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New research from UK-based internet service provider, Beaming, has uncovered that cyber-attacks on UK businesses have increased by 30% in the first quarter in 2020, compared to the same period in 2019.

It is too early to tell just how much the Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to this rising statistic, but evidence would suggest it has. Italy, one of the countries most affected by the virus at the beginning of the outbreak, saw a spike in attempted cyber-attacks at the same time as the Covid-19 outbreak, notably targeting employees who had started working remotely.

Cynet, a leading cybersecurity technology firm who specialise in breach protection, ran some research which revealed that in March 2019 just over 20 cases of phishing were reported in Italy, whilst between 15th February – 15th March of this year, over 70 cases have already been recorded.

Switching focus back onto the UK, we’ve seen two of the biggest businesses on the block taken down by cyber-attacks in just the last week alone. First, Elexon who control Britain’s energy system fell victim to an attack – thankfully, the key system used to govern the electricity market wasn’t affected.

Whilst just last week, easyJet admitted that they were hacked in January and travel details of nine million customers were stolen, which included over two thousand customers who also had their credit card details “accessed”.

There’s no questioning it, cyber-attacks are on the rise. Maintaining your reputation during a pandemic like this is crucial, so, when it comes to an unsuspecting business who finds themselves a victim of an attack , possibly with a data breach, how can they make sure that a crisis doesn’t turn into a PR disaster?

We’ve taken a look at five key focus points that should be at the heart of your crisis communication strategy, if you do find yourself in this position.

Swift response

As soon as you’re positive that your company has been attacked, time is of the essence to communicate what you know with your customers. Even if at the time you don’t have all the details, you still need to let your customers know that you are aware and monitoring the situation.

This will help maintain trust with customers and help to quash any rumours or untrue stories emerging on social media or in the press. And although consumers might be disgruntled and worried about their data, in the long run they will appreciate you being upfront with them.

Representative

Identify within your business who are going to be your key spokespeople. Where possible, the response should be fronted by the most senior figure – a CEO or Founder – who has always been the face of the business, to maintain consistency and demonstrate strong leadership and responsibility. Do ensure however that they fully understand the situation completely before putting them forward for interview.

Whether it is one spokesperson or, as can sometimes be the case, a whole team of people who are being thrusted into the media spotlight to answer questions,, make sure they have all been correctly briefed beforehand and they understand what they should and shouldn’t be saying. One further point on this is that if you have multiple spokespeople, make sure they are all united in what they are saying in their responses – consistency is key.

Responsibility

Regardless of how the attack was allowed to happen, as a business you must clearly demonstrate sympathy and support towards your customers.

Whether you are making a statement on TV, radio or on your businesses’ social media channels, it’s an opportunity to show your customers that you value their privacy and are concerned about how the data breach took place, and will do everything you can to make the situation right. Make a commitment to finding out how it happened and make it a priority to improve security so that it cannot happen again.

Information

In 2020 it is so easy to share content and communicate updates with your consumers and the public. There really isn’t an excuse as to why you can’t keep your consumers informed throughout the process. Don’t just use one channel to communicate your message though, make sure to use all the social channels you normally would, to ensure your message is seen by more of your audience regardless of how they usually interact with your business. Ensure what’s on your social media channels regarding the attack and your response is communicated on your website, and vice versa.

Learn from the past

Finally, once your crisis is over, it’s imperative that you reflect on it and how it was handled. Were you communicating quickly and clearly enough? How did your customers react to your statements? Are there any details you should have shared earlier or differently? In reviewing what happened, you can create a pre-emptive crisis communications plan to future-proof yourself, so that everything is in place to react quickly and smoothly if a new crisis does occur.  This plan should include things like: a ‘chain of command’ regarding who communicates what and who needs to approve content before it’s released publicly, template crisis statements that you can tweak to fit the specific situation, an FAQ document, and any other potential scenarios that could arise.

Would you like to talk through your media relations crisis strategy with an industry expert? Get in touch today to find out more how we can prepare you for the worst.

How to PR your way through a cyber-attack

Every part of our way of life has been impacted by Covid-19 to some degree and the legal sector is no different. Far from existing in a vacuum, the law is dependent on human activity for its success and now, activity has stalled both inside and outside the sector. All this follows from the high of 2019, where UK legal services revenue reached £37bn and annual growth of almost 5% was forecasted for the next two years.

Already, new claims in England and Wales have fallen by 50% from April last year, as businesses hold back from launching expensive court battles during the pandemic. While UK law firms have not been as quick to dismiss staff as their US counterparts, there are already signs that the pandemic could be driving high street law firms to brink of collapse. Research published by the Law Society showed that more than 70 per cent of high street firms said that they might have to shut down within the next six months owing to lockdown. As the high street is still most people’s main contact with the law, there could be big changes ahead in how we as citizens interact with the law.

