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Blockchain PR strategy

Blockchain PR strategy

A holistic strategy is essential to getting your blockchain company noticed.

Global investment into blockchain or bitcoin-focused start-ups in 2017 amounted to just over one billion US dollars – a record year for the emerging industry. According to the latest predictions, the amount of money that will be raised by blockchain companies in 2018 is set to be even higher.

It’s unsurprising then that a new industry growing so quickly is saturated by start-ups all vying for the media spotlight.

A comprehensive communications strategy is essential to navigating the challenging and ever-changing media landscape. So, how can you ensure your blockchain company gets noticed above the rest in the media?

Blockchain in the press

Before we delve into strategy, it’s important to understand the lay of the land when it comes to blockchain coverage in the media.

Firstly, and most importantly, there is still a huge educational process that needs to take place. The majority of mainstream journalists and audiences still don’t get blockchain or cryptocurrencies. They need simple explanations and to see in the first line of an article why this tech will be relevant to their daily lives or industry.

Don’t get us wrong, there are a growing number of journalists who do understand and are really interested in blockchain. But they write in-depth features for the likes of Coindesk, CoinTelegraph and Forbes – not BBC or The Guardian. It may sound obvious, but the national media only cover stories that are of national importance, and unfortunately not all new start-ups meet these criteria. Harsh, but a necessary truth to acknowledge.

What’s paramount across both media camps – those who do get blockchain and those who don’t – is credibility. Now, this doesn’t mean just having a fancy website and whitepaper. This goes from the founders of the business all the way to the product offering or service. Everyone and everything associated with the brand must portray a credible, united front. Journalists are sceptical by nature, we don’t want to give them anything potentially damaging to run with and damage your brand before it’s even had chance to get off the ground.

Brand positioning

What we at PHA love about blockchain is that it is genuinely sector agnostic, disruptive, and one day soon will be universal. This means the majority of blockchain start-ups tend to straddle two sectors – blockchain technology and the industry they are trying to disrupt such as recruitment, charity, enterprise, property, sport or finance to name a few.

To have the most media impact, it’s important to position your brand as more than just another blockchain start-up. A clearly defined message for the vertical you operate in, and the key stakeholders you’re trying to target, is essential, as they need to understand your value proposition without being confused by technical blockchain jargon. Before even picking up the phone to a journalist, you need to have a clear view of what value your blockchain business will bring to that sector.

Expert spokespeople

With blockchain only now really beginning to step out of cryptocurrency’s shadow in the mainstream media, publications are desperately looking for commentary from people who genuinely have experience with the technology. This presents an incredible opportunity for founders of blockchain start-ups to become the go-to expert for TV interviews, extended thought leadership articles, keynote or panel speaking slots at events, and national commentary on the technology.

It’s essential for founders and key spokespeople to make their names known, both in the blockchain technology press and the trade media of the sector the business operates in. Sharing knowledge and adding genuine value to the wider conversations, as well as highlighting the benefits of the company service or offering, increases credibility and trust in the business. This is essential, as only producing articles about why your business is the best will cause journalist fatigue, a fall in media coverage, and will create the impression that you’re not interested in supporting the wider industry.

ICO/ TGE investment

Five or so years ago, announcing you were doing an ICO would have been a genuine news story. However, in 2017 there were 435 successful ICOs, raising an average of $12.7 million according to Business Insider UK. Doing an ICO or TGE these days is no longer a novelty, as almost every single blockchain start-up is doing one.

To stand the best chance of your ICO or TGE being covered by blockchain and mainstream journalists, you must be able to explain why yours is unique compared to every single other one out there that week. The story must stand out from the crowd and having a clear plan of what the tokens raised will go towards significantly helps in this regard.

While the ICO or TGE is live, ensuring your company name is kept in the right media outlets is incredibly important for ensuring a steady stream of investors. Thought leadership articles, media interviews and reactive commentary on any breaking news stories that are relevant to your business will help to further establish your credibility as a business worth investing in. Closely managed social media channels are also essential before, during and after the ICO/ TGE – again, they bring much needed credibility to a process many journalists still do not fully understand.

Social media

Possibly the biggest differentiator between a successful PR strategy for any other business and that of a blockchain start-up is the approach to social media. While Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are the three go-to channels, with Instagram added for more consumer-focused brands, Telegram and Slack are the most important platforms for targeting the blockchain community.

As with any form of social media though, the key to success is moderation. With Telegram, a welcome message highlighting the key information pinned to the top of the group is best for giving clarity to new members. On Slack, this can be achieved with a welcome chatbot that directs new members to the channels that might be relevant to them for more information.

