FischTank Marketing and PR Founder Eric Fischgrund will speak on an upcoming January 31st panel entitled, “How to grow your B2B business in 2019 – what works best for organic growth?” He will discuss the role of media relations, content marketing and digital strategies to achieve this goal.
I’m not sure how to start this post. As I begin, I’m at 33,000 feet – cruising altitude as they say – and some guy two seats up on the right has been taking selfies of himself for the last 10 minutes, grinning as he reviews them. Insta-worthy? Maybe. It seems pretty weird to me, but no one else seems to care so why should I? I’m returning from a business trip to Asheville with two colleagues, making this as good a time as any to start reflecting on the past five years of FischTank.
The LLC paperwork for EMF Media d.b.a FischTank was filed in late December 2013; I put in notice at a place where I was very unhappy, and brought my first client aboard shortly into the new year. I had limited experience in business development, even less experience in bookkeeping, and now – very little income. Still, I was excited in a professional sense for the first time in a long time.
The first few months were not easy (try working at home when you only have two clients). I took meetings that went nowhere, attended networking events that had no purpose, and at one point went door to door to try and win contracts from small businesses in Jersey City. I also drove my wife crazier than usual. There were sleepless nights, stressed out mornings, and a never-ending supply of self-doubt. Those feelings haven’t gone away and I don’t think they ever will, but in early 2014, that was my 24/7. Funny how something can suck and be so exciting at the same time.
But this story isn’t about me or the “entrepreneurial struggle” that many of the self-proclaimed experts drone on about on LinkedIn and Twitter.
The FischTank story is and has always been about people. I was joined by Matt Bretzius, my partner at FischTank, who is smarter and more disciplined than I am. There is a 0% chance this company is anything beyond me in my apartment living room without him. We made one hire, then we made another, and now we have a growing group of bright, creative, and really unique professionals people. Gone are the days of my personally PDF’d invoices, disorganized spreadsheets, and envelopes stuffed with receipts from coffee shops and cab rides. We now have a bookkeeper who is actually good at math and record keeping. We started partnering more strategically with other marketing, SEO/digital, creative, and PR agencies, building a stronger referral network filled with individuals who have also helped shape the company.
Our clients are awesome. I don’t write that to kiss ass, it’s just reality. Collectively they’re a group of innovative and smart risk-takers, and a pleasure to work with each day. Nothing drives us more than when we see how hard they work to achieve their own goals. We enjoy telling their stories.
To everyone who falls into a category above, I’m eternally grateful for what you’ve done. You know who you are. To all of my colleagues, past and present, this five-year milestone is for you as much as it is for Matt and I.
It’s not all roses and sunshine. We’ve learned many lessons, some of them painful but each of them valuable. Sure there were partnerships, hires and clients that didn’t quite fit, and while not everything ends well, through it all we’ve maintained our integrity and evolved. From these experiences, we’ve built a positive culture we can be proud of.
The only takeaway or piece of advice I have for others, should you choose to listen, is to place a premium on resiliency. Bad days, weeks and months will come. You will get home late after a bad day and think maybe you’re not cut out for this stuff. Self-doubt will creep in when you’re at your most vulnerable and it will eat away your confidence. When this all happens, you cannot give in. Get up, show up, and keep coming at them.
The last five years have been the best education and experience I could ask for, exceeding any and all expectations I had on January 15, 2014. Will FischTank last forever? No, nothing does, but we’re having a helluva lot of fun today.
Companies ask about media relations all the time: “why is (insert competitor name) always in the press, and I’m not?” or “This company shouldn’t get the media coverage that we deserve!”
Great question. The truth is, your competitor is probably getting more positive press coverage than you because they’ve become more of a resource for journalists than you are. No, I’m not referring to money when I talk about resources, I’m talking about unique expertise on relevant subject matter that may be important for the journalist’s respective audience.