Yet, not all sectors will be as hit as hard as each other and law still has the unique capacity to adapt. As the Times writes, “the big City players are likely to save themselves from collapse, as they have done in previous — albeit less sudden — recessions, by quickly adapting to deal with other people’s pain.”

For many this may involve transitioning to fixing problems for companies triggered by lockdown, whether that is mothballing, restructuring or eventually insolvency. For the rest, there is a real opportunity and need for the legal technology sector to step into the mainstream. Despite still thriving as an industry, legal pick up of technology has not been as fast as in other sectors. Incrementally, the industry still provides an almost identical service to the one it did 20 years ago.

There are several areas where the use of technology and software to provide and aid legal services can be better utilised, but broadly speaking they can fit into three categories. Inside law firms and corporate companies, throughout the legal sector such as in courts and finally, the way we as consumers can access it.

Legal and corporate firms
Technological advancements have been slow across the sector but with the potential to harness a highly skilled workforce and significant capital investment it is also one of the most potentially exciting. One area that has been particularly successful is end-to-end contract and document automation. Not only has it removed significant drudgery from the daily life of legal professionals, but it has enabled them to free up their legal team and focus their expertise on tasks that matter, saving time and money.

With the continuing advance of the Big Four accountancy firms into legal services, clients will not stop demanding more services for less money. For most legal professionals, this will mean turning to technology providers who can give them an edge. Yet, with Stanford University’s legal tech list now as large as 1320 companies, Legal technology companies will more than ever, need an effective strategy to help them stand out.

Our work with Burford Capital, the world’s largest litigation finance company, demonstrated the power of engaging with and educating your audience through the media. We set out to challenge perceptions surrounding single case funding and establish the company as a leading authority in this new but fast-growing area of the law by successfully penetrating mainstream media.

Courts
While some hearings have been conducted remotely, there are currently more than 35,600 outstanding cases due to be heard by crown courts. Our global campaign with CaseLines, a virtual platform for court hearings, taught us a great deal about the global appetite for more accessible and technologically advanced courts. At every level of the justice system, advancements like these can not only improve the quality of justice but provide a framework for modernization elsewhere in the industry.

The fact the Ministry of Justice has shown a willingness to engage with nimble and innovative legal start-ups is encouraging, and the £1-billion digital reform process being undertaken by the UK’s HM Courts and Tribunals Service is doubly so. With government budgets for legal services tightening up globally, companies promoting access to justice and access to the law itself can drive solutions to barriers and help serve society.

Consumers
The third area focuses on how consumers interact with and access legal services. The impact of Covid—19 has made these more, not less essential, as everyday businesses have been thrust into a world of furlough and working remotely. Sparqa Legal have found that on average, businesses face legal issues 8 times a year and 90% of them believe that traditional law firms don’t provide a cost-effective solution. While the high street may still continue to provide the backbone of most property, family and criminal issues, the world of small business and entrepreneurship seems ready to embrace a more DIY approach to law.

This mission to make law more accessible and democratic should be an encouraging sign for the future growth of the legal technology world. If consumers believe they are not currently getting a good deal, it is only a matter of time before innovative technology companies move to fill that space. This area is certainly one to watch.

If you are looking for support with gaining insight into the UK media landscape or you are a legal tech innovator looking to raise your profile, please get in touch today to see how our passionate team of experts can help you achieve your goals.

Legal technology companies can break in to the mainstream

When there is uncertainty and processes see change hackers and individuals choose this opportunity to take advantage of the situation using it as a perfect distraction.

As the outbreak of COVID-19 continues to circulate around the globe, the majority of businesses around the globe have had to adapt their businesses to a far more digital offering.

Amidst the panic and chaos, hackers are now creating thousands of coronavirus-related websites on a daily basis to catch unsuspecting consumers out.

The importance of cyber security firms at this time opens up a wealth of opportunities for businesses to own this space and be seen as industry experts – be it by reacting to a breaking news story or educating the public on how to keep their data secure. Here we explore four key tips for raising the profile of your cybersecurity business.

1. Tell your success stories

It’s important to be able to bring your brand to life and personalise it through compelling case studies. A key element of PR is about telling stories and humanising a brand.

This is particularly important for tech brands with complex innovation at the heart of their product; for cyber security businesses, we always recommend publicising the actual adoption of their product or services for the greater good.

Consider how you have actually helped customers protect their data or overcome a security breach, and use this material as one of your key PR tools.