The key with Telegram and Slack is that they give potential new customers, investors and users the chance to engage directly with the founders and developers of the business and ask detailed, technical questions that would be too heavy to include in a website Q&A. It’s for this reason that the best Telegram and Slack accounts are internally managed by the founders or senior developers. We offer council on all social media platforms, including full community management for the traditional four channels, and are happy to be on hand to provide advice on any particularly difficult questions that get thrown your way on Slack or Telegram.

A note on Reddit – authenticity is vital. Redditers are infamous for calling out brands who have tried to blatantly advertise on the platform and have even been known to trace IP addresses back to agencies calling PRs out for posting on behalf of clients. If you are going to use Reddit, be transparent about who you are, what role you have in the team, and don’t just talk about your offering – add to the wider conversation or you will be ousted from the community.

To conclude

Competition for the media spotlight has never been fiercer for blockchain start-ups. There are a number of rules that apply to the blockchain industry that simply aren’t a factor for other start-ups; ignoring Telegram or Slack for example would be to your peril. However, the opportunity for founders to take their companies mainstream and become the go-to expert for their sector should not be downplayed. With a clear, concise and holistic comms strategy, your blockchain start-up can grab the media spotlight.

Join us at London Tech Week to find out more about how to create a holistic PR strategy for your blockchain start-up. Sign up to our event here.

Join The PHA Group at London Tech Week 2018

London Tech Week returns on 11th – 17th June, as 55,000 attendees, from 90+ countries are expected to descend upon our nation’s capital to mix, learn and mingle with like-minded tech aficionados.

We’ll be joining in with the festivities again this year and hosting three, free breakfast seminars, to give you some PR tools and tips to promote your tech offerings in the UK media.

1) Tech PR Crash Course – How to get your start-up in the press

When: 09:30 am, Monday 11th June

Where: Jigsaw 24, 8 Golden Square, Soho, W1F 9HY

According to the latest Tech Nation report, the digital tech sector is expanding 2.6 times faster than the rest of the UK economy and makes up nearly £184 billion of our overall GDP. Further, British digital tech companies raised £4.5 billion in VC investment last year, almost double the previous year.

Great news for the industry of course – but for start-ups and scaleups looking to launch and grow, this means competition is stiffer than ever.

Journalists receive hundreds of pitches every day, but will only use a handful – so how do you make your story stand out from the crowd and get those all-important column inches dedicated to you instead of someone else?

In this seminar, we will explore:

  • What PR is (and isn’t)
  • What makes a story that journalists want to write about
  • How to make the most of the assets you already have
  • How to create a PR strategy to generate coverage

To register for a place, please click here.

 

2) Blockchain PR 101 – How to create media buzz about your blockchain offering

When: 9.30 am, Tuesday 12th June

Where: Jigsaw 24, 8 Golden Square, Soho, W1F 9HY

One of the most hyped yet misunderstood technologies of the 21st century, blockchain technology has been lauded, slandered, and often seen as simply the underpinning of cryptocurrencies.

However, over the last five years, VCs have invested more than $1 billion into blockchain companies, and the global blockchain market is expected to be worth $20 billion by 2024.

As blockchain’s potential to bring efficiencies to almost every single industry is starting to be widely grasped, the number of start-ups and scale-ups continues to grow exponentially. But with ICOs and TGEs, never mind blockchain technology itself, to explain to a sceptical UK media, making your blockchain company standout as a viable business is a herculean challenge.

In this talk we will discuss:

  • How PR can build a credible blockchain brand
  • How to get coverage of your ICO/ TGE
  • How to demystify blockchain in your chosen sector
  • Real life examples – both good and bad

To register for a place, please click here.

 

3) PR for Tech Entrepreneurs – How to raise your personal profile in the media

When: 9:30 am, Wednesday 13th June

Where: Jigsaw 24, 8 Golden Square, Soho, W1F 9HY

Behind every successful tech business is a great entrepreneur with a story to tell. People buy people and identifying your story and crafting a personal narrative is key to humanising your brand.

The press are on the lookout for something their readers can relate to and be inspired by. PR is about telling these stories and for us, there is no better tale than an entrepreneur’s journey to creating their own business.

Perhaps you have overcome adversity to get where you are, or a sudden lightbulb moment sparked an idea that’s changing people’s lives? Whoever you are and wherever you come from, come and join us for an interactive panel discussion with three successful tech entrepreneurs, to hear how PR can make a difference to you and your business.

