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charlesarthur : pr   11

How to do PR as an early stage startup • Sifted
Max Tatton-Brown:
<p>The natural story of a business involves a steady cadence of events. 

You found it, you begin to make progress, you get your first big customer, you hire some interesting people to the team. THEN YOU TAKE FUNDING (potentially big moment.) Then you hire some more, move offices, learn something important that means you pivot slightly THEN YOU PARTNER WITH ONE OF THE BIGGEST COMPANIES IN THE WORLD AND BRING YOUR PRODUCT TO MILLIONS. Then you hire some more people, and so on and so forth.

It’s easy to not say anything about the smaller stories when you are early on with your business. But actually, once you are a year or two down the line, it will really benefit you to be able to point back to that consistent steady rhythm of progress which built to the current moment. 

The crucial point here is: it’s impossible to go back and build it in retrospect. You don’t want to regret something you can’t go back and “have done”.

Furthermore, if you don’t leverage a piece of information by capturing it somewhere public, it cannot act on your behalf with scale. You will have to tell people one by one, instead of it showing up when they search for you (or the topic.)

Short notes, on a regular basis (that read nothing like a press release) can go a long way. Publicly capture the breadcrumb trail so it’s where when you need it.

Here’s a <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6557216876630462464/">fantastic recent example from Paul Smith at Ricochet</a> — publishing the latest user metrics for their app while still in beta. Five minutes work to take data they are tracking anyway and leave a little public essence for their narrative to pick up later.</p>


When doing media training, I've often pointed out to startups that just as they have a multi-year product strategy, so they should have a multi-year media strategy. (And it might not involve lots of press releases.)
startup  pr  media 
11 weeks ago by charlesarthur
Apple ‘black site’ gives contractors few perks, little security • Bloomberg
Joshua Brustein:
<p>Apex is one tiny part of a sprawling global network of staffing firms working with Apple; it is not even the only firm staffing the facility at Hammerwood Avenue. For Apple Maps alone, workers are spread across several locations in Silicon Valley, as well as in Austin, Texas; London; the Czech Republic; and India, according to people who worked on the project. The operation involves thousands of contractors. At Hammerwood, the population has exceeded 250 at times, although the number fluctuates and Apple declined to give a current count.

Places like Hammerwood undermine the mythology of Silicon Valley as a kind of industrial utopia where talented people work themselves to the bone in exchange for outsize salaries and stock options. A common perception in the Bay Area is that its only serious tech-labor issue is the high cost of living driven by the industry’s obscene salaries. But many of those poorer residents work in tech, too. For decades, contractors and other contingent workers have served meals, driven buses, and cleaned toilets at tech campuses. They’ve also built circuit boards and written and tested software, all in exchange for hourly wages and little or no job security.

In different forms, temporary labor as an alternative to full-time employment has grown across the U.S. economy. Companies in many industries now use staffing firms to handle work once done by full-time workers. The technology industry offers one of the starkest examples of how the groups’ fortunes have diverged. While companies aren’t required to disclose the sizes of their contingent workforces, there’s ample evidence that tech companies use large numbers of contractors and temps. Last year, Bloomberg News reported that direct employees at Alphabet Inc.’s Google accounted for less than half its workforce. </p>


Back in 2012, Alexis Madrigal was <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/09/how-google-builds-its-maps-and-what-it-means-for-the-future-of-everything/261913/">let inside one of the places where Google updates Google Maps</a>. "It has all the free food, ping pong, and Google Maps-inspired Christoph Niemann cartoons that you'd expect, but it's still a low-slung office building just off the 101 in Mountain View in the burbs," he wrote. Wonder if he just didn't see the bits where they queued for the toilets, and so on. Clever PR.
apple  maps  pr 
february 2019 by charlesarthur
How Facebook’s PR firm brought political trickery to tech • The New York Times
Jack Nicas:
<p>Definers quickly found plenty of business, from start-ups like Lyft, Lime and Juul to giants like Facebook and Qualcomm, the influential chip company that was in a nasty legal fight with Apple over royalties, according to five people with direct knowledge of Mr. Miller’s work who declined to be named because of confidentiality agreements.
While working for Qualcomm, Definers pushed the idea that Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, was a viable presidential candidate in 2020, according to a former Definers employee and digital records. Presumably, it was an attempt to chill the cordial relations that Mr. Cook had cultivated with the Trump administration.

The campaign by Definers signaled an escalation of Silicon Valley’s already brass-knuckled approach to public relations.

“This type of dirty P.R.? It’s always been there, but it’s definitely on the upswing,” said Jonathan Hirshon, who was a public relations representative for technology companies for three decades, including Apple and Sony. “The idealism is still there, but the truth is, the big companies have become a lot more authoritarian in their approach to the media.”

Facebook fired Definers last week after The New York Times detailed the work Mr. Miller’s firm had done on behalf of the social media company. Definers encouraged reporters to write about the financial connections between anti-Facebook activists and the liberal financier George Soros, drawing accusations that it was relying on anti-Semitic tropes.

