<![CDATA[JACOBSON COMMUNICATION - Blog]]>Wed, 21 Oct 2020 08:01:54 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[OK Google Why Are You Trying To Get Me To Buy A New Nest So Early?]]>Wed, 21 Oct 2020 08:31:24 GMThttp://jacobsoncommunication.com/blog/ok-google-why-are-you-trying-to-get-me-to-buy-a-new-nest-so-early
"People trust Google Nest with their lives. The fact that Google, the third largest tech company in the world (only behind Apple and Microsoft), is alerting Nest customers about replacing their life-saving products one to two years before they actually expire, is unconscionable. Especially during a pandemic, when so many working-class Americans are unemployed, trying to be prudent about what little money they might have left to spend.​"

Earlier today, the Nest Protect in my bedroom started flashing yellow and, when I logged into the app to see what the alert was about, I was struck by the words, “expiring soon.” The alert was telling me I would need to replace my Nest, but the alert was early. Really early. The alert was for a generation one Nest, which is about five and a half years old (about how long I’ve been living in this house). Here’s the thing; the Nest generation one has a seven year warranty. 

​The alert is a year and a half early. Was it a simple mistake? Had Google accidentally pushed a notification to generation one devices early? The alert persisted throughout the day, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who noticed, which led me to wonder how many other people were getting the same alert. Many of those people probably have a lot on their minds right now. They may not know the Nest generation one warranty is for seven years–not five and a half.

This matters because, with the world going through a pandemic, and so many people out of work and in one form of crisis or another, this is not the time to be worried about an expensive life saving device that doesn’t yet need replacing, from one of the largest tech companies in the world.

The app says it will notify Google Nest customers three months, one month, and seven days before the product expires. These are reasonable, laid out timeframes. But a year and a half early? Ok Google. Riddle me this; If it’s not a money-grab and an attempt to get people to needlessly upgrade their products early, what is it?

By Jennifer L. Jacobson, Seattle-Area Resident, Founder of Jacobson Communication.

<![CDATA[10 Quick Media Training Hacks for Startups]]>Fri, 11 Sep 2020 18:51:10 GMThttp://jacobsoncommunication.com/blog/10-quick-media-training-hacks-for-startups
You’re busy running a startup. You don’t have a communications “team” of 50 people to help you prepare for conversations with the press. You personally don’t have time for an intensive 2 week course on media training. What you DO have is an interview or media opportunity in two days that you’re scared to death about.

Fear not. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

​1. Know The Show
Familiarize yourself with the show or venue you’re going to be on. Do your homework. If it’s a blog, read previous articles. If it’s a TV show, watch previous episodes. If it’s a podcast, or radio show, listen to a few episodes. If it’s available, read over the list of episode titles and guests over the last few months. Try and get a sense of why the show exists and what it’s about.

​2. Know The Target Audience
Figure out what kind of organization this is, and who they appeal to. It’s important to estimate who a target audience is. It’s very different speaking to a magazine aimed at parents versus one aimed at chemical engineers. Once you’ve identified their audience as best you can, try and connect that audience with elements of your brand. What about your brand or industry might these people find compelling? What challenges might there be? Knowing this ahead of time will help you give better answers and stay focused during the interview. 

3. Know How Long They Need You
Ask ahead of time, how long they need you for, or how long your segment, or article will be. Are you doing a 2 minute interview? Do they need you on-set for two hours? Will they interview you for two hours and cut it down to two minutes? Highly polished weekly shows, like Sunday Morning for example, shoot hours of interviews and on-site b-roll for a final segment that might only be 10 minutes when it airs. Livestreamers may want you to sit on the air for 4 hours and chime in occasionally when the subject arises.

4. Don’t Overschedule The Day
The day you have a big interview is not the day to go to your kid’s soccer game, hold a board meeting, or start remodeling the kitchen. Sure, big company executives might be able to do that because they have several interviews a week, but you’re with a startup. Startups typically get less media interviews and each one really matters. Media interviews are important. Schedule time beforehand to do your homework and internalize the topics you’re going to cover. Get a good night’s sleep before, and be sure to eat and hydrate. Schedule reminders on your cell phone and smartwatch so you actually get to where you need to be on time. After the interview, take a little time to pause and reflect internally or with your team on what went well and what you’d like to change in the future.

5. Practice Your Quick Pitch
This is what you say when a reporter asks what your startup is or how it came about. It incorporates your elevator pitch, but it’s not word-for-word, and it includes a little about the founding. Write it down. Rehearse it. Keep it short. Keep it interesting. Test it on family members if you need to, and see if they find it engaging.

6. Keep a Notebook
If you have a tendency to freeze, keep a little notebook next to you with “at a glance” points. The show’s name. The host’s name. If you’re talking about a study, the key statistics, etc. Depending on the show, you may not be able to have it right next to you, but it’s good to make your own notes ahead of time to practice key points.

7. Know The Reporter’s Interviewing Style
Most interviewers won’t throw a “gotcha” question out of nowhere, but some do. Know which kind of reporter you are working with. Some reporters will talk with you for a long time, and the show gets edited down later for time. Some reporters need just a 20 second answer. Once you know what kind of interview you’re going to have, you can be more prepared.

8. Get or Come Up With Possible Questions Ahead of Time
Reporters working at print publications and online publications typically don’t mind giving you questions ahead of time. Some reporters for TV and radio can also send you a sample list of questions. When that’s not an option, look at previous interviews the reporter has done and imagine what questions they will likely want to know about your startup, or the industry.

