today to get started on your media training journey.

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.

Broadcast Media Relations During COVID-19

Note: We published this blog post in preparation for Justin Goldstein’s webinar on broadcasting. Since publishing, the webinar is live, and you can catch it on demand!


Broadcast media is booming as the Coronavirus pandemic restrictions only begin to loosen and everyone searches for sources that can provide reliable and timely information. Consider, recent findings from Nielsen show that 83% of consumers are listening to as much if not more radio than before the pandemic.

Clearly, if you’re looking to secure television, radio or podcast placements, now is the time to do so. But, be aware that producers and reporters are just like us and mainly working from home due to the virus. A refined approach is more important than ever to break through your contact’s inbox and earn their interest in an interview. 

Here are a few recommendations to consider:

Provide Key Assets Upfront

Are you in the process of developing assets like b-roll, headshots and bios for your spokesperson(s)? If so, hold on pitching until you have these elements so that you can include them in your first pitch to producers and reporters.

These contacts are sifting through hundreds of emails while trying to coordinate interviews via platforms like Zoom and Skype that they normally don’t work with. There’s a good chance that if a reporter opens your email and doesn’t see at least one or two of these assets listed, he or she will delete your email and move on to the next opportunity. If for no other reason, moving on reduces the stress of sending a follow-up email to ask questions. 

How can you best incorporate this information into your pitch?

  1. In your subject line, note that you’re offering an interview and these assets.
  2. Provide a link to download your b-roll and headshots via Dropbox or a similar platform to avoid your message going to spam.
  3. Include your spokesperson(s) bio towards the end of your pitch so that it doesn’t take away from the story that you’re trying to tell at the top. 

Use Your Voice

Phone pitching is critical in broadcast media relations, especially during COVID. Newsrooms are overwhelmed with pitches, coordinating segments with their producers from afar and receiving updates on Coronavirus-related stories from the public. So, the chances of them responding to email outreach are less than the print/online reporters that you might be more familiar with. 

It will likely be harder to reach reporters and producers directly. Your next step is to call a network or station’s assignment desk and speak with an assignment editor. They are well-positioned to coordinate interviews or connect you with a contact that can do so. You can also leave a voicemail on a producer or reporter’s phone. They often check to make sure that they’re not missing any important messages while away from the office.

Be Flexible

Many broadcast contacts are doing their best to adapt to navigate the pressures of virtual planning meetings and interviews. While you can certainly share your spokesperson(s) platform preference for connecting, try to be flexible.

If a reporter asks to connect via Skype and your spokesperson(s) is hesitant to pursue because they’re not used to the platform, try to schedule a quick training session. Get them to feel confident and comfortable going into an interview rather than push back on the reporter. 

Consider creating video-conference meeting invites for reporters and producers and offering your willingness to do so in your pitch. This removes one extra step in coordinating an interview that they don’t have to manage.

Be aware that if you’re staffing interviews on Zoom video, your video box will appear, so it would be best to confirm with your contact that he or she can have their team edit you out before finalizing their segment. 

Broadcast media is a powerful tool that should be leveraged for your media relations program. But, it’s crucial to approach your contacts in a strategic manner to garner their interest. Your results depend on it.

Attend June’s KG Connects Webinar to learn more

Want to hear directly from Justin about the state of broadcast media and both evergreen and timely best practices for securing coverage?

Join us on Friday, June 26 at 10:00 a.m. ET for the next edition of KG Connects! Learn more and register here.

About Justin Goldstein

justin-goldstein-press-records

Justin is president and founder of Press Record Communications, a strategic media relations agency with expertise in broadcast media. He is an award-winning media relations pro, voted an Exceptional Under 35 by the Public Relations Society of America. He has developed and implemented broadcast media relations programs that have supported clients like General Motors, Best Buy and the Clinton Global Initiative.

In recent years, Justin has coordinated event broadcast press campaigns for the Consumer Electronics Show, Detroit Auto Show and Conference of Mayors. Justin also served as morning drive producer at WRHU-FM, New York’s number one non-commercial radio station. His work has been recognized by PR News, PR Newswire and the Hermes Creative Awards.

