Archive for 'Outreach'

Mar 11

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Apps, Clients, Events, Outreach, Products, Stage Two

Grouped{in} Launches Group Messaging App – Brings Tacos To SXSW

Are you interested in keeping up with the latest news and happenings from SXSW? Do you love delicious tacos, Rube Goldberg machines and dunk tanks? Then read on, friends.

Stage Two client Grouped{in} is bringing their recently launched mobile group messaging app to SXSW in Austin, Texas, along with a boatload of fun events and activities. There will be live updates from KXAN weather man Jim Spencer, an outdoor activity group with RunTex- did we mention that there will be tacos? There will be tacos.

Grouped{in} is the only group messaging app that allows you to simply communicate across multiple channels – including Facebook, email, phone, SMS and Twitter.

A full itinerary is available here. If you want to meet up with the Grouped{in} gang in Austin (or anytime, really) email meghan@stagetwo.com.

Feb 02

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Blogging, Outreach

These Applications Will Boost Productivity, Reduce Stress

Jeremy Toeman recently authored a guest post on the SimpleProductivity Blog that examines ways technology can increase productivity and reduce stress. Quoting from the article:

Managing your time effectively can greatly increase your productivity and remove unneeded anxiety in your life. There are amazing tech tools out there that will improve your productivity and save you time.

Too often people get overwhelmed or upset with the gadgets in their lives. I believe that great technology can help people live a simpler, more beneficial life.

The piece then looks at several applications that can save you time and help organize your life. From Evernote to Stage Two’s own creation NudgeMail, there are a variety of lifehacks available to you for free.

We want to thank SimpleProductivity Blog for helping us evangelize amazing tech to a new audience.

Jan 17

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Blogging, Outreach, Press, Social Media, Stage Two

The 10 Commandments of Tech PR

It seems like only yesterday that Moses came down from the mountain with 15 10 Commandments for righteous living.

Like Moses, we have received 10 unbreakable laws. Unlike Moses, our list only covers Tech PR and Social Media Best Practices. These rules will give you moral clarity whether you are working with enterprise level technologies or lifestyle electronics; cloud computing or home networking; gadgets or accessories.

Without further preamble, we present the 10 Commandments of Tech PR.

1. Thou Shalt Not Spam

If your “pitches” are mass emails to outdated and/or irrelevant media lists then they are not outreach. They are spam. Be sure to keep your media lists current and tailor them to best meet the needs of your client. Unless you are pitching a maritime gadget, you probably shouldn’t contact Sport Fishing Magazine.

2. Thou Shall Only Pitch News

Don’t pitch a story because your client said to. Don’t pitch a story in order to tell the client you pitched a story. Don’t pitch a story you know is forgettable. Don’t pitch a story that looks like an ad. Don’t pitch a story that looks like the intern wrote it. It sounds simple, but many tech PR professionals forget this Commandment. Only Pitch News.

3. Thou Shalt Be Aware of Current Trends

Read everything you can get your hands on. Understand how your client relates to current media and technology trends and pitch accordingly.

4. Thou Shalt Not Pitch Products You Don’t Believe In.

It is best to work for companies whose work you believe in. When you represent amazing products, you can speak with integrity and authority.

Great products make great PR.

When Tech PR people are passionate about the products and services they pitch, the result is usually better outreach, more coverage and increased buzz.

If you are pitching a bad product that you don’t care about, it will probably show in your work. Even if you create “professional” releases for sub-par products, word will get out that you and your firm work with second tier clients. That is a reputation no PR professional wants to have.

5. Honor the Exclusive and Embargoed Release

Never leak your own rumors anonymously to the internet just to drum up interest in your client. If you ensure your pitches are newsworthy, relevant, interesting and aligned with current trends, the buzz will take care of itself.

6. Thou Shalt Not Pitch Products You Don’t Understand

If you don’t know how the gadget works or what the device does you should not be pitching it. If you look at the specs and can’t grok what they mean, then you should not be pitching that product. If you don’t have a deep understanding of the technology you are pitching, you need to stop pitching that technology.

7. Thou Shalt Not Guarantee Coverage

It’s impossible to guarantee coverage. Don’t do it.

8. Thou Shall Speak English

You would think that speaking in technical jargon would only occur in the enterprise space. You would be wrong. Speak English. Avoid Specs and Jargon at all costs. No one cares that the processing power of your pocket popcorn popper increased 20%. People care about benefits, not features. Do not blog like a calculator. Be sure to use spell check and make sure your work has perfect punctuation.

9. Thou Shall Not Bear False Witness Against Your Client

Never lie to the press. Ever. Not even a little bit. It is immoral. It is also bad for your clients and your own reputation. When people know that your word is your bond, they will grow to trust and respect your  pitches. Ethical business is good business.