9. Be Industry Current
Sometimes interviews are booked months in advance, but then something groundbreaking happens the day of your interview that changes the industry landscape. If this happens, you may be called on to talk about it, after all, you’re the industry expert. Research your industry the day before (and the day of) going into your interview and be able to talk about specific trends if the need arises. The last thing you want to do is learn about a breaking story in your industry on the air.

10. Prep for the Hard Question If It Happens
It’s always good to be ready for an unexpected difficult question. Imagine what that could possibly be, and practice answering the question as best you can. Remember, you’re never obligated to reveal secrets about your company (in fact, don’t). But you should be able to sidestep the question like a decent human being and still carry on a good interview. You can always say something like, “That’s not something I’m able to talk about at this time, but what I can tell you is…” You could also say, “what I think is more interesting to your viewers right now is… “ but you want to be sure you’re right if you use this tactic.

The Bottom Line: A little preparation goes a long way. Pay attention to your industry and to interviews you find compelling. You’ll get better with practice and paying attention. You can do this.

<![CDATA[Financial Survival for Small Businesses and Startups: Understanding Your Rights to Relief and How To Navigate The System]]>Thu, 23 Apr 2020 21:18:47 GMThttp://jacobsoncommunication.com/blog/financial-survival-for-small-businesses-and-startups-understanding-your-rights-to-relief-and-how-to-navigate-the-system
Guest Post by By Amanda Plank, Founder of Merch Minion

With the recent temporary shutdown of many small businesses and startups during the COVID-19 pandemic, many financial relief programs are now available. The difficulty is knowing what’s out there, and how to navigate a system that, frankly, was never meant to deal with this kind of pressure. Fear not. It is possible, with a lot of patience and persistence to get help. Here’s what you need to know.
Part 1: Understanding The Various Programs and Eligibility
There are many different financial relief programs that have sprung up to help small businesses and startups during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Others are programs that have existed for years but have been expanded under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Here is an overview of what’s available in the U.S.

The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue as the result of a declared disaster. The CARES Act sets out new rules that make it easier for small businesses that were damaged by closures, or had other losses, due to the coronavirus to apply for and receive loans. Keep in mind, these are loans which have to be paid back.

EIDL Advance - A borrower can apply for an EIDL loan and receive up to $10,000 as an advance in the form of an EIDL Grant. Typical turn around Pre-COVID-19 was 3 days, but please note that because of high demand, turn around on the EIDL Advances, at the time of writing this, are about 3-4 weeks. The EIDL Advance is currently capped at $1,000 per employee up to the $10,000 max. The borrower will not be required to pay back the Grant funds, even if the EIDL loan is later denied. The borrower will be required to certify to the SBA, under penalty of perjury, that it is eligible to apply. The EIDL Grant funds can be used for maintaining payroll, providing sick leave to employees, rent or mortgages payments, and paying other obligations that cannot be paid due to lost revenue.

EIDLs are available from January 31, 2020 – September 30, 2020. The EIDL Grants are backdated to January 31, 2020 to allow those who have already applied for EIDLs to be eligible to also receive an EIDL Grant. 

Who’s Eligible for the EIDL
  • Sole proprietors (with or without employees), independent contractors, cooperatives and employee owned businesses, and Tribal small businesses with 500 or fewer employees are eligible for EIDLs.
  • Also, small business concerns and small agricultural cooperatives that meet the applicable size standard for the SBA are also eligible, as well as most private non-profits of any size. 

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) allows businesses to apply for a SBA backed loan specifically for payroll and employee retention during the COVID-19 Shutdowns. Funding amount is 2.5 times the average monthly payroll costs determined during the one-year period before the date on which the loan is made up to a maximum of $10,000,000. If the business was not operating during the period from February 15, 2019 until June 30, 2019, the relevant measurement period is January 1, 2020 through February 29, 2020.

Please note that for seasonal employers, as determined by the SBA, the measurement period is either the 12-week period beginning February 15, 2019 or March 1, 2019 to June 30, 2019, at the election of the borrower. To apply for the PPP you must go through a banking institution you already have a financial history with, you can not apply directly through the SBA. This DOES include companies like paypal, square, and stripe. 

Covered Payroll costs include:
  • salary, wages, commission, or similar compensation
  • payments of cash tips or the equivalent
  • payment for vacation, parental, family, medical or sick leave
  • allowance for dismissal or separation
  • payments required for the provision of group health care benefits, including insurance premiums
  • payment of any retirement benefit
  • payment of state or local tax assessed on the employee

Who is Eligible for the PPP: 
  • the borrower was in operation on February 15, 2020
  • the borrower had employees for whom it paid salaries and payroll taxes; and with respect to loan deferrals, the borrower was adversely impacted by COVID-19 (although this requirement is presumed).

I Heard The PPP Was A Grant, But You Say It’s a Loan. What gives?
While the SBA may be issuing further guidance on loan forgiveness, the CARES Act states that the loan obligations eligible for forgiveness include amounts expended for those obligations and services listed below that are incurred during the “Covered Period” (which means the 8-week period beginning on the origination date of the covered loan), but only where such obligation or service (in the case of mortgage obligations, rent and utilities) was an existing obligation as of February 15, 2020. (AKA you can’t go get a shop space tomorrow and then use the PPP to cover it.)
  • all payroll costs excluding cash compensation for any individual employee over $100,000; plus
  • any payment of interest on any mortgage incurred by borrower
  • any payment of rent obligated under a leasing agreement
  • any utility payment (electricity, gas, water, transportation, telephone, or internet access

To be entirely forgiven at least 75% of the PPP loan must be used toward payroll costs, and no more than 25% can be used toward the other approved expenses in the list above. 

