Non-alcoholic cocktails seem to be having a moment here inside the Beltway. You know what else is having a moment – The B2G Chief Growth Officer (CGO).

Earlier this year, LinkedIn released its annual “Jobs on the Rise” list of the 25 fastest-growing roles in the U.S. Guess what was number one on the list (hint – it’s not TikTok influencer): Chief Growth Officer. Specific to public sector-focused enterprises,  Washington Technology summarized a number of CGO appointments across a broad range of government contractors and Federal IT providers, including Aptive Resources, cBEYONData, Electrosoft, RavenTek and Navistar Defense.

And this week, another one, as WashingtonExec reported that Tria Federal, a mid-market IT and advisory services provider to civilian and defense agencies, added Fabian Plath its new CGO. The editorial site also announced its 2024 Chief Growth Officer Award finalists as a testament to the emerging attention the role is receiving in the C-suite.

Notable but not surprising in the writeups of each CGO move is subtle variations in what each hire would be prioritizing. From aligning business units and leaders and driving expansion into new geographic and domain markets, to breaking down siloes, accelerating the transformation of vision into strategy, and strategic capture. This is both the challenge and opportunity facing CGOs who are uniquely positioned to drive enterprise-wide growth strategy and have an oversized impact on the future of the business. 

CMOs often migrate to a CGO role. Marketing leaders draw on the impact of marketing strategy on growth to gain a better understanding of how core business units – independently and holistically – do the same. As is often the case, the success a CGO will have in extending the growth mission requires breaking down systemic barriers across functional silos, and gaining CXO buy-in. A CMO Council and Deloitte study found half of CMOs successfully assuming a CGO role indicate full alignment with internal champions, notably the CEO.

Digital marketing, branding and public relations are core to government contractor and federal IT provider growth strategies. For this blog post, I’ll focus on PR strategies for new and legacy CGOs to consider when seeking to ensure marketing investments and initiatives support growth.

The CGO mission

Why a CGO? Aren’t all CXOs and business unit leaders operating with a growth mindset? Sure, but, spoiler alert, not all companies are growing. One in four companies doesn’t grow at all, and only 10% of S&P 500 companies have reported revenue growth above GDP for more than 30 consecutive years.

Revenue Operations Alliance has a useful CGO overview, which stresses the need for an executive laser focused on looking past the day-to-day, with an eye towards sustaining and scaling growth in a meaningful way. This can include longer-term objectives to penetrate new verticals, regions and markets – all ambitious initiatives that may require a dedicated CGO.

CGOs can bridge the CEO & CMO divide

As referenced, CMOs often migrate to a CGO role, which is why Bluetext often engages directly with CGOs for B2G and B2B firms that seek a brand revitalization, or firms that feel there is an external perception that needs to be adjusted through public relations.

At the same time, while CGOs are often grounded with CMO capabilities, CEOs often lack significant marketing experience. McKinsey & Company estimated that only 10 percent of Fortune 250 CEOs have marketing experience, and only 4 percent have previously held a CMO-like role. This creates the risk that the C-suite may underestimate the impact of marketing-fueled growth.

PR to support the CGO mission  

Punching above your brand weight is a phrase we hear often from B2G marketing clients and prospects. It is important to note that when we develop a PR program with this objective in mind, the goal is not to create an impression that the brand can deliver beyond its capabilities. It simply means that the brand is trailing the business.

B2G brands are increasingly looking to down-funnel media relations, social media and earned content programs. This isn’t to say that brand awareness isn’t a critical early step to drive future growth, but clients are looking for us to draw a straighter line.

A PR strategy to drive growth starts with raising enterprise value. Shining a spotlight on all the core assets and differentiators of the business – technologies, services, people, culture, leadership, market position – lifts enterprise value and, in turn, creates growth opportunities. Growth acceleration also demands a tightly integrated approach for earned, paid and owned. PR can’t operate in a vacuum; the greatest growth leaps we see are when each media component plays off one another.

  • Awareness that is critical to getting on the radar of prospects
  • Credibility to sell without skepticism on whether you can deliver
  • Trust that comes with third party validation, not just saying you can do it
  • Scalability to handle increasingly large projects and opportunities
  • Attract investors, acquirers, partners and customers to accelerate and enable growth
  • Delivery track record that is proven time and time again

So the aggregate acronym for these six PR pillars for growth is ACT SAD, which really doesn’t have anything to do with what we are talking about but I’d be remiss not to point it out. The bottom line is that marketing is just one piece of the growth mindset a CGO must adapt, alongside sales, product and development and other core departments.

If you are a CGO seeking to learn more about how Bluetext can support your growth objectives in public sector and commercial markets through branding, digital marketing and public relations, reach out to us.

Government efforts to engage PE and VC-backed startups puts federal marketing and messaging in the spotlight 

Venture Capital-backed companies accounted for less than 1% of the $411 billion DoD contracts awarded last year. Analyzing that figure probably comes down to whether you are a glass half-empty or half-full kind of person. There are clear opportunities for startups to secure more contracts from DoD and US Public Sector, but there are also undeniable reasons why this number remains so low.

Perhaps that is why DoD and the VC and Private Equity communities are increasingly focused on making it easier for both sides to communicate effectively with one another. Entrenched government contractors know the language of Washington and what messages will resonate with stakeholders. They also know which processes and vehicles offer the best chances for success in securing contract wins.

Notable and encouraging is that the ecosystem of defense tech brands the DoD can tap is more diverse than ever before – with capabilities stretching across every conceivable market need and pain point. Bessemer Venture Partners charted this diversity in a defense tech startup map across five leading marketing opportunities: AI/ML, autonomous systems, cyber, advanced manufacturing, and communications/intelligence/edge

VC firms and their portfolio companies are still adapting to the language of Washington, but there are encouraging initiatives underway and proven strategies to help defense tech startups win more government business.

