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May 8th, 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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Happy Friday everybody and welcome to another edition of the Prompt Byte. We hope you’ve had a great week and are ready for some new tips.

This week, we talk about ‘social’ acceptable copy, the three things to focus on while gearing up for a product launch and having a good newsletter. And don’t forget – we want to hear your Geek Speak guesses! Get in touch on Twitter.

Happy reading,

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 think about product launches: Vision, authority and impact

At Prompt we help entrepreneurs and businesses launch products: apps, hardware, consumer technologies, innovative gadgets, business products and services, and high-end, complex enterprise products.

Many product launches are driven by a desire to increase sales. But selling your product, service or idea isn’t just about money – it’s about something much bigger than that. It’s about having an impact.

When we are talking to clients on the essential groundwork for effective communication that engages, influence (and helps to drive sales) we work on three core areas: vision, authority and impact.

Vision
This is the purpose behind the company or organization – the why, the reason for existing and the rationale for your anticipated path. In short, this is why your organization exists. It’s important to be clear on your vision, because it’s also the underlying ‘why’ for your product or service. Without a why it’s hard to have a passion. With it, all marketing and sales comes from a place of passion and belief.

Authority

Authority is about sharing your expertise – both in your market and on your product. It’s important to be an authority and consistently demonstrate it. This is why it is important to grasp opportunities to share your views, insights and advice on a market – speak with press, brief industry analysts, share expertise over social media and comment on relevant forums and blogs. Within your company you have experts, so allow them to have their expert opinions – on the market, on what prospects needs to be aware of and to ask – and to express these opinions and demonstrate their authority.

Impact

Impact is about results – not for your organization or company, but the impact your product, service or app has on your users’ lives. Impact could relate to a cause, emotional results, or tangible results such as saving time or money and increasing business efficiency. It’s about the transformation. Sharing examples, transformations and support from existing customers is a great way to help explain this impact to prospects.

Want to hear more about how to define your vision, authority and impact to drive technology sales? Then join our ‘How to drive technology sales’ webinar on May 15 – simply register here.

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App of the week
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Opinion 2


Opinion 2

Opinion Podcasting has been the free podcasting tool of choice for many for some time now. It’s a brilliant little app that allows you to create high-quality audio podcasts, then trim and edit them with natty drag & drop tools that make the whole experience fun and easy. But in its latest update, Opinion 2 has made the logical step to add online publishing and sharing options, removing the need for a third-party export service. Opinion 2 now provides your podcast with its own webpage and an RSS feed — and it’s all still free.

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App of the week
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Linux

The correct way to pronounce the name of this revolutionary open source operating system is NOT ‘line-ux’ to rhyme with ‘mine-ux’ or ‘pine-ux’. The creator of the Linux Kernel has always been very clear that his OS should be referred to as ‘Linux’ to rhyme with ‘Win-ux’, ‘Pin-ux’ or perhaps more pertinently, ‘Finn-ux’. That’s because the Finnish born software engineer is called Linus Benedict Torvalds, and in Scandinavia everybody pronounces Linus with a short ‘I’, not a long ‘I’ like Charlie Brown and Snoopy’s friend. But there’s no need to take our word for it when you can listen to the man himself explaining. The poor chap has been trying to tell everyone since 1991…

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Geek speak
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“Get a pocket computer, try to do what you used to do, yeah.”

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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Copy corner
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Social acceptable copy

There was a time when writing for the web was considered to be a specialist skill, separate from other forms of copywriting. Content was king, but only if it was direct, pithy, succinct, short enough to fit on one screen, and compelling enough to prompt action. Webmasters and writers determined that people online were either too busy or too fickle to devote much attention span to reading tranches of text (while presumably those who preferred to read their news printed on pulped up trees had more time to fritter away digesting long features and turning pages).

