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FischTank Marketing and Public Relations

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:

5 Public Relations Myths BUSTED

“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.”

One Of The Web’s Most Prolific Online Marketing Writers Has Been Promoting His Clients In Articles For Forbes, Entrepreneur, And Inc. Magazine

“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.”

Public Relations: Seven Ways to Tell Your Story

“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?”

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.

FischTank media coverage generates ROI

***This blog post originally appeared on CommProBiz***

Whether potential clients or companies we’ve already partnered with, at some point comes the question:

“How do we measure success?”

“What is the ROI for media exposure?”

“Is this working?”

These are fair questions that must be asked, and the answer is the same every time – your ROI depends on your objective. Some organizations retain PR and Marketing firms because they’re looking to achieve some form of conversion, such as a sale or new business lead. Others do so because they seek to use media placements as content for some marketing function, perhaps as signage at a trade show, or as a marketing/sales touchpoint like an e-mail blast. Others evaluate media relations efforts for the SEO and online marketing value they bring, especially when a hyperlink is included.

The point is, each company and organization that retains a firm like ours should know exactly what their objective is prior to engaging, or at least let that become a focal point for strategy discussion.

If it’s e-commerce, or the sale of products via a website, then you may be looking at a two-pronged approach for success. One – how do you create impactful media results that drive interested customers to the website to make a purchase? Two – how do you improve your online search position so that when people Google or conduct other online searches around certain terms, your company name shows up on the first page or within the first few entries?

The former of the two approaches is obvious – to produce media coverage that directly reaches consumers and influences their buying decisions. To this point, no two pieces of media exposure are created equal. If a media relations team secures an article in USA Today, yes, that could drive traffic. But also consider the audience. If the article is about something technical in nature, there’s a very good chance the ROI of said USA Today article could be very low. However, if that very same article were to publish in a blog read by only 8,000 people, but who also happen to be your specific customer type, you could very well garner more sales/conversion from that blog exposure. To this effect – focus on the audience, not the circulation.

With respect to the second approach regarding online search, the value of strong digital content may be difficult to measure per individual piece, but the sum of all efforts most definitely can be quantified. More and more often we work with companies whose primary objective is the search engine optimization (SEO) value of the media coverage we secure on their behalf. Will a hyperlink be included? Will it be chock full of keywords that also mirror the search terms your company wants to rank for? Will these articles show up on the first page of Google? Securing high quality link backs to corporate URLs on a constant basis will ultimately drive traffic for, and interest in, a company.

“Not so fast! My company doesn’t conduct business online. We’re very B2B, and most of our business comes from networking, our sales/marketing team, or (insert some other form of sales process or transaction)”

Let’s take a step back. Despite what some may say about the current state of media, there is still a significant trust that comes with media exposure. Being quoted or featured in Forbes, Wall Street Journal, NPR, influential trade publications, and others still provide tremendous value. Whether you’re a pre-revenue company seeking investors or a 100-person organization that relies on its sales team, media exposure gives you one crucial asset: touchpoints.

If you’ve ever signed onto LinkedIn and seen a CEO of a competitor posting about being quoted in an important article, that’s a touchpoint. If you’ve ever seen a blog post on a website highlighting “recent media coverage in ________),” that’s a touchpoint. The same can be said for media placements sent via e-mail to shareholders, PDFs of articles sitting on table tops at conferences, and “As Featured By” sections on the front page of a website.

What these examples demonstrate is simple: expertise and relevancy. Media coverage means your company understands its role within its respective market, speaks intelligently to its audience, and understands the value in thought leadership.

Of course, these ideas listed above are not comprehensive public relations strategies, they’re singular tactics desired to achieve specific objectives. Everyone wants (and deserves) to know the value they’re receiving when they commit time and budget to a public relations campaign. By looking in the mirror and asking themselves what they want and need most, companies can attain media exposure that yields both long and short-term return on investment.

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.

Equity crowdfunding appears to represent a simple solution for businesses – both start up and firmly established – that are looking to raise money to fund their vision. By allowing investors (and fans of the brand) to invest in their company online, companies view this funding mechanism as a way to bypass banks, brokers, and toxic financers. You file significantly reduced SEC-paperwork, throw a website up, and wait for your offering to go viral. Once the internet does its thing and your hyperlink is shared by e-mail as well as endless Facebook and Twitter accounts, the raise will be complete and you can begin planning the listing of your IPO.

