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September 25th, 2013

Super-great: Automaticc acquires Cloudup

Super-great: Automaticc acquires Cloudup

“What Google Docs has done with documents, we believe we can do with blog posts” – Automaticc, the team behind WordPress

WordPress logoWe think WordPress is, well, super. We use it ourselves, encourage our clients to use it – we even train companies and individuals on how to use it.  At its core, WordPress makes it easy to share content and ideas.

So today we’re excited, super-excited even, to hear that WordPress has acquired Cloudup.

Not familiar with  it?  Well, when it was launched Cloudup had the mission to ‘share not manage’. It didn’t matter what you wanted to share: videos, pictures, text, music, code – basically anything that is composed of bits and bytes (up to 200MB) – this free platform would allow you to share it through the simplest of three steps: (1) drag (2) drop (3) share. Instantaneously, no wrestling with uploads or waiting. The simplicity cannot be argued with.

We know that the people at Automaticc are super-smart [sidenote, Malachy, our WordPress expert who met some of the Automaticc guys at a recent meetup, also said they’re super-nice], so we know that they have an amazing plan behind this acquisition.

It’s also a pretty local acquisition (local for Prompt Boston, that is) with Cloudup’s backers including local VCs Charles River Ventures (their East Coast office is a floor above @PromptBoston at CIC )and Atlas Ventures.

WordPress is already changing how so many companies think about sharing online content. We’re super-excited about what this means for the future of sharing content and collaborating on WordPress.

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September 24th, 2013

Small and loud: why PR for start-up technology companies is sheer fun

Small and loud: why PR for start-up technology companies is sheer fun

A viewpoint on startup technology PR

PR for startup technology vendors: PR opinion

Startups can have a loud PR voice!

Over the past few weeks we’ve completed some really fun projects for early-stage technology vendors, producing some great results including coverage in Fast Company, Mashable and TechCrunch

At Prompt we love working for technology companies of every possible size*. We feel that it’s important that we can offer quality services and skills to companies at the earlier stages of their maturity. That’s why we offer a comprehensive set of packages designed specifically for start-up technology companies.

It’s difficult to generalise (er, although I’m about to), but there are a number of things that I always enjoy about working with smaller technology vendors:

Enthusiasm for PR that spans the entire working team makes it’s easy to discuss the  results of PR to the whole company

Speedy decision making is far easier for smaller companies in which fewer people usually mean less hierarchy. Signing-off on projects and initiatives generally takes just one (quick) conversation

Being willing to flaunt the rules a bit often leads to more creative and edgier PR; one of the many advantages of having less history in a market

Disruptive new products and technologies bring fresh ideas to the market that challenge the status quo. Large companies can also innovate and deliver exciting products, but small tech vendors are typically launched solely to do just that, which is always fabulous to be part of – and it makes for a great press story.

The downside? Well, if anything it’s that start-up budgets can be more restrictive. But that’s okay for Prompt – we’re creative, great at working with pace and gusto, and did I mention we have specific packages for early stage tech companies?

*Disclaimer: We work for Oracle Corporation, one of the biggest technology companies in the world, and a committed developer and incubator of innovation (ask me for my thoughts on Exadata). Like I said, technology companies of every possible size…

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September 13th, 2013

Why PR and technology make such good bedfellows

Why PR and technology make such good bedfellows

“If I had two dollars left, I would spend one on PR.”

This quote is frequently attributed to Bill Gates, and although I have never found a specific source for it, I’d really like to believe he actually said it. I’ll have to assign it to the category ‘hearsay’ until proven otherwise, but this mantra is still used frequently by PR people as a heavyweight endorsement of their trade, and compelling encouragement for companies to spend their money on PR.

I have to admit I didn’t grow up dreaming of a career in either technology or PR, let alone a combination of the two. I trained in Molecular Pathology, studied Zoology and wrote a dissertation on dinosaur homeothermy (a topic, along with Robert T. Bakker, that I am still fascinated by) before working in cancer research. So when I hear scepticism of the role of PR in communicating the value of technology, I do sympathise. I was equally unconvinced when I started out in PR 16 years ago, working with Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC).

