PR and Digital Firm

I’m always looking for ways to make my job easier so I can be more productive. Working in a fast-paced industry like PR forces you to adjust your day on the fly, often leaving your schedule in shambles so you can jump on the breaking news that just popped in an effort to get your client some press. It’s fun, exciting, and why I love the industry – but it can also sap productivity and leave me wondering at times how I can be more efficient.

One way I’ve been able to improve my daily workflow is by taking advantage of some of the great technology that’s been created for just that purpose. If there’s a tool to automate process, improve my efficiency, or just flat out save me time, I’m always interested in giving it a look. I’m not adverse to help – especially if I know it’s going to make me better at what I do.

Below are a few of my favorite technology “helpers” that help boost my productivity.

Boomerang

 I’m as guilty as anyone of living in my email (as most PR people do). I receive and send hundreds of emails a day, and at times my inbox is a disaster – sometimes I wish I could just turn it off to work for an hour in peace. With Boomerang’s Inbox Pause I can actually stop emails from coming into my inbox for any specific period of time, schedule emails to only be delivered in batches during hours I choose, and allow emails from only specific people (like that reporter I’m waiting to hear back from) while I’m heads down on an important new business proposal.

Boomerang has a ton of other great features for email too, which have helped me get as close to Inbox Zero (more like Inbox Seven) as possible, such as:

  • Email scheduling, for sending at optimal times
  • Follow-up reminders if someone doesn’t respond to your email
  • “Boomeranging” messages out of your inbox to a later date
  • Respondable: real-time analysis powered by AI to let you know if your email is likely to get a response (also an eye opener to learn how you write)

Boomerang works for Gmail and Outlook.

Capsulink

 Speaking of email, one of the biggest drains of my day is dealing with all of the spam and junk that hits my inbox. As the PR contact for many clients, my email address often goes out on press releases, corporate websites, and other public-facing documents. As such, I get crushed with spam, and spending time vetting and deleting severely hinders my productivity.

Capsulink is a customer URL shortener that lets me convert my email address into a hyperlink, which helps to avoid being grabbed and stuffed into a spam campaign.

Even better, Capsulink also provides detailed click statistics, including which channels and geographical locations clicks are coming from. This is especially beneficial in social media campaigns and other digital marketing initiatives where we want to track activity driving traffic to certain landing pages. The metrics allow us to see our most successful channels and then adjust our campaign as needed.

Asana

For as long as I can remember I’ve been a proponent of the hand-written to-do list. Anyone in my office will point to the scribbled and highlighted paper I keep next to my phone on my desk. It’s worked for more than a decade, but as I increasingly travel more and work remotely, I often find myself forgetting to bring the paper home. Enter Asana.

Asana is my electronic to-do list, but it really serves as a work management platform for PR and Marketing entire teams. I use Asana to track my tasks with due dates, what is prioritized, add long-term goals (like writing more of these blogs), and more. Some of our team members use Asana for similar purposes, helping them track and balance the daily tasks they juggle across multiple clients. It’s easy to use and super clean, and while I may never throw out my scribbled paper, it definitely has improved my productivity when I’m on the move.

What’s a tool that helps you get through the day? Comment below or track me down on Twitter @MattBretzius.

LinkedIn is a social platform FischTank utilizes to augment many a client's PR program

One of the things the entire FischTank team advocates is the importance of consistent messaging across web, media relations, sales literature, email marketing and social media.

For B2B industries, LinkedIn is such an important tool within marketing and communications, and has the ability to positively impact the public’s perception of a brand or individual. People and organizations need to be informative, compelling, knowledgeable and most important – authentic.

I shared some of my thoughts on this subject, specifically with respect to authenticity and frequency of posting, with Kiely Kuligowski of Business News Daily for an article entitled LinkedIn for Business: Everything You Need to Know.

It’s a small tidbit, but I hope readers find it useful. I’ve always placed a premium on my LinkedIn network, and its been instrumental to me and FischTank as we’ve grown this business.

Your PR firm should be asking about your social strategy and thinking about how it can improve your marketing and communications functions, and ultimately achieve your organization’s objectives.

The old days for a PR firm consisted of the daily grind to achieve media coverage in any form, not really understanding how or why it would move the needle for their client. Sometimes this directive came from the client itself, everyone scrambling for exposure without knowing why.

Public relations meant press release writing, drafting a vanilla statement when things went bad, and distributing boilerplate pitches to reporters that more or less reiterated what your website says. “We are innovative,” “we are groundbreaking,” “we are first-of-our-kind,” and “we anticipate tremendous growth” and last but not least, “we are making a difference for the future!”

PR firms were mostly “media relations” outreach factories, and many of them still are.

