Evolve CommunicationsArticles by: Daniel

Posts By: Daniel

Cut through the Noise to Get Past Seed Stage

Cut Through the Noise

Well-known startup speaker and doer, Paul Singh, shared some interesting words of wisdom recently in a Washington Business Journal article. According to Singh, there are two reasons why startups have difficulty getting past the seed stage. The first is that there’s a lot of competition between companies to get the next round of funding. The second:

They get lost in the noise.

Quite simply, they don’t do a good enough job of grabbing–and holding–the attention of their potential customers. There are likely a lot of competitors out there, many with bigger budgets, who can drown out others in the field.

So, how does a startup cut through the noise so they can get to the next stage? The answer is one part ingenuity, one part elbow grease, and one part stick-to-itiveness.

Ingenuity

Terms like innovation and creativity get thrown around a lot (too much) in the business world, but we think a better term to focus on is ingenuity. Today’s marketing takes being a little clever as well as inventive. Not in a sneaky or under-handed way, but in a way that can quickly grab, hold and engage your audience for a good reason. Being clever in your marketing is important, but it also can apply to your product development (this is especially important as you iterate). Zig when others are zagging. Tell your story in a way that helps people feel the problem you’re trying to solve, so that they can feel the relief your product brings them. Think hard (see elbow grease below) about what makes your customers tick, what makes them pull the trigger, and find interesting and fun ways to get them to pull that trigger. Of course, you can burn those triggers out, but that’s o.k.  If you have a little ingenuity you will come up with something new when that happens.

Elbow Grease

Did your parents ever tell you when you were a kid to put some “elbow grease” into it? Ours sure did, especially when it came to household chores. Marketing and public relations is hard work. It takes a keen mind for both strategy and attention to detail. It often requires long hours, hunched over a computer, a spreadsheet, a media list. It takes constant vigilance of your social media accounts to make sure you respond to every tweet. But, as you may have found out when you were younger, the more work you put into something oftentimes the more rewarding it can be (unless, of course, that something is doing household chores). Take the time to do some market research. Take the time to hone your message. Take the time to get to know and interact with your customers.

Stick-to-itiveness

Like elbow grease, marketing and public relations takes an on-going and sustained effort. This is particularly challenging for startups who may not have the longest runway (gotta keep that burn rate under control!). And while we offer one-off, tactically-focused PR packages for startups, it’s not unusual for the results of these efforts to resemble blips on a radar that come and go. In other words, the results get out there, the company picks up some users (or 40,000 in one case), and then user growth and sales die as soon as the attention shifts away from their product.

So, if you’re a startup and you can’t afford to hire a PR or marketing firm, or even an intern to help you, here’s how you tackle stick-to-itiveness: Spend 15 minutes/day sending email introductions to reporters and editors in your industry. Spend another 15-30 minutes just scanning Twitter or other social platforms for relevant hashtags. And, perhaps most importantly, spend 15 minutes/day staring out into space (we know, this seems counter-intuitive, but trust us–this works wonders for your ingenuity).

Don’t be worried about failure or rejection (of course won’t–you’re an entrepreneur!). Stick to it, even when the clever thoughts aren’t coming or you feel like what you’re doing is hard. By committing these relatively small amounts of time, you’ll find after a few months, you’ll have actually achieved some results.


Get Your Public Relations Strategy Right!

Push-Ups

It’s the start of a new year, and that means it’s a good time to get your public relations strategy in tip top shape. Like working out to stay in shape, it’s important to regularly visit your PR strategy to make sure it’s working right.

There are five essential components to a strategy that will help define your PR initiatives. They are:

  • Objectives: What do you want to achieve?
  • Audience: With whom are you communicating?
  • Messages: What do you want to say?
  • Channels: What are the means through which you’ll communicate?
  • Measurement: How will you know if you’re successful?

Let’s talk about each of these individually.

Objectives: Seems pretty clear, right? For most businesses, objectives are fairly easy to define. More downloads, more sales, more leads, better brand awareness, etc. Those are quite common, but they’re not the only objectives that PR might address. Many times, PR is a deft tool for shaping opinions: How aware are people about an issue and how do they feel about it? What are people’s perceptions of things, such as corn syrup, crude oil, etc. a public relations strategy can be developed to influence how people think and feel.

Audience: This term is somewhat antiquated, but is still commonly used. A more accurate term, however, would be stakeholder. That refers to the larger group of people who are affected by a company’s actions. That could be customers, but it could also be anyone who could positively or negatively influence customer decisions, community members, or government officials.

