A blog about standing up, standing out, and standing for something in tech PR and communications.


Taylor Petersen
Taylor Petersen

Be Our Guest: Participating in Podcasts

According to Nielsen, at least 16 million people in the US consider themselves avid podcast fans. And Edison Research notes that approximately 80 million Americans are now weekly podcast listeners, a 17% increase over 2020. 

With both the number of podcasts and podcast listeners growing, opportunity abounds to connect with an interested audience. 

podcast guest

Launching a podcast can be a great way to get your company’s voice heard. In a previous series of posts, we provided some details on what’s involved in starting your own show. 

But if you aren’t ready to commit to producing your own podcast, being a guest on someone else’s show is a great way to wade into the medium. 

Here are a few tips and tricks we use at Sterling to pursue podcast participation opportunities for our clients:

Podcast characteristics list 

Figuring out what types of shows might be a good fit for a guest appearance can be tricky in the overpopulated podcast space. Being a practiced podcast listener makes this process easier — it helps that our team at Sterling is loaded with podcast lovers.

A great first step is to list your ideal podcast’s characteristics. This list should include the topic, whether you prefer one-on-one or group conversation, any audience demographics of note, and the overall tone of the podcast — how you want the conversation conveyed to listeners. For example, if you have a very serious spokesperson and message, you probably shouldn’t aim for a guest appearance on a podcast with a comedic tone and irreverent host. 

Your list will help you narrow the search with a clear vision of what you are looking for in a podcast. 

Where to search for shows

After you complete your list of ideal characteristics, you have to find the podcasts that check all your boxes. The best search venues include Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. 

There’s a bit of an art to learning how and where to search, and it begins with familiarizing yourself with the tagging conventions for categorizing podcasts across various platforms. Examples include Business, Technology, Science, News, Society & Culture, etc. You can also browse Channels to check whether a favored publication or production company hosts podcasts that align with your area of expertise. Format is also important. If you find the perfect podcast, but it doesn’t feature guests or interviews, there’s no point in pursuing participation.

Pitching podcast participation 

After finding a few promising podcasts that meet your criteria, it’s time to reach out. Tracking down contact information to pitch guest participation is the next — and sometimes most difficult — step. Even with niche podcasts, show hosts don’t always book their own guests. Determining how to get in touch with the appropriate contact can take some legwork. 

There are media relations tools that can help in this regard. At Sterling, we use Muck Rack, an active and comprehensive media database that added a large and ever-growing podcast category in 2020. The podcasts listed in Muck Rack tend to include up-to-date contact information and outreach preferences, as well as some listener statistics, domain authority scores, airing frequency details, and links to previous episode recordings that are helpful for vetting.

Once you have the right contact information, briefly introducing yourself, conveying your interest/relevance, and proposing a guest appearance come next. With success, you’re on to scheduling, conversation scoping, recording conventions and protocols, … 

Don’t be daunted

As you can gather, the podcast space can seem overwhelming because it’s become so popular and there are so many different options and venues. But that’s also precisely why it presents a great avenue for building brand awareness and demonstrating subject matter expertise to target audiences. 

With the help and guidance of a public relations professional, finding the perfect podcasts and securing guest participation opportunities can be painless — and even fun! 

Reach out to us at go@sterlingpr.com if you’d like to learn more about guesting on podcasts to complement your communications goals.

The science of good stories

“The human mind is a story processor, not a logic processor.”
Jonathan Haidt

Human beings love stories. In fact, we may actually need them. To prove the point, ask anyone if they’ve seen a good movie or read a good book lately — and watch their face light up as they respond.

Why? Our collective instinct for story is a survival skill. 

“Humans don’t have sharp fangs, thick hides or blinding speed; our evolutionary advantage has always been our problem-solving ability, and in particular, our ability to solve problems as a group,” writes UX strategist Carl Alviani. “This tendency to cooperate creatively at large scale … has featured prominently in every major advance we’ve made as a species … shaped by common goals shared by large numbers of people.” 

Common goals, as we’re learning, are built with stories. 

science of stories

Storytelling Science

A well-told story causes a chemical reaction in the brain of the listener, releasing hormones that cause actual changes in behavior and emotion:

  • Cortisol is produced when something warrants our attention (like the introduction of a threat or distress in a narrative), which helps us become aware and stay attentive. 
  • Dopamine is produced when we continue to follow the emotionally charged events in a story, which aids in an elaborate learning system that rewards us with feelings of pleasure.
  • Oxytocin is produced when we identify with the protagonist of a story, which promotes prosocial and empathic behavior.

