The Value of PR Revealed

We surveyed 259 CMOs, marketing directors, marketing execs and marketing officers about how PR fits into the marketing mix. The good news for us as a B2B PR agency is that 97% of them believe that PR is valuable. Phew.

In terms of where PR adds the most value, 39% said it supports reputation management. One tech-company CMO we spoke to said: “We’re a well-known company that generates a lot of media interest. We’re able to use proactive public relations to harness that media interest to build and protect our reputation as a business.”

For 37% of the marketers in our sample, PR was used for brand building. And we couldn’t agree more. At TopLine we’ve used integrated PR strategies to help unknown start-ups gain traction in new markets. These companies have gone on to become thought leaders and market leaders.

Twenty six percent of our marketers reported that PR is valuable for lead generation. We’ve seen this happen before (we once secured a single piece of coverage that broke a client’s website because of increased traffic volume), but we tend to advise clients that PR on its own isn’t the best lead generation tactic. It works best as one component of an integrated strategy that might include search, content, social or inbound.

What surprised us most about our research was that only 20% of marketers felt PR is valuable for SEO. This shows that the marketing industry has a long way to go in genuinely understanding the mechanics of the discipline. We’ve been banging on about this for years – see our pieces in PR Week and Figaro Digital from way back in 2016 – without PR there is no SEO!

There’s no doubt about it. PR is a worthwhile investment. Browse some of our case studies to find out how we…

helped one organisation trend on Twitter

built thought leadership and followed links for BNP Paribas Leasing Solutions…

turned Bullhorn into a market leader

…generated over 500 inbound leads for WorldPay

The best AI subreddits

Reddit is important – it consistently features in the top 20 most visited websites in the world and it’s where most viral content originates from. It houses some of the best data in the world while providing a relatively slick, ad-free platform for users to enjoy. As a B2B PR Agency, it’s our job (and our pleasure, with subreddits like r/animalsbeingderps) to spend time on it.

There’s a subreddit for everyone, but particularly for those interested in tech. It’s arguably the most popular platform for those working in tech, making it a great place to hear the latest news and do some market research.

If you want to know more about artificial intelligence, reddit is a great place to start. To help get you started, here are some of the best AI subreddits.

What makes a good subreddit?

As explained in our post on the best start-up subreddits, we’ve measured:

  • Member count: Simply put, this is how many members are in the sub. A large sub doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the best one (smaller subs can have higher engagement), but it’s a good sign of whether the content posted is relevant.
  • Engagement level: We’ve looked at how engaged members are in the sub by looking at the number of upvotes and comments on the top posts from the past year.
  • International: Reddit is a global website, but some subs are very US-centric, so we’ve made a note of whether they’re international, or not.
  • Content-type: We’ve tried to generalise the type of content on each sub, mainly whether they’re advice-driven or just memes.
  • Active moderators: Active moderators (or mods) keep the subreddit on-topic and rule-abiding. Weekly updates and sticky posts are usually a sign of an active mod team.
  • Rules: There are rules laid out in Reddit’s rediquette that all subreddits have to obey, but mods can also impose their own rules. Higher quality subreddits tend to have stricter rules regarding the quality of posts and replies, which help keep the sub relevant.

r/artificial

As pointed out, it is a missed opportunity that this sub isn’t called r/tificial. Nevertheless, at over 90,000 members, this is the largest subreddit dedicated to all issues related to Artificial Intelligence or AI. You’ll mostly find the latest news and examples of AI in practice, but you’ll also notice some discussion and questions from those working in the field, or studying it. It’s definitely worth joining to keep on top of the latest AI stories from around the world.

r/ArtificialInteligence

The lack of rules in the r/ArtificalIntelligence sub let it down. It’s worth joining for the odd piece of news, but it’s mainly full of ads and announcements about the AI-powered products people are working on. And it’s not just us – there have been posts complaining about the lack of moderation.

r/Automate/

Another anarchic sub is r/Automate, but there are more worthwhile posts to check out here. The most popular posts are videos on AI in action, like this automated commercial kitchen or this machine balancing an inverted triple pendulum. The engagement is relatively low, and there aren’t any stickied posts, but the posts are relevant and interesting, so we’d say it’s worth joining.

r/DarkFuturology/

This sub isn’t strictly an AI subreddit, but the topics it covers tend to be AI-related. It focuses on ‘growing dissatisfaction with the utopian tech-porn dominating Futurology.’ However you look at it, lots of the posts you’ll see on here are AI-driven, like wearable face projectors to avoid face recognition and YouTube’s AI deleting videos of robots fighting because of ‘animal cruelty’.

r/technology/

Again, this sub isn’t strictly an AI subreddit, but it’s so closely linked that we thought it was worth including. This is, by far, the largest sub in our list, but it’s got lots of rules and has active mods. There’s a weekly tech support discussion thread and AI-related posts definitely pop up quite often.

r/singularity/

This sub is all about technological singularity and related topics, including AI. The engagement isn’t that high, but the posts are of high quality and are nearly always relevant. Our animation team were particularly impressed with this lifelike human eye animation.

