Nowhere To Hide: The Emissions Threat Facing Corporate America

Each degree Celsius of warming will erase 1.2% of the United States GDP, according to Solomon Hsiang, a climate scientist and economist at the University of California, Berkeley, and the co-director of the research group Climate Impact Lab. If U.S. companies do not act now to halt climate emissions, Hsiang predicts a loss of up to 10.5% of annual GDP, which equates to approximately $2.2 trillion per year.

 

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When Should You Stop Growing?

Author and artist William S. Burroughs famously stated, “When you stop growing, you start dying.”

In Silicon Valley, shark-like forward motion is evangelized and celebrated. One must be constantly moving. Constantly doing. But movement in and of itself is not growth.

Meaningful growth is what we at Karbo Com plan for and what we’re driven to achieve. It’s accomplishing something important, not just doing something for the sake of doing.

Is there ever an appropriate time to take your foot off the gas and temporarily ‘coast along’ when it comes to intellectual, fiscal and physical growth? At Karbo Com we plan and hold each other accountable for successful intellectual and fiscal growth. We know it means nothing without the success of our clients. But we’ve also, at times, temporarily suspended taking on more clients to ensure we don’t compromise the quality of our work and our lives.

Once a year, everyone at Karbo Com takes time to fully commit to asking and answering the important questions that will drive our success in the coming year. What did we do right this year? What can we improve?  What are our 2019 objectives? How can our PR and digital services remain state of the art? What technology areas and clients should we pursue? How do we stay one step ahead of competitors? How do we maintain the culture we love while hiring to meet the demands for our services?

Everyone in the company attends our offsite, because everyone adds value. In our boutique firm, there can’t be any weak links. At our annual offsites, we tune out the noise and frenetic activity of the industry to create an oasis of strategic thinking, creativity and camaraderie. We are unflinchingly honest with ourselves. We channel constructive criticism and new ideas into laser-focused plans.

This year we met in Las Vegas. One of my favorite activities was when one of our account directors, Sian, had us write our name on a stack of blank 3×5 cards. We then passed them around the conference room. Each person anonymously shared what they admired about the person whose name was on the cards. This activity said a lot about the kind of company and people we are.

Outside our strategy meetings we looked to strengthen the bonds we share as a team. Like sitting front row at Jabbawockeez, playing in the dirt in bulldozers and excavators at Dig This, riding high on the Ferris wheel, and enjoying inspiring food at some of the best restaurants.

Yes, we’re growing and not dying. But we’re doing it in ways that are meaningful to our success, our happiness and making our mark on the world. That’s the KC Way.

Wishing you success as you do things your way in 2019!

Republicans Buy Sneakers, Too: Why Socially Conscious Advertising is In

For a long time, most companies shied away from mixing business with social issues.

Even athletes like Michael Jordan, as much a walking, talking brand as any person alive, drew a hard line at expressing any type of controversial opinion.

In 1990, the state of North Carolina was divided by a heated Senate race between two polarizing candidates. On one side stood Sen. Jesse Helms, who once called the 1964 Civil Rights Act the “single most dangerous piece of legislation ever introduced in the Congress.”

On the other stood Harvey Gantt, a black Democrat and former mayor of Charlotte who promised to work for the voters, not play on their worst fears.

With the race deadlocked, Gantt’s campaign reached out to Jordan – native son and local hero – for an endorsement. The NBA superstar declined. He wasn’t into politics, he claimed, and didn’t know the issues. Privately, he told a friend, “Republicans buy sneakers, too.”

Months later, Helms narrowly won re-election.

Brands are getting bolder

Twenty-eight years ago, Jordan’s reluctance to get involved wasn’t all that unusual among star athletes and brands alike. Most companies walled off their products and services from the world around them, content to let the debates play out elsewhere.

Commerce, not conscience, was the operative word.

Today, brands are finding that the number of values-based consumers is on the rise, especially among millennials. According to a recent Forrester report, nearly seven in 10 millennials consider a company’s values when making a purchase — nearly 40% higher than the adult population as a whole.