10. Thou Shall Be Creative

Most tech press releases go unread. Don’t be afraid to get creative when reaching out to the media. Instead of a press release, how about hosting an event? The secret to coverage isn’t free booze – it’s positioning great technology in creative and relevant ways.

If you have any more Tech PR Commandments, be sure to inscribe them in the comments section below.

Jan 13

Posted by Jeremy Toeman and Greg Franzese

Posted in Blogging, Clients, Events, Gadgets, Marketing, Outreach, Press, Products, Smart TV, Stage Two

CES By The Numbers

The following numbers were compiled during Stage Two’s journey to CES this year.

Number of Clients Named Finalists for iLounge’s Best of Show CES 2011: 1

Broadcast Interviews Held: 7

Number of Clubs We Talked Our Way In: 6

Number of S2 Clients Named Mashable Awards Finalists: 1

Number of Articles Published Mentioning S2 Clients: 199 (and counting)

Number of Stage Two Clients Featured in this Wall Street Journal Article: 2

Alcoholic Beverages Consumed: 94

Times Clients Appeared Live on G4 TV: 1

Press Briefings Conducted: 343

International Articles Posted: 7

USA Today Video Interviews Delivered: 2

Number of Cigars Smoked: 4

Number of Tweets Sent: 296

Total Hours of Media Training Provided To Clients: 53

Client Mentions in Rolling Stone: 1

Impressions Delivered: Millions

Number of Miles Walked: 129

Times We Ate Reese’s instead of Dinner: 3

Number of Colds Caught: 1.5

Ars Technica Articles Published: 1

Number of Business Cards Collected: 384

Number of Filets ordered: 1

Apr 07

Posted by David

Posted in Marketing, Outreach

Update: Legacy Locker is open for business

Some exciting news this morning from Legacy Locker.  As of 8AM PST, the service is open for business and ready for use.  As we noted last month, Stage Two’s own Jeremy Toeman and Adam Burg are the founders of Legacy Locker, a company incubated in-house here at our San Francisco office, and built and managed by a skilled external team. Last month we announced the company to modest (OK awesome) fanfare, and today anyone and everyone is welcome to visit the site and sign up for the service.

Legacy Locker Digital Assets PageAs a reminder, Legacy Locker is designed to help transition your online accounts (your digital assets) in the event of your passing.  The service ensures that access to all the sites and services you use online (email, social networks, and other websites) are safely and securely passed on to your designated beneficiaries.

The press release is now live, and we will update the coverage list throughout the day.

Jan 26

Posted by Jeremy

Posted in Blogging, Marketing, Outreach

Are Bloggers Underutilizing PR People?

I’ve read more blog posts and tweets about how “all” PR is bad, full of spammers and people likely to go out and club the occasional baby seal. I wish I could say this was super-far from the truth, but from the stories I hear, along with the pitches I get for LIVEdigitally, it seems like a lot of these complaints are justifiable.  But, just as much as generalizations are over-used against PR people, I’ve noticed an equally, if not more, disturbing trend from bloggers and social media users in general.  It seems like there’s a trend toward less due diligence than in years past, in fact there’s often no fact-checking or other research done prior to a blog post or a tweet.

As much as PR people are here to pass news along to content creators, another reason for the existence of the trade is to support the news making/breaking process.  PR people are here to answer questions, support fact checking processes, provide access to executives for interviews, etc.  And just as guilty as they may be for deluging underinterested bloggers in uninteresting news, they are not being used as a good resource for many a blogger.

Our firm prides itself on its relationships and reputation (amongst other things).  We are well-known not to spam, and take a lot of effort to try to self-select which media outlets would be interested in our clients.  But even with that degree of credibility, I still feel there is a missing element to modern news-making. Here are the three most disturbing observations I have:

  1. An utter lack of inbound requests from bloggers to companies/PR firms for anything other than review units.  No asking for comments, interviews etc.  Recently one of our clients had a really great wave of blog posts get written, without a single one of those bloggers contacting us to check details of the story or get an extra quote from the CEO.
  2. A tendency to publish/tweet first, wait for corrections and more content later.  There’s been a lot of posts written with a goal to be “first” (or near-first) on a topic, without getting into details.  I’ve seen tweets and posts happen that make wild assumptions or accusations, and only see fixes or retractions much later.  There is unquestionably a stronger emphasis on breaking any news than there is an emphasis on reporting accurate stories.
  3. A likelihood to use other bloggers as “sources” without any fact-checking.  This one pretty much goes without saying.  It is as if an article on TechCrunch or Engadget is simply “factual” just because it’s there (incidentally, I picked those blogs solely due to their size, not because they have done anything wrong and I am not calling them out for any wrongdoings).

