How to do media relations and PR during the pandemic

How to Approach PR During the Pandemic

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

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

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

Read the room.

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

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

Share your insights.

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

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

Lead with empathy.

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

Think beyond the current crisis.

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

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

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

how to address marketing through covid-19

Feel, Reflect, Create: How B2B Marketers Can Move Forward in Light of COVID-19

The world is changing more quickly and more dramatically than most of us have experienced in our lifetime. The coronavirus will fundamentally alter our lives. It is a lot to wrap your head around. 

At the same time, most of us are antsy to identify ways we can move forward. We want to keep doing what we love: creating unique campaigns, communicating with customers, driving a business forward. 

To help you move forward, we’ve identified three simple steps:

Feel: Begin at the Beginning

Before you can take action, you must understand your situation. That’s why I believe the very first thing we must do is feel. We must commit the time to wrapping our heads around the present, learning how our environments are shifting, feeling the impact COVID-19 is having on our business, our community and ourselves.

What is frustrating about this step is that, for many of us, the feeling phase may last much longer than we’d like. But because a global pandemic is a new experience for all of us, there is a lot of new information to take in, which takes time. Think of this period like you would a marketing campaign, your very first step is often to collect a lot of data. Feeling is that collection period.

Reflect: Identify the Marketing Work

Once you have taken the time required to understand your situation through feeling, you’re able to move into a period of reflection. The reflection period is all about evaluating the situation to develop a strategy for action. 

As B2B marketers, our essential question is what action can I take to help sell? Unfortunately, in times like these the old-standby-style answers are not always correct anymore. Reflecting must entail identifying what actions you can take to help sell in this new environment. Consider what you need today to support a sale in the short term and the long term. You can begin by asking yourself the following questions:

  • How is my sales cycle changing? Is my company’s sales cycle increasing or decreasing? Does it require different types of engagement? The virus could be shifting your cycle in ways you don’t imagine. Understanding how it’s changing will help you identify what you need to support it.
  • To support the shifting sales cycle, what resources do I need? Identify what prospects need at this moment. Do they need help grasping the new retail environment? Maybe you can support them with a byline article. Do they need advice on creating better digital experiences? Maybe you could offer a free consultation via email. 
  • What do people need when it comes to communication? The methods you use to communicate may need to change. If you use marketing automation, evaluate campaigns to ensure they empathetically address the situation. If you can, it may be even more effective to create tailored communication for each contact, calling some or waiting to contact others.

No matter what, you can’t go wrong by being compassionate. Asking empathetic questions and offering ways you can help will help us all identify a path forward.

Create: Develop Campaigns and Prepare for the Future

Once you have reflected on how things are changing, you’ll have the information you need to create new marketing efforts. Your sales process is likely changing. The volume and readiness of the pipeline may be altered, but your actual cycle may be decreasing or increasing as well. 

If your sales cycle is decreasing, you’ll want to focus on crafting action-oriented campaigns that can help convert prospects quickly. Dive into your data to identify which campaigns were the most effective at converting and dial those up. If an email campaign promoting an ebook has worked particularly well in the past, invest in that campaign. Just make sure the messaging has been updated to more compassionately address the current situation. If an ad on LinkedIn has shown success, maybe it’s time to re-active it, again updating the content and creative in light of the coronavirus.

If your sales cycle is lengthening because of COVID-19, it may be the right time to hunker down and invest time into big projects that will set you up for future success. Events and awards may have been rescheduled but there are things you can control. 

We’ve seen that long-form content is the backbone of B2B tech communications. Now is an opportune time to sit down and write. As a general rule, it’s good to have two to four long-form pieces of content (whether a whitepaper, eBook or research report) released per year. These can inspire blog posts, social media posts, ads, print collateral, webinars, articles, proactive pitching and even press releases. Overall, we see them help generate leads, illustrate your expertise and inspire new or ongoing campaigns.

Similarly, this could be a good time to invest in a time-intensive project such as a rebrand, website update, newsletter launch or persona refresh. 

Don’t Stop Engaging With the World

Now is our time to rediscover the world. As we feel the impact of the coronavirus on our environments, it can be very challenging to identify a path forward. But by remembering to feel first and then reflect, we’ll be able to identify steps we can take to create our new environment.

You do not have to go through this transition alone. If you are ever looking for perspective, advice or a compassionate ear, we are here to help. We’re in this together. We have your back.

Person holding microphone for media interview

Media Interviews: Best Practices for Spokespeople

If your company has ramped up its public relations and marketing program, chances are, your company has been asked to take media interviews.

Whether this is the spokesperson’s first time or their 100th time to take a media interview, their ability to successfully drive the interview is critical to achieving the desired coverage.

When it comes to media interviews, each spokesperson must find their own unique style. After all, a journalist is typically reaching out to a particular spokesperson because they need a subject matter expert. Therefore, exuding confidence and knowledge during the interview process is a must.

Tips for nailing the interview

Though each spokesperson should have their own unique interview style, there are a few things you can do prior to the interview to prepare and nail the talking points.

Do your research

Just as the journalist did his/her research before reaching out, the spokesperson should do the same. Getting to know the journalist’s reporting style will help the spokesperson provide relevant points during the interview. Doing the research will also provide the spokesperson with additional fodder to create a connection with the journalist during their chat.

Keep in mind that journalists receive more than 100 emails a day and take about 3-5 interviews on a daily basis. Therefore, ensuring that you are providing a differentiated point of view and unique data points, will help the journalist explore different angles to the story they are working on.

As well, if you are currently working with a PR agency, the agency should work to gather sample questions ahead of time and provide the spokesperson with a media profile that highlights the journalist’s experience to help the spokesperson prepare.

Talk it out

Keep in mind that the interview can happen in a variety of ways; via phone, in-person, podcast recording or over live broadcast. We recommend having the spokesperson undergo a mock interview training process to identify areas of improvement and hone their unique interview style.

Keep in mind that public speaking is not everyone’s forte and therefore, practice makes perfect. Having the spokesperson run through several mock interviews that go over the nuances of all these forms will only help the spokesperson perfect their style.

For example, if the spokesperson plans to do a live broadcast interview, taping the person during the mock interview process and then reviewing the tape will help the spokesperson identify areas of improvement in clarity, tone and body language. This will help the spokesperson ace the 15-30 second segment that will eventually make it on air.