Today lines have blurred considerably and pretty much all timely, consumable, disposable writing is published on the web in some form or another. This means that all content must be written with online readers in mind. It’s entirely reasonable to expect a higher degree of skipping, scanning and flicking from someone with multiple sources of information available simultaneously at their fingertips, than just one newspaper on their lap. Immediate copy writing that fits ‘above the fold’ of most computer screens is more likely to get noticed by more people. There’s still space for quality long-form copywriting online, but if anything that initial need for brevity has been compounded further by the ubiquity of small screen mobile devices and social media.

Away from more technical considerations of SEO and keywords then, are there any enduring rules of web writing that remain appropriate for social writing? We can certainly offer half a dozen quick tips that might help if you’re struggling to be heard above the hubbub:

1. Headlines must still work hard whether you are writing a 3,000 word feature or a 200 word blog post. It’s your only chance to seize a reader’s attention with big bold type and hold it for as long as you can. A clever headline is also extremely tempting and easy to forward and share without explanation

2. Only post copy that really matters to somebody, because whether your target readers are devoting 30 seconds to your piece or 30 minutes, they still need to understand clearly why you wrote it in the first place, and why they should care enough to come back for more

3. Try and make readers think ‘huh!’, or better still to utter it out loud in a cryptic way that makes other people nearby say ‘wuh?’ Copy shared is exponentially more valuable than copy swiped away, and those social media buttons are so very easy to click

4. Have faith in good copy and be patient with it. Online writing may sit on the back burner for days, or weeks, and still pick up hits and comments months or years later. Today’s copy is no longer tomorrow’s fish and chip paper

5. Be fresh, make a clear point, and ask for feedback. You’ll quickly lose trust and return visitors if you say the same old woolly things over again and never ask readers what they would like to read

6. Don’t be afraid to go long occasionally. Not everything can be explained sufficiently in 140 characters, one smartphone page, or even above the fold on a laptop screen. Never be afraid to trust your instincts and write your ideas to their natural length if you believe they need room for expression. You can always create teaser posts on your favorite social media platforms that link to the full article for those readers who trust your judgement (and have the social stamina).

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Copy corner
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Newsletters

Do you have a big email list? A small email list? Working to build an email list of any kind? No matter the you’re situation – you should absolutely be sending out e-newsletters.
Over the years, we’ve created countless newsletters for a number of clients. They’re all different lengths, different structures and are send out at different frequencies but they all wielded results.

Newsletters give you the opportunity to educate your potential, existing and past customers about your field and your company. It opens the doors for two-way communication, sparks interest and allows you to leverage existing content in new ways.

I mean, you’re reading this after all — aren’t you?

Not sure where to start? Get in touch today!

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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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April 1st, 2015

The Prompt Byte: April 1, 2015

The Prompt Byte: April 1, 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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Welcome to a mid-week edition of the Prompt Byte! We hope you’re soaring through the days productively.

Today, spare a few seconds to learn what you’ll need to ask for in your upcoming crowdfunding campaign and when it’s right to use an apostrophe. Also keep reading if you’ve ever wondered exactly what a PDF is and why the format exists in the first place.

Here for the answer to last week’s Geek Speak? It was said by actor and writer Al Boliska. Got it right? Then go grab yourself a treat and don’t forget to let us know your guesses this week.

Oh, and have a great week!

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 work out how much to ask for in a crowdfunding campaign

The main point of crowdfunding is, well, to raise funds from a crowd. So you would think that every team heading towards a crowdfunding launch would have carefully done its math. However in our experience this isn’t always true. Every crowdfunder seems to know their financial goal, but the supporting calculations are rarely as strong as they should be.