Speakers 

– Douglas Lloyd, CEO of Azoomee

– Nakul Sharma, CEO of Hostmaker

– Samuel Leach, founder of Samuel & Co Trading

The panel discussion will explore:

  • The role of PR in building a personal brand
  • Some real-life examples
  • How to craft a personal narrative and communicate your story
  • How to approach a wider PR strategy

 

To register for a place, please click here.

Social media done well – and what SMEs can learn from it

When it’s done well, social media can be a very powerful and cost-effective way of growing and communicating directly with a customer base.

From start-ups to enterprises, pretty much everyone has a social media channel nowadays but some seem to ‘get it’ more than others.  Here are five examples of those doing it well and what SMEs can learn from them.

FIFA 2018 (Amazon)

In September a guy called Connor Mac returned from work devastated to find his pre-ordered FIFA 18 copy ruined after his dog Sam chewed it as it came through the letterbox. He promptly uploaded a picture of his damaged disc alongside a guilty-looking pup appealing to Amazon to “help a guy out”.

Amazon reacted quickly and a new copy was with him in two working days. It’s likely that their social and PR teams were closely aligned and decided to release the story to the media which generated lots of positive coverage, proving Amazon as the ‘customer obsessed’ company they really are.

What can SME’s learn?

Using examples of happy customers gives you another way to talk about your product and humanise your brand, and your social channels can be a great source to help identify those customers.

FaceTec (ZoOM Login)

Cyber-security start-up FaceTec, created the below video this month to raise awareness of the dangers of iPhone X users falling asleep, near to someone they don’t trust.

In it, they place paper cut-outs, pizza toppings and bottle tops over a sleeping subject’s eye-lids to successfully fool his iPhone X’s facial recognition into unlocking his phone.

FaceTec’s own ZoOm Login software provides ultra-secure face authentication by verifying 3D liveness via AI, effectively rendering it fool-proof. Shot on a shoestring budget, the video was picked up by news outlets and within a week had 15,000+ views.

What can SME’s learn?  

Reacting to what others in your industry are doing gives you an opportunity to raise your company’s profile. There’s often a small window of opportunity while the news is still topical so the speed of delivery is important. The launch of Apple’s iPhone X allowed FaceTec join the broader conversation around facial recognition, a topic they can credibly own, and add value to.

Like My Addiction? (Addict Aide)

Last year a chic 25 year-old Parisian woman going under the name Louise Delage created a profile on Instagram. Her photos depicted a glamorous lifestyle full of parties, boats and dinners and she quickly amassed over 50,000 likes, 12,000 followers and hundreds of positive comments.

However, it was later revealed to be a clever social stunt by Addict Aide. Looking back over Louise’s seemingly real photos they pointed out that she was holding a drink in every single one of them – their message was simple “it’s easy to miss the addiction of someone close”.

What can SME’s learn?

If your business has a clear message, running a social experiment on your social channels can be an effective way of reinforcing that message. If you can do it in a clever, creative way like this, then it’s more likely to get picked up by the media, or even win an award (as is the case with this example).

Misleading energy prices (Octopus Energy)

Octopus Energy wanted to raise the awareness of misleading pricing tiers within the energy sector. Other energy providers often lure consumers in with cheap prices and then subtly increase these once their contract is up.

The PHA Group team set up a pop-up bar in Soho and distributed fliers advertising £3 drinks but didn’t tell customers that this automatically increased to £4.50 after the first drink. We filmed their reactions, which led to some great content that we used on Octopus’ social channels.

What can SME’s learn?

It can be hard for some SME’s to create shareable content, particularly if their business isn’t relevant to a large audience, however with a bit of creative thinking it’s possible. Octopus’ message was “It’s not acceptable in a bar, what makes energy any different?”

Unsafety Check (Black Lives Matter)

Black Lives Matter is an international activist movement that campaigns against violence and systemic racism towards black people.

They created an app and website that spins off Facebook’s ‘Safety Check’ feature by inviting black people to mark themselves ‘Unsafe’ as a sign of solidarity against racism in America. I think this is a great use of a social, shareable, simple, call to action which made real impact.

What can SME’s learn?  

Reacting to the news agenda on social media allows you to increase your brand’s visibility. Obviously this subject matter is particularly sensitive, so extra care should always be taken when reacting to political topics like this. As a rule, brands should only offer an opinion that is in line with their values and only join conversations that are relevant to them.

Black Lives Matter said the timing was significant because it coincided with Martin Luther King Day and Trump’s inauguration when “many minorities (think) that their safety will become even more compromised under newly elected officials.”

A compelling social media campaign has the power to engage, inspire, and boost brand awareness, especially when closely aligned with a powerful PR campaign.  78% of businesses now have dedicated teams for their social media showing that increasingly, brands are acknowledging the power of social media to attract customers. If you’ve seen any great social; media campaigns then let us know in the comments below.