Companies and organizations that expect heavy news coverage need to prioritize forming and maintaining healthy, two-way relationships with the press. This means providing expert commentary, distributing embargoed or exclusive news releases ahead of time, sharing feedback on a topic even when you know it won’t be included in the story, etc. Provide VALUE! This means pointing the journalist in the right direction for insight, explaining why something is relevant or irrelevant, and putting the end result (that of the quality of the story/segment) above your own corporate objectives. Trust me, it will pay off later.
This emphasis on relationships and smart information flow is at the crux of everything we do here at FischTank. We work with journalists each day who are looking for insightful sources to quote and important announcements to cover, and ultimately introduce them to our clients. It’s one of the reasons we’re recognized as a top Public Relations Company on DesignRush!
Learn more about the way we do things by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by reading some of the other information on our website designed to educate and inform on public relations and marketing strategies. The strongest relationships we with have with our clients are founded upon collaborative partnership and understanding. We provide transparent insight and leadership when developing a media relations strategy, emphasizing assets and content, spokesperson capabilities, communications and marketing objectives, and other facts that align our actions with our client’s best interests.
The team at FischTank Marketing and PR would like to congratulate Rebalance, a Bethesda and San Francisco-based investment firm committed to making premium wealth management services affordable and accessible to everyday Americans, on winning the prestigious 2018 Pacesetter IMPACT Award™ for Innovation and Growth, awarded by Schwab Advisor Services. The conference took place this week, with the honor being bestowed on the firm yesterday.
Rebalance is an innovative, trendsetting company that has established itself within the retirement investment and personal finance industry. A consumer-first organization, Rebalance has advocated for transparency and working in their clients’ best interest, two standards that are unfortunately often neglected in the financial advisory space.
Please watch their video and learn more about the firm here.
Rebalance was recognized for its innovation and approach to bringing world-class investment expertise, holistic planning and financial advice to investors at a lower price point by combining cloud-based technology, ‘best-in-class’ portfolio management and seasoned investment professionals. Rebalance, and members of its team, received the award on the main stage at Schwab IMPACT®, the nation’s largest and longest-running annual gathering of independent advisors
Rebalance also brings “big league” investing capabilities to everyday Americans and is known for the savings it creates for its clients, as well as its emphasis on providing prudent investment advice based upon the expertise of its internationally-recognized Investment Committee. Members of this committee include Burt Malkiel, the world-renowned Senior Economist at Princeton University; Dr. Charley Ellis, who chaired Yale University’s famed investment committee; and Jay Vivian, the former Managing Director of IBM’s Retirement Funds, where he oversaw over $100 billion in IBM investment funds.
The Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.’s IMPACT Awards® program recognizes excellence in the business of independent financial advice. Nominees are evaluated and selected by a panel of prominent leaders from both the business world and the financial services industry.
This article was originally published on Forbes.com
As someone who is immersed in both client management and business development, I frequently hear from companies about the roles that online search and SEO play in their business.
For some of the more B2B and niche companies, especially those selling an expensive product or service, it’s important to own the first page of Google for searches around your name or the industry you serve. For B2C companies of all sizes, especially those exclusively selling products online, it’s not that online reputation isn’t important — it is — but hyperlinks pointing to your corporate URL and product pages are critical to driving revenue.
PR for SEO is now a focal point for many modern marketing programs, serving as the ultimate intersection of public relations and SEO/digital marketing. Over the years, I’ve seen many PR firms offer SEO and SEO firms offer PR, both without truly understanding how the functions can work hand in hand. Now, PR for SEO is more important than ever as a long-term investment that should not be ignored by CMOs and marketing execs. As the founder and CEO of an agency that offers this type of service, I’d like to provide more insight on how you can effectively leverage PR for SEO.
What Is PR For SEO?
For media relations and communications folks, the PR aspect of an SEO campaign is likely quite similar to what you’re hopefully already doing with clients today. We’re all familiar with how contributed content in the form of bylines and op-eds are an effective communication tool. They demonstrate expertise and thought leadership, and the published pieces often make for good sales material and social media fodder.
However, many companies either fail to understand or simply don’t prioritize the benefits of SEO that come with contributed content. These pieces are generally accompanied by a short byline of the author, typically a corporate executive, that includes a hyperlink to the website. This hyperlink is extremely valuable. When a credible website publishes your corporate name URL, Google and other search engines recognize this through algorithms as a supporting reason for why your site (and brand) is credible and should rank higher.