Turns out, a good story generates the neurotransmitters necessary first for awareness, then for arousal, and finally for empathy. Tell that story well enough, and your audience is paying attention, enjoying the experience, and has enough oxytocin to make the brain more receptive to feel trust. As myriad studies reveal, trust is even more important than facts in forging partnerships and securing allies to achieve goals.

What works for evolutionary success and the survival of our species also works for the evolution and survival of brands.

Whether you’re developing a personal brand or building your organization’s public presence, having a good story is a powerful way to win friends and influence people.

Helping to craft good stories with our clients is one of our favorite services at Sterling. Our process can take many forms, but it’s always revelatory — and generally a lot of fun. Here’s one exercise we sometimes use to help our clients frame what makes a good story: 

Storytelling Exercise

Pretend you’re pitching a movie about yourself to a Hollywood studio. You have one sentence with 30 words to get the job done. It’s called a logline — the pitch before the elevator pitch — and it requires five elements:

  • Protagonist — Who is the main character? An attribute must connect us to her, him, or it. (It’s probably you, but it could be your company, a technology, or something else in life.) 
  • Battle — What is the struggle? The verb must be visual and active. (This isn’t your whole life story, so something specific helps.) 
  • Antagonist — Who (or what) is trying to stop her, him, or it? The villain must matter. (This could even be a way of doing business, if needed.)
  • Goal — What is worth fighting for? The prize must be worth more than the struggle. (You don’t have to have achieved the goal yet.)
  • Stakes — What happens if she, he, or it fails? The potential pain must be real for the audience. (Even something like “total embarrassment” fits the bill.)

Here are three logline examples from films you may know:

  • The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty struggles to transfer control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son.
  • A young FBI cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to win his help catching another serial killer who skins his victims.
  • A cocky cop must prevent a bomb from exploding aboard a city bus by keeping its speed above 50 mph.

Storytelling Purpose

This exercise is not meant to hype you or your organization beyond recognition, nor to turn your best (or worst) moment into film fodder. Rather, it’s designed to help you discover how you might ignite that story-fueled chemical reaction as an entry point into important conversations. A foot in important doors. A voice at important tables. 

Give it a try! And reach out to us at go@sterlingpr.com if you’d like to learn more about the power of good storytelling.

Making a Case for Case Studies

The humble case study traces its origins all the way back to the Bronze Age. The Edwin Smith Papyrus, often cited as the earliest surviving example of surgical literature, dates to ancient Egypt circa 1600 BCE (and is believed to be a copy of a much older text). It “contains 48 cases dealing with wounds and trauma, such as injuries, fractures, wounds, dislocations and tumors. The cases are presented in a format that is not unlike what modern physicians use today.” 

ancient case studies
Page from Edwin Smith surgical papyrus. © Image courtesy Wellcome Images, a website operated by Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation based in the United Kingdom. CC-BY-4.0.

At heart, a case study is simply “a process or record of research” or “a particular instance of something used or analyzed in order to illustrate a thesis or principle.”

And beyond the practice of medicine, case studies have served as a powerful way to collate and communicate information on myriad subjects through the ages. They’ve found function in everything from sociology and statistical research to teaching methodologies at Harvard.

Today, any marketing or public relations pro can tell you that they’re also important in professional communications. Business case studies are an invaluable tool for search engine optimization (SEO), customer acquisition, and media relations.

The power of case studies

For public relations, third-party validation can be critical to securing positive media coverage, particularly in business-to-business (B2B) verticals and influential niche outlets. And the most powerful validation comes from customers and/or partners who have achieved positive results with your service or solution. Case studies provide an ideal format to demonstrate that validation.

For SEO and marketing purposes, case studies also supply a great venue for increasing keyword discoverability through content pertinent to your area of expertise. More importantly, case studies deliver social proof: Establishing that your business is legitimate, and that your product or service is tried-and-tested and has demonstrable value. 

What makes a good case study

In scientific research and clinical settings, case studies tend to follow strict design methodologies specified by field and subject matter requirements. 

For business communications and marketing purposes, case study form and function are much more fluid. 

A case study can be as simple as a single PowerPoint slide featuring a logo, pull-quote, and a few bullet points highlighting results. Or it can be as detailed as a multi-page report with an executive summary, plenty of analytics, and sophisticated infographics.

