Given its rise in popularity and niche nature, podcasts are an important element in a comprehensive SaaS PR plan. Podcasts allow thought leaders to let their expertise shine, honing in on key messages and diving deeper with listeners actively seeking the topic.
If you think your topic is too niche or there isn’t a podcast for that – think again. Below are several podcasts we’ve secured for our clients over the past few months:
Randy Mercer, Chief Product Officer at 1WorldSync, was a featured guest on the Can I Speak to Your Product Manager Podcast, where he shared his tips for generating compelling context utilizing specific use cases for generative AI.
Banking Transformed with Jim Marous spoke with SavvyMoney President and CEO JB Orecchia about the convergence of credit education and the state of fintech and banking collaborations.
Amy Brown, co-founder and CEO of Authenticx, was featured on TechCrunch’s Found podcast to discuss mitigating AI biases in healthcare.
The Recruiting Daily Podcast connected with ChartHop Head of People, Talent & DEIB, Ivori Johnson, on how performance reviews can help combat workplace bias.
Data crunching isn’t enough: What’s the data’s story?
“Maybe stories are just data with a soul!” ~ Brene Brown
Every good story starts with a hook — finding the cure for a brain-eating fungus in a post-apocalyptic world. Stopping the Empire from overtaking the galaxy. Playing a series of kids’ games where to lose is to die, but winning it all means making bank.
And some stories rely on data to hook their audiences. Numbers alone don’t necessarily make an impact — but when B2B SaaS marketers, PR pros (and honestly, anyone else reliant on numbers) weave a narrative around the data, presenting it in context and framing its broader implications? That’s when the magic happens.
What is data storytelling?
Data storytelling allows SaaS PR professionals to help their clients leverage complex data and analytics to build a compelling narrative that tells a specific story via graphs, charts and other visuals while informing and influencing a particular audience. When executed well, data storytelling:
Adds a human touch to data.
Elevates the value of data and insights by interpreting and highlighting the key points of complex information.
Helps explain data patterns and trends to non-technical audiences.
Builds credibility as an industry thought leader.
Improves data literacy by guiding people and teaching them how to read — and understand — data visualizations.
You’ve got the data. Now what?
Interesting data stories include three main elements: the data, visuals and a narrative. These steps will help you transform your raw data into an interesting story.
Understand the question. Have you determined what question you want to answer first? If sales fell sharply last year among a certain demographic, do you know why? Knowing what you’re looking for will lead you to the best resources for the answer — whether it’s data about a product mix, marketing targets or customer preferences.
Know the audience. Customize your presentation to suit them — are you sharing this story with the marketing team? Executive leadership? Board members? What’s their familiarity with the topic, problem or situation? How does it affect them? Are different presentation styles more effective than others? Can they process high levels of detail? These insights will shape your narrative approach.
Analyze your data. You can’t create an interesting story without understanding the underlying data’s structure.Evaluate both the structure and quality, and highlight critical characteristics — patterns, format and completeness. You can even use a data management tool to confirm accuracy and validity.
Organize and present your data consistently. Sometimes you might need to standardize formats (75% vs. .75). You may find other anomalies addressed via deduplicating, enriching or parsing. Look to other sources if your data set is incomplete.
Craft your data story. Effectively using charts, graphs and other data visuals requires knowing how people perceive them. Some people want the big picture at a glance to understand the message’s value. Others want to drill down into the granular, nitty-gritty details.
In what order will you present the information to generate a maximum effect? Anticipate questions people might ask about a specific visual. The first chart might show decreased sales and the second might explain why. Think about the trends your research uncovered and organize your presentation into a logical path.
Embrace a “less is more” approach by building a story in layers. Use multiple visuals (instead of cramming everything onto one slide) so your audience won’t feel overwhelmed. Presenting everything on one crowded chart drowns out important messages. Divide the information among multiple consecutive charts, and use animations to reflect changes or add emphasis and help the story flow.
Give some love to the text accompanying the charts, which often catch the eye first. Go beyond mere labels and include a brief explanation of what it shows. Incorporate text annotations to highlight important details.
Champion simplicity. A line chart or bar graph often works well to present information — use color, arrows, circles or other simple graphics to add visual interest.
Take a look.
Don’t just take it from us SaaS PR pros, though. We pulled some of our favorite articles that do an exemplary job of weaving data storytelling into the overall narrative to educate, entertain and provoke thought.
CMOs can’t defend what they can’t define — This article presents multiple visuals to illustrate the challenges CMOs face with explaining the challenges they face with explaining how their teams generate value.