Further driving the SEO function, your contributed piece should incorporate keywords relevant to your product and business. The ability to secure the piece with keywords and on-brand focus, coupled with the corporate mention and URL inclusion, should now play a prominent role in most any organization’s marketing program.
How To Do It With Credibility
Now that you know how PR for SEO works, make sure you understand the ins and outs of how to do it with credibility. Before creating content, identify a list of online news sites that are open to receiving contributed insights/op-eds. Use SimilarWeb or SEMRush to get an understanding of a site’s digital audience or unique visitors per month (UVMs), a number that supports the quality of the news site and thus its published hyperlink.
Alex Deckard, an SEO Manager for Aeroflow Healthcare, reviews the total number of backlinks for a website, and also its most popular pages to better determine what that site’s audience is really looking for. He pays close attention to topics covered by the publication, knowing that content that’s relevant for his company will thus improve its ranking on Google and other search engines.
It’s important to understand the value of content writing and thought leadership. If you choose to hire a PR firm to lead your program, make sure you find one that understands this. It’s not as simple as just drafting an article and changing words around to repurpose it for other publications. Most quality news sites seek completely original and company/product-agnostic articles. After all, credible news publications have dedicated readers that deserve creative and insightful content. This means your organization cannot write an op-ed about the company itself, but more about the industry or various trends experienced as an expert within the sector.
By publishing a good article, you will likely experience more article-sharing and general buzz on social channels like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. A good public relations professional should understand these nuances, and have the capability to produce solid content to power the PR-for-SEO program.
Once a few articles have been successfully placed, the process should get easier to repeat. Frequent brainstorming with corporate executives helps keep content fresh, which cannot be understated. By identifying timely topics and providing value to the publication, a high-volume PR-for-SEO strategy is very achievable.
How To Measure Results
There are a number of resources for digital marketers to measure more technical as well as traditional KPIs. Speaking traditionally, bylined articles are great sales and marketing tools and are commonly featured on corporate websites and social media platforms.
Many digital marketers and SEO specialists who manage and work with PR teams use a combination of KPIs to ultimately determine both short- and long-term return on a PR-for-SEO program, including but not limited to UVMs, URL link, quality of the news site, social shares, total link quantity, and long-term search engine position and rankings for specific online searches.
PR for SEO is very different than more technical onsite SEO upgrades and link-building, and must be viewed as a long-term project with significant upside. It can take days or even weeks to develop an article and identify the right news website for submission, and sometimes even longer for it to publish. These articles often stay online forever, meaning the content reflecting your current brand and values may become a permanent search result for your company and for the name of its author.
An op-ed submitted today may one day result in site traffic and sales of next year, meaning the long-term value of a PR-for-SEO campaign is something that must be featured in any marketing and communications program.
Podcasts are all the rage right now. Sure, they’ve been around for roughly 10 years, but in the last three years or so, they’ve really taken off with 50% of households reporting that they are “podcast fans” at the end of 2017. Podcasts have become a prominent medium for experts, fans and enthusiasts of all kinds to come together and share opinions, conduct interviews and take deep dives into topics across all industries. Similarly, topic-specific radio shows are a great way to drive awareness among target audiences. Understanding them can take time, as the lines between these shows and podcasts are often blurry, i.e. a program that airs live on the radio might also be posted online as a podcast series. As more niche programs are launched and gain momentum, they are a great outlet to explore to establish yourself and your company as thought-leaders in a particular industry.
Identify your spokesperson and define their expertise
Unlike an interview that will be transcribed and quoted in a written article, in a podcast, the spokesperson’s voice is heard by the audience. This may seem like a rather obvious fact, but it should be noted to emphasize how important it is for your spokesperson to be comfortable with public speaking. Even if the podcast or radio show is being pre-recorded to air later, it will still be their voice that listeners and subscribers hear. Guests with a dynamic attitude and captivating tone can go a long way. Not only does this keep up the energy level for the host conducting the interview, listeners will pick up on their passion and expertise and be more likely to research your client and their organization after hearing the interview.