Case studies are distributed in print and/or digitally. They’re posted to websites and social media channels. And they’re presented in a variety of formats including video.

At minimum, a good case study should include:

  • Context to set the stage and an outline of challenge, approach, and outcome.
  • Pull-quotes that capture attention or provide a sense of what you are trying to communicate.
  • Clear results that are easy to scan.

Business case studies should also highlight the voice of the customer or partner discussing their expectations, experience, and appraisal of what was delivered. And it’s always a good idea to visually represent results or outcomes in graphics, charts or images that quickly convey impact.

Creating case studies

The first and most important step in creating business case studies is determining what you want to communicate and to whom. All ensuing research and/or development should serve that core determination.

And regardless of how many metrics and mounds of impressive data you have on hand, you’ll want to approach your case studies in terms of telling a compelling story. As we’re fond of proselytizing here at Sterling

“Our brains are greedy for stories. A tale told well is always more memorable and compelling and delicious than any bar chart or cold hard list of facts. Storytelling is how we best communicate the essence of who we are to each other. More than ever, and particularly in the realm of technology, companies need opportunities to humanize their positions, connect with their communities, and differentiate themselves in a noisy and erratic environment. Storytelling makes the difference.

Good stories, in other words, are good for business.”

We love case studies!

If you are interested in learning more about case studies, we’re here to help with everything from how to go about approaching partners and/or customers for quotes or participation in development, to case study design, drafting and delivery. Reach out to us at go@sterlingpr.com.

Developing Surveys to Use in Your Public Relations Efforts, Part 2

In my previous article about survey development, I described some issues relating to survey participant pool sizes and tips for developing better questionnaires to lead to more media friendly and attention-grabbing data points for public relations.

Common questions I get from clients tend toward: “Do I have to pay for a survey company? Can’t we just do our own using our own lists? Or do it on social media?” Yes, you can use a cost-effective tool like Survey Monkey if the goal of your survey is to get some fun facts. But if you are surveying your existing lists of customers, partners, and prospects — or doing a simple Twitter poll — the audience is not representative. The media won’t find your survey credible.

survey for public relations

“Surveys based on self-selected volunteers, such as opt-in online polls, do not have a grounded statistical tie to the population. Estimates from self-selected volunteers are subject to unknown errors that cannot be measured,” said the American Association for Public Opinion Research about what it calls a “credibility interval.” If you want your research to be taken seriously by mainstream media, you need a serious survey partner — professional reporters will ask the source of your data and the margin of sampling error.

Paying for what you get

Consider working with a reputable research partner that is an expert in conducting surveys. A few that Sterling Communications clients have worked with — or that have been recommended by other public relations professionals — include these U.S. and U.K.-based firms (listed in alphabetical order): Audience Audit, Cite Research, Dimensional Research, Harris Poll, OnePoll, Qualtrics, Researchscape International, Sapio Research, Toluna, Uncover Research, Vitreous World, and Wakefield Research.

Some of these companies are full-service research vendors that will help you develop the survey questionnaire, identify and recruit the participants, tabulate results, provide reports and charts and graphics in varying detail, and even assemble pitch guides for use with media. Others may focus more on just the surveying steps and data analysis. If you have your own resources for design and media relations who are already expert at your branding and messaging, then you might opt for cost-effective options that will allow you to cherry-pick the stages of the process for which you need support.

If you have deep pockets, you can also commission surveys from respected analyst firms such as Gartner, IDC, Forrester, and Frost & Sullivan; or from a customer publishing house like MIT Technology Review Insights. Their logo will give your survey project the burnished patina of serious qualitative and/or quantitative research. However, they are also highly protective of their brand reputation, so will have more restrictions over how you promote the research.

Doing survey development right

Survey projects require planning and a great deal of thought to ensure you get a useful outcome. “Garbage in, garbage out” really does apply.

Don’t forget to get buy-in from senior management, as you want someone to act as survey spokesperson for follow-on public relations activities. If you don’t have their support, then they won’t be excited to tout the survey’s output at conferences, in podcasts, and throughout the company’s marketing content.

Happy surveying!

If you’d like more help in developing a survey or you have exciting research to promote to the media, send us an email at go@sterlingpr.com.