Some things to consider:

  • It’s important to be very clear not only about how much money you need, but also why you need it, how you will justify the figure to potential backers, and how you plan to spend their money to reach your mission
  • Be very clear about your vision. You need to communicate the core of your ambition so that potential supporters understand precisely which part of the world you want to change and how you intend to achieve it
  • Have a good mix of rewards or perks, and make sure these support your goals. Don’t have too many rewards and don’t do that ‘annoying wedding list’ thing by which you either (a) only have an overwhelming array of cheap low-priced items, or (b) only have options for the big spenders (fridge-freezers, hand-engraved crystal glasses from Paris, grand pianos…)
  • Give insight and details into any operations and finances to date. What have you raised or created so far? How have you spent and managed that money? And how has this past investment helped you to get closer to your mission?
  • Don’t over-ask, however tempting. Because you are fully committed to your campaign you might almost feel like you have to ask for as big a bucketful of cash as possible. But over-asking can make potential backers wary
  • Calculate all the costs of any rewards and add in at least a 20 percent buffer. We’ve seen campaigns slip up on the sudden unexpected costs of a backer event – even on t-shirts
  • If you are offering rewards or perks that must be physically mailed out, be very deliberate and clear about who is paying the shipping costs. If it is you, then be sure you have a buffer for any unexpected changes in delivery charges. For example, we worked on a project with physical perks in which the first items sent backers required an additional piece to be shipped out – at the vendor’s expense
  • Calculate every single manufacturing cost. If you are going to manufacture after crowdfunding, you may be working off estimates, so add in a further 20 percent buffer to ensure you are ready for any nasty surprises
  • Have stretch goals at the ready. Factor these in at the planning stage, so if/when you reach your campaign goal, you are not left scrambling to plan

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Rising stars
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Melius

Prompt works in technology hubs on either side of the pond, so we’re always keen to get to know more about the innovators on our doorsteps in both 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. Recently we chatted with RJ Irving, co-founder and CEO of Melius. This Boston-based startup develops an application that collects your basic financial information and identifies inefficiencies to help improve your money planning for the future.

1) Tell us a bit about Melius.

Melius helps financial advisors with the front-end of their business. Most of the technology built for the financial space is geared toward making existing businesses more efficient. The trouble is that most people cannot build a business. That is where we come in. Melius is a simple tool that advisors use with their prospects to educate them about the building blocks of a strong financial plan. Built into our tool is a direct link between advisors and prospects to accelerate the on-boarding process. Most other fintech companies start with the idea of replacing the advisors all together. Melius is designed to enhance the human relationship, not replace it.

Read more, here.

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App of the week
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Scanner Pro 5


Network Toolbox

Until you actually try and do it, you probably think that you’ve got scanning covered on your smartphone or tablet. Just take a photo, save it and mail it right? But actually doing this for multiple documents in a slick business-class way is another story entirely. The day you actually need this to go well and you find yourself hovering over a scribbled Moleskin on the ‘T’, you’ll remember that you could have bought Scanner Pro5 for less than three bucks. Developed by Readdle, the creators of PDF Office, Scanner Pro 5 transforms your device into a fast and capable scanner that quickly turns any paper document into a PDF ready to upload, mail or send to Dropbox or Evernote. It even does all the tricky edge-detection and geometry stuff for you – very handy for all your crumpled expenses paperwork!

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Copy corner
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Its versus it’s

Ah, yes, the all too familiar confusion of its and it’s. The error is incredibly common and crops up in places one would never imagine, including many corporate websites and brochures. So how do you avoid a mistake that’s so easy to make? Well, it’s easy: Use it’s only when it is a contraction and you mean ‘it is’ or ‘it has’. But always use its and not it’s to mean belonging to it – the word it never takes on an apostrophe when it gets possessive.

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Copy corner
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It’s hard for anyone to buy anything off you if they don’t (a) know you, (b) like you and (c) trust you. One of the best ways that your prospects can get to know, like and trust you is PR. That’s why we think that PR should support sales, and we know that great PR is sales-led. We’re always keen to share our views on PR and how it should support and drive sales.

So we are holding a free 50-minute webinar on Friday April 3 at 11am ET (4pm BST) called: ‘How to drive technology sales with PR’. We’ll repeat the webinar (again, live) on Friday April 10, again at 11am ET. Please register at: http://bit.ly/technology-PR-sales (April 3) or http://bit.ly/tech-PR-sales-April10 (April 10).