I find these trends upsetting in many ways because of the relationships we have.  When a rumor (true or not) begins spreading across tech blogs, we would expect to get numerous inbound requests for information.  We are accessible via IM, email, phone, and Twitter, and virtually anyone we pitch has all of our contact information.  Yet we hear virtually nothing, and are more likely to hear inquiries from those who don’t know us.

So what’s going wrong?  I asked a few of my blogger friends their opinions, here’s some of what I heard (note the context here was me sending them the above statements, so this doesn’t necessarily reflect how they blog as individuals!):

Joshua Topolsky (Editor-in-Chief, Engadget): The news flow being what it is, it can be hard to wait on a quote from a CEO, and more often than not, the quotes they want to give us are generally as safe as possible. Companies often deflect or deny even when there’s a real story at play, so it’s a tight spot to be in, we’re breaking news in new ways, and companies are combating having their secrets spilled, surprises ruined, or plans misunderstood.  Overall though, I see a lot of writers making the mistake of shooting first (with their eyes closed), not bothering to ask questions later, and never owning up to anything.

Marshall Kirkpatrick (Lead Blogger, ReadWriteWeb): Right now there’s little incentive in terms of page views to do any but the most high quality research.  Cursory, matter of course, due diligence doesn’t get a whole lot of reward.   I’ve done it in the past and try to now when I can, but readers rarely seem to care.  Well earned scoops do get rewarded, but few bloggers have the chops or work priorities to focus on scoring those.

Louis Gray (independent blogger): If a story is “interesting”, but not a game changer, I tend to typically just ask for a login so I can check it out and do screenshots. On longer-lead stories, I do trade e-mails with the developer, but not if I expect they are “blasting” the announcement to a ton of folks, because then the effort seems wasted. I also tend to send the URL of the post to the contact after it’s up to ask them to make sure it is “right”.

Dave Zatz (independent blogger): Unfortunately, I think for many bloggers being first is important for traffic which directly corresponds to ad revenue. And of course controversy sells. Most of my PR people I have a relationship with at this point, so it’s very different. In fact, I’m visiting a company in Virginia tomorrow to be briefed by the CEO. No freebie hardware, just an overview for me and I’ll shoot some pics.

Robert Scoble (aka The Scobleizer): It seems like a majority of the time when I ask a PR person for something I want, I get answered “no”, and it sours me on working with PR people.  Also, I think there’s not much homework being done, just a lot of repurposing press releases.  I think it’s not just a blogger thing, by the way, I think it’s a journalism thing in general these days. There’s exceptions to these rules, and they really stand out from the crowd.  Lastly, there’s too much pressure on being first, yet there’s no pressure on being right.

It’s probably not too hard for me to go out on a limb and say the incentive system in place for modern journalism is, in a word, screwed.  Bloggers are pushed by numerous market forces to be first, under any circumstances – a fact that was equally lamented by the bloggers with whom I spoke. And with the high growth rate of Twitter as the next big place to break news, it doesn’t seem like a problem that’s about to get better or go away.  Which is sad, but probably just the state of things for now.

That said, I sure do hope to see more people playing at the same level.  It’s easy to call out PR firms, since so many do employ inappropriate, outdated media buying techniques.  But it’s easy to call out bloggers and twitterers too. There are a lot of glass houses out there, and rapid-fire typists with pervasive Internet access are throwing more and more stones, inadvertently or not.

Dec 18

Posted by David

Posted in Blogging, Clients, Outreach, Press, Social Media

Client News: 12seconds Launches their Beta Site AND Release an iPhone App

12seconds has some fun news to announce, the kind of news that’s a joy to pitch.   Today they launched a re-design of their website, unveiled their site to the general public in an open Beta, and released an iPhone application.  Apple approved their application and it’s on sale for $0.99 in the iTunes App Store.


iphone app for 12seconds.tv from Sol Lipman on Vimeo.

12seconds first launched in an invite-only alpha this past July.  Since then they’ve had wonderful success with users and gotten solid attention from the press.   Today is shaping up to be no different; a number of publications have covered the announcement, mostly with positive things to say.  We’ll continue to update this post with the news coverage as it occurs throughout the day.

Dec 17

Posted by Jeremy

Posted in Outreach

Why Embargoes Will Survive

Mike Arrington wrote a ranting-yet-good blog post today called Death to Embargoes, in which he states:

PR firms are out of control. Today we are taking a radical step towards fighting the chaos. From this point on we will break every embargo we agree to.

