What We Need To Understand About Generation Z

The difference between Millennials and Generation Z is important to understand in order to prepare your organization, adapt marketing strategy and refocus recruiting efforts to stay relevant for the future.

Generation Z

Generation Z

The Generations

The underlying belief is that generations share historical or social life experiences, the effects of which are relatively stable over the course of their lives. These life experiences tend to distinguish one generation from another. Because of this, we can’t readily predict when one generation will end, and another will begin or what will be enough of a change to tip us over the edge from one generation into the next.

Broadly accepted age definitions.

  • Generation Z: 16 to 22 (youngest born in 2001)
  • Generation Y (Millennial): 23 to 37 (youngest born in 1994)
  • Generation X: 38 to 51 (youngest born in 1979)
  • Baby Boomers: 52 to 71 (youngest born in 1965)

Social Behavior Online

While a significant aspect of Gen Z is the widespread usage of the Internet from an early age. How members of Gen Z think about the internet is most relevant. Unlike Millennials, Gen Z was born into a world overrun with technology. What was once seen as amazing and inspiring inventions, are now taken as a given for teens. The internet is like electric lighting. It is expected to be available at all times, and it costs so little no one bothers to turn it off.

The research suggests three-quarters of Gen Z uses Facebook with Twitter way behind on 44%. While most Gen. Z use Facebook, they are much more likely than older generations to use Instagram (59% compared to 21%), Snapchat (56% compared to 9%) and Twitch (13% compared to 2%). These platforms have a more integral role in their lives. As illustrated in these quotes.

“Social media is positive. It’s shaped my career. I don’t have a CV. I use Instagram as a CV.”   Elias.

 “It’s not just for connecting with friends – but also building your career. We’re not just using social media for our own vain reasons.”    Emily.

Entrepreneurial Ambitions

Gen Z can quickly and efficiently shift between work and play, with multiple distractions going on in the background…working on multiple tasks at once. This behavior will have a significant impact on the work environment. With that in mind, many in Gen Z plan to create their own work environment. According to Gen Z marketing strategist Deep Patel, “the newly developing high-tech and the highly networked world has resulted in an entire generation thinking and acting more entrepreneurially.” Gen Z desires more independent work environments. Fully 72% of teens say they want to start a business someday. This desire for a new type of work environment is one reason why coworking and providers of coworking environments such as We Work are booming. Coworking is a social gathering of people who are working independently, but who share values, and who are interested in the synergy that can happen from working with people who value working in the same place alongside each other. Despite older people (including parents) being pessimistic about the future for Gen Z, the people most positive about their future are 16 to 22-year-olds themselves. Among Baby Boomers, 54% thought Gen Z lives would be worse. But only 41% of those actually in Gen Z agreed.

Global Individuality

Gen Z was born social. In fact, nearly 92% of Gen Z has a digital footprint. Arguably as a result of the celebrities and media they follow, Gen Z seeks uniqueness in all walks of life primarily through the brands they do business with, future employers and brands they associate with. 58% of adults worldwide (age 35+) agree that Gen Z today have more in common with their global peers than they do with adults in their own country.  Gen Z will become more global in their thinking, interactions, and relatability. Notable issues which under-22s listed as more important – include prejudice towards LGBTQ+ people, gender equality, and racism.

Brand Loyalty

Gen Z is highly informed and wants to take charge of their lives and their futures. Research shows that trying to gain the loyalty of Gen Z via traditional loyalty programs, cards and promotions is a losing battle. Gen Z is simply much less interested in these things. Getting Gen Z consumers to be loyal to a brick and mortar store will be more challenging than ever. Again research shows that online ordering and delivery are extremely important to Gen Z, and the ability to order online and come into the store to pick it up is, for the first time, declining in importance. The bottom line is that Gen Z expects retailers to get the product to them. Marcie Merriman, executive director of growth strategy at Ernst & Young. “They (Gen Z) expect businesses, brands, and retailers to be loyal to them. If they don’t feel appreciated, they’re going to move on. It’s not about them being loyal to the business.”


Products are no longer the cool thing. According to Marcie Merriman “It was cool to save a dollar … and save money and get something really cheap. Through that whole process they’ve (Gen Z) learned the value is not in the product or the thing, it’s in the experience”. Going out to eat or going to an event are examples of this. More importantly, Gen Z  share these types of experiences via social media and that in a way makes them more ‘tangible”.