This will help avoid the scenario Ricky Bobby from Talladega Nights found himself in when being interviewed live and he kept raising his hands up to his face, saying to the broadcaster, “I don’t know what to do with my hands.” With a little practice, you can avoid this problem during your spokesperson’s interview process.

During the interview

It’s go time! As your spokesperson speaks to the journalist remind them that everything they say to them should be deemed “on the record.” Key tips to keep in mind include:

  • Provide soundbites. Remember that the journalist may only use a portion of the interview in their story. Therefore, ensure that your comments quickly relay the key messages you want to be published.
  • Provide unique data points, numbers and statistics that you can reference publicly.
  • Be energetic, honest, transparent and yourself.
  • Do not answer a question you do not know. It’s ok to not know the answer to every question.
  • Do not comment on speculation.
  • Do not name any customers that you cannot reference publicly.

After the interview

As the term states, media relations is about building a relationship with each media contact. Therefore, ensure your spokesperson connects with the journalist to thank them for the interview. Additionally, connecting with the journalist via Twitter and LinkedIn will not only help the spokesperson keep the relationship going with the journalist, but will also help to keep a pulse on their ongoing coverage.

As we’ve mentioned before, practice makes perfect! If you have an upcoming media interview, now is the time to start preparing. Utilize the above helpful tips to get started, but don’t be afraid to call in the pros once your program really takes off!

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

How to Build a Great Retail Tech PR Program

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

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

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

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

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

1. Define your unique story.

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

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

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

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

2. Consider the broader context.

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do editors want?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why You Should Involve Your PR Agency in Content Development

Trust Your PR Agency with Content Development

The Ketner crew is currently hiring two interns, which got me thinking about my career start. With a PR degree in hand and internships under my belt, I assumed I’d join an agency. I pictured spending my days writing press releases and pitching the media. Instead, I landed a role with an in-house marketing team for an engineering firm. But through this, I learned just how fluid the fields of marketing and public relations really are. Or at least should be.

That’s not to say there isn’t a clear delineation between the two. Public relations is traditionally about managing communications between a company and the media, stakeholders or the public. Marketing activities are usually tied to achieving revenue by generating leads through email campaigns, gated landing pages, paid media, and so on.

Ultimately, content is the link between the two. So if you’re asking yourself whether you should you involve your PR agency in content development, I think the answer is yes!

In my past experience, and especially now working in an agency setting, I’ve seen the power of combining PR and marketing forces. Here are a couple of benefits of sharing the content load with your PR agency, followed by an example of Keter Group content in action.

Seamless knowledge sharing through blogs and byline articles

Just as our retail tech clients advocate for unified processes through their holistic solutions, I believe marketing and PR need to shake off the siloed ways of thinking. Share your marketing plans and big-picture goals with PR, no doubt. Breaking down barriers between teams encourages visibility and knowledge sharing. Then go a step further to bring PR in to help with content development in support of that plan.

One example is the corporate blog, where internal experts can comment on interesting industry trends, product capabilities, and more. By having a PR agency collaborate on these posts, they get more direct exposure to a variety of stakeholders outside the marketing department and a more complete understanding of your business.

This gives them the opportunity to really nail the brand voice and messaging as they pitch. Plus, having a lively blog makes it easy to source byline content for media pitching.

While not promotional in nature, byline articles are one way to position company executives as thought leaders in the industry, sharing trends or research and an individual’s unique perspective. Ketner Group pitches and places these 600- to 850-word articles in a variety of trade publications. It’s certainly easier to do so when we’ve had a hand in writing the content in the first place, especially if it’s just repurposing a blog.

A deeper understanding of a given topic with long-form content

Moving beyond bylines, PR-agency-developed content can include e-books, white papers, buyer’s guides, viewpoint papers. This is all content you can leverage through inbound or outbound marketing activities to move prospects through the sales funnel.

Your PR agency should feel like an extension of your marketing team. When you task them with longer-form content projects such as these, you invite them into a much deeper understanding of your solution, service or thought leadership perspective, as if they were in-house all along.

When I’m writing 1,500 to 2,500 words on a topic, my comprehension of that subject has to be exact. Taking on these projects naturally increases the amount of time I spend getting into the weeds. Yes, these projects are more time-intensive. But the conversations, from kickoff calls through the review process, further enrich client relationships and overall mastery of a topic.

The momentum to get in front of your target audience

Take the work we’ve done with our client Symphony RetailAI as an example. Late last year we kicked off a plan to develop a number of viewpoint papers and corresponding buyer’s guides. The viewpoint paper would be a “top of funnel” piece, educating the reader on a topic. A buyer’s guide would then serve as a follow-up, providing a checklist for selecting the right vendor – positioning Symphony RetailAI as the only logical fit.

We developed a viewpoint paper on customer insights and data proficiency in tandem with a buyer’s guide, pointing to their AI-powered personal decision coach, CINDE, as the go-to solution.

Symphony RetailAI, Rule of 17

Seeing content come to life is really exciting. I know Symphony RetailAI enjoys the momentum content has brought to its marketing execution. The Rule of 17 paper received double the target market downloads, compared to last year’s category management campaign. Symphony RetailAI further increased the reach of this whitepaper through sponsored syndication with Progressive Grocer.

Before commissioning your PR agency to take on long-form content projects, map out a larger content strategy. My colleague Aidan wrote a blog that walks you through defining unique content needs. It’s a helpful way to assess where your PR agency can jump in to help.

The Data Formula: How Unique Data Drives Top-Tier Coverage

Clients often ask me, “How can we achieve top-tier coverage in publications like CNBC or The Wall Street Journal?” While there are a variety of ways to achieve this goal, one of the best ways to drive top-tier coverage is by collecting and sharing data.

However, you must remember that not all data is created equal. Let’s take a look at the factors you should consider to provide reporters relevant and useful stats worthy of top-tier placement.

Type of Data

By definition, data means “facts and statistics that are collected together for reference or analysis.” As you look to land interviews with top media contacts like Bloomberg or Business Insider, remember your data should serve as a reference or validation point for the reporter. For example, if the reporter’s beat focuses on how AI is influencing the workplace, you should point to key trends within that subject, adding further context to that particular topic.

