Q&A with Matt Coolidge: Bringing the cool to PR

MCheadshot (1)x.jpgMatt Coolidge came to Bateman Group a couple of months ago with a love for PR, travel and Thai food. He brings not only a unique and devoted work ethic to the team, but also a sense of humor that is guaranteed to turn any frown upside down (a turn of phrase guaranteed to generate an eye roll given his dry sense of humor). As an account manager, Matt is a very busy man but we were curious to know more. He took the time this week to sit down and talk about his story.

How did you become interested in PR?

I went to college in Washington, D.C. with the intention of getting into politics. But, after spending four years there, I learned that I actually wanted nothing to do with politics. I had worked at a small lobbying firm in D.C. that focused on incredibly progressive, feel-good industries like coal and insecticides. It was tough because when I graduated college, the economic climate was pretty bad; while I enjoyed lobbying in theory, I was less than enthused with the areas I was working on and it still wasn’t a full time position to boot. So, I made the incredibly responsible decision to move out to San Francisco with a friend on a whim. There weren’t a whole lot of lobbying jobs available, but, since PR and lobbying have some similarities, I was able to catch on as an intern at a local PR firm. And the rest is history.

What made you chose Bateman Group? What’s your impression of the company thus far?

Bateman has a tendency to make unconventional hires, which I think lends to more creativity in overall approach — not to mention an extremely intelligent office lacking groupthink mentality. That’s one — the other is the fact that it’s a boutique agency with an extremely low churn rate in terms of both client roster and employees; it’s a great business model, and you have easy access to the most senior levels of management. Basically, your voice is always going to be heard, and it’s the antithesis of the overly bureaucratic model you tend to find at larger agencies which is just plain awful and doesn’t help with career development at all.

Tell me about what you do at Bateman Group. What is your favorite part about working in PR?

I work closely with the account teams and help to bridge the gap between our internal teams and clients. Sometimes it can feel like you’re the middle man because it’s a job of making sure that everyone stays happy and on the same page in terms of the larger account strategy. I really love my job because I have the privilege of working at a great agency with incredibly talented people. That always makes a big difference. Working with such an intelligent, motivated group really drives everybody to do their best work and push beyond their perceived comfort zones. One of the best parts of working in PR is the relationships you make and the people you meet along the way. So it’s great to have the opportunity to work with this group.

What do you like best about living in NYC?

You’d be surprised how nice everybody is on the subway at rush hour every morning. You can strike up a conversation about anything and everything… Kidding! It’s a nightmare, as you’d expect (shout out to the F train!). Really though, I love living in New York. It’s got an energy about it that’s unlike anywhere else I’ve ever visited – but I really miss the burritos at the taco trucks in San Francisco. There’s never a huge line and they’re cheap as hell.

What are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about travel, learning new languages and meeting new people. I speak Arabic and my goal is to keep working at it until I’m totally fluent. My major in college was Middle Eastern studies, so I still read all of these super geeky and obscure foreign affairs blogs. I’ve also gotten into rock climbing recently; I guess you’d call that one a budding passion.

What is the best dish you can cook?

I really like to cook Thai food. I make a delicious Khao soi, which is like a curry-based noodle soup with chicken. I always find myself perusing the stalls at random Thai markets in Brooklyn looking for good ingredients—much to the bemusement of all of the little old ladies that are there.

What countries have you traveled to?

Before I started at Bateman Group, I spent six months traveling around China, Southeast Asia and India. It was a great time that yielded many stories (including plenty of notable bouts with food poisoning). I’ve also spent time in the Middle East, Europe and Central America. I want to plan my next big trip around Ethiopia; I’ve always wanted to go there for some reason.

What advice can you offer to aspiring PR professionals?

Be creative and don’t initially marry your goals to pursuing a career in PR. Some of the most successful people in PR come from really eclectic backgrounds. Having lots of different skillsets can really help you stand out in PR. If you’re a smart person that can write, be creative and think outside the box, it’s definitely a career avenue to consider – it doesn’t matter if you weren’t a comms major. You should also find a mentor as early in your career as possible, and work to identify and pursue goals with him or her. Avoid tying yourself entirely to one industry early in your career. Work on developing a broad expertise and seeing what sticks. Also, learn to bill by the hour. By the way, that’ll be six hundred and seventy-two dollars…

 

 

July Recap: Got $10 Billion? Buy CNN… Or Snapchat

July bombarded us with world events too depressing to recap. In the midst of this madness, we banded together and watched soccer, wishing we could be best friends with Tim Howard as he made a record-setting 16 saves in a single game. Otherwise, we didn’t have much to cheer about.

