Social Tools Summit Cheat Sheet

Posted by on April 18, 2016 with 0 Comments

Seven sessions. Two trender chats. A great keynote, product speed case, and best of all the STSummit16.jpg largechance to meet and learn from very smart social media consultants, practitioners and technology innovators.

There simply is no substitute for being at Social Tools Summit (well, accessing the live stream was the next best thing).  You could search the #SocialTools16 hash tag and read through the thousands of tweets – I suggest that you do, if you didn’t attend or see the live stream.  The tweets feature tons of great advice, links to resources, running commentary on the day’s activities – and of course lots of social tools talk.

If you are pressed for time, you could just read this post.  I have attempted to capture the highlights, by curating top tweets under each session, and sharing other details.

Check out the Storify wrap, below.  I also want to thank Neal Schaffer and Brian Mahony for inviting me back this year, and to their stellar team for organizing the event (you could call them the A team, as most of the names starts with A, including two Andreas; and let’s face, it they are an A team).

Also, I thank the great panel that assisted with my influencer marketing session: Lina Roque, CA Technologies (congrats for winning a Social Guru award!), Chandra Carson, Lindt & Sprungli, Eric Dahan, InstaBrand, Ryan Connors, Century Bank, Wayne Kurtzman, Pitney Bowes and Jannette Pazer, DragonSearch.

Awards

Keynote on Scaling Innovation

Here is a link to Christopher Penn’s keynote on scaling innovation.

Other Summaries

SoTrender has a nice wrap of the event.  Paul Gillin mentioned it in his Silicon Angle piece about social selling.  Also, see Red Javelin’s 8 Social media Takeaways from the Social Tools Summit 2016 – Boston.

 

 

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See You at Social Tools Summit Next Week

Posted by on April 7, 2016 with 0 Comments

I am very much looking forward to Social Tools Summit (#SocialTools16) in Boston next STsummitTuesday, where I will be moderating a panel on influencer marketing.

Neal Schaffer and Brian Mahony invited me back following last year’s Boston event, which was a blast (see my blog wrap), and I jumped at the opportunity. It looks like it will be another great event. The day will be packed with informative sessions, tech demos, and a nice range of speakers and panels. You should really check it out if you work in social media, and are trying to get your arms around the state-of-the-technology.

The panel I’m on has good mix of of vendors, consultants and client side practitioners:

If you haven’t registered, it isn’t too late. Thanks! Hope to see you in Boston.

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See You at Social Tools Summit Boston in 2 Weeks

Posted by on March 28, 2016 with 0 Comments

I am very much looking forward to Social Tools Summit (#SocialTools16) in Boston on STsummitTuesday April 12, where I will be speaking about influencer marketing.

Neal Schaffer and Brian Mahony invited me back following last year’s Boston event, which was a blast (see my blog wrap), and I jumped at the opportunity. It looks like it is shaping up to be another great event. The day will be packed with informative sessions, tech demos, and a nice range of speakers and panels.  You should really check it out if you work in social media, and are trying to get your arms around the state-of-the-technology.

PPC expert Larry Kim will be keynoting.  The panel I’m on has good mix of consultants and client side practitioners:

If you haven’t registered, it isn’t too late. I can offer blog visitors a discount code; just send me a note or put in a request via comments below.

Thanks! Hope to see you in Boston.

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Raising Seed Capital: Top Tips from NYETM

Posted by on March 16, 2016 with 0 Comments

There is another great NY Enterprise Tech meet up tonight, on recruiting tech talent for magnet-1189869_1280startups.  Clearly I am late in blogging about February’s, which was about how to raise seed capital – so I am taking care of that now, with this post.

The topic is paramount for anyone who has a great idea, but needs potentially game changing funding.  February’s NYETM featured a panel that offered some very helpful tips. Work-bench Associate Vipin Chamakkla guided the conversation, to help attendees get answers to questions about seed investor “appetites”, pitching preferences, etc.