Women having conversation at small table

How to Use Radical Candor to Achieve Business Goals

On the last Friday of May, we hosted the first edition of our ongoing webinar series KG Connects, “How to Encourage Better Choices in Your Team.” Van Tucker, COO of LaunchTN, joined us to discuss how business cultures founded on trust and radical candor are far better at achieving business goals.

She provided guidance on how to establish a culture that provides an optimal working environment for all team members – whether in the office or working remotely – and launches business success into hyperdrive.

As COO, Van’s job is to remove obstacles preventing her team from doing their jobs best.  

COVID-19 made this even tougher. The whole organization had to change course to help state government and startups respond appropriately. Like many, they also onboarded new employees while working from home.

Even with the pandemic disruption, their organization is thriving. Team members are even happier and more productive.

Why?

Before sh*t hit the fan, the whole team defined and fully bought into a cohesive and transparent company culture.  

Tuckman’s Team Development Model

Developing a workplace culture that drives results isn’t easy. It requires understanding what an optimal culture looks like and what to do to do to get there.

This is where Tuckman’s Team Development Model becomes highly useful. All organizations go through it, and while some only “Form” and fail, others quickly become “Performers”. For most, it requires careful attention and commitment to master.

The stages of Tuckman's Team Development Model.
LaunchTN quickly moved from Storming to Performing by focusing on personal communication preferences and a culture of radical candor.

In order to move up the maturity ladder, organizations need to actively cultivate their culture and engage the full organization.

  1. Start with team surveys to establish baseline – find perceptions of salary, benefits, and most important cultural and organizational attributes and deficiencies. These could include low mutual trust, a sense of disempowerment among junior teams, or communications and transparency gaps.
  2. Use the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and/or Strength Finder tests to better understand your own personality and communication preferences, and those of others on your team.
  3. Use the combined findings to ensure your organization leverages each team member’s strengths in the right positions to eliminate those barriers to productivity, job satisfaction and organizational success.
  4. Create a safe environment to address sensitive issues like trust, empowerment, and transparency.

Conflict Resolution

To do this, it’s critical to provide structure and opportunity for healthy disagreements to take place and for constructive conversation to take place. Host a weekly huddle and include time for a process check. Concerns can be raised on a scale of 1 to 10 when it becomes a pinch point for them.

When a team member surfaces a conflict, they take on ownership to understand the other person’s perspective and see it through to resolution. Team members who have fully bought into a Performing company culture will strive to work outside of their preferences to the benefit of the team.

Radical Candor

The only way to achieve this is to get good at having hard conversations. Telling and finding truth and moving forward cohesively requires a culture of transparency and trust. It creates an environment for people to be themselves and work together. Critically, it also enables everyone to openly and amicably resolves conflict, regardless of their personality.

This is what Kim Scott calls “radical candor”. To do it well requires clear guidelines to help facilitate it.

When and why to have a candid discussion

  1. When you observe a behavior or action that could have a potential negative impact on the wellbeing/culture and productivity of a teammate, the team, or the company
  2. If a colleague lacks self-awareness and you would like to help them be their best self
  3. To avoid feelings/situations ending up as gossip and hurting our culture.

How to have a candid discussion

The goal of a candid conversation is to understand each other, not to reach consensus. Disagreement is okay. It will foster healthy debate and help your company identify truth and deliver optimal outcomes. Importantly, you must also meet face to face. Humanizing the interaction will work wonders.

The intention is to share perspectives, not force actions upon others. Also, recipients should stay open and not take opinions personally. They should take the time to listen and thank the other person for sharing their thoughts even if they disagree

Both parties must:

  • Be grateful to the other party for having the discussion
    • Listen fully, with the intention to understand
    • Be authentic and direct, don’t wear a mask or be evasive
    • Be constructive and helpful

The initiating party, especially, must:

  • Focus on the behavior, not the person.
    • Share examples to back up any claims
    • Accept the outcome. Set a goal of understanding each other, not forcing a consensus.

At the end of each candid discussion, rank yourself against these guidelines: How did you do? What can you improve next discussion?

Over time, this process creates an overwhelming sense of team spirit, connection and most importantly, trust. When each member of the team buys in and knows that everyone else is working in the best interest of the organization – not themselves – incredible things can, and will, happen.

Take your team from storming to performing

Check out the full webinar recording for all of Van’s best advice on turning your organization’s culture into its biggest asset.