We don’t make business decisions based on logic alone. Sure, analysis drives business thinking, but a barrage of numbers doesn’t inspire and motivate as effectively as a good story. Well-told stories create a shared human experience.
And let’s face it. Unless you’re a statistician, you’re unlikely to remember the numbers. Data in a vacuum? Pretty bland and unremarkable. But storytelling allows us to mold abstract, dry numbers into a captivating and interesting story. And we’re far more likely to remember a story than cold, hard numbers. Want to make sure your data makes a lasting impression? Go ahead and stretch your narrative muscles.
Would you rather buy from a brand pushing only product messaging or from a purpose-driven brand with a story to tell? According to AdWeek, 78% of consumers said they make purchase decisions based on their values and 55% purchase from brands that share their values.
Currently, the economy is uncertain in the SaaS space, and many think that driving home product messaging or upping paid advertising will increase demand. But, with consumers so focused on doing good and finding alignment with their values, a key part of creating demand is leveraging personal stories through your SaaS PR program.
While sharing personal or vulnerable anecdotes can be uncomfortable, remember that these types of stories are often the most relatable and can help build trust with your audience.
Here’s a closer look at how personal stories open the door to many brand benefits:
Humanizes the brand
Personal stories humanize your brand. We have all seen the banner changes on social media during significant events like Black History or Pride month, but do you have an individual who can share their own experience related to these events? If a company leader is willing to get vulnerable, these messages are more impactful and authentic than just going with the status quo.
Providing a direct tie back to critical DEI conversations or worldly trends improves reputation with customers and is also positive for recruiting. If candidates can relate to company leadership personally, they’re more likely to consider your company when narrowing their options.
Personal stories not only improve brand perception but also help to build the brand of an individual subject matter expert. More than ever, people want to buy from people, and investors want to invest in leaders.
But don’t fall victim to the myth that personal stories don’t provide valuable lead-generation opportunities. Since tier-one media are often more interested in features with a person at the core, they can improve your ability to rank in search as a thought leader and company. Not to mention, those “about the author” sections often include the prized backlink!
Creates differentiation to pique reporter interest
Securing opportunities with tier-one media is often a goal many organizations want from their SaaS PR program. A key item to achieve this goal is to build rapport and foster a relationship with editors who may reach out for commentary opportunities in the future.
Well, rapport doesn’t happen overnight — and definitely doesn’t happen by constantly shoving product messages at a reporter. Leveraging personal stories is typically a great place to start. They let a reporter get to know you as an individual, company leader and then get to know your brand.
They may not result in a story right away, but they often create opportunities in the long run.
In today’s world, surface-level commentary will not cut it. Reporters and buyers want more, and we need personal, meaningful connections to capture media and audience attention. To learn more about how personal stories can improve your SaaS PR program, contact Lindsey Groepper.
We’re bringing back our media connections series, and we thought what better way to kick us off than with Alex Konrad, senior editor at Forbes. He’s worked at Forbes for 10 years, covering venture capital, cloud and startups. Additionally, he edits the Midas List, Midas List Europe, Cloud 100 list and 30 Under 30 for VC. You might have also caught him in a Hulu documentary 👀
While Alex covers what some consider a ‘sweet spot’ in SaaS, he can’t cover every startup story. We sat down with him to discuss his PR pet peeves, how he comes up with story ideas, and what topics he’s hot about right now.
How do you choose what you write about? What elements make a company interesting to you?
Alex: One important thing to remember is that a good company does not equal a good story. Sometimes the best stories are because companies are not great, and sometimes great companies don’t have a great story. It’s OK not to have a great story yet, but it can be difficult to force it if nothing is interesting or dramatic.
As reporters, we’re looking for a compelling narrative that speaks to a bigger lesson, trend or warning. We must think about each company we look at and consider if it embodies something bigger. What is the exciting narrative? That might be a David vs. Goliath story, overcoming the odds as a founder or someone with a surprise second career or a quirky passion.
A fun story I once wrote was about a midsize tech company at the time called Appian. It’s not the most exciting company in the world, although it did go public, but its CEO is an elite board game designer and has designed and commercialized multiple board games. Every year he goes to the world boardgaming championships. Going with the CEO of a public company to watch him compete and understand his leadership style from his board-game play was the kind of thing any reporter would want to do once. It’s a good example where the story might be more compelling than the business itself.
I noticed crypto and Web3 were common themes in your stories last year. Is that a personal interest, or is that a macro trend that performs well that led to stories written about that?