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App of the week
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PDF

“On second thought, let’s not go to Camelot – it is a silly place.” Unless of course, you happen to be John Warnock, co-founder of Adobe Systems. Back in 1991, he outlined a document file format that he proposed to be independent of hardware, operating systems or application software. His idea was to make sharing documents easier for users amid a computing scene that was becoming increasingly disparate and fragmented, and relied upon people to use the same systems as each other if they wanted to share information in anything like its original state. Back then Warnock called his fledgling system Camelot, but two years later it was released as the PDF, or Portable Document Format. And 22 years later still, it endures as an enormously popular and accessible specification – particularly for scanning or digitally archiving paper documents.

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Geek speak
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“One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man.”

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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This email was sent to ~Contact.Email~.

You have recieved this email because Prompt Communications thinks you have given it permission to do so.

You can manage your newsletter and email subscriptions here: ~OptOut_15~

or if you want to unsubscribe from all emails from Prompt Communications, Prompt PR, Prompt Ed and Prompt Social then please click on this link: ~OptOut_0~

This email was sent by Prompt Communications

745 Atlantic Avenue, Floor 3 Boston, Massachusetts 02111

United States (857) 277-5140


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By

April 1st, 2015

Rising star: Melius

Rising star: Melius

Prompt works in technology hubs on either side of the pond, so we’re always keen to get to know more about the innovators on our doorsteps in both Boston and London. Each week, we’ll interview a local startup to learn more about the technology and inspiration that can be found right here at home. Recently we chatted with RJ Irving, co-founder and CEO of Melius. This Boston-based startup develops an application that collects your basic financial information and identifies inefficiencies to help improve your money planning for the future.

1)        Tell us a bit about Melius.

Melius helps financial advisors with the front-end of their business. Most of the technology built for the financial space is geared toward making existing businesses more efficient. The trouble is that most people cannot build a business. That is where we come in. Melius is a simple tool that advisors use with their prospects to educate them about the building blocks of a strong financial plan. Built into our tool is a direct link between advisors and prospects to accelerate the on-boarding process. Most other fintech companies start with the idea of replacing the advisors all together. Melius is designed to enhance the human relationship, not replace it.

2)        What does innovation mean to you?

Innovation means so many different things. If I had to narrow it down to two they would be simplification and solving a problem from another angle.

3)        Why is New England such a hotbed for innovation?

As New Englanders it is in our DNA to innovate and look for a better way. A little idea about a government for the people by the people started here. We have been innovators since leaving our homelands to start and create new lives for ourselves.

4)        Do you have any concerns about New England’s growth and innovation culture?

My only concern would be that after this winter more and more people will question why they subject themselves to this climate. Most new businesses are location agnostic and with that freedom it gets harder and harder to endure eight feet of snow and single digit temperatures.

5)        What are some of the trends and challenges you’ve seen in the New England tech scene?

Not all tech companies are setting up shop in downtown Boston. We are seeing tech companies pop up in Portland ME, Western MA, Southern NH – really all over.

6)        If you weren’t based in New England, which city and/or country would you want to be based in and why?

If we were not based here in Boston, we would most likely end up in Denver or Boulder, Colorado. There are great people there, a great vibe, and you still get to experience all the seasons. But even when it does snow in the winter, it can also be 70 the next day. If we left the country there is a great fintech startup scene in Australia which I think we could get used too as well!

7)        If you could meet any single innovator (alive or dead) over a coffee, who would you want to meet?

I would want to have a coffee with Walt Disney. Hands down one of the greatest innovators I have studied. He went $1.5 million in debt in 1937, hot on the heels of the great depression, to make Snow White. It was the first of its kind, a full-length annotated film, and it grossed over $416 million.

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

I just bought a MacBook Air to replace my MacBook Pro. The old one was only five years old, but the difference in weight and speed is night and day.