A good example in this instance could be results from a survey of employees from various organizations and verticals about their opinions on AI. Whatever the subject, ensure your data is robust enough to answer key questions on current trends. As well, always avoid any promotional or self-serving message. Think of the data that you are providing as the greatest asset you have to highlight your expertise within the particular subject you are validating.

Know Your Audience

Now that you’ve identified the type of data, it’s time to ‘get to talking!’ What I mean by this is that you must do your due diligence and speak with each reporter you are looking to work with and identify the relevant data. For example, if you are working with a reporter who has extensively covered holiday sales outcomes in previous years, reach out to them prior to the start of holiday sales this year. Your goal should be to come away with a full understanding of what the reporter will be focusing on during each season and how your data can add third-party validation to their reports.

Timing is Everything

As you plan to send each journalist the stats you’ve collected, remember that timing is everything. For example, let’s say you own a financial services company that helps consumers file their taxes by the Tax Day deadline. The best practice here is to begin compiling relevant data about six-to-four weeks out from the deadline in order to showcase major trends that will emerge during Tax Day. As well, having the ability to provide key stats to reporters in real-time will also help you win at the coverage game.

Learn From Data Success Stories

Let’s take a look at a top example of a company who has owned the data success game recently, Adobe. If you can recall 2018’s Cyber Week sales coverage, chances are you saw the name Adobe everywhere you looked. Adobe achieved this by providing key statistics on popular trends, such as online conversions and voice assisted shopping to top reporters. It also shared this data in both real-time and as a recap, earning recognition in Fortune, Reuters and many other tier-one publications.

The Data Formula

So, remember, if top-tier coverage is a top-tier goal for you, the best way to get it is by following the data formula. It’s all about providing authentic value and unbiased third-party analysis to help a reporter write a compelling story. The process starts early as you identify the type of data you can provide and make initial connections with your journalist base. This preparation makes execution easy, and once you know which audience and data findings are a match, you’ll just need to hit ‘send’ when the time is right.

storytelling tips from Nashville to Austin recording

Watch (Or Read) Now: Storytelling Tips From the Frontlines

Getting women like Brittney Oliver, Catherine Seeds, Kelley Griggs and Nicole Delger in the same room is a rarity. Even more unusual is getting an inside look in a conversation they have around storytelling. That’s why we knew we had to record the panel discussion of our Nashville launch event, “From the Frontlines: Storytelling Tips From Nashville to Austin.”

View the Panel Recording

Talk to Us About Storytelling

Interested in learning more about our thoughts on storytelling? We always love to chat about the topic over a cup of coffee. So don’t be shy, just reach out.

Read the Transcript

Kirsty Goodlett: I want to start with Brittney. I am curious to hear from you. Why is storytelling important?

Brittney Oliver: Storytelling is so important, especially to me because I feel like it gives everyone an opportunity to share their truth, right? We all have our own, all our story that deserves to be shared. And I see the impact impacted needs, especially for under represented communities, right? So if you’re a minority business owner, having your stories old can do understory. For example, I have a colleague whose book came out this week. When she received her book deal her publishing house was kind of nervous because she didn’t have a large social media following. They really want to make sure that she could sell this book and the book, it’s called, The Memo, and it’s about women of color and workplace. It’s a great topic but it’s always hard to pitch opportunities or stories around people of color, right? It really is. So her publisher’s feedback really meant some of these are hurting. So I wrote about her for Fast Company. Once that article went live, her publisher gave her a date for her book to be released. That’s how much a story being published can make an impact to someone’s life.

Kirsty Goodlett: So I want to jump off of that point and pass it over to Nicole. Nicole, I’m curious to hear from you how you see storytelling being important to businesses. Because Brittney’s example is such a great example of like someone who’s clearly making money from writing, but we also have sometimes a harder time telling stories about companies. So why is story telling important for businesses?

Nicole Delger: Storytelling gives people to talk about your company and you know, share pride in the things they find. There are so many different things that we can invest in or bring into our lives and it’s harder to be discerning some times as a consumer. So when I think about storytelling, I always put my consumer hat on. What are the brands that I like, what are the stories that I rally around? How are they interesting? And I think it’s important for companies down on what their story is so that people will talk about them. I love your example, Brittney. I just saw another one in the news yesterday in the Shelbyville Times about Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey. Have you seen this one? I thought that was so beautiful and it is inspired by a slave that taught Jack Daniels how to distill whiskey. And they are saying, this is the Godfather ofTennessee whiskey. And I think that is really exciting for people who are entrepreneurial, who are wanting to make something meaningful, wanting to create a brand that’s meaningful to go out and find these stories and be inspired by these stories to create something new. So I think it’s made from an entrepreneurial perspective. And so typing into your own story or the story that you want to tell it from a creative business.

Kirsty Goodlett: So, what do you do then if you don’t have that? So, like how does storytelling money vary then between business to business or business to consumer? And what do you do from a toolkit perspective to think differently about those different types of companies or services?

Nicole Delger: Yeah, I mean not to immediately pitch hiring someone. I think it’s not necessarily about hiring communications. company to tell your story. It’s about having conversations with people and starting to look outside yourself, get outside your business, get perspective on what might be interesting. For a story, you might not recognize these really interesting people. I remember Catherine talking about that person that you work with…

Kirsty Goodlett: Yeah, that’s great. That’s a great leeway. Right. Catherine, can you speak to this example or maybe some others that you’ve seen when it comes to finding ways to tell stories about businesses?

Catherine Seeds: Sure. I think with our clients, we work with B2B technology companies, so we’re always looking into why we’d be interested in stories about the products and the services that our clients are providing. And that’s what their marketing is for, of course, but we want to dig deeper. All of us here are storytellers in some way. So you want to take deeper. And what I love to do, what we love doing for our clients is figuring out what has inspired the executive and founder of the company to start that company. In my experience, a lot of CEOs and founders don’t give themselves enough credit for the inspiration for their own companies. One of our clients, we sat down with the CEO and founder to get the backstory. He is from Germany. He went through his story about how when he was 16, he worked in the salt mines and how he remembered the sweat coming down his face, working in the mines, the salt mines. He remembered how his superiors would check on him to make sure that he was okay. And he remembered that and he carried that with him. When he started his own company he decided he was always going to treat everyone the same, no matter what level and that was because of his background in the salt mines. So we put together a pitch to the media and we’ve got some interest in that, which is great because CEO stories are always interesting to tell. You want to tell those stories about the products and services and how they’re affecting end users but we want to go further, we want to dig deeper into telling more interesting, more human inspired stories for our clients.