I’ve written before on the conundrum the embrago process creates, but considering a portion of our services include PR, I felt it important enough to address the topic.  Mike blames PR flacks, and he’s partially right yet partially wrong to do so.  I’m sure he gets a tremendous number of pitches, the vast majority of which are terrible.  As I’ve said many times, the PR industry itself is in a time of major transition.  The old-school tactics of blasting out releases to purchased media lists barely work at all, and, per Mike’s post, are causing more frustration than they are creating news.

But let’s share the blame a little bit, shall we?  These days, the momentum shift of newsmaking is being the absolute first to break a story.  We’ve heard numerous times that outlets won’t cover a piece of news because of pre-existing coverage, from the same day!  I wrote a blog post on how differing factors of online newsmaking have wreaked havoc on the entire PR process.  The problem is, there’s no “better” way to handle it.

So the fit hits the shan when these two competing interests meet up, which tends to centralize around “real” news (which I’ll define as something worthy of a blog post/article).  If we all stop using embargoes, then we have to tell the media news as it happens, which truly puts writers into a race situation.  Odds are less coverage for the company.  Furthermore, for those of us in the business of building real relationships with journalists, it’s a losing game.

The key problem is the unmovable object vs unstoppable force argument.  Companies need to attract attention to themselves. They need to be newsmakers.  The problem is there’s often a lack of interesting news.  At Stage Two we help our clients determine the stories we feel are newsworthy, and we do this based on our relationships with the media and bloggers we know.  Even then, there are times where we think the interest level will be high, but at the end of the day the pickup is low.  Hey, it happens.

On the flipside, bloggers are faced with the challenge of building traffic.  If you are in the business of breaking news, as sites like TechCrunch are, your brand will live or die based on your ability to have quality news.  So when your competition breaks an embargo or otherwise “scoops” you, you lose credibility, lose traffic, and therefore lose money.

I’ve also heard the argument made that embargoes cause the same story to get written in numerous outlets, and that this is a problem.  I don’t agree.  While us “echo chamber” people follow Techmeme and see the overlap, the majority of readers do not aggregate from all tech news sites.  They find writing styles they like, and while they may subscribe to several blogs, they certainly don’t look at things the way we do.  For the general news consumer, more/wider coverage is good.

So while I still believe in the embargo process, I also applaud Mike for calling the industry out on the problems.  I put the onus of responsibility on bloggers and “PR folk” alike.  Here at Stage Two we’ve had a few embargoes broken, and we take each very seriously. In every case we’ve received an apology and explanation from the outlet who broke it. In some cases entire publications are removed from our targets for a period of time.  Other times, we accept the mistake and move on.  It’s a two-way street.

I don’t think Mike’s solution is perfect, but I do like the fact that it will help “prune out” some of the signal from the noise. On both sides of the fence, that is.

Oct 28

Posted by David

Posted in Clients, Gadgets, Outreach

Client News: DeviceVM Signs with Lenovo, yet another Tier 1 OEM

DeviceVM, makers of the award winning Splashtop™ instant-on software issued a press release today announcing a partnership with Lenovo and a new Splshtop-enabled computer, the Lenovo S10e netbook.  We’ve thought for a long time that Splashtop makes perfect sense on a netbook.  The whole idea behind Splashtop is to get you on the Internet as fast as humanly possible.  Netbooks are lightweight, low-powered computers designed mainly for use on the Web (hence the name: netbook.)  Hand and glove.  It’s meant to be.

The press release went out this morning, and there’s been lots of great coverage so far.  We’ll continue to update this list throughout the day.

The new Splashtop UI, customized for Lenovo (“QuickStart”)

Aug 21

Posted by David

Posted in Clients, Outreach

Client News: 12seconds is releasing their API

Today 12seconds released their API, allowing 3rd parties to access and share content from the 12seconds.tv website.  Three partners who are using the API and integrating 12seconds into their products are joining the announcement today, including Tweetdeck, Phreadz, and Blippr.

As with the last announcement, we decided that a blog post was more in keeping with the flavor and style of the company than issuing a traditional press release.  We embrace both traditional and non-traditional means of promoting our clients, and this is a great example.  You don’t always have to issue a press release.

12seconds is a scrappy, under-funded team.   They’re wonderful, kind, silly, smart, earnest people who have made a killer product one a shoestring budget, and we’re glad to be working with them.  If you aren’t able to wangle an invitation to join their private alpha elsewhere, try sending an email to 12seconds@stagetwoconsulting.com, and we’ll see if we can help.

Coverage so far (will be updated throughout the day):

Techcrunch

Inquisitr

VentureBeat

CNET

Mashable

ReadWriteWeb

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