/r/MachineLearning/

This sub is specific to machine learning (a subfield of AI) but as it’s so closely linked and such a good sub, we wanted to include it here. The mods are active, implementing six, specific rules and a weekly WAYR (What Are You Reading) sticky post. The posts are technical and interesting, and you’re likely to learn a lot just by joining the sub and reading the top posts. We also enjoyed this ‘unsupervised image-to-image translation method’.

r/compsci/

Another slightly tangential sub, r/compsci is for anyone who wants to share and discuss content that computer scientists find interesting. Naturally, this often includes posts relating to AI. There are four rules, all of which are easy to abide and keep posts on track. You won’t see as many AI-specific posts, but there’s certainly enough here to keep you occupied.

Getting aggy (and what made Rand Fishkin say ‘Ugh’)

When someone says ‘aggregator’ (referred to as ‘aggs’ in the following blog because that’s seven letters saved every time), you probably think of a Trivago or a MoneySuperMarket or some equivalent service. If you go online and search for a consumer product or service offered by multiple companies, you’ll likely be barraged with loads of aggs. Or you’ll be presented with Google’s own aggregated results directly in the search engine results pages – for example when booking a flight (unlucky Skyscanner).

Rise of the aggregator

Google thinks aggs are excellent at satisfying user intent and is therefore inclined to reward them in the organic search results with high rankings. Their natural composition is very search engine friendly i.e. lots of descriptive content on a range of relevant entities (companies selling the product/service the searcher is interested in). Pair that content with some half decent SEO and you have a recipe for ranking success.

Google has decided that aggs are the results users want. They don’t want organic search to return a flight per result, they want to see how much the same thing will cost from multiple retailers and they want access to the best price as quickly as possible. I reached out to Rand Fishkin, SEO supremo, creator of Moz and founder of audience analysis software SparkToro, for his thoughts. Fishkin claimed the natural language processing element of Google’s algorithm resulted in the search engine favouring posts containing ‘multiple brands & descriptions’ and as he says: “Aggregators can nail that.”

Aggs are well established in the consumer market, however, we’re now increasingly seeing them in the world of B2B as well.

This is well trodden ground. It’s affiliate marketing – earning money for promoting other companies’ products or services. There are a few players you will see making regular appearances – especially in the world of software selection. Think Capterra and G2 for example. But we’re now seeing aggs in the creative sector – search ‘video production agency’ – and Clutch, an analyst and agg of services and solutions, ranks third. If you take a look at their video production page, it includes (at time of writing) 11,227 firms, automatically sorted sponsored first.

Making money

Aggs typically have four main revenue streams:

1 They make commission when a prospect clicks on one of their listings, goes through to the vendor’s site and buys something.

2 It may not involve a prospect even buying anything – Capterra infers that it makes money from referral traffic alone – probably a standard CPM model (per thousand impressions).

3 They charge for premium ‘sponsored’ listings. The result will be premium placement in the agg’s search results. Capterra infers that it runs a bidding system – bid the most, appear first.

4 They offer sponsorship deals. In Clutch’s instance they make it very clear that you do not need to pay to be included in their ‘Leaders Matrix’ but you do need to pay to:

  • Become a ‘verified’ company on Clutch – they say: “When looking for a service provider, use our verification information to supplement your research and to see if a vendor on Clutch is registered, active, and trustworthy.” (Making it very easy to assume that any vendor not ‘verified’ is not trustworthy.)
  • Get more visibility than basic or premium profiles on review pages (i.e. pay to feature first in a list).
  • Benefit from ‘enhanced’ review widgets to make your listing standout.
  • Get ‘priority’ review processing (Clutch encourages companies to get customers to leave reviews on the platform).

Clutch’s top sponsorship level ‘Triple Diamond’ (which I’m guessing will ensure first place placement on the desired review pages) costs a whopping $18,000 a month.

Pay to play

Google is getting gamed. Aggs are compiling content and then promoting specific results within their own ecosystems based on levels of sponsorship. This is essentially an instance of a company piggybacking on another domain’s authority to appear first in organic results. I think Google will eventually decide this contravenes the way search should work.

