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.”

b2b content inspired by netflix

How to Create B2B Content That Puts Netflix to Shame

In our latest KG Connects webinar, we were lucky to have our friend Alicia Esposito join us to discuss how to create great B2B content marketing campaigns.

B2B content has always been a key part of building thought leadership, engagement and even leads. Over the past few years, it has become even more important, but brands have struggled to keep up with the breakneck pace of change.

That’s where Alicia comes to the rescue. As the director of content at G3 Communications, she aims to help businesses take an omnichannel approach to thought leadership and ultimately build passionate, empowered communities.

2020: A landmark year for B2B content

For the past decade, DemandGen Report, a G3 publication, has been tracking content preferences. “Year over year, it remains the same,” Alicia said, “folks say, ‘over the past year, I’ve relied more on content.’”

As companies continue to rely on content, they have also seen a corresponding increase in demand.

Last year was no exception to the rule. While the full report isn’t out yet, Alicia was able to share some initial data from an upcoming DemandGen Report.

“62% of respondents said they relied more on content over the past year than any other year,” said Alicia.

rise in b2b content needs

Factors such as lockdowns and a lack of in-person events have driven the demand for content, which has become a key component of the now-digital sales processes.

Incredibly, according to McKinsey, only 20% of buyers and sellers want to go back to in-person. “If you can have the right kind of content and can guide someone through an experience digitally, you don’t need to get on a plane and go halfway across the country,” she said.

Creating creative marketing that stands out

When it comes to impressing potential buyers, businesses need a wealth of content. According to Alicia, buyers will engage with 3-7 pieces of content before they actively engage with sales.

However, when it comes to the type of content buyers prefer, there was a major shift last year.

“In 2019, it was all video. This year, webinars shot to the top,” Alicia said.

Research is showing some interesting contradictions in how people consume content. There’s a demand for easy-to-consume content, while at the same time there is demand for long-form content like whitepapers.

To meet evolving needs, Alicia suggested iPapers, aka interactive white papers, which are very digestible and interactive.

With iPapers, “you can see how much time users are spending in the experience. What people are clicking on, how long they’re spending on the page. This allows you to see what the tangible engagement is.”

adapt long-form content alicia esposito

She also says it’s important to build a content ecosystem out of long-form content. Consider creating infographics, social media images, checklists and even creating video trailers. (For more on this topic, check out “How to Adapt Long-Form Content Into a Wealth of Resources.”)

“I encourage everyone to look at their content and find those bite-sized pieces to expand upon and connect to that long-form piece.”

Using content to generate leads

“How does content turn to leads?” It’s one of the biggest questions for marketers, alongside, how does PR drive leads?

“When we ask our customers what drives them to engage with content, there are always two answers: the trustworthiness of the source and the credibility of the content,” said Alicia. To build this trustworthiness, “you need good storytelling.”

storytelling drives leads

According to Alicia that means understanding the audience, getting to the heart of their pain points, understanding their goals and framing the story through their eyes.

“Powerful, empathetic storytelling is what drives that lead generation success.”

When it comes to the numbers game, however, Alicia says to stick to quality, not quantity.

“A common thing we hear is that clients create huge projects that generate thousands of leads and none of them are qualified. Sales teams don’t even want to reach out to these leads,” she explained.

Want to keep talking about B2B content?

The webinar is over, but the conversation doesn’t have to be.

If you want to discuss how content can help you, reach out to us!

To get in touch with Alicia, connect with her on LinkedIn.

To learn more about B2B content, watch the March webinar on demand.

We’ll be back in May with another edition of KG Connects; we’ll tackle analyst relations and how it can mean big things for businesses.

media relations helps your startup startups

Six Ways Media Relations Can Help Your Startup

Ketner Group has worked with dozens of B2B technology startups, and we often see familiar patterns in how they approach PR and media relations.

Startups naturally spend their first few years building their technology and team and ensuring the success of early customers. However, as a company wins significant customers, receives additional funding or begins seeking investment, PR ultimately becomes a priority.

Media relations is often the starting point for creating a larger communications program and engaging with a PR agency.

Why is this element of public relations so important? Here are several reasons why.

Media relations helps companies hone their story

Storytelling is at the heart of media relations. After all, media relations involves telling your company story in order to convince an editor to write about your solutions, which in turn can influence prospective buyers.