Developing Surveys to Use in Your Public Relations Efforts, Part 1

Surveys can be powerful tools for public relations teams as well as product marketing teams. They can serve dual purposes, demonstrating thought leadership and/or collecting data to provide insight into a particular market segment or audience stance on an issue. 

surveys for public relations

But a survey developed for PR purposes — say, to elicit “fun facts” to weave into contributed articles, blog posts, and media pitches — may not produce the quantitative and qualitative insights that a product marketing team needs for refining products and services. If you simply want a data point to validate a marketing point, it may be more effective to find publicly available data or pay a third-party for reuse rights. 

Before developing a survey, it’s important to agree up front on intended purpose and hard-data-versus-soft goals, as that will guide the questions and format, and determine the necessary survey respondent pool size. Those in turn affect cost and final product — report, slides, standalone graphics, landing page, etc.

Surveys do require a lot of effort to do well. In developing PR-focused surveys for clients, I have found three key stumbling blocks:

  • Survey pool sizes (and traps)
  • Questionnaire development
  • DIY or tapping a vendor (Part 2)

How big is the pool?

For your survey to be viewed as credible, you need to be transparent regarding the survey pool size and the source of the respondents. That’s why a press release or article or slide deck about survey results will have fine print disclosing the demographics.

If your survey data is collected from a group that isn’t a good approximation of the population as a whole, then it may be biased. When a survey vendor looked at a corpus of press releases to determine common sample sizes for PR-focused surveys, the median size was about 1,000. A survey of 1,000 people in Australia (26 million in 2021) is obviously far more statistically valid for consumer sentiment than a survey of 1,000 people in the U.S. (332 million).

Business-to-business (B2B) surveys of highly targeted audiences (say, IT professionals at North American companies with a minimum of 1,000 employees) do typically have lower sample sizes than surveys of general consumers, voters, or employees. The same survey vendor found the median size of a B2B survey was 377 respondents vs. 1,032 respondents for a business-to-consumer (B2C) survey.

The trap of Simpson’s paradox

Be wary of pooling survey results to get “global” or “multi-country” results. Simpson’s paradox, also known as the amalgamation paradox, is a phenomenon in probability and statistics in which a trend appears in several different groups of data but reverses or disappears when these groups are combined. 

Comparisons of results across countries is interesting for the cultural perspective, but consolidated, averaged data may not accurately represent the population sentiment of any country. 

For example, perhaps you do business in Latin America as well as the U.S. Your product marketing team wants a survey that reflects a Latin American market that is similar in size to that of the U.S. You may survey the same number of people in three countries of vastly different sizes — Mexico, Colombia, and Brazil, for example. If you look at the data country-to-country, there may be significant differences among them, as well as in comparison to the United States. But when you pool the data across the three countries for an overall “Latin American” result to compare to the U.S., the combined result may give you very misleading impressions. That can lead to poor decisions related to any product aimed at those countries.

That is the question

I have learned the hard way that the more time and analysis that goes into the development of the survey questionnaire, the more useful the data will be. 

Screening questions. Decide how finely you want to slice and dice your data, depending on whether you’re using the data for general PR visibility or for true market research. You’ll want some screening questions, but do you need to know age, gender, race, geographic region, company size? Those questions “count” toward the number of questions you are asking. You don’t want the survey to be too long, as the participant may get frustrated and quit. You may also be paying for a certain number of questions.

Yes/No questions. A survey that you’re conducting for PR purposes should produce bigger extremes in responses, in order to get more headline-worthy numbers. Meanwhile, a survey designed to produce true marketing insight may need questions that will result in more nuanced responses. Yes/no, black/white questions that force people to choose a single option instead of multiple choice or carousel “choose all that apply” responses will result in bigger numbers for stronger statements. In that way, if 30% said Yes, you can accurately assume 70% said No — instead of 40% No and 15% Sometimes and 15% Frequently. It’s easier to “reverse the math” or flip statements from a negative to a positive in order to get a headline-worthy number.

Avoid negative assumptions. Try to avoid questions that will result in twisty logic and false assumptions. For example, “Which of these options do you dislike the most?” or “Which do you like the least”? assumes all are disliked. Therefore, you can’t assume reverse statements are true (that people like X most). It’s better to ask positive questions (“Which do you like the most?” or “Rank by the order you like most”) and then assume the option with the lowest ranking is most disliked/least preferred/least favorite. 