Over time (as well as many press briefings, analyst calls, client meetings, phone interviews and, um, faxes) I came to realise the deep value that PR has in clearly communicating the benefits, features and differentiators of new technologies. Today I can share many thoughts on the subject of why technology and PR go hand-in-hand (or hand-in-glove, to coin the American term), but here are my top five reasons:

1. Complexity. Technology is inherently complex, whether it’s due to the sheer scope and choice available, the underlying scientific know-how, the phenomenal range of features and benefits available to buyers, or the frustration at some vendors’ inabilities to simply state what they sell and what makes them different. The challenge of evaluating, buying, implementing and justifying expenditure on enterprise technology solutions is huge. Public relations, media relations and analyst relations all provide a means to dissect, review and understand this complexity

2. Pace. The sheer pace of technological development is so rapid that I’m surprised we can’t hear it grow like a stand of bamboo. Now, I don’t consider myself to be that old (yes I know I mentioned the whole fax thing earlier), but even in the time I’ve worked in the market, it has evolved constantly. Change is the law of life, and technology is certainly a vivid example. The ways in which consumer and business technologies are developed, viewed, marketed and adopted have changed beyond all recognition. This pace demands our attention, as it alters the way in which we need to communicate, as well as how we live and work. There are so many valuable technology stories to share, so PR must embrace a continuous and newsworthy conveyer belt of innovation

3. Credibility. This is a complex market with more than its fair share of ‘me too’ vendors, as well as an abundance of self-claimed ‘leading providers’. Buyers, investors, potential business partners and employees all need assistance to understand just how credible, unique and innovative these companies really are. The press and analyst communities are key to this clarity, with editors, staffers, freelancers and analysts all keeping a steady eye on the market, evaluating relevance and impact, and sharing their perspective and commentary. You might even argue that this is a key difference between PR and advertising – advertising helps a company claim it has a brilliant, relevant or ground-breaking product or service, while PR allows someone more objective to say the same

4. Reach. The increasingly global application of technologies is expanding all the time. Today it’s not just about competing with your local competitors, because markets are no longer defined by geography, but by technology area. More than ever before it’s crucial to be able to clearly differentiate products and services, and to do it consistently. Relevance and repetition of key message are vital.

5. Buzz. Both PR and technology are disciplines that thrive on excitement, energy, dynamism and invention. The high-tech sector is an amazing and fascinating market to, well, market. As someone who never thought they would end up flourishing in the world of technology, I now feel blessed to be part of such a vibrant, innovative and fun community. Each day I encounter amazing new products and services, ingenious ideas and life-changing concepts. I can no longer even imagine working in a market that wouldn’t have the constant element of surprise and buzz.

Bill Gates [or was it?]: "If I had two dollars left, I would spend one on PR."

Bill Gates [or was it?]: “If I had two dollars left, I would spend one on PR.”

Want to get great PR to impact your technology business? Please get in touch with us to find how we work, to hear more about our new ‘First Byte’ PR packages designed for start-ups: please check out the packages or email us at first@prompt-communications.com

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September 10th, 2013

aPriori signs new European PR contract with Prompt

aPriori signs new European PR contract with Prompt

International agency to continue to drive European media relations for PCM innovator

10 September 2013 Prompt has been appointed by enterprise product cost management software specialist aPriori to run targeted 2014 European media campaigns covering Britain, France and DACH (Germany, Switzerland and Austria).

Headquartered in Concord, Massachusetts, aPriori develops and markets enterprise product cost management software to reduce the costs of products both post- and pre-production. aPriori Product Cost Management software platform is the first solution of its kind that allows companies to maximize savings throughout the development and manufacturing stages. The software provides real-time product cost assessments, enabling discrete manufacturers and product companies to make informed decisions to drive down product costs. aPriori helps world class manufacturing corporations stay on budget and reduce excess spending. The company recently announced $6 million in additional funding on the back of a record financial year which included annual revenue growth of 84% and a 62% increase in customers alongside a fifth year of 90% customer renewals.

Rick Burke, VP of Marketing for aPriori, said: “In Prompt we feel we have found a public relations company that matches our own personality. Together we are goal focused and strategic, targeting relevant media audiences in key territories, and concentrating on very specific markets. Prompt has understood our ambitions to produce some excellent and metric-based results to date including opinion pieces, interviews and coverage in core automobile, aerospace and manufacturing press. We now look forward to continuing our momentum, press coverage and sales-focused PR activities in 2014.”