Value for Money

Gen Z is influencing the way their parents are spending, more than Millennials ever did. They are challenging parents buying decisions. For instance, teens will ask their parents, “How much are you going to pay for that?” The parents may not be price-sensitive, but their Gen Z children are going to educate upwards, whereas, with Millennials, we didn’t see that type of behavior.


By understanding and focusing on Gen Z now, organizations can appeal to both Gen Z and Millennials. However, If you remain focused on just Millennials, you will lose the generation that’s coming up next. Gen Z has the highest brand expectations. If you can please them, you are also going to please Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers. Gen Z should become your benchmark.

Article based on research by: Ipsos MORI, BBC.

First published by Adrian G Stewart at OOKII.Company

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Top Ten Tips from OOKII Company for a Successful News Release

  1. Start with the End in Mind

A news release needs to be newsworthy. Nobody is interested in “Dog bites man!”  but  “Man bites dog!” is a different story. How is your story relevant to the target audience? Relative to all the other news that your target audience will see, how big is your story? News events can conspire against you so be aware of what else is happening that might unintentionally drown your story.

  1. The Headline

The headline shouldn’t be some cheesy click bait ending in  ”..you won’t believe what happens next!”  Your headline needs to be a balance. Informative enough to convey the topic yet ambiguous enough to draw the reader in to discover more by reading the release. If this is a trade press release, then the journalist may simply copy paste the headline you created. However, a larger publication will want to write their headline because they obviously don’t want the same headline as their competition.

Even the WSJ can make the odd headline faux pas!

  1. Expert Opinion

Find someone who is recognized as a subject matter expert to supply a comment or observation; this will add credibility your story. The more independent they are, the more their opinion will carry weight. Paying for this type of comment is a mistake – I don’t have to tell you why.

What do journalists look for in a press release?

  • Supporting facts… 65%
  • Interesting story angles… 62%
  • Trending industry topic… 53%
  • Powerful quotes… 23%
  • Attention-grabbing headline… 30%
  • Engaging multimedia… 17%

Source: Business Wire

  1. Images and Video

Visuals cause a faster and stronger reaction than words. They help readers engage with the content, and such emotional reactions have a favorable influence on information retention. This is because the visual memory is encoded in the medial temporal lobe of the brain, the same place where emotions are processed.

  1. Search Engine Optimization

The good news is that search engine algorithms have become quite sophisticated. What this means is that you simply have to write in a natural way and no longer concern yourself with metrics such as keyword density. Authentic curated content is how we refer to this in the trade.

  1. Now What?

Having gained the reader’s attention via your authentic content, which may be informative or entertaining, perhaps a blend of the two, now what? What do we want readers to do? Is there a specific call to action? Choose a single call to action for each press release, otherwise, you will confuse readers and make evaluating the outcomes challenging. If your release is about the launch of your new Dongle your call to action might be

  • Click here to preorder your Dongle
  • Sign up for Dongle updates
  • Click here to read Dongle reviews

Decide on one, and only one, call to action.

  1. Close Encounters

Your press release will be going to numerous journalists/bloggers/influencers and media specialists.

Some will simply copy paste what you sent into their newsfeed, either because they are swamped, or don’t care or most likely the process is automated. Yes – your press release will show up in an online search under – Fox12 News in Milwaukee!

However, the more discerning journalists and opinion leaders may well want to ask questions or gain direct access to the people who are quoted in your release. You need to make this as easy as possible. Names, phone numbers, email, social media – all the usual suspects. Make sure the people named as media contacts are thoroughly briefed, going to available and think about time zone differences and language skills as appropriate.

  1. Social Media Channels

Make certain that whoever manages your social media channels (Blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) has access to the release including any images ahead of time this will be greatly appreciated. Plus when all the channels fire simultaneously there is a synergy to your efforts. Let’s not forget that employees who are active on social media integral part of issuing your press release.

  1. Pitch to the Right People

The top two methods through which journalists prefer to receive breaking news have remained relatively unchanged.

  • The majority prefer an email alert with a link to a full press release (74%)
  • Less popular is a newswire press release (21%).

(Note: 75% of newswire journalists (Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France prefer a newswire press release.)

  1. Measure to Manage

It’s an old management adage that managers tend to manage what they can measure. To manage your media efforts effectively you will need to measure the performance of your press release. The good news is that there are tools to help you do this and if you don’t have them then your friendly PR agency will have access to them and can use them on your behalf. By accumulating this data over time and comparing the performance of different releases you will gain some interesting insights. Insights that are unique to your organization are of course the most valuable.