Question language and flow. Your questions should have a natural, logical order and build upon each other to help steer the thought process of the survey respondent. Sometimes new questions are added late in the development process but there’s a related question elsewhere in the survey. If you want to keep them both, it makes sense to have them appear consecutively. And be sure you’re using consistent terminology or have a reason for variance, for example, “customer support” versus “customer service” versus “customer experience.”

Second-guess yourself. Review each question in the survey and consider, “Why are we asking this? Who wants this info? What will be the resulting statement and will it be interesting or useful?” As noted above regarding screening questions, if you don’t have a good reason or know how the data will be used, then don’t bother with the question.

Intermission

Always leave your audience wanting more!  In my next blog post, I’ll provide some advice on determining when it’s appropriate to do your own survey versus getting outside help. And I’ll list some qualified survey vendors. 

In the meantime, please reach out to go@sterlingpr.com if you could use help in your PR or marketing efforts.

Live and In-Person Again! Preparing for Public Presentations

Just in time for summer, pandemic restrictions are easing in Silicon Valley. The weather is great, the Bay Area boasts impressive vaccination stats, and many people are venturing back into public to socialize.

Naturally, we’re also starting to see more opportunities for in-person professional interaction. Some people are going to the office again or attending meetings in the flesh. And there are even high-profile tech events scheduled to take place in live formats.  

And while no one we know has mentioned any plans to ditch Zoom entirely, the budding prospects of some real face time indicate it’s also a good time to brush up on non-remote communications skills for public presentations.

public presentation

After days on end of distancing, the idea of professional gatherings and appearances may feel daunting (or at least a little awkward). But we’ve done this before people. I promise, we can do it again!

At Sterling, we regularly provide personalized presentation support and training for our clients. This kind of preparation can help smooth re-entry for all kinds of IRL communications duties. Whether taking part in a panel discussion, presenting to a group, or getting interviewed by a journalist, here are a few public presentation refreshers to aid in transitioning from virtual to live presentation:

Prepare your mind

If you’re giving a talk or presentation, practice it out loud (and not just in your head). Try recording yourself to check your cadence and clarity. If you plan to serve on a panel or sit for an interview, make sure you’re informed about who you’ll be speaking with, for how long, and what subjects are likely to be covered. Stand in front of a bathroom mirror and practice offering prospective commentary or replying to questions. You may feel silly doing it, but it will improve your delivery. You don’t have to memorize a script. But take time to get comfortable with the fear of embarrassment, how you appear, and how you sound. It helps you present more confidently in public.

Prepare your body

Wear comfortable shoes and clothing (no, this doesn’t mean pajamas are permissible — you just don’t want to feel corseted). Stretch. Drink a glass of water. Take some deep breaths before you walk into the room or onto a stage. Unless you are delivering grave news, go ahead and smile. Check your posture and try not to let your shoulders hunch up whether standing or sitting (this actually helps project your voice). 

Prepare to be engaged

Recognize that public presentation is an interaction — a shared encounter with other human beings. So be respectful and attentive. Avoid rambling: short examples, relatable anecdotes, and clever soundbites can frame concepts you want to communicate and leave a lasting impression. Decide in advance what you’d like people to take away from your presentation, commentary, or interview. Stay focused on those ideas to avoid straying from your desired message. 

Above all, remember that being out in the big beautiful world amongst people can be extremely gratifying — both personally and professionally. When it comes to presenting live and in-person, a little preparation goes a long way toward ensuring a positive experience for all involved.

I’ll Be Your Mirror: A 3-Question Brand Identity Assessment

brand identity

A brand identity should reflect the “personality” of a company. But do you feel like the same person you were a year ago today? 

After 12 months of unprecedented upheaval and adaptation, life for many is very different than it once was. Your organization probably isn’t really the same, either. 

In the face of enormous changes to customary work practices and service delivery, many companies have shuffled priorities and adopted new processes. Some have even retargeted products, mission, and scope. 

Now is a good time to reflect on all that alteration — and consider whether your brand identity still holds true. Or if it could use a refresh. 

Here are three questions to help you assess whether your brand identity might need a full facelift — or maybe just a shot of Botox.


1. Who Are You?

Take a cue from Lou Reed, get a proverbial mirror and hold it up to your brand in the harsh light of day. Give it a long, hard look — and try to be honest rather than aspirational as you consider the reflection. What’s changed about your organization and its goals in the past 12 months? What’s changed in your customers? How do you stack up against your competitors? Does any of this impact your existing brand identity?