Culture always eats strategy for breakfast. So, take control of it and reap the rewards.  

About LaunchTN

Launch Tennessee is a public-private partnership, guided by a vision of making Tennessee the most startup-friendly state in the nation. Their mission is to empower a high-functioning network of resources focused on core priorities that support Tennessee’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Partnering with Entrepreneur Centers in seven regions of the state, LaunchTN creates collaboration among entrepreneurs, the private sector, capital sources, institutions, and government to offer entrepreneurs what they need to succeed and stay in Tennessee to build companies and create jobs. 

developing a media relations strategy

How to Launch a Media Relations Program: SoGal Webinar Recap

This past month, Ketner Group president Catherine Seeds and I had the pleasure of hosting a media relations strategy webinar with SoGal, a global platform for the education and empowerment of diverse entrepreneurs and investors. During this webinar, we provided attendees with key tactics and strategies to consider as they look to launch a media relations program.

We discussed:

  • Why businesses across verticals should consider a media relations program
  • The value of media coverage
  • The key steps to launch a media relations program

The top takeaways:

  • Do your research
  • Get to know your media targets
  • Personalize your conversation with each.

Here are some of the highlights from the webinar:

Why have a media relations program?

A media relations program can drive external awareness for your company through validated third-party sources.  Let’s say your company just landed its first round of funding or launched a new product in the market. If you do not tell your story, someone else will.

By creating a media relations program, you have the ability to tell your story to a member of the media community and reach multiple audiences beyond your own network.

What’s more, a media relations program can help bolster your company’s cache among a particular audience. Let’s say your chief data officer is well-versed in a particular technology within the healthcare industry.

You can generate media coverage by having them provide commentary for a relevant story a reporter is working on. Securing exposure for him/her as an expert on related hot button conversations positions your company as trustworthy and informed. Ultimately, it helps elevate your brand recognition and brings a sense that you can solve tough challenges.

Last but not least, a media relations program can build your company’s digital breadcrumbs. Highly relevant coverage helps you to rise through the ranks of engine search algorithms for your business’ key terms.

Tactics for building the program

As you consider creating the program, you must decide whether to run the program in-house or work with a public relations agency. Depending on what path you choose, we always advise that your company dedicate a single in-house lead. That person, often the CMO, can make sure the agency and internal stakeholders work together seamlessly.

When budget is tight or you’re just starting out, there are many easy and free tools available to help. For media opportunities, HARO and Qwoted are two platforms where reporters look for sources for stories they are working on.

As well, Twitter is an important platform to keep in mind. Identify and follow relevant reporters and engage with them regularly. Plus, they often post to Twitter when they need sources for a story. Sometimes even better, Twitter lets you avoid annoying pitches by keeping up with what they vent about.

Three best practices to launch a media relations program

Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to begin. We often advise these top three best practices to get started:

  • Identify your target audience
  • Identify key conversations you want to drive
  • Do your research and build your top 20 list of media contacts and publications you would like to work with

After that, it’s time to begin your outreach and prepare for interviews!

Get to know your media targets

Many attendees emphasized the value of not just tracking journalists, but building an effective relationship with them. Really, the art of media relations is all about differentiating your company in the eyes of the journalist.

Take the time to really personalize your outreach to each of the media members you connect with. And make sure that the story you offer is relevant. We can’t overstate how much this helps you build an effective relationship in the long run.

As Catherine best put it, “nurturing those relationships will always pay off in the end!”

To learn more, download the complete webinar presentation.

why coronavirus environment inspires content marketing

The Emerging Role of Content Projects in a Coronavirus Economy

About two weeks into quarantine, once the length of coronavirus stay-at-home measures became truly apparent, I felt a pressing desire to reconnect with old colleagues and friends.

It wasn’t just me. All at once, it felt like everyone was checking in each other people, working to gain insight into the true reality of the situation.

As unique as our professional experiences were, they were a lot of similarities.

Two things also became overwhelmingly clear:

  1. The marketers we talked to were planning to invest more in content this year than ever before.
  2. We had become very well positioned to help. Over the past year, we have been scaling up our graphic design and marketing capacity, as well as envisioning more project-based services.

The first-hand stories we heard from our friends were reiterated in overall industry trends.