First published by Adrian G Stewart at OOKII.Company

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What PR challenge do Nike, IKEA, Porsche, Fjällräven, Adidas and Hoegaarden have in Common?

Commonly mispronounced brand names.

They all have brand names which are occasionally mispronounced and generally they don’t like it when that happens. Let’s see how knowledgeable you are….

NIKE: Should Nike rhyme with “like”? Apparently not! In 20114 Nike chairman Philip Knight confirmed the correct pronunciation was in fact “Ni-key” , after the Greek goddess of victory.

IKEA: Is Swedish so if you want to pronounce it correctly then, it should be “ee-kay-uh” not “eye-kee-ah”. The company’s name is an acronym that consists of the initials of Ingvar Kamprad (name of founder), Elmtaryd (the farm where he grew up), and Agunnaryd (his hometown in Småland, southern Sweden)

ADIDAS: Named after its founder Adolf ‘Adi’ Dassler who started making shoes in 1924 it’s “A-di-das” not “a-DEE-das”.

FJÄLLRÄVEN: Swedish for Arctic fox, the company makes outdoor clothing and equipment. And if you want to say their name correctly its “F-yarl-Rar-van”.

PORSCHE: Luxury car brand Porsche also takes its name from founder Ferdinand Porsche. His family name has two syllables: ‘Por-shuh’

HOEGAARDEN: Records of brewing in the village Hoegaarden, Belgium date back to 1445, when the local monks were enthusiastic brewers. If you feel like a Hoegaarden make sure you order a “Who-gar-den”.

If you know of other mispronounced brands we would be interested to hear about them….

First published by Adrian G Stewart at OOKII.Company

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Presentation to Make? Here Are 12 Questions That Will Help You Connect With Your Audience.

As Dale Carnegie once said,  “There is no sweeter sound to any person’s ear than the sound of their own name…”

Successful presentations connect with the audience and gain their attention.  Here are 12 questions to help facilitate that process.

Dale Carnegie

  • What do they have in common? Is the audience made up of friends, colleagues, suppliers, customers or are they all strangers to each other? Think about what defines them – are they millennials, did they all go to college, and do they have shared problems or ambitions? More of which later.
  • Why have they come to listen to you today? What are they hoping to take away from your talk/presentation? What’s in it for them?
  • Why were you invited to talk? There must be something about you, and your expertise that the organizers feel will be of interest to the audience? What is that quality? Resist the temptation to try and be someone you are not, audiences will already have expectations about who you are.
  • What problems do members of your audience have in common? Understanding a common problem and offering a solution is one of the most powerful ways to connect with any audience. They will be expecting to hear a new perspective on a shared problem. They will want to hear something new, something that gives them an advantage.
  • Opportunities go hand in hand with problem-solving. What opportunities do the members of your audience have in common? Stimulate their imagination, outline what needs to be done, and finally give them the confidence to take action after the presentation.
  • How does your audience naturally communicate? What cultural differences might exist within the audience? Do they have industry specific terminology and jargon that they use? The reason for asking yourself these questions is so that you can effectively communicate with your audience.
  • Talk in a way that is familiar to your audience. While remaining authentic – trying out a Scottish accent when you give your presentation in Edinburgh could be a bad idea, unless it’s humorous.
  • Is there a role for humor in your presentation? There are some events, cultures, and topics where humor would be inappropriate. Very few people can tell a funny story to a large audience and get a reaction. Self-deprecating humor can endear you to an audience, however, use it sparingly or it will raise doubts about your credibility.
  • How long do you need to talk for to effectively communicate your key messages? You may have been given a fixed time slot and have little or no flexibility. There are no absolute answers to this question – it’s a matter of how much time do you need. Too long and the audience will lose their focus, and their attention will drift. Too short and they will leave not understanding the points that you were trying to communicate.
  • Will you need visual aids? If you are thinking about typing bullet points onto PowerPoint slides – don’t waste your time. Put that same energy into a few graphic style visuals which support the points you are making. In this age of CGI, AR and VR peoples audio visual expectations are sky high.
  • How should you speak? Become thoroughly familiar with any sound equipment ahead of your talk and if there is any possibility of a rehearsal then take it. Make sure you convey the enthusiasm and passion that you genuinely feel for your chosen topic.
  • Should you make eye contact? Definitely. Look directly at your audience and shift your focus around the audience as you talk. Your goal is to make everyone feel like you are talking directly to them. Establishing this personal connection is essential for you and your audience.
  • Should I write a script? If your presentation will be simultaneously translated into other languages, then a script is appreciated, especially if there is technical content. In any case, always create a structure and do list out your bullet points.