If this seems too easy and too good to be true, you’re right – it is.

Unfortunately, too many companies and individuals are being talked into this strategy without the appropriate background information, and as such, the results of poorly executed crowdfunding campaigns are much easier to find than the success stories.

But there are success stories that were made possible only because of those who adequately planned for them. Over the past year, I have spoken with at least 30 companies considering some form of equity crowdfunding (Regulation A+, Reg CF, 506c, testing the waters, etc.). One thing I am continuously surprised by are those who are unprepared to commence an online raise.

As such, here are some general tips for marketing an equity crowdfunding campaign:

  1. No two campaigns are alike. Like any marketing or communications initiative, no two companies are the same, and thus, no two crowdfunding campaigns should be executed the same way. The biggest mistake I see is thinking that a one-size-fits-all marketing approach that “worked really well in the past for another company and their raise” – will be successful. It won’t.

“Successful equity crowdfunding does require a great marketing plan executed by a creative marketing team,” said Kendall Almerico, CEO of Bankroll Ventures and one of the country’s leading experts on equity crowdfunding. “Coca Cola, Cadillac and Calvin Klein do not market their brands the same way. Equity crowdfunding companies must engage a team that understands and markets the company in a unique way that stands out from all the noise.”

Take this into consideration before planning, as each company and campaign requires its own messaging, its own advertising strategy, and its own look and feel. Figure out what your strengths are, and market to them. For example, if your story has great visuals, find a way to leverage it via some form of multimedia, preferably video. Perhaps you are an emerging company working in a high-growth industry with plenty of competition. Focus on how to differentiate yourself from the competition, while outlining the existing market opportunity and what it means for you and your investors.

  1. Get your online presence in order. Raising money from a diverse audience and group of sources can be difficult, but nothing makes equity crowdfunding so challenging as to do so with a poorly designed or ill-functioning website. The investment website is the primary way you are soliciting funds, and as such needs to clearly lead potential investors through the offering process. Think about it – using the analogy of an open house – why leave your trash on the front lawn, not fix the fence, and neglect a new paint job? Getting your digital presence ready means focusing on messaging for the website, carefully reviewing the design and aesthetics, proofing all content, and last but not least – making sure the user experience is a positive one! Do not underestimate the importance of the landing page for your online offering.

Further, legal context with regards to selling securities online must be considered. “General solicitation under the JOBs Act can open up many doors for a company seeking investments, but please, run your proposed content by your securities lawyer,” said Andrea Cataneo, securities attorney with Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP.

“Solicitation can mean advertising, webinars, internet offerings, group presentations, but it does not mean hype or exaggeration.”

  1. Identify and market to your audience. Understanding your ideal investor profile isn’t easy, but it needs to be done to build and leverage a captive audience. If you are a company reading this and looking to raise money online, and already possess an existing database of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of contacts (be it customers, clients, partners, etc.) with e-mail addresses, congratulations! You are ahead of the curve. Or, perhaps you already have a good feel for the sort of individual who is likely to invest in your company, and now you just need to go about marketing directly to them. Review site demographics, consider the profile of past investors and interested parties, and try to make that determination early, but… 
  1. …If you don’t have an existing audience, build one. Far too often a company approaches us with a great idea, a designed website and video that clearly spells out the investment opportunity, and a strong message for the media. This should result in success, right? Well, not always. Equity crowdfunding requires some form of direct marketing, and to do so, a company must have a base, either a significant social media following or a database consisting of contact information. If you don’t, social media advertising has proven to be a lead driver of web traffic and conversions. Consider running a Facebook advertising or Google AdWords campaign that drives specifically targeted people to your investment landing page. As many know, online advertising can be precisely targeted, and is a great way to get an idea and offering in front of potential investors.
  1. Stay credible, my friends. Ah, so you finally have it figured out! Plan and processes? Check. Significant database to market to? Check. Brilliantly laid out investment landing page that seamlessly takes investors through the process? Check. Perhaps you are missing one last tool – news flow. Most public companies know this already – distributing press releases that outline corporate announcements, market opportunities, industry events, and other newsworthy items are proven ways to remind current and potential investors that you are a very active company. Similarly, getting featured in third-party, earned media (no pay for plays!) builds credibility, whether it’s in a trade publication, a daily newspaper, radio show, or broadcast television. Working with a media relations and corporate communications firm is a great way to produce press coverage, and reminds investors that you are a real company making news within a high-growth industry.