Most Marketing and PR professionals can likely can think of some client spokespeople right off the top of their head who fit into the category of a dynamic interviewee. Once you have an idea of who will do the talking for a possible podcast or radio interview, you need to figure out what they will be talking about. When it comes to these shows, even those that are focused on a particular industry, the broader your spokesperson’s knowledge base is, the better. While it’s great that they can talk in-depth about their company and any current announcements or initiatives, it’s likely that the host or producer of the show won’t bite on an idea that seems too promotional or self-serving. A wider knowledge of the industry or ability to comment as an expert on a current trend is incredibly helpful. It’s good to always keep an eye and ear out for any breaking trends within the industry and discuss internally to see whether or not it’s something your company is able to offer commentary on. An expert opinion or hot take on something newsworthy can often be your foot in the door!
Search high and low for podcasts and shows
I know I began this post by saying that podcasts are everywhere, and this is still true! However, not every one of the many shows out there will be a fit for your spokesperson’s expertise. If you are dealing with a particularly niche subject matter or industry, finding the premier, most-trusted programs will require a little research. As I mentioned before, having an expert that can comment on broader issues, even if they aren’t directly related to your company’s current initiatives, goes a long way. Let’s say your company works in veterinary oncology, can they also talk about other veterinary topics? What about general animal health or tips for pet owners? The more topics they are comfortable with, the more options you have when it comes to shows to reach out to.
Start with a simple Google search. Begin with the most specific, niche search terms your corporate leadership can speak on to see what’s available. Once you’ve explored those results and flagged any relevant targets, widen the topic and repeat the process until you’ve gotten to the broadest subject matter your expert is able to discuss. Be sure to thoroughly vet the targets you find, as you don’t want to waste time reaching out to a program that hasn’t posted a new episode in two years!
Another place to look is social media. Check in on relevant hashtags for the client’s particular industry to see if anyone is talking about a popular podcast or radio program. Follow industry reporters and other thought-leaders on Twitter and LinkedIn. You never know when they might drop a reference to a new podcast or show that would be a fit.
Make the introduction
Once you have a solid list of podcasts that you believe would be a good fit for your spokesperson, it’s time to focus on approach. You want to make an introduction as personal as possible, so the host or producer clearly understands why your spokesperson belongs on the show as a guest.
After justifying your reasoning for reaching out, share a bit on the expert and why they’re uniquely qualified to be a guest. When pitching media around a trend, any specific expertise you can offer that will set them apart is crucial. When pitching a more general introduction, highlight a unique perspective they might have that would make for a good discussion on an upcoming episode. Like with any pitch, try to keep it brief and put all your important info upfront, you only have a few precious moments to capture the target’s attention.
Podcasts and radio programs are great tools for tapping into niche audiences and building your corporate reputation as an authority on a particular subject matter. As PR and Marketing professionals, the process of researching and pitching these types of programs needs to be approached a little differently than other media relations outreach. However, by developing a keen understanding of your company’s knowledge base, keeping an eye out for industry trends and news and a solid introduction, you can lock down a great interview opportunity that will likely lead to more as your organization becomes a well-known voice in the industry!
New York, NY – August 2, 2018 – FischTank Marketing and PR, a full-service communications and marketing firm, today announced that its Founder and CEO, Eric Fischgrund, has been appointed Director of Communications for the del Sol Foundation for Energy Security. The del Sol Foundation for Energy Security is an independently managed 501(c)(3) founded by members of sonnen, Inc. to oversee the implementation of humanitarian microgrids in support of communities impacted by climate disaster, such as Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
An NYC-based marcom executive with more than 12 years’ experience developing and implementing communication and branding strategies for hundreds of companies, Fischgrund will provide counsel surrounding global positioning and oversee the rollout of the del Sol Foundation’s announcements and public relations initiatives. He possesses an extensive background in renewable energy technology at both the consumer and B2B levels, and a deep understanding of communications needs for non- and not-for-profits.