Cross-pollination from DoD to VC

National Security and DoD personnel hopping over to government contractor jobs is as predictable as Congress waiting until the 23rd hour to avoid government shutdowns. But late last year, The New York Times reported on the growing number of senior Pentagon officials leaving for positions at B2G-focused venture capital and private equity firms that invest in defense tech startups.

The article “identified at least two dozen venture capital, government contractor financing or private equity firms that are run by or have hired former Pentagon officials or retired military officers, with most of the hires having taken place in the last five years.” The author added that there are at least 50 people who have shifted from government roles to VC firms backing defense-oriented startups, including:

The National Security and DoD firepower now being put to work across B2G VC and B2G PE firms is immensely valuable for tapping more deeply into the government market. Some of the hottest defense tech brands can be found at these investment firms, including: Shield AI (A.I. pilot), HawkEye 360 (satellite data), Virtru (encrypted email), Rebellion Defense (mission management software), HawkEye 360 (satellites), Shift5 (data-driven equipment maintenance), BigBear.AI (intel and defense A.I.), Anduril (defense software/autonomous vehicles),  Palantir (A.I. software), and Applied Intuition (autonomous vehicle software).

VC and PE firms educating acquisition community

And while these former officials are helping VCs and startups better speak the language of Washington, there are parallel efforts underway to educate government leaders and contracting officers on how to better identify and engage with startups. Earlier this year, Federal News Network wrote on a Potomac Officers Club Defense R&D Summit to bridge the communications gap. At the event, Melissa A. Johnson, U.S. Special Operations Command acquisition executive, acknowledged that “We definitely have a communication gap right now. We speak one language on the DoD side, the [Defense Industrial Base] pretty much understands it, but the startup culture — not so much. There’s a lot of just talking past each other.”

Johnson went on affirm that her focus is on closing that communications gap through investment in relationship building and assembling venture capitalists with the acquisition community so contracting officers can ask the right questions. These efforts complement tools that exist for defense tech startups to submit for and win DoD contracts, including Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) and Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplements (DFAR) contracting, as well as Other Transaction Agreements (OTAs) that allow DoD to accelerate emerging technology adoption.

Defense tech startups also recognize resources such as Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), the only DoD organization focused on accelerating the adoption of commercial and dual-use technology to solve operational challenges at speed and scale.

Messaging to ‘Government’ doesn’t work

The DoD isn’t one customer; it’s hundreds. Messaging and targeting must reflect that. Unlike the commercial market where vendors and service providers can conceivable message to a “financial services firm” and replicate that across the industry, trying to create a message that will universally resonate across DoD is far more perilous. Branches, units and individuals are driven by specific objectives, and your ability to build branding, messaging and go-to-market campaigns aligned to that reality is critical.

My colleague and public sector messaging veteran Ray Holloman wrote on the importance and challenges of federal marketing and messaging in a blog post last year. He talked about how even the savviest, largest government contractors still get federal marketing wrong. Everyone is innovative, everybody is a great partner and everybody solves the most complex B2G challenges. The marketing too often speaks to what the contractor thinks the government wants to hear, and that also applies to defense tech startups that will feel even greater pressure to follow “check the concern box” messaging than spend time on what makes the startup uniquely capable. Ray reminds B2G brands to “market to stand out, not to fit in.”

That starts with speaking directly to an audience of one, or few, rather than attempting a bland, cookie-cutter message built for mass appeal.

Message nimble, not small

Punching above your brand weight is a phrase we hear often from B2G marketing clients and prospects. It is important to note that when we develop campaigns with this objective in mind, the goal is not to create an impression that the brand can deliver beyond its capabilities. It simply means that the brand is trailing the business.

That said, there are startup attributes to message that will resonate with DoD decision makers. Startups have more flexibility and less bureaucracy to innovate, and can more easily pivot around client needs. Startups must be highly efficient in developing products and services, which translates to potential cost savings and accelerated delivery to government clients. At the end of the day, DoD is less interested in the “smallness” of a vendor, but very interested in scalability and agility to support demand peaks and valleys.

Message to convey enterprise value

It is not an accident that, to date, 68 of Bluetext clients have been acquired in the 24 months following a Bluetext engagement – which is why firms targeting public sector/defense decision makers turn to Bluetext to deliver powerful creative, branding, websites, campaigns and digital experiences that raise enterprise value.

Whether the client goal is to get acquired, make acquisitions, go public or simply accelerate organic growth, shining a spotlight on all the core assets and differentiators of the business – technologies, services, people, culture, leadership, market position – lifts enterprise value and, in turn, creates growth opportunities. This message resonates with government decision makers who want to see strength across your enterprise, as well as current and prospective investors.

Growing startup contract share is not an overnight process. The Wall Street Journal highlighted some reasons that DoD dollars are not yet gushing to startups, including an ecosystem that was challenging for startups to crack, expected culture and bureaucracy hurdles, and the fact that adjusting buying habits around startups is a work in progress. But there are signs of a more positive outlook; VC investment in defense tech startups surpassed $30 billion a year for the past few years (5x investment levels in 2016), and the WSJ article estimates roughly 100 new defense-tech startups have been founded in the U.S. during that time period.

With more investment dollars flowing, marketing and messaging becomes critical to convert funding into DoD revenues. If you are a defense tech brand, B2G Venture Capital or B2G Private Equity firm interested in learning more about why Bluetext is the right partner to grow public sector opportunities and business, reach out to us at https://bluetext.com/contact-us/.

In the sink-or-swim world of initial public offerings (IPOs), it takes a strategic and well-prepared player to survive. 

There is no doubt that the decision to take a company public can open doors to vast opportunities and boundless potential growth. At the same time, it will inevitably bring challenges and require meticulous planning. 

An IPO is a complex and multi-step process that involves several critical business activities. While strategic operational, financial, and legal planning undoubtedly lie at the heart of this journey, lest we not forget the equally vital role that marketing and communications strategy play in the lead-up to an IPO.

Though often overlooked, well-crafted marketing and communications efforts have the power to make or break your market entrance. Just think — How amplified could the impact of your operational, financial, and legal preparations be if the right emphasis and strategy were put into place to ensure your company’s public debut is met with the enthusiasm and support it deserves?