Equity crowdfunding was meant to spur innovation and growth, while providing Main Street investors with a means to access high growth companies. It is certainly not an untapped source where everyday web users are patiently waiting to visit an online investment opportunity. Be prepared, be proactive, and remain top of mind, and maybe the idea hatched in your own home will one day be listed on a major U.S. stock exchange.

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.

Zack joins FischTank to support client media relations

Please join FischTank Marketing and PR in welcome Zachary Pollack  to its summer internship program! In Part Two of this thrilling two part series, FischTank founder Eric Fischgrund sits down with Zachary for an exclusive Q&A.

Zach, we are thrilled to have you at FischTank! Tell us a little about yourself, where do you go to school?

I’m currently a junior at the University of Tampa

Good stuff! What is your area of study?

I’m majoring in marketing, with a minor in sports management.

Ambitious! What do you like most about communications and marketing?

I enjoy being able to communicate as opposed to being sectioned off in a cubicle. I like to move around and see other people as well as talk on the phone and share thoughts and ideas. I love marketing because of its creative side. Being able to figure out demographics and target segments of consumers is very interesting, and I enjoy the challenge of working through how everyone can be so different yet share many common interests.

Very nice, marketing to various audiences sure is complex. I wish there was a simple answer. What industries interest you?

The sports industry is where I would like to be, specifically as a sports marketing executive hopefully one day working for an arena such as MSG (NY) or Amelie Arena (FL).

I’m a Philadelphia sports fan myself, but I’ll let that comment about MSG slide today. What are your favorite sports and teams?

I’m a big baseball fan and dedicate my love for the sport to the New York Yankees since 1996. Basketball is my second favorite sport and sadly have to say the New York Knicks. I also enjoy the PGA.

Baseball had a significant impact on my childhood as well. What about music? Who are your favorite bands/musicians?

I enjoy R&B hip hop but band-wise, I would have to go with Cage the Elephant.

Very nice. Last question for you Zack — share some hobbies with us.

I enjoy exploring Florida’s vast aquatic lands, my passion for music and instrumentals, and eating food from different cultures.

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.

PR and Digital Firm

One of the ways FischTank has been able to grow is relatively simple — hire smart professionals who can take certain responsibilities and weaknesses off your hands.

Stepping back for a moment to share an example. As a marketer/communicator, writing is one of my few more effective skillsets. Comparatively, numbers often pose a significant challenge for me. Although the books were getting done, invoices were going out, and taxes were being paid — handling accounting for FischTank was a tremendous time suck, and was getting in the way of my ability to execute other initiatives such as client services and business development.

As we’ve scaled FischTank, my partner and I have made great efforts to hire a team that provides solutions. Naturally, this includes the accountant/bookkeeper who maintains invoicing and expenses in QuickBooks, coordinates payroll, and pays our taxes. It also includes the team in our office that now handles all facets of what we do for our clients — account management, reporting, writing, research, media outreach, website audits, social media strategies, and other marketing and public relations components.

If you’re a CEO reading this and nodding along — I encourage you to apply the same thinking to your marketing and communications efforts. Perhaps you’re putting off blogging until next week? Do you see your competitors continue to receive media coverage and wonder why the press isn’t writing about you? What are you doing to maintain some form of a digital media presence? Is your website acceptable or lacking updates? Where do you begin when writing a press release? Home come you aren’t using e-mail marketing?

Certainly many of you have asked one of these very questions. Some of you may find more than one example familiar. Perhaps many of you have suggested handling your company’s marketing and media efforts on your own. If so, best of luck and I’m sure you’ll do great. The question is — at what cost to yourself?

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.

Marketing and Public Relations

It’s no secret — traditional media outlets like newspapers and magazines are cost cutting, utilizing syndicated content to publish news on their websites. While this may present a difficulty in attaining coverage, with space to fill, the opportunity grows for contributed content provided by “thought leaders” – executives from individuals, businesses, and organizations.

In addition to media in general, public relations has been forever changed by the Internet. Google and other search engines make online content important not only to control, but to continue adding to. Then social media changed everything when social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn began ranking high on online search. Now, it is equally important to maintain content on a social page as it is your own website!

