Bits & Pretzels 2017

OMMAX was present at this year’s Bits & Pretzels conference – a 3-day founders festival that connects startups, investors and digital enthusiasts alike. This year Bits and Pretzels hosted Andy Cunningham; she is a Silicon Valley PR veteran and former advisor to Steve Jobs.

She started her lecture with context: in the 20th century, it was commonplace to build and maintain stable relationships with press, who could “broadcast your story and influence your success.” However, in the 21st century, the internet has given companies more control than ever before (in the case of PR) – it has dismantled the press to the point where it is now struggling with their own identity.

As startups or incumbents, the implications are now in our favor, where we can single-handedly craft and deliver our message.

Here are Andy’s 10 recommendations for PR success in the 21st century:

  1. Positioning matters: target a white space and know your role and relevance.
    Describe what you bring to the party – what is your company DNA? Be authentic!
  2. Branding is for the emotional connection: what are you shooting for?
    Build a brand that makes their customers “feel” something i.e. RedBull, the brand exudes thrill and excitement.
  3. Messaging is your virus: infect everything with it.
    A virus is a simple organism that is not replicable. Irrespective of its politics, the Donald Trump campaign crafted a simple yet infectious message is: Make America great again.
  4. Narrative is critical: why your company? Why now?
    Messages are small phrases; narrative is different, it’s your story. Why your company? Why now? One of Andy’s examples was Airbnb; its a company that we all can connect to because of its compelling narrative.
  5. Master your owned, earned and paid channels of distribution.
    Channels can include anything from Google AdWords to commercial advertisements during the Superbowl. Whatever the channel may be, exploit it.
  6. Be relentless in the frequency and consistency of your story.
    Andy chose the BMW brand as the epitome of this commandment – “the ultimate driving machine.”
  7. Build a prodigious digital footprint.
    – Google has revolutionized communications – the ball is now in your court to become visible when your customers search for your product or service.
  8. Influencer marketing is critical.
    Influencers have become inherent within a strong digital marketing strategy. For example, mommy bloggers run profitable businesses that cultivate widespread communities, some bloggers hosting over 30k unique visitors per month.
  9. Event marketing brings your story to life.
    The medium of “live” is unprecedented. If you attend an event and live stream it, you have extended the range of your audience and therefore, multiplied your reach.
  10. PR is like pornography; you know it when you see it.
    PR is obvious and consequently, it drives behavior for a company. Most notably, Uber’s recent PR troubles are so visible that one can feel that the tide had turned against them.

Key take away: you must be visible in today’s digital landscape!

In the context of the 21st century, building your digital presence is the most vital commandment – we as entrepreneurs have our hands on the wheel and are able to steer the direction of our brands. Andy says it best: “The first thing you need to do is build your digital footprint! When journalists or consumers are curious about you, the first impulse is to ‘google’ you. This is your chance to impress them.” You must adapt to today’s digital demands and become visible to your audience. Start with investing time into SEO, expand to Google AdWords for SEA, and make sure your content reflects you – be persistent and tenacious in spreading your story.

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