“As an advocate for addressing climate change and its impact on human life everywhere by both protecting our environment and utilizing proven renewable energy sources, I am thrilled to take on an impactful role within this movement by joining the del Sol Foundation for Energy Security,” said Eric Fischgrund, Founder and CEO of FischTank. “As citizens of the United States in need, residents of Puerto Rico deserve access to basic power and innovations that have boosted distressed communities on the mainland. del Sol’s vision of empowering communities to rise above energy crises by implementing next-generation technologies that promote resiliency is a story that transcends everyday business, and one I look forward to sharing.”
“With Eric joining the del Sol Foundation as Director of Communications, our team gains an industry veteran, a clean energy advocate, and a non-profit leader who will be instrumental in helping us share the stories and true impact of our microgrids,” said Michelle Mapel, Vice-President of the del Sol Foundation. “Unfortunately, we are experiencing increasing natural disasters and climate changes around the world, creating a greater need for energy resiliency to ensure a basic quality of life for global civilization. The del Sol Foundation was established as a non-profit that we can all contribute to in order to support communities facing energy challenges.”
The del Sol Foundation was formed behind a vision and plan for providing “a hand up, not a handout” to Puerto Rican communities ravaged by storms and in desperate need of power. The Foundation utilizes solar + storage technology in the form of microgrids to go beyond simply providing energy solutions for a singular location, empowering community leaders and citizens to collaborate and rise above the crisis created by disasters like Hurricane Maria. This vantage point was evident at the 12 microgrids installed following Hurricane Maria that served as methods for rebuilding remote communities and catalysts for change in how energy consumption is addressed, a vision now being applied in the form of the largest and most comprehensive solar + storage projects to date. The ambitious “Lighthouse Project” for Puerto Rico will be announced by the del Sol Foundation in the coming weeks.
About del Sol Foundation for Energy Security
The del Sol Foundation for Energy Security is a 501c3 organization founded in 2017. The Foundation is an independent entity whose mission is to provide aid to individuals and entire communities in need, including those impacted by energy instability, who would benefit from clean, reliable and affordable energy. The Foundation’s work in Puerto Rico serves as an example of success in effectively engaging and empowering local community leaders, local citizens and local businesses with “a hand up, not a handout“ and producing true resiliency in the face of natural disasters. For more information about the Foundation, please visit: http://www.delsolfoundation.org/
About FischTank Marketing and PR
FischTank Marketing and Public Relations is a full-service communications and marketing firm serving clients spanning various industries, including but not limited to renewable technology and sustainability, emerging technologies, real estate, business and marketing technologies, biotech and life sciences, financial services, and non-profits. Incorporating an integrated strategy consisting of media relations, community engagement, digital/social media, copywriting, PR to support SEO, and outbound marketing, FischTank helps clients amplify their message with results that impact their bottom line. For more information, visit http://www.FischTankPR.com or follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter – @Fisch_Tank
FischTank Marketing and PR
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While no one ever wants to think about the potential for negative or controversial news, many businesses often encounter challenges that result in an unwanted spotlight. It’s imperative that the company’s marketing and public relations professionals take the time to prepare messaging that is simple and targeted to the audience at hand for when controversy arrives. As one of the Founding Fathers (allegedly) said, by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. When preparing to address media questioning ahead of time, be sure to think about the audiences below.
If you’re a public company, it’s extremely important to maintain transparent communication with those who have invested in your success (or struggles) as a brand. This doesn’t necessarily mean over sharing – you shouldn’t put out news releases just for the sake of doing so – but instead for important milestones that show the growth and trajectory of the company. Unfortunately, not all news that you share will be music to investor ears, which is why you must have a crisis communications plan in place to address issues so your shareholder base isn’t left feeling angry and confused.
You can also be sure that investors will ask questions of your colleagues and partners, especially those listed as a contact on press releases. Since a media relations professional isn’t always an investor relations contact, nor at liberty to discuss certain information with investors, you have to prepare for next steps. Ensure a set protocol is in place for how all members of your team address investor inquiries, and be sure that that you can refer investors to the appropriate contact. What may seem like a simple question (i.e. how has a certain part of the company grown?) is not always something a media relations or marketing professional should disclose. If your company doesn’t focus on the investor relations aspect of marcomm, be sure to educate your colleagues on the dos and don’ts of working for a public company.