The problems with aggs:

  • They are closed ecosystems with their own pay to play rules – this fundamentally flies in the face of organic search returning the ‘best’ result. You can essentially pay to rank first (or at least be the first company a user sees when they click on an agg’s organic result).
  • They’re returning bad results – it’s easy to compare results for a commoditised product like a flight. It’s much more difficult to compare a service or even a piece of software – it’s subjective. I might not have any experience in video production whatsoever, I might be a really rubbish result to return when a user searches for ‘video production agency’, but if I’ve got thousands of dollars a month to spend then it doesn’t matter; I can piggyback on the authority of another website and see my company listed first.
  • Google isn’t making money from aggs – then ones I viewed while writing this post don’t feature Google Display Network ads. Google’s the greatest money making machine ever invented – this will bother it.
  • User intent – I know I previously said users want options and aggs satisfy user intent, but actually a list satisfies a user searching for the plural, ‘marketing automation platforms’, not the singular ‘marketing automation platform’. It also means if I search ‘best video production agency’ I want the best one, I don’t want lots of companies in a long list ordered according to sponsorship. I know this is a matter of semantics but with more focus on Google’s natural language processing abilities at the moment than ever before (because of BERT being released into the wild) I think semantics are worth considering.
  • Google’s very own SEO starter guide says: ‘Users dislike clicking a search engine result only to land on another search result page on your site’. Exactly – especially if it’s a list of sponsored results!

Tactics for beating the aggregators

  • Outrank them by playing them at their own game – suck it up and do your own roundup, including your competitors (though you can obviously ensure you get prominent placement!). Take the keyword ‘marketing automation software’ – a HubSpot blog post ranks first, but they’ve had to include an up to date list of the best marketing automation software tools. The advantage HubSpot has over the second place result – technologyadvice.com – and the reason they’ll probably always outrank them, is they’re a marketing automation company – their domain has lots of relevance for the keyword and huge amounts of related content – (dwarfing technologyadvice.com’s marketing automation content volume). I asked SEO guru and director of acquisition at HubSpot, Matthew Howells-Barby, about this tactic, and he said:

“We’d rather own a part of the conversation that also includes our competitors vs having no convo at all…” Click To Tweet

  • Target the long tail – aggs are only interested in bottom of funnel lead generation keywords. As soon as you start using your expertise to explore topics related to the research stage of your prospect’s journey, they’re less likely to feature.
  • Rank for brand names and modified brand names, not generic products – this tactic works best for companies specialising in and reselling a product. If you search for a product using its brand name you’re likely to see the manufacturer’s website. Aim to rank second to the manufacturer for the product and also aim to capture related business with modifiers like brand product name + ‘training’. This is a tactic we’ve used with great success for our clients.
  • Analyse other page one results for your target keyword. Is there any way you can feature in them? We’ve previously deployed targeted media relations to get clients featured in roundups and reviews that appear on page one search results for important keywords.
  • Join them – the search engine landscape is always changing. If you’re being outranked by an agg then make sure you’re included in the agg’s listings. Howells-Barby went on to say:

“Our goal is to appear on every page ranking on page 1, regardless of who wrote it… Internally we call this our ‘Surround Sound’ playbook…. A large portion of the review sites are pay to play in one way or another so whether it’s CPM, affiliate or an organic placement we want to be there.”

Until the SERPs change (if they do), aggs are here to stay. But you’ve got options. You can compete with them or you can join them or you can choose to do both. What you can’t do is ignore them – with organic search still vastly outperforming PPC for clicks and traffic, inclusion in the search engine results pages is a necessity for every B2B company out there.

Influencer interview: Nick Moore shares his business wisdom

For this expert interview, we were lucky enough to be joined by Nick Moore. He started out in the music industry – from owning a record label to founding the UK’s first music video streaming site.

Nick now advises the rising stars of the business world, as a professional business mentor and non-executive board director for several companies, including TopLine, and his advice has been indispensable to our B2B PR agency.

We met Nick six years ago, through a government scheme that paired small businesses with mentors. He immediately stood out to us as an expert at building, scaling, and selling businesses, and we were thrilled that he was willing to advise us.

Nick is particularly interested in HR, and we agree that a great working culture leads to great work. Happily, our people strategy is paying off, as we’ve been recognised as the UK’s sixth best small business to work for.

We sat down with Nick to discuss what he has learned in his career, his growth strategy for companies, and what he expects for the future of business.

 

Your business career started in music, how did you first get into it, and what was the industry like at that time?

I started at university when I was elected VP for Communications & Social Affairs of the Students’ Union and put on early shows by Blur, The Manic Street Preachers, PJ Harvey, Radiohead, and The Verve. I then moved to London in the early ‘90s, where I ran the Splash Club and later started the Barfly Club, both of which were key venues for the emergence of Brit Pop and Brit Rock. They featured shows by Oasis, Travis, Stereophonics, Placebo, Muse, Coldplay, Elbow, and others. It was definitely one of the most exciting times for British guitar music.

 

How have you transposed the skills gained in this industry, and applied them to other kinds of businesses?

The music business is all about building teams of people to collaborate on projects. For a team to work together effectively, you need to start with clearly communicated objectives. Everyone needs to know what part they play in working toward those objectives. A compelling objective, an effective strategy and clear communication are the keys to success, no matter what business you’re in.

