Archives for posts with tag: PR agency

Last Friday our clients’ comments were published in hundreds of different publications across the UK, US, France and Germany, here is how we did it:

On Thursday morning reports started to surface that Yahoo was expected to announce a huge data breach so we notified our clients straight away and asked them to prepare comments on the information that was available so that we could jump on the story as soon as it broke. Our clients prepared comments and then it was just a waiting game.

Around 8pm on Thursday night the story broke, Yahoo had officially announced the breach. So we immediately told our clients and asked if they needed to update their comments given the new information. As many of them are based in the US, they were still at work so getting a quick response wasn’t difficult.

By 9pm we had issued the comments to national and security press. Minutes later, Al Jazeera asked for a television interview and we managed to get a client on air that same evening.

Before even getting into the office the next morning we were already getting interview requests from the likes of ITN and International Business Times UK, let’s just say it was a very busy day of rushing around trying to get clients to TV studios in ridiculously tight deadlines (it’s situations like this that a private jet would be useful). We also asked our teams in France and Germany to translate the comments and issue them out (these are regions where responding to news like this is not the norm).

200387165-001The results were pretty incredible, the Press Association article syndicated across 447 publications, so the clients that were lucky enough to be mentioned in the article achieved a year’s worth of coverage in one day! Hits included, the Daily Mail, Independent and Huffington Post. In France, Le Figaro (a big national newspaper) even covered the story and other hits included InformatiqueNews.fr and Speicherguide in Germany.

What was interesting was that the few clients who were not quick enough to give us comment on Thursday did not get much coverage at all, even though we had sent their comments out on Friday morning before 10am. This is likely to be because journalists were so saturated with comments that they only used the first batch they received and wanted to push their stories out as soon as possible. So it really paid off that we were prepared to work unsociable hours on Thursday night (although let’s hope this doesn’t start happening too often).

 

So unless you live under a rock you’ve probably heard of the new augmented reality app Pokémon GO, which has attracted huge attention across the world. However, one of the unfortunate lessons we have learned working in cyber security is that if something is popular with consumers, then you can guarantee it’s also going to be a big hit with hackers.

The App was first released in the US, Australia and New Zealand, however people from other countries didn’t want to be left out so found ways of downloading it outside of official app stores.

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This raised some security concerns which our client, Proofpoint, decided to delve into and research. Upon researching they discovered that a malicious app, pretending to be the official Pokémon GO app, was carrying malware known as DroidJack.  Proofpoint wrote a blog detailing the findings and Eskenzi pitched it out to national press, IT publications and other consumer websites. Quite frankly, the results were far beyond anything we could ever have hoped for.

We picked up an amazing 533 pieces of coverage in the UK, France, Germany and Canada in one week. These include The Independent, The Telegraph, Mirror, Express, The Guardian, Wired, the list goes on and on…and on.

Predicting which news story takes off is out of our control, however, when we align pop culture, global appeal, solid research and strategic media outreach, the chances of success are in our favour.

But more importantly, Pokémon GO has now been released in the UK and is safe to download from trusted sources so knock yourselves out, some of the Eskenzi staff have certainly jumped on the bandwagon.

In November we gained a new client called CertiVox; a Shoreditch-based cyber security company with a big vision to change the whole structure of the internet. In what we thought would be a normal meeting to get to know our new client, we were left gobsmacked at the big ideas and goals that this start-up had. The CertiVox CEO told us that trust on the internet is broken but he has a solution to fix it, as simple as that. It didn’t take us long to realise that this would be a very exciting client to work with, they had clear goals in mind and they wanted our help to achieve them.

CertiVox wanted a makeover and rebranding to become MIRACL. Our job was to take this new name that no one had heard of before and turn it into a well-known and trusted company. As if this wasn’t a mammoth enough job, it had to be done in time for their next round of funding this February.

In the first few days of working with MIRACL, before we had even met them properly, M&S had some technical glitches. So we practically threw the MIRACL CEO into a cab to the ITV News film crew in London to discuss the breach on national television. Not a bad way to kick off work with a new client.

Once we had time to catch our breath after the excitement of ITV news, we sat down and came up with a PR strategy to match MIRACL’s ambitions. We decided on a timeline to issue press releases surrounding MIRACL’s partnerships and work with big companies such as NTT and Experian. What we found particularly interesting was that Experian had selected MIRACL’s M-Pin technology to provide secure authentication for the millions of UK citizens who use the Gov.Verify service to log into any government activity websites such as DVLA and HMRC.