Kirsty Goodlett: Yeah. So that leads me to a good question for Kelley. When we were preparing for this panel we were talking about, how do you identify interesting stories? Kelley you had some interesting things to say about that. You remarked that when you consider stories, you say, is this interesting to me? So can you speak to that a little bit?

Kelley Griggs: So that’s sort of the question I would ask. I would ask, hey, we are seeking stories about startups. We happen to be seeking stories about startups in the south. That’s like a pretty specific topic. And one of the reasons why we were doing that was because we were looking for the types of things that other people might relate to, both in business and in life. So, I think that one really, really important part of telling your story is just asking yourself, is this an interesting and would it be interesting to somebody else if they were to read it? And what is really the, the hook of the story? If you think about the hook of your story or you know, the reason why you love it so much and emphasize that hook, I think that others are more likely to grab on to whatever you’re talking about. They have to work on, you have to work on that hook. So that’s really, you know, that’s really subjective. Everybody would think a little bit differently and your story is not for everyone. So, I do think though, as a journalist that something I would always think about if someone was pitching me a story is, you know, is this interesting to my audience? And that went back to my topic about startups in the south.

Kirsty Goodlett: That’s a good point. So as a journalist who chooses which stories to write about, can you speak to tips about someone may pitch you to get written about.

Kelley Griggs: Sure and I think, I think Brittney and I will have different perspectives because when you’re, when you’re pitching to me, I have my topic, I have startups in the south and that’s what I’m really looking for. And those stories are very, very interesting to me because I’m telling you a human story, I’m telling the story that a lot of people around here might relate to. I’m telling a very different story than stories in Silicon Valley. So my stories might have more grittiness to them. They might have more culture in the way that we might understand it in our area of the country. They might not be so much about scale and getting investment from, you know, getting millions and millions of dollars. They’re not going to be the story of Silicon Valley. They’re gonna be the story of what I’m used to. But, but my blog is about a beginner, you know, a founder who’s just started a company, who is in the area of maybe Nashville or Atlanta or Raleigh or global or Memphis. And I might be your first person that you’ve reached out to. I think I’m way more likely to be the first or second or third person you reach out to and say, Hey, I think I’m writing to pitch somebody a story. So, people are out there starting businesses. I’d love to hear from you.

Kirsty Goodlett: And what do they say to you?

Kelley Griggs: They usually say something like, Hey, uh, I just started a company. This is what it’s called. Here’s the website. I think my story’s really interesting. I wouldlove to talk to you about it. And that’s how we start a conversation. You know, there are little things, like details like time and getting our schedules right. Then usually I am willing to speak with most people as long as it’s in my topic area; most people who reach out to me as long as they’re legitimate.

Kirsty Goodlett: Brittney, would you say that that’s true for you? Like what does it take for you to get pitched and to write about it?

Brittney Oliver: So I just want to let you know some of the outlets that I contribute to. So I work where I contribute to the career money, entrepreneurial segments for Fast Company, Essence, Nashville lifestyles, and other one line publications. So I have a national reach, so I’m not limited to a region. But to what you’re speaking, you need to pitch it within someone’s vertical, right? So if your topic is on business or entrepreneurial endeavors or innovation at your company, you want to target that specific staff writer or contributor for that particular vertical in your immunity. You want to target the beauty writer, right? So those are some of the tips that you would need when you’re pitching yourself. Also, people don’t realize that you’re so much more than your bio. You’re so much more than your bio. Really dig deep to different angles to pitch yourself. You’ll never know when your experience, your life experience will intrigue somebody. So for example, if you run a company, a cheese company, right? But you have this really interesting background and how you grew up and somehow it impacted the way you run your business. That’s something that made it yourself. Is your company 50% minority? That’s something that’s interesting because right now DNI topics are important and trending. So also think about trending topics in your industry as well. What’s trending? What is some leading data around your industry that you could leave with when you’re pitching publicists? I mean, when you’re pitching publications, those are things that are interesting. Lead with numbers, the data doesn’t lie. It really backs up your story.

Kirsty Goodlett: Yeah. So that leads to a great comment I think from Catherine. So, Catherine, we have done a number of stories where we use data as a way to pitch B2B, which sometimes has difficulty finding a human element. So as Brittney said, that could be another way in. So I’d love for you to share some more insight about how data can be used to help provide pickup.

Catherine Seeds: Right. The clients that we’re working with, we’re always looking for data, whether that’s data with your own customer base or if you’ve gone out and done some consumer surveys or research studies. You know, folks like Brittney and other trade or business media are gonna be interested in that as well as a good customer story. We have an interesting use case about how we were able to use data very successfully in Kirsty you can keep me honest on this one since you were on the team. We have a company in Austin, they’re an ad tech company. We worked in collaboration with them to put together a consumer study around Amazon Prime Day. We were looking at things like, you know, from a consumer standpoint, you know, what are they shopping for during Amazon Prime Day? Have they shopped before? What are they going to be shopping for this year? So we kind of looked at that. It was focused all on Amazon Prime Day. We got really lucky because we have really great data. We also had really great luck from a timing standpoint because the day that we released our was the day that Amazon had announced the date of their official Prime Day. So we have all this amazing data out there. And what we found in that data was that Amazon Prime Day is like the next big holiday shopping event, like back-to-school or any other sort of micro-holiday. So, we have some really great data, but we also had really great timing and our team had been pitching top tier and trade media, up until that day. So the stars aligned in PR world that doesn’t happen very often. And so we’re really glad that it did and we were able to get some awesome media coverage: Bloomberg, Market Watch, Ad Week, and all the trade and ad tech trades. Am I missing anything, Kirsty?

Kirsty Goodlett: No, that’s good.

Catherine Seeds: Okay good. So from a success standpoint, it was a good day for us at Ketner Group when that happened and the client, obviously was very happy. And I know that the team is still being able to use some of that data moving forward.