Most of these consumers are not looking for companies to endorse a political candidate or ballot measure. Instead, they want them to declare – and act on – corporate values. Whether it’s promoting inclusivity, pushing back against traditional gender roles or making a commitment to environmental responsibility, people what to know what matters to their favorite brands.

What does values-based marketing look like?

The challenge for marketing teams is figuring out when, where and how to promote their brand’s corporate values.

After seeing villages full of barefoot children in Argentina, founder Blake Mycoskie returned to the United States and built his company on a simple but powerful idea: if you buy a pair of TOMS, you help someone in need. To date, the company has sold more than 75 million pairs of shoes.

Other companies have enjoyed success by re-positioning their brand to appear more authentic or inclusive. Whether it’s American Eagle exclusively using unairbrushed models in its Aerie ads or Louboutin expanding its line of nude shoes to include additional skin shades, companies are finding ways to make more of their customers feel like a reflection of the brand.

Some brands have even used values-based marketing to connect with specific customer segments. In 2017, Yoplait launched a campaign that showed new mothers addressing common criticisms, from breastfeeding in public to returning to work.

Did it have much to do with yogurt? Not really. But it positioned Yoplait as a modern, progressive company and engendered a lot of goodwill among a key demographic. According to analysis from Google, the campaign resulted in a 1,461% increase in brand interest.

How can my brand get started?

Aligning with a social cause is popular right now, but it still has to make sense for your brand and track with your public and private efforts. The following questions can help you determine whether your brand will benefit from a values-based marketing campaign:

1. Does it track with your brand’s values and core offering?

Like good chemistry or the splits, values-based marketing is not something that should be forced.

If you want to incorporate values-based marketing into your outreach, be sure to pick a cause that makes sense. Hitching your wagon to the cause du jour will make you look mercenary and could negatively impact your brand.

2. Does it make sense for your target demographic(s)?

While millennials are most likely to be influenced by values-based marketing, other generations are also paying attention. In 2017, more than half of Gen X consumers (ages 44 to 53) said they consider a company’s values when making a purchase.

Base: 5,005 to 5,396 U.S. online adults (18+)
Source: Forrester Analytics Consumer Technographics’ North American Omnibus Surveys, 2015 and 2017

The younger your target demographic, the more you should incorporate values into your marketing.

3. Be transparent and tangible

Between the number of internet watchdogs and the ease with which information can spread, saying your brand is committed to a cause isn’t enough. You need to be able to show tangible proof, whether it’s corporate policy, charitable donations or a specific program.

Where is values-based marketing headed?

If the last few years are any indication, values-based marketing isn’t going anywhere. In fact, as millennial (and younger) shoppers gain purchasing power and take on a larger market share, the need for brands to connect on a socially adept, customer-centric level will continue to increase.

According to Forbes, people 23 and younger already account for $143B in annual spending, not counting the influence they have on household spending. By 2020, they are on track to become the largest generation of consumers in history.

Friendly bit of advice for marketers everywhere — get ready for Gen Z.

Are CMOs missing the PR opportunity?

In the B2B tech marketing world, PR – and earned media – holds an important place in the overall marketing mix. However, what considerations should CMOs be aware of when balancing their owned, earned and paid media strategy? We put 7 quick questions to Julie Karbo, CEO of Karbo Communications, an award-winning U.S. technology PR and marketing agency, about where PR fits in the marketing mix, and whether a good PR campaign can actually drive sales.

1. What should CMOs be prioritizing in their PR strategy?

You need a solid foundation if the house is to stand, so it all starts with effective positioning – including market need/pain, target perceptions, competitive differentiation and compelling trends, to name a few. I find that as you go through the positioning process, your strategy and program path become illuminated. But, because there are so many options in PR now, it’s important to prioritize. Before tactics are chosen you must rank order—verticals, buyers, important seasonal elements, and then the tactics that influence each market segment the most. Earned tactics such as news announcements, opportunistic pitching based on news events or trends, contributed articles, surveys, primary data sharing, case studies, etc. can then be rolled out.