Alex: Journalists want to write about the hot-button topics of the day because they want to write useful information that people will plausibly read. There are topics that I’d love to spend more time on, but it’s hard to find my angle or justify why people would care about them.
It is a business. We have a lot of autonomy at Forbes, and in some newsrooms, there is a lot of trust in a reporter, but it’s never a good feeling to spend a lot of time on a story that only a few people care about. At Forbes, we’re not judged by our pageviews, but still, if you create something, you want it to matter.
With something like crypto, we at Forbes try to follow the money, especially me as the venture capital editor. If that industry has lost its mind about a topic, I need to have a point of view on it, explore it and look where the money is flowing. It’s not necessarily a great thing, but it’s meaningful, and if you’re a founder, or you work in the tech industry, or you want to learn about it, you need to know what that buzzy topic is on some level.
Are there any other tech trends or technologies that you’re personally interested in right now that you think will be a focus in 2023?
Alex: I am looking at AI, where we recently published a feature explaining the field. I wrote a cover story a couple of years ago on UiPath. I’ve written a lot about work software companies like Slack, Notion, Asana and Canva. The future of work is always exciting, and how generative AI could play a significant disruptive player in many of our workflows is compelling. I’ve enjoyed meeting companies that are trying to build on top of these tools.
Climate is something my team is interested in. There is more appetite from investors to put money into climate startups again. There is a bit of a sense of urgency by some people in the industry that now is the time to work on solutions there, but at the same time, climate companies face a high bar for success: they’re capital intensive, and historically we haven’t had that massive breakout climate tech company. So we might be cautious about not overhyping or over-promising.
I continue to write a lot about representation. We love looking at underrepresented founders doing great things or companies coming from unexpected places. Our 30 under 30 summits have spent the last few years in Detroit, and now it will be in Cleveland. We love at Forbes to try and break out of the bubble of Silicon Valley and New York.
Are there any other hot spots you’re seeing companies come out of that you’re interested in?
Alex: I think Seattle will become more relevant in the future, especially with this passion for AI. They have the Allen Institute and smart folks coming out of the big tech companies.
I’ve spent a lot of time understanding the European market. I haven’t done all the homework, but all the signals point to Paris being a surprisingly great place for entrepreneurship. I’m open to looking at other areas that are outside the so-called west of Europe and the U.S. as well.
What is the best channel and time to pitch you?
Alex: Emailing me politely during work hours is the best chance of success. I don’t appreciate when people try to gain creativity points by reaching people in unusual methods like my personal social media accounts. I don’t like cold calls because my day is usually chaotic. If I’m getting a call from an unknown number, I’m only answering it because it might be a source on a story, and for it to be a non-super time-sensitive pitch or hail mary pitch is inefficient for me.
I have a lot of empathy for PR professionals, but there are a lot more PR people than journalists. It’s hard for me to feel we owe a response on every pitch. I can spend a whole day just responding, and I still wouldn’t get to every pitch in my inbox. That said, I try to respond to exclusive offers because I know the person is waiting for my response before going to someone else. I will be very unlikely to respond to something that misrepresents anything. For example, we recently had an exclusive offer sent to my entire team. That’s not going to make us feel good that we all got the same email, so that will put them on the untrustworthy list.
Otherwise, emailing me a general pitch and sending a follow-up email is reasonable, but I will not have time to respond if I haven’t responded to one follow-up. Unfortunately, sending three more messages doesn’t make anyone happier.
I know that’s difficult because I know some clients want PR professionals to have a hard answer, but I would encourage my friends in PR to be that go-between for the journalists and the client and feel empowered to speak on behalf of the journalists and say, “It’s a pass from Alex, calling him isn’t going to improve the situation. We should graciously move on.” There have been times when I’ve been hounded to get a hard no, and it’s not helping anyone. The goal for a pitch should not be just to get a hard no.
What are other pitch pet peeves?
Alex: The relationships I value the most with PR professionals are the ones where they can guess how I think and act as a go-between between a client and me on an idea. They can anticipate when something won’t be a good fit or, at most, ask whether I think this will be a fit for someone else on my team.
One other pet peeve is if I go out of my way to pass on something or explain why something isn’t going to be a fit, an unfortunate number of times the person feels like they’re in the middle of a live conversation with me and can bring up something else. Given asynchronous communication, that is not the case. Now you’ve sent me another email, and you expect another response. What it’s doing is training me not to respond because if I politely pass, you’re going to pitch another client, and it’ll take more time out of my day to help you.