 

Tell us about your first experience in selling a business, what did you learn from the experience? Anything you wouldn’t do again?

When I first sold some of my businesses, I continued to participate in running them. I mistakenly thought this meant that I would stay in control, but the reality is that whoever holds the purse strings has most of the control. Although I thought I was entering partnerships, they ended up not operating quite like that.

 

You offer business advice across a range of sectors. What would you say is fundamental to the success of a company?

The first step in any growth strategy is having a clear vision of where you want to go, and a strategy of how to get there. Next, stay on top of the finances. Know where sales are coming from, and what funds are required to achieve your goals. Finally, hire and motivate a talented team who share the vision and understand their roles in achieving it.

 

Finally, HR and people strategy is one of your specialist areas. How has the way businesses regard and use HR changed over your career, and how do you think it will change in the future?

Technology has revolutionised HR. Now there are countless tools available for communicating company policies and holiday allowances, and that sort of thing, so employees know their rights and the company’s processes. However, the biggest shift has been greater respect for employee welfare and making employees feel valued.

Since the cost of hiring and onboarding employees continues to increase, attracting and retaining good team members is critical. Fundamentally, this means keeping them happy. Several studies have demonstrated the benefits that a happy and motivated workforce have on a company’s productivity and profitability.

Technology also lets businesses offer employees greater flexibility in working from home, and other work-life benefits. Following several recent trials of shorter work weeks, including by Microsoft Japan, which show a significant increase in productivity, I think we may also see a reduction in the working week.

If you’re interested in learning how digital PR can fit into your company’s growth strategy, contact TopLine Comms today.

10 best entrepreneur podcasts for 2020 (and how to pitch them)

As a B2B PR Agency, we know a thing or two about business advice. What many people don’t know is that there’s an abundance of free advice from industry-leading experts in the form of business podcasts.

Whether you’re a start-up owner, an aspiring individual, or trying to start out on your own, there is a podcast for you. Here are 10 of our favourite business and entrepreneurship podcasts for you to consider

 

Tim Ferris Show

Tim Ferris speaks with experts across a vast range of fields – including journalism, sports, filmmaking, business, science and many, many more – to bring listeners unique insights. He has a gift for finding broadly applicable life advice in these interviews, no matter how specialised the topic might originally seem.

We recommend it if:

  • You want some inspiration, perhaps from an unexpected source
  • You enjoy longer podcasts; some can be longer than two hours
  • You like variety when it comes to topics and spokespeople

And if you want to pitch the Tim Ferris Show:

You need to be a leader in your field, no matter what that field is. Tim interviews men and women who are at the top of their game, and if that sounds like you, reach out on Twitter or apply through his blog.

 

The Pitch

This podcast captures a genuine, high-stakes pitch – from real entrepreneurs to real investors – in podcast form. The show includes interviews, the pitch, and investor feedback, giving listeners a glimpse of life in the boardrooms of the venture capital world.

We recommend it if:

  • You want to know what it’s really like starting up a business
  • You like shorter podcasts – episodes are around 20-40 minutes long
  • You’re looking for insights into pitching investors successfully

And if you want to pitch… The Pitch:

You need to run an interesting business – they’ve covered entrepreneurs from fashion to dating apps to agriculture – and be seeking investment. If that’s you, reach out to the podcast’s editor, Blythe Terrell – https://gimletmedia.com/about

 

Startup

Since it began in 2014, Startup has been a hit podcast and racked up awards. It began covering the founding of the podcast company Gimlet Media (the network which includes The Pitch, among countless other hits). Since then, they’ve opened the doors to other start-ups to share their journeys in real time.

We recommend it if:

  • You want high production values and real-life business
  • You want something honest
  • You want personal stories about the stresses and joys of running a start-up

And if you want to pitch Startup:

Unfortunately, Startup are just starting their final season and aren’t soliciting guests. However, there’s a great episode backlog to binge if you want to hear an unvarnished story of what it’s like to start a business.

 

Foundr

Another long-form interview podcast, foundr sets itself apart by focusing more narrowly on business. Nathan Chan speaks to the founders of companies like Warby Parker, Gymshark, and DuckDuckGo. His straightforward questions – like ‘how do I get more customers?’ and ‘where do I get started?’ – encourage business titans to offer practical advice to aspiring entrepreneurs.

We recommend it if:

  • You’re curious about lessons other entrepreneurs can teach you
  • You want advice directly from successful businesspeople
  • You like interview-style podcasts

And if you want to pitch Foundr:

You need to reach out to Foundr Magazine first, since this podcast is a spinoff from the magazine. They’re looking for interesting founder stories and unique business journeys, and people who can offer their first-hand experience scaling a company. Check out their ‘Get Featured’ page for more.