This coincided nicely with the tax return deadline of January 31st which would require anyone filing their tax return online to login using the Gov.Verify service. So we came up with the idea to carry out a survey on scams around tax returns. We then turned this into two press releases which achieved 180 pieces of coverage in publications such as the Metro, Yahoo News and MSN.

While all this was happening, we were also looking out for news stories around certificate authorities on which MIRACL could comment so that their voice can be heard on the issue, and it certainly has been in publications like SC Magazine and TechCrunch. Of course we also provided comment opportunities on big news stories in the industry such as the recent report which found that “123456” was still the most popular password. This achieved 30 pieces of coverage including the Guardian, Mirror and Metro (again!).

There was also the recent HSBC Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack; terrible publicity for HSBC but great exposure for MIRACL’s CEO whose comments were included in publications such as International Business Times and Computer Business Review. On the following Saturday we had a call from a small television channel you may have heard of called BBC, asking for someone to talk about the Lincolnshire county council ransomware incident. We managed to convince the reporter to send a cameraman to Brian’s house for some ‘on the ground’ reporting and before we knew it, MIRACL’s CEO was on the evening news.

With appearance in online and print publications, television and radio and over 300 pieces of coverage for MIRACL since we started work for them in November, I think it is fair to say we have got their name out there loud and clear for the next round of funding and we don’t plan on stopping any time soon.

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So, week two of 2016 here at Eskenzi was most definitely no shrinking violet compared to last week’s phenomenal results!

This week, Microsoft released its final patches for Internet Explorer 8, 9 and 10 along with an “End of Life” notice, to encourage users to switch to Internet Explorer 11 and Microsoft Edge, currently only available on Windows 10.

These changes were originally announced back in August 2014, and it is estimated that these older, legacy browsers could account for more than 20% of web traffic. Computerworld reported that as many as 340 million Internet Explorer users are still using IE 8, 9 or 10! NetMarketShare estimates that Internet Explorer accounts for 57% of the browser market, compared with 25% for Chrome, 12% for Firefox and 5% for Apple’s Safari – That’s a lot of people using browsers that are now potentially unsafe, and can no longer be patched.

This means that Internet Explorer won’t receive any more security updates, or other patches. Those still using the browsers could be vulnerable to security threats and even hacks; depending on what other (if any) security software is installed.

A story of this type throws open the rapid response doors for Eskenzi clients, many of which had sound advice on what users, who still use Internet Explorer 8, 9 or 10, can do to ensure they stay protected, despite this news.

Four Eskenzi clients commented on this story – ESET, Tripwire, AppRiver and Bromium – and one from our sister agency, SmileOnFridays – Tenable, which resulted in over 250 pieces of coverage across National newspapers, business publications and trade press.  The coverage obtained was truly global, with publications in the UK, United States, France, Germany, Kenya, Japan, Ghana and Argentina (and many more!) reporting on the news with commentary from our clients included.

Hits include the BBC, The Metro, Business Reporter (included with The Daily Telegraph), BT, SC Magazine, Dark Reading and Yahoo! News.

Several journalists reached out to Eskenzi for specific commentary, as we are so well known to those who report in the security and technology space, knowing they would get great quotes to use in their stories, as well as sound advice for businesses and consumers alike.

We’re lucky to work with so many amazing clients who can, at the drop of a hat, pull amazing quotes and advice out of the bag. I wonder what week three will deliver.

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Saul O’Keeffe – PR Executive @Saul_Eskenzi

PR is a notoriously competitive and popular career path for graduates. There’s any number of ways people manage to get on the PR ladder, but as a graduate with little or no experience, it can seem a daunting task.

The reason I chose PR was because I knew how to write and research new subjects quickly, as well as being an easygoing person who doesn’t mind being out of their comfort zone on a regular basis. In short it was a career path where I’d get to test my skills to their limits, while having a real chance of career progression. But the difficult thing is getting that foot in the door, then through said door and on the first rung of that butter-coated ladder.

I had never worked in PR before – I’d never even worked in an office before. So how did I get a job in PR? Some of it was down to skill, some of it to luck and a large part of it was just patience and hard graft.

My experience comprised of charity projects with the Houses of Commons, a degree in political science and a few years working as a violin maker’s apprentice. Speaking to my rivals at job interviews, it was clear that competition was tough and knowing how to build a cello probably wasn’t going to impress someone who wanted me writing press releases and scoring media interviews for their clients.