2. How can brands balance their owned, paid and earned media efforts?

PR provides the credibility quotient to the brand. Both earned and paid media are important elements of a fully integrated PR program and part of the emphasis and value placed on content as a whole.

CMOs are cognizant of the value of quality, earned media. For many, the gold standard remains positive feature coverage in the top publications. With earned media it’s all about validation from credible, independent sources.

“For new or stealth companies, an emphasis on owned media will help them craft a specific narrative and position themselves within their market.

For more established companies, a blend of the three will reach a wider audience and allow them to take advantage of social shares/mentions by brand advocates and market influencers.”


Paid content works best when it mirrors the credibility of earned content.
 It has to be trustworthy, not overly promotional and it has to tackle topics that are important to a company’s targeted stakeholders The areas where you have a little more latitude to be promotional are social media, blogs, newsletters, video, and events.

To balance earned, owned and paid media in a full-blown content marketing strategy, CMOs should start with a clear understanding of both the target market (e.g., customer personas and buying patterns) and the brand’s current goals and positioning.

Of course, the exact balance for any company should remain fluid based on the efficacy of each program, changing market goals or dynamics, and any seasonal or opportunistic trends that arise.

3. What are the metrics for PR and earned media? Can a PR campaign drive sales numbers?

For me and most of my clients, the holy grail is the bottom line. We can talk about thought leadership, Share of Voice and Sentiment Score – and those things do have an important role in most programs – but the ultimate ROI measure is how you drive sales. We use Google Analytics to track website traffic, length of time on site, and bounce and conversion rates. We also survey customers and track all the standard metrics that show brand affinity, sentiment and number of impressions.

4. For global enterprises, should CMOs balance the global brand voice with local messaging imperatives?

Absolutely. Global efforts must be localized. While technology has in many ways eliminated geographic borders, almost every key market has its own cultural, physical and intellectual distinctions that should affect how a business approaches that market. I’ve yet to meet the communications pro that knows what it takes to be successful in a widely diverse group of markets. Having local feet on the ground and best of breed boutique agency partners is imperative to long-term success. Having said that, there has to be an established brand voice and centralized strategy that can be modified to take local nuances into consideration. It has to go both ways – great ideas and experience should also travel from the local market back to central command.

5. What role can or should marketing technology play in PR?

Technology has and will continue to play an essential role in PR planning, execution, and measurement. Early on we saw everyone jumping on the technology bandwagon and they really weren’t looking at tools strategically. There are success metrics such as Share of Voice, Sentiment Score, Media Exposure and Potential Reach that are best measured with tools such as Meltwater, Cision, etc. On the other hand, no tool can measure how something like coverage is tracking to a company’s messaging, how competitors are reacting to – and frequently co-opting – that messaging; or how a reporter’s perceptions about a company have evolved over time and how that can be leveraged. This may change as AI technology is integrated into more of our tools, but at this time, human judgment, knowledge, and experience can provide the most accurate analysis.

6. What skills and capabilities should a CMO be looking for in someone responsible for the PR and earned media deliverables?

The CMO should seek the experience and skills that she or he would look for in any good marketing person:

  • Ability to acquire superior results that ultimately drive sales.
  • Strong strategic and analytical marketing abilities
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills
  • Drive corporate and product messaging that differentiates the company against competitors
  • Work with corporate spokespeople to help them develop the communication skills and vision to become respected market experts and leaders
  • Possesses deep editorial and analyst relationships and media and analyst relations skills
  • Can sell ideas, products, people, programs and budgets
  • Ability to think creatively
  • Upholds the highest ethical standards

In addition, the CMO needs to pursue someone who has the fortitude to be honest and forthcoming with executives, even when there is pushback. Top PR and marketing professionals need to function as strategic partners, not echo chambers or sycophants.

7. What trends are you tracking in content marketing, earned media and PR going into 2020?

  • AI and machine learning applications in marketing and PR
  • Better measurement – always
  • New social networks and vehicles for interaction and influence
  • Balancing data analysis with a respect for privacy
  • Impact of IoT on content marketing
  • Values-based marketing and the intersection of social activism/consumerism

 

More about Julie Karbo

Fun Fact: Julie began her technology marketing career at iconic video game firm Atari in 1981.