 

Hack the Entrepreneur

If you’re searching for a show with advice for running a modern business, reskilling, or taking your business digital, HTE is the show for you. Jon Nastor guides you through relaxed yet focused interviews with a variety of guests to seek actionable advice for online businesses.

We recommend it if:

  • You’re looking for inspiration or motivation
  • You enjoy interview-style podcasts
  • You want to hear from a variety of entrepreneurs – from small business owners to multinational CEOs

And if you want to pitch Hack the Entrepreneur:

HTE is looking for interview subjects with experience running an online company. If that sounds like you, visit their contact page.

 

Entrepreneurs On Fire

EOF has a catalogue of over 2000 interviews with business leaders across countless industries, and they release a new episode every day. The podcast aims to help small business owners by providing meaningful advice in every interview.

We recommend it if:

  • You’re a young entrepreneur or small business owner looking for inspiration
  • You want to hear directly from the big names in the industry
  • You’re looking for practical advice you can actually put into action

If you want to pitch Entrepreneurs on Fire:

You need to pay a $6,500 appearance fee to appear. If you’re still interested, refer to their guest guidelines, or fill in their online form.

 

RISE Podcast

RISE is an award-winning weekly podcast hosted by best-selling author Rachel Hollis. The podcast focuses on running a small, online business, and Rachel offers advice on growth and overcoming adversity.

We recommend it if:

  • You’re looking for applicable business advice
  • You want to learn about growth and entrepreneurial opportunities
  • You like motivational speakers

And if you want to pitch RISE

RISE seeks out inspirational speakers who can offer advice to businesses. Most of the guests are approached by Rachel, but it’s worth reaching out through their contact page if you think you might be a good fit.

 

Smart Passive Income

Offering solo and co-hosted episodes in addition to interviews, SPI is all about developing online income streams so you can make more and work less. Host Pat Flynn describes himself as the “crash test dummy of online business,” testing out ideas and reporting back.

We recommend it if:

  • You want to increase profits and diversify your income
  • You’re looking for first-hand experiences of building a business
  • You’re interested in establishing an online presence

And if you want to pitch Smart Passive Income

Pat is looking for people with ‘smart passive income success stories’ who are willing to share their tips and tricks. If that’s you, use the contact form on the SPI website, or reach out on Facebook.

How I Built This

This podcast is an interview show focused on the founders of leading companies. From SoulCycle to Kickstarter, and Five Guys to Kate Spade, host Guy Raz weaves the interview responses into the larger story of each business.

We recommend it if:

  • You’re looking to hear from global business leaders
  • You like high-quality, and good production values
  • You’re interested in the stories behind major companies

And if you want to pitch How I Built This

They’re looking for innovators, entrepreneurs, and idealists, willing to go in to detail about the companies they’ve built. If you’re interested, use the contact form on NPR’s website or tweet at @guyraz.

 

The Tony Robbins Podcast

 Tony Robbins is an internationally successful motivational speaker, and his podcast offers him a platform to share his wisdom on a massive scale. He has advice for maximising efficiency in all areas of your life, and occasionally interviews experts and celebrities.

We recommend it if:

  • You’re looking for an informative, motivational podcast
  • You’re open to changing the way you think about your job, business, and life
  • You’re looking to learn from a broad range of global experts in this field 

And if you want to pitch the Tony Robbins Podcast:

The show’s high-profile guests include Kevin Hart, Russell Brand, and Michael Phelps. If you think you make the cut, you can reach Tony on twitter at @TonyRobbins or on Facebook.

The best startup subreddits

Reddit is important. According to Alexa’s rankings, it’s the 12th most visited website in the world (for context, LinkedIn doesn’t feature in the top 20 at all). It’s where most viral content originates from, so if you want to know what’s happening on the internet (which, as a B2B PR Agency, we most certainly do) you need to be on Reddit.

But the best thing about it is the data it holds – because everyone is anonymous, Reddit knows everyone’s secrets. That makes it a great place for market research and some honest advice – which is just what startups need.

Whether you’re starting your own business, selling a product to startups or thinking of starting your own business, it’s worth joining these startup subreddits.

What makes a good subreddit?

For the startup subreddits, we’ve measured:

  • Member count: Simply put, this is how many members are in the sub. A large sub doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the best one (smaller subs can have higher engagement) but it’s a good sign of whether the content posted is relevant.
  • Engagement level: We’ve looked at how engaged members are in the sub by looking at the number of upvotes and comments on the top posts from the past year.
  • International: Reddit is a global website, but some subs are very US-centric, so we’ve made a note of whether they’re international, or not.
  • Content-type: We’ve tried to generalise the type of content on each sub, mainly whether they’re advice-driven or just memes.
  • Active moderators: Active moderators (or mods) keep the subreddit on-topic and rule-abiding. Weekly updates/sticky posts are usually a sign of an active mod team.
  • Rules: There are rules laid out in reddit’s rediquette that all subreddits have to obey, but mods can also impose their own rules. Higher quality subreddits tend to have stricter rules regarding the quality of posts and replies, which help keep the sub relevant.