Kirsty Goodlett: Yeah. The other thing that I’ll add to that, which is interesting from a story perspective is the one thing that was like the hook for the media was Amazon Prime Day is the new back to school holiday, right? Like that’s an interesting hook. But additionally Adlucent is an ad tech company, so we were able to say, okay, it’s the new holiday and what are you doing about it? Right? Like, are you making sure that your advertising is prepared in order to meet this holiday? So that’s another example of how the data is great for getting and securing that trade or that top tier pickup. But then from a business perspective, you want to consider, okay, the data’s going to get me in and then what do I do once I’m in, right? What’s my story after that? So in terms of that logistics stuff, Nicole, I’m curious to hear from you regarding what things you need to consider about stories that you might not expect. One thing with you in particular, and knowing your background, how do you take a story and integrate a brand identity. How do you take that and translate it into different platforms.

Nicole Delger: Yeah, so I do marketing and communications, but my main client right now is a pencil factory, a hundred year old pencil factory. And I’m now all about pencils. I have a bunch in my bag if you want one from Musgrave Pencil factory there in Shelbyville. So I mentioned that because if you don’t know about the pencil industry, they’re notoriously secretive. So when they came on and wanted to rebrand, they were a hundred year old company and nobody knew anything about them. So it was of like, oh my gosh, I have this like chest of things to just uncover. And I think the thing that’s surprising is they have such a great story. They have so many vintage things. I didn’t have to tell it all at once. It didn’t have to just go out there with this really long piece of coverage. I can find a vintage advertising pencil and take an awesome photo of it and find a business that it was advertising 50 years ago and tag them and tell a little story. So especially if you have a company where you feel like there’s so much to tell and share, it’s okay in your storytelling to tell little nuggets, and little Easter eggs along the way and know that over time you’re building that brand identity, you’re building that larger narrative. It doesn’t all have to happen at once. And starting to know when you’re talking to people, what details you can leave out just as much as what details should you put in for whatever that exchange might be. And so I think you can find one story on Instagram through a visual platform. Or another story if you’re doing the longer piece of media, what you might talk about regarding your CEO, and you don’t have to get into that, all that other stuff. And so really thinking, matching the media, matching the story with it.

Nicole Delger: So something else that we were discussing earlier that was something that came up that we wouldn’t expect so much was that Brittney talked about thinking about SEO and what stories people want to hear. So can you speak to your experience, Brittney, regarding from the publication side. What are publications thinking about that would be surprising to companies?

Brittney Oliver: So everything is about clicks, right? A lot of people blame Buzzfeed for the way the media is, but it’s true. It’s about clicks. Let’s, it’s click-baity, right? How are we going to drive traffic? Everyone wants that traffic. And so when you’re thinking about telling your story, think about things that are trending, right? For example, I feel like this is the month of Serena Williams. And the reason why I say that is, one, it’s tennis month, right? Today’s the US Open. So anything tennis relating related is going to pick up some traffic, right? Then she’s someone who advocates equal pay. And that’s been a big topic this month, women’s equality day is today actually. So she is someone who’s trending, circulating. If you have a story idea in those little pockets you’re going to drive SEO. So tell that story, if it is sports, or you know, Serena Williams related, you can tie her in somehow. Any of those things. Think about those holidays that are coming up, the holidays that you were talking about. Those things attract SEO. So when you’re pitching, really think about that because that’s what media companies are looking for.

Kirsty Goodlett: The other thing that I found surprising when we were meeting earlier was that companies aren’t always ready to tell their stories. So, Nicole and Brittney, you were both talking about what to do as you keep telling stories. Kelly, I’m curious to hear from you, when do you know that you have a story to tell in the first place?

Kelley Griggs: So some of you might be wondering like, Hey, I am just getting started. I don’t have any customers yet or I don’t have, you know, my business is less than a year old or the things that I want to share with the world just happened. And obviously it depends on your personal preferences and circumstances, but, I will say you wouldn’t believe how many pitches I get that are pre-revenue, like barely have a put together a pitch deck, they just want to reach out to me and like get on my radar. I don’t want to give advice because I don’t know if bloggers find that annoying or if they if they like it. I don’t really know. I only know how I feel and I’m just naturally curious and I like stories. So if you were to send me the pitch deck, even if I were to to turn you away. Or even if I said like, hey, this isn’t ready yet or I would really like to see, you know, some other things. Come back to me again. You should still send them to me because odds are I’m interested because I’m interested in startups because I truly like starting businesses and I like talking about it and I thoroughly enjoy that world.

Kirsty Goodlett: What do you put in the pitch deck?

Kelley Griggs: So if you have a deck…something that should be included in the deck is your information, what your business is, where your website is, what it does, you know, the 32nd elevator pitch of who your competitors are. What is your revenue plan, if you haven’t made money yet, ..if you do have customers, I would like to know that you have customers. But remember, you have to be careful with what you share with me because I am a writer and I will want to write about things. So if there’s something that you just don’t want to share, you don’t have to share it even if I ask for it. So just always remember, remember that.

Kirsty Goodlett: Is it a PowerPoint typically or a pdf?

Kelley Griggs: It’s usually a pdf. Sometimes it’s like on a different website, but sometimes it’s just an attached pdf like in keynote or it could be PowerPoint. I get a wide range. Some of them are very well polished, they look like they’ve been in front of investors, others are like done with them in PowerPoint. And I think all this is to say that some of my favorite startup stories in Nashville are people that you may have heard of now like ** for example, like they have raised millions of dollars. Now they’re an instrument that, uh, you can put your phone into and you can play any instrument using their device. Some fans in Nashville have used the ** on stage and they’ve now gotten to the point where they’re probably written in big publications more often than I would write about them. But you know, when they just started out in Nashville, like somebody had to find them. So I wrote about them a long, long, long time ago. Another Nashville startup, there’s one that does lawn care. It’s almost like an Uber for lawn care. Um, they started very young. When they started out, they pitched me with like, I think just like maybe a one sheeter or a pitch deck or something very light. And I had to sort of go out and keep following them and dig for those stories. So I don’t know all this to say that I really like to encourage people to just get started. I’m probably a little bit more approachable. Like I don’t think that other media should or will give you feedback like I do. And I try to keep it non-biased and according to my own rules of my blog. But I will say that I would love to hear your stories in general.

Kirsty Goodlett: So now we’ve heard about about what’s happening now. Catherine, I’m curious about your perspective regarding how storytelling is evolving. Like what do you see in terms of new ways that people are telling stories like podcasts or social media? And also what are you seeing staying the same?