Case studies of your brand’s impact not only create engaging content but also brings credibility to the claims you make to potential customers. Real-life stories also help to educate the general public about your field and help them relate to your brand.

2. React to breaking news stories

A key strand of PR activity is to hijack the news agenda and secure comment opportunities for your spokesperson on breaking stories. Ultimately you want viewers to associate your brand with the story and to position you as the go-to industry expert.

The many broadcast news channels such as Sky News, CNBC and Bloomberg offer great opportunities for guest comment and are really effective platforms to generate exposure for your brand, so when a high profile data breach or hacking story breaks, you need to take the opportunity.

Think about the current situation the world finds itself in with the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses of all sizes and across varying industries have had to completely rethink their offering and quickly transform to remote working, something which has been in the headline news and covered in-depth on TV and radio.

Consider the expertise you have to hand and how you can weave this into the debate and offer authoritative insight. As an example we regularly secure interviews for the CEOs and MDs of our tech clients – such as Andrew Johnson, MD of PowWowNow who appeared in The Telegraph as a leading flexible working commentator.

3. Harness your unique data

When there isn’t a breaking story to comment on, you can to an extent create the news agenda by releasing industry-relevant data stemming from your own research, such as a survey of your customer database. This is a good way of owning statistics which, again, helps position you as experts at the forefront of your industry and benefit your corporate profile.

From this data you can stagger a variety of stories tailored for the industry, technology, and consumer press – we always recommend considering which interesting trends you can reveal and the headlines you can create (e.g. ‘A third of businesses are unaware they have been hacked’) with never before seen facts and figures from surveys.

4. Educate through thought leadership

A major part of raising your brand’s profile is to be perceived as an expert by potential customers, who may or may not choose your services based on what they can learn from you.

With an issue as complex as cyber security, a large proportion of businesses are still uneducated as to how they can minimise the threat of attacks through basic day-to-day practices, let alone which technologies they need to implement and invest in if an attack occurs. Thought leadership content is a great way of educating and building trust with your target audience.

In summary

To raise the profile of your cybersecurity brand, remember to shout about your success stories and how you have made a tangible difference to your customers’ operations while staying on top of the news agenda and thinking about how you can own the discussion using your expertise. Own unique data and insight to create headlines with your brand at the heart of the story, and to complement all this, educate your audience and potential customers with informed thought content across print and online.

If you would like to find out more about how our award-winning team could position you or your business in the media, get in touch with us today.

How to PR a cyber security brand

These are unprecedented times for the world of sport. With the sporting calendar temporarily decimated, fans are searching for new ways to consume sport, while brands, teams and leagues seek new ways to engage with them. There was no blueprint for this, but one discipline finds itself well set for the situation: Esports.

At a difficult and uncertain time when we’re adjusting to a new way of living, people are naturally looking for something fun to watch and immerse themselves in while every mainstream sport & competition we know and love is temporarily on hold – and I think Esports can provide the fix that fans are looking for. 

Ben Cossor, Senior Account Director & Head of Technology

There has been a lot of conversation in the sporting world in recent months and years about the growth of Esports and its ability to move into the mainstream. Well, now it finds itself unexpectedly centre stage. Not only are existing Esports fans able to play and be entertained as usual, but traditional sports are already looking to esports to fill the void.

After the Australian Grand Prix was cancelled due to coronavirus symptoms in the paddock, Formula 1 stars Max Verstappen and Lando Norris leapt into online action. Verstappen finished 11th in “The Race All-Star Esports Battle”, where he took on a host of racing personalities and professional gamers.

Meanwhile, Norris joined “Not The Aus GP”, a virtual race around the Melbourne circuit which was organised by Veloce Esports. Both races were streamed live on Twitch and YouTube and saw huge surges in their typical viewership.

Elsewhere, West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers also looked to esports to compensate for their postponed fixture. The clubs pitted their respective esports professionals against each other on EA Sports’ FIFA 20 via West Ham’s Twitch channel, whilst Leyton Orient are currently arranging a FIFA tournament of their own, with a host of idle clubs already signed up to compete.

We are also seeing an increasing amount of mainstream media coverage on Esports as journalists look for stories they can tell in their back pages, and as an agency working daily with sports journalists across the media landscape, we have seen a noticeable increase in the number of them looking for comment and information on this topic.

Of course as all fans will understand right now, there is nothing that can quite fill the void left by the sport you love to follow the most. However, in these strange times, as fans yearn for the thrill of contest, an awful lot of new eyes have turned to the digital world. And no doubt some of those fans who are tuning in to Esports for the first time now will become lifelong fans of the future.

