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February 16th, 2015

The Prompt Byte: February 16, 2015

The Prompt Byte: February 16, 2015




dividing line Prompt Byte

The how-to newsletter from Prompt PR

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London


22 Upper Ground

Eighth Floor

London

SE1 9PD


Boston


745 Atlantic Ave

Third Floor

Boston

MA 02111


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Welcome…

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This past weekend we celebrated Valentine’s Day, and the Prompt team is still thinking about love. How much we love public relations, copywriting, social media, crowdfunding, WordPress – the list goes on. This week, we’re particularly in love with boilerplates, the effect using the word effect could have on your writing, more polished podcasts, and more.

Did you try and guess the voice behind last week’s Geek Speak? The answer is none other than Bill Gates. Don’t forget to let us know your thoughts this week on Twitter.

Hazel

Hazel Butters

CEO

Prompt PR

Twitter: @PromptLondon and @PromptBoston

Facebook: Prompt London and Prompt Boston

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How to
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How to draft a boilerplate

(one that people won’t hate / laugh at / ignore)

The term ‘boilerplate’ hails from the earliest days of printing. Text that would be used repeatedly and unchanged, such as syndicated or standing copy, would be cast in metal and distributed directly to newspapers by suppliers such as Western Union. Today it is still used to describe text (or code) that is used repeatedly and without change. In the world of PR, it most commonly refers to the paragraph (or two) at the end of a press release that describes a company and what it does.

Perhaps because typing on a screen is a simpler process than casting words in metal, a lazy paradox has developed in a number of modern boilerplates. Often the more that is written, the less useful information is actually shared. Here are some tips to keep in mind when writing a boilerplate yourself:

• It’s not War and Peace. If your boilerplate is more than two paragraphs in length then we’d recommend tightening it so that it only contains useful, factual information

• Don’t be vague and state things such as ‘a leading provider of soup-to-nuts solutions’. We know it’s hard for companies to resist the self-proclamation trap, but try to be as informative as possible

• Just the facts. The notion of a boilerplate is to help people (i.e. the press) that don’t know your company, understand what it does, where it is and so on. Include essential facts such as what your company manufactures, who it serves, where its headquarters is, how large it is, and whether it is public or private

• Include numbers. Wherever possible, share relevant numbers, such as the size of your company in terms of employees, locations or turnover. How many years have you been in business for? How large is your retail or reseller base? How many countries do you operate in?

• Demonstrate success. How many customers do you have? Can you name some high profile customers as examples? Include any highly acclaimed awards, but don’t talk about that obscure thing you won back in 2002; it looks desperate

• Avoid acronyms, jargon or terms that won’t be understood by people outside your immediate market

• Add stock tickers if you are publically held. Include your URL and any links to social media feeds that you are active on. Only include phone numbers if they’re relevant to the geographies you are sharing the release in – i.e. don’t include ‘Call us on 0800-boilerplate’ if you are only distributing the release in the UK

• Keep it updated, fresh and relevant

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How to
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CoPatient

Working in technology hubs on either side of the pond, at Prompt we’re always keen to get to know more about the innovators on our doorsteps in Boston and London. Each week, we’ll interview a local startup to learn more about technology and inspiration that can be found at home.

Today, we’ll hear from Rebecca Palm, co-founder of CoPatient; a system designed to help enable patients to manage and minimize medical expenses.

Tell us a bit about what CoPatient is all about and how it got started.

It all started while my co-founder, Katie Vahle, and I were working at AthenaHealth. We consistently noticed that people weren’t paying their medical bills on time. Through research, we found that people were actually just confused and skeptical about what they owed with no resources to guide them. Together, we left Athena to create a technology driven, patient-centric solution. Just like that, CoPatient was born. CoPatient acts as every consumer’s trusted advisor for healthcare bills. We review and negotiate bills on the consumer’s behalf and typically find errors or overcharges on 80% of the bills we review.

Read more, here.

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App of the week
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Overcast


Overcast

Apple’s Podcasts app has been under fire ever since its breakaway from Music with the launch of iOS 7. Users hate its clunky interface, the need to configure options in iOS General Settings, constant syncing and download errors, system crashes and more. Worse still, it comes perma-loaded with iOS 8 and you cannot get rid of it. So that’s another app to shove in your ‘Junk I don’t need but cannot delete’ folder along with all the other Apple apps you’ve found better alternatives for. Speaking of which, our current favorite podcast app is Overcast from Marco Arment (creator of Instapaper). Available in free or premium versions, Overcast offers downloads over 3G, remote storage, intelligent playlists, enhanced audio options, smarter search directories, social media integration and a generally happier, more reliable way of keeping up to date with Serial and the rest…

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Affect vs effect

Affect, effect; what’s the difference? One of the most common grammar mistakes could affect (or is that effect?) your entire writing style, and worse, your credibility as an author.

Here is an easy way to distinguish these two words. The term ‘affect’ is almost always used as a verb. ‘Affect’ means to impact or influence an action. ‘Effect’ is usually used as a noun to describe outcome of the action, but it can be also be used as a transitive verb, in which case it means to bring about or make happen. You must always consider the subject and action you are writing about when using either ‘affect’ or ‘effect’.