PART 2: Tips For Navigating The System

Find Regional Small Business Grants
There are hundreds of programs and organizations offering one-time small business grants to help businesses stay afloat during and immediately after COVID-19. Check with your local SBA groups, LinkedIn Connections, and online meetups for events specifically for small businesses. They will have a better handle on what is available in your specific area. 

Have ALL Paperwork & Information Ready:
While the SBA and many banks have streamlined the application process for COVID-19 Relief funds, it is still critical that you have all your information handy when they ask for it. All business related COVID-19 Relief programs will require your:
  • EIDL
  • Number of years in business
  • Names of any owner with 20% or more stake in your company

When applying for programs like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or the Economic Impact Disaster Loan (EIDL) you will need your federal Employer Identification (EIN) number as well as personal information of the business owners (including social security numbers) that have 20% or more interest in the company. Keep in mind, they will also have you ‘state under risk of perjury that no person within the company has committed fraud, a felony related to payroll, or extortion.

Some programs will want to know your profit and loss statements for last year, others will just want to know net revenue. The PPP specifically wants your i940 for 2019 or your i941 for Q1 of 2020  if you didn’t have payroll in 2019, to prove payroll expenses as filed with the IRS.

Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
Many of the COVID-19 Relief programs are not limited by income, or the amount of relief you have already received or applied for. Apply for everything you think you qualify for. Some programs limit what the funding can be used for, (like the PPP) or the amount funded is based on the number of employees you have (EIDL Advance). Apply for as many grants, forgivable loans, and other programs as possible to make sure you get as much of the money you are entitled to.

Trim Extra Expenses Wherever You Can
Reducing your monthly expenses can help you survive the shutdown. Some expenses are easier to get rid of than others. Take a look at both business and personal expenses and cut out things you don’t use or want anymore. Gym memberships, subscriptions to a phone app you don’t use are a good place to start. 

Next look at expenses you don’t need during the shutdowns but will need once business starts up again. These can include software services and service subscriptions. Even if you don’t want to cancel, reach out to the companies and see if they have any discounts, or account credits for business shut down during COVID-19. Put as many of these costs on hold that you possibly can. Doing so extends the amount of remaining capital you have, and any funding you do receive. 

On a personal level call the companies that service recurring payments you have such as student loans, credit cards, and mortgages. Some are offering no penalty deferrals, forbearance programs, and anti-loss (mortgages) programs right. Now is NOT the time to refinance your house, even though the FEDs reduced interest rates, most lenders either locked or raised interest rates. If you have a good relationship with your bank, speak to their mortgage specialist, and tell them you’d like to monitor the interest rates, and when they do go back down (and they will) you’d like to know. It typically only makes sense to refinance if you can lower your interest rate by at LEAST 1%. Otherwise the fees eat any savings you made in the long run. 

Be Patient & Kind
While the application process for funds has been largely streamlined, there are still millions of people applying for funding. The process of applying is slow and systems are overloaded. Many loan officers are also working from home. 

Keep in mind that those working for the SBA took a budget and personnel cut both last year and this year. These people are handling a nationwide economic disaster with a team working from home, that is only large enough to handle emergencies on a “small scale,” such as regional tornadoes, earthquakes, and floods.

Your hold time will likely be exceptionally long. Interactive Voice Response (IVRs) are overloaded and buggy (you might accidentally get hung up on by the Voice Prompts). When you do FINALLY reach a person please remember they are human too. They are working long hours, often without breaks to try and help as many people as possible. They may not have the answers/news you are looking for. 

About the Author
Amanda Plank is an entrepreneur and small business advisor. She is also the founder of Merch Minion, a custom merchandising and brand promotions company in Seattle Washington.
<![CDATA[Branding in a Brave New World: How To Market in a Time of Isolation]]>Wed, 22 Apr 2020 22:48:15 GMThttp://jacobsoncommunication.com/blog/branding-in-a-brave-new-world-how-to-market-in-a-time-of-isolation
No product sells itself without help–not even in the best of times. So how is your business supposed to market itself when, as they say in Hamilton, “the world turned upside down?”

On the marketing and PR front, a lot has changed. Ads from “the before time” featuring large crowds or one-on-one interactions can be downright triggering. Regular marketing and PR cycles have been disrupted, major events have been canceled, and seasonal trends that worked last year just don’t make sense now. 

On the homefront, Americans face problems that keep people up at night. More people are working from home, if they’re lucky enough to still have a job. Kids are “learning from home,” putting extra strain on parents and caregivers. Unemployment in the United States is at a historic high. Many have lost loved ones. Many are wondering how they’re going to get through this time.

So what’s a marketer to do? It doesn’t seem right to try to get people jazzed about your product when the world is so very different than it was mere months ago.

Fortunately, there are some simple guidelines to help you keep your company’s brand as stable as possible, despite this most unusual and difficult time.