During this dearth of good news, Jon Stewart decided we should take over America’s first 24-hour cable news network. Stewart launched a $10 billion Kickstarter campaign to buy CNN, “confident that we can do better.”  By the miracle of crowdfunding, “CNN will belong to the people.” Stewart is asking viewers to submit their ideas to LetsBuyCNN.com. New slogans include, “CNN: if you’re watching this, your flight’s been canceled.” Take that, Rupert.

The peer-to-peer platform pranks don’t end there. Two brothers, Maksym and Denys Pashanin, squeezed $40,000 out of Kickstarter donors before taking their sharing economy shenanigans one step further. The brothers have been squatting in an Airbnb rental in Palm Springs since May, invoking California renter’s rights. Both Airbnb and Kickstarter have banned the brothers, but not before Maksym defiantly commented about his squatting experience on Kickstarter. “10/10, would squat again,” he wrote.

Squatting, swindling bros aren’t the only ones making money. LinkedIn announced its Q2 earnings and reported a 47% year-over-year increase in revenue. While 60 percent of Q2 revenue was driven by LinkedIn “talent solutions” products, which are aimed at helping recruiters attract new hires, the company is also investing in its professional publishing platform and sponsored updates. LinkedIn recently announced a new product called “Sales Navigator” that connects salespeople and buyers and is targeted at enterprise customers.

Like LinkedIn, Twitter’s stock soared after the company’s Q2 earnings call, during which it reported $312 million in revenue. What’s more, Twitter announced that a staggering 81% of its ad revenue comes from mobile advertising. #MobileFTW.

Facebook also announced rising profits driven by mobile ads, with 62% of its ad revenue driven by mobile. Shortly following Q2 earnings, Facebook took a step toward achieving its goal of expanding Internet access. The company announced a new app for Internet.org, a partnership with other tech companies to bring wireless access to developing parts of the world. The Internet.org app is currently available in Zambia — though Facebook plans to bring the app to other countries in the near future. The app allows users to access certain services (including Facebook) via a local wireless carrier.

Meanwhile, Instagram launched a slightly less altruistic app called Bolt, which is eerily similar to Snapchat. Currently available in limited countries, Bolt allows users to share fast-disappearing photos and videos with their friends. Despite this new competition — and some questionable judgment demonstrated by CEO Evan Spiegal in the recent past — Snapchat seems to be doing just fine. A new round from Alibaba could value Snapchat at a whopping $10 billion.

Do people just look at pictures? OkCupid thinks so, according to studies conducted on its users. The online dating website has been getting flak for this experimentation, which involved intentionally mismatching people to analyze their reactions. A blog post by co-founder Christian Rudder claimed no wrongdoing, asserting “that’s how websites work”.

We noticed recently that people didn’t like it when Facebook “experimented” with their news feed. Even the FTC is getting involved. But guess what, everybody: if you use the Internet, you’re the subject of hundreds of experiments at any given time, on every site. That’s how websites work. 

In more serious breaches of trust, Canadian officials claimed that Chinese hackers broke into a network for the National Research Council, though Beijing has denied the allegations. Is high-tech espionage such a threat that government officials need to eschew email altogether? Some politicians in Germany think so. Patrick Sensburg, the head of the NSA inquiry in Germany, claims that the government has considered a return to manual typewriters for sensitive documents.

Reverting to typewriters won’t protect you from actual theft, however. Earlier this month, 20 criminals dressed as Samsung employees, entered a factory in Brazil and stole an estimated $6.5 million worth of tablets, smartphones and notebooks. No one was hurt, and the thieves remain at large.

If you need something to cheer you up as more bad news crawls across the CNN ticker, don’t read up on cyber-security — or the physical security of hardware factories, for that matter. Instead, consider investing in some tech shares. And if that doesn’t work, you could always indulge in a guilty pleasure. We’re excited for Sharknado 2, the SyFy sequel that promises a cyclone of carnivores, chainsaws and Tara Reid — this time taking a bite out of New York City. Even if the cinematic value disappoints, you’ll be able to keep up with the Twitter banter.

