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Digital

Can This Software Write a Better Pitch Than a PR Pro?

18gnoncgzm93xjpgPR professionals are invaluable; their ability to create a positive public image for a company stems from a detail-oriented nature, a willingness to fine-tune an approach with finesse based on past experience and the study of data, and picking up on minute cues that can help determine which publications, news sources and journalists might be most open to their message.

Crafting a successful pitch is an art form, something that can certainly never be outsourced or automated…right?

MIT graduate Dan Siegel, co-founder of Cambridge-based PR firm Spokepoint, doesn’t quite see it that way.

The company, which was founded in early 2014 as a traditional PR firm geared toward helping small startups get their names out into the world, has been using its own software program that analyzes thousands of data points to predict whether a journalist will respond positively to a specific pitch. It also allows the user to search for and contact journalists based on topics they’ve previously covered, and even tracks whether or not a pitch is successful.

Realizing the market for affordable PR services for small entrepreneurial endeavors, tiny companies that can’t afford a PR pro, and time-crunched crowdfunding campaigns, Siegel and his company made a decision – rather than just using this software to help companies write pitches, Spokepoint has made the software available directly for use by such businesses, so that they can successfully create, manage and track their own PR campaigns — no PR firm or outside pitch-writer needed.

Scared yet? Read more

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Firm Exposes ‘Billion Passwords’ Breach, Peddles $120 Service to Potential Victims

hackersIn case you missed it, the New York Times reported yesterday that a Russian gang of 20-something hackers has amassed 1.2 billion username and password combinations, plus more than 500 million email addresses. This isn’t Heartbleed—it’s a heart attack.

The records were discovered by the Milwaukee-based firm Hold Security, which also helped uncover the Great Adobe Identity Theft of 2013. 

Here’s what’s super scary about this particular scenario:

“Hackers did not just target U.S. companies, they targeted any website they could get, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to very small websites…And most of these sites are still vulnerable.”

And yes, the threat is authentic: the Times enlisted the help of a third-party security expert for confirmation.

Adding fuel to the hysterical fire is the fact that we don’t know whose email addresses are included or which sites are affected—and Holden “[WON’T] NAME the victims, citing nondisclosure agreements and a reluctance to name companies whose sites remained vulnerable.”

What will he name? A price.

For as low as $120 a month, you can pay Hold Security to find out if your site has been affected by the breach.

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Anonymous Sexts Do Not Make Great PR

prfail

Pando Daily blogger David Holmes recently received a message “from a coworker, anonymously,” that read:

“I do not were panties today, and I’m in the same office.”

I don’t know about you, but there’s not one person in MY office from whom I would like to receive THAT message. Then again (as Holmes points out) no one in my office who’d write such an atrociously worded note.

It’s gross, it’s creepy, but it’s also kind of intriguing (at least for a man, I would reckon). Who sent me that sexually provocative note? Is it a stunt? Or am I being catfished? Read more

Edward Snowden to the World: ‘Let That Whistle Blow!’

edward snowden anonymous

Edward Snowden has become a cult icon for people who “work” in their grandparents’ basements, pining away on Alienware while talking to Star Wars figures still ensconced in their original packaging.

The NSA and American consultant-turned rogue whistleblower was a guest at H.O.P.E. 2014 (that’s Hackers On Planet Earth) last weekend, and he asked the world to do something via secluded Google Hangout:

“Spill more government secrets.”

He made this questionable edict to all hackers, coders, and developers who were gathered at the New York City conference, as well as the ones watching via live stream online. While Snowden was applauded, he wasn’t the only famous whistleblower at the event.

That guy is after the jump.

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Dining Goes Digital With a Mash-Up of IBM’s Watson and Bon Appetit

watson bon appetitIBM‘s Watson supercomputer and food magazine Bon Appetit have joined forces to create an app — “Chef Watson with Bon Appetit,” currently in beta — that finds new ways to mix and match foods based on 9,000 Bon Appetit recipes. Essentially, Watson consumed the recipe data and can now manipulate it into new flavors and concoctions.

“To come up with these creatively crafted cuisines, Watson uses Bon Appetit’s insights about ingredient pairings, cooking styles, and dishes and then mixes that with food chemistry, the psychology of people’s likes and dislikes, and regional and ethnic tastes,” reports CNET. “The idea is to help people discover new and flavorful recipes that are fine-tuned to make taste buds happy.”