​1. Speak to the New Need
People still have needs, though those needs are decidedly different for many than they were before self-isolation. Take a step back from your traditional marketing and PR efforts and ask yourself; what keeps your customers up at night, and what your product can do to help. Look for ways your product fills some of their most important needs. Even if your product only offers a little consistency for your customer, that’s still something people need. If your product can help them with bigger problems, even better.
​2. Connect with a Cause
If you haven’t already, dedicate a portion of your revenue, to a cause that is helping people get through this pandemic. Don’t pick a small pet-project that your customers won’t know, or relate to. Pick something that helps those directly impacted by the pandemic. If you can, tie it into something related to your business. For example, if your business makes exotic decorative collars for cats, consider donating to a cat rescue that is rehoming animals from people who are no longer able to care for their pets. If your business makes an education app for kids, donate the proceeds to an organization working to help parents get the support they need through the pandemic.
​3: Look for Complimentary Partnerships
This is a good time to think creatively about companies that you can partner with. If your company addresses a need that people have right now, what are some other companies you could partner with to expand that reach? Whether it’s an article exchange on your company blog, social media boosts, or inclusive stories for the media about how multiple companies are coming together to help people, there is a lot of room for opportunity when you think creatively.
4. Be Respectful
Don’t assume everyone who normally does business with you is in the same place they were a month or two ago. This is not business as usual. Read the room and retool your messaging and campaigns accordingly.
​5. Don’t Bother Your Customers
Don’t join the trend of sending emails reminding people how things have changed, or how difficult life has become, and that your company cares. This is the time to show customers what you are doing to improve their lives. If you can’t do that, and you don’t have another good reason to reach out, don’t reach out at all. Just stop.
​6. Don’t Bury Your Benefit
Don’t lead with Covid-19, (AKA the pandemic, the apocalypse, Aliens, etc). Even though everyone else is doing it. It’s tacky. Your email should get to the point quickly. How quickly? In the subject line, and then again in the opening paragraph, and don’t forget that call-to-action link. If you’re offering your customers a discount or a no-cost trial, lead with that. No one has time to read paragraphs of fluff. Life is short. Get to the point.
​7. Accept Your New Customer Base
The demographics of your customer base may change radically. Accept that some of your customers can no longer afford to be your customers. Empathise with them, they’re going through hard times. These are real people (remember, no one thinks of themselves day-to-day as a customer of anything). Some customers might just need to pause until their lives get back to normal. But some customers may need your product more than ever and it is your job to find them and help them.

The bottom line; don’t be afraid to get creative and look for new ways to help people with the problems they are facing today. What you do today matters. Figure out how to connect with your customers in meaningful ways. This will help, not only your brand, but also your chances of being a brand that survives and thrives.

By Jennifer L. Jacobson, Founder of Jacobson Communication

Jennifer L. Jacobson is a PR professional and communications strategist with two decades of experience growing brands stand out in competitive industries. Jennifer delivers outstanding results to brands, startups, and nonprofits who often have limited budgets, time, and resources. For more articles by Jennifer, visit: https://jacobsoncommunication.com/blog.html
<![CDATA[How to Be On National TV From Your Living Room]]>Wed, 25 Mar 2020 19:04:21 GMThttp://jacobsoncommunication.com/blog/how-to-be-on-national-tv-from-your-living-room

We live in a golden age of video conferencing on national TV news shows, especially with social distancing protocols. News shows are relying on remote experts now more than ever. This is a great opportunity for your brand to speak to key issues that people care about. But not all video conferencing call-in interviews are created equal.

Unless you’re a first responder calling in from a hospital or emergency location, your remote video interview should look as professional as possible. Here are some simple tips to help you look professional and be taken seriously.
Elevate the Camera
Your camera should be at eye-level, not above you, and not below you. Put your laptop or monitor on a few large books if you have to. No one wants to look up your nose. Also, this is a good time to trim those nose hairs!

Illuminate Yourself
You may need to bring more lights into the room so you can be seen, but try to keep the colors matching. Some lights give off a warm glow, others give off a cool glow. Try to be consistent. If you’re doing interviews regularly, consider some kind of lighting system.

​Use Small Headphones
Run your audio through a good pair of headphones headphones to avoid feedback (echo, echo, echo). Use a small pair of headphones and test them first. Wear one side only and try to hide the wire as best you can.
Dress Appropriately
Wear something professional that you look good in. Make sure it fits and that you’re comfortable in it. Don’t wear stripes or busy patterns because they tend to “move on their own” when on video. Keep your background in mind and try not to blend into it.

Reduce Bling
This is not the time to wear statement jewelry, or loud prints. Your appearance should be professional and subtle so people can focus on what you’re saying.

Twenty minutes before you go live, look at your face critically in the light you’ll be shooting in. Do you need a concealer for a flare up? Are you a little shiny, in need of a dusting of powder? Do whatever touch ups you need to. Keep your makeup professional and subtle.​
Remember Your Pets
Take your pet’s collars off so they don’t jingle. Remember to put them back on after. If you have active pets put them in another room until the interview is over.​

Chose a Background
Avoid an open window (you’ll look like a silhouette). A bookcase or decorated wall can be a good option. Try to pick something with visual interest that isn’t too distracting.

Let Your Household Know When You’ll Be On
Make sure others in your household know you’ll be “live” and unavailable at the time you’ll be on the air. Try and sequester yourself to your recording area at least five minutes before the show. Remember to leave a note on the outside of the door saying when the shoot is over, and lock your door if you can.
Make a Checklist
Make an easy-to-read checklist of your talking points so you can glance at them if you get lost. Include the name of the person interviewing you. Try not to rely on them, but know they’re there if you need it. 

Have a Glass of Water Nearby
Keep a glass of water nearby because it’s easy to get dry when you’re in the spotlight. Keep it out of the shot of the camera, but close enough to grab.

Turn Your Cell Phone Off
Unless you’re doing the interview from your cell phone, turn it completely off to avoid signal interference. Make sure you’re in a cell-phone free zone, as any cell phone can cause interference.