To learn more about Melius, please visit their website here. To be our next Rising Star, get in touch today

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By

March 23rd, 2015

The Prompt Byte: March 23, 2015

The Prompt Byte: March 23, 2015

Miniature engineers fixing error on chip of motherboard


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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Happy Monday! Welcome to the Prompt Byte. This week we share thoughts on how to plan the distribution of a press release (hint, try to give your PR team more than 10 minutes’ warning); the difference between further and farther; the original meaning of BASIC and introduce you to a digital lost-and-found platform called Rejjee, based in Boston.

Enjoy, and as always, happy reading!

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 time a press release

“We have something new and the press release is going out tomorrow.” It’s a phrase to make any PR consultant shudder.

Yes, if it’s merger-and-acquisition news, or an announcement that simply has to be created and shared with no-excuses urgency, then this is not just permissible but a necessity — and every good PR person is equipped to turn around an important announcement in a limited timeframe.

But if the announcement relates to something more standard: a product that has been in research and development for months or years, a business partnership, news of a new customer sale or implementation, research or survey work that has been compiled, then WHY the need to suddenly throw the news out without taking the time to plan when and how to share it?

As a rough guide, we like to have any news scheduled in a rolling news pipeline, and to have a press release for deliberate pitching at least two weeks before it going to be released ‘in the wild.’ Longer is better, but we realize not frequently possible, and we certainly can and do work with less.

Yes, there are differences in pitching to press in Europe and the United States. There’s a whole different way of working with embargos on both continents, and different press expectations on handling news.

Today many vendors are simply too reliant on just ‘throwing releases on the wire’ and taking Google alerts, syndicated links and temporary online hits as ‘coverage.’ They are not deliberately planning news and miss the opportunity for it to be genuine, relevant and compelling to target press — and that’s a wasted release. You deserve more from your company news. So, take the time to make your announcement shine and ensure it reaches the right journalists, in the right way, and at the right time.

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Rising stars
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Rejjee

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.

Recently, we chatted with Gary O’Neil, founder and CEO of Rejjee — a crowd-sourced lost-and-found platform set to revolutionize the way you find and replace your most prized possessions.

Tell us a bit about Rejjee.

Rejjee is in a category all by itself. We register, report and then replace stolen or lost goods through the use of a smartphone application. We are the first digital platform in lost and found that brings the added bonus of matching users with replacement partners — ensuring that their lost or stolen goods will be returned to them one way or the other.

We work closely with insurance companies, law enforcement and retailers and the platform is free to use for retailers and the community. There is also a public incident-mapping feature — so you can report a stolen item in real time and alert others in the area.

Unlike other finder applications, this is not a battery-driven device vulnerable to technology or process mishaps. It is a complete free SaaS system anybody can use. You can even use Rejjee to find your lost puppy.

Read more, here.

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App of the week
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Network Toolbox


Network Toolbox

This app really is ridiculously cool — if you like that sort of thing. Sure, you’ll need to have spent some hard hours/years sniffing networks and pinging endless silence to really appreciate Network Toolbox. But if you were that soldier then wow, this is like a normal civilian discovering Facebook or FlappyAngries or whatever on their phone for the first time. Get this. For less than five bucks (or four quid) you can analyse local and public networks from your phone. That includes IP and port scanning, rich device and domain information, ping (of course!), FTP/SSH/SFTP client, socket analysis, trace route, spider, Bluetooth detection, SHODAN and Morpheus search integration — too many techy things to throw a screwdriver at, basically. Do you KNOW how much this stuff cost in the 1990s? Well do you? Blimey.

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Copy corner
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Further or farther?

Leading grammatical sources including Oxford English dictionaries increasingly refer to ‘further’ and ‘farther’ as interchangeable synonyms. It’s certainly the case that ‘farther’ is rapidly falling out of common usage, and that ‘further’ can now be used in any context without fear of ridicule or misunderstanding.

However there remains an historical distinction between the two words, and sticklers for grammatical accuracy will still strive to discern between the two in specific contexts. Strictly speaking then, it is preferable to use ‘farther’ in relation to physical distances: “Is the mountain farther away than the river?” “How much farther is it exactly?” This is pretty easy to remember because the word ‘far’ is right there in the word. In all other circumstances though, ‘further’ works just fine: “I’m no further in my understanding.” “Did you get much further with your research?”

