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Technology

Tech Giants Can Handle Their Own Mergers and Acquisitions Now

google building

A New York Times piece published over the weekend reviewed the strategies employed by massive tech companies like Apple and Google when they want to acquire smaller companies — and there’s reason for both PR and the financial industries to be concerned.

It seems that the primary issue some executives consider when determining whether to buy certain other businesses is not their potential to make money in the short-term (or even the mid-term): it’s whether consumers will really use the products they create in everyday life.

Hence what they call “the toothbrush test”: how often will the average person use this company’s product? Will they use it a few times and get tired of it, or will it be a consistent presence in their lives?

The implication: an increasing number of tech execs think they can make these decisions on their own.

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New York Closes in on Silicon Valley in Battle for Tech Gold

NYC skyline

The last few months have seen more than your usual share of “New York vs. San Francisco” articles.

A recent survey by HR&A Advisors that won coverage in the New York Post over the weekend gets at the why behind this latest sort-of trend: the Big Apple’s tech scene is quietly and consistently growing.

While New York may not play home base to headline-makers like Uber and the various social networks, the stats regarding our fair city’s tech business are impressive. E-commerce in particular looks to leave a Manhattan-sized footprint.

Some specifics below.

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

startUP

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

dontbesexist.0

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

Uber’s Newest Brand Advocate Is the Republican Party

Uber GOP

Here’s a not-quite-surprising story that made its way around the web today: the Republican Party is one of taxi “disruptor” Uber‘s biggest supporters…or they’re using the hot brand to raise money and increase their appeal to Millennials. Or both.

We get the basic idea behind this distant partnership. The Uber guys and the GOP hate the same regulators or, as the fundraising petition puts it, “taxi unions and liberal government bureaucrats” (because the word “bureaucrat” could never apply to conservatives who double as public employees during the day).

Anyway, the real issue here is that both the GOP and the app company want Illinois governor Pat Quinn, a Democrat, to refrain from passing a pending law that would place statewide restrictions on such “sharing economy” companies. Apparently the two parties share the Gary Gnu-ish opinion that all regulations are bad regulations.

They also both like free publicity — and the Republic National Committee’s annual meeting launched today in Chicago.

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OKCupid Co-Founder on Emotional Experiments: In 20 Years, No One Will Care

OKCUPIDWe’ve all heard about Facebook‘s ill-conceived “emotional experiment” and OKCupid‘s even better follow-up. While Facebook’s research only concerned slight tweaks in the algorithm that determines which stories show up in users’ news feeds, OKCupid experimented on total strangers who would later meet each other and go on what we call “dates.”

We’re interested in the story primarily because Facebook’s response was simply a blog post that didn’t serve as a very effective piece of self-defense. OKCupid co-founder Christian Rudder, on the other hand, has gone all out to defend his company’s practices as the kind of thing we deal with every day as connected individuals — whether we know it or not.

Last week, to follow up on his “yes, we experimented on people, now get over it” blog post, he gave an interview to TLDR, a podcast associated with the excellent NPR show On the Media (which we encountered via the also-excellent Press Think blog).

The fourteen-minute segment is well worth a listen–especially for anyone with clients in social media.

Some key quotes and takeaways after the jump in case you can’t listen or don’t have time.

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JustReachOut Thinks It Can Beat Your Startup Pitches

Sherlock

This week, we’ve witnessed the further evolution of the “do tech startups even need PR?” debate.

Uber’s General Manager Chris Nakutis gave the concept a big thumbs down while contributor Paul Wilke of Upright Position Communications presented ways to try and dispel the sense of inherent distrust between the two parties.

Today, TechCrunch let us know that yet another company called JustReachOut wants to replace you(!) by making the email pitching process a little easier for those startup folks.

We can tell you’re curious…

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Uber General Manager: Public Relations Is a Waste of Money

uber

Last week Uber General Manager Chris Nakutis (follow him on Twitter) spoke to a group of entrepreneurs about his experience launching the e-commerce platform Short Stack–and became the latest heavy-hitter to weigh in on the “do startups need PR” debate. As you can tell from our headline, he answered in the negative.

Nakutis said that PR was not a valuable tool in growing his business and that the return on investment was not immediate or well-defined despite the good press.

Here’s the key quote: new companies “can almost jump over the PR process.”

Harsh words, but not unexpected from the tech industry. As PRNewser reported earlier, startups are leery of PR people. And they’re not alone. Read more

Apple’s PR Strategy Has Sprung a Leak

apple-logoAnyone notice a recent shift in Apple’s PR strategy?

The departure of longtime VP of worldwide corporate communications Katie Cotton seems to have marked the end of a certain phase in the company’s development, and way back in February 2013 the company announced plans to increase its PR spend and get more aggressive with message management efforts.

That news, along with Tim Cook’s decision to straight-up apologize for Apple Maps, clarified the difference between the new CEO and Steve Jobs (who would never admit to much of anything and held a notoriously tight grip on all communications).

Leaks are nothing new for Apple, but over the past week we’ve seen several:

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