Technology and Charity

How can technology enable charities to fill the increasing shortfall in funding?

The financial pressure on charities in 2017 is immense. Not only are they still fighting to keep costs down and make donations stretch further, they’ve also lost more than £3.8bn in grants from government over the past decade and are increasingly facing reputational issues. Only earlier this week, 11 charities were fined between £6,000 and £18,000 for data breaches. The result – more than 23,000 have been forced to shut their doors altogether since 2008.

That doesn’t paint the best picture for the future, but before you start burying goodwill altogether, wait. There is hope, because the charities that are embracing technology and digitalisation are winning the battle.

Charity and Technology The PHA Group

Firstly, it’s about being sustainable and cutting the cost of administration down as much as possible – more specifically, by removing manual processes to release more funds.

For example, charities that are reducing the paper drain of postal applications, cash donations, record-keeping and door-to-door leafleting (which are time-consuming, resource-intensive and simply take up a lot of office space) by replacing them with online or cloud-based tools are making significant cost savings, not to mention running more efficiently.

HomePage-Ebook-DL

However, where technology in the charity world gets really exciting – and could potentially be a game-changer – is where they’ve made it easier and quicker for people to pledge their support, donate and get involved in activities.

A great example of this is a project Visa Europe launched in partnership with the Charities Aid Foundation and Save the Children in 2015 to test contactless collections tins – both in the street and in Costas around London. It revealed that as many as 30 per cent of people were likely to donate this way if given the option. Clearly, others are keen to follow suit as last November, the Royal British Legion launched a similar campaign for the Poppy Appeal.

Save The children Charity The PHA Group Collection Tin

Image courtesy of loragii, flickr.com

Others are using the omnipotent power of social media – think about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, or the Cancer Research (hijacked) #NoMakeUpSelfie campaigns, for example. Not only did they spark worldwide conversations around the causes, they also raised a whopping $115 million and £8million (the latter in just a week) respectively. WWF in Denmark meanwhile partnered with Snapchat to launch a campaign presenting users with images of endangered species that would disappear within a matter of seconds to raise awareness of their cause.

Technology is also enabling new immersive experiences, moving away from the traditional sympathy-seeking models to deliver messages in an active, engaging way that is cutting through the noise. Thought-provoking games like My Life as a Refugee by UNHCR lets players contemplate the same life-changing decisions refugees make in a true-to-life quest to reach a new land.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution decided to go down the route of VR and 360 degree photos to provide supporters with a first-hand view of the conditions their crews face. These are both brilliant ways of calling would-be supporters to action.

Royal National Lifeboats Charity Technology The PHA Group

Perhaps the most clever application of technology in the charity world, however, is where organisations capitalise on what willing volunteers are already doing, fitting seamlessly into their lives. Apps leading the way include BeWorthwhile, a platform that connects volunteers’ strongest skills with the charities that need them (boosting morale for the former and saving costs for the latter), and Charity Miles, which helps users earn money for a worthy cause of their choosing simply for staying active – they’ve donated $2 million to date.

Be WorthWhile App Technology Charity The PHA Group

The secret is to tap into the lifestyle of the modern donor, shaping campaigns and fundraising efforts around their interests and habits. As technology continues to permeate every area of our lives, it only makes sense that the charities that follow suit will be the ones reaping the rewards. The future is bright – we just need to make the move from candle to light bulb.

 

Tech Business Growth

How To Use Press Coverage To Attract Investment

The start of a new year can be the perfect time for businesses to seek investment. With new strategies in place for Q1 and ambitious growth targets laid out for the year, it’s a recipe for a fruitful partnership between a businesses looking to expand and a potential investor looking for their next exciting venture.

New Year 2017 Changes

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.

Newspaper Origami

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.

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.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BLvk7LhhTVy/?taken-by=gripitfixings12&hl=en

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.

Get Ahead of the Tech Press

How to put your entrepreneurial story at the forefront of breaking tech news

In today’s increasingly digitalised world, it’s all too easy to get bogged down in technical jargon or swept away by shiny gadgets, overlooking the importance of the human touch. But no matter how good your product, rarely does it provide the full picture.

If you think of some of the most successful technology companies out there right now – Facebook, LinkedIn, Apple, Microsoft, Tesla Motors – they all come hand-in-hand with the stories of strong entrepreneurs and leaders. Their words, more often than not, have the power to project their companies to new heights (or lows), send waves throughout the technology community and make the headlines.
Apple entrepreneur pr tech pr pha media

People buy into people, so it’s important that founders are ready to put themselves forward as the human face of their businesses – a face that customers, employees and investors alike can relate to. And one of the best ways to do this is by being front and centre of industry news that matters to you.