With more than 30 years in the technology industry, Julie, an expert in tech PR, has provided positioning, planning and tactical counsel to executives in a wide array of technology areas, including enterprise software, the Internet of Things, Big Data, mobile, advertising tech, e-Commerce, marketing platform, storage, virtualization/cloud, security, social networking/media, Internet infrastructure, networking, Internet television, and consumer electronics.

This piece was originally published in MarTech Advisor on July 25, 2018.

Pitch Perfect: How to Secure Business Press Coverage

As PR professionals in the high-tech industry know, crafting a compelling story around a product update or opportunistic trend and securing interest from tech and trade publications is a key component in providing top-shelf service to clients across the technology industry.

What becomes a bit more challenging is determining how to tell the story of your enterprise technology client to a business press reporter whose coverage areas tend to be a bit more general. Securing coverage in the business press can provide a B2B or B2C client a level of visibility that they’d often be unable to get otherwise, leading to a number of benefits, including a heightened brand image, a boost in sales and an increase in executive and company awareness across a broader audience.

Here are six ways to develop the perfect press pitch targeted toward a business reporter and ensure that pitch leads to coverage:

Do Your Homework

Before developing your pitch, research your targets thoroughly to ensure they are relevant to your story and make sense to contact. Never rely on their “About” section alone in order to do this. Instead, read through their articles to identify themes and how your pitch would help extend their content further. You should also comb through their Twitter page for an idea of the topics that interest them. Just because two reporters cover the same beat, doesn’t mean they are interchangeable. Only through sufficient time spent researching can you develop a strong, comprehensive list of media targets. The time it takes is worth it! You’ll yield much better results if you don’t have to go back and pitch new people later because your initial targets weren’t a good fit. Reporters will also view you as a more credible and trustworthy source if you pitch them on something they actually care about. Building that trust is essential to fostering mutually productive relationships.

Get Personal and Don’t Forget to Customize

There may be nothing reporters hate more than being sent what appears to be a mass and extremely general pitch. Customizing each and every pitch you send is essential to securing interest from a business press reporter. Utilize the research you’ve already done to inform your introduction and make it clear why you’ve reached out to them specifically with this story idea. Whether it’s due to a recent story they wrote, a topic they discussed on social media or previous experience you have working together (which is always great to mention), it should be clear up front why this pitch makes sense for them.

Develop a Strong Pitch and a Stronger Subject Line

When developing your pitch, there are a few key things to keep in mind. First, develop a compelling subject line. Eight words or less is ideal. Try to think about what will make the pitch stand out to a reporter, through the subject alone, when he/she likely gets hundreds of similar emails a day. Don’t be afraid to be say something bold in order to hook them. Subject lines are often underrated but are frequently the key to success, as they are the first thing a reporter sees, and often, what will make them read through the rest of a pitch. For the pitch itself, paint a picture of a bigger problem and how your client will solve it. Use facts and statistics when possible to add credibility. Always focus on differentiation—think about what is the most newsworthy or interesting piece of the story and call that out right away. Try to think about things like, “why will this reporter care?” and “how do I make this something that they can’t say no to?” Keeping these things in mind will force you to focus on what’s most important in your pitch.

Don’t Beat Around the Bush

Whether in the pitch itself or in any type of email/phone follow-up, state the story and the ask upfront and let the business press reporter know exactly what the story is and what the call to action is. A call to action with a solid deadline is necessary and creates a sense of urgency. Try to make it as easy as possible for them to get the information they need in order to determine if they’d like to pursue an interview, follow-up, etc. If you are looking to send them a press release for review or set up a phone briefing with your client’s CEO, make the ask casual and frame it as something you’d like to do in order to help them, and not as if it’s something that will help your client. After all, it’s our intention to help both parties. Don’t beat around the bush and try to butter them up or hide your ask within a mountain of email text. Get to the point fast—let them know what the topic is and why it makes sense for them.

