<![CDATA[JACOBSON COMMUNICATION - Blog]]>Thu, 26 Mar 2020 14:02:23 -0700Weebly<![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

<![CDATA[Summertime 2019 Behind the Scenes]]>Thu, 13 Jun 2019 21:04:33 GMThttp://jacobsoncommunication.com/blog/summertime-2019-behind-the-scenes
From the Santa Cruz surf, to the top of Mt. Umunhum, to Seattle, and beyond, 2019 has been an adventure. Here's some of our behind the scenes!
The summer is flying by and, to quote Ferris Bueller, "If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." Recent behind the scenes highlights include sponsoring our friends over at New Tech Northwest, watching Cats in San Jose, and School of Rock in Seattle, prepping for Pride, and touring Santa Cruz's hidden gems.
<![CDATA[3 Ways Big PR Firms Slow Down Startups]]>Fri, 10 May 2019 16:37:15 GMThttp://jacobsoncommunication.com/blog/3-ways-big-pr-firms-slow-down-startups
Do big PR firms work for startups? Should your startup hire a big PR firm? The siren song of larger, global PR firms, with their flashy results are tempting to many, but there are good reasons startups should avoid them, at least until they have tens of thousands of PR dollars to spend monthly on a firm, at which point, they will no longer be a startup.

If you have a startup looking for a PR firm, you can do better than a big firm. Here’s why.
Big PR firms require a long runway, lots of meetings, and weeks, if not months, to gather all the information about your startup, workshop pitch angles, develop public-facing content (landing pages, PDFs, etc.) based on your startup’s spreadsheets and data, pre-launch, and launch your product. And that’s if you have a healthy budget.

If you have a bare-bones budget the big PR firm will likely help you with a press release, slap it on PRWeb and show you all the “reprints” it gets which, alone, mean little in the actual marketplace. If you’re really lucky, the big PR firm might make some phone calls on your behalf to a handful of reporters.
Your startup will have to engage said PR firm for many expensive months before you see results. It also assumes you have dedicated marketing, PR, and social teams (also expensive), ready to assist the big PR firm with whatever they need to create the public-facing assets of the PR campaign.

Good PR is never about one story in a “big” publication alone; it’s about many stories, over time, supporting the messages the public needs to know about your brand. Big PR firms want impressive stories in “big” recognizable publications to cover your startup (even if it’s just one or two publications), which is a problem. What your startup really needs is an ecosystem of many stories telling audiences about the need for your startup, and the reasons why your startup is best-poised to solve the problem. Big PR firms want big publications to at least mention your startup. They don’t always have the time to focus on in-depth quality stories with niche markets and smaller publications, which can be perfect for building your startup’s reputation as you grow. When was the last time you remembered a company that was only briefly mentioned in a big publication? Chances are, the companies you remember are the ones you heard about across multiple publications, over an extended period of time.

While mentions in “big” publication stories look flashy and lend temporary credit to your startup's brand, they are not enough to build the ecosystem of stories that create the mindshare of trust that drives new customers and extended interest to your startup.

Big PR firms work with big brand names. While a big PR firm may claim to work with a variety of clients at a variety of sizes, the brands that write the biggest checks are the big brands. What’s more, these contracts mean little if it’s for a month or two. Big PR firm’s bread and butter (and Bugattis) only matter when they can keep these large companies satisfied for years at a time. Big PR firms have employees, and rent to pay, even in the slow months. Even if they lose a big account.

When push comes to shove, big PR firms can risk not pleasing smaller clients like startups, especially if it means going the extra mile for that big account that brings in tens of millions a year. This means they can encourage you to delay your story until a time that’s convenient for them. You’re not getting their best all of the time, because you aren’t the one they need to please.

<![CDATA[7 Email Marketing Mistakes That are Killing Your Brand]]>Fri, 18 Jan 2019 18:29:12 GMThttp://jacobsoncommunication.com/blog/7-email-marketing-mistakes-that-are-killing-your-brand7451054
Face it; some emails will never be read. Don't let yours be one of them. Here are seven deadly mistakes email marketers make.

​​1. The Subject Line Doesn't Get to the Point In Time - The first few words have to compel the reader to keep reading and open your email. If you're having a 25% off sale, lead with the words: "25% off." Don't lead with the words: "Today only, get a special, once-a-year promotion and enjoy 25% off your entire purchase."
2. The Preview Text Is Irrelevant - You've seen it; that text that previews an email's content. Too many n00b brands and some established ones waste that space with boilerplate, unsubscribe text, or other, non-essential information. This is often a remnant of the email sending service you are using. Send a test to yourself before sending the email to a group. If the preview text is not your immediate content, modify your template so that information is placed elsewhere. Preview text should always be compelling.

3. The Top of the Email is Legal Jargon or Boilerplate - When your email is opened, the text at the top should get to the point quickly, reinforcing the benefit, and highlighting the call to action. Then, support it with additional details.