Things to Consider Before You Go Public

Luckily, Bluetext is no stranger to navigating the whirlwind that is an IPO from a strategic brand, PR, and marketing communications perspective. As one of the best brand strategy firms in the country with decades of experience helping companies through public transitions, we’ve acquired some critical knowledge and best practices over the years. 

Without further ado, here are a few things to consider before you go public.

Brand Perception

What is your current brand reputation?

Take a pulse on the market perception. If the current perception is generally positive, you need to take measures that ensure you sustain and improve on that reputation. Both customers and competitors may look at your company differently post-IPO. if the converse is true, you may need to take additional steps to use the IPO as a fresh start to rebuilding your reputation and correcting any negative associations. Regardless your communications strategy is critical, both in the language you use and the mediums you announce upon.

Website

Where do investor relations fit into your website?

An investor relations page is essential for a company going public. Not only does it help you meet regulatory requirements, but also plays a pivotal role in building trust, credibility, and positive relationships with investors, ultimately contributing to the success of your IPO and long-term investor relations. You will need to consider where and how to implement investor relations and press releases into your core website as well as navigation structure so that this content can be easily found.

Where do your press releases live?

Popular options for housing investor relations content on your company’s website include live feed, single page, or external investor relations sites. Each has its advantages, so determining the right fit for your company is critical. If considering a live feed, you should be prepared with the technical resources to implement and maintain an external API as well as a frequent publishing velocity that ensures the feed remains active and not stale. If your company does not anticipate a need for such frequency, a simpler listing page is a more user-friendly option that can be built directly within your current CMS. A polished style for press releases and intuitive filtering systems on listing pages is key to making this option navigable by the general public and investors. If your investor relations will be more complex, or you have a large pool of active board members you may want to consider building a microsite or external platform that can house quarterly financial reports, the latest press release, and even private assets made available only to investors.

Internal & External Communications

What’s your PR strategy?

From an internal and external communications perspective, operate like a publicly traded company well before the IPO date as part of a sound readiness plan. Analyze your messaging shared with employees, partners, customers, investors, and other internal/external stakeholders so that it is in line with how you want to be viewed as a public company. Do these audiences understand your market? Are you positioned correctly within your market, or are you even positioned in the right market? The answers to all of these questions impact how you shape your PR strategy.

Once the IPO intention to go public is filed, there will be an extended period of time your company is limited in external communications. For that reason, establishing a steady drumbeat of news and content activity through press releases, case studies, events and awards, blog posts, thought leadership, social media, and strategic newsjacking can highlight full enterprise value. And when the quiet period begins and forward-looking statements, performance, and predictions are prohibited, PR becomes equally critical as your team must identify the best approach to maintain momentum despite these new limitations.

Finally, while your company will have a new segment of institutional and retail investors to account for once going public, recognize that “IR by PR” can be a slippery slope. Resist the urge to chase vaporware press releases and quick-hit fluff announcements you think will appease some anonymous social media poster complaining about the stock price. A short-sighted approach to delivering for investors may result in brief bounces but will undermine credibility and stock performance in the long term. Instead, build a PR strategy around substance that holds up under closer scrutiny and is affirmed every quarter when financial results are released.

What is your employee and stakeholder communication strategy?

Transitioning from a privately held company to a public offering can be a big adjustment both internally and externally. And it’s no secret that change is not always met with enthusiasm. It’s critical that you attract new attention, but also make current employees and stakeholders still feel valued and reassured that this is thought through and positive change. 

Internal communication strategies can take many forms, from newsletter announcements to grander in-person celebrations. Compiling a list of “Employee FAQs” can be a strong first step in anticipating any internal concerns and officially addressing questions in a unified way. Some companies choose to send out email announcements or all-hands meetings to attach these FAQ documents. Some topics to consider include company benefits, shifts in leadership, new or consolidated positions, or dates and frequencies of upcoming board meetings.  It’s important to make employees feel comfortable in this transition, and confident the culture they have come to love will be preserved. 

External stakeholders, such as partners or customers should also be notified of the IPO transition but from a different lens. These audiences may be concerned that the company’s financials or offerings may shift under new ownership. This is where it is critical to take the approach of transparency and be open communicators of what the company’s new goals and objectives are. Again announcements should be created in a positive and enthusiastic tone, but take care to detail whatever is possible to publicly reveal about the company’s future. This can be timed strategically, potentially to announce the IPO, with a series of incremental follow-ups to reveal upcoming changes and the benefits they can look forward to.

Do you need a marketing partner to help realize your IPO ambitions? Contact Bluetext today.

When I think of noisemakers, those infernal childhood contraptions come to mind (pictured below). No, I did not grow up in the 1950s, but sadly the operational concept didn’t evolve in subsequent decades. Grab the small handle, twirl the noisemaker around, and try to outrun your parents as they attempted to smash your migraine machine into a million pieces.

Relax, right? It’s fun to make a lot of noise because people pay attention. Maybe that’s true…up to a point. If you create too much noise, or the noise has no value, the end result is that the people you want to hear it the most tune you out, and some might even grab your noisemaker and smash it into a zillion pieces.

The same can be said for the company’s PR efforts.

The consequences of creating noise are not exclusive to press releases and announcements. The impact of any form of content creation – blog posts, op-eds, social media posts, pitches – is dulled when quantity is prioritized over quality.

The fast-moving narrative surrounding ChatGPT illustrates how critical and challenging it will be to create news over noise. Knee-jerk early predictions that ChatGPT’s ability to rapidly generate effective marketing and PR content would sufficiently address quality concerns are now tempered with the realization that the floodgates are open. The number of fake news websites identified as using AI for content generation exploded from 49 in early May to 277 less than two months later. ChatGPT doesn’t need to be perfect if you are asking it to plan a weekend getaway to Charleston. The margin for error is far smaller when the goal is to influence sophisticated enterprise or government tech buyers.