But how do you ensure you’re the one leading the conversation instead of your competitors? Here are six top tips to consider:

  1. Determine your areas of expertise/passion

As the founder or leader of a business, you will have already gained unique insights into areas such as entrepreneurship or how your industry is progressing in the current landscape. But depending on your business model, you may be able to diversify further.

For example, is your product/service able to observe trends in consumer behaviour? Are you making use of an innovative technology or unusual practice? Or perhaps you are personally passionate about a specific cause?

Our client Debra Charles, founder at smartcard technology firm Novacroft, is a prime example. As well as being an expert commentator on entrepreneurship and the transport industry, she also speaks widely about tech’s ability to do good in the community and is a champion of dyslexia, being herself dyslexic.

Debra Charles Tech Pr entrepreneur PR

Remember, however, not to overstretch – it’s far better to pick three or four areas you’re comfortable with than be a jack-of-all-trades with little to say!

  1. Walk before you run

Even if you know your topics like the back of your hand, being able to translate your messages into bite-sized 30-second chunks for a broadcast interview is a real skill in itself.

Start by putting your thoughts to paper (literal or digital sense) – a letter to an editor or an opinion article are great mediums for jumping on the news agenda and vocalising your ideas, while giving you the space to refine them.

Typing Writing Ideas - Notebook Laptop

You may also want to consider media training and going through some practice Q&As with a professional before taking to the microphone or green screen – you’ll be surprised by how quickly the time flies.

  1. Make sure you’re adding to the story

Simply knowing a lot about a subject is not enough – you also need to have some strong opinions, whether that’s predictions on the future of VR, why you disagree with the findings of a new report on online safety or a call-to-action for policymakers to support the tech community.

Virtual Reality - Future Technology

Don’t be vanilla – a journalist looking for expert commentators needs to add colour and opposing views to their story to paint a wider picture of the situation. Our client, Aidan Rushby, CEO at renters’ app Movebubble, for example, has a firm standpoint on renters’ rights and is quick to recognise when the industry or government falls short of them.

As a general rule of thumb, the more opinionated, or in the right circumstances, controversial you can be, the better.

  1. Be patient…

If your link with a story is tenuous at best, hold back. People can sense when you’re trying to piggyback on a headline that doesn’t quite fit with your personal branding or messaging – look no further than the 2016 US presidential election campaigns for multiple examples, revealing significant gaps in knowledge.

Great day in Washington, D.C. — thank you!

A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

If you shoehorn your experience into a topic you’re not confident about, you ultimately risk quickly running out of things to say. The right story will crop up and you’ll be rewarded for waiting, so be patient and bide your time.

  1. … But react quickly

That said, when the right headline does come around, make sure you are ready to pounce at a moment’s notice. Programme Producers and Editors won’t take long to fill their spaces for guests on the show or columns in the newspaper – at The PHA Group, we start the day at 8:30 am to ensure we can be the first on the phones to journalists in case a relevant headline emerges.

Reaction - Race First Place

  1. Repeat

After you’ve got your first successful interview under your belt, it’s a question of repetition. A single touch point won’t be enough to create the link between the entrepreneur and their expertise, but if people begin to repeatedly see you associated with a topic, you may eventually find that the journalists will come to you.

The path to being a household name is long – Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs certainly didn’t get there overnight – but given the right topics, you may well find that it’s your words that make the headlines in the future.

This week at F8. Bye bye, drone!

A post shared by Mark Zuckerberg (@zuck) on

Technology Trends in 2017

This year has seen mainstream headlines dominated by cybercrime, driverless cars, and neural machine translation or Artificial Intelligence (see Google’s breakthrough universal language). As we reach the end of another year, analysts, futurists, and those in know are beginning to predict the top technology trends that will lead in 2017. Here are the top 7 technology trends that we think will make the headlines next year;

AI Personal Assistants

Anyone with a smartphone is probably quite used to having a technology personal assistant. From Siri to Cortana, conversational systems help us organise our diaries, make purchases and search for things online. Whilst such systems currently range from simple informal text or voice conversations such as ‘When is my dentist appointment?’ to complex interactions such as recording oral soundbites, 2017 will see this technology application accelerate. Rather than humans adapting to computers, in 2017 we will find conversational systems ‘hearing’ and adapting to a person’s desired outcome.