Get and Stay Organized

Especially when pitching a large list of business press reporters, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people alone. Staying organized throughout the pitch process is crucial. Developing a spreadsheet or word document is a great way to keep everything straight and make sure no mistakes are made. This will help you stay on track of who you’ve pitched and how many times, what their response was and why, next steps to be aware of (whether that’s moving forward with an interview, reaching out to a new target at that publication or circling back later), each of which is imperative to successful media outreach campaigns.

Follow-Ups Are Your Friend

Following up persistently and strategically is an aspect of the pitch process that should never be overlooked. Don’t feel tied to one type of outreach. Do what works best for you and mix it up. Starting with email follow-ups can be helpful to reporters, especially since your original message may get lost in the vast number of emails they receive each day. Keep follow-ups brief and to the point and change up what you say in each one, while still capturing the essence of the pitch and what is most important. Try to offer new pieces of information to capture their interest and offer depth to the subject, whether it’s news that just came out that is relevant to the story or a recent article they wrote on a similar topic. If email follow-ups aren’t capturing their attention, moving to a phone call is a natural next step. Keep time of day in mind when calling reporters (avoid first thing in the morning, lunch and end of the day) and be mindful of different time zones. Rather than leaving multiple voicemails, keep calling until you reach them live. Get straight to the point on the phone and be kind and respectful, while remaining assertive. It can be helpful to prepare notes or a cheat sheet ahead of time, but you should try not to sound rehearsed. Twitter is another way to reach reporters, and some even prefer being pitched or followed up with through a direct message. Whatever method you choose, don’t be afraid to be aggressive in your efforts and always try to stay flexible about the way things end up going.

Throughout the business press pitch process, it’s important to stay positive and try not to get discouraged if you don’t get the responses you want right away. Be confident and feel empowered in telling your client’s story. Trusting your skills and abilities will lead to the end result that you want to achieve for your clients while helping to strengthen your long-term relationships with important influencers.

Hyper-Personalized Marketing That Won’t Land You in Front of Congress

Oh, to be an ad man in the 1960s.

If you believe everything you see on TV, marketing back then was a simpler game. Successful ad campaigns looked something like this: one perfect slogan, jotted on the back of a cocktail napkin and delivered en masse to a single audience.

Marketing segmentation? Not needed when your “ideas guy” was equal parts intuition, good looks and whiskey. Hyper-personalization? Heck, they hadn’t even gotten to personalization yet.

Halcyon times, indeed.

Fast forward to today’s marketers, who understand that effective messaging requires a more personal touch. Modern consumers want to be recognized – and treated – as individuals. The success of most campaigns is determined by a company’s ability to interpret consumer data and predict future behavior.

Getting up close and hyper-personal

A big trend in content marketing is hyper-personalization, or campaigns tailored to an individual’s past behavior. Modern consumers expect companies to get them on a personal level, and they prefer nuanced, relevant messaging that speaks to their interests.

In fact, Marketo found that 79% of consumers will reject an offer from a company if it isn’t tailored to their previous brand experience.

Today’s personalization goes far beyond yesterday’s tricks of inserting a subscriber’s name into the body of an email or sending a reminder about the toaster sitting in their shopping cart.

Hyper-personalized campaigns can predict when a person is most likely to open a message, whether they respond better to emails or push notifications, and even where in the customer journey to send a discount code or BOGO offer.

Target the right people… the right way

Few things are more frustrating to consumers than the kind of “spray and pray” marketing that led to the creation of junk folders.

According to a recent Accenture survey, 75% of people are more likely to buy from brands that provide recommendations based on their unique wants and needs.

Data-driven marketing that drives hyper-personalization campaigns can help brands reach consumers more effectively by answering these questions:

  • Who should I target?
  • Where in the customer journey should I target them?
  • Who should I filter out of a message?
  • How often should I contact each consumer?
  • Which channel should I use?

To answer these questions, marketers are collecting data at every touchpoint — and using artificial intelligence to help make sense of it all.

There and back again: Facebook and Cambridge Analytica

In March 2018, The New York Times and other newspapers reported that Cambridge Analytica, a data firm that counted former Trump aide Steve Bannon among its board members, improperly used Facebook data to build voter profiles before the 2016 presidential election.