Catherine Seeds: So we are spending a lot more time looking at podcasts. I don’t know if there’s any podcasters in the audience but we are starting to put you guys on our media list because our clients are asking for that. It’s another new interesting medium to, for our clients to tell their stories and also to share on social media platforms inside. So we are really taking a close look at podcasting. They’re more and more popping up every day especially in Austin. There’s, there’s a ton of podcasts, a startup focused podcasts in Austin. Social media: social media has always been there for us, but we’re really, um, trying to build better relationships with the media that we work with on social media. And not in an annoying way, but you know, if they are tweeting about something, you know, or if they wrote an article about something interesting that had nothing to do with any of our clients we might want to say, oh, that’s really interesting or share that. It always goes back to developing really great relationships with the media that you’re working with. Social media is a really great, great way of doing that. And so we’ve been able to really kind of deepen our relationships with the key media and also we get, you know, first insights into people that are moving around. So someone that may be at Fast Company and has moved on to Bloomberg and this and that, so we’re able to keep tabs of what’s going on in there to help us tell better stories and tell the stories of the right people.

Brittney Oliver: I just want to say that’s, that’s the most organic way to build a relationship with someone who is a journalist, what you’re doing. And for me personally, I don’t like pitch decks or pdf. If you can’t send like a quick one paragraph blurb, then it’s probably a no go for me. But the most organic relationships that I’ve built are the people who usually get features from me. Like if you come to support me at an event and you need to spend a moment of time with me afterward. And you tell me something interesting. I keep that in mind. I’m also always listening to podcasts. If I hear someone on there and I think, oh, that was really unique. I’m going to reach out to them for an opportunity. So journalists are looking everywhere for the next story. So if you don’t have, you know, an Essence or a Fast Company, that is fine. That blog, that news letter, that podcast is another way that someone can be seen.

Catherine Seeds: I was just going to say one more thing. As far as things staying the same and we kind of touched on it a little bit, but building the relationships with the media is so important, no matter how you’re communicating. You know, with you guys building those relationships and not, you know, just coming to them when, when you need something. We found that we have better luck and I’m sure you guys, you all are communicators, you find better luck in getting things that you would want for your client or for yourself if you have that relationship. It’s a two way street. So I really encourage you all to do what you can to develop those relationships, whether it’s again, you know, talking with them on social media, going to the events that they’re going to. We go to a lot of trade shows for our clients and it’s a really great way to get face to face. But again, all of this ties back to like, how can I help our clients or my company tell a better story? And it really is ties back to developing really good relationships.

Kirsty Goodlett: Awesome. Thank you. I’m going to switch gears here. and pick up on the Austin Nashville theme for the event. So, Kelly, I’m curious to hear from you how you see storytelling supporting the growth of Nashville.

Kelley Griggs: That’s a great question. Look, we’ve been growing as a city far before I came to Nashville. So I feel as a writer, like I am an observer and I’m only telling the part of the story that I know how to tell. The part that I see in the world. Back when I moved to Nashville in 2012, that happened to coincide with the tech scene starting to grow really rapidly. Some of that was due to local and regional investments. Some of that was due to accelerators starting up. So that was due to coming off the flood and the last recession. People were getting really comfortable and some of it was due to the success and the stories that people heard from other places in the U.S. So, you know, when I think about growth and where, where we go from here, I think there’s so much opportunity. Part of the thing I get excited about when I’m telling a story is that we are all part of it. If you’re here in Nashville right now. And I will add that location really shouldn’t matter if you’re on the Internet, that you’re in the conversation, so that kind of goes against like my, my regional focus. But, in reality, you know, we all exist no matter where we are. And since, you know, people are more interested in things like remote work and longer maternity and paternity leaves and different people are interested in different benefits that might apply. And that is really exciting for people who live in places like Nashville. I think that is a very important emerging story. So for us here, you know, starting a business, I don’t know, to me it’s never been more exciting. But I would say that every year, since I’ve lived here, you know, since I moved here in 2012. And I think the most important thing that I see is that we are in charge of our own story. And that doesn’t have to be the same as other places. It can be really our own brand and it can come from our own place and it can come from our own history and our own experiences. And it should be that way because we have our own identity.

Kirsty Goodlett: Yeah. So that leads to a nice pass off to Catherine from Austin. So, Catherine, I’m curious to hear from you how you’ve seen storytelling support the growth of Austin.

Catherine Seeds: Well, I mean, I’m sure you all know it’s a huge tech hub, much like Nashville is and is becoming. And it’s been that way since the 80s. I mean, um, Dell computers started there, Twitter, got its start at South by Southwest. I mean there’s a ton of really cool startup stories in Austin. And I think from a storytelling standpoint, if like when we’re talking to companies and pitching our clients, especially those that are based in Austin, that comes with a certain cache. Oh, I’m from Austin! Or that comes from Austin! Oh, that’s cool. Oh, I love Austin. Yeah, it’s the same thing with Nashville and we’re so glad to be here because I feel like there is a lot of similarities between the two cities. Because, again, you say, Oh, I’m from Nashville, I’m starting a company in Nashville.. Oh, that’s cool. I’ve heard great things about Nashville. You know, it doesn’t really change so much of like how we tell the story, but I feel like it does kind of give us a differentiation when we’re pitching for business because a lot of our clients that we’re working with are either global or across the U.S. and so for them having someone in a tech hub like Austin or Nashville is important to them.

Kirsty Goodlett: Great. So the other thing that is true about this panel is that we’re all women. So, Nicole, I would love to hear from you regarding why it’s important for us to discuss diversity and inclusion as it pertains to the future of storytelling.

Nicole Delger: Absolutely. You know, stories are how we make sense of the world. It’s how we cooperate. It’s how we work together. I don’t know if has anybody read the book Sapiens, it is a fantastic book. And you know, his whole thesis is essentially, you know, we’re an animal and the reason that we were able to be the dominant animal is our ability to work together, to cooperate and to tell stories. So when we talk about the importance of inclusivity and whether it’s women or people of color or people who have been disenfranchised, when they don’t have the ability to tell the story and to shape the narrative then they don’t have the opportunity to create the world that we all want to live in that is different than the narrative that we’ve been told for hundreds of years, thousands of years, by whoever was in charge at that given time. I think that’s really interesting. We have to make sure that a lot of voices get to shape and get to tell their stories so that we can create a better world for everybody.