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Normally, we utilize this space to bang our own drum, but our hands are getting tired. So we thought we’d let some of our public relations and copywriting customers do the talking for us this week.

“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.” — Rick Burke, aPriori

You can find more testimonials here.

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App of the week
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BASIC

Most people above a certain age will be somewhat familiar with BASIC. For many of us it was the first general-purpose programming language that we bumped into, while ’10 PRINT “HELLO WORLD” 20 GOTO 10’ was frequently the first ‘computer program’ that would-be techies ever wrote. But fewer people know, or have even considered, that BASIC was an acronym. It is, and it stands for ‘Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code.’ The language originated at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire in the early 1960s, to help students outside of scientific disciplines use and understand computers. It was immediately well-loved and extremely successful, shipping with all of the successful microcomputers of the 70s and 80s, becoming established in education systems around the world. It’s less popular today amid a great deal of more advanced competition, but is still significant in the guise of Visual Basic (fundamental in the development of .NET) and, going back to its roots, was recently made available by Nintendo on its 3DS and DSi hand-held gaming consoles.

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Geek speak
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“Do you realize if it weren’t for Edison we’d be watching TV by candlelight?”

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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This email was sent to ~Contact.Email~.

You have recieved this email because Prompt Communications thinks you have given it permission to do so.

You can manage your newsletter and email subscriptions here: ~OptOut_15~

or if you want to unsubscribe from all emails from Prompt Communications, Prompt PR, Prompt Ed and Prompt Social then please click on this link: ~OptOut_0~

This email was sent by Prompt Communications

745 Atlantic Avenue, Floor 3 Boston, Massachusetts 02111

United States (857) 277-5140


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By

March 2nd, 2015

The Prompt Byte – Rising Stars: Riskified

The Prompt Byte – Rising Stars: Riskified

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.

We caught up with Andy Freedman of Riskified; a company dedicated to eliminating the security risks and inefficiencies in the world of eCommerce. The Israeli startup has recently opened a new Boston office and we’re here to find out why.

  1. Tell us a bit about what Riskified is all about and how it got started. Riskified is an end-to-end risk management solution. We help more than 2,000 eCommerce merchants to prevent online fraud by reviewing, approving and guaranteeing their orders. We launched Riskified with a goal to build the world’s best eCommerce fraud team. We stop online fraudsters and allow merchants to focus on growing their business without fear of fraud.
  1. What does innovation mean to you? 
Innovation is the ongoing process of solving real customer pain. It involves endless iteration, learning by doing, and constantly validating your product or service by maintaining an active conversation with customers.
  2. Why is Boston such a hotbed for innovation? 
As an Israeli startup opening our first US offices in Boston, there are several similarities between our two vibrant startup communities. As well as boasting a wealth of talent, Israel and Boston also share a sense of passion and pride for their local ecosystem. Each community seizes every opportunity to collaborate, rejoice in success and be vocal advocates for startups on a global scale.
  3. Do you have any concerns about Boston’s growth and innovation culture?
I think it is natural to fear that successful Boston startups will be lured away into other markets on the promise of greater exposure and financial gains. However I believe that a key driver for the incredible growth we are seeing in Boston is a shared sense of pride in making Boston a global powerhouse across a wide-range of industries.
  4. What are some of the trends and challenges you’ve seen in the Boston tech scene?
Having spent time living in both Palo Alto and Tel Aviv it has been fun to watch Boston’s emergence as a consumer technology powerhouse, alongside traditionally strong industries like SaaS, biotech and robotics. I look forward to seeing Boston continue to attract tech companies of all stages from other global communities – like Israel, Europe and Asia – and continue to expand our international reputation.
  5. If you weren’t based in Boston which city and/or country would you want to be based in and why?
I may be a bit biased but Tel Aviv, hands down. Despite the massive weather upgrade (it will be in the 70s and sunny all next week), the number of game-changing products and services being built in such a small country is inspiring to be around.
  6. Name a piece of technology you’ve bought personally that you love – either recently or in the past – and why you bought it. 
I finally started using my Cuisinart Food Processor that was given to me as a wedding present almost 4 years ago. Now I’m addicted. I’m looking for any recipes to try, so if you’re reading this and have any suggestions, I’m all ears!