Definers’s strategy played to a target’s pressure points. Most of what Definers produced for Qualcomm had nothing to do with its beef with Apple, which was a complex legal fight over the royalties Apple should pay for the Qualcomm chips it was using in iPhones.

Definers employees distributed anti-Apple research to reporters and would not say who was paying for it. Definers distributed a 13-page memo titled “Apple Bowing to Chinese Cyber Regulators” that detailed how Apple’s activity in China contradicted its public stance on privacy elsewhere. It also planted dozens of negative articles about Apple on conservative news sites, according to a person familiar with the work and emails reviewed by The New York Times.</p>


Facebook coughed to all this in a news dump at 5pm before the US headed off for Thanksgiving. Talk about <a href="https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0745682/plotsummary?ref_=tt_ov_pl">taking out the trash</a>.
facebook  pr 
november 2018 by charlesarthur
Read the mud-slinging pitches Facebook’s PR firm sent us  • TechCrunch
Natasha Lomas:
<p>Zooming out for a second, you do also have to pause and wonder at quite how radioactive the corporate culture must be when the “solution” to a string of hugely damaging disinformation scandals is to reach for whataboutery and even actual fake news, as the NYT has claimed, to try to muddy the waters in your favor.

It’s almost as if manipulation is in the corporate DNA.

Though, again, Facebook has decried knowledge of exactly what Definers was up to on its behalf. Yet not knowing isn’t any kind of defence when your business stands accused of defective oversight, self-serving opacity and having a vacuum where its moral compass should be…

…Since the NYT story broke, Facebook has claimed journalists were well aware that Definers was working on its behalf. But the truth is rather murkier there, too.

We checked our inboxes and none of the pitches Definers sent to TechCrunch made an explicit disclosure that the messages they contained had been paid for by Facebook to push a pro-Facebook agenda. They all required the recipient to join those dots themselves.

A proper journalist engaging their critical faculties should have been able to deduce Facebook was the paying customer, given the usually obvious skew.

But if Definers was also sending out this stuff (and indeed worse things than we were pitched) more widely, to content seeders and fencers that trade on framed outrage to drive online clicks, their tasty-sounding tidbits would not have been so critically parsed. And angles they were pushing likely still flowed where they could influence opinion — thanks to the “inverse” osmosis of social media.

(As far as we can tell none of the Definers’ oppo research pitches that we received ended up in a TechCrunch article — well, until now… )</p>


And yes, some of the pitches do follow. I'd have lifted my weary eyes skywards at them too; they're transparent whataboutery, and aren't "stories". Facebook was wasting its money.
facebook  pr 
november 2018 by charlesarthur
Facebook and the age of manipulation • New Yorker
Evan Osnos:
<p>The most disturbing revelation is that Facebook employed Definers Public Affairs, a conservative Washington-based consultant, to promote negative stories about Facebook’s competitors by pushing them on the NTK Network, which calls itself “a unique news website that brings together data points from all platforms to tell the whole story.” NTK is not, in fact, a news Web site; it shares offices and staff with Definers. As the Times reported, “Many NTK Network stories are written by staff members at Definers or America Rising, the company’s political opposition-research arm, to attack their clients’ enemies. While the NTK Network does not have a large audience of its own, its content is frequently picked up by popular conservative outlets, including Breitbart.” In other words, Facebook employed a political P.R. firm that circulated exactly the kind of pseudo-news that Facebook has, in its announcements, sought to prevent from eroding Americans’ confidence in fact versus fiction.

On another front, Definers also sought to discredit Freedom from Facebook, a nonprofit opposition group, by encouraging reporters to write about its ties to George Soros, the liberal financier who is a subject of obsessive, often conspiratorial attention in conservative circles. On Thursday, Sarah Miller, a spokesperson for Freedom from Facebook, told me, “Congress and the Federal Trade Commission should come to terms with the fact that Facebook will never change, unless they force it to—and they should, without delay, to protect our democracy.” (On Thursday, as the report of the P.R. firm’s activities stirred criticism, Facebook said that it had ended its relationship. The company said that it had not asked the firm to circulate false stories.)</p>
Facebook  pr 
november 2018 by charlesarthur
How the tech press forces a narrative on companies it covers » Medium
Aaron Zamost:
I don’t remember who told me company narratives were like a clock. I was at Google, where I’d taken a job on the communications team despite zero experience in communications. During my early days there, I tried to navigate my new profession by listening to the many comms experts already at the company from whom I would learn so much. One theory about narratives stuck with me:

A company’s narrative moves like a clock: it starts at midnight, ticking off the hours. The tone and sentiment about how a business is doing move from positive (sunrise, midday) to negative (dusk, darkness). And often the story returns to midnight, rebirth and a new day.