Something like fennel-spiced baby back pork with a tangy apple-mustard sauce. Good grief. Sounds delish.

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5 Things Wrong with the Press Release

PR ER

Once upon a time, there was a tool called the press release.

It was the largest hammer, longest nail, and strongest muscle all in one. Flacks were able to write commercial-esque documents in hopes of national pick-up. Clients were happy because of their approved (and finely crafted) 18-paragraph quotes. PR agencies were happy because they had a sure-fire journalism story written with fluidity.

Today? No one seems happy.

Releases don’t get that universal attention. Clients don’t get infomercial-length quotes. The Web certainly can’t stand such content, what with Google’s pet Panda traipsing all over free news wires like a scene from Godzilla. So, what happened? After the jump, we take a look…

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New Media Influencers on Rebranding, Expansion and ‘Obsessions’

Mic.com Logo“Voice, perspective and messages framed so they resonate with younger readers have all become more important in media now. That means having our ears to the ground in politics and entertainment, then packaging topics accordingly”, said Jake Horowitz, founder and editor of Mic (formerly PolicyMic).

Mic is among a growing number of media brands that launched or renamed recently, like re/code (formerly AllThingsD), Vox.com and Quartz. Editors from these outlets appeared on a PCNY panel on Thursday to discuss their latest moves.

While these sites generally don’t use PR-related pitches, that may change over time. Given their global focus, one could equate landing a story in these outlets to the U.S. soccer team’s World Cup game vs. Ghana: challenging but not impossible.

Here’s a brief rundown on each outlet and their approach.

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How ‘Exposed’ Are You? Social Media-Powered Statement Dress Grows Transparent

How ‘Exposed’ Are You? Social Media-Powered Dress Becomes Transparent to Make a Statement - PRNewser

A common topic of conversation in the political, PR, and marketing spheres is the increasingly-delicate balance between “sharing” on social media and becoming completely exposed in a digital world completely devoid of privacy.

In an effort to make a statement about how unaware the public seems to be about what they are revealing to marketers, strangers and companies online, artists Xuedi Che and Pedro Oliveira of NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program have created a project called “x.pose,” a “wearable, data-driven sculpture.” In essence, it’s a dress that becomes more and more see-through as the wearer tweets and shares on Facebook via her smartphone.

The artists explain their project’s message on the x.pose website

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Buzzfeed + Cats = Perfect Recipe for a Viral Video

Cat food brand Friskies has figured out the perfect, deliciously simple formula for a viral video: Buzzfeed + cats, proving once and for all that the internet was, in fact, created for the sole purpose of sharing adorable/hilarious videos of our feline friends.  

The below ad for Purina’s Friskies brand, which depicts an older and wiser cat grudgingly bestowing sage advice unto a kitten, was published by Buzzfeed on June 5 (less than two weeks ago), and has already been viewed well over 10 million times. The spot has even spawned a popular Twitter hashtag #DearKitten, without either the brand or Buzfeed attempting to spread it.

Ah, to be a promoter of cat products and have the whole of the interwebs just waiting to do the heavy lifting for you. Sometimes all it takes is a fuzzy face, a couple of tugs at the heartstrings, a few laughs, and some seriously smart advice about the dreaded monster they call “Vacuum.”

Gamification Livens Up Events

LiveCube LogoGamification has cast a wide net and has been applied to many parts of our personal and business lives. We tuned in remotely to the GSummit in San Francisco this week–and while we didn’t see anyone tackled on the conference stage as in a recent episode of HBO’s “Silicon Valley”, we did hear about the broad inroads gamification has made and the ways in which it’s used for events.

Gamification now enables motivation to be delivered digitally, said analyst Brian Burke of Gartner Group. “All the elements of gamification have been around for years”, he added, like sponsors, contests, points and prizes. The difference now is digital, which offers an improved model to incentivize people. Now with greater connectivity you can scale to an audience of any size, at any location and it takes far less time to reach one’s business or personal goals.

Events are an area where gamification comes in quite handy, especially with event hashtags. Aaron Price, co-founder of LiveCube, acknowledged what those in attendance are familiar with – there are so many distractions that event organizers need to keep the crowd focused. Price’s solution is LiveCube, accessible via website or app, that clients like TEDx have used.

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