Marketing budgets are getting cut 

In response to economic uncertainty, companies are decreasing marketing budgets. 

US spending on search advertising will decline by between 8.7% and 14.8% in H1 2020 – removing $6 billion to $8 billion from promotional budgets, according to eMarketer.

Canceled events are taking a toll on lead gen

Stay-at-home measures mean events of all kinds are canceled, a massive blow to one of many companies’ primary sales and lead gen channels. While webinars are filling in some of the gaps, they aren’t enough on their own.

Content converts, particularly now

Content has always played a key role in supporting all parts of the sales funnel: increasing overall awareness, generating leads and nurturing leads through close.

On average, conversion rates are six times higher for companies using content marketing, according to Aberdeen Group. 

marketers are investing more in content than ever before

But in the present coronavirus environment, content offers the unique advantage of rewarding time rather than financial investments, and it can promote a variety of expected outcomes.

Content can help you sell to your company’s future products and services. For example, let’s say you’re creating a new product to address coronavirus disruption in your industry. You can publish thought leadership content today that promotes the benefits of an ideal solution, drumming up demand in anticipation of its official launch.

Content can also help you highlight evergreen features that are always advantageous. If your product has a short deployment timeline, create content that highlights this value.

Content marketing supports the entire funnel

When we talk about content, we’re not limiting our conversation to long-form content, which is extremely influential but not the end-all-be-all. We’re referring to:

  • Blog posts: Great for lead generation through SEO and can be shared across every channel.
  • Infographics: Increase your reach; other companies love to share these.
  • Email marketing: As sales cycles shift (and possibly lengthen) email helps you stay top of mind. 
  • Press releases: Distribute company news publicly while validating market leadership and generating coverage.
  • Byline articles: Wonderful for thought leadership, boosting SEO and increasing awareness. 
  • Research: Identify yourself as the expert in your category through independent research. For inspiration, check out how we helped Adlucent capture attention during Amazon Prime Day last year.
  • Long-form content (eBooks, whitepapers, etc.): When hosted behind a gated form on your website or an ad, it directly generates leads. Repurpose this comprehensive content by turning it into more digestible thought leadership byline articles and blogs.

How to outsource content projects

Given the new urgency to create highly relevant and engaging branded content, we are now offering project-based services that help you grow your business without the commitment of a retainer.

We’ve always believed one of our biggest differentiators is that everyone on our team is a great writer.

Our new focus on end-to-end content marketing services means that we can help you write, design and promote content for any audience.

We’d love to talk with you about content ideas you’re mulling over, content types you’re considering or campaigns you hope to launch.

In addition to offering more project-based services, we’re also now offering a free, 30-minute consultation to our contacts. Take us up on our offer by emailing us at [email protected].

Person reviewing printed survey results at computer

How to Create a Research Survey Press Release That Gets Results

As part of our new webinar series, KG Connects, we recently invited Jeffrey Henning and Tony Cheevers of Researchscape to give attendees an overview of the types of PR surveys and custom research they have been working on during the COVID-19 crisis, as well as their best practices for conducting newsworthy surveys.

As PR practitioners, we know that some of the best media coverage is powered by data that can tell a unique story. In other words, it’s a PR goldmine if you can find those one-of-a-kind nuggets of data that will generate the publicity you are looking for.

According to the Researchscape team – and PR people all over the world – stories that can place a company in the larger context of sweeping changes, backed by recent data, will resonate best with journalists.

There is never a bad time to field a PR survey. In fact, Researchscape has conducted 21,000 surveys since March 1. Three out of four research surveys today have a COVID-19 angle.

But, how can you ensure that you are putting the right information from a survey into your press release or proactive pitch? Better yet, what are the best practices for setting up your survey for long-term success?

According to Researchscape, focusing on the following five processes will set you on the right track:

Set Goals

As with any PR and communications campaign, setting a goal focuses your efforts and saves time and budget that might have gone to extraneous details.

Companies should develop long term goals such as building brand awareness, generating leads or developing content for a content marketing strategy. Executing a PR survey should also have short term goals such as providing support for a product launch or leveraging a holiday or trending story/event for coverage.

Remember this critical first step or risk losing the overall vision of your campaign.