There aren’t many good news stories in sport at the moment, but this may just be one of them. And we’ll take what we can get right now.

Are you interested in hearing about how we might be able to help you promote your offering? Speak to a member of our award-winning technology team today.

All eyes on Esports

Valentine’s Day is nearly here, meaning many brands will be planning their PR campaign launches to maximise impact. It’s always a competitive day in the media, and companies whose products or services match this calendar hook need to ensure they plan early to cut through the noise. This is all too important for those in the dating industry be it online platforms or applications. Having worked with several dating apps, we’ve found some press office tactics work better than others, so here are our top tips on how you can help your dating app stand out ahead of Valentine’s Day.

Case studies

A great love story always works well in the press, and any dating app should be looking to engage keen consumers wherever possible to tell their stories of finding love. While great marketing tools on your website and social media platforms, these stories also act as third party endorsements of your brand and will encourage other people to download your app for themselves. Case studies can be hard to come by, so if you do have a lead with one of your users, prepare questions in advance to try and get all the information you require for marketing and PR purposes in one go, including any relevant imagery.

Data and research

Data stories work well for time-poor journalists who don’t always have the resources to do their own digging. While market research is a commonly used and straight forward route, dating apps should also think about what data they already have, and how they could use that to create a press story.

We took this route when working with happn, using its own data to determine what makes a great dating profile, which places are best for finding matches, and more. Through these stories, we secured 200 pieces of coverage including an exclusive in the Evening Standard on London’s top five most datable women. Regularly named as one of the top dating apps in the UK, 80% of all coverage was dedicated purely to happn – not its competitors, and ultimately lead to the app attracting over two million British users by the end of our campaign.

For Valentine’s Day, think about what unique date you hold that could tell an interesting story or reveal a trend about British singles. Could you suggest the best type of restaurant for a date based on what people most often cite as their favourite food? Could you suggest the best locations to be in the UK to match with a potential Valentine? Or maybe you can reveal the best types of photo to have on your profile to get matches? Of course, it’s important to remain GDPR compliant, so ensure all data is anonymised and you cannot reveal personally-identifying information on your users.

Founder profiling

Finally, if the founder or CEO of your company has a great back story, be sure to use it to your PR advantage as well – especially if it’s to do with finding love! Compelling founder stories are an excellent way to show how the business has grown, its origins, and summarise your goals too. While a romantic back story could be a great way to encourage user downloads, these founder stories also work well for attracting the interest of investors and other businesses that may want to collaborate with you too.

All in all  – planning is the most important thing you can do to make sure your dating app gets the press it deserves come Valentine’s Day. If you need some support in growing your dating app, get in touch with us today.

How to make your PR tactics ‘match’ with the media

Align your PR strategy with your business objectives

Always align your PR strategy with short and long-term business objectives, so you are sending out the right messages to the right people at the right time.

As part of this, develop a media relations approach with specific areas of focus that contribute to you achieving these business objectives. For example, you’re an EdTech company and you’ve been featured in a tech round-up on Forbes – great for broader brand awareness – but your focus right now is to sell your tech to schools. So really, the place to be is in the education trade press which is read by schools and educational institutions.

It’s great to have a one, two- or five-year business plan, but when it comes to communications don’t try to run before you can walk, and focus on the business’ priorities rather than something you hope to achieve in a number of years.

Build relationships with journalists

One of the most overlooked elements of a successful communications plan. If you’re a new tech start-up, coverage isn’t something that happens overnight. The saturated tech news agenda might seem flooded with new entrants and exciting stories, but in reality, good quality press coverage is a result of disciplined relationship building and respect for the way journalists like to work. This requires a 3-6-month commitment to the PR process, not expecting coverage in week one.

Start-ups should focus on building relationships with journalists early on. One approach is to identify a ‘top 5’ and do all you can to educate each of them on who you are and why they should write about you. Keep it punchy – if they scroll your email it is probably too long – and don’t skip on details like investment, YoY growth, company milestones, etc. Invite them to lunch and take the time to understand what they’re looking for in a start-up story, rather than assuming all tech journalists are the same.

Think of pitching as ‘How do I not get deleted?’Ben Cossor, Senior Account Director - The PHA Group

The best tech journalists receive hundreds of emails each day from – or on behalf of – businesses like yours. Consider the question ‘how do I cut through and not get deleted?’ when pitching to them for the first time. Something that’s often overlooked is the importance of high-quality image and video, which can often be the difference between a journalist choosing one story over another. Think about your email subject line, or if you’re calling them, what’s the first thing that’s going to come out of your mouth. First impressions are everything and if you make a hash of the first pitch, it could be hard to come back from that.