This isn’t to say that ChatGPT and similar variations won’t improve over time. They surely will. But in the near term, ChatGPT is going to create a lot of noise. Also, remember that Generative AI systems learn from human-generated data and large language models train on public data sets. If the share of data sets tilt heavily from human to AI-generated content, it threatens the value proposition of the models.

Clients often first engage with PR agencies as noisemakers. They are churning out so much content, operating under the premise that velocity trumps all. Part of our job, at a PR agency, is to educate clients on the difference between noise and news, and what it takes to drive the latter. Because making noise isn’t making news; there is a difference. Several differences actually. And becoming a newsmaker first requires understanding what it means to be a noisemaker.

5 Signs Your Brand is a Noisemaker

  1. Your media engagement is transactional

Press releases, at their most basic, are designed to communicate something of value from the organization to relevant target audiences. In terms of broader outreach to media, value is undermined if the approach is purely transactional. If the only time you reach out to reporters and influencers is when you want something out of them (i.e. – sharing news you want them to cover), that is one-directional noise. They will tune you out and assume the only time communication is established is when you want something from them.  More productive is to evolve beyond a ‘taker’ relationship; media engagements aren’t transactions to be executed but relationships to be developed where PR professionals look to provide meaningful information that is not always self-serving.

  1. You value sizzle over substance

Noise is pure sizzle. News is a strategic combination of sizzle and substance. When it comes to b2b and b2g technology, products, services, and solutions, vaporware doesn’t sell. There are ways to distribute news in a compelling way, and there is innovation happening that is transformational enough to make media, customers and prospects stop what they are doing and pay attention.

But we are light years past the dot com era where companies could literally push out a press release, say anything they want, and not have it be pressure tested. Your news needs substance and validators; your audiences are cynical and if you don’t have the answers, they will move on.

  1. Your news is episodic

News in a vacuum becomes noise. Your target audiences shouldn’t have to figure out how each press release, blog post, case study, presentation, etc. connects to one another.

We talked about the need to tell a cohesive, forward-looking story. Don’t message the news in a vacuum; establish a storyline that can link past, present, and future company news and activities. If someone were to read all of your releases, blogs, and other announcement mechanisms, would a compelling and tight narrative emerge? It should.

  1. Your news overpromises and underdelivers

That’s the epitome of noise, right? Bold promises that may sound good at first blush, and may even generate attention if spun correctly, but that do not hold up over time. Unfulfilled product and technology promises – even if they are real and not vaporware – undermine the impact of road map announcements down the line. Corporate growth stories are another common stumbling block, as CXOs often feel obligated to project best-case scenarios for hiring and client/revenue growth. If you expect to add 50 employees in the coming year, and only add 12, media and investors will remember that, and ask tough questions about why your organization fell short.

  1. You prioritize quantity at the expense of quality

Finding the right balance of news/content quality and quantity is critical. But too many organizations swing the pendulum way too far towards volume – pummeling the market with press release after press release, blogs that do not capture leads or attention, and other forms of content that target audiences will eventually tune out. Content velocity is important, but not at the expense of quality because people need to read, view, and listen to this content, be motivated to engage with it, and then take action. At the end of the day, the push for quantity may be happening for the wrong reasons. Churning out content because investors are clamoring for news, any news, is counter-productive. Relying on faulty and biased metrics to justify content velocity also negatively impacts broader objectives.

Find out what it means to become a newsmaker able to rise above competitor noise by contacting Bluetext today.

PR professionals are often required to transform subject matter experts – scientists, academics, researchers – into effective messengers. These experts possess deep knowledge in their respective fields, but they often struggle to articulate complex concepts in a way that’s easy for the general public to understand. Bluetext believes three key strategies help SMEs share their knowledge in a manner that captivates their audience. 

Encourage them to Tell Stories and Use Analogies

Our brains are wired for stories. While facts and figures are crucial within academic or scientific circles, only standout statistics engage wider audiences. Individual stories and relatable analogies make the nuances of an expert’s work more tangible. 

PR professionals must encourage experts to transform their knowledge into stories. Analogies, for example, can break down complex topics into familiar concepts that audiences can understand and connect with. It’s about presenting information in a way that is not just intellectually digestible, but also emotionally resonant.

Below, the technical explanation gives accuracy at the expense of comprehension, while the analogy aids understanding and relatability.

Before: “Solar panels convert the sun’s energy into electricity through photovoltaic cells. When photons hit the cells, they knock electrons free from atoms. If conductors are attached to the positive and negative sides of a cell, it forms an electrical circuit. When electrons flow through such a circuit, they generate electricity.”

After: “Think of a solar panel as a plant in your garden. Just as a plant uses sunlight for photosynthesis to produce food, a solar panel uses sunlight to produce electricity. The ‘leaves’ of our solar panel – the photovoltaic cells – catch the sunlight and kickstart a process that generates electricity for your home.”

Don’t Dumb it Down, Balance it Out

It’s crucial not to dumb down complex concepts when training SMEs as effective messengers. The goal is to respect the audience’s intelligence while ensuring comprehension. This balance is best achieved by delving into specifics when necessary and providing a general overview where it isn’t. 

For instance, when discussing an advanced software tool, an expert might briefly explain its mechanics, then elaborate on the real-life scenarios where it could enhance work productivity. 

Before: “We use a high-transmittance, anti-reflective glass, encased with anodic oxidation aluminum alloy frame for our solar panels. These are embedded with mono-crystalline silicon solar cells, which are highly efficient.”

After: “High-transmittance, anti-reflective glass allows a lot of light to pass through and reduces light reflection, which is ideal for solar panels. Anodic oxidation aluminum alloy is a sturdy, corrosion-resistant material used to frame the panels, and mono-crystalline silicon solar cells are highly effective cells made from a single crystal structure that converts sunlight into electricity,

Above, the ‘before’ message is laden with technical terms that a non-expert may not understand. In the ‘after’ message, the expert takes a more balanced approach by explaining these terms in easily understood language that identifies each material’s role in the system.