Building positive rapport with customers is crucial for any company, especially in the age of social media where someone can share a rave review – as well as an unfavorable one – to the masses with the click of a button. You must actively work with your public relations team to share out pertinent information to customers in a timely fashion.
Social media is one of the quickest and most effective ways to reach key audiences, but it comes with the expectation that your company must also respond quickly to inquiries from the public, including those who may not be happy with the company. Anticipate common questions and concerns based on previous interactions but also common sense. For example, if you launched a new initiative, it may take time for people to fully understand its objectives, and naturally questions will follow.
For the reporters that express interest in your company and who have invested time in covering your milestones, it’s important to be honest and straightforward about less than ideal news. It’s understandable that you may not be comfortable discussing negative news with the press, but ultimately in order to maintain transparency and an honest relationship with reporters, you have to make yourself available.
Look within your organization to identify the right person to speak with the media, which is something your public relations colleagues or partners can assist with. Most likely the best spokesperson will be someone who is already media trained and will understand the way press inquiries work. Even with that in mind, discussing potentially damaging news is a different animal, and requires further approval on messaging and a candid conversation with both internal and external partners to make sure everyone is prepared for the worst-case scenario. Be sure to be realistic based on the media inquiries at hand; if your pick for an ideal company representative has never been in front of a camera or on a live program, now is not the time to test their skills.
Obviously, you will not always be lucky enough to prepare for a crisis before it strikes. For news that you are privy to in advance, whether it be missed revenues, downsizing, or another issue, take ample time to formulate a communications plan that clearly outlines the role of reach team member (from both your company and your agency partners), correct messaging, and a spokesperson that is ready to address all issues tactfully. After you’ve made it through to the other side of a crisis, be sure to review your process and address what went well and what could be improved. Getting your crisis communications plan organized ahead of time can make the process smoother for all involved .
Last week we shared articles on lead generation and inbound marketing, and today we’re sharing a few of the better public relations-focused content we read or were sent this week:
“This is why PR is most effective over a long period of time. My recommendation is to consider PR as a basic necessity for marketing your business and outreach should continue on a regular basis, as long as your company is in existence. In other words, PR shouldn’t stop until you do.”
“Credible publications have policies against contributors accepting money from people or companies they write about, and they require writers to disclose any personal or business relationship with people or companies they mention.”
“Don’t just talk “inside baseball” to your own community. Think outside the box. How has your business helped others in the community — not just your own bottom line?”
Like many marketing and communications firms, the FischTank team often hears from current and prospective clients “How do I drive web traffic?”
Many times, we can help by strategically placing articles that drive potential customers, clients or investors, or by securing articles and bylines laden with backlinks that support and drive SEO.
There is an abundance of information to read on the Internet (duh!) on this subject matter, and this is what we’re reading this week:
“Change happens at the speed of technology for marketing professionals, but your agency can adapt to this rapid pace by leveraging these changes.”
“Unless you already have a bursting-at-the-seams Rolodex and a stable of superfans who are waiting impatiently for anything and everything you give birth to in the world, you might be cutting the ribbon of your new business, blog, site, app, community, or nonprofit to a fever-pitch crowd of bumpkiss.”
“According to HubSpot’s State of Inbound Report, businesses that focus primarily on inbound marketing save more than $14 on acquiring each new customer. Further, 80% of B2B decision makers prefer consuming brand related content over advertising while making a purchase decision.”
“SEO is the best way to gain a significant presence on the world wide web. SEO trends are constantly evolving with the changing landscapes. To stay competitive, you’ll have to be constantly aware and update your strategy as needed.”
“SEO without content marketing is like a body without a soul. In particular, SEO is actually strategized around content marketing since every website needs words, articles, substance, keywords, etc. In order to be successful, both must go hand in hand.”