This list of questions is by no means definitive, and you can fine tune it over time to suit your style and the occasion.

Bottom line, do your preparation and gain a thorough understanding of your audience. Who are they? What do they have in common? What do they want from your talk?

First published by Adrian G Stewart at OOKII.Company

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Being a Great Entrepreneur Doesn’t Mean You Will Be a Great CEO.

It is a truism of the movie industry that every model wants to act, actors inevitably want to direct, and directors aspire to be producers. The restlessness that propels the players in Hollywood to abandon what they do well in favor of doing something different seems at times also to affect entrepreneurs who imagine they will automatically make great CEOs.

The cold hard truth is that many entrepreneurs simply do not have the skills nor the mindset to become CEO of the organization they created.

Unfortunately, it is this one error of judgement that brings about the demise of more businesses than any other. And the demise doesn’t always happen quickly, it can drag on over years as the organization burns through millions of investment dollars.

What defines an entrepreneur? An entrepreneur is the person who bootstraps the business. This is the person who puts it all on the line to make their vision a reality. A good number of entrepreneurs have the charisma and passion to attract external investment. They are the rainmakers who sign up the first customers and give great interviews to the journalists, who in turn profile them and their achievements in the myriad business and trade publications. They are the rockstars of the startup community.

What entrepreneurs don’t understand is their new role and responsibilities as the CEO. The CEO defines and lives the corporate culture. A good CEO builds a team around themselves of successful players, people who are outstanding in their own field.

In companies where the entrepreneur/founder has failed to successfully transition to the role of CEO you might expect that the board of directors would see this and force the necessary changes. This however is not always the case. Where the CEO was also the company founder and/or majority stockholder and owner, the Board of Directors act largely an advisory role and even when they are also investors in the organization they can still find themselves in a position where they are unable to bring about the change that is needed.

Travis Kalanick

What exactly does a Chief Executive do that eludes many entrepreneurs? Here are six key areas and this is by no means an exhaustive list.

  • Create, articulate and implement the organization’s vision, mission and values.
  • Lead the management team particularly when the going gets tough. Only being visible to share good news is not even half the job.
  • Using the skills and experience of the board to maximum advantage.
  • Defining with the senior management team the critical success factors. What do you absolutely have to get right in order for the organization to succeed?
  • Maintaining an awareness of the competitive landscape, spotting opportunities for expansion, anticipating new industry developments that might disrupt the existing business model under which you are operating.
  • Taking a leadership role in CSR activities where you are visible to employees together with their family and friends. Making employees proud of the company they work for and appreciated in the community is incredibly powerful.

This list hopefully illustrates the point but it isn’t the full story. Perhaps a better way to express that is to say, it’s about being the CEO not just doing the tasks of a CEO.

There are of course some exceptions who prove the rule. Entrepreneurs who make the successful transition to CEO quite often built up their skills and in-depth experience in the corporate world before ever becoming an entrepreneur and creating their own business.

What to do?

If you are an entrepreneur aspiring to becoming CEO find yourself a professional coach who can help you make the transition to the role of CEO or help you transition to a new role and bring in a proven CEO to lead the organization you created.  If you are looking to become part of a startup, lookout for the warning signs, it can be a long hard road working with a CEO who is out of his/her depth.

First published by Adrian G Stewart at OOKII.Company

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The Main Reason Uber Needs to Restore Confidence in it’s Brand.

2017 has been a major PR challenge for Uber the world’s most valuable start up. As a quick reminder here are the main events that have adversely affected Uber’s reputation.

  • Uber CEO Travis Kalanick drew criticism for joining then President Trump’s economic advisory board.
  • #deleteUBER started trending on Twitter after the company appeared to disrupt a taxi strike in protest of President Trump’s attempted travel ban
  • Uber also faced widespread criticism for having a culture that tolerated sexual harassment.
  • Most recently Uber was sued for allegedly stealing trade secrets from Google’s self-driving vehicle arm Waymo.