Practice with the Expert

As with any skill, effective messaging needs practice. Before an interview or presentation, PR professionals should work with the expert to define their key messages, prepare responses to likely questions, and identify topics to avoid. 

Practice sessions serve dual purposes. They help experts gain confidence in delivering their messages and also assist them in refining their responses. Through iterative practice, experts can identify and focus on the most important elements of their responses, ensuring they deliver succinct, impactful answers when interacting with reporters or audiences.

Training experts to be effective messengers isn’t always a straightforward task. But by encouraging storytelling, balancing technical information, and emphasizing key messages, you can help them communicate their knowledge in a way that resonates with a wider audience. The transformation from expert to an engaging speaker is well worth the effort and maybe the difference between just getting an interview and receiving airtime, or even better – an invite back.

Take a look at some of Bluetext’s past work to see how client subject matter experts have been able to unlock their knowledge for a wider base and deliver powerful messages to the audiences that need to hear them most. Are you in need of a marketing and public relations agency with the skills to bring out those messages and take them to market? Contact us today.

Modern PR strategy has evolved significantly over the years to adapt to the dynamic digital landscape. A company’s communication strategy should encompass a variety of innovative techniques to engage audiences, drive brand awareness, and impact the organization’s bottom line. Bluetext has successfully employed these six strategies for our clientele that you should consider incorporating into your PR approach or, at the very least, ask your Agency why they aren’t doing the same.

Thought Leadership

One of the critical elements of a modern PR strategy is thought leadership. This involves positioning your company’s executive team as experts by creating and sharing insightful, thought-provoking content. Whether it’s publishing industry analyses, contributing to discussions on current trends, or offering innovative solutions to industry challenges, thought leadership can significantly enhance your brand’s credibility and visibility.

Content Marketing

Another critical strategy in today’s PR toolkit is content marketing. Businesses benefit from creating and distributing content that drives audience growth and engages key stakeholders. This strategy isn’t limited to written content; it can take various forms, including videos, podcasts, infographics, etc. The aim is to craft content that resonates with your audience, enhancing their awareness and understanding of your brand and encouraging interaction. 

Brand Journalism

Brand journalism is another powerful PR approach. This strategy involves creating and sharing news stories about your organization and its impact on the industry or community. You can shape public perception and stir interest in your company by crafting compelling narratives around your brand and its activities.

Speaking Engagements

Speaking engagements offer a fantastic platform for your organization’s leaders to showcase their expertise, share thought leadership and network with key stakeholders. By securing speaking opportunities at industry conferences and events, your brand and subject matter experts can reach a wider audience and gain valuable industry recognition. No matter the level and expertise of the speaker, it goes without saying that media training and coaching go hand in hand with any speaking engagement. Even professional talking heads on cable news need to run through their talking points and polish their delivery, so it makes sense that your executive or SME needs at least the same prep. Preparation is the key to any crisp, engaging, and memorable presentation.

Awards & Recognition

Recognition plays a vital role in a successful PR strategy. Applying for and winning awards highlighting your company’s achievements, innovations, and work environment can significantly boost your brand’s reputation, SEO optimization, and company visibility. More importantly, it builds trust among the target audience, employees, and stakeholders, making it easier to engage stakeholders and establish lasting relationships.

Employee Advocacy

Finally, employee advocacy is an increasingly recognized strategy for its effectiveness. Encouraging your employees to share your organization’s content and messaging on their personal social media channels or at industry events can amplify a company’s reach. Employees are credible brand ambassadors, helping to increase brand awareness and foster trust among potential customers and stakeholders.

Each of these PR strategies and tactics increases brand visibility, improves understanding of products or services, builds trust among critical audiences, drives more engagement, and has a tangible impact on your bottom line. Utilizing each strategically and cohesively can significantly enhance your PR efforts and ultimately contribute to the success of your business. To learn how to apply these strategies to your communications mission, reach out to Brian Kelley at Bkelley@bluetext.com.  

Have you ever pitched a reporter with a story or announcement you thought would definitely catch their attention only to be ghosted? It’s happened to all of us at some point in our careers, in no small part because, frankly, journalists are drowning in pitches. 

In Cision’s 2022 survey, more than half of the 3800 journalists responded that they received over 50 pitches a week through email, phone or social media, and about 24% of them received up to 100 per week. 

As PR professionals, we are responsible for building brand reputation and promoting businesses in a positive light. To do so, we need to be armed with data and facts to create campaigns that will evoke the right response and reach the intended audience in an authentic way. 

So, how can PR pros break through the noise? How do we grab the attention of reporters and other audiences? The key is infusing company stories and narratives with data. 

Why use data-driven storytelling?

Data-driven storytelling helps construct and communicate a compelling story that drives action and can be the difference between a successful campaign and one that gets lost in the busy news cycle. 

By accurately presenting data associated with clients, you can improve narrative-building and storytelling capabilities, connecting clients to the public in a meaningful way. 

For example, personal finance, business and local consumer interest reporters are annually inundated with tax-related pitches leading up to April’s big filing day. To catch their attention, data is critical. We worked with one of our clients to build a campaign anchored by data that showed tax scam robocalls increased in volume ahead of Tax Filing Day, while also uncovering localized data narratives specific to scams circulating in different markets. 

Having this reliable data to back up the story around consumer scams and awareness for Tax Day helped drive media opportunities for the client, which can help increase engagement with the public, generate interest and spark further conversation. 

How to use data to tell your clients’ stories

While creativity and relationships are key components of a great public relations strategy, facts are what seal the deal. Here are four ways you can use data and spread a narrative.

  1. Use newsworthy statistics. When pitching a story, data drives the narrative forward. Incorporating attention-grabbing statistics helps give your narrative a solid foundation of evidence while making the content more persuasive and impactful. With newsworthy statistics, you can hope to get your client’s story more attention and media coverage.