The scandal – and resulting fallout – landed Mark Zuckerberg in front of Congress and brought “big data” into the national zeitgeist. This event triggered millions of people to start to realize just how often their private information was being used by businesses.

By May 2018, a number of companies and public figures had paused their Facebook marketing campaigns or deleted their profiles outright. Additionally, Facebook suspended 200 apps amid an ongoing investigation into whether services on the site had improperly used or collected personal data.

The long-term effects of the scandal are still unknown, but it has forced companies to re-evaluate their data collection practices — and how they communicate these policies to consumers.

What’s next for data-driven marketing?

The age of big data and personalization is upon us.

A recent study by Frost & Sullivan concluded that customer experience would overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator within three years.

Unfortunately, the Cambridge Analytica scandal has cast a pallor over the industry and raised questions about data-mining practices going forward.

How do companies deal with privacy in a world of readily available personal data? How should they collect information that will help them make better business decisions, without betraying customers? Most importantly, how do they communicate this to consumers in a way that builds trust?

Getting people excited about hyper-personalization

While it would be a stretch to draw too close a parallel between most hyper-personalized campaigns and Cambridge Analytica stealing private data, there’s little doubt that people want to know when, where, how and why their information is being used.

As a brand, how do you build trust and communicate the value of your data-driven marketing efforts? Try some of these best practice guidelines from your peers:

  • Be transparent: Being honest and upfront about how you collect – and act on – user data is a great starting point. You don’t have to share your marketing team’s secret blend of metrics and personas with the world, but you also shouldn’t act like you have something to hide. Whenever possible, use clear, simple terms to describe your brand’s data mining and use policies.
  • Avoid marketing fatigue: No one likes to waste time deleting unread, barely relevant messages from their inbox. Knowing who to filter out of a message can be the difference between a successful campaign and a lost subscriber.
  • Be engaging: If your brand is able to turn user data into content that is engaging and personalized, you’ll have a much easier time convincing people to share their personal information. Just make sure they understand that hyper-personalization can only happen when you know what they like — and why.
  • Follow the rules: The topic of data rights has been a hotly contested issue for years. With the May 2018 implementation of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the conversations surrounding data protection and privacy will continue to evolve. Even if your company does not do business within the EU, you still need to be aware of the rules surrounding your website and online presence.

The ability to send more relevant, better perceived messages is changing the way brands and consumers interact.

As companies gain new insights into the way people think and behave, they have a growing responsibility to use this information in an open, honest manner. Failure to do so – as demonstrated by the Cambridge Analytica scandal – can have disastrous effects.

So how should you communicate your brand’s data-mining practices?

Like all the best marketing campaigns, the right strategy will be uniquely tailored to your brand and audience. As long as you pay attention and listen to the data, you’ll be able to share this information in a way that builds trust.

Spread A Little Love For Your Brand With These Thought Leadership Tips

It’s February and love is in air! As many brands look to launch their romantically themed mini-campaigns designed to bring “warm fuzzies” to the masses, don’t forget to bring thought leadership into the mix. At Karbo Communications, we believe that “thought leadership is a verb, not a noun.” We help our clients to communicate their problem solving ideas to the right audiences.

Thought leadership campaigns are a way to spread the love for your brand, not just on Valentine’s Day, but all year long. Here are four tips to help your brand get started:

Highlight the Right People
The first step in launching an effective thought leadership program is to identify the right people to participate. Who makes a great thought leader? An ideal person is an expert in their field who has the ability to connect the dots in the market before others do. They pioneer a point of view.  Not only a visionary, this person sees a path forward, inspires others to action and (here’s the tricky part) manages to do all of the above without directly promoting the brand, product or oneself.

Inspire Many Company Leaders to Participate
The CEO is a great choice to speak on behalf of the brand, but what other interesting ideas are percolating across the leadership team that the marketing team should explore? Consider empowering several company leaders and delve into the ideas that have the potential to resonate with different audiences. By looking beyond the CEO’s office, the company has the opportunity to showcase a range of expertise and creativity, which will attract the right audiences and help the business to continue to grow.