These changes to the media itself and the increased importance placed on content is why content writing, and more specifically, specialized content writers, are about to be a premium. With smart companies everywhere committing to public relations strategies that incorporate social media, thought leadership, e-mail marketing, press releases and more, the need for content has grown exponentially. Now the very same writers who five years ago were writing for the New York Times and Wall Street Journal are transitioning to the business side and driving smart content for brands. PR agencies have taken note, acquiring content firms and those who know how to execute on the digital side.

This is why 2017 and moving forward will be a big year for those talented with a pen.

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.

FischTank Public Relations

FischTank is seeking individuals with anywhere from two to ten (2-10) years’ public relations experience, with a focus on media outreach and account management. The titles of Account Manager and Account Director are best suited for a team player who appreciates working in an up tempo, positive company culture.

Work is autonomous, proactive, and as minimally administrative as possible. FischTank prides itself upon being results oriented on behalf of its clients. Core client industries include clean technology (sustainability), marketing and business technology solutions, non-profits, financial services, biotech, and professional services.

FischTank possesses a strong company culture, frequently providing team lunches and happy hours, educational seminars and resources, and more.

Please apply by e-mailing careers@fischtankpr.com 

Desired Skills and Experience

  • Media relations
  • Strong writing skills
  • Experience with relevant PR tools (Cision/HootSuite/etc.)
  • Positive attitude
  • Story identification skills
  • Familiarity with top tier and trade media
  • Works well with a team
  • Media results

About FischTank

FischTank Marketing and PR is a full-service communications and marketing firm serving clients spanning various industries including but not limited to clean technology, business and marketing technologies, marketing/ad tech, emerging technology, real estate, and non-profits. Incorporating an integrated strategy consisting of public relations, SEM/SEO, digital/social media, copywriting, and outbound marketing, FischTank helps clients amplify their message with results that impact their bottom line.

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.

This op-ed was originally published for Bulldog Reporter on January 12, 2016.***

In 2011-2012, The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) conducted a crowdsourcing campaign to effectively boil down the definition of public relations into a clear, modern message:

“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

Really?

Public relations is a component of an integrated communications strategy.

This graphic seems to do a pretty good job.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing incorrect or outdated about the message you just read. It’s much better than I, or most, can do, and I consider it to be very accurate.

However – how many PR professionals would echo this sentiment? The same question must be asked of potential new clients – how do they define PR? Intuition and experience tell me that they wouldn’t come up with something so accurate either.

Let’s start with those working within the PR business, we all know there are quite many of us. Short of conducting a survey, I’ll just have to use my imagination:

  • “It’s getting my clients in the media.”
  • “Media exposure so people are aware of my client and their expertise/services.”
  • “Sharing my client’s story with the public.”
  • “Improving my client’s image and reputation.”

I stopped after four because it was repetitive, but I believe one could go on for another 20 minutes and a) use the word media several times as I did; b) continue to be repetitive; and c) still not fully comprehend the difference between action and objectives.

This, finally, brings me to my point. Public Relations service, one I consider to fall within and be a function of overarching Marketing and Communications practices – misses the boat when it comes to aligning a client’s goals and its own PR strategy. Instead, we’re left with many PR professionals (misguided by leadership) that are looking to force client inclusion in stories that don’t benefit (a key buzzword from the PRSA definition) the company they are paid to effectively represent. Most call this fitting a square peg into a round hole – many PR pros just call it a Thursday. This is why we see articles from reporters up in arms over misguided and mass-blasted media outreach, as noted here, here, and here.

But no, this is not another article blasting PR professionals. Perhaps there are two sides to this issue, and the other is the client only articulating the outcome they want from PR efforts, and believing PR and PR alone will get it done. Will PR boost their stock price? Generate new leads? Maintain brand equity? Improve recruiting efforts?

These are all possible! If a Company hires a firm who immediately generates media results in some of the right publications, how can you fault the relationship? Easy – the job isn’t done. Re-read the definition once more, and if you have time – read the entire short page of content. The word “media” doesn’t appear once. That’s because media outreach is in fact only a component of an effective public relations campaign.

In my humble opinion, there are many boxes that need to be checked in a sound PR strategy, including but not limited to:

  • First and foremost, defining a message is key. Take the time to do it early, and do it right.
  • It is time for PR firms to embrace digital marketing efforts. No, I’m not just talking about social. E-mail campaigns customized to each client’s needs are paramount. While most of a client’s audience will actually miss that awesome WSJ mention, anywhere from 20%-40% will catch it if you take the time to cultivate e-mail lists and send a timely, professional e-mail following the media relations coup.
  • Event attendance. Many companies struggle to pinpoint where to find their audience. Tradeshows, conferences, etc. are a good place to start. Forget sponsorship, purchase two passes and fight for the attendee contact list (see bullet two).
  • Web analytics. Please tell me you are paying attention to where your customers are coming from, and where they’re leaving your website?
  • Content is king. Yes, old saying but it still rings true. Write good content, attract smart people.