 

  1. Frame data in the right context. Data is important, but what matters more is how you frame that data. Before sharing any statistics, make sure that you’re choosing the right facts and figures and putting them in a context that is relevant to your client’s story so that readers can instantly understand the implications of the facts you’re presenting. It’s also imperative that your spokespeople are well-equipped with the necessary data and have the right talking points to frame the story correctly.

 

  1. Follow up with visualizations. To bring your story to life and make it stand out, it’s a good idea to back up your data with visualizations such as graphs and charts. Doing this can help paint a vivid picture that reinforces the narrative you’re trying to pitch while making the story more engaging and easier to digest.

 

  1. Understand data trends. Data also provides powerful insights into the conversations happening around a brand or company, allowing you to see what phrases or keywords people are using to talk about it, how often to post about it, and which channels are being used for engagement. With this data, you can see what topics or trends are resonating with target audiences and adjust the strategy accordingly. 

 

Data can be a PR pro’s best friend when used effectively. By framing data in the right context and following up with visualizations, reporters are likely to be engaged by your clients’ stories and more likely to cover that story. 

A single well-crafted story backed with facts, statistics and data can go a long way in making your stories powerful, authoritative, and attractive to both reporters and the public. 

Learn more about Bluetext’s data-centric PR approach, or contact us to hear about our full life-cycle marketing services. 

 

If you’re starting off your press releases and pitches with boilerplate language, you might as well crumple them up, toss them in a garbage can, and set them on fire.

Alright, that may be slightly overdramatic. But it got you to keep reading the next few sentences, didn’t it? Attention is an increasingly precious resource in this age of constant stimulation, so grabbing hold of it and keeping it is paramount for any PR professional trying to get a message out into the world. 

Standing Out in the Crowd

When a pitch is one of the hundreds in a reporter’s inbox, or a press release is one of the thousands published daily on the news wires, you can’t take for granted that anyone will read your content and understand the full scope of your announcement. A reporter may only see the first words in an email preview before deciding whether to open or delete an incoming pitch, so if the subject line hasn’t already grabbed them, your opening is your final chance to make the case for your message’s relevance.

Some contexts and audiences require an established professional tone, necessitating a more formal approach. But where there is an opportunity to add energy to your message without spilling over into the bombastic, introducing dynamic language can make all the difference. In other words, don’t “improve” your opening lines— supercharge, enhance, or revamp them.

From Standard to Stronger

The start of a message doesn’t have to be extreme or court outrage to be compelling — it only has to be unique and inspire curiosity to learn more. Methods may vary depending on the industry you’re working in or the types of audiences you’re speaking to, but there are a few core techniques that can reliably improve the start of your messaging. The following examples of standard introductions show how they can be strengthened by using these techniques:

Pitch Email – Make it Personal, Tell a Story

Standard opening: Hi Tom, I saw you have been covering trends in technology and wanted to share some information on new advancements in AI. An expert I work with has spoken on the anticipated opportunities and challenges at several conferences and can capably speak to the current moment…

There’s nothing wrong with this opening, but it is likely identical to dozens of other pitching messages Tom regularly receives. If the subject line isn’t compelling enough on its own, the body of the message is unlikely to improve the chances of your message being read. By making the introduction more personal, demonstrating familiarity with the reporter’s work specifically, and telling a story, we can strengthen this opening:

Stronger opening: Tom, I couldn’t agree more that “we’re on the precipice of the greatest global transformation since the internet,” as you said in your recent piece. That’s exactly how the AI expert I work with describes what’s coming. At a recent conference, he told me about his predictions for the next five years over a lukewarm hotel coffee and…

Press Release – Share a Surprising Fact, Use Dynamic Language

Standard Opening: City, State (Date) — A new survey released by IT firm Example Company shows that business leaders already use AI in their daily work. The survey, which polled 2,000 corporate workers, found that 68% of respondents have been utilizing the latest AI innovations.

This introduction is accurate, and you don’t want to stray too far from the core facts of the announcement. Still, by frontloading the interesting fact, using bolder language, and providing relevant context, the basic facts of this release can take on a more dynamic form.

Stronger Opening: City, State (Date) — Over two-thirds of business leaders are already using AI every day, according to a landmark survey of IT professionals conducted by Example Company. This finding, among several other insights in the full report, paints a picture not of an industry on the brink of transformation but an evolution actively underway.

Article – Ask a Provocative (But Fair) Question, Demonstrate Value

Standard Opening: Some workers express trepidation about using AI tools in their jobs, citing concerns about their role being deprecated by new technology. But these workers may not appreciate the ways in which AI can improve their experience at work.

This introduction clearly sets the stage for what the article will entail. But unless a reader is already interested in the topic and independently curious to learn more, they are unlikely to dive into this article. To improve this introduction, we can begin with a compelling question and clearly state how the reader stands to benefit from the message at hand:

Stronger Opening: Do you love every part of your job? Chances are, there are some tasks you begrudgingly complete and others you actually look forward to. Thankfully, the routine, mundane tasks that can make the workday feel longer are precisely the types of tasks AI tools excel at handling. Less time doing data entry or collating spreadsheets translates to more of your time dedicated to meaningful or creative tasks.

Going Bold Without Going Overboard

There’s a fine line to walk between an opening that is compelling and intriguing and an opening that is inflammatory or misleading. Bold openings require substantive and useful information in the body of the message in order to deliver their intrigue and avoid seeming like a bait-and-switch. If you begin with an unusual question, be sure to provide an answer or interesting points in support of different perspectives. Likewise, if you begin with a strange fact, ensure that it relates to the ultimate focus of your message. Starting an article with “Did you know frogs use their eyes to swallow?” may make readers continue reading the piece, but unless your story is related to frogs, it will seem like a cheap non-sequitur by the end of the article.

Of course, there is room for nuance, detailed explanation, and essential facts in PR messaging. But readers will only give that kind of material the attention they require if they are already invested in the story you are telling. Earning that attention with a strong and compelling introduction allows you to slow down and take time on the most critical details.

You would probably not be reading this conclusion if this blog post had started: “Writing an engaging introduction in press materials is a very important part of PR messaging, as it establishes a tone that encourages further reading.” But with a strong start, the piece becomes more engaging and ultimately reaches a broader — and more engaged — audience.