r/startup

Even with over 29 thousand members, r/startup is one of the medium-sized startup subreddits. You’ll mainly find stories of people’s startup ventures with advice. There’s only one rule (you can’t post anything that’s ‘not suitable to the subreddit’), and the last stickied post is over a year old. But it’s a good place to post a link to your startup, as some other subs won’t let you do that.

r/crowdspark

r/crowdspark is the most specific (and the smallest) sub in our list. It’s designed for people in the US who want to network to grow their businesses, but it’s worth joining for the inspiration. The group is very active, has specific rules and has dedicated mods who have two stickied posts that are updated on time, which is especially impressive considering it was only created in September 2019.

r/sideproject

As its name suggests, r/sideproject is for sharing and receiving constructive feedback on side projects. Engagement is pretty high (even if there are quite a lot of memes) so be warned – you should only post about your side project if you’re ready for (brutally) honest feedback. It’s also great for finding new ideas, like a fancy font generator, a tool to build larger images out of smaller images and a relaxing colour puzzle app.

r/Entrepreneur

r/Entrepreneur is by far the largest and one of the oldest startup subreddits in our list, and for good reason. It’s very active, engagement is high, and the mods work hard on it. There’s ‘NooB Monday’, a stickied thread for newcomers to post to, and a weekly Ask Me Anything (AMA) with successful entrepreneurs. The best performing posts are stories, like this person who pretended to own a valet company and made $2k in the process, this student who made $10k in one weekend by renting out student houses over graduation weekend or this guy, who lost $8k on Amazon FBA.

r/startups

Not to be confused with r/startup, this sub is much more active, with a couple of stickied posts and lots of rules to keep everyone on track. The stickied posts include a monthly ‘Share your startup’ post and a weekly ‘Manic Mondays’ post where you can share what you need help with and get support. Similar to r/entrepreneur, the posts that perform best are stories and advice pieces.

r/SaaS

r/SaaS is a little more specific, as it’s for Software as a Service company owners and online business owners. That’s probably why the member count is a bit lower, but if it’s relevant to you, it’s worth joining. This sub has a lot more hands-on advice, including posts on how to fix your homepage if you can’t afford a copywriter, and is a great place to ask specific questions.

If you’re looking for PR, marketing and SEO services to support your startup, get in touch with us today.

Our 10 best science and engineering podcasts (and how to pitch them)

As science and engineering PR specialists we like to look beyond the traditional media to find ways to reach a broad audience of professionals (scientists and engineers), business decision-makers in the sector and interested consumers. So, we asked our STEM team to curate a list of the best science and engineering podcasts. Here are their top 10.

 

Science Weekly – The Guardian

Hosted by Ian Sample, Hannah Devlin and Nicola Davis, this award-winning podcast covers “the big discoveries and debates in biology, chemistry, physics – and sometimes even maths”.

We recommend it if

  • You’re looking to find out more about a wide range of subjects
  • You want to hear expert opinions
  • You want a podcast that is well presented
  • You want to listen to something high-level 

And if you want to get featured on the podcast

You would need to pitch journalists Ian Sample, Hannah Devlin and Nicola Davis. They’re interested in experts with strong opinions, so don’t try to flog a product at them!

 

Science Vs

We like this podcast by Gimlet Media as it tries to weed out the fact from the tabloid-hyped fiction.

We recommend it if

  • You want something a bit lighter and easy to listen to
  • You want to know more about current fads and trends

And if you want to get featured on the podcast

This is a narrator-led podcast, rather than one that interviews experts, so if you would like to be featured on the podcast, we think you’d need to have a strong, expert opinion on a fad or trend. We recommend pitching Gimlet Media directly with a few ideas or suggestions (and perhaps asking them what subjects they are working on for the next season).

 

The Infinite Monkey Cage

Brian Cox and Robin Ince take a look at the world from scientists’ perspective. This podcast is produced by BBC Radio 4.

We recommend it if

  • You want something which is a medium tone (not too simple/not too complicated)
  • You want to listen to a panel-discussion style podcast rather than a 1-2-1 interview or narrator led one
  • You want some comedy mixed with knowledge

And if you want to get featured on the podcast

This one is produced by BBC Radio 4, so it’s worth speaking to one of their producers. Have you read our guide to pitching the BBC?

 

Nature

The Nature Podcast covers the best stories from the world of science. It’s a weekly podcast that involves interviews with scientists and analysis of stories.