Q&A with Katrina Dene, Intern Turned PR Pro

What do you do at Bateman Group?

I’m a senior associate at Bateman Group supporting enterprise, mobile and security accounts.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

What I love most about my job is that every day is different, and every day is an opportunity to learn. I truly believe that each of my clients is disrupting their respective industries and appreciate the opportunity to work with people who are truly innovative (although I know that word is grossly over-used in this industry). That’s what excites me about coming to work every day. I also love working with everyone here at the agency. The people at Bateman are amazing, and together we are unstoppable!

How did you first get into PR?

I was giving a speech right after graduating from high school, and someone came up to me after and offered me a job. Like any 18 year old kid, I jumped at the chance to be a marketing intern for one of the largest app publishers in the world (at the time looking to launch in America). When the summer was over, I left for the University of Oregon to pursue my intended sports journalism degree. Six months later, my boss emailed me about being a marketing intern again for his new company. However, I had since decided to take a PR class out of curiosity and found that PR was a perfect balance between marketing and journalism. So my boss convinced Bateman Group to let me tag around for a summer, and I never left.

What 5 adjectives would you use to describe Bateman’s company culture?

Smart, goofy, diverse, driven, strategic.

Pick two celebrities to be your parents.

I would pick Jessica Alba to be my mom because she is beautiful and an amazing role model. For my dad, I would choose Jimmy Fallon because I can always use a good laugh.

What kitchen utensil would you be and why?

I would be a spork because while it may look a little odd, the spork is the scrappiest of utensils.

If you could be any character in fiction, who would you be and why?

I would be Hermione Granger, because she is smart and ambitious, and uses her powers for good.

What song best describes your work ethic?

“Don’t Stop Believin” by Journey!

What is the last book you read?

Mindy Kaling’s book, “Is everyone hanging out without me?”

 

Bateman Group’s Client Spotlight 7.25.2014

Facebook’s Q2 earnings wasn’t the only heel-clicking news dominating headlines this week. Following Zuckerberg’s conference call, Greats Brand — dubbed the Warby Parker of men’s footwear — reported the company has sold over $100,000 in shoes, projecting a $1.6 million million run rate for the year, according to TechCrunch.

So what else was happening in the world of technology? Bateman clients had a few stories of their own to share this week. In summary, Ping Identity had three product releases this week, securing coverage from Forbes and InfoWorld, while EchoUser was featured in UX Magazine and Netskope was recognized in CRN’s “25 Coolest Emerging Vendors For 2014.”

Fruit Ninja and other familiar game brands are bubbling up again on the mobile download charts,” VentureBeat – Jeff Grubb of VentureBeat published his piece on App Annie’s June 2014 Games Index. He focused on the fact that a number of recognizable games and sequels, such as Angry Birds Epic and Bubble Witch Saga 2, are moving up the iOS and Android ranks.

Ping Identity Ups The Identity Game — Heralds The ‘Post Password’ Era,” Forbes – At its annual Cloud Identity Summit, Ping Identity unveiled a raft of new features aimed to deliver what it calls the “Post Password” era. Ben Kepes of Forbes published a feature on the announcement, which included PingID, Federated Access Management and PingOne Summer.

Is there Room for Sexy in Enterprise Design?,” UX Magazine – Mick McGee, CEO and co-founder of EchoUser, shines light on designing for enterprise customers with their emotions in mind in this contributed piece.

The voice renaissance: Why Amazon and Apple are returning to the roots of mobile,” VentureBeat – This guest post by Invoca President Eric Holmen describes how tech giants– specifically Amazon and Apple– are enabling the resurgence of voice communication with features like the Fire Phone’s Firefly and continuity features in OS X Yosemite.

The 25 Coolest Emerging Vendors For 2014,” CRN – This slideshow post by Rick Whiting features CEO of Netskope, Sanjay Beri as part of CRN’s 25 coolest emerging vendors. The post looks into hot IT startups making an impact in technology and leveraging the value of good channel partnerships.

