The Experts Speak: How to Brand Your Startup

August 21, 2015

This past year’s SXSW festival offered audiences enough movies, music and tech to keep busy until – you guessed it – next year’s SXSW. For those in the know, however, that wasn’t the end of the fun. From July 19th to the 22nd there was an additional SXSW event, the SXSW v2v in Las Vegas. This boutique event, aimed to help startups grow, brought together great minds and offered future business moguls an opportunity to learn from and connect with industry leaders.

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One of the topics discussed during the four days in Vegas was how a new company can develop a brand with which audiences will identify. Melodie Tao, Marketing Consultant and Founder of Marketing Melodie, spoke on just that and left the crowd inspired.

Coverage and highlights of the session can be found here.

“How can you establish your brand?” was the first question Melodie posed, and what followed was a series of tips and insider tricks to connect with modern markets. Find out what she had to say and how it might apply to your business.

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Business Wire CEO Cathy Baron Tamraz also spoke about startups prior to the Vegas event at the Austin SXSW. Her fireside chat was insightful and declared that “every business has an audience.” Coverage of the conversation can be found here.


“Every Business Has an Audience” is a Key Takeaway from SXW2O

March 17, 2015

By Vilan Trub, Business Wire

The venue was large and had already been entertained by the great Al Roker by the time Jim Weiss (CEO, W2O Group) and Cathy Baron Tamraz (CEO, Business Wire) stepped on stage. They had their hands full with a standing room-only audience and only saying something fundamentally mind blowing would turn it around. Fortunately for the crowd, that’s exactly what happened.

Cathy and Jim at SXW2O event

During the session, Cathy was asked how a newswire service could support a startup or organization that journalists weren’t actively looking for information on. “If you have a business, you have an audience,” she told the crowd. “Safe is not going to win the game.”

More news is being created and consumed now than ever in the history of modern man, she continued, adding that there are trade papers, journalists, online publications and consumers looking for relevant company news every day. You don’t have to be a big name brand to get noticed; you just have to have a good product or piece of news. In a world so cluttered with content, it was refreshing to hear someone say what every successful large and small organization knows to be true. You don’t have to be big to get noticed — you just have to appeal to your core audience.

Apple WatchTo reiterate the point that smaller companies can greatly benefit with a newswire service, Cathy cited her own company’s history. When Business Wire first launched over 50 years ago, they were distributing news for companies like Hewlett-Packard, companies that were being run out of garages. This hasn’t changed much. From startup launches to the introduction of the Apple watch, Business Wire continues to distribute market moving news across a wide range of industries.

Jim Weiss chimed in, adding that startups need to get into the practice of issuing releases. It is important to start building and archiving a digital trail for your company during its earliest stages. The digital revolution also created a wide variety of options for the format of your distributed information.

Both Jim and Cathy agreed that multimedia was not just beneficial to a news release, but a requirement in modern news consumption programming. Modern communicators like Hasbro, Intel, Cigna and more are leveraging multimedia assets like News and Picture Capsules that allow users to play a game while learning about the brand and product. IntelBy incorporating interactive multimedia within the news story, audiences spend far more time on the news announcement than they would had it just been a simple text release.  Text-only news releases engage readers for seconds, while interactive-based releases are showing engagement results between 4-10 minutes – rates that are unheard of in the current communications and content marketing space.

The next topic covered was the importance of measurement in the communication space.  Measurability is the single greatest tool in identifying how a release is impacting the market and the company goals alike. Advents, such as NUVI, create an ability to not only see where your news release is being picked up but who is engaging with it and how – reading, sharing or advocating. Being able to distinguish the public reaction of your release gives you the opportunity to take control over your campaign like never before.

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The lineup at this year’s SXW2O was fantastic, and the reason why is because the speakers were inspiring. There is a great feeling to knowing that you can make an impact especially when the message is coming from people who make an impact every day, like Jim Weiss and Cathy Baron Tamraz. The question now is who are you trying to activate with your news, and how can Business Wire help you distribute it?

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Takin’ It To The Streets – Your Brand, That Is

March 19, 2009

As if they anticipated my earlier post on the Pew Project report and its implications for PR and marketing, SmartBlog on Social Media (which is written by our partner SmartBrief), talks about a panel at last week’s SXSWi, in which three Fortune 500 brands discussed their own engagement with social media.  Three companies in three very different business segments have shown major success by leveraging Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other tools. 

These companies — H&R Block, Carnival Cruise Lines and JC Penney — have always been major spenders in television and print advertising.  Now they’re finding new ways to succeed by going straight to consumers.  And as TV and newspaper numbers shrink, and corresponding ad dollars get redirected, that’s what a lot of other companies are going to find themselves doing, too.

(JC Penney’s campaign, I should note, included a traditional press release and a social-media-friendly followup release which resulted in nearly 400 click-throughs to their microsite just from the BusinessWire.com page alone.)


Context As King…and other Lessons from SXSWi 2008…

March 18, 2008

guitar hero at SXSW 2008Four days at South by Southwest Interactive   (SXSWi) yielded many lessons for this recently appointed Vice President of New Media.  Apart from ubiquitous guitar hero contests and a ride in a simulated racecar that was so real I got carsick,  the panels and discussions at the annual interactive and gaming festival taught me alot.         Guitar Hero at SXSW Interactive 2008

Here’s some insights:                                                                                  

1. The Geek Nation can be brutal.   The audience at the Mark Zuckerburg keynote was vicious in  attacks on Sarah Lacy, the hair-twirling valleygirl journalist whose interview with the Facebook founder provoked an unforgiving backchannel on Twitter, the microblogging and social networking service.    While Lacy deserved criticism for misjudging her audience and a flirty approach, the ambush seemed a bad fit for her “crime” of being lame.  As Catherine B. Taylor of Social Media Insider pondered:  “…is this…the punishment we can expect…for a particularly bad day at the office?”  The episode has made me reconsider Twitter.

2.  With new and social media it’s all about YOU.  Kathy Sierra’s presentation, “How to Create Passionate Users,” explained that what customers think of you or your company doesn’t matter.  What’s important is how your products and services make customers feel.   A tad Maya Angelou, perhaps, but Kathy’s example of the typical Help Desk experience provoking either an accepting “Ooops!” or angry “You bastards!” from users proves her case. 

3. Social media will have it THEIR way (an extension of Insight #2 above), OR they will leave.   One FAQ: what to do when the boss “just doesn’t get” that social media takes time?  In four separate sessions, social media marketers bemoaned the “glacial” pace of change in their companies, wondering how to convince the boss to be patient with social media initiatives.  

 Advice from the experts: “Life’s too short.  Go work for somebody who understands.” 

4.  Content or Context as King?   Multiple sessions touched on the back-to-the-future notion that once again, content rules.   Valuable content, well written, appropriately distributed reaps audience.   When Social Media Club founder Chris Heuer and I debated this over beers at the Dell Lounge, Chris pointed out, “No, Monika.  CONTEXT is king.”

Chris may be right.   What do you think? 


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