Now? Companies need to look for a heckuva lot more in a public relations firm. There are simple questions like “who is your audience?” and “what is your wish-list for media coverage?” but those are just that – simple and unlikely to evolve into any real strategy with tangible results. More important questions your PR firm should be asking include:

  • “Why do you feel media coverage is important?”
  • “How has your target audience traditionally found you?”
  • “How important are online search results for your brand?”
  • “What is your SEO strategy? Are backlinks important to you?”
  • “What’s your content marketing strategy?”
  • “Where does your site traffic come from? May we have access to your Google Analytics?”
  • “How do you plan on using media coverage?
  • “Do you have an e-mail marketing program?”
  • “What keywords and searches do you want to rank for?”
  • “What is your business development strategy?”
  • “Why did Kawhi Leonard’s shot fall against the Sixers in Game 7?!”

That last bullet is still on my mind. I’m writing this following two days of business in Toronto, site of where my beloved Sixers had their hearts ripped out, and where I’ve been subject to passing by at least two dozen “We the North” signs reminding me of last Sunday.

Sorry, I just blacked out. Back to business.

People at PR firms who sell its services, people like me, are in the business of meeting a potential client or customer and immediately telling them what they can provide. “We can definitely get you top-tier press.” “We will post to your social channels every day!” “We have an expert team of writers who can draft all your press releases.”

This is wrong, for so many reasons. It’s 2019. People, whether investors, potential customers, clients and partners, etc. digest information much differently than they did 15 years ago, or ten years ago, or five years ago…or last year.

The one size fits all approach has long-since given PR firms a bad name and led to numerous journalist shamings on Twitter and LinkedIn. I’ve probably earned one or two myself over the years.

If your PR firm isn’t asking you about SEO, sales and business development, web traffic, or why you want to hire a firm – they’re not doing their job. There is the old way, “messaging documents” that take three months for some firm to rehash everything you already know about yourself, and there is the new way – understanding how an integrated approach should serve as an extension of your company’s public relations and marketing approach.

Take your pick!

Content publishing is a great way to engage employees

Article contributed by Jennifer Keck, Technology Writer & Founder of Keck Marketing

Tech companies often struggle to create messaging that connect with customers. Yet no matter what you’re selling, you have one underused tool in your marketing arsenal: employees. Only about 3% of employees share company content, but employee advocacy has a huge impact on a brand’s success. Here are four ways an employee advocacy program can benefit your tech company. 

  1. It improves organic reach and engagement.

This one is the most obvious. If you’ve watched your organic reach on Facebook plummet, you’re not alone. Since the platform moved to prioritize user-generated content, only about 1.2% of a page’s fans saw any given post in 2018.

This doesn’t mean promoted posts and social ads aren’t worthwhile. Yet employee advocacy is one of the most powerful techniques out there. When employees share branded messages, these posts get a 561% boost in reach and are shared 24 times more frequently, according to MSLGroup.

  1. It helps build brand trust.

 It’s no surprise that people trust their friends over brands. But did you know 90% of buyers trust a recommendation from someone they know? Compare that with just 33% who trust the brand, and you can see why employee advocacy works so well. Building trust is especially important for startups that don’t have years of brand loyalty from a dedicated customer base. So, when your marketing manager tweets about how much she loves the SaaS platform you just launched, it will do more to get her techie followers to try it out than a promoted tweet ever could.

  1. It grows your pipeline and increases sales.

If you only get one department on board, pick Sales for the biggest returns. Here’s where we drill down into a sub-genre of employee advocacy: social selling. Simply put, social selling is the process of building a relationship with prospects over social media. That could mean anything from sharing a relevant article on LinkedIn to congratulating a follower on his recent award via Twitter. This helps sales reps build trust and show off their industry knowledge, without sounding salesy.

It takes time, yet it’s worth it. Case in point, Genesys, a call center technology company, saw 2.2x the pipeline growth, a 16% increase in win rates, and a 42% increase in deal sizes thanks to its employee advocacy program.

  1. It supercharges recruitment and retention.

Last but not least, employee advocacy programs can double as a recruiting tool. By encouraging employees to share job openings, you may just discover that your next rock star programmer was your product manager’s college roommate. In fact, 30% of consumers find employee-shared job posts helpful, according to a 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer.

And employees can do much more than share job posts. Pictures of company retreats, happy hours, and the resident pug dog go a long way to demonstrate that your office isn’t all work and no play. Recruits who want more than a great salary and benefits can see first-hand how much their friends enjoy working there. They’ll also likely be happier once they start –47% of referral hires have greater job satisfaction and stay longer, a Jobvite research report found.

Make no mistake, building and maintaining a successful employee advocacy program is no easy task. It takes time and requires commitment to see the results. Fortunately, there are over a dozen employee advocacy tools out there to help. But before you dive in, consider your goals. Is it brand building, boost sales, or to find new recruits? As with any marketing program, a SMART goal will help you get the most from your employee advocacy.

Marketing Summit in D.C. - SEO in 2019: New Strategies, New Tactics

The good news: a very kind industry contact has invited me to speak on a panel titled, SEO in 2019: New Strategies, New Tactics, at the Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit in Washington D.C. on Friday, April 26th.

The bad news: I need to prepare to speak in front of hundreds of marketing and communications executives throughout the region attending an event to discuss high-level issues through a series of panels, keynotes, presentations, exhibits, and networking.