If you have taken the time to build a relationship with a journalist, the next time you have news to share with them, you’ll be one of a small number that stands out in their crowded inbox.

Are you story-led or people-led (or both)?

An article about a tech start-up usually focuses on either the product or service itself (a launch or news story), or the founder(s) at the heart of the company (an interview). What would your story be? Ideally, it’s both and you have a compelling narrative to really interest a journalist.

Decide what your strongest selling point is and focus on that in your PR strategy and the way you sell your business to busy tech writers.

Quality over quantity on social media

Start-ups can ensure a slick presence on social media by focusing on establishing a really good quality presence on fewer channels, rather than trying to maintain engagement across every single one when you most likely don’t have the time and resource to do it properly.

It’s better to have no presence at all on one or two channels than an inconsistent one across five, which comes across as amateurish. The same goes for how you manage these channels – focus on creating high quality, engaging content which gives the best possible impression of your business, rather than saturating your followers’ news feeds with too many posts for the sake of trying to generate engagement.

Are you interested in hearing about how we might be able to help you promote your offering? Speak to a member of our award-winning technology team today.

Five PR tips for technology start-ups

The Business Show this year will see hundreds of exhibitors showing off their products and services, but one company we’re most excited to hear from is challenger brand Starling Bank. In just five years it has grown from no more than an idea into a powerhouse of a business, now with 320 employees. It has almost half a million personal current accounts, and since launching its business account last March, has already had a whopping 42,000 signups.

Starling, amongst other digital banks, are now rivalling traditional high-street banks, who are feeling the competition and in turn are having to invest in making improvements to their digital offerings. Whilst the larger legacy banks tend to offer a wider range of services and financial products, app-based challenger banks benefit from lower operational costs as they don’t have physical branches. And the concept has obviously worked, with Starling being named Best British Bank and Best Current Account Provider at the 2019 British Bank Awards, and Personal Finance App of the Year at the 2018 Payment Awards.

https://twitter.com/StarlingBank/status/1106857425104240645

We take a look back at the incredible journey of founder Anne Boden and highlight some of the key steps the company has taken since its launch in 2014.

The eureka moment

After thirty-five years in the banking business, Anne Boden had an idea. She had been travelling around the world trying to work out what competitor banks were doing and kept noticing the same challenge – banks wanted to improve their mobile banking service but were held back financially by the money they were spending on renovating their branches. That’s when it hit her, and in 2014 Anne quit her job to set up a new kind of bank.

Every other industry had changed: Amazon had changed shopping, iTunes had changed music. Nobody had actually fundamentally changed banking.

– Anne Boden, Founder & CEO

She was approached by billionaire fund manager Harald McPike, who gave her a £48 million investment, and the bank officially launched two years later in May 2017.

Listen to your customers

When developing the concept, Starling asked people what they wanted from a bank. The response was that people didn’t like paying fees to use their debit card abroad, so Starling eliminated them. Customers didn’t want to pay penalties for going into their overdraft, so Starling decided not to charge. Customers were concerned about security, so Starling made the bank app-only because apps are much more secure than websites.

Partner up

In October 2018, the company launched its Banking-as-a-Service offering for business customers, with online savings marketplace Raisin UK as its first partner. The service enables businesses to use Starling’s existing payments technology to power their product behind the scenes. One month later, the Starling Marketplace was launched. The aim was to put its customers at the centre of a wider financial ecosystem, allowing them to choose from a range of products and services.

From a customer perspective, these initiatives give them more control of their money than a traditional bank typically would. The partnerships of course also strengthen Starling’s position in the market, allowing it to reach a larger demographic and to continue to expand its offering into new territories. So far, partners include online accounting software providers Xero and FreeAgent, gig economy insurance provider Zego, phone insurance provider So-Sure and life insurance provider Anorak.

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They say good things come to those who wait, and we know this has been a long one… We are thrilled to announce that our integration with @freeagentapp, voted as the UK’s #1 accounting software, has finally arrived to our Business Marketplace. #StarlingForBiz

A post shared by Starling Bank (@starlingbank) on

Innovate

Starling is constantly improving its offering and continuing to add more and more value to customers. As well as introducing business accounts, last year also saw the roll out of its Young Person account, joint accounts, and a vertical debit card, which was created out of the ethos of questioning old logic and making banking more instinctive and intuitive. Customers can also now pay with Starling via Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Fitbit Pay, and Garmin Pay.

The latest innovations, which are due to launch this year, include credit cards and EU accounts for UK customers, and creating a web portal to address the needs of SMEs who want to manage their banking online as well as through mobile apps.