Stories must be easily understood, believable and persuasive. That’s why we always recommend that startups evaluate their company messaging and value proposition before engaging in media relations, to ensure they’re accurately communicating their story.

PR agencies like Ketner Group can provide the expertise you need to help you get ready to tell your story to the world.

Media relations demonstrates market acceptance

The very nature of startups is disruption—taking a fresh look at solving business problems with new, innovative technology. But how does the technology work, and what benefits does it really deliver?

media relations validates tech

Media relations is a critical way to validate your technology, as it gives you the chance to tell stories about your vision for the industry, the challenges your solutions address, and how customers are using your products. Because these stories are told by outside media, they gain credibility.

It boosts your market profile

Over time, editors and writers will turn to your company as a resource for articles and reports, creating more opportunities for media coverage and boosting your company’s overall presence. A well-honed media relations program can give you a competitive marketing advantage, too.

A key index of media relations performance is share of voice, which represents a company’s share of earned media coverage in a given month. By “owning the conversation” through a larger share of voice than competitors, companies can increase their marketing presence and punch above their weight class.

We use Cision as our preferred PR platform, and its share of voice reporting provides valuable metrics for measuring the effectiveness of media relations.

It supports fundraising

As startups raise funding, media relations can help attract the interest of investors and provide an important source of validation. Articles and press releases about customers are particularly important, as they provide external proof that goes beyond your investor deck.

It influences lead generation and sales

Clients often ask the question, “will media relations help generate leads?” As my colleague Mariana wrote in a recent blog, the purpose of media relations isn’t lead-generation, but it can help influence lead-gen and sales when considered as part of a well-rounded communications program. We’ve seen plenty of examples of this.

media relations supports sales

When one of our clients announced a major implementation of the company’s solution by a well-known top 10 retailer, the CEO quickly began hearing back from other retailers the company had been courting. In this case, one highly visible customer win opened doors for our client.

Companies want to know what technologies the leaders in their industries are adopting, and it can ultimately help influence their purchase decisions.

Media relations supports your exit strategy

A retail analyst friend used to introduce us to tech startups by telling them if they work with Ketner Group, they’ll get acquired. If only it was that easy!

Over the years many of our startup clients have undergone successful acquisitions, and we’re proud to have played a supporting role. Media coverage and share of voice can help attract the attention of would-be acquirers. When one of our retail software clients was acquired, the press release referenced an industry awards program that boosted our client’s reputation and visibility in the market. That program was one of the key elements of our PR program.

Media relations is a key strategy to supporting your startup overall

Media relations plays a vital role in your PR strategy. However, media relations should never exist in a silo, as it is only one facet of public relations.

As you consider establishing a media relations program, be sure to evaluate all your other communications channels, too—website, social media, content, blogs, paid media—in order to make sure you have a well-rounded program that’s firing on all cylinders.

That way, your startup will get the most out of its investment in media relations and every other communication channel.

Need help with media relations?

We’re experts in media relations, so if you’re ready to kick start a media relations program or just want to make sure you’re on the right track, we can help.

Schedule a free 30-minute consultation to learn what we can do for you.

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.

stewards of the future webinar tameka vasquez

How Marketers Can Be Stewards To the Future

For the first KG Connects of the year, we were delighted to have Tameka Vasquez — strategist, educator and futurist — join Catherine Seeds to discuss the importance of being what Tameka calls, “stewards to the future.”

In her day job, Tameka serves as a global marketing leader at Genpact. She also just recently jumped back into the world of academia as an assistant professor at St. John’s University in New York. She started her work in futurism because, as she describes, “everything in the world is just made up, and we have the power to make up something else.”

Read a summary of the webinar below, or if you’d like, watch the full webinar on-demand through Zoom.

What is a steward to the future?

Tameka often uses the phrase, “steward to the future.” To her, it’s a literal phrase.

She explained that a steward is a person who takes care of passengers on planes or cruise ships during their trip. The same concept applies to marketing, according to her, marketers need to think, “how do we use [marketing] to navigate people from the point of where they are today to the future?”

A futuristic remix on the four Ps of marketing

Most marketers know the four Ps of marketing — place, price, product and promotion — as well as how important this is for organizations. However, in future-work, Tameka takes a different approach to this classic method.

four ps of marketing philosophy

She puts forth the following:

  • Possible: what is something that can reasonably happen?
  • Plausible: what is feasible given what we know right now?
  • Probable: what is likely to happen? 
  • Preferred: what fits expectations and ambitions?