Prompt is a PR consultancy that has gained significant experience in the technology industry with PR, copywriting and marketing clients from early stage technology companies to global organisations such as Dell and Oracle Corporation. The company also offers early stage companies an introduction to PR with packaged services called ‘First Byte’ with sales-focused, ‘no surprises’ PR, thought leadership, media coverage and sales-related content.

Hazel Butters, CEO, Prompt said: “aPriori is a unique company that provides a high quality product with huge value for any businesses looking for an innovative way to make more informed manufacturing and sourcing decisions that drive significant cost out of products. Rick and his team are great to work with – and they’re incredibly focused, providing our team with the goals and objectives essential for effective, results-driven PR. We very much look forward to continuing our work with aPriori into 2014.”

About aPriori
aPriori software and services generate hard-dollar product cost savings for discrete manufacturing and product innovation companies. Using aPriori’s real-time product cost assessments, employees in engineering, sourcing and manufacturing make more-informed decisions that drive costs out of products pre- and post-production. With aPriori, manufacturers launch products at cost targets, maximize savings in re-work projects and never overpay for sourced parts.

About Prompt Communications

Founded in January 2002, Prompt Communications is a communications agency with European offices in London and US offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts and San Francisco, California. Prompt Communications offers expertise across all marketing disciplines, teaming its consultants’ extensive knowledge of start-ups, technology market with experience of pan-European and American media, analyst and marketing campaigns. Using highly targeted marketing, PR, analyst relations, social media and corporate copywriting initiatives, Prompt helps its clients gain the visibility they need to achieve their business objectives, from increasing sales to enhancing reputation with stakeholders.

Media Contact:
Jackie Fraser | Prompt
Tel: +44 845 053 9121 | +1 617 401 2717

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September 9th, 2013

Technology PR travels: Around the technology world in 80 days – Day #13: Greece

Technology PR travels: Around the technology world in 80 days – Day #13: Greece

Plenty of cheap flights were ready and willing to hop us over to Athens, Greece – the birthplace of democracy as well as pretty much any scientific discipline you’d care to discuss (and we could definitely spend some time doing just that over a cracking moussaka and a bottle or two of Xinomavro…)

Image courtesy of: http://upload.wikimedia.org

Image courtesy of: http://upload.wikimedia.org

A history lesson in Greek innovation really would take some time, but for starters we could certainly attribute the development of gears, screws, mills, metal casting, automatic doors, plumbing, steam power, alarm clocks, and even the Antikythera analogue computer.

The technological prowess of the Ancient Greeks is well known and appreciated – but sadly so is the current economic and industrial malaise of modern Greece. Latest reports from the European Central Bank claim that Greece may need a third bailout – bringing the total level of support to €250 billion since the country’s financial meltdown.

But green shoots of technology now seem to be forcing themselves through all that financial rubble – a necessary but inspiring trend that journalist Alexander Besant attributes to “desperation and 60% youth unemployment”. It’s a small but encouraging movement that could once again transform Greece from a low-tech economy largely reliant on tourism and agriculture, to a renewed hub of creativity and innovation. In the meantime, why not read TechCrunch’s take on the potential rebirth, follow the Microsoft Innovation Center Greece, or check out promising start-ups, such as Bugsense and Pinnatta?

Next time, a voyage to Turkey!

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September 5th, 2013

Technology PR travels: Around the technology world in 80 days – Day #12: Bulgaria

Technology PR travels: Around the technology world in 80 days – Day #12: Bulgaria

Photo courtesy of: http://www.cosmostoursandcruises.co.uk

Photo courtesy of: http://www.cosmostoursandcruises.co.uk

Just a bat’s flit from Bucharest (well, an overnight train) is Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. This ancient city overshadowed by Mount Vitosha is the 15th largest in the EU, with a booming population of more than 1.2 million citizens.