Uber's reputation takes a hit


While only 4% of customers moved away from Uber as a result of these events many more customers started to harbor doubts about the organizations integrity and trustworthiness. As Uber prepares to introduce autonomous vehicles these qualities become critical for success. If Uber isn’t trusted as a brand, how likely are customers to entrust their safety to an Uber autonomous vehicle? According to consulting firm cg42, all those negative headlines did leave a mark on Uber’s reputation. As the chart above shows, the percentage of Uber customers with a negative perception climbed from 9 to 27 percent in response to the news events. “You have 81 percent of their users aware of the news. That means people are paying attention, and that means trust is eroding,” said Stephen Beck, founder and managing partner at cg42.

While the short term impact has been negligible there is some serious reputational damage that will need to be repaired over the coming months.

First published by Adrian G Stewart at OOKII.Company

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Crowdfunding – A Brief Look at 6 Platforms

Crowdfunding has transformed the process of raising money.

1 Kickstarter

Kickstarter is an American public-benefit corporation based in Brooklyn, New York, that maintains a global crowdfunding platform focused on creativity. The company’s stated mission is to “help bring creative projects to life”. In the world of crowdfunding, Kickstarter the tried and tested solution The idea is that those seeking funding give “investors” perks, such as products, T-shirts, or unique experiences, based on their level of investment.

Best Suited To: Kickstarter projects tend to be creative in nature, with projects raising money for items such as a bicycle made from bamboo. Projects for other categories such as food and technology do appear, but majority of projects are related to music, art, crafts, and design.

Don’t Forget: Kickstarter only funds projects, meaning you must have a deliverable, like a tool or a gadget, nothing as nebulous as “hiking in Peru.” And no charitable fund raising.

Small Print: Kickstarter adopts the winner takes all approach. If you don’t raise 100 percent of the goal you set, you get none of it. Kickstarter takes 5 percent of the amount raised, and the payment processor takes another 3 to 5 percent.

Kickstarter has reportedly received more than $1.9 billion in pledges from 9.4 million backers to fund 257,000 creative projects, such as films, music, stage shows, comics, journalism, video games, technology and food-related projects.

2 GoFundMe

GoFundMe is a crowdfunding platform that allows people in some but not all countries to raise money for events ranging from life events such as celebrations and graduations to challenging circumstances like accidents and illnesses. The company is based in San Diego, California.

That said there is a business component to GoFundMe.

Best Suited To: GoFundMe is ideal for local businesses trying to rally a community to help them launch or grow.

Don’t Forget: GoFundMe allows users to create their own website to their fundraising cause, the amount they hope to raise, and upload photos or video. Users share their project with friends, family and anyone else via through integrated social media and email.

Small Print: GoFundMe generates revenue by automatically deducting a 5% fee from each donation users receive. If the user receives no donations, then no charge is made. In addition to the 5% that GoFundMe deducts from each transaction, WePay collects 2.9% and $0.30 from each GoFundMe transaction.

GoFundMe is unique to crowdfunding in that they are not an incentive-based crowdfunding website. Although they do allow projects that are meant to fund other projects for musicians, inventors, and similar causes. The business model is set up to allow for donations to personal causes and life events such as medical bills.

Leanne Brown - raised funds in 2014 to write a cookbook.

Leanne Brown – raised funds in 2014 to write a cookbook.

3 EquityNet

EquityNet is a U.S.-based business crowdfunding platform for startups and mature businesses to raise equity capital from accredited investors. Founded in 2005, the company is headquartered in New York.While Kickstarter and GoFundMe appeal mainly to consumers looking to finance small businesses, EquityNet is focused on investors.

Best Suited For: EquityNet is focused on commercial enterprises. Its target sectors include health care, industrial & manufacturing, biotechnology, and computer hardware and software, among others.

Don’t Forget: EquityNet is not a registered broker-dealer and thus is not involved in the transfer of funds.

Small Print: Unlike other crowdfunding sites, EquityNet doesn’t charge a fee for raising funds. It operates as a subscription service. Some services are free, while others are bundled into the $109-per-month plan.

EquityNet provides access to thousands of investors and has helped entrepreneurs across North America raise more than $240 million in equity, debt, and royalty-based capital

4 Indiegogo

Indiegogo, is an international crowdfunding website headquartered in San Francisco, California. The site is one of the first sites to offer crowd funding. Indiegogo allows people to solicit funds for an idea, charity, or start-up business. The site runs on a rewards-based system, meaning donors, investors, or customers who are willing help to fund a project or product can donate and receive a gift, rather than an equity stake in the company.

