Category Archives: LaunchSquad

Why You’ll Fall In Love with Tech PR – And why it’ll love you back.

You’ve probably heard that from people who get into Tech PR with reluctance kind of end up loving it. You’ve probably been surprised to hear it. Well, you’re as surprised as I was. To address that skeptical look on your face, let’s liken it to, say, having your first geek post-high school crush. (editors note: Please continue to read after the below image. Unfortunately he is not the main point of this post.)

Sometimes technology is pretty attractive.

He’s witty and quirky and not at all like the high school soccer jock you always imagined yourself with back when prom was the big event in your life. When you’re first getting into PR, you think it’s going to be like Samantha on SATC or Lauren and Whitney on the Hills, taking orders from Kelly Cutrone while you sit at your desk with your iMac and perfect weave surrounded by hip couture as you, you know, do PR. And at first, that sounds pretty cool. OK, it will always sound cool, but after a few months in the industry it also sounds fictional. Oh, sure, there are those Oscar De La Renta PR girls out there, but there are so many other opportunities to do real PR. Without cat-fights.

When it comes to tech, at first it’s confusing and a little (a lot) over your head. But then it’s intriguing. You start to understand the ins and outs of the industry, your competition, why it really is competition (it’s a race for innovation!). How technology is changing and maturing faster than it ever has and how you, yes YOU, get to see it with your own eyes — all the behind the scenes stuff and you get to influence it. Wow, that’s kind of exciting. Think I’m developing a tiny crush, but I mean, I’m not going to be his girlfriend or anything. This is just harmless flirting…

You resist, and also don’t. He’s funny and sweet, and loves your attention because, well, he’s a nerd. And suddenly, you’re interested in the things that he finds interesting, and you now find that you want to support him in his endeavors. It’s OK, let yourself get excited about things like public APIs and SXSW INTERACTIVE. These are valuable things that matter and are the building blocks to the important and critical technology that will eventually be infused throughout business, lifestyle, culture – and the rest of The New York Time’s sections.

You bring something unique to the table, something the tech industry needs badly. An “everyman (woman)” perspective. How will this be received and by who? Where should we have an online presence? How do we explain this in simple language so that people will understand the story? How do we get past jargon and tell the story to anyone? They need you because you are good with people. You make them feel comfortable and can move easily in and out of social situations.

He teaches you things. Every day you’re launching stuff that eventually brands across every industry will want to be a part of. And you can help them get there. You learn the “next thing” and see trends before they break – Tech PR people were the first to see the branding potential in Twitter, Facebook and now Foursquare.

In Tech PR, your clients are often services or platforms being used for PR initiatives. Knowing the space around these companies gives you a good leg-up on how to leverage them.

He introduces you to his friends: Being able to find, access and leverage online communities is vital these days. Clients will want to know who is talking about their brand, what they’re saying and how to reach them. By working in tech PR, you’re already managing that, if not working to garner those communities and which platforms they’re on. Everyone is a publisher these days and knowing how to tell your story to all of those channels is hugely important.

He’s everything you never knew you were looking for. Tech PR gives you an incredible opportunity to practice traditional PR (press releases, media tours, press kits), while staying sharp as the media changes and the PR industry changes. So much of PR is about web content and content creation – blogging for clients, doing client videos, creating media properties (like external, loosely branded sites) – to engage with the community, and knowing these trends is half the battle. Tech PR will do that for you.
Almost every major (and successful) branding campaign has some kind of online component and social web presence – be it sports, fashion, food, travel, eCommerce, politics, non-profit, etc. You need to know how to lead the charge.

On that note, LaunchSquad is hiring at all levels in SF, NYC and Boston. Interested? http://launchsquad.com/about/join-the-team.php

Web Savvy: Trend-spotting and the Network of Cool

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Maybe you Tweet it, maybe you put it on Facebook. Maybe you stick it in your Tumblr and tag it. These are our outlets for further publicizing cool websites, trends and, really, your own Web savvy. Did you know Twitter would blow up before Ashton joined? Have you casually mentioned the growing market around online video advertising in a recent conversation with a friend? Are you 18-24 years old?

LaunchSquad is looking the tuned-in, tech-savvy who can spot and speak to emerging Web trends. As the early-adopting generation, we’re more than equipped to not just to participate in the latest web offerings and also predict what’s huge, what’s next and mostly – what’s really COOL. If this interests you more than you think it should, you’re not alone – join the Network of Cool and get your voice and savvy heard: http://networkofcool.com/join/

See this post for more details – it’s by a web-savvy guy, much like yourselves, who is working with LaunchSquad to form this group of advisers to lend your expertise on what’s cool – plus you can win things.