2. How Are You Seen?

Your personal preferences may be interesting, but they aren’t particularly relevant here. Your brand image should speak to what your target audiences care about and value. Does it? Many people will make snap decisions based on the “virtual” first impression your company makes in today’s largely digital world. With fresh and critical eyes, carefully review your brand’s current touch points. What impression would your preferred customer take away from a first visit to your website, or your company’s presence on LinkedIn or Twitter? Does it positively reflect your current position? Brand promise? Desired trajectory?

3. Are You In Sync?

Your website and social channels aren’t the only things communicating your brand identity to the world. Every single person in your company is a brand ambassador — and your own colleagues may be feeling out of touch and less than certain about the company’s shared mission in our turbulent times. Does everyone who works at your company know what you collectively stand for? How you operate? The kind of customer experience you intend to deliver? Customers like knowing what to expect from the interactions they have with companies. This means delivering brand-consistent experiences across operations — sales, support, direct marketing, social media channels, PR and advertising programs, etc. Is that happening?

Brand Identity = True Reflection

In any business environment, it’s wise to periodically assess your organization’s unique attributes — and position them to best attract the type of partners and customers you want to work with, now and in the future. But after such a tumultuous year, it’s important to review those qualities — and determine whether your brand identity is still accurately conveying them.

If your answers to any of the assessment questions indicate room for improvement, it may be time for a brand identity refresh. Reach out if you need help or guidance. Developing and polishing effective brand communications are Sterling’s specialty.

Photo Credit: Nick Youngson, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Building Marketplace Credibility with Analyst Relations

According to the Institute of Industry Analyst Relations, around 40% to 60% of all technology-purchasing decisions are influenced by analysts. Yet analyst relations is an often-overlooked tool in a company’s communications arsenal (and it should not be).

Married to a strategic public relations plan, analyst relations can substantially shape business strategy through credible industry insight and influence. Moreover, industry analyst reports, reviews, and feedback can significantly impact reputation and brand perception — and map directly to an organization’s share of voice, qualified lead generation, and return on investment (ROI). 

analyst relations and success
Who are industry analysts?

Analyst firms make money by selling trustworthy, third-party analysis and insight. It is an analyst’s job to cultivate deep and extensive market knowledge relevant to a particular domain. They invest heavily in understanding absolutely everything about specific coverage areas. That translates to expert opinion on major players, industry disruptors, emerging issues, and future directions.

Perhaps most importantly, it is their job to understand what customers want from technology vendors and how those needs compare with what is available in the marketplace.

And, let’s not forget…analysts are credible “influencers.” They speak to business leaders and journalists routinely. You will often see their comments included in industry trend stories and other news. Analysts also tend to have close connections to investor and government communities.

Why should you talk to them?

In B2B tech, it’s no secret that technology buyers are savvy, technical people — often skeptical of direct marketing.

Simply put, your buyers listen when analysts talk. When you get mentioned by analysts — either in written research or in 1:1 inquiries — indirect access to prospects opens up. Coverage in official research publications such as Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, Forrester’s Wave, and IDC’s Marketscape are game changers. References in these reports help your sales and marketing teams demonstrate that your technology, company, products, and services are recognized and credible.

Companies also use analysts to stay informed about what is happening in the market and solicit feedback on messaging and product development. Additionally, they rely on analysts to contextualize product or service offerings and make suitable critiques on business strategies.

What is the value of AR?

Industry analysts are deeply connected across your customer community and business ecosystem; working with them allows you to:

  • Get feedback: Educating analysts about your existing and future capabilities keeps them in the know. It also offers an opportunity for you to get valuable feedback on your position and messaging. You can use that information to inform or adjust business and product planning.
  • Spread the word: When analysts know your story, you’re more likely to be top of mind when they’re engaging with pertinent customers, prospects, media, or investors. The perspectives they share about you carry weight because they come from an informed but independent third party.
  • Identify insights: Analysts often share valuable insights based on their network and the research they conduct. By capturing these golden nuggets of information, you could learn much you hadn’t previously considered.
  • Influence prospects: Some analyst firms have close connections with your customer and prospect base. How analysts reference you in consulting engagements and through research can greatly impact your bottom line. They advise customers and publish research that defines vendor purchasing processes — and influences final selections.
Is analyst relations right for your company?

If your offering is in the technology space and/or specific to healthcare, energy, retail, or education verticals — adding analyst relations to your communications mix is an important consideration. It’s a strategic function that delivers returns for your marketing and PR strategy.