The last thing I’ll close on is conveying that the best relationships are back and forth. Some folks have brought me great stories in the past or tips, and then it does feel more like a back-and-forth. Other people feel like we’re old friends because they’ve pitched me for years unsuccessfully, and I’ve tried to be polite back, but we’ve never met. They’ve never actually helped my career, so the idea that we’re some partnership is misguided. I’ve helped them by passing or doing whatever to check a box, but no box on my end has ever been checked off.
That’s something to remember: unless we’re writing a big exciting story, agreeing to meet is not a win for us. What comes out of the meeting can be a win. Just the act of going to a meeting puts us in the red. We’ve invested time in this that we could have used elsewhere, and we need to deliver on that eventually. Earlier in my career, I agreed to a million meetings. I didn’t do a good job of converting those meetings into conversation-starting stories, so now I am more thoughtful about why the meeting would be helpful.
Do you have a list of go-to sources that you reach out to? How did those people build that relationship with you?
Alex: Companies and people who punch above their weight or are willing to give us a perspective that isn’t the known public perspective are ones that I will remember, and I am more likely to trust them generally in the future.
Let’s say we’re looking at AI, and we’re talking to all these huge companies. A small startup says, “You may not want to write about my small AI startup today, but I used to work at Google, and I can tell you pretty confidently the behind-the-scenes of how Google is approaching this.” OK, so maybe you’re a source on Google’s AI perspective, and then as your company gets bigger, I’m more likely to think of you and know you’re legit and potentially cover you down the road. But you have to give me something to trust you when you want something.
People think that meeting has built a relationship, but the journalists want something to come out of that relationship. My best go-to’s are people who are sources. They tip me on things. I’m writing a story about X. Do they know anyone with inside info about that topic? They’ll say yes or no, honestly. They won’t try to shoehorn a client in. There are a few people in my head, whether VCs, founders or PR professionals, who are good at understanding that flow, so I go to them first.
Are there other things that make a pitch stand out to you?
Alex: I’m looking to be surprised. I’m looking for something contrarian or that teaches me something that will get my attention. Any facts that speak to that compelling, personal story might be interesting to me, or any breadcrumbs that can allow me to think that this speaks to a bigger story. If a pitch was basically like:
Hey, we’re a climate tech company, and we’re doing this alternative to carbon capture. It’s very early, but we worked at the leading carbon capture startup, and we got disillusioned that it’s not effective.
Communicating that in some way might interest me because it’s a two-for-one. I can learn what you’re doing, but I’m also interested in why carbon capture is not working. They can punch above their weight. That’s something we look for.
So, a founder’s background is a defining factor?
Alex: It’s helpful if they’re compelling. If they’re not relevant, then you need to try something else. The more companies can be evaluated beyond just how much they’ve raised, who their backers are, and what scale they’re at is going to be important. The reality is few companies will pitch us, hey, you’ve never heard of us, and we have $100M in revenue — and if they do, they’re often 30-year-old private equity-owned companies that will not excite our readers either.
Can you give us an overview of your editorial process?
Alex: It’s very different based on the type of story. If it’s a quicker, exclusive story, I can call the shots on whether or not it makes sense, and then I get approval from my editors. Forbes trusts its reporters a lot to know their beats and understand what’s story-worthy.
Once you get into stories requiring travel or more time, there will be more dialogue between the reporter or several reporters and our editors. John Paczkowski leads our tech team. He used to run the tech and business reporting at BuzzFeed News, and before that, he was at Re/code with Kara Swisher and that whole crew. He’s very smart and plugged in, so as the story gets more ambitious, I’m more likely to be dialoguing with him. We also have a deputy editor under him, Katharine Schwab, who might be editing our stories and who works closely with John. Typically, I tell them I’m planning to write this online story, and I’ll need an edit. And if I’m saying I want to fly to Europe and meet every company in Paris, that would require a much larger conversation!
Do you have a monthly or quarterly story quota?
Alex: We do not have any hard quotas at Forbes. As a best practice, my team aspires to write at least once a week. We want to put points on the board and don’t want any pent-up pressure that we feel we haven’t published in a while. We also want to stay in the conversation with our sources and the topics we care about.
Publishing a story is the best way to get more people on that topic to reach out to you. That is our goal. It can often not be the case. Leading into the holidays, I got married and went on my honeymoon, and I went two months without publishing a story; this week, I plan to publish three stories. So it can vary.