To learn more about Riskified, browse their site or follow them on Twitter.

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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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January 8th, 2015

The Prompt Byte: Rising stars – ARTReader

The Prompt Byte: Rising stars – ARTReader

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 Mark Loughran, creator of ARTReader – an appthat will enable you to read faster, work harder and be smarter.

  1. Tell us a bit about what the app is all about and how it got started.

ARTReader was born out of the idea that digital reading could be improved. The existing speed-reading apps out there all made a strong focus on increasing Word Per Minute rates and nothing else. I wanted to see a program that was variable and responded to the changes of the user. Rather than something that improved speed, I wanted a program that simply helped the reader stay focused and engaged. By adding controls for speed and position that could be adjusted in real time, it started to take on the feel of playing a videogame as you read. Reading feels like it can be benefitted so much by data and I didn’t see it out in the market. The idea bounced around in my head and then while through hiking the Appalachian Trail I met another hiker who was interested in working with me. A year passed before we started work with the aim of creating a reading app that could help everyone. We’ve had to work remotely which has its benefits and detriments, but has been a great partnership.

  1. What does innovation mean to you?

To me innovation is simply doing the grunt work that others won’t. The risk element involved with applying resources to an idea that may or may not be profitable. Before I began I seriously considered the question of why didn’t my idea already exist? For the entrepreneur, I think there is a personal rejection of the established hypothesis. At some point all the spreadsheets and MBA’s said it wouldn’t work or wasn’t cost effective, and the innovator is the one attempting to validate a contrarian hypothesis.

  1. Why is New England such a hotbed for innovation?

Having grown up here, I think a lot of it comes from the Puritan work ethic and the winter. People in Boston know how to work hard. Between the education and financial competitiveness, you don’t find any lazy entrepreneurs, and the same goes for Angels or VC’s. A good idea doesn’t cut it in the Northeast, you need to prove you can execute. Out west there seems to be more of a prospector’s mentality, and NYC has some pretension to it. The second factor is the winter or rather the harsh high cost of living. If you don’t make it in Boston, you can’t just float, you have to keep moving. The successes of Boston’s innovative companies are usually not ground breaking, but practical, built on solid foundations and backed by sober investors. What we lack in imagination we make up for in feasibility.

  1. Do you have any concerns about New England  growth and innovation culture?

Too much a fear of making a mistake over missing out on an opportunity. This applies both to the culture at large, but on a micro level to finding talented people. I can’t blame anyone just graduating for not taking a steady paycheck right out the gate, but that’s usually the best time to try out a startup. The big companies snatch up talent and incentivize them to stay; it’s hard with a limited budget to convince talented people of taking a chance. Especially when the winter comes, no one wants to be left without heat so to speak.

  1. What are some of the trends and challenges you’ve seen in the New England tech scene?

The trends I’ve seen most recently involve the resurgence of hardware-based startups. Considering all the phenomenal engineering minds and programs out here it is to be expected, but for a few years prior it felt like all the press and attention was going towards social and healthcare. Now there’s a major focus on building things and companies that make improvements on real products. The marriage of software and hardware in its new form, the Internet of things, is going to bring some really cool innovations in the next decade

  1. If you weren’t based in New England, which city and/or country would you want to be based in and why?

Boulder, CO / Denver, CO. The culture out there is amazingly enthusiastic about changing the world both culturally and practically. The cost of living is lower, and there’s definitely a sense of secondary entrepreneurs; people who work and collectively contribute to their efforts before or after work and on the weekends. The last time I was out there, I met a group starting a business renting out a house as an office, and the cost had me jealous about my own rent. It has that early silicon feel to it, people brimming with potential. The downside was seeing how much of that energy being spent on Ping-Pong and other activities.