How to successfully combine marketing and IT,” iMedia Connection – In this byline, Sitecore’s VP of North American Marketing, James Smith, shares best practices for marketers to increase influence within organizations and earn a standing place in business-critical decision-making processes. He explores the current relationship between marketing and IT departments, and how the two can powerfully work together to enhance digital marketing programs.

RelateIQ and Salesforce: It’s not just about data science,” VentureBeat – In this contributed piece, Clari CEO Andy Byrne reflects on Salesforce’s acquisition of RelateIQ and its implications for the future of CRM. Andy used the acquisition to insert his voice and establish thought leadership.

Ping Identity wants to replace sign-ons with smartphones,” InfoWorld – Serdar Yegulalp of InfoWorld published his piece on PingID, an app that allows end users to swipe their smartphone for authentication as a primary or second factor to access applications and services. The app is a step forward in bringing everyone into the post-password era and redefining next gen identity.

Make and Share Your Videos the Easy Way,” Kim Komando – America’s Digital Goddess, Kim Komando, reviewed the Animoto video maker. Highlighting its ease of use and functionality, Kim gives the scoop on how Animoto can be used personally and for business.

 

Native advertising is riding a monster mobile wave

Intel presented at the Native Advertising Summit in San Francisco this week.

Argue all you want about native advertising, but it’s the new reality of a mobile world.

Facebook’s second-quarter earnings report on Wednesday underscored the increasing relevance of mobile users for ad dollars. Mobile daily active users surged to a whopping 654 million, up 39% from a year ago. The social juggernaut scored mobile ad revenue of $1.7 billion in the quarter, or 62% of its ad sales in the period, up from 41% a year ago.

Most of those ads were likely native ones. On mobile, there’s really no other way to effectively advertise to us without putting it front and center in our Newsfeed, of course. Think of all those app install offers you see. Would you rather get interrupted with a hijacking interstitial ad that takes over your full screen? For advertisers, the mobile alternatives to native ads aren’t good.

Mobile advertising was top of mind at the Native Advertising Summit sponsored by Sharethrough this week in San Francisco. USA Today’s Chris Pirrone, general manager of its Sports Media Group, spoke of the challenges of advertising to audiences on mobile. “How do I get brands impact on mobile?” he said at the event. Native ads, he added, can help publishers make money without annoying readers with pop-ups

Like Facebook, traditional publishers are seeing huge growth from mobile audiences. Kelly Andresen, director of ad innovations and product strategy at The Washington Post, told those at the advertising summit that with native ads it’s all about “time spent” and figuring out “why your audiences are engaging with content.” The Post sees about 50 percent of its traffic from mobile, she said. “More clients are asking us to advise what’s the best way for us to tell our story to your audience,” she added.

Publishers sometimes have to shoot down companies seeking native advertising because they are a bad brand fit for their audience. “When you have very engaged readers … there is still a sense of ownership over everything we do,” said James Del, executive director at Gawker, at the event. Del said that if McDonald’s or Wal-Mart approached Gawker for a native campaign, for example, he really couldn’t tell their story “because it’s a lie.” By turning them down, “We are protecting our brand and them from getting blown up publicly,” he added.

People are exposed to an insane amount of ads, too, so advertisers struggle to be seen. We are confronted with some 3,000 ads daily, said Becky Brown, director of media for Intel. “The old ways of marketing don’t work anymore.”

Native ads don’t have to suck. Here’s why

 

Alex Honnold climbs El Sendero Luminoso in Mexico as captured in video sponsored by The North Face.

 

There’s no question that native advertising is the future. Publishers badly need revenue and companies (or “brands” as they’re called in ad industry parlance) are willing to pay to get their name out of banner ads and into articles alongside editorial. But does the paid-for content have to be a waste of time?

No! There will always be native ads that don’t get clicked on, and many others that will get hits but which are better left unread. (Actually, that’s the case with much of the web, but I digress.)

“Much of the native advertising isn’t good,” Tony Haile, chief executive of Chartbeat, acknowledged during a panel at the Native Advertising Summit yesterday put on by  Sharethrough in San Francisco. He should know — his company does real-time analytics for publishers and content creators. In fact, only one-third of people who click through a headline scroll when it’s a native ad, he said.