Best Suited To: Indiegogo is a pretty diverse crowdfunding site, with no specific sector focus.

Don’t Forget: Indiegogo does not use the “all or nothing” requirement, but it does charge a higher fee if you don’t reach your fund raising goal.

Small Print: Indiegogo offers both fixed and flexible funding. The fee for either is 4 percent, but if you don’t hit your funding goal with a flexible funding campaign, the fee is 9 percent. There’s no fee for a fixed funding campaign if you don’t hit your funding goal.This charge is in addition to credit card and PayPal charges that range from 3.5% to 9%.

Following changes in Security and Exchange Commission rules earlier in 2016, Indiegogo has partnered with MicroVentures to offer equity-based campaigns beginning in November 2016, allowing unaccredited investors to participate with equity stakes

Leanne Brown - wrote her crowd funded cook book

Leanne Brown – wrote and published her crowd funded cook book

5 RocketHub

RocketHub is an online crowdfunding platform. Very popular with musicians, entrepreneurs, scientists, game developers and fashion designers. RocketHub is considered one of America’s largest crowdfunding platforms.

Best Suited To: RocketHub is ideal for projects related to; art, business, science, and social issues.

Small Print: If the selected funding target is not reached by the deadline, the project leader is still able to keep the collected funds. RocketHub charges 4% of funds collected, plus 4% payment processing fees, if the project is fully funded, and 8% plus 4% payment processing fees if the project does not reach its goal.

RocketHub engaged in an innovative partnership with marketing agency Wieden+Kennedy and Chrysler’s Dodge Dart in 2013 allowing users to crowdfund the purchase of a car by asking friend sand family to buy certain parts, such as wheels.

6 Crowdfunder

Crowdfunder is a Los Angeles-based equity crowdfunding platform that connects entrepreneurs to investors onlineCrowdfunder aims to provide investors with the chance to get in on investment opportunities that have typically been exclusive to Silicon Valley venture capitalists or industry insiders. In addition to connecting entrepreneurs with investors, the site also offers a lot of resources to help investors raise money.

Best Suited To: Because Crowdfunder attracts accredited investors, the fundraising goals tend to be higher. Organizations in industries like high-technology and health care can raise hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. It’s also a cool place to find innovative ideas like a notary service that can be conducted via online video.

Small Print: You pay no fee to get your funding, but you do have to pay a monthly subscription service fee.

Since 2011, Crowdfunder has funded 58 deals, averaging $1.8 million apiece. The majority of those are tech startups, but others are social enterprises and small businesses. To date, $100 million in investment deal flow has come through Crowdfunder.

First published by Adrian G Stewart at OOKII.Company

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Startups Who Want to do PR In-house

Want to take the DIY route to creating media coverage for your startup? Read on here is some quality advice and guidance to help you be successful.

Be Honest

Ask yourself honestly what are you doing that is truly newsworthy?

The truth is, many startups simply aren’t newsworthy, partly because very few startups are truly unique or they are solving a problem in a way that simply isn’t compelling. If at the back of your mind this sounds like it might be you, then you may need to make fundamental changes to your offering before doing anything else. However, if you feel your startup is unique in some meaningful way and worthy of coverage, think about your approach to a journalist. You need an angle. It could be the launch of a new product, a high-profile hire, analysis of some original data from research that you commissioned.

Keep It Simple

Using words of one syllable and in one sentence explain what is your raison d’être? Anyone has to be able to read this statement and know with a high degree of certainty exactly what it is that you do. Try to avoid jargon if at all possible, what is familiar to you will not be to those people outside your industry.

Here are some examples to get you thinking.

  • Merck – To preserve and improve human life.
  • Walt Disney – To make people happy.
  • McKinsey – To help leading corporations and governments be more successful.
  • Marriott – To make people away from home feel they are among friends and are really wanted.
  • Nike – To experience the emotion of competition, winning, and crushing competitors.
  • Boeing – To push the leading edge of aviation, taking on huge challenges and doing what others cannot do.

Journalists receive a large volume of unsolicited pitches every single day. What this means is that you have – at best – two or three sentences to convey what is newsworthy about your pitch. The two words that always come to mind for me at this point are relevant and relative. Is your story relevant to this journalist and relative to everything else going on today is it newsworthy?

Relativity is outside your control on any given day – I was involved with the launch of a US company into the UK market. The launch date was Tuesday, September 11th, 2001.

