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Start-up funds facing tough markets, or just marketing reality?

Interesting article in Traders Magazine, where a hedge fund manager was talking about how difficult it was for new funds to raise funds. “Assume you are going to reach out to 1,000 people, talk to 100 to get to one investor,” he laments.

On the one hand, I am sympathetic to funds that are facing a more difficult environment. On the other, the funnel that this manager describes is basically what everyone who sells into B2B has been facing since, like, forever. And it makes you wonder what things used to be like.

Maybe something along the lines of “Talk to a few people, have them attract a huge crowd that throws a few billion your way…”

It looks like the jobs act has come at the right time for funds that are having trouble differentiating themselves in a market that no longer throws money at start-ups with good traders at the helm. However, these funds are going to have to come up to speed really fast on how marketing is actually done… and how much work it requires.


Putting my reporter hat back on – TradingScreen podcast

Feeling like I’m putting the market wrap together again back at (WIRE SERVICE NAME REDACTED), putting together the top news wrap for hedge funds on the TradingScreen blog.

They always said that I was the face of radio back when I was doing news television – happy to be sticking to audio for now.

Let me now what you think.

The Mevius Man – #FAIL #brandfail

Japan’s leading cigarette has been renamed Mevius to try to expand globally.  Apparently “global” now excludes the US, where the new name calls up memories of the kid who got beaten up a lot in primary school.

Apple Lawsuits Make Them “Look Like Jerks”

“They’re probably get some money. They’ll probably block some phones. But overall… they kind of look like jerks.

I agree with this commentary from Bloomberg’s Nick Thompson on Bloomberg Television’s “In The Loop.”. The lawsuits themselves, and the “marketing secrets” that Apple has spilled in its patent battle against Samsung give them some differentiation short-term by highlighting the imitation that is taking place in the space. Long term it makes them look a little petty.

The most damning statement comes at the end of the interview, when Nick goes through how some of Steve Job’s “visionary” qualities came from market research, more than vision: “Apple is just a company.”

For any other company that would be obvious. But for this company, looking like “just a company” is really bad.

It’s Not The Press Release – Your Flack Is Broken

The photo of this dinner bell is from Flickr, and is the copyright of Don LaVange.

I received a well-written and engaging sales pitch (pulled from this blog entry on from Mickie Kennedy selling PR distribution services. It opened with a query on why CEOs had little respect for press releases.

Unfortunately, the pitch delved into potential tactical weaknesses around unsuccessful press releases, rather than the real issue: CEOs often don’t have respect for the press release because they don’t have respect for the flack who wrote it.

The fact that many in-house PR people are still hung up on using press releases as an important vehicle to influence coverage is a good indication that they may be justly underrated.

The press release is an archaic form of communication that made a lot of sense when major communications needed to be transmitted on paper or by wire. When communication relied on paper, and getting the physical piece of paper in people’s hands took a lot of work, it made sense to couple the facts with catch-all positioning and context. After all, you might only get one shot at communicating with the reporter around any given announcement.

When I was a wire service reporter in the age of the Internet, the press release only served the purpose of letting me know that “news” had been announced by someone. I usually found the contextual information in the release (beyond the useful heads-up that something was the “first,” “only,” biggest” etc. deal of its type) to be an annoying case of “one-size-fits none.” In nearly every case, I would have been happier with a bullet list of the key facts rather than a release.

The flacks who pitched me successfully were those who had context and story ideas tailored to my beat which accompanied the release in an attached e-mail. This took thought and wit, and the handful of times that it happened, it paid off for the communications officer doing the pitching.

When I moved to the PR agency side, I followed the successful pitching model that worked on myself when I was a reporter. My “pitch” was in the e-mail that had a press release attachment. That emailed pitch was tailored by beat and publication type and was, in essence, a tear sheet that the reporter could take to her editor that outlined the first few paragraphs of the story. And it was THAT communication that did the lion’s share of the work towards getting a placement.

On the agency side, I was usually able to successfully pitch a poorly written release created by the client, on the strength of the personalized communication that accompanied it. (Note that this was NOT a function of relationships – this worked just as often with cold outreach as with “contacts.”) In most of those cases, the reporter gave only a cursory glance at the release itself.

So, as a reporter and flack, the press release, if it enters the picture at all, was to a) substantiate that there was “news” going on; and, perhaps, b) provide a quote for anyone who was in too much of a rush to do an interview.

The press release was, in effect, the dinner bell. But it was up to me as a reporter or flack to provide made-to-order meal in the form of context around the facts that were being announced.

I have been running marketing and communications in-house for a technology company for some time now. With the rise of the real-time news cycle and social media, I would imagine that the press release has become even less important. In my job, I’m expected to create engaging content that start real conversations with all of our stakeholders. The press release is often not the right tool for this job.

To be sure, the press release is EXTREMELY important for me as an internal guide for staff. I use the press release to get our spokespeople on the same page on timing, coordination, and high-level messaging around major announcements. The press release also serves an important function from a search-engine optimization perspective – relevant keywords need to be displayed high, and often, for all the outlets that simply re-print those release.

But that’s a completely different use than what Mickie is talking about.

Bottom line on the bottom line: Any flack that is still looking for the press release to really tell their story to a wider audience is at least a decade behind the times… and probably not worthy of much respect.

My first bunk attempt at chromakey

Did my first chromakeying yesterday, making every single mistake I possibly could:

Video – TradingScreen’s Hollands: Nectar Trades 5th Asset Class on TradeSmart.

via Video – TradingScreen’s Hollands: Nectar Trades 5th Asset Class on TradeSmart.

Results are meh, but now I know how to do it. Still, better than a bad quality video my guy standing in a corner like he usually does.

Upward and onward.

5 Kubler-Ross Steps of Helping Your Wife Buy A Dress Online

STEP 1 – Agreement – “I like that one.” – This is where you actually like her first choice.

STEP 2 – Agreement  – “I like that one too.” – This is where you are glad she actually kept searching, because the second one is even better than the first.

STEP 3 – Agreement – “I like that one also.” – This is where you are beginning to get upset because she picked a new one that looked like the first one, which you don’t like as much as the second one.

STEP 4 – Agreement – “Yeah, I like that one.” – This is where she chooses another option, and you begin to wonder if she’s listening to you at all, or if she’s going to end up buying anything.

STEP 5 – Agreement – “WOW! That is it. That’s the one! Perfection.” – This is where you decide to go back to watching Mad Men.