Kirsty Goodlett: So then Brittney, I’m curious to hear your response to that same question. Where do you see diversity inclusion being important to the future of storytelling?

Brittney Oliver: It’s important because it’s impactful. Like I said earlier, it really makes a difference for a minority owned businesses when your story is told. And so I want to give a, a quick story about just my experience moving back to Nashville. So I lived in New York for seven years and diversity and inclusion is such a big topic in New York. It’s something that everyone’s talking about. All the companies are really trying to make changes. But when I came back home a year ago, I noticed that conversation wasn’t happening here. It wasn’t loud, people weren’t really making noise. And when I looked at the publications here, I didn’t see a lot of black owned businesses featured in the publications. I kind of made it a priority to be that vessel for those black owned businesses and for minority businesses. So for example, Ashley is here today,. She has a website called Urbanite and she really highlights a lot of the businesses that are left out in those major publications here in Nashville. And because I’m a subscriber to her newsletter, I came across Nicole, who is the owner of Clarity, which is a candle shop. And I loved her story. I pitched her to Nashville Lifestyles and she’s in the current business, women in business issue. That’s something that was important to me to see more diversity in that magazine and to see more diversity just throughout Nashville, but it’s so it will change her business being featured in that and it will change other people’s businesses. And so diversity inclusion, really being able to tell those stories is impactful. There’s a Nashville mother and daughter team, Mixtroz, well, they just moved but I featured them in Essence. I featured them in Dssence and they were really close to hitting the million dollar mark raising money. After essence, they hit that mark the next week. You know, so you can leverage those things. That’s how much your story being featured being featured in major publications as a minority can help. And so when people say no, it doesn’t matter if you have press or not, it does. It really makes an impact.

Nicole Delger: I love what you’re doing. The voice you’re bringing because we talk about how Nashville is booming and we want to make sure that it’s booming for everybody, that everybody is, you know, because there’s so much industry coming in here, like tech, and I love that you’re telling those stories and you have that forum because it’s so critical at this key time for Nashville, for everybody to get that lift.

Brittney Oliver: Yeah. Nationwide, nationwide, the numbers don’t lie. You know, we’re an all women panel, but in business and major companies, you don’t see women on the C-suite like that, right? So telling those stories are important. It really can change the game. It starts to challenge what’s happening in corporate America, right? And it starts to make people see different things about what they’re doing. And so the numbers don’t lie. You want to be impactful. We want to make change in our culture, in our communities. So definitely diversity and inclusion is a big deal.

I’m All Ears: A Podcast Beginner’s Guide

On any given day of the week, whether commuting to work, folding laundry or walking the dog, chances are I’m also listening to a podcast. And I’m not alone – eMarketer estimates that in 2019, 76.4 million people in the U.S. will listen to podcasts. According to that same research, close to one-third of weekly podcast listeners listen to six or more podcasts each week. Hey, that’s me!

I can’t remember exactly what my first podcast series was – maybe Serial? But I’ve been hooked ever since. It may have begun with true crime, but the shows I subscribe to have become more diverse over the years. Topics now range from news and business to faith, parenting, and reality television commentary (which may or may not be related to “The Bachelor” franchise).

There’s so much great content out there, and only a limited amount of time in my day to listen, but I thought I’d highlight a few of my favorites. If you don’t have a regular rotation of shows in your podcast feed, give any one of these a listen.

A Few Of The Podcasts In My Earbuds

Y’all Need This Podcast

  • “The podcast about Texas and all the people and things that make it so darn…Texan.”
  • Hosted by Texas Humor‘s (and my real-life friend) Jay B Sauceda, Y’all Need This Podcast dives into really important topics, such as Whataburger vs. In-N-Out, who has the worst traffic in Texas, Texan stereotypes, and commonly mispronounced “Texan” words. Though we’ve expanded outside of the Lonestar State this year, Texas is in our blood here at Ketner Group – our standing “(Breakfast) Taco Tuesday” is proof.

The Daily

  • “This is how the news should sound. Twenty minutes a day, five days a week, hosted by Michael Barbaro and powered by New York Times journalism.”
  • Produced (you guessed it) daily, this podcast is one that I cherry-pick episodes to listen to, given the topic. I enjoy the style of reporting and how the interviews and sound bites bring the headlines to life, adding more context and background than what a news article could convey.

Pantsuit Politics

  • “A political podcast hosted by women from both sides of the aisle who refuse to see each other as the enemy.”
  • Another one of Pantsuit Politics’ taglines is “the home of grace-filled political conversations.” Listening twice a week has helped me to process the news with more nuance and compassion – these girls are my go-to voices for understanding a variety of perspectives, especially in a political climate that feels divisive. I look forward to having these “friends” in my ears for the upcoming 2020 election, too.

And all the retail podcasts, too!

“Should I Do A Podcast?”

Podcasting might be a worthwhile marketing channel for your business, but your level of involvement is really a judgment call. Should you start a new podcast? If not, will you seek opportunities to be a guest on other relevant shows? Or, does it make more sense for you to advertise on a podcast that caters to an audience of your potential customers?

Start A Podcast From Scratch

Producing a podcast on a regular cadence is a lot of work. You have to invest in the right recording equipment and editing software to ensure sound quality. The time you spend securing guests, prepping for interviews, and then recording, editing and promoting your podcast episodes adds up to time not spent on other marketing priorities. It might spread you too thin, or require you to hire someone to manage it.

Before you jump head-first into starting a podcast, I’d also recommend scanning the horizon for what’s already out there. Are a number of shows already covering the topics and perspectives you would? What is unique about your podcast that would make it stand out? Consider your niche and then move forward (or not).

Advertise On An Existing Podcast

I can’t speak personally to the ROI of businesses advertising on podcasts. But as a listener to many podcasts, I can tell you that they work for me as a consumer. My birthday is right around the corner, and because I can’t seem to get away from the podcast advertisements for them, Rothy’s shoes are at the top of my wishlist. I know that may seem like a trivial example when what your B2B business is offering costs quite a bit more.

However, my perspective is this: podcast listeners trust podcast hosts to be particular about who gets to advertise with them, and customers are likely to respond to relevant, high-value products and services. In fact, 54% of podcast listeners are more likely to consider buying an advertised product. For more reading on the topic, take a look at Marketing Dive‘s “Is podcast advertising effective?”