Interested in taking your press strategy to the next level? Contact Bluetext to learn about our PR services.

The entrepreneurial CMO is “beholden neither to the status quo nor to disrupting it for disruption’s sake.” That premise, according to Forbes, helped to guide its selections for the recently released 2023 Forbes Entrepreneurial CMO 50 list.

It is a herculean challenge to drive change in relatively stable environments, let alone be bold enough to transform brands amidst a year of chaos defined by an evolving pandemic, inflation, structural workforce adjustments and a polarized country willing to buy or boycott products based on a brand’s perceived “wokeness.” 

Disruption is not only being fueled by undeniably negative chaos agents, but also by more complex ones that pose endless possibilities…and risks. Generative AI and ChatGPT grab headlines, and rightly so, but for so many brands the pandemic has accelerated enterprise-wide digital transformation. 

Forbes acknowledges those challenges – and more – in identifying 50 CMOs who succeeded despite the unprecedented, multi-faceted risk climate. Here are a few narratives that emerged from the change agents selected for the Forbes 50 list: 

Being data-driven, but human defined

Nobel laureate awardee Ronald H. Course once said “if you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything.” Ironically, in some ways, CMOs are being tortured by the very data they rely on so heavily – particularly when it comes to the crushing volume of marketing data. A 2022 survey of 300 global CMOs by integrated marketing data platform Adverity found that two-thirds of them feel the volume of marketing data available has become overwhelming. 

This love-hate relationship with data may at least be partially responsible for its conspicuous absence within the insights provided by the 50 CMOs named by Forbes. At a time when the ability to acquire and analyze data seems to dominate so many brand and business conversations, it was clear that entrepreneurial marketing leaders aren’t looking to be defined solely as data crunchers. It is undeniable that data has become core to internal and customer-facing operations, table stakes even, but marketers acknowledged its limits. 

More than one CMO recognized by Forbes referenced that while data drives decision making, there are risks in having it solely define brand strategy as if it is a panacea. Marketers such as Carla Zakhem-Hassan, CMO at JPMorgan Chase, highlighted the importance of humans in the decision making process. She wants to always ensure “…the company infuses humanity into their products, services, and marketing approach” and that her team knows they “need the data, but we also need the humanity.” 

Injecting B2C creativity into B2B campaigns

B2B brands often face narrower and more rigid guardrails when it comes to unleashing creative ideas into the market. B2B prospects are bottom-line driven; the sales cycle can be long; and the hierarchy of decision makers is complex. Edgy campaigns that effectively capture the attention and dollars of consumers may strike the wrong chord with business buyers who just want to understand how you can help solve their challenges. 

But entrepreneurial CMOs do not want to be boxed in. Accenture Chief Marketing & Communications Officer and Forbes 50 honoree Jill Kramer pushes back against the notion B2B marketing is “uncreative” by launching campaigns like “Let There Be Change” – designed “to help B2B CMOs reframe the business goal and rebrand the marketing term using a more entrepreneurial approach.”

Re-writing playbooks rather than tweaking them

If a CMO is always trying to adapt to change, they probably aren’t driving it. The notion of a post-pandemic “return to normalcy” when it comes to how and where people work or the mechanisms brands use to engage with consumers is flawed at best, self-destructive at worst. 

Building campaigns that anticipate the unwinding of structural changes that never arrive are sunk investments. Forbes 50 marketers recognize this; ServiceNow CMO Michael Park cites how marketers are missing an opportunity if they simply try to adapt to volatility, and instead should be using it as a springboard to the road ahead, which provides “almost unlimited opportunities to redraw the parameters we set our growth targets against.”

The same can be said about the nature of work. Melissa Selcher, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at LinkedIn makes the point that 5 years ago, you did not have tens of millions of people creating social channel content around work. People commuted to their offices, spent the day there, and then returned home. As Selcher explains, “no one talked about work, we just worked.” 

The pandemic changed all of this; the how, when, and where people worked became diverse and compelling, and also defining in a way that current and future employers have to acknowledge. 

Aiming for micro-failures and macro successes

It isn’t novel to suggest that failure breeds success. As Dale Carnegie suggested “Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.” 

But the trick is to make brand strategy failures manageable, not fatal. Ricardo Marques, VP Marketing, Michelob Ultra at Anheuser-Busch/InBev, talked about micro-failures when reflecting on the brand’s “McEnroe vs. McEnroe” initiative, which, pardon the pun, served up what it claimed to be the world’s first hybrid tennis match of real John McEnroe versus virtual representations of himself at various career stages. “We had micro-failure moments throughout the project that would have killed it in a traditional approach, but didn’t because we remained agile and flexible throughout, adjusting, and calibrating when faced with challenges.”

Other Forbes CMO winners addressed the need to not only correct failures, but convert them into opportunities. Uber VP of Marketing David Mogensen shared that when Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields tweeted about an Uber Eats delivery fail, the Uber team eyed an opportunity that showcased the value of agility. They pivoted from a ready-to-launch campaign to a call-and-response spot where WR Odell Beckham addresses the QB’s complaint. But to ensure it was a campaign of substance for the customer base, the brand promised a $0 delivery fee for 3 months if app users encountered similar problems. 

Similarly, Kofi Amoo-Gottfried, CMO at DoorDash reinforced the need for marketers to learn from successes and failures. A glitch allowing users to order from Cheesecake Factory without paying became an opportunity to later partner with the well-known chain to hack and gamify its extensive menu – driving a double-digit bump in website traffic and a tangible orders increase. 

Perfect strangers can make perfect partners

A little something about me; if I have an opportunity to work Balki Bartokomous into a blog post, it is going to happen. Balki and Larry were in fact perfect strangers in the hit 80s/90s sitcom, and it is safe to say that top marketers are not shying away from exploring unexpected alliances with celebrities, viral influencers and brands, as well as other content creators to reach desired audiences. 