Messages:  We like to say in our proposals that it’s not just what you say, but how you say it, that matters. The art of messaging (and it really is an art), is the process of developing messages that will not just trigger actions, thoughts or feelings among your audiences, but is rather a process of finding the language that will address your audiences’ needs and desires in a way that creates positive feelings about your brand, product or company. It is not a call to action, at least not necessary, nor are messages often specific talking points (though that can be part of them). Instead, they are the phrases and sentences that move your audiences closer to your point of view.

Channels: Back in the old days, there were likely just a few newspapers, three TV channels, and a handful of radio stations in each city. Today, the number of channels is almost infinite. Because time is a precious resources, this part of your strategy needs to prioritize which channels are most important to you. Now, most companies instantly think, “If I just get national media attention, all my problems will be solved.” Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. There are many circumstances where national media shouldn’t be as high of a priority. In other words, it’s best to work to find targeted channels that your audiences pay attention to. Whether that’s traditional media outlets or social networks, it’s essential to spend time communicating through channels where the people seeing your messages and engaging with you will most likely respond.

Measurement: Measuring public relations can be truly challenging, but many strides have been made to tie PR activities to Return on Investment or at least Return on Relationship (ROR). While measuring things like impact on sales is important, it’s not the only yard stick that will tell you if your PR campaign is working. Instead, it’s important to look at metrics such as level and quality of engagement (particularly if your strategy involves social media), clarity and frequency of message, and other similar stats that have less to do with a company or organization’s bottom line and more to do with how well they are managing their relationships.

 

Please note, that these are pieces of a strategy, but they do not constitute a full PR plan. We’ll be going over that in another blog post, but if you need help figuring out your public relations strategy, don’t hesitate to contact us.

 


Evolve Communications Barrels into New Year with Six New Clients

anchorman_jumping

Evolve Communications Barrels into New Year with Six New Clients and One Returning Client

PR Firm to Execute Creative Product Launches, Rebranding, and a Variety of Digital and Traditional Campaigns

 

Baltimore, Md. (March 31, 2014)—Evolve Communications, a Baltimore-based public relations and marketing firm that specializes in working with disruptive companies, is pleased to announce the expansion of their portfolio with six new clients for 2014.

 

The firm’s new clients include:

 

  • Gwee Global (gogwee.com) has retained Evolve Communications to launch their national line of hi-tech cleaning accessories for smart phones, and tablets.

 

  • CharmTV (tv25baltimore.com/), Baltimore City’s television station, has engaged Evolve Communications to implement a strategic public relations campaign for its rebrand as CharmTV from TV25.

 

  • Concourse Express (ConcourseExpress.com), innovators of the only courtesy car fleet management solution designed with dealers for dealers, has hired Evolve Communications to launch its new web-based, workflow-integrated loaner car solution, and build awareness of and demand for the Concourse Express solution among auto dealerships using both public relations and social media.

 

  • Capital Media Group (CapMedia.com), a media buying agency that focuses on quantitative results, has teamed up with Evolve to develop robust and informative blog content for their website.

 

  • OpiaTalk (OpiaTalk.com), a Baltimore-based ecommerce startup, has hired Evolve Communications to support their launch.

 

  • Grid Waste (gridwaste.com), an online waste remove procurement, management and payment system, has retained Evolve Communications to promote its platform in the DC metro region and to beyond.

 

  • The Rosen Group (AmericanMadeShow.com), producers of The American Made Show, has renewed their contract with Evolve Communications. Evolve will continue to provide media relations, social media implementation, as well as provide support for the upcoming tradeshow’s move to Washington, DC.

 

“We are excited to have forged partnerships with such an amazing and diverse group of clients. It’s both exhilarating and humbling to be able to work on these projects that range from the local to the national,” states Daniel Waldman, President of Evolve Communications. “We have worked hard to get where we are over the last year and are very proud of the creative work we produce.”

 

Evolve Communications continues to explore new ways to help its clients deliver brand experiences by expanding its strategic offerings. Recently, the firm released Product Launches that Pack a PUNCH! to help startups better manage the product launch process is available as a free download at http://simplyevolve.com/launch. For more information on Evolve Communications, visit http://simplyevolve.com/

 

About Evolve Communications

Evolve Communications creates powerful, meaningful, and effective marketing and PR solutions that fits all types of budgets. Evolve has worked with businesses and organizations of all sizes–and at all stages. Evolve’s work and affordability has made it a choice partner for startups across the country, and in 2012 Evolve launched Rocket Packs for Startups to better serve this community. Rocket Packs for Startups are a set of low-cost marketing and PR packages designed for startups at all stages and levels, intended to give startups the lift they need—to get off the ground or to the next level.