4. You Go On For Days - You're not in the business of writing love letters. Get to the point. If you need to tell a long, complicated story, summarize it in the email and then have the "full story" clickable and hosted on your website. See how many people click through to the whole thing. Most people only want the summary.

5. You Only End on a Virtual High-Five - So many emails end with a positive note, but fail to give a clear call to action. If you have an action you want people to take, make it obvious. Have links to direct actions they can take.

6. You Send Too Many Emails - Aside from a select group of markets, most email marketing campaigns should send emails anywhere from once a week, to once a month. Plan your campaigns and deals ahead of time.

7. You Don't Give People Enough Time To React - While flash sales are fine, if you're promoting things like classes, limited time services, or discounts on appointments, give people at least a week's advance notice. Tell them once, far in advance, and once again, a week or two before.

About the Author: Jennifer L. Jacobson is a communications strategist who leverages marketing, brand identity, and public relations to help brands advance their voice in crowded industries. Her clients have been TIME’s best site of the year, and graced the likes of Today, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Popular Science, Scientific American, USA Today, and thousands more. She is the founder of Jacobson Communication.
<![CDATA[Three Communications Secrets to a Successful Holiday Campaign]]>Thu, 27 Sep 2018 15:54:05 GMThttp://jacobsoncommunication.com/blog/3-communications-secrets-to-a-successful-holiday-campaign
Tis’ the season for pumpkin spice, Autumn leaves, peppermint, and eggnog everything. But there’s more to running successful holiday campaigns than slapping a red and green bow on your products and expecting them to sell. Here are three communications secrets to creating compelling holiday messaging that speaks to your audience, drives more conversions, and creates life-long customers.
1. Know Why People Really Spend Money This Time of Year
The holidays are a time when people spend money on loved ones. But why? They aren’t doing it to be frugal or logical. They’re doing it because they want their loved ones to know they care. They want to be the deliverer of joy through a gift. They want their loved ones to have a positive experience that endures them to one another.

Humans evolved to be communicators, to have shared social experiences. Why? Because we rely on each other for survival. Because we’re a communal species. If we hadn’t formed groups when we came down from the trees, we likely would not have lasted long.

The holidays are a time where it is traditional to share gifts to show love. Is it commercialized? Yes. Is it capitalistic? Mostly. Does it have to be? No. Is it the only way to show you care? No, of course not. But with the smell of gingerbread latte wafting through the air and peppermint eggnog everywhere, it’s hard to humbug against the holiday spending spree, and as a brand, you should at least be aware of how to put your best foot forward.

To quote a saying which has been attributed to many, “People will forget what you said or did. They will remember how you made them feel.” Your customers buy your product as a gift because they want to evoke a feeling, an experience.

Make your customers feel something; something that makes them remember themselves, their loved ones, and your brand.
2. Know Who Is Buying Your Products: Hyper Target Your Audience
It’s easy to imagine your customer base as a sea of smiling faces clamoring to get your products. But you’d be wrong, and if that’s as much customer research as you do, your brand won’t last long.

Your audience is diverse. They have values, hopes, dreams, preferred breakfast cereals; it’s your job to get to know your audience.

In the immortal words of Davish Krail from Star Wars Episode IV, A New Hope; “Stay on target.”

Define the 3 most prominent types of customers you have (5 if you’re really sure), and target them with a passion. Get into their headspaces, their time zones, their hopes, their dreams. Figure out what makes each of the groups tick and develop a “customer profile” for each of them. Segment your email campaigns based on these groups. These 3 to 5 profiles are your roadmap for your communications from here on out, at least until your company evolves.

If you’re a startup, it’s best to re-evaluate these groups annually.

3. Don’t Make it All About You: Make it About Product Benefits
Most noob product announcements, and even seasoned ones, pontificate about how “their company” is doing something big. How “their company” is pleased to announce. How “their company” is offering. How “their company” is having a Winter Sale. You get the idea. It’s boring and egocentric, and doesn’t care about the customer.

In the eternal words of Janet Jackson, “What have you done for me lately?” Not last year. Not last season. What are you offering right now?

It’s time to get over yourself. No one cares about your company or brand or product on its own. It doesn’t matter if you’re Apple, Amazon, or a hot new startup darling–no one cares unless you’re useful, unless you help the customer do something better, faster, or more successfully.

Instead, focus on how your product benefits customers. You’re not offering them a new watch; you’re offering them a digital companion that reminds them of the important things in life. You’re not selling them a bluetooth soundbar for their kids; you’re gifting them the experience of connecting with their child through better quality audio.

Whatever the benefits, make it as real as possible. Connect it to your customer profiles. Hire a copywriter to get the messaging right for each group. No one wants to be sold to, but everyone wants a solution.