The panel included Karin Klein, Partner at Bloomberg Beta, Eliot Durbin, General Partner at Boldstart Ventures, Mike Brown Jr., General Partner at Bowery Capital and Brad Svrluga, General Partner at Primary Venture Partners.

As you will see, each has their own approach, yet a few common threads emerged. It helps to have connections.  Be smart when approaching investors: do your homework and make sure that there is a match.  Every venture and market space is different; there’s no single formula for evaluating startups.

The demo portion is an important part of every NYETM, and I should mention that were some very cool demos before the panel took the stage – see the end of this post for further details.

Please feel free to chime in via comments, or e-mail me if you think I’ve missed anything.

Describe your focus, portfolio examples and average funding check

Eliot Durbin said that Boldstart invests in enterprise tech, smart data, big data, and the Googlization of IT. Their checks are in the $750K range. A portfolio example is Replicated, which was on the evening’s demo roster (see the end of this post).

Bloomberg Beta invests in companies that make work better, in the $200K-1M range, said Karin Klein.  The technologies range from security to HR, and include analytics, bots, and machine intelligence. They were in early on Pathgather, an online learning solution.

Mike Brown of Bowery Capital tracks ventures that relate to Internet natives and their influence on IT spend.  They like to lead or co-lead investment rounds, in the $500K range.  ActionIQ, a marketing tech play, is in their portfolio.

Brad Svrluga said PVP invests $250-700K and likes SaaS, enterprise mobile, and vertical industry solutions, including fintech. They funded Alloy, an API to Know Your Customer (KYC).

When is right time to approach seed investors?

Eliot: “We want to be the first check.”  The timing can vary, for example in Replicated’s case it worked out well, as they saw and solved a huge pain point.

Karin said that earlier is better, in general – but this depends on who you are.   A founder with a track record can afford to wait longer.

The prototype stage is a good milestone.  But this can vary, e.g. Pluralsight bootstrapped for nine years before seeking funding.

If a venture is pre-product, what else does it need to have?

Mike said there are some non-obvious factors.  In enterprise tech, it is good to see that the founder appreciates implications of the long sales cycles involved.  They should have an ideal customer profile in mind and factor in sales velocity equations.  Could the founder sell him the pen sitting on his desk?

Brad likes founders who are solving a problem they’ve lived through, and to see that they have a real understanding and passion; as opposed to business school projects.

What KPIs do you evaluate when vetting startups?

Eliot: “It’s got to have magic.”

Karin said that it is a highly contextual, and hard to generalize.  E.g., with HR tech you want to see easy end user adoption – Pluralisght hit upon a pricing model that was very attractive.

What is the best way to pitch seed investors?

Karin loves to see demos; use a pitch deck if it helps tell the story.

Brad likes a good Genesis story.  He really cares how they’re pitched, because it’s the “single best data point for how founders pitch customers and employee candidates.”  A pet peeve is unrealistic market size numbers.  Coming in through another founder in their portfolio is the best way. Sending a cold email suggests that you are not being strategic.

Eliot: When pitching, walk in with a good sense of what they are looking for and what you want.

Mike likes those who are very good at selling software.

Audience Questions: One bootstrapped to $40K monthly revenue, and was wondering if they should go to seed or A round funding.

One of the panel members said “Skip us if you can – you will retain more equity.”

Why take your money?

Elliot said that Boldstart can help get customers.

Karin offered that Bloomberg Beta can help fill in gaps in the venture’s team.

Brad talked about PVP’s expert network, which saves search fees for portfolio companies.

What percentage are repeat vs. first-time entrepreneurs?

“Both are nice.”

“This depends on the bias of portfolio.”

“For the very first time, there’s not as good a chance”

Brad said that about half are first timers.

Before the panel, two vendors showed their wares.  Replicated is a container-centric platform that enables software companies to manage and distribute an enterprise-grade, installable version of their product behind the firewall and into their customers’ private data centers or private clouds.  HYPR   decentralizes the storage of biometric data to enable secure password-less authentication across mobile, desktop and IoT systems.