Help Your Friends in the Media: Don’t Disguise Self-Promotion
Unfortunately, you can’t identify a market problem and offer your product as the solution and call it “thought leadership.” No matter how cleverly the marketing team believes they’ve hidden the direct references to the brand, a skilled editor will recognize how closely the piece resembles the company’s messaging and reject it immediately for being promotional. Keep your friends in the media engaged by speaking to trends objectively. This comes with a very pleasant side effect: stronger media relationships, boosted visibility, added credibility and perhaps an edge over the competition in terms of market expertise.

Be Authentic and Charming  
Showcase your authenticity and credibility, but don’t forget to pepper in personality and charm! Being a trusted voice in the market builds confidence with customers and has the potential to deepen their loyalty (especially when your competition fails to offer helpful insights). Shining a light on what’s to come in the future will also help prospects find your brand and attributes to sales growth over time. But it has to be memorable too – show the world what makes your thinking and brand special.

Your Star Turn: How to Prepare for a Podcast Interview

Coming from a background in radio, I presented monologues and conducted dialogues over the airwaves for two and a half years. My coverage varied from current events, to school and business promotions, to music and humor. No matter what genre you cater to in your radio presence, preparation is absolutely necessary. Today, podcast culture is as strong as ever, with topics ranging from self help to tech venture capitalist roundups. So it behooves company representatives to be prepared for media relations in this space. Here are the keys to preparing for a radio and/or podcast interview.

Nail your tone and play to your base. If you’re participating in an interview for business purposes, have speaking points prepared and maintain a professional yet personable attitude. If you are speaking to investors, emphasize monetization and the items that support your business model. If you’re talking to a consumer audience, speak in a down-to-earth, simple tone. If you are solely representing yourself as a personality, be yourself. Just remember that even you are a brand. Whatever you may happen to represent, it’s important to know your audience.

Don’t be robotic. It’s important that you have statements prepared for important product announcements or company updates. However, regardless of how relevant your information is, regurgitating stale rhetoric will not carry over the course of an entire interview—you could have handed over a press release or PSA to achieve the same thing. If you’re gracing a recording studio or phone call with your presence, add some humanity to your responses. Excitement and humor can add significant color to an interview—just be sure to use them wisely. Your PR agency can also help you develop compelling sound bites. Another key to not sounding robotic is voice modulation. Your voice should complement your interviewer’s, and communicate the appropriate emotion based on what you’re discussing. Ask yourself, what tone is appropriate at what time—passion, concern, humor, empathy, bravado, sympathy, authority?

Be concise. Find a happy medium when it comes to the length of your responses: don’t ramble, but don’t give one-word answers. If you’re being featured on a show, odds are people want to hear what you have to say. Depending on the type of question, you may be required to explain something at length. Be thoughtful with your answers, but know when enough is enough. If you don’t cut yourself off, the interviewer will. As a general rule, your answer to any straightforward question shouldn’t exceed two sentences.

Have fun! You can’t be camera-shy if there aren’t any cameras! There’s no need to be intimidated. Again, feel free to have a cheat sheet in front of you so you don’t forget any important talking points. Once you get acclimated, you will realize it’s fun! At the end of the day, it’s just a conversation, and listeners get to learn about your perspective and your company. Podcasts can be a valuable tool on the road to thought leadership.

Five Ways to Amp Up Your Tradeshow PR

Whether it’s your own user conference or an industry exposition, tradeshows present an important opportunity to increase brand awareness and thought leadership for your company. While most companies that choose to exhibit at a show understand its value for networking with new faces and allowing a sales team to speak with current and prospective customers face-to-face, not every organization capitalizes on this opportunity. Here are five PR best practices to make sure you are getting the most out of your tradeshows:

  1. Start your drumbeat before the show.

Consider pre-briefing journalists and analysts if you are leveraging a show to make a big announcement, or have an executive delivering a high-profile keynote. While an open conference floor is a convenient place to quickly speak with these individuals to update them about your company, it can be loud and hard to navigate. Pre-briefing key influencers ahead of the show enables your executive and spokespeople to ensure they’ve communicated clearly and away from the distractions that conferences’ chaos bring. This also allows the journalists and analysts you speak to an opportunity to fully digest the news by the time it is public, paving the way for potentially more thoughtful media coverage and questions.