Close All Other Applications
Close all other applications on your computer and other websites you may be on. You don’t want your interview interrupted by random sounds and notifications.

Exercise Your Face and Voice
Warming up your face and voice, especially if you haven't’ talked to anyone in a while, makes you look more alive to the folks at home watching you on their TV. Remember; your face, on their screen, will be much bigger than it is in real life. A few minutes before you go live, exercise your face by making silly expressions. Sing a line from your favorite song. Take some slow deep breaths and center yourself.

Look At The Camera (Not the Screen)
Remember to focus on the camera, as if it were the interviewer’s eyes. It will make it look like you’re looking directly at the audience. Don’t look at the screen during the interview, because, to the audience at home, you’ll be looking down. Now that you know this, you’ll see it everywhere.

You Can Do It!
These simple things add up to a better remote interview; one that connects viewers to the story and to you as an expert. Keep practicing and putting yourself out there as an expert in your field. You can do it.

By Jennifer L. Jacobson, Founder of Jacobson Communication

Jennifer L. Jacobson is a communications strategist with two decades of experience growing brands stand out in competitive industries. Jennifer delivers outstanding results to brands, startups, and nonprofits who often have limited budgets, time, and resources. For more articles by Jennifer, visit: https://jacobsoncommunication.com/blog.html

<![CDATA[7 CES Communications Tips for Getting the Most for Your Startup]]>Thu, 12 Dec 2019 23:50:02 GMThttp://jacobsoncommunication.com/blog/7-ces-communications-tips-for-getting-the-most-for-your-startup
CES represents a great opportunity for brands, but for startups, it can also be overwhelming. Here’s how to make the most of your CES attendance.
1. Know Your Reasons for Going
Simply hoping your engagement at CES will be productive and worthwhile isn’t enough. Identify and communicate to your team why your startup will have a presence at CES. If you’re going to drum up new business, identify the types of opportunities and people you will want to meet. If you’re going to brush shoulders with reporters, know which ones will be the most likely to cover you and where they’re going to be. If you’re looking for new business partners, know what kind of criteria they have to meet and identify some of them.

2. Perfect Your “General Audience” Messaging and Your "Advanced Messaging"
Casual booth visitors don’t want a deep-dive into your company, and potential business partners, investors, and large clients want more than the “public” version of your pitch. You need two different messaging paths in order to get what you want out of CES. There will be some overlap and one conversation can quickly turn into the other.

Your “general audience” pitch is a one or two sentence answer to the, “what’s your company about,” question. Follow this question up with a general inquiry into who the other person is and who they’re with. The messaging you give to general audience attendees is the kind of information you would generally tell customers. 

Your “advanced messaging” can be more specifically geared to the industry you’re in and your stated company goals. These conversations can lead to potential customers, business partners, and investors. Find out who you’re speaking to and what their interests are. Have additional handouts and information ready for these kinds of opportunities.

3. Send The Right People
Only send people to CES who need to go. Unless your startup has a massive budget and a good reason for having more than 5 people at CES, don’t do it. CES is expensive and it’s better to send a small, strategic team than to send a lot of people who may or may not be properly prepared. Make sure the people you send are able to talk with the right people and represent your brand in a professional way.

4. Know Who You Want to Meet
Meeting the right people at CES requires planning. Research the kinds of companies and people attending CES and identify who you and your startup should meet with. From reporters to CEOs to potential investors, and more, there are a lot of people at CES that you can meet and make connections with. Use your time their wisely. If you book a time to meet with someone, make sure they have your phone number and you have theirs, so you can coordinate if plans change.

5. Reach Out To People Now & Tell Them Where You’ll Be
Once you’ve identified who you’d like to meet, send them a casual email indicating that you’d like to meet with them at CES. Send them an invitation to connect on LinkedIn as well. Keep these emails short and be sure to include your  contact information in your signature and a well-written “about” paragraph for your company after your signature. If your startup has a booth, or is sharing a booth, let people you’re reaching out to know. 

6. Communicate to Your Customers, Social, and Beyond
Write a short newsletter, blog article, and social media post that invites customers and fans to visit you at CES. Even if they aren’t attending CES, knowing you’re going to CES helps them take your brand more seriously. During and after CES, connect with people you meet on social and especially LinkedIn. Send a followup email a few days after CES.

7.  Take Care of and Be Your Best Self
For entrepreneurs working from home, it can be jarring to go from seeing a few people a day to a few thousand. Put your best self forward. Make sure you’re caught up on sleep, staying hydrated, and eating. Don’t do 24 hour CES days if you aren’t used to 24 hour days. Take breaks when you can and don’t burn out. Wear comfortable shoes. Don’t have one too many drinks at the party and do something you later regret. You want people to remember you as a professional who knows what they’re doing, not as the “exhausted entrepreneur” or  “life of the party” with questionable self-control.

About the Author: Jennifer L. Jacobson
Jennifer L. Jacobson replaces global PR firms for her clients and gets better results. She has spent twenty-plus years designing successful campaigns for startups, nonprofits, and growing brands, winning her clients hundreds of thousands of media stories that reach billions of people. Jennifer has worked on campaigns for hundreds of startups and brands as well as Sony, Lady Gaga, Coheed and Cambria, Volkswagen Group of America, Paulo Coelho, Chelsea Clinton, Freedom to Marry, and Seattle Counseling Service. 