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Social Media Week NY Seminar Wrap

Posted by on February 24, 2016 with 0 Comments
If you are in PR or marketing, it is probably a familiar feeling.  You have some great news or content to promote – but it SMW New Yorkis really tough these days to get anyone to care.  Our Social Media Week New York seminar yesterday addressed the challenges and offered solutions. Thanks to all who attended, and especially Work-Bench for letting us host the event there; and our own Vladimir Spencer and Mike Bush, for their help in managing the event.  Mike led the charge with live tweeting – you can see the Storify wrap below.
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Did Fox Jump the Snark? (Brief History of Fake News Fails)

Posted by on January 28, 2016 with 0 Comments

“Childishly written!”

“A disgrace”

These are the words most junior PR account executives fear hearing from clients about 65779261press releases submitted for review.  But it was Donald Trump that just said them, in tweets and interviews, about a statement that Fox News issued yesterday.

Fox tried to use humor and taunts in a last ditch attempt to goad Donald into joining tonight’s presidential debate. Apparently, an article would not be journalistic – so they chose that good old staple of ginned up news, the press release, to send the message.

(I guess humor is subjective. What do you think, was it funny or not? Here’s an excerpt, as cited here: “We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president — a nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings.”)

Well, It is now the eleventh hour, and it seems that the Fox News mock statement backfired. Trump really is taking his ball and going home. To the network’s credit, they did not yield to his demands that they remove Megyn Kelly as a moderator.

So who won? I guess that remains to be seen. But it is pretty clear that the press release idea helped seal the deal against his participation – likely not Fox’s intended result.
Meanwhile, the episode made me curious about other fake news releases and their consequences.

I asked our team for examples, and they sent these:

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HBR Covers the Death of a B2B Salesman – and Media Relations

Posted by on January 14, 2016 with 0 Comments

My friend Neal Schaffer shared an interesting Harvard Business Review article, How salesman-232x300More Accessible information is Forcing B2B Sales to Adapt. The story questioned the role and relevancy of the B2B sales team in a digital world.

There were also some great takeaways for marketing (it’s a must read for those who don’t think social media is important). But the most interesting thing for me, a PR professional, was the one thing that was MIA.  HBR virtually ignored media as a channel of info that supports B2B sales. If true, does this mean that media coverage, and by extension media relations, no longer matter in this area?

DIY Buyers tap Self Serve Info

The HBR authors wrote: “Business buyers are more connected and informed than ever… digital channels provide access to information and enable self-sufficiency. When a buyer wants to learn about virtually any product or service, an internet search yields thousands of results, including online articles, videos, white papers, blogs, and social media posts. In addition to supplier websites, there are online sources (ranging from the self-serving to the unbiased) to help buyers learn and compare solution alternatives.”

I alluded to this trend in my recent Entrepreneur piece: “Who even sees or reads [tech news] stories? There are many other ways to vet the latest tech products and services (no one ever got fired for following Gartner’s guidance).”

Fighting Fire with Fire

How should B2Bers ensure that their sales teams don’t become outdated Willy Lomans? And is there still any significant role for PR when it comes to supporting sales?

Regarding the first question, the authors say, essentially, to fight fire with fire. Load up on data about buyers and use technology and digital channels to reach them. Your sales people need new competencies – they can’t just be “talking brochures”.

PR needs a new approach too, as I said in Entrepreneur. We’ve never been just about media relations – or sales. Yet media relations are still the bread and butter for many PR agencies. And most who employ PR hope that it will do its fair share to meet short (read: sales) and long term business goals.

Forward thinking PR teams are expanding their tools and approach. Good PR has always been about validation and building credibility – but there are ways to accomplish this beyond earned media. You can court others – e.g., analysts, and social media influencers – to get buy-in and mentions. You can work to ensure that your news appears where the buyer is most likely to see it (e.g. user forums, mobile news apps, social media news feeds).  You can craft and promote content that hits the hot buttons of buyers and addresses their informational needs.