So I did what everyone in my position did and applied to as many roles as I could – but saw no success. I then tried applying prospectively to companies where no positions were advertised, again without success. Consistently being told I had to do an internship first or hold a PR degree was somewhat disheartening. Then I got some excellent advice – build a strong relationship with a recruiter and be as open and honest with them as you can. Tell them your true likes and dislikes and where you sense your weaknesses lie. That way, they respect your honesty and know how to find the right position for you.

The recruiter then suggested I look at tech PR. It fitted my goals as the industry moves fast, requires consistent effort and creativity and enables me to learn about an area where I had little working knowledge before. It felt like the perfect challenge for someone looking to cut their teeth in PR. I’d had a couple of interviews by this stage and was starting to learn what PR directors are looking for in their teams. It was not long after this conversation I was off to my first tech PR interview – and luckily for me it was at a company where I felt instantly at home!

So my path from university to Eskenzi was hardly a doddle, with some disappointments along the way and interviews that were a complete waste of my time. There were 3 main lessons I learned on my journey into PR:

  1. Make sure you’re applying for PR in the sector that’s best for you – play to your strengths and ask for career advice about where you need to be.
  2. Blanket applications do not work – trust me. Be focused and targeted rather than throwing the whole pot of spaghetti at the wall.
  3. Do not be daunted by rejection or failure – it is all part of the learning experience and it is something to be relished rather than regretted.

So good luck in your applications! One final thing: do not feel pressured into working for free just to get “experience” – experience doesn’t pay the rent! If you work for free, you’re conceding your time isn’t worth any money, which is just not true. Right?

 

Actually, that isn’t the question, it’s the challenge

While some bay for the death knell to sound, I still firmly advocate that the press release has its place in the communications portfolio –but only if it’s done well.

The problem is that, in my experience, repeatedly it’s not! tips and hints

To be valuable the press release has to be carefully constructed. To do that takes a perfect blend of elements. Get it wrong and your prose is unlikely to see the light of day but, get it right, and you’ll generate interest and ultimately coverage.

With that in mind, here’s my tips for effective press release writing:

Grab the attention: The headline, and subject line if sending via email – which we all do, are the most important things to get right when writing a press release. You should use no more than 10 words that scream how interesting your release is to the recipient.

Journalists have hundreds of press releases flooding their mailboxes every day – or hour in some cases! Your release has to shine out against all the other dross. But that doesn’t mean you should be flippant, nor gimmicky – the journalist has to understand that a) it is a press release, b) what the release is about, and c) deem it relevant, if they’re going to open your message and read on.

Assuming you’ve passed this first hurdle, your opening sentence too has to keep the reader’s attention if the remainder of the release is going to be read. The golden rule here is that the opening sentence summarises what’s in the rest of the release, in less than 20 words, and reads like the opening line of a news report. Simple really – actually, that’s quite a skill.

It has to be newsworthy : There is absolutely no point writing a press release if you don’t have any news. Regardless of the demands a client, or even account manager, may make – if the subject isn’t genuinely new, interesting, innovative or surprising then a press release is not the best tactic. Instead, either combine this announcement with something that is newsworthy, or use a different PR tool.

Find your hook: Every editor needs a hook to pin your story around.  The best press releases will include this – ideally in the opening paragraph. For example, is a journalist interested in Company A’s new whitepaper? I’d wager not. But, if Company A has uncovered a previously unknown vulnerability in Software X and has published a paper on its research – then the hook is the vulnerability with the whitepaper referenced.

The Five W’s: In the opening paragraph it’s imperative that you cover the five W’s – the who, what, where, when and why that this release details. If you can get this into the opening sentence then perhaps you should consider a career as a news editor 🙂

Don’t waffle: While it might be tempting to put everything you know on the subject into a press release, don’t! The ideal length is one A4 side – approximately 400 words, or four paragraphs. Any more and you’re not writing a press release, you’re writing an article. Pick up any newspaper and look at the news section – short and snappy is the typical style and that’s what your release should emulate. If the journalist is interested, and needs more information, then they’ll ask for it.

Include a quote: And don’t say ‘we’re delighted/excited/pleased or thrilled ….’ of course you are but that’s not insightful. I also recommend that you read a quote out loud – if it sounds like you’re reading then it’s not a quote – you’re aiming for something that sounds natural and flows easily.