She stated the importance of these future four P’s, especially for marketers, because, “there is a high degree of uncertainty and there are a lot of contextual instances where you have to apply these four p’s.”

Applying futuristic thinking to marketing plans

As part of her work as a futurist, Tameka has to think, “What does it mean when we say the future?” She continued, “that could be 2021, it could be 2030. Whatever that marker of time is, you can then decide what the story that you want to tell about the future is. How do we use the attention that we have in the moment to give people a view of the future?”

tameka vasquez attention quote

Using 2020 as an example, she described how we needed to meet the moment by educating people on COVID-19 best practices while also thinking about how current events allow individuals and organizations to reimagine what the future could be.

“If 2030 was a time where certain things were possible, 2020 probably accelerated that path where we now need to think about those things far more intentionally,” she explained.

Getting comfortable with discomfort

The future means change, and change is very uncomfortable for many. Especially when those changes run counter to organizational planning. Tameka says that while strategic planning is never really going to go away, we can factor change into our planning easier than we could in the past.

She said that, “we have the capability to be social listeners in a way that we just hadn’t historically. While you’re in this space of planning, you also need to be in a space of listening.”

marketing strategic planning

When it comes to meeting business goals, Tameka explained that it’s still possible to apply futurist thinking. The trick is to focus on KPIs while, “making slight pivots. The plan doesn’t get thrown out the window, you’re slightly shifting.”

Learning more about futurism

Futurist thinking isn’t the easiest to jump into. Tameka’s preferred method for learning is to look at what brands are doing beyond the product or service.

“I really want people to look at how certain companies have captured the moment and how they’ve used the sentiment of the time to better position themselves,” Tameka said.

She used the example of how Twitter has been able to respond to the moment where trust and transparency are critical. She said that Twitter has been creating features that improve transparency, such as flagging questionable information. This does two key things simultaneously: it demonstrates Twitter is rising to the moment while also showing what a future of transparency might look like.

Tameka also shared some great beginner resources:

  • Prescient2050: Free resources that will help get you started learning and using the tools of strategic foresight and shaping your future.
  • Brookings Events: A nonprofit that conducts in-depth research that leads to new ideas for solving problems.
  • Futures Festival: An event that highlights principles of inclusion, plurality, and collective participation as a means to how we can move toward challenging the status quo and move toward preferable shared futures.

Want to keep talking future?

There is a lot to discuss when it comes to futurism. If you want to keep the conversation going, reach out to Tameka on her website, follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn. Reminder: if you want all the insights from the webinar, you can watch it on demand.

watch kg connects january on demand

Join us for our March webinar to discuss B2B content!

KG Connects is moving to a bimonthly schedule for 2021. Join us in March for a discussion on how to create B2B content that puts Netflix to shame. Sign up for free.

Future of work webinar

The Future of Work: Shifting All the Paradigms

Last week, we were excited to host our first-ever panel discussion on KG Connects! Moderated by Ketner Group president, Catherine Seeds, our panel chatted about the future of work and included: Daniel Oppong, founder of OhanaHealth; Carolyn Birsky, founder of Compass Maven; and Sterling Hawkins, internationally recognized thought leader who focuses on the #NoMatterWhat approach.

As Catherine said as she opened the webinar, we couldn’t have picked a better topic for the end of the year. The working world has changed so rapidly that it has been hard for anyone to keep up.

Fortunately, our panel was able to help us make sense of it all and walk us through the changes they’ve seen companies undergo throughout 2020, as well as what that means for 2021 and beyond.

You can read the summary below or watch the webinar on-demand anytime on Zoom.

The impact of COVID-19 on hiring

Catherine: I’m curious, Daniel, are you seeing a lot of interest in the health-tech space right now?

Daniel: It’s a mixed bag, honestly. Even with the increase in hiring for the health-tech space in general, companies are still trying to figure out what they can do sustainably. Just because there is demand now doesn’t mean there will be demand over X amount of time.

Catherine: Has COVID helped or hindered companies’ recruiting efforts?