We recommend it if

  • You’re looking for a shorter podcast (episodes 15-30 mins)
  • You want to hear about a range of scientific topics at a moderate level
  • You want to keep up to date on recent scientific papers that have been published

And if you want to get featured on the podcast

This is a narrator-led podcast with expert comments woven in. You would need a scientific paper that has been published in an academic journal to get on this one (preferably in Nature)

 

BBC Inside Science

Hosted by Dr Adam Rutherford, with guests, this podcast “illuminate(s) the mysteries and challenge(s) the controversies behind the science that’s changing our world.”

We recommend it if

  • You want a podcast that covers a variety of topics in each episode
  • You’re after clear and concise information
  • You’d like to stay up to date with scientific debates without getting too stuck into details

And if you want to get featured on the podcast

It is produced by BBC Radio 4 so you would need to contact their press room and find the right person to pitch.

 

The Engineering Commons

Engineering Commons covers the daily lives of engineers in the industry, both big and small, covering tools, machinery and career planning. It’s targeted at engineers, with each podcast up to an hour-long.

We recommend it if

  • You’re interested in hearing about a broad range of engineers from large and small companies.
  • You’re looking for a general overview of engineering, nothing too in-depth, more of a broad overview of engineering across the sector.
  • You’re looking for a bit of light listening, nothing too heavy. 

And if you want to get featured on the podcast

It is produced by Carmen Parisi (Twitter: @FakeEEQuips), Jeff Shelton (Twitter: @sheltoneer), and two others, Adam & Brian (no contact details for these). You can contact them via the contact page on their site or via their Twitter handles.

 

The Amp Hours Podcast

The Amp Hour is an unscripted radio show that airs on Thursdays every week, focussing on the electronics industry. Topics covered can be anything from homemade electrical appliances to ultra-sophisticated electronics.

We recommend it if

  • You’re particularly interested in electronics engineering.
  • You’re looking for regular content and information on engineering.
  • You’re interested in both highly complex engineering and the basics.
  • You want to keep up with new tech advances in this sector.

And if you want to get featured on the podcast

It is produced by Dave Jones from the EEVblog in Sydney (Australia), and Chris Gammell from Contextual Electronics in Chicago (USA). You can find them on Twitter account is: @TheAmpHour or LinkedIn. Guests tend to be from the electronics industry and share stories and advice from their time in the business.

 

The Engines Of Our Ingenuity

This was originally a radio show, which can now be found in the form of podcasts, put up on the internet by its contributors who have now made it reachable to audiences worldwide. It was first aired in 1988 and is hosted by John Lienhard. Engines of Our Ingenuity “reminds us of how our culture is formed by human creativity. The show, with the help of history, reveals how the existence of technology, artistic ideas and creativity has long shaped our being.”

We recommend it if

  • You’re interested in how engineering has changed from past to present.
  • You also have an interest in social and cultural topics.
  • You’re looking for a broad analysis of engineering over time.

And if you want to get featured on the podcast

Once you have mastered the art of time travel, contact them via their Facebook page.

 

The Macrofab Engineering Podcast

This technical podcast is by a Texas-based PCB fab and assembly house that covers electrical engineering. Hosts Parker and Stephen provide a unique perspective on hardware.

We recommend it if

  • You’re particularly interested in electrical engineering.
  • You’re looking for a bit of light entertainment, something not too heavy going.
  • You’d like to come away having learned something.

And if you want to get featured on the podcast

Contact Parker Dillmann (Twitter: @LnghrnEngineer) & Stephen Kraig (Twitter: @AnalogEng). Their collective Twitter account is: @MacroFab

 

Omega Tau

Omega Tau covers interesting topics in science and engineering. The podcast is produced in both German and English with episodes alternating weekly.

We recommend it if

  • You’d like to cover a broad range of engineering and science topics.
  • You appreciate a well-organised and well-produced podcast.
  • You’re looking for engaging content.
  • You’re interested in finding out how things are designed, created and the methodology behind this.

And if you want to get featured on the podcast

Contact the hosts/editors:
Markus Völter (independent consultant for software technology and engineering and Nora Ludewig (electrical engineer working for Robert Bosch GmbH). (Twitter: @omegataupodcast) – they like to visit locations which are interesting or have facilities where they can speak with on-site experts, but will also be willing to speak to interesting people over the phone.

 

You might like: Our 18 best space videos.

PR Images: How to use photos to get your story covered

A photograph is a doorway to a story, inviting the reader in and suggesting what might be inside. While reading offers a fuller perspective, it can’t compete with a picture’s ability to provoke a powerful reaction. But as a B2B PR agency, we know it can be hard to find the right PR images to accompany their stories.

Images are important in PR because they can be the decider factor for an editor on whether to run a story or not. In fact, we spoke with a couple of journalists and editors to get some insider information on how you can use pictures to make your stories stand out.

 

Seeing is believing

A good photograph grabs the reader’s attention. Even the most compelling story risks getting passed over by an editor if it’s competing with exceptional images. Eye-catching pictures are more likely to get chosen for the front page.

