View a full range of our ebooks

View full library

Explore

Our Location

The PHA Group
117 Wardour Street,
Hammer House,
London,
W1F 0UN

0207 0251 350
info@thephagroup.com
PHA Digital Studio
Fourth Floor,
47 Dean St,
Soho,
London,
W1D 5BE

0207 0251 350
info@thephagroup.com
PHA Finance Department
117 Wardour Street,
Hammer House,
London,
W1F 0UN

0207 0251 350
info@thephagroup.com

London Technology Week – PR Tips for Tech Brands

London Technology Week – PR Tips for Tech Brands

Next week the capital will light up as plucky Silicon Roundabout start-ups and tech heavyweights alike swarmed to London Technology Week 2016, Europe’s largest gathering of tech events.

After the popularity of our seminar last year, our Technology & Innovation team will once again host our own talk on Tuesday to help innovators across a wide variety of industries learn how to get their brand noticed ahead of the competition.

And to give you a sneak peek, here’s an overview of our top tips for getting your tech brand 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 Your 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 work with Purplebricks, the hybrid estate agency, we used their CEO’s expertise to secure them interview slots on the likes of Sky News to comment on house price statistics.

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.

Purplebricks' CEO, Michael Bruce, gives his expertise on Sky News

Purplebricks’ CEO, Michael Bruce, gives his expertise on Sky News

 

Creative Campaigns

Creative campaigns 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.

The #PowwowHelpMeNow campaign moved a stuffy office to a roof terrace

The #PowwowHelpMeNow campaign moved a stuffy office to a roof terrace

 

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 Studies

In order to humanise your brand, case studies and journalist trials 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 and journalist trials which have made the headlines in key titles for our clients.

For property rental app, Movebubble, we sent a journalist on a ‘virtual property viewing’, securing coverage in TimeOut, Evening Standard and The Sunday Times.

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.

Happn’s case studies shaped an impressive piece

Happn’s case studies shaped an impressive piece

 

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.

Double, Double Toil & Trouble; Private Valuations & Fintech Bubble

Every couple of months an article or two regarding the ‘fintech bubble’ floats onto the pages of online and print media.

“Are we in a bubble? Will it burst?” fret the writers of such articles. “Are valuations based on real worth or mere chatter? Could fintech be the next Dot-Com?”

Reading these, it can seem a little like the sector is just waiting for a disaster to happen. Like all the hype is a brave face belying a fragile body.

However, questions like these should come as little surprise. Despite a sizzling market, it’s smart to stay a little wary and acknowledge that just because entrepreneurs and investors are excited doesn’t mean everything is smooth sailing. After all, startups fail. That’s a thing that happens. And with the massive explosion of new businesses, it’s indubitable many – if not most – will fail.

Does this mean there’s a bubble?

Let’s have a look.

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 23.55.56

2015 was a big year for the tech sector. Huge even. According to the capital’s promotional company London & Partners, a record $3.65bn (£2.5bn) was invested in private UK tech companies in 2015, equating to around a 70% rise in funding for startups compared to 2014. Around a quarter of this funding went to the financial services sector. This escorted a coming of age for fintech as it entered mainstream consciousness through new mobile payment options, the rise of companies like Transferwise, and some headline grabbing statistics as unicorn after unicorn raised their highly valued horns.

But Q4 also saw the beginning of something of a slow down in tech investment. After hitting dot-com funding levels in Q3, things began cooling off.

According to research from CB Insights, venture capital funding fell by 30% during the second half of 2015, with far fewer ‘mega-rounds’ of investment in Q4 in particular.

To make the situation sound even more dubious, the unicorns are beginning to look a lot like horses dowsed in glitter – at least if the latest tech IPOs are anything to go by. Square (and Match) received a decidedly chilly welcome as their shares sold for under the projected offering range, suggesting retail investors are more sceptical than expected when it comes to private tech valuations.

Cue: mild concern followed by sensational headlines about bubbles and what happens when one bursts.

However, take a step back and a deep breath and it’s fairly clear beyond the fluff pieces and general buzz of big ideas there’s some actual substance. There’s a different kind of cycle happening in financial technology compared to just ‘bubble and burst’.

For one, whilst the ‘coming-of-age’ may have been the growth cycle of the last two years, fintech has been around for a lot longer than that. As Bruce Wallace pointed out in Finextra:

What’s different now? The new fintech technology startups are now mostly selling their solutions directly to consumers and businesses instead of selling to the traditional FI channel. The increased efficiencies are changing customer expectations and shaping the future of financial services.

This shift is important. It’s a maturation of an established industry. Indicative of the changing mentality within the larger financial sector.

Furthermore, it conveys why disruptors have had such success in the last two years and why now there might be a cooling as money begins to flow into ‘enablers’ instead. Fintech has largely revealed the potential – or indeed the necessity – of its products. Payments companies and alternative lenders like Zopa, Funding Circle, and WorldRemit comprise the majority of the 35 unicorns in the sector. And part of the reason for this is because the landscape they are entering has remained stagnant for so long that a real need exists to innovate. By innovating they’re taking part of the market share away from the incumbents. By innovating they’re reforming.

As Chris Skinner said, “That’s why there’s no Fintech bubble bursting.  Just a re-architecting of finance through technology that, until it finishes, will see us moving through waves of innovation and change.”

This is why banks are ‘getting serious’ about fintech as well. Why they are pouring in their own money to digitise, to gamify, to tap into all the things that disruptors have emphasised and monetised in the last few years.

Of course, acknowledging a change in mentality doesn’t alter the fact that there has been a drop in deals.

But to play devil’s advocate, according to research by Erin Griffith’s for Fortune there’s also a distinction to be made between late-stage investors and early-stage investors regarding the slowdown reported by CB Insights.

According to the late-stage investors, there is a new element of caution. ‘Market dynamics are setting the bar much higher’ than before. They don’t want to keep funding businesses reliant on private money without turning a profit. On the other hand, early-stage investors are pretty much continuing the same as ever.

Why the disparity?

In part it’s because the prices are simply too high to tempt many professional VCs. They’re willing to wait to see the weaker business models shaken out by failures and takeovers. However, it also seems to relate to investors simply not wanting to feel the burn of another popped tech bubble and acute awareness of the swathe of ‘down-rounds’ where fintech companies have IPOed. Essentially, early stage investors have been paying too high prices and need to adjust expectation, which can be done with future investments. Everyone is thus left thinking maybe they should be wary, maybe they should keep on the side of realism instead of being succored in by mythical beasts, maybe they should stick to the usual methods of valuing a company like cash flow and profit.

At the end of the day it’s not being negative to accept that many of our startups will die. And it’s not foolish to consider that just maybe there is “too much money chasing too few assets” as Damien Lane, partner at Episode 1, told The Times. It’s simply pragmatic. And what’s falling in London’s favour is that VCs have largely maintained their pragmatism in the face of a booming sector. Especially when compared to New York and Silicon Valley.

There is no doubt that 2016 will be a pivotal year for fintech. As recent and upcoming exits play out we’ll really begin to see which business are worthy of the hype and which are not. But as yet the bubble is as close to unreal as many billion-dollar valuations.