Jennifer is the inventor of the Gadget Census, a study that investigated tech ownership trends in the United States and received national press. ​She was the first to popularize the term “social media addiction,” predicting many of the modern issues that have arisen from the mass consumption of social media. She is also the founder of Nimbus Haus, a volunteer youth art program focused on elevating youth voices and building stronger communities to support LGBTQ youth and youth in foster care. Jennifer is the founder of Jacobson Communication, a Seattle-based boutique PR firm and the author of 42 Rules of Social Media for Small Business, as well as Snow Tires for Startups: How to Get PR Traction
<![CDATA[3 Things Startups Need to Know About PR Today]]>Wed, 30 Oct 2019 19:27:02 GMThttp://jacobsoncommunication.com/blog/3-things-startups-need-to-know-about-pr-today
​To say that PR and the media has changed in the last decade is an understatement. We’ve gone from a 24-hr news cycle to a multi-platform, 24/7, saturated media culture with up-to-the minute headlines that change with the slightest of input.

So what’s a startup to do? Can you still make headlines? What’s changed and what’s still the same? The answers are in the new book; Snow Tires for Startups: How to Get PR Traction. Here are three of the tried and true takeaways from the book that your startup needs to know about PR today.
 about 1. No Matter What Brand You Run, PR  Can Help Stabilize Your Trajectory.
There are forces in this world that could bring your brand to a screeching halt, whether it’s a company like Apple secretly designing something similar, a scandal that shakes the very core of the industry, or a global disaster that throws life into chaos. No one is safe, and those that act like it are only kidding themselves.

While PR can’t be the only thing your startup has in its favor, PR can get you noticed by the right people. It can help make you a known thought leader in your industry. It can make the world more likely to take you seriously. And these things can help stabilize your brand’s trajectory so you can focus on moving forward faster and more accurately than you would have. It can mean the difference between being known and existing; being forgotten and falling by the wayside.

2. Think Like a Storyteller (not a salesperson)
Storytelling is central to humanity because it elevates our shared experiences. The biggest barrier startups and new brands often have to PR is they don’t yet understand how they fit into the larger narrative of the universe. They might have their company “story,” but they haven’t yet wrapped their minds around what it is to be a “known” character in the larger narrative of their market, their cause, their space, or even their time.

To begin to understand this, ask yourself what your startup fighting against? Dig in and identify real pain points and issues that compound if your startup fails. Ask yourself what is your startup fighting for? Who is it fighting for? These are the elements of story and identity that you want to champion and support in your PR efforts. Without them, you’re not going to stand out enough to survive for long.

3. Startup CEOs (Should) Have Better Things To Do Than Pitch
The debate on whether or not a startup CEO should pitch their own company rages on, especially in the early stage startup community. Of course, when your startup is “brand new” as in, not-yet-funded and still in infancy, the CEO might email a few selected reporters because there is no one else to do it yet. However, if your CEO is still pitching reporters after you’ve received your first round of funding, and you’re no longer working out of their basement, you may have a problem. If your startup is finally in a real office space, and you have a few team members, your CEO should no longer be pitching reporters. Let them move on to better things.

Are there exceptions? Yes. Your CEO might be really good at pitching and have five or so reporter friends that expect pitches from them. But make this the exception–not the rule. CEOs have better things to do than micro-manage whomever is in charge of a company’s PR.

To read more about startup PR, go to: https://jacobsoncommunication.com/snow-tires-for-startups.html

About the Jennifer L. Jacobson
Jennifer L. Jacobson replaces global PR firms for her clients and gets better results. She is a communications executive who has spent twenty-plus years designing successful campaigns for startups, nonprofits, and growing brands. She has won her clients hundreds of thousands of media stories that reach billions of people. Jennifer has worked on campaigns for hundreds of startups and brands as well as Sony, Lady Gaga, Coheed and Cambria, Volkswagen Group of America, Paulo Coelho, Chelsea Clinton, Freedom to Marry, and Seattle Counseling Service. 

Jennifer is the inventor of the Gadget Census, a study that investigated tech ownership trends in the United States and received national press. ​She was the first to popularize the term “social media addiction,” predicting many of the modern issues that have arisen from the mass consumption of social media. She is also the founder of Nimbus Haus, a volunteer youth art program focused on elevating youth voices and building stronger communities to support LGBTQ youth and youth in foster care.

Jennifer is the founder of Jacobson Communication, a Seattle-based boutique PR firm and the author of 42 Rules of Social Media for Small Business, as well as Snow Tires for Startups: How to Get PR Traction

<![CDATA[How To Build A VC Pitch Deck That Smells of Money]]>Thu, 20 Jun 2019 21:31:51 GMThttp://jacobsoncommunication.com/blog/how-to-build-a-vc-pitch-deck-that-smells-of-money
As a new entrepreneur, you’ve been building your startup for months, and now you’re ready to start pitching to the venture capital community. You may be ready, but is your pitch deck? Are you sure you have the right elements to attract a VC?
It’s dangerous to go alone. Take this checklist with you to make sure your pitch deck has what it takes to get investor’s attention and make you look like a professional.
What’s Going On?
​If you’re presenting to investors, you don’t have the luxury of time. By the time you fire up that slide deck, you’d better get to the point fast. How fast? You have two slides.

If you were a stranger, would you know what the heck is going on by the time you presented the first two slides? The first two slides of your deck should compel investors to pay attention. They should quickly reveal: What you’re talking about and what space you’re in. If that hasn’t yet been communicated, you’re wasting time.
Fix That Funky Name and Logo
​Did you name your company after the stray kitten your kids brought home? Unless you’re running a pet-centric startup, there’s no reason to choose an eccentric name for your startup. A professional, compelling, or relevant name goes a long way with investors and the public. Many startups have the most mysterious startup names, for no reason other than, “we couldn’t think of anything else.” Nothing makes investors think, “we can take a high percentage of this company,” like an off putting name and logo ruining the image of a potentially otherwise great startup.