Unsurprisingly Sofia is the business heart of Bulgaria. Following nearly a century of technological advances (Bulgaria was the sixth country in the world with a man in space, and invented the digital watch!) the country experienced a decade of decline in the 1990s, but is now experiencing somewhat of a renaissance in cutting edge technology (it has a national nanotechnology R&D centre, scientists on the ISS, a joint lunar mission with India in the pipeline, and the highest density of certified IT specialists in Europe).

In January 2009, the government approved a 10-year plan for funding scientific development in ‘innovative potential sciences’ (biotechnology, healthcare technology, alternative energy sources, nanotechnology and communications), ‘sustainable development sciences’ and ‘scientific studies for the support of industry’. Scientists from Sofia University and the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) operate the most powerful supercomputer in Eastern Europe, an IBM Blue Gene/P, which resides at the State Agency of Information Technology. BAS scientists also have access to a mothballed electrostatic accelerator, research reactor and neutron generator.

Today Sofia is a major outsourcing location for some of the biggest technology companies in the world, including Apple, HP, IBM, SAP and Siemens. But it is also ‘outsourcing’ expertise of its own – CERN now employs more than 90 Bulgarian scientists with 30 participating in Large Hadron Collider experiments, and maintains a permanent Antarctic research base on Alexander Island!

Next stop? The wonders of Greece!

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September 4th, 2013

Everyone’s a tech marketer (especially tech salespeople)

Everyone’s a tech marketer (especially tech salespeople)

A friend of mine has a great career as a bus mechanic, but nobody seems eager to do what he does for a living, or advise him on how to improve his processes. Compare that to being a tech marketer – or a marketer of any guise (I consider PR, my main discipline and daily dollar, to be a subsection of marketing). Whenever people hear what a marketer is planning, or spy marketing plans scribbled on a whiteboard, they all seem to want to get involved in some way. People voice their opinions, recall their own experiences, and dig out their red pens – it’s just human nature.

Please don’t misunderstand me, it’s not that I think input and opinions are bad things. I enjoy hearing other people’s views, and friends and colleagues who know me well will tell you that I also like to articulate my own opinions -especially on a topic that I’ve chosen to specialise in, such as technology PR; it’s a quality that makes me a good consultant. But there is a specific group that seems to get under the in-house tech marketer’s skin in a way that others can’t. No, not the competition. Not even persistent ‘pay-for-play-it’s-advertising-veiled-as-editorial’ callers. No, I’m talking about tech marketers’ own sales teams.

Time and time again, whether working in-house at software companies, running European-wide marketing campaigns, or partnering with clients from an agency standpoint, I have witnessed unsolicited input from sales get the collective hackles up across a marketing team. But why does this happen? And how can a more productive relationship be achieved?  Well, I believe there are two sides to this problem that must be resolved.

Firstly, sales people need to nurture effective marketing, because their very success – and salary – depends on it. Yes, we all know that some tech sales people are fully marketing-independent, self-sufficient, and proud of their independence. While some of that stance is admirable, it can also create a broken system and not one to boast about. Sales teams need leads – relevant and receptive individuals and businesses that are interested in the products and services being offered. So those sales teams turn to marketing for this interest to be piqued, and for strong messaging with a perfect balance of relevance and swagger (if you hate this word, think ‘market ownership’). Sales people need marketers to help them engage and connect with people they can work with. As they say, nothing happens in business until someone sells something.

And secondly, some marketers need to be a little less defensive. Marketing is a discipline that is spurred by the creation and nurturing of ideas, and so it’s bound to be just a little tempting for other people to want to, well, chip in. Whoever those people or teams are within your company with sudden interest in what you are working on, they really should be applauded and encouraged. After all, it’s no bad thing to have a sales team that is eager. A sales team that wants to see, be involved or have input into marketing should be regarded as a good thing. Just consider the alternative; a sales team that doesn’t care or want to know what marketing has in the pipeline.

What to do if you’re in technology marketing?

So, if you’re a tech marketer that wants to be open and amenable to fresh ideas, but also wants the sales team to stop looking over your shoulder, I’d advise keeping them so busy with hot leads, that they don’t have time to help. Not sure where to start?  Well, if you’re a tech startup then check out our new designed-just-for-you PR packages, or contact us via leads@prompt-communications.com to set up a call to discuss how you can increase leads / distractions for your sales team. 

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