Consumer transaction tech firm NCR needed to differentiate its small business mobile point-of-sale system, NCR Silver, in a crowded market with products from newer, flashier competitors. The company turned to Atlanta-based Arketi Group to create and execute a media relations plan aimed at gaining visibility with small business owners and establishing Chris Poelma, president and general manager of NCR Silver, as a thought leader in the small business and mobile payments arena.
While a successful entrepreneur before joining NCR, Chris was virtually unknown when compared to executives at rival companies like Lisa Falzone, former CEO at Revel, and Jack Dorsey, CEO at Square. Arketi was essentially tasked with building a thought leader from scratch—a daunting task by any stretch, but especially given the competitors Chris/NCR Silver were up against. Read on to see how Arketi and its client won a Silver Award in the “Best Business Technology Campaign” in Bulldog Reporter’s 2017 Media Relations Awards.
The Challenge: “Before working with Arketi, our client had never done an interview or contributed thought leadership to the publications we needed to target. We were essentially tasked with building a thought leadership strategy from scratch,” says Erica England, Account Supervisor at Arketi Group.
“Having ongoing discussions with our client’s executives to learn which trends they could speak to and what topics they were most passionate about helped our team develop more dynamic pitch angles.”
Research and Planning: Before diving into media outreach, the Arketi team conducted extensive research to identify the best outlets and reporters to target.
“We were intentional in our media outreach. Our team conducted extensive research to identify the best outlets and reporters to target, as well as relevant news hooks,” England explains. “Understanding reporter’s backgrounds before we reached out helped us create more personal and compelling pitches, which ultimately led to great coverage.”
The campaign team did a competitive media analysis to determine how competitors were positioning their solutions and executives in national business media outlets and the top three media outlets (as determined by circulation numbers) within the small business and payments trade media space. Not only did this research help them get a better understanding of how competitors were agenda-setting with the media, but it also revealed openings and opportunities to insert Chris and NCR Silver into the conversation.
Following its competitive media analysis, the Arketi team expanded our research to look at trends reported on within national business, trade small business and payments media outlets, which aided in the development of the firm’s media relations plan, as it enabled them to get a sense of which reporters to develop relationships with and what information would be relevant to what they were covering.
“We used those early media wins to establish credibility for our client and secure more media (and speaking) opportunities where the executives could further demonstrate their expertise on small business and payments trends,” she adds.
Ultimately, all the information the team gathered through research laid the foundation for its strategic media relation plan. They focused their efforts on achieving the following goal and objective:
- Goal: Build awareness of NCR Silver as a complete mobile payments platform for all types of small businesses through thought leadership, and position Chris Poelma as a thought leader on small business operational and technology best practices.
- Objective: Moving beyond reporting overinflated “media placements,” the NCR team did not want to include “news release pick-ups” resulting from simply placing a news story on a paid wire service in its PR measures of success. Rather, the team sought to secure 30 earned media placements in national, technology, payments, and small business-centric media outlets for Chris and NCR Silver during 2016.
The Execution: The tactics executed to meet the goal and objective included:
- Pulling editorial calendars for national and trade media outlets specific to small business and mobile payments; identifying and developing relevant angles to position Chris around; pitching/securing opportunities
- Identifying and securing contributor opportunities within national business publications that cater to the small business and payments audience; when appropriate, drafted articles on Chris’ behalf
- Identifying and developing relationships with national business reporters covering topics pertaining to small business and mobile payments; following their stories and read and react pitching (when appropriate), offering Chris as a source
- Pitching and securing desk side briefings during a media relations tour with national, small business and payments reporters located on the East Coast
“Social media—Twitter specifically—was a critical resource for us as we executed this campaign,” England offers. “We used Twitter in our research efforts as we worked to identify the right reporters and create personalized pitches. Additionally, once a story went live, our agency and the client would promote it on all social media channels tagging the reporter. Many reporters are tasked with driving more ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ for their stories, so in us sharing their work, it helped to further engage the reporter and show our support.”
The Results: Through its efforts, the team secured more than 33 earned media placements. What they achieved surpassed their objective and netted a total reach of 221,208,110—representing the total circulation number with NO pass-on readership multiplier).
“At the beginning of the campaign we sought out to secure 30 high-quality earned media placements in national, technology, payments, and small business-centric media outlets. In the end, we exceeded our objective and secured 18 interviews and 15 bylined articles among media outlets like MSNBC, Entrepreneur, CBS Small Business, The Wall Street Journal, Quartz, Bloomberg, eMarketer and Business Insider,” England relates.
“When setting this objective, it was important for us to think beyond overinflated news release pick-ups and concentrate on securing high-quality interviews and bylined articles in national media outlets relevant to the client’s target audiences. Our team accomplished that and then some! Now, not only are our client’s executives continuously sought out by small business and payments reporters for their expertise, but they also have been invited to speak at national conferences—like Money 2020—sharing the stage with executives from competitive platforms,” England adds.
“I’m truly enamored with your writing, tenacity, follow through on work and delivery. Great venue and great exposure on this piece for NCR, Small Business and Silver. Nicely done,” said Poelma.
Secrets of Success: NCR’s England offers the following takeaway tips from the campaign experience, revealing how you can achieve similar success in your next business technology campaign—and demonstrating how Arketi and its client won a Silver in Bulldog’s 2016 Media Relations Awards:
- Get to know your thought leader. “Our team met with team leaders throughout the year to brainstorm trending topics they could speak in-depth about.”
- Set realistic expectations. “Unfortunately, many executives value quantity over quality and view news release pick up as a measure of media relations success. Educating the client on the type of media coverage that will drive value and setting realistic goals around coverage helps keep everyone on track and satisfied with the results.”
- Research reporters. “The more you know about a reporter’s beat and interests, the better you can deliver for them. Continuously providing relevant sources and story ideas to reporters builds trust in your clients and you.”
- Use smaller opportunities to drive bigger opportunities. “Don’t be afraid to use early wins as examples when pitching other, maybe even bigger opportunities. It can give reporters a glimpse into your client’s level of expertise.”