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Startup

Smartphone Breathalyzer Startup Partners with…Heineken?

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At first we thought that a partnership between one of the world’s largest beer brands and a startup using technology to prevent drunk driving would make for an awkward pairing.

Yet, earlier this month, an Israeli company called Alcohoot whose product turns smartphones into breathalyzers joined forces with Heineken and won a bit of corporate coverage in the process. How so?

The company’s founders pitched the product as something that would help the company more fully embody its own “drink responsibly” message.

Their backstory was fairly compelling too.

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Why Uber Chose Obama’s Campaign Manager to Run Comms and Strategy

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Yes we can…connect you to an unlicensed driver using his personal vehicle to transport people around town for tips.

On one level, it makes sense that David Plouffe, Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign manager and one of the hottest speakers/strategists on the circuit, would join the “sharing economy” company that everyone’s falling over themselves to cover.

Still, the match strikes some as odd given the recent decision of the Republican National Committee to promote Uber as the prime example of business free from government regulation — regulation best embodied by the man Plouffe helped win the White House.

The answer lies in crisis communications and political infighting.

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Just Launched a Startup? Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Hire a PR Pro Just Yet

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Today we bring you a guest post by Sarah Rose Attman, president of Sarah Rose Public Relations and former staff reporter for US Weekly.

This post is presented by AirPR, a technology platform to increase PR performance. The San Francisco-based technology company is passionate about using data to show the true impact and value of PR.

Congratulations! You just launched your startup. Welcome to the wonderful world of being your own boss, building something from the ground up, and fighting against the odds to “make it”. Every company has been where you are today, so embrace the chaos and get ready for the ride of a lifetime.

There is so much to do! Designing your logo, raising a round of financing, hiring your founding team, and of course PR, right?

Well, maybe not.

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Tech Startup Pulls ‘Sexist’ Contest After Negative Coverage

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Remember how Silicon Valley was still trying to shake its reputation as a rumpus room for antisocial geeks and overgrown fratboys?

Today The Verge reported a contest that briefly confirmed all those delicious stereotypes at once because why the hell not?

We had never heard of the startup OnePlus before today, but they apparently make smartphones in addition to planning poorly thought-out “ladies night”-style competitions on their own web forum. The idea behind the competition: ladies (and only ladies) were to draw a picture of the company’s logo on their bodies or a piece of paper and submit the resulting images. The forum’s readers would then “upvote” their favorites and the 50 top “winners” would get…a t-shirt. And a chance to buy the phone in question at full price.

In other words, it was like a public version of Tindr.

The resulting mess read a bit like a particularly awkward reddit thread until the company pulled it thanks to the Verge post.

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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

Anonymous Sexts Do Not Make Great PR

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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

Paula Deen Cooks Up Some PR, Launches Her Own Network

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These people are the ones Paula Deen is totally banking on for PR-ofit

ICYMI: Despite her soulful appeal and her habit of cooking with fat, grease, and butter, Paula Deen wasn’t the most sensitive celebrity when it came to non-white people. To wit, she made an enemy of (most of) America, lost her Food Network affiliation, lost dozens of endorsements, and kissed most of her credibility goodbye.

She did, however, keep a surprising number of her fans. So, following a failed ‘Today Show’ apology, Paula Deen drifted into the easy bake oven in the sky…or so it seemed.

Now she’s back, y’all — and she’s hoping to cash in with a new paid venture.

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Uber Offers Taxi Drivers a Ride to Their Own Protest

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This morning we read news of the massive traffic-blocking protests that have greeted most-expensive-startup-ever Uber as it tries to conquer Europe. VentureBeat just shared the company’s response: ferrying angry London taxi drivers to their own event while adjusting its policies to make nice.

“Riders won’t pay any additional charges, while Uber caps the commission drivers must pay at 5%…Uber says its 5% commission is the lowest in the city.”

So how much is the 12,000-strong protest damaging the company’s business? This headline pretty much says it all:

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Probably not the intended result…

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5 Important Lessons for Your Tech Startup’s PR Launch

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Today we bring you a guest post from Kristen Tischhauser and Chathri Ali, co-founders and managing partners of talkTECH, an L.A. and Chicago-based communications/business development firm serving “innovative, emerging brands and new-to-market products.”

This post is presented by AirPR, a technology platform to increase PR performance. The San Francisco-based technology company is passionate about using data to show the true impact and value of PR.

We, as humans, are impatient. We don’t like to wait; we want what we want and we want it now. That’s why when launching a new tech startup, it’s smart to take a deep breath and make sure that the PR trigger isn’t pulled too quickly. As the famous saying goes, you never have a second chance to make a first impression.

Entrepreneurs put countless hours into perfecting our product or service, yet too many get excited to launch and do so before they are truly ready. A launch is not idea generation. We’re past the stage of throwing something out there to see what sticks. Instead, we want the masses to welcome us into their lives all the while wondering how they ever lived without us. This only happens if the proper steps are taken to ensure a successful launch.

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‘Distruptive’ Startups Refine Their Strategies for Working with Regulators

airbnbAirbnb’s executives have decided that the free market doesn’t trump the law and that the rules do apply to them after all.

The details have been reported elsewhere, but the decision is a big deal for startups (and their investors/promoters) that might eventually run up against those pesky things we call legal regulations.

The big questions to be answered–and the ones that most concern these startups’ advisory and PR teams–are “how should ’distruptive’ businesses be regulated” and “what’s the best way for them to work within/around existing regulations?”

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