There are many more, but remember – they are resources and options, not requirements, for every campaign. The takeaway here is short and simple. To strengthen “relationships between organizations and their publics” – both the PR industry and their clients need to stop believing media relations and public relations are one in the same, and start building a more encompassing marketing and communications strategy.

 

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.

FischTank leadership was fortunate enough to be asked by client SITO Mobile to join them during their bell ringing ceremony, as they uplisted to the Nasdaq Capital Market last week. SITO CEO Jerry Hug provided opening remarks from the heart, as expected, and plenty of fun photos were taken.

A special thank you to the teams from IRTH Communications and Sichenzia Ross Friedman Ference, among others, for all of their hard work during during the process. For more information on SITO Mobile, a leading mobile engagement platform provider, please visit their website: http://sitomobile.com/ or follow them on Twitter @SITO_Mobile 

FischTank client SITO Mobile is a leading mobile engagement platform provider

Eric Fischgrund and Matt Bretzius attend SITO Mobile’s Nasdaq bell-ringing ceremony

 

 

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.

B2B Marketers are under increased pressure to perform due to a multitude of marketing options, a changing online landscape, and new data-driven tools to measure ROI. This can create an environment where realizing goals and objectives becomes more short term and reactionary, as opposed to adopting a strategy and sticking to it.

E-Mail Marketing, PR, Social Media, Content Marketing

Tips for B2B Marketers to Maximize ROI

This is not to say any plan, marketing or otherwise, can’t be flexible in its execution, but that modern marketers are now more than ever forced into the precarious position of abandoning a strategy early.

Content Marketing is a great place to start. Whitepapers, bylines, blog posts, case studies, and other forms of content are often developed in-house or by a marketing agency, then promoted through the website, online advertising, e-mail marketing, and/or public relations. As you can imagine, this form of marketing incurs cost – production, design and delivery. I caution current and potential clients to exhibit patience here – as repetition is key. For example, if a whitepaper fails to generate downloads and leads, or a blog post fails to drive visitors to the website to increase SEO, there is no need to panic. Go back and review the delivery – consider the time of day or day of the week the content was published, or review the ads you placed on LinkedIn to generate clicks. Perhaps you will find it had nothing to do with the content or landing page, but because you reached your audience via e-mail blast at a time normally spent away from the computer, like 4pm on a Summer Friday!

Takeaway: Analyze all aspects of the delivery before switching up your strategy.

Digital and Social Media is in fact more than a buzz word flung around during a business development meeting. Agencies, firms and consultants may promise high volumes of lead generation, bumps in share price, and instant revenue – expectations that are rarely immediately met. In reality, it takes time to establish a platform, cultivate a following, and execute upon strategic objectives. It’s a far smarter practice to focus on quality, not quantity of the content and messaging published via social media. For example, work on creating complete profiles with customizable links for tracking, then click “Tweet” or “Post.”

Takeaway: Identify reporters, colleagues, existing and potential clients, analysts and influencers – then engage them personally and with focused content.

Say the word “Public Relations” and a CEO’s eyes may gloss over with visions of Wall Street Journal features and Good Morning America appearances. Aspirations are great, and you should be encouraged to think big, but start by focusing on a media plan. Identify reporters from trade publications, regional media, online outlets, and yes – national media – that you believe a Company message may resonate with. Introduce yourself (or your client), and explain what kind of analysis or insight you can provide, or what kind of news you may have in your pipeline.

Takeaway: Form relationships with reporters and media outlets. Reporters always seek value, and if you can position yourself or your client as an expert, or their news as being important, you will achieve exposure.

Integrate these ideas into your media plan and you may see results, but know that patience is key. Like anything else, a real sample size may tell you not only what you’re doing well – but also what you need to improve on. By following a strategy and reviewing results, you’ll learn more about your B2B marketing efforts than if you abandon them early on.

 

Eric Fischgrund is an entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank Marketing and PR, a marketing and communications firm based in NYC.