Dream big

Anne’s vision for Starling is to build the best bank account in the world. She hopes to stand out from other digital banks by pitching Starling as a mainstream bank for customers across the UK, but her long-term goals reach even further – she wants Starling to become a major player across Europe with millions of customers in at least 10 countries.

This is no small feat, but with the £175 million in funding the company has just secured and its 165 new recruits, it doesn’t seem out of reach.

 

Are you a looking to build your exposure, or reach a new audience? Perhaps you have an app you’re looking to launch and want to secure cut-through in the national and broadcast media? Speak to our team today to find out how we can help you achieve your long-term goals.

Starling Bank: How they did it

A PR campaign can be a really effective way of raising awareness of your growth plans and attracting interest from VCs. But your strategy has to be spot on to maximise the opportunity. Here are 5 top tips, with examples from our own work, to bear in mind.

Key messages

Potential investors ultimately want to know why your business is worth their money. And they don’t have time to try and work it out themselves.

You must have clear messages at the heart of your PR campaign. What is your USP? How are you disrupting your industry? Why should someone part with their money to be part of your journey?

These messages should be consistent across all PR stories and come through whether it’s via a written interview, TV appearance or by-lined article.

There is always an opportunity to portray these messages but knowing how to weave them in without simply plugging your service is key.

A PR strategy and calendar over a number of months will enable you to ensure these messages are clear across all channels; print, online and broadcast.

Perceived value

Attracting investment is all about the perception of your business and the value you can bring to investors. Often you want to seem bigger than you are.

Investors want to know that they will see a return on their investment.

You need prominence in the most well-respected business press and national business pages to reach your target audience of key decision makers; this can be achieved through a combination of interviews, company news (such as new hires) and thought leadership opinion pieces to position you as a leading authority for the sector.

When talking about your business, you can heighten its perceived value by explaining how you are disrupting the industry and being clear on figures such as turnover and profit.

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Catch our brand spanking hew advert here: https://youtu.be/HbK7NQcXWBM #Purplebricks #Advert #techno

A post shared by Purplebricks (@purplebricksuk) on

We worked with Purplebricks.com from launch (April 2015) until November 2015 with a key objective of attracting investment. Through interviews with CEO Michael Bruce and regular industry commentary in the right titles, we achieved our ultimate goal. 18 months after launching, Purplebricks announced its intention to float with an IPO valuing the business at circa £250m. The consistent coverage we achieved for the company across the national and business press had a hugely positive impact on their corporate profile and reputation as one the UK’s fastest-growing businesses, revolutionising the property market as we know it.

Growth potential

Part of a company’s perceived value is growth over time – both previous and projected.

It’s important to demonstrate, through correct messaging in the right set piece interviews, tangible evidence of how your business has grown since birth and how it’s projected to grow even further.

You can actually choose certain publications and interview slots within these – which give you the opportunity to talk about these figures – through the right contacts.

Our work with Jordan Daykin, founder of GripIt Fixings and the youngest ever entrepreneur to receive Dragons’ Den investment, focused around telling the story of his rapid rise to success since the age of 18 and ambitious crowdfunding plans to help expand internationally.

By securing coverage across the national, business trade and regional press, we oversaw GripIt’s successful CrowdCube campaign which overfunded and raised £1.5m in just five days.

Success stories

Potential investors want to see that you are delivering on the real everyday problems you claim to be solving. Does your offering have the longevity they’re looking for?

A great way of demonstrating this is through success stories in the mainstream media. These can range from money-saving examples to life-changing stories, and everything in between.

For instance, for Purplebricks.com we sourced, interviewed and placed case studies of satisfied customers in the national press to demonstrate the value added to the house buying and selling process by the Purplebricks.com brand.

Multi-channel approach

Getting your key messages across – USP, company value, potential growth and success stories – is at the heart of a successful PR campaign, but how can you ensure they are seen by the right audience and ultimately help to attract investment?

Knowing the media landscape and the right publications and set pieces which allow you to portray these key messages is vital. This includes securing coverage across print, online, broadcast and even maximising this across your social channels.

For example, we secured prominent coverage for child internet safety platform, Azoomee, ahead of their crowdfunding campaign in October 2016. Coverage in the business press and tech industry titles put them on the radars of savvy investors who quickly got on board with the crowdfunding campaign.

Ultimately, building a portfolio of targeted press coverage in the right publications over time will build your brand’s credibility and make you an attractive proposition for potential investors.

How to use press coverage to attract investment

As an agency with 14 years’ experience of launching start-ups and growing with them, we are well versed in demonstrating the impact on our work in line with clients’ business objectives.