Forbes likes to think of itself more on the once-a-week cadence, which is very different from the daily places or multiple times-a-day places. It’s also very different from the New Yorker, where you show up every three months, I assume, with a 30,000-word magnum opus. Our stories never get longer than 3,000 words, so it’s a bit different.
Where do you find the idea for most of your stories?
Alex: Most of my stories are not pitch driven. Often the pitch-driven stories come from an existing relationship. For example, a VC I’ve met before with an underrepresented background has a new fund. As they talk about their announcement plan with their PR representatives, they say, “I know Alex at Forbes; let’s see if he’s interested.” It’s a warm intro-type situation where I’ll give real feedback.
It may occasionally be the exclusive offer, or it may be that I come back a year or three months after a meeting and say, “I want to write about this company now.” That’s what happens with the bigger stories. For example, take the cover story I wrote on Flexport. I met with the CEO five years before that. I think I had a catch-up a year before the story that came from an inbound from their agency. A year later, that holiday season, the supply chain was top of mind, and I knew I could reach out to that agency and say the time is right to spend more time with him. They were very helpful in making that happen.
(INDIANAPOLIS – June 27, 2022) – BLASTmedia, the only PR agency dedicated to B2B SaaS, was recognized by the 2022 PRSA Hoosier Chapter Pinnacle Awards for the agency’s work in two media relations categories.
BLASTmedia received two Awards of Honor for their outstanding work in media relations. The first award acknowledged the agency’s work with Phenom, a leading talent experience management (TXM) solution, on a holistic brand awareness campaign. Because of BLASTmedia’s efforts to increase their Share of Voice over competitors, Phenom is now recognized as a leader in its category. During the campaign’s timeframe, Phenom secured its Series D Funding and made an acquisition, furthering the brand’s momentum.
The second Award of Honor was bestowed for BLASTmedia’s work with adtech leader Pattern89 on a data campaign titled Original Data Injects Pattern89 Into Trending Conversations. Through storymining with Pattern89 executives, BLASTmedia uncovered unique platform data to leverage in the media, securing national coverage for the brand in Insider and Yahoo! Tech.
“We pride ourselves on being the best in the business at securing press coverage for B2B SaaS brands,” said Mendy Werne, BLASTmedia CEO. “Being recognized for our standout work from PRSA validates the effort and media intelligence of our team, and we’re excited to showcase their accomplishments.”
(INDIANAPOLIS – Oct. 28, 2021) – BLASTmedia, the only PR agency dedicated to B2B SaaS, was recently named to the US Agency Awards Shortlist in the Best Large Agency of the Year category.
The US Agency Awards celebrate and reward exceptional U.S.-based agencies, campaigns and talent based on factors like progress toward agency goals and outstanding examples of client work. As a finalist in the Best Large Agency of the Year category, BLASTmedia is recognized as a standout agency among over 150 advertising, marketing and PR agencies that applied.
“2021 has been a year of exponential growth for our agency,” said BLASTmedia President Lindsey Groepper. “Increasing demand for our SaaS PR services has yielded a 100% increase in headcount since this time last year — while nearly doubling revenue. To be a finalist in the Best Large Agency of the Year category is further validation of how we are delivering consistent value for our roster of B2B SaaS clients.”
Facilitated by Don’t Panic Projects, judging features a panel of leading in-house marketing, communications and advertising professionals representing the world’s biggest brands, including Navico, Nestlé and Snap Inc. Winners of the US Agency Awards will be announced Nov. 23.
About BLASTmedia Established in 2005, BLASTmedia is the only PR agency in the US dedicated to B2B SaaS, representing companies in all growth stages—from startup to publicly traded. BLASTmedia understands the unique challenges associated with scaling a SaaS business and uses media coverage and thought leadership campaigns to impact four primary pillars: investors, employees, partners, and customers.
When it comes to generating media coverage for your SaaS company, you generally have two options: hire a B2B tech PR agency, or hire a full-time employee. While it may seem like comparing apples to pineapples, when you think about it, you’re hiring one or the other to do one job: secure meaningful media coverage. We’re betting you already know the general strengths of in-house talent, but maybe are not as familiar with the benefits of hiring an agency.
Media relations can set your company apart from others in your space. It can help you sell your story, products and services. A key step in media relations is crafting story ideas and pitching them to journalists.
Criteria for getting a journalist to be interested in a pitch can vary, but one thing remains constant: the pitch must be newsworthy. Unless whatever you’re hoping to pitch also relates to celebrities or political figures, you are likely going to have to work at being newsworthy. Continue reading “Newsworthy Pitches: How to Grab Media Attention”