Lara Hood Balazs, General Manager and CMO at Intuit focused on establishing a more dominant unifying brand elevating its better known products such as TurboTax, QuickBooks, MailChimp and Credit Karma. Updating the brand’s identity included forging a unique partnership with Mr. Beast for its #RaceToTheRefund campaign

Nothing excites Bluetext more than working with marketing entrepreneurs who want to be in the driver’s seat when it comes to transforming brands and markets. Click here to learn more about how Bluetext is the innovative partner you need to become the brand that customers want, and the competition envy. 

Digital transformation creates challenges and opportunities for B2G marketing leaders seeking to sell to government agencies. The appetite for digitization of citizen services accelerated during the pandemic as agencies recognized a more intense need to transform communications and engage with citizens. At the same time, the DoD moved forward with a digital-forward strategy to guide the industry on how to best deliver transformative technologies.

B2G brands competitively positioning themselves to pursue and capture digital transformation-driven contract opportunities benefit from a smart, holistic public relations program aligned with the pace at which agencies are evaluating, adopting, and deploying new technologies.

So much of Bluetext’s PR and marketing work with government contractors and IT providers involves a keen understanding of how government buyers evaluate, procure and deploy technologies and services – and the messages that resonate most with them. For B2G marketers creating PR programs that tap into public sector digital transformation, there are a few key considerations:

Agencies Don’t Transform Overnight

Less than one in ten (7%) government leader respondents in an EY 2022 report said they believe their organization has achieved its digital transformation goals. This doesn’t mean that digital transformation isn’t moving forward but serves as a gut check that B2G brands must stay attuned to the pace of change.

The tricky balance for B2G CMOs is to effectively communicate how their products, technologies, and services can future-proof agencies while acknowledging that legacy technology investments cannot be unwound overnight. In other words, media coverage and thought leadership cannot ignore where agencies are today.

Similarly, there are nuances to digital transformation messaging, for example when it comes to workforce automation. PR may be required to address the fact that, among government workforces, transformation can create uncertainty. Artificial Intelligence and automation can equate to fears of employees being replaced. If B2G brands leave it up to the agency customer to overcome workforce resistance to new technologies, adoption can be slowed and contract opportunities will dwindle.

Match Thought Leadership To Right Hype Cycle

There are perils to spinning wheels on Gartner Hype Cycle™ “Innovation Trigger” technologies that may be garnering media coverage but are years away from commercial viability. The “Innovation Trigger” hype cycle phase refers to when “A potential technology breakthrough kicks things off. Early proof-of-concept stories and media interest trigger significant publicity. Often no usable products exist and commercial viability is unproven.”

In the 2022 Gartner Digital Government Services Hype Cycle, the research firm identifies technologies such as Metaverse, immersive meetings, and influence engineering and machine customers that are years if not decades away from reaching a plateau.

In the same way that CIOs need to keep their eyes on potentially transformative technologies and practices that are years from widespread adoption – and start developing positions on these trends – marketers must think about how best to associate their brands with these emerging technologies. Thought leadership programs are a good place to start.

We work with B2G brands that face diverse challenges on the sales side. For some, they may be an established, credible brand seeking to sell a product or technology their brand isn’t traditionally associated with. This could be a result of mergers and acquisitions that have unlocked new product portfolios and capabilities. In other cases, behemoth brands are being challenged by nimble, upstarts perceived to have more cutting-edge solutions. Hundreds of challenger brands have turned to Bluetext for PR services to help provide air cover for the sales team – so that they aren’t spending half the meeting establishing credibility and can just sell based on merits.

Finally, disruptor technologies can create sufficient confusion to paralyze the buying process. Thought leadership can educate target markets to prevent this from occurring. Case in point: ChatGPT, which is spinning the heads of marketers and communications professionals across all industries. If you provide automation technologies to the public sector, agency decision-makers may wonder if a costly solution will be rendered obsolete by ChatGPT in 12-18 months and decide to wait it out. More likely, ChatGPT can be used to augment a solution, but buyers will never know that without effective earned and paid content campaigns.

Thought leadership programs are an effective way for B2G marketers to:

  • Start associating your brand with trends and technologies that you will be offering in the near future without creating headaches for the sales team by sending traffic to a source with no product
  • Educate the market on pain points that your solution will address, so that when you do launch the value proposition has been established
  • Build up a Subject Matter Expert (SME) program with experts who can become sources on these technologies for journalists or generate interest from conference organizers

Data-Driven PR Can Make Or Break The Transformation Case

B2G brands often sit on access to PR-valuable data that is untapped for various reasons. Are state and local government leaders tapping AI to deliver citizen services? Will federal healthcare leaders increase their spending on data analytics in the upcoming fiscal year? There are external entities that track some of this data, and there is always the option to drop $25,000 on a research firm to create a survey vehicle. But most firms have built valuable mechanisms to reach customers and prospects via email and other channels, and there are seamless, non-intrusive approaches to acquiring market data that can be used to anchor PR initiatives (media pitches, bylines, social media posts, etc.).

The value of the data is to gain a stronger foothold on where your customers and prospects are as it relates to digital transformation. Leveraging that data for media pitches, byline articles and social media strengthens the business case that there is a need and appetite for your technologies.

Get Creative Telling Customer Stories

From a PR and marketing perspective, it isn’t the word of the B2G brand that will have the greatest impact on an agency prospect – it is the voice of the customer. Because agencies moving forward with digital transformation want to see that what they want to do has been done before. That digital transformation is possible, that ROI is quantifiable and that investments are justifiable.

The problem? It can be extremely difficult to secure approval to publicize government customer stories through press releases, media coverage, website case stories or via social media. This is a common frustration our clients and prospects often mention right off the bat. Traditional methods of securing agency approval rarely work, which is why Bluetext deploys creative approaches to tell a customer story through award programs, events and other mechanisms.

If you would like to learn more about how to effectively create a B2G PR program that taps into public sector digital transformation, reach out to Bluetext at https://bluetext.com/contact-us/.