Popular startup keywords


Your Target Audience

You need to decide who you are trying to reach with your message and therefore, which publications might be interested in covering your startup. Once you know the publications your audience reads you can dig around and find the journalist most likely to be interested in your story – assuming you don’t already know who that would be.

Over time you need to know who the key journalists, bloggers and opinion leaders are in your space then you need to build relationships with them. Read their articles and send an email or comment on social media if you definitely liked something they wrote. Be available to give them quotations when they are writing an article about other companies, an industry issue or even one of your competitors.

Studies show that about 80% of journalists want to receive initial pitches via email. Not via social media, the telephone or contact page. So start with an email.

Avoid the spray and pray approach. MailChimp is an awesome tool but taking the extra time to craft custom emails for journalists who have an interest in covering your story is going to be much more productive in the long run. However, writing a beautifully crafted letter to the defense correspondent at the New York Times, about your latest $500 drone, will not generate the result you were hoping for and could even tarnish your reputation.

The Press Release

You can push out a press release over the wire services and these will be picked up by robots and the releases will show up if anyone does an internet search on your company or the topic of the press release. If this has value for you then it’s something to consider.

If your company has solved the challenge of nuclear fusion then a press release is definitely in order.

Make sure the quality of what you send is as high as possible. That starts with spelling, grammar and sentence construction. But also includes getting journalists names and areas of special interest correct.

If you need to create content in a foreign language and/or approach foreign media outlets the chances are you will need to find help from professionals who understand the both cultural difference and the nuances of the foreign langue. This is not the time to use Google translate!

Supporting Evidence

Collateral. Supply high-quality images, video, samples, info-graphics or whatever else is appropriate. In the automotive world, product launch packages that go to the automotive journalists can be very elaborate. Find out what is expected and appropriate in the space you are trying to break into.

Whenever possible have product images shot professionally – it’s a subtle difference at times but the visual impact can immediately raise your credibility. At product launches journalists will shoot their own images and video – but they will still appreciate professional images to use with their article.

PR Jargon

A key term to know is “embargo.” An embargo is when you request that the information or news provided by the source (in this case you) will not be published until a certain date and time.”  Reputable publications will honor embargoes.  But embargoes have been broken sometimes by accident and sometimes intentionally.

An embargo is particularly useful if you feel that reporters will need extra time to research and accurately report the news. The embargo gives journalists time to interview sources at your company, clarify key points and create a tailored story.

Follow Up

Follow up. If a journalist runs an article as a result of your efforts take the time to thank them. Keep it simple and don’t send gifts. In the world of haute couture, it is common to send flowers to fashion editors and key journalists but that is probably not your world. If you want to send a journalist some swag do so when there is no story on the table.  If your story really is a “news bombshell” then you will need to use a media monitoring service to make sure you track and analyze all the coverage you receive.

Finally, if all this sounds daunting then you can hire an agency to do all of the above on your behalf. Selecting a suitable agency is a whole different blog post for another day.

First published by Adrian G Stewart at OOKII.Company

Adrian G Stewart

Adrian G Stewart

Posted in Media Relations, Public Relations, Strategy | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Startups Who Want to do PR In-house

Fake News and its Impact on Public Relations

As the adage goes, a lie races around the world in the time it takes the truth to put its shoes on.

Shortly after the 2016 US Presidential election, America’s interest in “fake news” spiked. This was fueled in part because some people believed fake news may have influenced the election in some way. People are deeply concerned about fake news, and the news media has generated a good deal of coverage about this topic.

The number of news stories about fake news.

The number of news stories about fake news.

One of the core activities of Public Relations is to obtain coverage for brands in the media. Media coverage has always had value because the public trusted what they read as independent third-party endorsement from the media. However, in the USA trust in the media is waning. What happens to the value of PR when our brands, our clients might find themselves under attack by a news story which has no basis in truth.

According to polling company Gallup, Americans’ trust in mass media has dropped to a new low in 2016, with only 32 percent of U.S. adults expressing at least a fair amount of confidence in the mainstream media to deliver an unbiased chronicle of current affairs. Not surprisingly the Gallup reports that the level of trust in the media varies considerably depending on political inclinations. In the USA Republicans have traditionally viewed the mainstream media more critically than Democrats, the divergence in how both groups assess the press has never been greater. Just 14 percent of Republicans expressed their trust in the media prior to Donald Trump’s election in November while 50 percent of Democrats felt the media was reporting fairly and accurately. Following Trump’s repeated attacks against the “failing” and “dishonest” press, it can only be assumed that the level of trust among his supporters has fallen even further since the poll was conducted in September 2016.