OK, it’s not all bad (just a little intimidating), and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t really looking forward to the Marketing Summit.

In addition to my genuine interest in FischTank’s practice areas, I’m equally interested in why and how public relations can impact marketing. This is why our team has put so much time into understanding the intersection of Public Relations and SEO, the practice of utilizing media relations and content marketing to impact search engine results and position. This is a strategy we employ for our clients that conduct their business primarily online, generating leads to support business development, increasing traffic to ecommerce platforms, and other objectives that come with the daily grind of online marketing.

I can wax poetic (sure?) and explain why companies should hire FischTank (yes, you should!), but I’ll take the rest of the time in this blog ahead of the Marketing Summit to ask some friends and peers in my network what they think about this topic:

“In a world of links of dubious value, true, expertly done PR generates not just publicity for the business, but good links that continue to reverberate throughout search engines. We typically see media earned links as some of the most valuable links when conducting SEO analysis. I’d encourage everyone to look at their business for hidden opportunities for press.” – Josh Greene, CMO for The Mather Group and the moderator of the upcoming panel at the Marketing Summit.

“The intersection of PR & SEO is critical as PR provides one of the best opportunities to attract links from high quality publications to your site. With links still remaining one of the top two search engine ranking factors your PR efforts can increase your sites authority, rankings & traffic. It’s important for your PR & SEO teams to be on the same page and to know for instance that getting links to the primary website is much more important than social media channels and to also push your contacts to make sure they include proper link attribution in their coverage.” – Ryan O’Connor, Founder of One Tribe Apparel

“Content is meaningless if no one can find it in search. Whether it’s a hard earned news article, a well-crafted blog post, or even a mention by an influencer, ensuring that your content is properly tagged, titled, optimized, and focused on your brands keywords are critical for ensuring search success. A properly curated digital reputation need not rely on a deluge of content but rather a few well crafted, strategic pieces that reflect the best about you or your business. It makes no sense to waste precious space in your search results for poorly written, meaningless content merely designed to fool the algorithm. Better to leverage the power of search to shape the reputation you need and want.” – Sam Michelson, CEO and Founder of Five Blocks

“Google is smart. Once upon a time, if you threw enough links any links at a site, it would rank. That’s not the case anymore. A site needs live mentions on topically relevant, high authority sites (with or without a link). Google’s bot is smart enough to know when your brand name is mentioned in an article in the Wall Street Journal or New York Times. A link in that article is the icing on the cake.” – Alex Deckard, SEO Manager, Aeroflow Healthcare 

“Companies looking to raise capital from either the public or institutional investors need to be cognizant of their message to the market, but also the results search engines show when people are doing their due diligence. This is especially true in emerging industries, such as cannabis, cryptocurrency, renewable technologies, and others where competition is fierce and there is an increased need to separate yourself from the rest of the pack. This is where media relations and content marketing come into play, ensuring both transparency and a high quality of results appear when someone Googles or otherwise searches a brand.” – Kendall Almerico, Principal at Almerico Law

“In recent years, SEO has become much more precise, more transparent, and more results oriented. As a result, public relations has started to play an even more important role in the successful management of SEO. It has become obvious to marketers that if you want your business to be visible and easily found, you have to understand that there is no successful SEO without proper PR.” – Larissa Pitersky, Chief Financial Officer of Apex Capital Partners

 

 

 

 

The FischTank team is very proud to share that it sponsored ‘A Night Out with City Year,” an American education nonprofit organization founded in 1988 dedicated to helping students and schools succeed

The event is the City Year New York Associate Board’s 12th annual spring fundraiser. Held at Rockefeller Center, this night brings together 250 young professionals for a chance to network, mingle, and learn about City Year’s service and impact in schools across New York City.

The organization deploys 246 highly skilled AmeriCorps members to serve in 22 elementary and middle schools. Each school has a team of diverse and talented 18-25 year-olds helping in the school community. In FY17, nearly a third of our corps, 32%, were serving in an area where they are from. Together, this team positively impacts thousands of students every day.

To learn more about City Year New York, please click here. FischTank supports a number of non-profit organizations in providing marketing and media relations services. To learn more, please click here.

 

Public Relations and Marketing

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.

The free event is hosted by B2B Growth (B2BNXT), and will include other speakers including Forrest Leighton, Scott Swanson and Patrick Charron. To learn more, please click the link here or below.

How to grow your B2B business in 2019 – what works best for organic growth?

Thursday, Jan 31, 2019, 6:00 PM

85 Broad Street
27th Floor, 85 Broad Street New York, ny

23 Members Attending

The event is free to attend, featuring awesome food + drinks and an even better panel discussion! We ask that you are working at a B2B company in a marketing/business development capacity (or you’re the owner). We bring 5 special panelists (including the VP of Marketing at MakerBot), all with extensive experience helping B2B companies beat their co…

Check out this Meetup →

FischTank Marketing and PR

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.

FischTank Marketing and PR

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 info@fischtankpr.com 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 wins a prestigious award in financial services

Schwab Pacesetter IMPACT Award 2018 Winnter

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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.