Technology Communication PR

Data-as-a-Service (DaaS)

Big data itself isn’t really that exciting anymore, the vast majority of companies have already understood the immense value that harnessing big data can bring to business. In 2017 however, we will see more companies implement even greater sophisticated methods of collecting and analysing their data points. This will see a breakout of data-as-a-service strategies which take advantage of both the amount of data, the various different data points and will move towards more accessible analysis interfaces.

stocksnap_7kv4h772kt

 

Drone Deliveries Take Off

When Amazon first announced the introduction of commercial drones for delivery of their products this year, not everyone was convinced. However, the online giant is pushing ahead with a number of other retailers firmly behind them. With the first expected drone delivery in the UK is set to be made next year, it’s a strong possibility that 2017 will see drone deliveries take off for good.

drone-copy

Blockchain Adoption

Blockchain technology is a form of distributed ledger where value exchange transactions, usually made in bitcoin, are consecutively grouped into blocks. An emerging technology to the mainstream in 2016, blockchain is gaining traction as a solution for transforming industry operating models in verticals like identity verification and music distribution; industries notorious for fraud. Blockchain promises to add an element of trust in industries notorious for being opaque. There are still some significant challenges that remain however before widespread mainstream adoption.

Intelligent Apps

The last few years has seen the mass adoption of mobile applications. From tracking how many steps you take to drafting presentations and work documents on the go, apps have become an integral part of our lives. Intelligent apps, such as virtual personal assistants, will transform the workplace in 2017 by making everyday tasks easier. Prioritizing emails, highlighting important content and interactions with customers and colleagues will become the norm. But intelligent apps won’t be limited to new digital assistants. Using Artificial Intelligence, service providers are likely to focus on advanced analytics, AI business processes and AI powered immersive interfaces.

Intelligent Apps Technology

Mainstreaming Augmented Reality

The Pokémon Go craze that took off in summer symbolised the arrival of augmented reality in the mainstream technology consumers’ life. Following this huge success, 2017 will see more companies begin to implement AR. This won’t necessarily just be within the gaming industry; general businesses will increasingly take advantage of the findings of early adopting industries. It could even be a case of seeing large scale adoption in organizations with skilled workforces.

Internet of Things (IoT) Interoperability

The IoT as a concept has been around for a few years now, but a main barrier to its full-scale adoption has been the issue that devices won’t always connect or interoperate correctly. 2017 will see several companies and standards bodies move closer to solving the problems of interoperability. Whilst not the sexiest technology news that will make the headlines in 2017, developing the interoperability infrastructure via the cloud will be a major breakthrough in the widespread adoption of the IoT.

Internet of Things - Interconnected Technology

The Changing Face of Tech Media

How to stand out in 2017

It is an exciting time for the tech media industry; increased investment in the sector is presenting fresh opportunities for new and established companies and to reflect this, more journalists are specialising in the field than ever before.

But naturally the industry has become more competitive and congested, making it difficult for brands to stand out. It’s a pivotal time for the sector and those operating within it.

Later this month, our Tech & Innovation team will be hosting a free event for female business owners and entrepreneurs operating in the technology sector, discussing the changing face of tech media, exploring how to effectively communicate your key messages to your target audiences through these mediums, and offering top PR and communications tips.

So to whet your appetite, here is a sneak peek at our top tips to help you stand out in the crowded tech media landscape

Image courtesy of: Luis Llerena, Stocksnap.io

Image courtesy of: Luis Llerena, Stocksnap.io

In short, what are journalists looking for?

Some of the most popular tech journalists have reported receiving over 1,000 emails before lunch. This gives you an idea of the amount of competition out there. Even if you have a business that deserves to be written about, you still need to make it stand out.

A journalist’s job is to write a story, so expecting them to dedicate a full page to your business just because the business exists is unfortunately misguided. You need to identify your story early on; have you received significant investment? Are you launching a truly disruptive product or service? Is there a strong human interest story at the heart of your business? These are some key questions to consider.

And to grab a journalist’s attention:

  • Keep pitches short and simple
  • Research the journalist and their remit beforehand
  • Know when and how to get in touch
  • Introduce the business’ USP early on

Humanise your tech brand by telling your story

A great way to stand out is to make your business relatable to your target audience. Tech brands can often have complex operations at their heart and therefore securing profile interview pieces, which allow the business spokesperson to give greater insight into their own road to success, are often effective in really speaking to your audience and getting them on side.

Interesting personal stories often include challenges the founder has overcome, a lightbulb moment which developed into a business with a unique USP, or an impressive growth story in a short space of time.

Never underestimate the assets you already have at your disposal; you just need to use them in the right way.