Take the time to create a name, logo, and tagline that is unified and supportive of your brand. This will help you stand out and help investors take your pitch more seriously. It will pay off to do this homework.
The Market Problem. AKA Potential.
​Right now, people and businesses are suffering because they don’t have what your startup offers. Note: If the world is fine without your product, it may be time to rethink your business.

Find creative ways to quantify and visualize the market problem. If this is too broad, focus the market problem to your top 3 perspective industries. Investors want to see that there is a real-world problem you’re solving. Solving problems is lucrative, and it’s essential to make this a central component of your pitch deck.
Who Is Your Market?
​Clearly spell out who your market is. Don’t just get into the demographics, get into the psychographics. Know what affects your market’s decisions. Know what they believe. Know what they value. Know what keeps them up at night. The more you know your market, the better your solution will be.

How Will You Reach Your Audience?
​You don’t have to have all the answers right now, but you should at least be prepared to talk about this. “Buying advertisements” isn’t an answer. Talk about the markets you’re focusing on and the strategies you’re going to use to influence mindshare and reach your market. Be specific. Start making connections with influencers in those markets if you haven’t already.

What Makes You Sparkle?
​There are a lot of startups that don’t have something unique, even though they do have fabulous marketing, products, and leadership. Many of these startups have a great business and business model. That’s fine, but if you’re a startup going in for investment, you should have something exclusive, and it can’t simply be a fancy degree in high-level computing and five years experience managing IT at a big company. You need a patent or a specific piece of IP that is all yours. If you don’t yet have this, get a good lawyer, and figure out what you can have that makes your startup unique.

Customer Success
​If you’re looking for investment, you might not yet have thousands of customers using your product, and that’s fine. Put together an anonymized “mini case study” of your top 3 customers. And have a slide talking about all 3 (or one per slide, if there is a lot to cover). Talk about how you solved the market problem for that client in a way that no one else could. Talk about the value you brought. If you have it, talk about repeat business and its frequency. “Proven and repeatable” are things investors look for. Not only is this an indicator of a potential initial return on investment, but it’s also an indicator if you're a candidate for future acquisition.

​The Bottom Line
Building a great pitch deck does not have to take months of work and an expensive marketing firm, but it also isn’t something you can throw together a day before your presentation. Above all, be yourself and respect the VC’s time. Be professional. Practice your presentation beforehand. Be ready for questions. Don't’ get defensive, but don’t change who you are just to get money. Finding the right VC is a dance. Think of your inspiration before you go into the building. Remember, you have a great idea, and the world needs to know about it. This is one step on a much longer journey. You can do it.

About the Author
Jennifer L. Jacobson is the founder of Jacobson Communication, a boutique PR firm that replaces global PR firms for startups, and earns better results. Jennifer is the forward-thinking tech visionary who invented the Gadget Census, which pioneered research into consumer tech ownership in the United States. She was the first to popularize the term “social media addiction,” predicting many of the modern issues that have arisen from the mass consumption of social media across ever-accessible mobile platforms. She is the author of one of the first communications books on social media, 42 Rules of Social Media for Small Business, as well as the upcoming, Snow Tires for Startups: How to Get PR Traction for Startups, Nonprofits, and Social Causes. Jennifer holds a Master’s Degree in Broadcast Electronic Communication from San Francisco State University.
<![CDATA[5 Communications Tips for Startup CEOs Going Through Acquisitions]]>Thu, 20 Jun 2019 17:44:59 GMThttp://jacobsoncommunication.com/blog/5-communications-tips-for-startup-ceos-going-through-acquisitions
Having your startup acquired can be a fortunate and exciting part of any entrepreneur’s life. If you’re the CEO, there are some things you need to be aware of when it comes to PR and communications. This is a turning point for you. What you do and say now will be remembered, so it's important to do the right thing.
1. Be As Transparent As Possible With The Company Acquiring Your Startup
Once the deal is agreed on, (and once your lawyers give you the green light), have a game plan for exactly what you will communicate to whom, and when you will communicate it. Make sure the appropriate members of your startup are involved or at least knowledgeable about the plan, and make sure they understand the need for confidentiality. Know what days the press will be told, when the social media announcement will happen, and more. The last thing you want to do is reveal something that’s not yet supposed to be known.
2. Don’t Stop Current Communications
Keep up occasional social media posts, blogs, newsletters, and basic public relations as if everything is running as normal. Nothing says, “we’re up to something secret,” like stopping social, blog posts, newsletters, and PR efforts. If your startup has had enough attention to attract an acquisition offer, you want to be sure you keep up appearances so people don't think you've gone under, or get suspicious.
3. Have a Standby Answer for Tough Questions
Some reporters may figure out what’s going on. Make sure your startup PR representatives have a standby answer when asked about exit strategies, and that the company that’s acquiring your startup is okay with this answer. Bumbling through a reporter's question is to be avoided. You want your answer to be professional.
4. Prepare Your Messaging
As you start to think about how to announce this acquisition, go the extra mile and be proactive about preparing key messaging for your startup’s “about us” page, materials, social, and external communications. You want your customers to feel that the brand they’ve come to know and love will still be an important part of their lives, even after the acquisition.
5. Have a Personal Say In The Acquisition Announcement
Unless you’re washing your hands and walking away at the moment of acquisition (which is highly unlikely), make sure you have a hand in creating the messaging that will communicate your startup’s acquisition. Does it reflect your startup’s brand, your character, the trajectory of your personal career and vision?