You should also issue media alerts ahead of the show to inform the media community that matters most to your team of your expo showcase and any related workshops or topical webinars you plan on hosting.

  1. Publicize your classroom sessions and workshops at your booth.

Often, exhibiting companies hold separate learning sessions and workshops. These sessions are great opportunities for show attendees to learn more about your products, technology and innovation. However, outside of a general show agenda listing, many companies neglect to further promote these sessions. To ensure that these classrooms and workshops are filled with interested and eager conference goers, make sure to publicize your sessions at your booth formally, and not just verbally. Chances are, the people that are interested enough to stop by your booth will find your team’s sessions relevant as well. Prepare physical fliers to distribute with details about your session with an accompanying map if it takes place away from your booth.

  1. Host a private event or dinner with key influencers.

The great thing about a tradeshow is that it brings together some of the most important influencers to your business at the same time and place. A great way to unite those that matter to your business is to hold a private event after show hours, such as a dinner, to gather everyone to network and catch up in a pleasant setting.

  1. Encourage your customers to champion the success you’ve enabled.

Press and analyst influencers are always interested in hearing third party testimonials. However, sorting logistics and asking your customers to take time from their busy schedules to speak on your behalf can be tricky. If you find that some of your best customers plan on attending the same shows as you, see if they have a few moments to spare to speak to a reporter alongside you, while everyone is in the same building. You’ll be killing two birds with one stone.

  1. Use social media to amplify your efforts.

Most shows have a hashtag that you can leverage to be part of the social media buzz surrounding the expo. Posting pictures, tweeting live from the show floor and even uploading videos of your tradesow activities are great ways to drive traffic to your company’s Twitter account, increase booth traffic and raise brand awareness. Videos can include booth demos or interviews with attending customers and partners. Karbo Communications client, TDK Corporation of America, is an excellent example; they are great at promoting their show presence on their Twitter page, @TDKAmerica.

Do you have more ideas on how companies can optimize their time at an exposition? If so, tweet us and let us know! @KarboCo

Are You Taking Advantage of Data-Informed PR?

The rapid advancement of analytic technologies and increasing demand for information have touched all aspects of business. Public relations is no exception. Years ago, PR professionals were sought after for their positioning expertise, media relationships and keen storytelling abilities. Although this still holds true, our roles are changing. Now, PR professionals are expected to leverage data to more effectively deliver the right content (both paid and unpaid) to potential customers and partners at the right time, through the right medium.

With advanced analytic platforms, such as Meltwater, Google Analytics and others, PR professionals have a wealth of real-time data to leverage. At Karbo Communications, we have access to media exposure patterns, share of voice, sentiment, social media engagement and audience location—to name just a few metrics at our fingertips. We can identify where target audiences are located, the communication methods and content that they are most receptive to, how our messages are being received and other crucial insights, all with a few clicks of a button.

While data plays a crucial role in informing PR efforts and creating improved targeting, positioning and performance assessment, data alone is not the end all be all. For any organization, it’s imperative to work with a data-informed PR partner who understands the value of interpreting data to inform strategy. Gathering data and providing context, as well as strategic and actionable interpretations derived from this information, is where true PR value lies. PR professionals must translate real-time analytical insights to deliver results.

Data also helps streamline the evaluation process by providing clear criteria for the measurement of success. The data-informed PR practitioner looks to data for concrete indicators of success that prove the value of PR, including direct links to how communications increases sales leads and partner inquiries. With these types of quantifiable measurements supporting their communications efforts, PR professionals can demonstrate how they’ve impacted overall business advancement.

The ever-increasing availability of data is disrupting business models and fostering innovation in industries around the world, so it naturally follows that data plays a vital role in PR, as well. Its significance in the field will only continue to grow. Companies must partner with data-informed PR professionals that understand how to collect and interpret relevant data to execute more effective plans.