Jacqueline O’Donovan, MD of O’Donovan Waste Disposal, told her inspirational story to Virgin.com

Jacqueline O’Donovan, MD of O’Donovan Waste Disposal, told her inspirational story to Virgin.com

 

Industry experts; news agenda hi-jacking

To really stand out from other businesses operating in your field, it’s important to be seen as an expert by openly commenting on key issues in the news agenda.

What carries more credibility than your CEO live on Sky News, speaking about a national story in front of millions of viewers?

But of course in order to get yourself on this type of stage, you need to convince the producer that you are the expert they should be talking to. By knowing your key messages and being clear on the unique insight you can add to the story, you stand a good chance.

The early bird catches the worm; while there will be many other CEOs fighting for the same space, if you can identify the story as soon as it breaks and can get on the producer’s radar early, that’s half the battle.

 We used the ongoing Southern Rail Strikes to secure a Letter in the Evening Standard from Jason Downes, MD of Powwownow


We used the ongoing Southern Rail Strikes to secure a Letter in the Evening Standard from Jason Downes, MD of Powwownow

Share of voice; thought leadership

A strand of news agenda commentary in itself, thought leadership is about creating informed content on topics that interest you and are relevant in your industry. The format of this content can be whatever you think will be well-received by your target audience; from ‘top tips’ pieces to blogs and by-line articles.

Through this informed content, you can secure coverage in relevant media (print and online) to demonstrate your proficiency and educate potential customers, often with a link back to your website.

A great example of this is the work we have done for dyslexic entrepreneur, Debra Charles, for whom we recently wrote and placed a blog on The Independent Online to tie in with Dyslexia Awareness Week.

Tech PR Tips: How To Get Noticed

Tech PR Tips: How to get your brand noticed

This week start-ups and tech heavyweights alike are swarming to The Tech Expo, London’s new technology exhibition and conference showcasing the best in emerging technologies. As part of the line-up for the event’s second year, The PHA Group’s Technology & Innovation team are hosting our own presentation to help innovators across a wide variety of industries learn how to get their brand noticed ahead of the competition. Here we give you an overview of our top tips for getting your tech brand in the press:

tech-in-the-press

The buzz around the latest tech developments has never been greater. There has been an exponential increase in the number of ‘tech-specific’ journalists alone, with more and more other journalists including technology amongst their cluster of interests. But while the opportunities for technology to grab the headlines are numerous and wide-ranging, the competition is fierce, with journalists receiving hundreds of emails every day.

One of the most regular questions on brands’ lips with regards to getting their product the attention it deserves is: why aren’t journalists responding? There could be any of a number of issues, from your approach being ‘too pluggy’, a lack of personality, using overly technical language, or simply an email being missed due to the sheer volume of competition.

Company News

An important way to get your brand in the news is through company announcements. But it can be difficult to know which of your updates should be sent out to the press. It’s easy for brands to contract ‘baby isn’t beautiful’ syndrome, where being told that news from your company isn’t of interest is almost a personal affront. When launching your brand or bringing a new product to the market, structure your approach by asking yourself:

  • What basic problem are you solving?
  • What makes your offering different to others on the market?
  • Why would someone read this news?
  • Why should a journalist write about this now?

Reacting to the News Agenda

A vital strand of PR activity for your tech brand is to react to the news agenda. Large stories dominate the news agenda for the full day, if not longer. To ensure the story remains relevant, media outlets utilise expert commentary with strong opinions. Making sure your voice is the one that’s heard requires quick reflexes and snappy key messages. Remember to not shoehorn your company name into the news with no real purpose – ask what you can add to the story.

Using YourXYZprinting's CEO talks to CNBC about the future of 3D printing Expertise

Remember that your people are your greatest assets. Your company is made up of individuals with invaluable insights from success thus far and natural areas of expertise and opinions. For our 3D printer client, XYZprinting, we used their CEO’s expertise to secure them a slot on CNBC to talk about where the 3D printing industry is heading. Positioning your personnel as ‘experts’ can not only bring authority to your company name but also give the illusion that you’re bigger than you are.

Creative Campaigns

Creative campaignsThe #PowwowHelpMeNow campaign moved a stuffy office to a roof terrace are a fantastic way to get your brand noticed in a fun way, generating a different type of coverage and reaching new audiences. The right campaign can have just as much impact as something more long-term. They also need not cost very much at all, so you can afford to experiment a little – but remember that timing (and a little bit of luck) is vital. For example, for conference call provider Powwownow, we created a #PowwowHelpMeNow campaign, where office workers could tweet in with an issue for Powwownow to help solve. One office tweeted in saying that their working space was too hot, so Powwownow helped them move their desks and entire office space to the roof. This was a shareable and visual campaign generating plenty of fun coverage with journalists which were otherwise difficult for a tech brand to reach. We’re not talking about stunts here – the campaign must be relevant to your brand and help position it in a constructive way. For Powwownow, whose aim is to help workers do their jobs more easily, a campaign to assist offices in need was relevant and beneficial to the brand’s image, and generated a social reach of 6.3 million.