​Remember, what happens during and after an acquisition announcement can have a significant impact on the companies you grow in the future. Make sure you play an active role in creating your narrative.
<![CDATA[Find Out if Your Startup is Ready for PR in 7 Questions]]>Thu, 13 Jun 2019 21:34:44 GMThttp://jacobsoncommunication.com/blog/find-out-if-your-startup-is-ready-for-pr-in-7-questions
​Knowing when to start PR isn’t always easy, especially for startups. In my years of public relations and marketing experience, very few startups begin their PR efforts too early. Some startups wait to begin public relations until they’ve been selling products for over a year, and some wait until they feel like they have a story worth sharing. With so many outside voices insisting that a startup “must start now” on advertising, social media, SEO, rebranding, choosing an office space, hiring a team, winning awards, and giving cars as signing bonuses, it’s a lot. I get it. 
“Is my startup ready for PR now,” is the question I am often asked, and the answer has a lot to do with what the startup is already doing or about to do.

Here is the Jacobson Communication official quiz to help you figure out if your startup is on fire, if it’s actually ready for PR, or if you can wait until you actually have something of interest to share.

Is your startup currently selling/offering a product or service?
A: Yes. We’ve been selling it for years.
B: Yes. We just started selling it.
C: Not Yet. But we will be selling it in the coming months.
D: No. We will someday in the far off future.
E: No. We don’t believe in selling anything.

Is your startup paying someone to post to social media on a regular basis?
A: Yes. We have at least one person working full-time on social media.
B: Yes. We have someone part time post a few times a week.
C: Kind of. We have someone post to social who does other things.
D: No. We can’t afford that kind of thing.
E: What is social media?

Is your startup spending money on advertising?
A: Yes. We have a healthy advertising budget and we’ve hired advertising professionals to run it.
B: Yes. We pay for the occasional ad to drive sales.
C: We’re about to start doing that.
D: No. We won’t for at least another six months.
E: No. We don’t believe in advertising. A good product should sell itself.

Does your startup have a paid sales person or team?
A: Yes. Those folks work hard for us 24/7 and they move a lot of product.
B: Yes. We have one, and they are getting some good results.
C: Kind of. We have one who only gets paid commission.
D: No, and we won’t for at least six months.
E: No. We don’t believe in sales teams. A good product should sell itself.

Do people sign up for your startup’s regular newsletter and actually read it?
A: Yes. We have tens of thousands of people reading our monthly newsletter.
B: Yes. It’s a good group of people who enjoy what we write.
C: Not yet, but we’re about to start a monthly newsletter.
D: No. We won’t for at least six months.
E: No. We don’t believe in promoting ourselves go people who should remember us.

Have you ever hired a marketing consultant or firm to re-brand your startup?
A: Yes. We paid a lot for them and we love their work.
B: Yes. We hired a consultant who was very affordable.
C: Not yet but we’re about to.
D: No. We hadn’t even thought about that.
E: No. We don’t believe in marketing. People should love us by virtue of our individuality.

Do you have a dire need to stand out from the competition today? 
A: Yes. We’re pretty sure a big company is going to launch something similar to us next week.
B: Yes. Our product is similar to others, and it’s hard for consumers to realize we’re better.
C: Kind of. We’d like to stand out but it’s not our top priority.
D: No. We’re the only one like us.
E: No. We’re so unique that no one has a name for the category yet.

Scoring: For every letter you get, assign a number value. What Does Your Score Mean?
A: 5
B: 4
C: 3
D: 2
E: 1

The Highest of Scores
31 - 35 
You’re on fire. Stop taking this quiz and hire a PR person now. You’re missing an opportunity to stand out from the competition, which would let you charge more and/or get more customers. Better PR will help the sales team you’ve already hired move more product. It may even help you get acquired. If you want your startup to be the next big thing, your time is now. If money is too tight to hire someone for PR, consider reducing some of your spending in other departments to balance the budget. Seriously. PR will help you right now.

Your Time Is Now
30 - 25
If you’ve been on the fence about diving into PR, this is a good time. Bringing on PR now will help the money you’re already investing go further. You don’t have to hire the most expensive PR firm, but it is worth it to find a quality organization or individual that will work with you to get the customer PR results that will start driving visibility and sales soon.

You Could Go Either Way
24 - 19
Unless you scored a 5 on the questions about selling product, or demand, you can probably wait for PR. But set a reminder for yourself 3 months before your product/launch to start looking for a consultant or PR firm to help you build awareness. You’re going to need it.

You Should Wait
18 - 14
There are probably some better things you could do right now, like develop a go-to-market plan, a business plan, a target audience list, a product, etc. You’re not ready for PR just yet.

It's Time To Rethink Things
13 - 7
Are you running a business right now, or a dream? If you scored this low, you might want to rethink why you’re even in the startup space. If you’ve been in this situation for more than 6 months, this is clearly a passive hobby for you, which is fine if you’re not expecting to actually go big with this. If you have employees or family who expects you to actually make money, this is a good time to find another way to do that. Life as an entrepreneur probably isn’t for you.

Wondering what to do next?
If you need more advice about PR or marketing or helping your business stand out, let us know. Contact Jacobson Communication today.

Your first consultation is free! www.jacobsoncommunication.com