Working Girl’s Year One

Year One

It came rather quickly, I’ll admit. In fact, it wasn’t until this last weekend that I realized that I moved to San Francisco 1 year ago on July 4th and started my job 1 year ago today, July 7th. To think of where I was then, quaking in my new heels, ready to burst with questions and anticipation, head equally full of knowledge meant to prepare me for adulthood, never expecting the road that I’ve traveled to get to NOW.

I adjusted at first — and this could have been shock, at the time — rather easily. Emotionally tackling the sometimes-turbulent road from easing in, yet hitting the ground running, then phasing to swallowing pride and comfort for the challenge of taking criticism, learning to work hard, sleep less and take it all in stride. The last few months have seen the much more enjoyable transition of becoming a team player, (more detail-aware — I’m making progress, people) being confident that a job well done means client satisfaction and not personal gain, and realizing that loving my job makes me luckier than most.

That said, I have sorely neglected this blog, which turned out to be a vehicle for employment for me, and I’d like to take this post on this momentous day to make some resolutions for the new year as a “LaunchSquadder” and an employed person.

For this blog I resolve to:

  1. Post 1-2 times a week
  2. Write well
  3. Discuss current media issues
  4. Discuss more challenges for the (intended) benefit of those who come after me
  5. Write response posts
  6. Link more relevantly
  7. Present clear and active thinking about my work, my life, and my goals
  8. I will listen more and better

As an employed person I resolve to:

  1. Do more phone pitching
  2. Read more literature on the train
  3. Post on the Exclamation blog more
  4. Make fewer typos
  5. Continue to be an early-adopter of new technology as it remains a fantastic way to stay engaged in the space
  6. Take on more writing-intensive projects
  7. Understand the give-and-take with journalists and pursue more mutually-beneficial relationships
  8. Recognize my responsibility to myself to commit to more responsibility, initiative and leadership on my teams.
  9. Every day, be thankful for my current employment and the daily opportunities presented to learn and be taught.
  10. Every day, do better work than I did the day before.

The nice thing here is that I generally believe that this framework will not only make me a better employee and PR professional, but also a better and more committed person to not only my work, but my future and the opportunities it probably bring. Hopefully.

Anyone else closing in on a year and having some thoughts about it? Let me know what you guys are thinking… Maybe I’m the only one who’s seeing this as some existential milestone, but I have a feeling I’m not alone.

Also — a quick “Congrats!” to my coworker, Sara Schulte who also started last year on 7/7 at LaunchSquad. 🙂

LaunchSquad FTW

On March 4th, the partners of LaunchSquad invaded New York City to attend the PRWeek Awards ceremony on March 5th. Feeling like the underdog, they came with a resilient and celebratory spirit to be just considered.

The next day, LaunchSquad was in full campaign mode, even knowing that the decision had already been made, “Tweeting” their support for LaunchSquad and filling the #PRWeekAwards Twitter thread with LaunchSquad spirit, prompting clients, media friends and friends of the firm to also show their support on Twitter. Working from the New York office at the time, I watched throughout the day with my NY colleagues as Tweets came in with similar messages:

It was just cool. And what ensued? LaunchSquad was named PRWeek’s Boutique Agency of the Year!

We’re all tremendously excited by the honor and it was amazing to be there when it was announced. The awards ceremony was held at Tavern on the Green. It was really cool to see the partners of the firm see the fruits of their labor and their dreams for LaunchSquad come to fruition and recognition, especially. We all knew LS was great. The award was just a testament to how great work can come full circle. Very cool.

From left: Jason "Throck" Throckmorton, Jesse Odell, Jason Mandell and Brett Weiner

From left: Jason "Throck" Throckmorton, Jesse Odell, Jason Mandell and Brett Weiner

To hear it from their point-of-view, please see the What’s New post at: LaunchSquad.com: http://www.launchsquad.com/blogs/whatsnew/?p=237

{my hyperlink’s not working!}

Also, PRWeek showed a photo of the winners in Times Square the next day:

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Pretty rad all around.