Value for money and a sound return on investment have never been more important for growing businesses, and a key element of this for many start-ups, scale-ups and SMEs is the relationship with their PR agency.

The best agencies have emerged from the dark ages of measuring the success of a PR campaign against Equivalent Advertising Value or audience impressions – challenged to find more tangible, realistic and accurate ways of measuring coverage for their clients. From share of voice, to website traffic, to sentiment, there are various metrics to show the impact of our work. But underpinning all of this is a willingness on agency side to be transparent and understanding, qualities which are the foundation of a long and successful client-agency relationship.

Transparency from the start

The first pitch or introductory meeting often sets a precedent for rest of the contract, so an open, honest approach from the off – from both sides – is important. As the client, what are your primary objectives and ultimately what do you want to get out of the PR campaign? As the agency, do you fully understand the client’s brief and are you clear on how they view success? These are two key questions to get out in the open early on.

Just as it’s the client’s responsibility to be clear with the brief, the agency must be crystal clear on how realistic and achievable these objectives are – and in what timeframe – from the moment the contract kicks off, to avoid any ambiguity on either side later on. Kicking off a campaign and media strategy without agreed objectives is, in a PR sense, the definition of madness.

Agree a target audience

What use is an interview, news announcement, by-line or case study if it won’t be read by your brand’s target audience? This is a key factor for an agency and client to establish early on, in order for the agency to deliver a PR campaign that will add true value, rather than coverage for coverage’s sake.

As the client, feel free to tell your agency what your dream piece of coverage would be, and why. We’ll often ask our clients this question the first time we meet, as it helps us understand a) the audience they wish to communicate with, and b) their expectations – it’s then our job to manage these expectations and advise on a strategy to suit.

Within the Technology team we work with a fascinating variety of businesses – from start-ups to larger, international brands, operating in the B2B, B2C and Fintech space. It’s unsurprising, therefore, that such a variety of companies have such different priorities when it comes to press coverage. Some would like a few, less frequent stand-out features in the national press, whereas others see more value in a regular stream of thought leadership in the key industry press. If both parties are clear from the beginning, delivery will ultimately benefit.

Data-driven insights

PR analytics tools, such as our own online & social listening service, PHA Pulse, are able to quantify the impact of PR – and inform strategy – in a way that the agency and client can understand, therefore allowing us to optimise our PR strategy accordingly to drive business objectives for the client.

Through taking a data-driven approach to measurement, we have been able to analyse the for clients in recent months, such as communications software company PowWowNow:

  • Their share of voice versus competitors; comparing the number of unique mentions the brand name receives in online news sources compared to its main competitors. We can take this information and tell the client where they sit in the market, and set an objective to increase this share of voice as part of our agreed KPIs (over 3 or 6 months, for example)
  • Who is engaging with / mentioning the brand on social media; identify the most common demographic engaging with the brand and what their interests are. We can take this knowledge and, as a result, target this specific demographic with our PR strategy
  • An analysis of relevant conversations online and across social media. This tells us the most used topics and key terms which featured within conversations about topics relevant to the client online. We can tell the client how prominent they are within these conversations and the related topics & key words we should be looking to engage with in order to increase this prominence
  • The most popular content about a specific topic (measured by engagement or audience impressions). This tells us which online news articles or social media posts about topics relevant to the client received the most engagement. We can a) identify journalists/influencers (and contact them) or b) learn about specific content relevant to the client that proves popular online (and replicate it)
  • Online sentiment towards a brand and the mindsets behind brand conversations. We can inform the client of overall sentiment and seek to improve it over time.

Speak up

Underpinning all of this is clear communication between the agency and the client. It’s so important that either party makes it clear at any point if they’re not happy with how things are going. The majority of qualms are easily put right on a call or meeting, and with openness and honesty, a successful long-term agency-client relationship will come naturally.

Are you interested in hearing about how we might be able to help you promote your offering? Speak to a member of our award-winning technology team today.

How a PR agency can demonstrate ROI

The future is here. Ten years ago, if you had the bravery to claim that “cash will soon be worthless”, you’d have been laughed out of the room, whereas now it seems to be a very real possibility. But, before you dust off that anarcho-economics book that you bought to impress your friends in university – we aren’t witnessing the end of money, simply the decline of physical cash.

We’ve seen nothing short of a collapse in the usage of physical cash in the last decade – so much so, that the recent Access to Cash Review asserted that the entire cash system was at significant risk of “falling apart”. In 2007, roughly sixty-one percent of all payments were made using cash, but by 2017, this number had plunged to just thirty-four percent. Debit cards overtook cash as the utilised method of payment for the first time in June 2018, and forecasts suggest that cash could be used in as few as one in ten transactions fifteen years from now.