It was a passing remark, and hardly revolutionary — it closely followed the hero’s journey and other theories of storytelling. But it made a ton of sense.


Oh wow, does it ever. (Though: not just tech, is it?)
news  pr  tech 
july 2015 by charlesarthur
Google turns on the charm in Europe » FT.com
Richard Waters:
Google privately woke up to the fact that it needed to change the way it was operating in Europe last summer, according to Carlo D’Asaro Biondo, the French-Italian executive leading the group’s new charm offensive.
“We realised in the last years we had a problem,” he says.
In Mr D’Asaro Biondo’s analysis, Google should have offered a helping hand to all kinds of European industries as the digital world put increasing pressure on their business models. That did not happen.
“In Europe we were not organised to value [partnerships],” he says. “We were more organised to sell advertising.”
That neglect has exacted a high price. A series of running battles with the media and entertainment industries over copyright issues has expanded into wider competition complaints, resulting in this month’s action in Brussels.


In case you wondered why Google would be lobbing €150m to various news organisations in Europe.
google  news  pr 
april 2015 by charlesarthur
Wolff: Google's antitrust bet that it's a tech-led world » USA Today
I don't usually have much time for Michael Wolff, but this seems on the money:
The other lesson that Google has clearly learned from Microsoft's failures [to forestall antitrust action in the US and Europe] is that this is as much a PR battle as a legal one. Microsoft, wherever it went, was the nasty, unstoppable and lethal Goliath, gaining no sympathy in any quarter. Google, as nasty, unstoppable and lethal as Microsoft, understands the vast benefits of being, if only through the looking glass, the highest example of innovation and forward-thinking. Europe, and anyone who would get in its way, is the past, and Google — and you don't want to miss this train — the obvious future.

Much of the world, including the world's media, once happily aligned against evil-empire Microsoft.

Google's bet now is that the world is a different place: the bias is actually for hegemonic tech companies instead of against them. Google is likely more dominant than Microsoft, both in the market and in the lives of its users, but that may well be to its benefit.
google  antitrust  microsoft  pr 
april 2015 by charlesarthur
The man investing Google's billions says we shouldn't be afraid to live forever | The Verge
Ben Popper:
Google Ventures, the investment arm tasked with spending the search giant's billions on exciting new companies, released its annual report last night. Interestingly, the majority of its money did not go into the areas of consumer internet services, mobile apps, and enterprise software that Google is best known for. Instead, of the $1.6bn it has under management, it put a whopping 35% of its new bets in 2014 into the category of life sciences and health, way up from less than 10% in the two years prior.


Google's PR in action again. Life sciences and health have been attracting colossal amounts of investment for years now; there's nothing magical about Google Ventures putting money into it. For comparison, VC funding in life sciences <a href="http://www.pwc.com/us/en/press-releases/2014/venture-capital-investments-in-the-life-sciences-sector.jhtml">increased by 15% in 1Q 2014</a> to $1.7bn - up from $1.4bn in the same period a year before.

Note that we're not told how much of the $1.6bn in Google Ventures has gone into life sciences. But because it's got Google's name, and there's an offer of a phone interview with someone who runs it and enthuses mightily about living forever (he was behind Project Calico, based on the idea that "no one was studying ageing at the genetic level" - which I can say with certainty is just false, based on the many scientific researchers I spoke to between 1995 and 2004 at The Independent), this not-important announcement gets a big credulous doggie slurp - and doesn't even get the comparative context I just gave you about investment levels.
google  pr  venture 
january 2015 by charlesarthur
The real reason Amazon is telling us about its robots >> Huffington Post
Timothy Stenovec applies a suitably sceptical eye to the news, recalling how coincidentally a year ago Amazon told 60 Minutes about its drone plans:
This year, Amazon appears to be trying the same thing again - only this time, it’s with robots. The company recently invited a select group of journalists - I was not one of them - to tour one of its California warehouses and watch robots move 750-pound shelves of products. Amazon says it uses 15,000 such robots in its facilities, and that the machines, a result of Amazon’s $750m purchase of robot-maker Kiva Systems in 2012, will cut costs, save you money and help get products to you faster.

There was no news of Amazon's robot fleet until just after midnight on Monday, when suddenly a flood of stories appeared - suggesting that the news was "embargoed," a term for the common media practice of agreeing not to publish certain information until a certain time.


The robots are interesting, and every journalist knows about having something to please the editor for a Monday morning. Perhaps brick-and-mortar stores could start PR schemes where they show how they're paying tax?
amazon  pr  charlesarthur 
december 2014 by charlesarthur
Nothing found for Rides Of Glory >> Uber
Oh, how interesting. Uber has removed the blogpost about tracking peoples' one-night stands and categorising them by city. Invasion of privacy? Concern about bad publicity?

It's still in the Wayback Machine if you want it though. Originally put up in August; removed, abruptly, some time after 18 November.
uber  pr 
november 2014 by charlesarthur

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