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Filed Under: PR Tech, Public Relations, Reading Files, Social Media, Tech PR, Technology

Here’s a Pitch: Get Tech Savvy, take a PR Briefing

Posted by on January 5, 2016 with 0 Comments

NY Times reporter Farhad Manjoo wrote a nice story that highlighted the growing technology-is-a-givenproblem of tech illiteracy and its implications.  He wrote:

“People in the tech industry… act as if the products they build sit at the center of everything. But this year, the techies were right… not only did tech dominate the news, it often moved too quickly for politicians, regulators, law enforcement officials and the media to understand its implications.”

He goes on to list some of the big stories in which tech played a starring role, and our collective failure to connect the dots. Examples include cyber security, the VW scandal, Hillary’s emails, and the central role of social media in political campaigns and grassroots movements (e.g., Trump’s, the Black Lives Matter movement).

The article made an impression on me, as I read it right after seeing the movie the Big Short, from the Michael Lewis book, which illustrated the consequences of financial illiteracy. If more institutions took the time to understand the house of cards being built on the mortgage industry at the time, disaster may have been averted.

I think most would not argue about the central role technology plays in our lives. We can reasonably expect that it will continue to be featured in headlines. It also seems clear that there’s a collective ignorance, just challenge anyone (outside of the real techies) to explain nitty gritty details of Bitcoins, mobile payments, encryption, IoT etc.

I submit that PR, through our work with the media, can play a role in improving tech literacy.

First, I believe that the media should be held to a higher standard when it comes to uncovering and acting on information that can lead to change. The Fourth Estate is unrestrained by the bureaucracy of politics. It is a free press here in the U.S. and many other parts of the world.

The good news is the PR industry, and the tech vendors that we represent, are willing and able to spend the time needed to bring the media up-to-speed. There is a veritable army of PR reps and vendor spokespeople who love nothing more than sitting down and getting geeky with a journalist.

Sure, we have an ulterior motive. But we (most of us, anyway) also are happy to deliver background or informational briefings and understand that they come with no coverage guarantees. The rules of the game say that, in return, the journalist can get a crash course. OK, it is from a vendor’s perspective, but reporters are free to challenge and dig deep. We are happy to provide additional information and point out useful resources.

I don’t mean to imply that all (or even most) of the media are clueless about tech. And I fully understand that the problem is not just literacy. Reporters are under pressures that might discourage good old shoe leather journalism, as news cycles diminish and many are incentivized by quantity and clicks (a trend driven by – you guessed it – tech).

I am just saying that, for those who want to take the time to get smarter, there are many vendors fronted by PR pros to help out and get you the information you need.

Photo credit: Scott McLeod via Foter.com / CC BY

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Filed Under: In the News, PR, Public Relations, Tech PR

Meetup Explores the Art of the PR Pitch

Posted by on December 15, 2015 with 0 Comments

The NYC PR Innovators meetup hosted a session on The Art (and Science) of the PR Pitch CV57Q6OWsAAZ6Gxat District CoWork last week, where I participated as a panelist. Over 50 people attended, and organizer Erin Commarato ran a very lively and interactive session.

I am new to this meetup but will definitely be coming back, as I am extremely interested in PR innovation. Also, any forum dedicated to improving pitching is a great one, in my book.

There was lots of give and take, and just about everyone got a chance to ask questions and share thoughts. Co-panelist Roger Wu of Cooperatize spoke about new opportunities in branded content, and Stacey Miller of Cision’s HARO (Help a Reporter Out) offered data and insight gleaned from her HARO role and media feedback. Not everyone agreed, but the forum gave all a chance to chime in.  With Erin’s guidance and the panel’s input, we  were able to build consensus on most of the topics.

Our own Mike Bush did a great job live tweeting (thanks, Mike!). I share these and other tweets about the event below below (check out the expressions on our faces when the panel is stumped with a tough question).

Thanks Erin, Roger, Stacey and NYC PR Innovators for a great meetup.

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CUNY Meetup Showcases Journalism Startups

Posted by on December 10, 2015 with 0 Comments

If you work in PR, it is good to keep an eye on the world of media innovation.  You don’t FergFH-iconwant to be the last to hear about the up and comers – e.g. the next BuzzFeed or Vice.   Some journalism startups aim to breathe fresh life into storytelling, and we might learn a thing or two that has applications for PR and content marketing.