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

To this day, the original iPhone I bought still feels special. The whole smart phone thing coming together in the touch screen medium, looking like a miniature monolith, made me feel like I was surfing the cultural crest of the wave. To have access to the worlds information in your hand is still having ripple effects through culture that will continue for the next 20 years. I can remember using my iPhone for the first time and really feeling like the Star Trek era had begun.

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December 12th, 2014

The Prompt Byte: Rising stars – Fund Wisdom

The Prompt Byte: Rising stars – Fund Wisdom

Photo of golden star with light bulbs on red velvet curtain on stageWorking 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.

Today, we talk with Brian Thopsey of Boston-based company Fund Wisdom, a company that connects investors and entrepreneurs with financial wisdom and investment opportunities from platforms like AngelList, SeedInvest, WeFunder and more.

Tell us a bit about Fund Wisdom and how it got started. 

I always wanted to create a successful business and as I began building I learned the difficulties entrepreneurs faced accessing capital. I wished there was a company like Fund Wisdom, a place that connects investors and entrepreneurs with the financial know-how they need. So I found team members like Renato Francia Castillo, Kyle Austin of Beantown Media Ventures, Devin Basinger of Accenture, along with several other advisors and created it.

Fund Wisdom connects investors and entrepreneurs with financial wisdom. We provide investment opportunities, access to capital, and the insight needed to succeed, saving you time and money. Two things you could always use investing and raising money.

The Fund Wisdom team is made up of financial and technology professionals. We bring years of experience in business technology, financial engineering, and early-state capital formation to our clients. We believe we can improve the investment process and bring transparency to the market, providing insight to both investors and entrepreneurs 

What does innovation mean to you?

Innovation is ‘the grind’ – the countless hours entrepreneurs put in to disrupt existing business. These acts of immense effort by teams of incredibly passionate people make life better and improve society as a whole. Now when I discover inventive products and solutions I obsess over how they came to be. Books like ‘The Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz’ and ‘Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days’ by Jessica Livingston describe the grind and what it takes to come out alive. We believe we can bring innovative approaches to financial markets, but understand the only way we will succeed is through dedication to our vision.

Why is New England such a hotbed for innovation?

The top schools, thinkers, dreamers, and investors are in New England. In fact, Massachusetts is the second most venture-funded state in the US. This must be why we see so many awesome companies, and new entrepreneurial resources being created. Companies like Wayfair, Acquia, Adharmonics have been achieving incredible results. Offices for startups are popping up everywhere, like NGIN Workplace where we currently work, and incubator programs like MassChallenge and FinTech Sandbox spur this success. I’m proud to have spent my professional career in the greater Boston area. I feel lucky to be in this incredible place that fosters innovation.

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

Competing for talent with the West Coast has and continues to be a concern. I believe the community at large is shifting to improve the region’s competitiveness, but still has a way to go. We are having success attracting bright experienced students to our internship programs, but I am concerned as we grow and need to hire more full time employees.

What are some of the trends and challenges you’ve seen in the New England tech scene?

We cover four firms currently raising money publicly online, two in Massachusetts, one in New Hampshire and one in Maine. In the short period of time we have been covering the industry we have seen two firms in Massachusetts exceed their goals and successfully raise capital.

If you weren’t based in New England, which city would you want to be based in and why?

San Francisco due to its concentration of technology firms, amount of venture investment, and equity funding platforms. The idea of improving our proximity to these firms is attractive, but we feel lucky to be located in Boston and have no intentions to leave.

Name a piece of technology you’ve bought personally that you love and why you bought it. 

Targeted online advertising platforms. I am surprised by the results from the targeted advertising through search engines, Twitter, and Facebook that we have run. We are targeting accredited investors, or high net worth individuals which I assumed would be very expensive to acquire, and are getting some to sign up with a tiny budget.

Would you like to be our next rising star? Get in touch with us at info@prompt-pr.com!

 

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