Design and Field the Survey

Now that you have your goals set, the next step is to brainstorm possible headlines that you would love to see – kind of an “in a perfect world” exercise with your team! Researchscape suggests you “let your team’s imagination go wild, envisioning the results that would best drive coverage.”

Once you come up with your dream headlines, now is the time to come up with the questions. This is where academic discipline and a little bit of art in surveys comes to play.  According to Researchscape, the main problems that lead to inaccurate survey results and will reduce credibility with reporters are asking leading questions or encouraging acquiescence bias.

A good rule of thumb: a well-designed questionnaire can provide material for two or three news releases. As outlined in a Researchscape whitepaper, the average survey news release typically reports the findings from five questions (not including demographic questions).

A 15- to 20-question survey can easily provide content for three or four news releases.

Develop Campaign Assets

Most survey news releases simply include a summary of key findings of the survey, without commentary or context. But, with additional effort and detail, you can get far better results.

How to get survey results covered by media:

Include:

  • Exhibits: These include high-quality charts and graphs that can be used by reporters. Don’t forget to put your company’s name in the graphic!
  • Topline Results: These should accompany the press release and include the full list of complete questions and the answers selected for each question. As one reporter says, “I want to see what the questions are and what order they are asked in.”
  • Methodology FAQ: Don’t push the methodology summary to the last paragraph of the release. Create a methodology document or section in the release that answers the questions that journalists are trained to look for in surveys.

Write the News Release

Once you develop campaign assets, it’s time to write your killer press release(s) and make your push to key media.

Rule of thumb: Journalists prefer timely content. Announce your findings as soon as you can.

When writing your survey press releases, pay attention to these common mistakes as reported by Researchscape:

  • Overgeneralizing
  • Being overly precise
  • Claiming a margin of sampling error
  • Reporting on questions with too few respondents
  • Failing to disclose the basics
  • Not linking to resources
  • MISSING THE POINT!

Adapt and Re-Use

You’ve drafted a strong press release, pitched it to your key media targets and have secured press all while building brand awareness and generating leads – now what?

Do it all again next year, of course!

At Ketner Group, we have had clients conduct the same survey for consecutive years with great success. It allows us to do year-over-year comparisons so we can give reporters “trend reports” that provide more than just a snapshot in time. This is one of the best ways to become a go-to expert and thought leader on a given topic.

For more information about the process of creating newsworthy PR surveys, I encourage you to read the Best Practices for Newsmaker Surveys whitepaper from Researchscape that analyzes more than 3,000 surveys done over seven years.

Put Your Ideas in Motion

If you need help designing or getting the most out of your next PR survey project, connect with me at [email protected] to set up a free 30-minute consultation.

When and why press releases

The When and Why of Press Releases, and Considerations for Today’s Normal

When it comes to tracking relevant industry news as a PR pro, it’s important to read press releases in addition to what the media is already actively covering. By using an RSS feed (maybe that’s very 2000s of me), I receive the news from the source rather than reading it second hand in the media. This is helpful for a number of reasons. It keeps us ahead of rapid response opportunities for our clients and new business ideas for Ketner Group. Perhaps even more importantly, by reviewing hundreds of releases a day, I’ve learned a lot about the when and why of press releases.

Since early March when the COVID-19 pandemic became a reality in the U.S., I’ve seen the number of press releases in my newsfeed drop considerably. But for good reason. A lot of the news we’d normally announce simply isn’t important at the moment. During normal times, there are a handful of categories that press releases fall into. While press releases aren’t altogether obsolete now, there are several additional considerations that should be taken. We’ll explore all of this below.

When and Why: Customer Stories

PR professionals, particularly in B2B, often argue that customer news is the most important. Customer stories validate a vendor’s product offering and provide real-world case studies – both for the media and an organization’s broader sales efforts. You can announce customer news at two stages of the relationship. First, upon signature (a customer win) and second, once results are achieved.

Unfortunately, customer releases are also probably the most difficult to procure for most B2B clients. Customer PR and marketing teams are often hesitant to sign on to a release. Internal customer stakeholders don’t always see the value or they’re afraid of giving away trade secrets to competitors. However, customers are more likely to participate in media activities if there’s a financial incentive. Given that these stories are so helpful for replenishing the pipeline, sales teams should make an effort to negotiate these incentives during the contract and renewal process.