What are the first steps?

As with media relations, a successful analyst relations program requires honing relationships to build your company’s reputation and create credibility in the marketplace.

When managing relationships with analysts, companies generally turn to their PR agency. A good analyst relations program will focus on a long-term strategy. Teams will prep executives, facilitate briefings, prepare analyst-focused presentations, schedule inquiries, and ensure the company stays top-of-mind with key analysts and their firms.

To learn more about analyst relations, reach out at go@sterlingpr.com.

Company Podcasting 101: Tips and Best Practices

As explained in a previous post, company podcasting can be a great way to augment marketing and communications goals and showcase expertise in an engaging and popular format.

If you’re considering the launch of a company podcast, here are some podcasting tips and best practices to inform your efforts.

podcasting microphone

Planning a company podcast

Before you launch a new product or service, you need a plan. It’s always important to have the right strategy and track each milestone along the way. Podcasting is no different. It’s critical to have business objectives, a solid communications plan, and a content strategy before launch.

Use these three questions to frame company podcast preparations: 

  • What is your message? 
  • What are your goals?
  • How will you ensure engagement with your audience?

What you need for podcasting

A company podcast will need branding. This includes cover art (for listing on various hosting platforms and for highlighting on your own website). A written show description and a standard introduction that can be reused at the start of each episode is also important. Each individual episode will also need its own brief written description.

You’ll also probably want some background music to accompany your standard introduction and to close out each podcast episode. Musical accompaniment doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. There are loads of free resources online for royalty-free and copyright-free podcast music, including the Free Music ArchivePixabay, and the YouTube Audio Library

Standard equipment for recording can include nothing more than a smartphone. However, we advise that at minimum you record using a headset with microphone or earbuds as they improve voice-capture exponentially. For even more polished recording, there are now dozens of inexpensive podcast microphones available for purchase, many with built-in noise reduction features and pop filters that supply studio-grade sound.

Speaking of studios, they’re great! But you don’t necessarily need one to record a podcast. A quiet, distraction-free room with a closed door should suffice.

Some software will be required to produce your company podcast. While you can use standard smartphone recording features or even conferencing apps like Zoom or Skype to record your sessions, we recommend exploring applications purpose-built for podcasting. In our client podcast production efforts, we’re currently using Ringr due to its remote recording clarity, same-room sound, and multiparty participation features.

You’ll also need a podcast hosting service to store and distribute your episode files and to submit them to Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts, or other podcast directories. There are tons of affordable podcast hosting services, and many provide extras such as analytics, scheduling tools, and social sharing features. Sterling currently uses podcast industry stalwart libsyn for our clients.

Coaching tips for first-time podcasters

Aside from using headphones and a mic and recording in a quiet space, here are a few other tips for recording company podcasts:

  • Encourage participants to start over or restate as needed – it’s fairly easy to edit and stich-together audio files. And everyone stumbles verbally sometimes. As long as you aren’t broadcasting a live audio stream, take advantage of the medium’s benefits to produce the best listening experience. On the flip side, don’t expect or aim for absolutely flawless delivery; overly scripted podcasts tend to be stilted and unappealing.
  • The tempo of speaking should be close to when you speak with someone on the phone, not too fast and not too slow. Remember to breathe.
  • Citing statistics and sources is great for credibility, but there’s a diminishing return on effectiveness in a single audio encounter. Judiciously curate your references and try to limit stats to 3–4 in any single episode.
  • Unless you’re creating a single speaker podcast, the experience is a conversation and should sound like one. Encourage authenticity, reciprocity, and interesting anecdotes; and suggest that guests pause briefly before answering questions. These qualities tend to engage listeners.

Getting the word out

Once your company podcast is recorded, edited, hosted, and live for streaming or download, you’ll want to spread the news to potential listeners. In addition to encouraging all your friends and family to listen and review where applicable, publicize your podcast on your company website. Reach out to your intended audience with links to your episodes via your organization’s social media accounts, and participate in #PodRevDay on Twitter and similar podcast-related forums.

You can also engage with podcast directories (Apple, Spotify, etc.) on social media to increase potential reach. And depending on your podcast format and amplification goals, outbound pitching for your show to appear in industry “top ten” lists and roundups relevant to your target audience might also be a good idea.

If you’d like more information or further guidance on developing a podcast or integrating podcasting with your overall PR and communications objectives, feel free to email us at go@sterlingpr.com or call (408) 395-5500.