Good photos also make a story more memorable. According to research, if we hear a piece of information, we stand only a 10% chance of recalling it three days later. But recall increases to 65% if the information in question is presented as an image. In other words, leading with a photo can dramatically increase the memorability of your article.

So, get better pictures. It may sound simple, but they can make all the difference: the better the picture, the better the media exposure.

 

In the eye of the beholder

While it’s impossible to quantify what exactly makes a photograph ‘good’, there are some general rules for choosing an image. A photo should pose a question, and the reader should find the answer in the caption. Curiosity hooks the viewer in and sets them on the path to reading your content.

Practically speaking, your PR images should always be available to journalists in high-resolution and multiple orientations. When commissioning a photographer, ensure that they take portrait (or ‘vertical’) and landscape (or ‘horizontal’) versions for each image. This is important in case your photo lands on the front cover of the magazine (where portrait is necessary) as well as if it’s in-line with the content. Web content tends to favour landscape orientation, so if you only get one shot, make it landscape.

 

Show and tell

Some journalists will take their own photos and larger outlets often send a staff photographer or a freelancer to capture an event. It’s worth allowing outlets to take pictures even if you’re supplying images, particularly if you’re unveiling something at an event.

Whether or not you’re behind the lens, it’s crucial to create a visually appealing scene. That means good lighting, a clear and well-considered background, and letting the photographers get close enough to get the perfect shot.

 

Variety is key

While many journalists would like to take their own photographs, it doesn’t always work out logistically. When you’re capturing images for a story, ensure that you have a variety of different, exciting shots.

Collecting a library of engaging images means that you can offer each media publication an exclusive photo, even if the story is the same. It also means that you can volunteer more images to each publication. Web outlets are partial to multiple images, as they don’t face the space restrictions imposed by print.

Get interesting photos, not just a standard headshot. If you’re photographing your CEO, don’t just have them stand against a blank wall. Position her where the action happens, whether that’s on an industrial site, speaking with staff, or inspecting a product.

 

Own the rights to photos

Photographs are subject to copyright laws, and understanding them is crucial. In the UK, the person who pushes the shutter button on the camera is the author of the photograph. However, if a company employs them, and they’re working at the time they take the image, their employer gets the copyright. If you bring in a third party to take your photographs, they’ll own the rights to the photos, so remember to have them reassign those rights to you.

 

Worth a thousand words

Photographs should never be an afterthought – they should be an integral part of your overall strategy. Make sure you have a photographer you trust who understands the story, and set the scene with adequate lighting. Choosing the right PR image can make or break your story, so be sure to give photos the thought they deserve.

Tips for being approachable and building relationships with journalists

Building great relationships with journalists can be invaluable for your career in PR – the contacts you have and the network you build can amplify your chances of success when it comes to getting coverage/interviews for your clients. As a B2B PR agency, we’re well versed in building great relationships with media. Here’s our advice:

 

The approach

Think of it as making friends; the same principles apply with building journalist contacts. Find journalists of a similar age to you, with similar interests. You don’t want to turn into an uber stalker, but checking out their social media profiles will give you a good indication as to what they might be interested in and how they might be as a person.

Once you’ve found a potential contact that you want to build a relationship with, send them an email or message them on Twitter – but remember to keep it chilled and friendly. Let them know about some of the clients you’re working with – to reinforce your relevancy – and suggest going for drinks or lunch.

Journalists usually are fairly receptive to offers like these – and they are just as interested in building connections with you, as you are with them. Once they accept your invite, then it’s just a case of meeting up, being yourself, and hopefully getting on well. Almost like dating to an extent!

 

The meet

Don’t sit down, pick up your knife and fork, and launch into talking about clients – it’s not that formal. It’s more a case of seeing if you get on, exploring interesting topics (after all, they’ll have a beat that your clients will naturally be interested in) and hopefully having a good time. You’ll find that it’s a lot easier getting in touch with journalists with regards to news stories in future if you know them. It’s also worth noting that if you prove yourself valuable enough, journalists might even start coming to you for stories, rather than the other way around – which makes your job so much easier. It’s also impressive if you can give clients feedback directly from the horse’s mouth – this kind of exclusive media insight is precious.

 

The follow-up

These contacts can also be useful if you’re under pressure from a client. If, for example, you’re down on a KPI or need some quick coverage – existing contacts can undoubtedly help.

It could just be a case of sending a text to someone you know at a publication asking for a favour. This request is much harder if you don’t have a relationship, and there’s a 99 percent chance the journalist would ignore you.

Once you start to meet with more journalists, your confidence will grow, and you will start building your network. You then have to work at maintaining it; try and meet up with these people on a relatively regular basis, to see what they’re up to and what’s changed with them job-wise. And hopefully, as the relationship grows, they’ll be interested in hearing the same from you!

 

Looking for more advice? Get in touch with Luke, Head of Digital PR and SEO.