Considerations for Now. If your industry is operating more or less as it normally does, there’s likely no harm in doing a customer release right now. But, your media targets may be stretched and not have the bandwidth to cover the news.

On the other hand, if your industry has been largely disrupted by the pandemic and its effects, customer releases are pretty much off-limits. The exception is if the customer news is directly tied to the crisis. In that case, customer stories are incredibly valuable and the media are eager for this content.

When and Why: Product Releases and Updates

In general, product releases or updates aren’t meant to drive a huge amount of media coverage. Don’t worry, a few opportunities exist to drive mentions. The exception of course is if you have a truly revolutionary new offering. While that is rarely the case, it’s important to make product news available to your customers, prospects and investors.

When it comes to product news specifically, turn to the analyst community. Use paid analyst relationships when you can to vet your messaging and ensure the offering resonates with your target audience. If you don’t have a paid relationship, pre-brief analysts before the news is public. Friendlies might still offer valuable feedback that can help you tweak your final messaging.

Like any release, customer validation is key when it comes to product news. Again, this can be negotiated. Ask beta users to provide a quote in exchange for early access to the product. If a customer quote is off the table, anonymize any benefits or improvements from those tests or aggregate the results from a collection of customers.

Considerations for Now. Unless there is a direct application to help users manage the current situation, product releases probably don’t make sense right now. But, like customer releases, with a relevant angle, the media might be interested.

When and Why: Company News

Company news comes in a variety of forms. A leadership change, a new service offering, an upcoming event, a strategic partnership or an office opening. Like product news, company news doesn’t usually drive significant media mentions. But it’s important to make your stakeholders aware of this news.

In general, it’s important to get this news out both over the wire, on your website, to analysts and to any media friendlies who cover this type of news. Unless you represent a Fortune 500 company, you don’t need to pitch top-tier media. Don’t waste your time or theirs.

Considerations for Now. At Ketner Group, we recommend that you post this news on your websites and distribute over the wire. That way it’s on your website so customers and prospects are ensured it’s “business as usual.” By distributing it over the wire, media have access if they desire. However, we don’t recommend directly pitching the news to media. Reporter’s inboxes are overloaded and editors are directing their teams to focus only on timely coverage related to the crisis.

When and Why: Unique Research

Proprietary research. It’s the holy grail. It’s the gift that keeps giving.

For PR professionals and media alike, unique research (done well, of course) is the biggest blessing a client or solution provider can provide. At Ketner Group, we can’t sing the praises of good research enough. While it often requires a significant upfront investment, the payoff will be worth it.

A robust research study can be divided into multiple releases – not to mention multiple bylines, thought leadership pitches, social media posts, email campaigns and more. Plan to repeat the research on a quarterly or annual basis, if you can.

Considerations for Now. If you completed your research during “normal times,” you might be in bit of a pickle at the moment. But look for ways you can tie in the current situation. For example, our clients RSR and Symphony RetailAI completed a joint supply chain study just before the crisis set in.

Initially, we thought we’d need to wait on the news. However, we were able to find a tie in, identifying how “retail winners” were prepared for the current situation and others could learn from them. As a result, the news generated considerable interest and coverage. Now is also a good time for real-time research focusing on the current situation. If you have the time and budget for research now, we highly recommend proceeding.

The Nevers

While the above might not encompass all types of releases, it’s a good overview. There are also times and situations when press releases simply don’t make sense. One scenario I see way too often is a release that’s distributed over the wire that simply quotes an executive’s opinion about a particular trend or piece of news. This is a waste of money! Trust me, I’m the only one seeing it.

A short release costs roughly $400 to put over the wire. There are much better ways to get your opinions out; namely, blogs, bylines, pitching reporters directly offering the perspective for a story idea and rapid response (AKA newsjacking) pitching.

Final Press Release Considerations

In general, if you’re considering whether or not a press release is necessary, ask yourself a few questions. First, is it newsworthy? Will the media cover this news? If not, is this the best way to disseminate the news to my intended audience? Would a blog or a social post be more appropriate? And especially right now when resources are stretched, is the time and cost needed to write and distribute the release worth the return?

If you don’t know the answer to these questions, ask your PR partner. A good PR partner will always ensure that your time and money are well spent when it comes to press releases.

Don’t have a PR partner? No worries, we’re here to help.