Lisa Gold, California Closets, with Total Retail‘s Joe Keenan at NRF 2019

Pursue Opportunities To Be A Podcast Guest

When it comes to participating in podcasts as a guest, I say go for it – but only if it feels right to you. Before approaching a seemingly relevant show, listen to a number of episodes and picture yourself or a company executive as the guest being interviewed. If it feels like a stretch, it probably is. Also, podcasts want to tell interesting and insightful human stories, so they’re not going to give you a platform just to talk about how great your product or service is. Reel in the host with a client success story, as we did with our client Elo when Total Retail Talks interviewed their customer California Closets. Or position your spokesperson to talk to a larger industry trend.

There’s real momentum behind the podcasting movement, and audio content as a marketing tool is a trend we’ll continue to explore on behalf of our clients. Yesterday, Modern Retail also wrote a story about retail brands turning to podcasting, if you want to check it out.

If you’re a podcast listener, we’d love to hear about your favorites! And if you’re not, consider this your invitation to start listening.

Three Best Practices to Create a Meaningful Media Relations Strategy

One of the first questions we ask clients is “what does media relations success look like to you?”

As you may expect, the answers vary throughout – and with good reason. When it comes to media relations goals, not all strategies are created equal. Why? It’s because clients across the board have different goals, which makes each media strategy highly unique. As we work with clients on their media strategies, we use the following key points to get the planning started:

Media Relations Question #1: Identify Your Target Audience

Whether you are a B2B or B2C company, identifying your target audience should be the first step. Who do you want to connect with? The publications you go after will vary depending on if your desired audience is the C-suite, baby boomers or Gen Z. While top-tier publications such as WSJ, CNBC and USA Today should be a top goal, it’s important to not discount the trade publications.

Trade publications reach a particular audience that may be interested in learning more about your niche or product. As such, it’s important to identify the exact audience you wish to reach in order to move the needle for your business.

Media Relations Question #2: Identify Your Key Conversation

The next question we ask clients is to identify the conversations they would like to own, be a part of and even stay away from. In the world of media relations, thought leadership is key. Companies can drive thought leadership by offering compelling insights that journalists cannot attain anywhere else.

As a best practice, we ask our clients to be highly targeted within their thought leadership approach. As American philosopher Nicholas M. Butler best put it, “an expert is one who knows more and more about less and less.” By identifying their key conversations, clients can highlight their expertise and garner the type of media coverage that will drive positive exposure.

Media Relations Question #3: Identify Your Top Publications & Media Contacts

The final step is to narrow down the journalists and publications your company will build a relationship with. As the term ‘media relations’ infers, thought leaders should build genuine relationships with key media contacts that cover their space.

Receiving an average of 300 media pitches per day, journalists have limited capacity to sift through every email and pitch. As a best practice, we recommend working with our clients to build a list of the top 20 journalists that they will build a relationship with beyond just a single pitch. For example, going beyond the pitch means that our clients will work to actively follow their columns, connect with them on social and whenever possible, meet with them in-person to discuss different industry trends. The more a journalist knows about a company and its thought leaders, the likelier they are to reach out next time they need a source.

Working Toward Meaningful Coverage

Cracking the media relations world can be a tough task without the proper knowledge and direction. However, by working to answer the first initial questions, companies can set the foundation for a strong media relations strategy that drives meaningful coverage. Learn how to drive meaningful coverage for your business by asking these three questions about your media relations strategy.

Media Coverage to Drive Leads

Four “Free” Ways to Use Media Coverage to Drive Leads

In the world of B2B PR, it’s an age-old question, “How does media coverage drive leads?” But the better question is, “How CAN marketing teams use media coverage to drive leads?” And Ketner Group has the answers for you.

The hard part is securing the media coverage, and we can do that for you. Once you have a great mention, the easy part is using that media coverage to drive leads. And lucky you, we can help with that too! To help you get started, we’ve pulled together a list of four easy, and mostly free, ways to do just that.

Share and Share Again

When it comes to social, most of our clients have the “share” step down. When we alert clients to a new piece of coverage, for the most part, they quickly share it to social. But that’s it.

That brings us to “share again.” Whether on LinkedIn or Twitter, social teams should share great coverage time and time again. There are a number of opportunities to bring coverage back to life on your social channels. As you roll out new marketing campaigns or a related trend appears in the news, continue to share the media coverage on social. Rather than simply copying and pasting the original content, tailor each new post to the specific campaign or trending news topic.

Post on Your Website

Along with social, posting coverage to your website should be one of the first things you do when a new mention appears. Media coverage should have a home on your website; either in the same newsroom where you post press releases or on a separate coverage page. Either way, it needs to be visible.

But don’t stop there; use the coverage in your blog. This may mean using coverage as outbound links in relative posts, creating a monthly roundup of news, or for contributed content such as bylines, writing a short blog summary to drive more eyeballs. In addition to outbound links to the coverage itself, blogs should include a CTA that drives your readers to additional gated content on the topic or to request a demo.

Leverage for Email and Newsletter Campaigns

Every B2B company needs to use email and newsletter campaigns to drive leads. One of the most challenging parts of these marketing campaigns is creating engaging, relevant content. Luckily, our editor and reporter friends have done that part for you.

Use this content to feed your lead generation engine. Media coverage carries an authenticity that pure marketing content usually lacks. Your targets are likely to pay more attention to what someone else has to say about your company, solution or the problem you’re trying to solve. Use this to your advantage! Like blogs, include not only a link to the coverage, but also a call to action (CTA) to drive prospects to your website and gated content.

Create a Content Library and Share Internally

Finally, make sure everyone in the organization, from the C-suite down, is aware of coverage and empowered to share it. Create a library of content and assets for team members to easily share via social, email or even print as a leave behind for in-person meetings and events. There are anumber of tools for marketers to enable their teams to find and share content.

How NOT to Use Media Coverage to Drive Leads

Do nothing. That’s what you shouldn’t do when it comes to using media coverage to drive leads. It’s true, from time to time that approach might work. You may be one of the lucky few who make a big splash and suddenly every big-name prospect is knocking at your door. But that’s not the usual reality. If you want to drive great leads, leverage your media coverage — third-party validation is one of your best marketing assets.

Need help? Ketner Group can help you secure great media coverage AND amplify that coverage to drive leads, contact us to learn more.