If you’re like me, then you’ve clearly focused on the big questions – for example, will Scrooge McDuck have to fill his vault with AMEX black cards? But if you aren’t, then you wouldn’t be alone in wondering what effect a move towards being cashless might have on society.

Why businesses and consumers are choosing to go cashless

Fun fact, the UK’s first credit card – the Barclaycard – was launched in 1966, and by 1972, all the UK’s major retail banks had followed suit. So, considering that cashless methods of payment aren’t a new phenomenon, why are we only just waking up to their benefits?

The development of technology plays into this greatly. The development and subsequent uptake of contactless technology has made it incredibly efficient to use cards for payments. Furthermore, with the vast majority of us now carrying a contactless-enabled device linked to our bank account – smartphones, smartwatches, wearable technology – we now don’t even need our cards to pay!

It’s the same story for vendors too – with the improvement in broadband infrastructure now meaning that it’s viable to process cashless transactions on a large scale.

The argument for going cashless

Going cashless could lead to a reduction in certain forms of crime. Cash plays a huge role in the facilitation of crime, due to the associated difficulty of tracing its origins. Cashless transactions are easily tracked, and this makes it much more difficult to both launder money, or avoid tax. In Sweden, where eighty-one percent of transactions are made digitally, VAT receipts have increased by thirty percent. Through going cashless, businesses and consumers drastically reduce their chances of being mugged or burgled.

Cashless money is also easier to store. It’s incredibly easy to shut down a digital wallet if stolen, and access to your money is unaffected by your physical location. Electronic money is also near impossible to lose or damage and isn’t plagued by the hygiene issues suffered by paper money. Commercial organisations also save, as they are no longer required to pay for the protection or transport of physical cash.

Finally, digital money is much easier to carry around – whether you have £1 or £1 million in your account, it takes up no more space in your pocket than the size of the card itself – something which isn’t true when carrying physical money.

 Cons of dropping cash

The Access to Cash Review revealed that seventeen percent of people believed that they would struggle to cope without cash – when extrapolated to the nation, this leaves eight million people in difficulty.

Making up this seventeen percent are a number of vulnerable groups; elderly people – who may not have the technological know-how to adapt to cashless transactions, those struggling with debt – for who cash is much easier to manage, those in rural communities – for whom poor broadband and mobile connectivity makes cashless transactions highly inefficient, and the homeless – for whom opening a bank account would be impossible, as they lack fixed premises.

Cashless transactions are also reliant upon digital infrastructure. If for whatever reason this infrastructure fails – as happened last year to both the Visa and Mastercard networks – users will be left without access to their money, something which is very unlikely to happen with physical cash.

What we need to see for a truly cashless society

Whilst the affluent and technologically enabled may already be living a cashless society, any move away from the usage of cash would isolate and marginalise vulnerable members of our society. This is as unfortunately, we still haven’t solved the issue of providing access.

We need to rethink what is truly a ‘necessity’ society. Access to basic financial products should be considered as a right, rather than a privilege. While we may need legislative action to truly change this, there are a number of exciting companies out there extending the benefits of cashless finance to those who need it most.

Leaders in the space

PockitPockit was founded with the aim of bringing financial products to the UK’s unbanked population. A Pockit account offers all the services of a traditional current account, without any of the issues related to inaccessibility. Anyone can open a Pockit account within 2 minutes, and they receive a contactless card and access to the Pockit app.

PiPiT – PiPiT allows expats to pay for bills and services in their home country from their host country. Not only does this provide a cheaper option – cash transfer fees can be up to 12% in some cases – it also provides a peace of mind that the money remitted will arrive where intended.

MoneseBritain’s first mobile bank, Monese allows users to open an account in under three minutes, without needing a UK address – enabling immigrants and expats, who may find it difficult otherwise to open a bank account, to access banking services

WorldRemitWorldRemit was founded due to a dissatisfaction with the pre-existing money transfer services. WorldRemit’s mobile app allows users to send money to a mobile money account, bank account, cash collection point, or enjoy mobile airtime anywhere in the world.

Curve Curve lets you connect all of your bank cards into a single Curve card (and adjoining app) – turning your mobile phone into a complete financial control centre. Curve also allows its users to make purchases and withdraw money whilst abroad with 0% foreign exchange fees.

Are you interested in hearing about how we might be able to help you promote your offering? Speak to a member of our award-winning technology team today.

An analysis of the UK’s shift to a cashless society