To make things clearer, here are some examples or the usage of these two tricky and occasionally interchangeable words:

Here are some examples or the usage of these two tricky, and sometimes interchangeable words:

• Incorrect grammar affects the quality of a piece of writing

• This Prompt grammar tip has had a great effect on my writing skills

• How can I affect the result? What will the effect be?

Got a grammar question? Email us at grammar@prompt-pr.com.

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Linking PR to sales: The metric that matters

This week we’re banging the drum about our commitment to PR linking back to sales. We think that it is so important, we developed PRISM — our ‘PR and Insight Sales-based Marketing’ methodology. PRISM outlines steps and processes to help technology companies to target, plan and execute sales-guided PR and marketing. While whitepapers, messaging documents, visibility, understanding, engaging influencers and securing column inches are each valuable, every businesses need sales to simply exist.

If you’re a technology start-up, you know that you need PR and marketing, but more than anything you first need sales. Please register for one of our Friday webinars. We’ll show you how to communicate, connect and sell. Sign up today and attend ‘Get more customers: A sales workshop for technology startups‘.

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App of the week
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PBX

A private branch exchange, or PBX, is the traditional on-premises business telephone exchange switching system, used to manage all the telephone lines and other telecommunications services required by a business or private organization. It manages internal and external calls, handles connections with the public switched telephone network (PSTN) and can also provide more sophisticated service such as conferencing, caller ID, call forwarding, paging, missed call notifications and more. The biggest downsides to an on-premises PBX were always the initial price of the equipment together with ongoing management and maintenance overheads. Today the majority of organizations — particularly rapidly expanding small businesses — instead opt for a secure, managed, virtual / cloud-based communications platform. These systems deliver all the functions of a traditional PBX (plus many more sophisticated features) as a flexible service that adapts and grows with changing business needs.

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Geek speak
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“Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.”

Without the help of Google, can you identify the voice behind this quote?

Tweet us at @PromptBoston and @PromptLondon if you can.

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Contact Prompt
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We hope you find our newsletter an interesting read. For any feedback on our newsletter, or to discuss how we can help you with your PR, marketing, social media/blogging initiatives, copywriting or surveys, please contact us using the details below. We are always delighted to hear from you.


London


22 Upper Ground

Eighth Floor

London

SE1 9PD


Boston


745 Atlantic Ave

Third Floor

Boston

MA 02111

info@prompt-pr.com | www.prompt-pr.com

space man
Prompt

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Copyright Prompt Communications 2015. All Rights Reserved.

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February 16th, 2015

The Prompt Byte – Rising Stars: CoPatient

The Prompt Byte – Rising Stars: CoPatient

Prompt works out of technology hubs on either side of the pond, and we’re always keen to get to know more about the innovators on our doorsteps in Boston and London. Each week, we’ll interview a local startup to learn more about the technology and inspiration that can be found at home.

This week we hear from Rebecca Palm, co-founder of CoPatient; a system designed to help enable patients to manage and minimize medical expenses.

Please tell us more about CoPatient and how you got started.

It all started while my co-founder Katie Vahle and I were working at AthenaHealth. We consistently noticed that people weren’t paying their medical bills on time. Through research we found that people were actually just confused and skeptical about what they owed, and had no resources to guide them. Together we left Athena to create a technology driven, patient-centric solution. Just like that, CoPatient was born. CoPatient acts as every consumer’s trusted advisor for healthcare bills. We review and negotiate bills on each consumer’s behalf and typically find errors or overcharges on 80% of the bills we review.

What does innovation mean to you?

I think of innovation pretty simply. It really is just solving a problem in a new way to make a positive difference.

Why do you think Boston is such a hotbed for innovation?

We have so many highly rated institutions in the area bringing top-level intellectuals to the city. Mayor Marty Walsh is also making great efforts to support innovation and the success of startups. I know that he is appointing a ‘startup czar’ to help entrepreneurs thrive, and is also in the process of implementing a cross-departmental Office of Analytics to bring big data to city operations.

Do you have any concerns about Boston’s growth and innovation culture?

My biggest concern about growth and innovation in Boston is that the infrastructure and cost of living is prohibitive, making it hard for younger people to live in the city.

Describe some of the trends and challenges you’ve seen in the Boston tech scene?

Collaboration and community learning are very hot topics right now. Our office is located at WeWork, which is a co-working office space community. It has been described as a ‘physical social network’. Places like this are becoming more and more common today, allowing startups to collaborate, lean on each other and develop an entire community. In a cutthroat world, that is a great backbone to have.

If you weren’t based in Boston which city or country would you want to be in and why?

Hands down it would have to be Chicago. It offers so many of the same benefits as Boston, but on a larger and yet more affordable basis. It is also a major transportation hub, making it incredibly valuable.

Name one piece of technology you’ve bought personally that you love – either recently or in the past – and why you bought it.