Complete the package with an image: Publications are screaming out for images to brighten up their pages so include one. Make sure, if you’re approaching a print publication, that the resolution is high enough, and try to make it interesting – a head shot of a spokesperson is not going to cut the mustard.

However, don’t attach the file to your message as this will annoy journalists struggling to keep their mailboxes a manageable size. Instead, a simple ‘Notes to Editor’ at the end of the release stating its availability will suffice. While on the subject of notes, you could include additional background material for the release in this section.

Include your details: There is nothing more frustrating to an editor, who’s fast approaching a print deadline and needs to verify a fact in a story, if they can’t immediately reach you. Include all the ways you can be reached, and that includes out of hours numbers.

One Size won’t fit all: So, you’ve got the lot – the interesting news hook, eye catching headline, and perfect quote. While that’s 95% of the secret formula, the bit that’s missing is the tailoring for each publication on your list. Take the time to write to each contact individually, detailing why the release is relevant to the publication’s audience, and highlighting the salient points. Again, keep it succinct and use bullets if it helps.

Get it proof read: There is nothing more frustrating then something littered with typos – it’s unprofessional and some journalists claim that they will delete releases with spelling errors and grammatical mistakes without reading them. get-it

So there you go, my top tips to effective press release writing.   logo-date+slogan(banner)

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With information security making headline news more than ever before, we have seen an increase in quantity and quality of coverage for our clients. With over 1200 clippings this quarter (and counting) publications we have featured in include:

  • Reuters
  • The Guardian
  • The FT
  • BBC
  • The Daily Mail
  • The Observer
  • The Telegraph
  • The Register
  • SC Magazine

It’s safe to say it’s an exciting time to be in the industry – and we’re looking forward to what the next quarter brings!

Chemistry

In the next few weeks I’ll be blogging about how to go about finding the right PR agency for you. I’ve been running Eskenzi PR for 18 years and I’d say good PR is all about Chemistry. It’s a bit like going on a first date – when you meet the person sitting opposite you and look into their eyes you either know it’s going to work or you don’t! Is there a connection and does it feel right? Is there a nice spark when you talk to these guys? Do you fire off each other? If it feels right in your gut and the chemistry is working then I’d say the agency could be the right one for you.

However, don’t make your decision based on the chemistry being right between you and the directors of the company ask to meet the entire team. After all how often are you going to deal with the directors – meet the account manager and account executives, go into their offices and spend some time with them – see if there is a buzz about their place. Are the team happy? Do they have time to spend with you – check they’re not stressed out working on too many accounts!

The golden rule is in our office is that no one works on more than 4 accounts – check this out when you talk to the account manager – do they look tired and worn out? If so walk away – you want to be a big fish in a small pond – that’s the reason why we always recommend working with smaller, specialised agencies because they have fewer clients and everyone really matters.

When at the pitching stage ask the all important question about how long the agency retains their clients. If it’s around a year to 18 months don’t touch them. I’d be very interested in why they’ve lost their clients. At Eskenzi we retain our clients for an average of 7 years, most of our clients leave us because they’ve been acquired – that’s our job done – it’s what most companies in our sector are seeking to achieve. If a client only stays for a year or two it’s not a good sign.

To check that the agency have happy and satisfied clients ask if you can contact their clients and make sure it’s you who chooses who the clients are you speak to, not the ones the agency recommend you speak to as they are likely to direct you to only their happy clients not the disgruntled or dissatisfied ones.

To make sure that you instinct is right and the chemistry is there you can ask for a three month trial contract, which means you’re not locked into a long term agreement and it gives both parties time to try out the working relationship. Three months is the perfect time to find out whether the agency are good – you should be getting coverage and interviews with the press within the first couple of weeks and oodles of coverage within the three month trial period. If the coverage isn’t coming in within this time period then you know it won’t happen after this time period.

So in essence choosing an agency is no different to any relationship – you’ve got to like the people you’re working with, that way the ideas and energy will flow. Also make sure you do your research on the agency to ensure they are the right fit for you. Quiz the staff to make sure they are knowledgeable about your subject and space and are energised by your products and services. Finally make sure they are not over-stretched and stressed out. Remember it’s two sided as all good relationships are and communicating regularly is at the heart of every great partnership! So go with your instinct and if you feel the chemistry is right it probably is!