See the PRWeek story here: http://www.prweekus.com/BoutiquePRAgencyoftheYear2009/article/123801/

Boulder, I’m Lookin’ and I’m Likin’

Anyone I’ve talked to lately knows I’ve been rather obsessed with the Boulder (Colorado) tech scene, even revamping my REI-chic/enviro-hipster garb for the occasion. I voraciously started subscribing to the blogs and Twitter feeds of various tech enthusiasts like Andrew Hyde, a driving force behind rad initiatives like Startup Weekend and Techstars.org, Robert Reich who founded OneRiot, Micah Baldwin who runs business development for Lijit Networks and has a sweet blog and of course there’s Brad Feld, who planted the seeds that started it all. I even watched their live broadcast of Ignite Boulder 3 this last week. Yeah, I really did.

What is it about the Boulder scene that makes me yearn so to be a part of it? My curiosity-turned-fascination-turned-safe-distance (I swear)-obsession was probably fueled by the fact that I can’t be part of it. My location prevents it and they just don’t seem interested in pursuing me as a remote member of their clan, though, granted, no overt outreach was established from my end. Following them on Twitter started out cool because I got a window into their mountainous world, but turned into a curse when they never seemed to want to reach (or follow) back. OK, no big deal. The initial pain of rejection led me to conduct an investigation on the essence of Boulder’s “cool”. Furthermore, I wanted to bring to light why we should all pay attention to Boulder now because – and even Sarah Lacy was astonished by this – Boulder won’t tell us why it’s so rad.

Let’s take a quick look at Boulder itself – not the tech scene – just Boulder.

– College town – Colorado University’s there.
– We know that there are a lot of bikes in Boulder
– There’s natural beauty like you wouldn’t believe
– Apparently the US Curling Olympic trials are there this year, being held this week, I’ve been told

Now let’s think Tech:

– Startup Town
– The afore-mentioned forward thinkers
– The sweet green tech innovations happening there
– In Boulder, you can be a geek AND athletic
– Most of their tech events are beer-centric vs. cocktails– SO cool
– They are geographically flanked by the Rockies on one side and the Mississippi on the other, trapped from the two traditional coastal sources of technological progress and yet they continue to generate technology and media innovation at an astounding and intriguing rate.

But Silicon Valley’s got plenty of mojo, right? Developers and entrepreneurs flock to the Bay Area because they have the next big thing that’s going to take “it” to the next level, going to change the world! So what differentiates Boulder? Here it is: COMMUNITY. There is an electric current that runs through Boulder that is powered by the intense support system that can only exist in a tight-knit community. That’s what TechStars.org IS. It’s for the mentoring and guiding (and funding) of sweet startups. I don’t know how you couldn’t succeed with that kind of backing.

Community must play a huge role in the success and acceleration of the startups and even the stewing of brilliant ideas among the mountains of Colorado. Looking through their blogs, seeing their Twitter activity, even being friends with just one of them on Facebook (and happening to peruse their profile with envy on a weekly basis), you understand the respect and friendship that is the lifeblood of the innovation, creativity and savvy that flows in that town. It’s really palpable if you watch some of the videos of their tech events– I mean, they have inside jokes! Yes, I may have spent an afternoon watching videos of Boulder tech meetups. Not a big deal.

Commradery, though, brings up another factor (and huge asset0 lending to their tight-knit environment: They’re still a small city. The Bay Area could never attain that level of intimacy. People come to The Bay Area to build great businesses that they can ultimately sell to go live in Boulder or, if it comes to it, run from Boulder (or somewhere of the like, you get it). People in Boulder love Boulder and never want to leave Boulder.

As a native Oregonian, my obsession with Boulder’s tech scene might be misplaced (sorry, Portland), but I can’t help feeling a little jealous of this embracing socio-professional (petty sure it’s a real term) environment. It’s not even the technology that really gets to me. It’s the people who make up this community – bloggers, entrepreneurs, copywriters, software engineers, consultants, and developers – that love what they do and want to see each other succeed.

Tell me where that community/clique/coven (?) is in the Bay Area and I’m there. Until then, I’m waiting on the edge of my seat for the next installment of “Where the Fun’s At“.

UPDATE (1/24/09): Joining Fox News in an effort to be “fair and balanced,” I wanted to highlight a response post by Brian Burns, a Boulder resident and copy writer: “Boulder Is Nice. Not Paradise”. A great read, and brings some local insight to the subject.

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This was originally posted here, at on LaunchSquad’s Exclamation blog.

PR Week Knows Where It’s At!

PR Week announced a while ago its finalists for the PR Week Awards (announced in March 2009 [insert nail biting here]). Prepare to be overwhelmed by how rad this is:

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As you can imagine I’m pretty excited. You should be too.