While today it is considered outdated and old, I really loved the very first Nav System for my car. I remember that for my first job, I was constantly traveling and had to buy these massive foldout maps. Getting my hands on that little computer just changed my whole world.

To learn more about CoPatient, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

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February 6th, 2015

The Prompt Byte: Rising stars – Usability 24/7

The Prompt Byte: Rising stars – Usability 24/7

Working in technology hubs on both side of the Atlantic, we’re always keen to know more about the innovators on our doorsteps in Boston and London. Each week in our newsletter – The Prompt Byte – we interview a local startup to learn more about technology and inspiration that can be found at home.

This week, we garnered some great insights from Paul Blunden, creator of Usability 24/7 – a UK-based innovator revolutionizing multi-platform user experience. Get in touch with them on Twitter at @Usability247.

  1. What does innovation mean to you?

Innovation is all about improvement. In some instances it means being brave enough to challenge the system. In others, it involves painstaking work to bring about incremental gains that result in positive change. It can be the work of one person or a team collaborating. It may not be a lightning bolt moment, but instead something seemingly trivial that still brings about a positive change. In the age in which we live technology is very exciting, but it is not the limit of innovation. In my view process innovation can be just as rewarding.

  1. Please tell us about Usability24/7’s vision.

Our vision is to change the world one interface at a time (if we have to). We want everything to be usable everywhere, for everyone all of the time. If we achieve this then it will be better for businesses and better for consumers. No one has ever disputed the ROI of user experience (UX) and usability research with me. In fact, most agree that it’s a good thing. And yet not all companies invest in it. I set up Usability24/7 to address this contradiction. In order to achieve our vision we are building an international network of senior, experienced UX researchers accredited to our quality standards. We are making sure that they are familiar with our methodologies, all of which have been designed to be repeatable so that outcomes are not entirely determined by those conducting the research. We’re structuring our services in a pragmatic way so that our customers don’t feel that they are paying for things they don’t need. We have invested in technologies to allow us to conduct research with almost any device in almost any location, and then stream that research to the client wherever they may be. If the client doesn’t want a report then that’s fine; we simply provide a verbal debrief instead. It’s all about being customer-centric and delivering services that are easier to understand and buy, while at the same time ensuring that the value in the deliverable is clear for the client.

  1. What do you predict or look forward to in 2015 with regards to London’s innovation culture?

It’s a really exciting time for London. We’re attracting talented people and combining that talent pool with investment capital and facilities. Incubators and hubs like the Google Campus are providing an environment where people can get together and develop their ideas. The job market for graduates is tough but I think that may drive innovation too. Young people, who can often be more fearless around innovation, strive for opportunities for work experience, and work harder to get their ideas off the ground. Major technology brands are injecting greater funds into the digital industry and driving individuals and organisations to be more innovative. This enables places like the Flux Innovation Lounge, which is genuinely driving innovation, to exist at all. Ten years ago these levels of financial investment simply weren’t available from big brands, and so the scale of innovation was different and the culture more constrained.

 

  1. What trends and challenges have you seen in the London technology scene?

A slightly worrying trend I have seen over the past few years is that in some areas innovation and design seems to have become disconnected with users. UX designers are increasingly expected to act as proxy for understanding the user, but not everyone is Jonathan Ive! This is a major challenge because as mobile adoption has increased our understanding of user behaviour struggles to keep pace. Users, consumers, customers – whatever we want to call them – are using technology in ways that we don’t fully understand. For example, users complete activities across smartphones, tablets, PCs and laptops, often using all devices to complete a single task. Technology is not designed to track that diversity of horizontal behaviour, and is generally more suited to vertical action. This situation is going to become more complicated with the arrival of wearable technology into the main stream (think Michael Gove’s smartwatch), swiftly followed by different interface and display metaphors. All this in addition to putting remote drones in the hands of the public at large! With so much innovation and new technology reaching consumers, ensuring that it supports user behaviour is a major challenge. It can make or break an idea, however good that idea is. Innovators need to find new ways to understand users, get their ideas tested, and not be put off by failure.

  1. If you could meet any single innovator (alive or historical) over a coffee, who would you like to meet? What would you ask them or tell them about?

I’d like to meet Sir Ken Robinson, an innovator in the area of creativity in business and in education. I think he has answered almost every question I have about how we can help people be more creative so I would simply tell him what a profound impact he has had on me and the way I think about myself, run my business, motivate my colleagues and bring up my children.

  1. Please name a piece of technology you’ve bought personally that you really wanted, and why you bought it.

I’d prefer to talk about a number of pieces of usability technology which together fix a big problem in mobile research. It took me months to identify all the elements and work out how to use them together, but what they do is enable us to intelligently research people using mobile phones. The only alternative methods available previously involved attaching a camera to a phone or a person, and then have a researcher lean over the shoulder of the participant. Either that or use a software solution like Reflector which often proved unreliable over wireless networks. The new technology I’ve assembled now allows me to display the screen of a mobile phone on a test laptop which a researcher can see easily. We can then record and even stream the results to clients viewing remotely. It has literally changed the way in which we work, and it’s brilliant.

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