The industry knows it’s got a quality problem, and it’s trying to solve it. One way is to push the standards needle by measuring time spent on a webpage rather than just the old Web 2.0 metric of clicks or views. At Upworthy, dubbed the “soulful Buzzfeed” by Fast Company, sponsored posts do much better than regular editorial — triple the views, “attention minutes” and shares. Their main metric is time spent. In fact, they are outsourcing the source code so others can hop on that train.

That measurement can change the dynamics of the business model for native ads, but we still have to figure out what kind of content is making people read full posts and not just the headline. Upworthy’s secret sauce is emotion. That and a healthy dose of data worked for one of the most memorable and successful native ad campaigns to date — the article and infographic from Netflix about women in prisons that published in The New York Times to coincide with the release of the new season of Orange is the New Black. The headline was “Women Inmates: Why the Male Model Doesn’t Work” and one of the pull out quotes was: “When you incarcerate a woman you incarcerate her whole family.” Who could resist that?!

“Time spent with this article, on many days, rivaled some of the top articles on the New York Times from an editorial standpoint,” Kristine Segrist, client lead and digital product development manager at MEC, the agency Netflix worked with on the New York Times ad, said during the Native Advertising Summit. “We can buy page views… but you can’t buy time spent.”

Meaningful content

Sharethrough CEO Dan Greenberg talked about the movement toward “meaningful” content and away from click bait in his keynote at the event. To underline that point he announced the launch of Meaningfulcontent.org, a project aimed at promoting quality content that is under-appreciated through the Sharethrough native ad exchange. What’s meaningful? The criteria is: connection with the subject matter, original thought, advancing an idea, and depth of engagement. And it has to be good content that isn’t getting the eyeballs it deserves.

To be clear, this is not branded content being promoted, but non-branded content (video, articles, etc.) that will be given $1 million worth of promotion and distribution to all the web publishers Sharethrough works with. “On average, every post is getting an extra 10,000 to 20,000 people exposed to it,” Greenberg said.

This effort won’t directly impact the quality of native ads, but it raises the bar for the quality of posts that are getting pushed through the native ad exchange and vying for reader attention. It’s also really interesting because it’s one of the first efforts I’ve heard of where the industry put non-paid content in ad space that could be sold. Like a public service but with the result being content people really want to see, which is usually the furthest thing from what people think of as an ad. What a novel concept!

The three to five pieces of content promoted each week will be chosen by Greenberg, Sharethrough President Patrick Keane, and an advisory board made up of Chartbeat’s Haile; James Buckhouse, head of product innovation and growth at Twitter; Jay Lauf, president and publisher of Quartz; and Evan Hansen, senior editor at Medium.

Medium is attempting to solve the quality problem by providing a platform on which brands and non-brands alike can publish quality content that’s in good company. More than 1,000 posts are published on Medium each day, including from influencers like Elon Musk, David Carr and Anthony Bourdain. The site offers writers good tools and design, and algorithms that push higher signal-to-noise items to the top of the pile, whereas quantity is rewarded more consistently than quality on other sites, according to Hansen, former editor-in-chief of Wired.com.

He didn’t say whether or how many brands are using Medium, but it clearly is a beautiful site with intriguing posts written by respectable journalists and writers like Quinn Norton. And there are no ads, at least in the traditional notion of an ad. Interestingly, the average time spent to read each post is listed along with the author and date at the top. This is what “magazines” will look like in the future.

Inspire me

But back to native ads. We can shift the metrics but how do we get brands to really push the creative and distribute stuff that makes readers laugh, cry, change their lives, make a difference in the world — oh, and share it?

I think the answer is that it comes from the gut. If it’s really just tying a concept back to your product, that’s marketing. But if it resonates with peoples’ emotions and dreams, then it’s more than just content. You know authenticity when you see it.

One company that hits the right chord is The North Face. Tim Malone, head of content at the company, showed a video at the Native Advertising Summit that literally had people in the audience holding their breath. It was a video of a free solo climber 1,500 up on the vertical face of a mountain in Mexico called El Sendero Luminoso. The smile on the climber’s face as he held onto the rock with just his fingers and toes was heartwarming.

“We want to create something to inspire people to do more,” Malone said. “We want to create things that are meaningful to us and not add noise to the conversation.”

That’s a good challenge for all advertisers — create something that moves you emotionally, and the public will follow.