Daniel: Thinking about hiring, especially with the early-career candidates that I work with, presented a paradox. There’s a lot of opportunity, but also a lot of uncertainty as to where numbers are going to land at the end of the year. At the beginning of the pandemic, companies had to stop and see where things were going before making any hiring decisions. But as things have stabilized, companies know a little better going into 2021.

As far as creative ways to hire, look at more bespoke ways to distribute jobs. Look at more niche job boards like BuiltIn, Angel List or OhanaHealth to distribute jobs to the demographic you want to target. Additionally, get creative with who you involve in the hiring loop. Not everyone needs to be in the same physical space for an interview, so you can get more creative with who you involve in the hiring process.

Managing our teams in the COVID-19 environment

Catherine: Carolyn, you started your new managing position at the start of this pandemic, so I’d love for you to share some of the ways that you created a virtual environment to help them feel inspired, energized and innovative.

Carolyn: I joined my team fully virtually and I’ve met just one of the people that report to me in person at a distance. So, our entire experience together has been virtual. The biggest thing to focus on as a manager is being purposeful about the interactions you’re having.

Carolyn Birsky managing remote work

I’ve encouraged my team to have office hours where new members can go to them and foster a team environment. We also do cold call blocks on Zoom where everyone mutes their audio, but we can see each other making calls, and we message each other asking questions or sharing success. I’ve been looking for opportunities to do those kinds of things that we wouldn’t be able to do in office.

How remote work changes company culture

Catherine: Sterling, how are companies keeping culture fun and alive within their organizations while remote?

Sterling: Culture is this very nebulous thing, but it’s something that each of us innately knows. For example, if you travel to Dubai, Shanghai or Paris, something inside you knows you’re in a different world and that you have to operate differently.

The same thing happens in companies, and it gets reinforced from the conversations we’re having internally. But the transition to the virtual world is a chance to distinguish what that culture really is. We can start to see there are pieces of our culture that aren’t effective. Or maybe they were effective, but they aren’t anymore. How can we change some of those dynamics?

Catherine: Company culture is a big part of recruiting, and how does showing that culture translate to the current circumstance?

Daniel Oppong company culture

Daniel: COVID has separated everyone from the idea that they can come to a space and get a feel for the company culture there. How are companies showing up for the candidates that they are interviewing? The value proposition of the company, the clarity of the mission, the experience of interacting with the manager in the hiring loop all has to speak volumes.

Moving from the brick-and-mortar to the virtual

Catherine: Moving forward, what do we do with our physical office space?

Sterling: The short answer is that it depends. What part of the world are you in? What are you working on? But Synchrony Financial Services announced they are closing their main offices and turning what’s left into a shared workspace. Now they’ve taken their overhead down and created a more dynamic, interactive environment. There is now some kind of hybrid approach that will look different going forward.

Sterling Hawkins future of work

The hardships that come with the virtual workspace

Catherine: How do you deal with the isolation and depression, as well as the other mental hardships that come with working during the pandemic?

Carolyn: It starts with compassionate leadership. Even when we’re in person at an office, you need to, as a leader, start from a compassionate place. Certain people may have different home situations, you won’t know what that is, and you can’t pry into that, but you want to create a space where you say that you’re here to support them. It starts with leadership saying that your situation is OK and that you or anyone in the company is there for them.

Sterling: It’s so interesting how the pandemic has humanized all of our interactions. It’s almost expected and embraced for things to come up like crying children. Having some compassionate leadership is a piece of the puzzle, but also having some of the right support mechanisms inside companies to help people grow from these things matters. As we give our team mechanisms to help them grow, I think they’ll show up.

Daniel: I have to agree. Think about parents who don’t have changing work demands, but now have to think about their kiddos. How do we prioritize that? One of the things my company has done is focusing on employee resource groups. Like a working parents’ group, which has been a really meaningful way to support parents. To Carolyn’s point, having that empathetic view goes a long way.

missed future of work webinar

Keep the conversation going

The conversation doesn’t have to stop when KG Connects is over! Stay connected with our panelists:

Don’t forget: you can watch the entire webinar on your own time on demand.

Jan. 2021 Webinar: How Marketers Can Be Stewards To the Future

We just looked at the future of work, but the future isn’t just work. Marketers have a unique new world to conquer that requires moving beyond selling products and services. Learn how strategist, educator, and futurist Tameka Vasquez thinks we can all embed futuristic thinking into our strategies. Register here.

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.