Trust in Mass Media

Trust in Mass Media

What can we do about it? At OOKII we devote time and effort to promote real news. We must be honest with not only ourselves, but also our stakeholders, and our clients. As consumers of news, we must support the legitimate news outlets which we want to see survive this storm and ultimately thrive.



First published by Adrian G Stewart at OOKII.Company

Adrian G Stewart

Adrian G Stewart


Posted in Consumer Behaviour, Cultural Differences | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Fake News and its Impact on Public Relations

Marketing Cannabis

The legal cannabis industry is expected to be a $50 billion industry by 2026, according to Bloomberg. That is nearly a 7 fold growth from where it is today. In the United States alone, it is believed that over 100 million Americans have tried cannabis, with 25 million Americans having used it within the past year. Investment in the US cannabis industry has boomed over the past few years with 2015 hitting a high of over $220 million in equity financing to private companies. The uptick in funding corresponds to the loosening of cannabis restrictions. The number of verticals being funded within the cannabis sector, including e-commerce, healthcare, and information service solutions, has also increased as cannabis startups have arrived to solve problems in the cannabis supply chain. What are the challenges of marketing marijuana?

Marketing Marijuana Cannabis Bud

The majority of people with any industry knowledge are growers. Old hands in the industry talk of a 15 year learning curve for new growers. 5 years to understand how to grow high quality product, another 5 years to learn how to improve yield without compromising quality and a final 5 years to learn how to get operational costs down without compromising quality or yield. Established growers are passionate about what they do, the newcomers are in it to make a quick buck. Neither group has any real understanding of what it takes to create an integrated marketing strategy. In fact the majority of the cannabis industry lacks any clear marketing strategy.

As Michael Straumietis, CEO of fertilizer producer, Advanced Nutrients puts it. “You’ve got to remember, this is an industry of farmers, and they don’t have the business expertise the industry needs.”

Many “cannapreneurs” are smart enough to see that the super-normal margins which exist in parts of the market today are not sustainable and that prices will inevitably come down as more players enter the market. They know they need to build brand equity or risk being left in that part of the market which will become commoditized. As recreational cannabis becomes legal, a much larger and more diverse demographic can be targeted by the new cannabis brands.

Conducting research to understanding segmentation is fundamental to success. At this point the market is in transition from medical to medical and recreational, two very different segments that don’t easily dovetail together in terms of a single brand identity. Medical marijuana and cannabis derivatives are distinct segments. Each comes with its own purpose, products and potential consumers.

Retail recreational cannabis appeals to several different and evolving demographics, For example, one large group of new users are  late Baby Boomers and early Gen X (in their 50’s and 60’s) — predominantly empty nesters, they are interested in new modes of consumption such as edibles and are averse to smoking. At the same time new Gen X female consumers tend to be interested in not only edibles but also tinctures and beverages. This segment is also strongly predisposed to high quality organic products. Which immediately raises a marketing challenge – the cannabis industry can’t use the same organic label, which is familiar with consumers, as other crops can. This is because cannabis is not so much considered a plant as it is a drug. The label “organic” requires certification by the US Department of Agriculture, which is a federal agency. By the same token the use of trademarks to protect cannabis brands is blocked because of its classification under the federal Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule 1 drug. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is prohibited from recognizing cannabis-related trademarks.

Marketing Marijuana Medical Cannabis Dark Chocolate

Once the marketing strategy is defined then the design of logos, positioning statements, websites and product packaging can commence. However, there are more hurdles to overcome, legal cannabis is a highly regulated business category, just like alcohol and tobacco. But unlike those industries, cannabis is not legal at the federal level. Therefore there are no federal regulations – but there are very specific state regulations. Child safety is a primary concern wherever cannabis sales are regulated. For cannabis-infused edibles, San Francisco’s packaging rules include a “Keep Out of Reach of Children” warning, allergen warnings and opaque packaging materials that conceal the products from youngsters.

The cannabis industry must find truly qualified marketing advice from experienced and skilled companies. In such a new industry, where consumer segments are still undefined, it is tough finding experts with deep experience in both traditional marketing and new marketing channels – but we do exist.

First published by Adrian G Stewart at OOKII.Company

Adrian G Stewart

Adrian G Stewart

Posted in Consumer Behaviour, General | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Marketing Cannabis