Harnessing Data

Another key area of PR activity is based not on reacting to the news agenda, but on creating it. Brands can shape stories and headlines from data. All tech companies have data, but some don’t realise its PR value. Behaviour patterns and trends are often of interest to the press, helping to confirm theories or, alternatively, shock with unusual findings. If your company doesn’t have the necessary data for the story you’d like to create, you can make your own data through market research and surveys. These don’t have to cost the earth or take up time – three or four data points are enough to make a compelling story.

Case StudiesHappn’s case studies shaped an impressive piece

In order to humanise your brand, case studies are of great importance. However, not all case studies are born equal – think about:

  • What does this case study provide / add?
  • Will anyone care?
  • What’s the wider story?

We’ve seen some fantastic case studies which have made the headlines in key titles for our clients. For photo-sharing app Flashgap, for example, we used the story of two brothers who went drinking in Birmingham and woke up in Cancun, and only patched their night together the next day by discovering photos from the app, which was covered by the Daily Star. For dating app Happn, a profile of the five most in-demand women on the app secured a double page spread in the Evening Standard.

Right now, tech is experiencing an incredible boom and hundreds of journalists are interested in the latest news. But with the massive competition out there, your brand needs to stand out. Above all, the content you provide to the press must be varied as well as helpful, informative, opinionated or entertaining.

The Rise of the Sharing Economy

Watch this Space

2016 has become the year of the sharing economy, with people now being able to rent other’s homes, cars and even clothes. Every sector has spotted this increasing trend, and the success of Airbnb, the sharing economy of spare rooms has led to companies appearing that are specialising solely on peer to peer renting. With recent advances in technology, it is now cheaper and easier for these companies to reach a mass audience, but how can you tell which company has the most potential and longevity in this ever growing arena?

Here are our top 7 sharing economy companies that we are expecting big things from in the coming months:

  1. DogBuddy
    The go to destination for pet owners, DogBuddy pairs pet owners who are looking for trustworthy people to sit, with keen pet lovers. With a community that is growing every day, this company has certainly picked up on huge number of pet owners looking for an alternative to kennels.Dog Vacay Sharing Economy App The PHA Group
  2. Borrow my Doggy
    The go-to for dog-lovers looking to bond with a local pup for shorter periods of time, Borrow My Doggy helps owners find someone to walk and look after their dog when they can’t. Perfect for dog-lovers in the city who can’t keep a pet of their own full time.Y3TF47KGF7
  3. Spinlister
    A great app for those looking to try new sport without the expenses, Spinlister allows you to rent a bike, surfboard or snowboard from someone nearby who shares your interests. Although an American company, Spinlister has bike users in London and is looking to expand itself out into new areas soon- definitely one to watch!Spinlister Sharing Economy Tech PR The PHA Group
  4. Gamping
    An Airbnb for campers, Gamping helps you source the perfect location for you all your camping adventures, whether it be a space with ocean front views or a pitch in the middle of a vineyard. Although still relatively new to the market, being only two years old, the company already boasts 8,000 locations in 42 countries, with the UK being their next focus. It certainly has the potential to do for camping what Airbnb has done for rentals with the right PR strategy.Camping Sharing Economy The PHA Group
  5. easyCarClub
    Our own client, easyCar Club, is making waves in social car renting. The platform lets car owners rent out their vehicles to other people to make some extra cash – with average earnings of £1,800 per year. The platform – which lets you search for cars by area and time needed – is a convenient, affordable alternative to traditional car hire.driving
  6. LoveHomeSwap
    Home Swap has taken Airbnb and gone one step further, allowing families to completely swap their lives for a new take on holidays. If you’re a family with children, this is a great way to travel light, as you can swap with another family that already has all the toys, keeping your luggage to the minimum. The website is also flexible to your needs – you can swap at the same time or agree on different dates, or simply stay in another swapper’s home without doing a direct swap. The best part is that there it cuts the cost of a hefty hotel bill, replacing with a small membership fee.Home Swap App Tech PR The PHA Group
  7. Twickets
    Twickets is the go to for anyone who is tired of paying extortionate amounts for tickets on trading platforms. Describing itself as ‘Fair to Fans’, Twickets allows traders to sell their tickets for face value or cheaper and is set to pose a real challenge to secondary tickets sites, such as Viagogo and Seatwave.Ticket App for cheap concert tickets