That is why I enjoyed the demo night at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism early this week. There was a good mix of concepts, spanning apps, local news, data-driven journalism and virtual reality.

I saw five demos, and they were all interesting. Most had experienced teams and investors and/or corporate backers. It is hard to know which ones will succeed – but I think they are all worth checking out.

Please see below for my quick thoughts on each.

Lenses 

Lenses, a collaborative effort involving News Corp., NYU, Columbia University and  the NYC Media Lab, is a web-based toolkit for the visualization of public data.

Anyone can point it to a data source (e.g. think NYC BigApps) and generate cool graphs that help users spot trends and glean insight.  Be sure to check out their upcoming hackathon.

Slant News

This ambitious undertaking aims to democratize reporting, through a site that lets anyone submit a story and earn from ad revenue.  Founder Amanda Gutterman set the stage by discussing her experiences as an unpaid intern at Condé Nast, and work at the Huffington Post. Of course, the latter taps an army of unpaid contributors.

Sadly, the content explosion has led to a cheapening of writing and reporting.  With Slant, she wants to give those who are not professionals a way to have their voices heard and make money.

Their editors work their magic on the content, selecting the best stories for inclusion on the front page of the site – and optimizing for SEO and social media.

I loved this one, and any site that pays writers.  They have been open since September and have a couple of thousands of writers.  It is no get rich quick scheme – the best ones get paid $1-2K month.  But hey, it is a start.

I think they have their work cut out.  There is the scalability issue – Slant will need an army of editors to do the job right, i.e. truly give more people a voice, and more content a fair shot.  There is also the old chicken vs. egg problem – how do you interest advertisers until the site has reached critical mass?  Why should writers jump on board for crumbs (if anything) at first, until you have lots of users and good ad revenue?

I hope they figure these things out and succeed.

Walc

This is a new mobile app that gives directions and helps you find your way based on landmarks in the area, i.e. what you see. It’s an idea that makes so much sense, you wonder why it hasn’t been done before.

Founder Allison McGuire started by asking the audience to raise their hand if they have ever left a subway station, directions in hand, and still felt lost.  Most of the crowd responded affirmatively.

That is the need they address – very cool indeed.

Blockfeed

This app offers a breakthrough in local news delivery.  It uses fancy things like machine learning to develop a custom news stream based on the user’s location.

Blockfeed now works in the greater New York metro area, and will soon cover other parts of the country.  Local news outlets win too, as the app does not poach their content – it just shows a snippet, and directs traffic back to the publisher.

This is another one of those ideas that just makes so much sense – and it seems like they have the tech and team to deliver on the promise.

Empathetic Media

This won the prize for me in terms of the cool factor.

In dry terms, the company is a VR / AR (virtual and augmented) production studio.  The website says “We are a collective of journalists and technologists creating media experiences made to be explored across virtual and augmented reality. We design first-person immersive experiences to put you in the shoes of eyewitnesses  – and allow you to explore a story from multiple perspectives.”

Founder Dan Archer positioned their approach against 360 degree video, which offers a more passive experience. He said ‘With Empathetic, the story is the container…  you can move through it” by using their app and donning an Oculus Rift VR headset.

Dan shared examples.  One showed the scene from the Michael Brown shooting episode, which many of us got to know this well through all the news coverage.  With Empathetic’s simulation, you can virtually visit the scene and get multiple perspectives.

There is no question that this kind of technology will continue to grow in importance and be used more in journalism and other kinds of content development and marketing.  I am reminded of NY Times recent virtual reality push (they used Google Cardboard, and I don’t believe worked with Empathetic).

But it does seem time, labor and cost intensive right now – clearly a lot of work goes into each scene and story.  Hopefully some of the barriers will fall, and Empathetic and others in the space will grow and succeed – and will get more VR-enhanced stories.

 

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Filed Under: events, In the News, NY Tech, PR Tech, Social Media