SaaS Media Connections with Alex Konrad, Forbes

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.

What the SVB Collapse Taught Us About Communication in a Crisis

The collapse of the tech institution Silicon Valley Bank rocked the SaaS ecosystem. Pundits will speculate for years to come on how the situation could have been avoided and who is at fault. Tech comms expert and CCO at Activision Blizzard, Lulu Cheng Meservey, believes the bank’s demise was partly due to a communication collapse.

Industry experts also pointed to the ill-timed and jargon-laden press release SVB issued about its strategy as a contributor to the bank’s demise.

For those leading communication for software companies, we’re looking at what we can learn about communicating effectively in a crisis. Clear, transparent and timely communication keeps stakeholders calm in a proverbial storm. Below are critical components of a crisis communication strategy.

Know your internal team and protocols.

Senior management, IT, legal, HR and PR should all understand their roles and responsibilities in a crisis. We can’t anticipate every possible situation, but teams should have a plan around problems that could cause concern for software companies, such as outages, layoffs and data breaches. In the case of the SVB collapse, we advised our clients to rally senior management, including the CFO, to help understand each client’s possible exposure to the bank failure and what it could mean for employees, customers, investors and partners.

Outline stakeholders and possible impact.

Every crisis plan should include key stakeholder groups and the most effective communication method for each. For example, know your customer base and how they best receive communication: is that through your customer success team, an email blast, Twitter or another medium? With SVB, lists of companies who bank with SVB started circulating over the weekend, so some of our clients proactively communicated with customers about their continuity plans. We also helped leaders with messages to their employees, ensuring they wouldn’t see an interruption in payroll, a possibility most tech workers were worried about Friday.

Monitor media coverage and social media.

Whether through a PR agency or an internal team, every SaaS company should have a system for media monitoring and social media management. Especially paramount in a crisis, media monitoring helps companies understand what the public is hearing about a situation and what the sentiment is in the market. As an agency, we are not only monitoring the SVB media coverage as it unfolds at a macro level, but we’re also tracking for mentions of our clients and flagging those in real-time.

The day SVB failed will be a day those of us in tech and communication will remember. While the demise of a key component of the tech ecosystem has been disheartening and scary, seeing the tech community rally around startups in exposed positions with capital and advice has been inspiring.

If you’re a software company needing assistance with your communication, contact Lindsey Groepper to chat about how BLASTmedia can help.

SaaS PR Agency: Onboarding & Expectations

POV: You know the importance of investing in brand, and you’re looking for a SaaS PR agency. Whether you are switching agencies or hiring your first one, there is likely a different onboarding process and expectations with each. 

Every agency does things slightly differently, but the fundamentals of building a strong PR program should be the same: research, planning, outreach and results. If you’re like most SaaS companies, you’re anxious to jump to the last stage and see results (aren’t we all?). But without a strong foundation and time to build pipeline, your media relations program is doomed to fail. 

So, what can you expect when you begin a new SaaS PR agency relationship? We believe in transparency through every step of the process, and we’re happy to share our onboarding process with you as a means of comparison:


Every BLASTmedia program starts with a discovery call with the marketing team and, often, the CEO/founder. We tell you about our team and processes, and you tell us about your value proposition, competitive landscape, ICP, founder story and business goals. After this meeting, we get to work on our media landscape analysis and strategy foundation.

You want to work with a PR agency that understands your market. We work within the B2B SaaS industry, so we know the right questions to ask, who to speak to inside your organization, how to work with your customers and determine the most newsworthy stories from your execs. Even so, the media appetite for stories from HR tech companies vs. marketing tech companies is unique. That’s where our media landscape research comes into play. 

We dissect months of media coverage and releases from you and your competitors to determine the following and more: 

  • What narratives dominate your space? What isn’t being discussed? 
  • Which spokespeople are most commonly quoted from your competitors? What are their titles? 
  • Which media outlets most frequently cover your competitors? 
  • What is the average news cadence in your industry? 
  • Are there known thought leaders in the space? If so, what are their stances? 

The research phase concludes with two key elements: story-mining calls and a product demo. You can read more about our process for story mining with execs from our VP of content, but it’s exactly what it sounds like. We chat with your sales leader, chief people officer and other identified SMEs to dig out ideas we believe will make a solid thought leadership campaign. Next, we get to planning.


The two biggest deliverables during the first month with BLASTmedia are the strategy foundation deck (SFD) and our 60-day plan. The SFD includes the results of our media landscape analysis, along with our top recommendations on target media and reporters, talk tracks to reach your buyers and speak to their top pain points, a SWOT analysis, a competitor deep dive, ideal cadence of news and bylines, trending news to watch in your space and established benchmarks. 

With that research in hand, we set our sights on building your PR OKRs (objectives and key results). Based on the activity in the space and where you currently are in terms of output, what does “good” look like for you? What about “great?” And once we establish that objective, how will we get there? 

Enter: Your 60-day plan — I know you’ve been waiting for it! This is where you’ll see all of the research put into ideas, established OKRs and our plan for getting it done. In addition to three “pillar” thought leadership campaigns for the quarter, we lay out topics for reactive opportunities, competitors we monitor for share of voice measurement, trends to latch onto, any customers we can leverage in media relations and what company news we can support with outreach. Then it’s go time.


PR isn’t like a faucet — you can’t turn it on and off. It can take months of building a pipeline (like in sales) to consistently realize the fruits of your labor. At the beginning of any client campaign, we focus on quick-turn opportunities where we can — we know it’s crucial to showcase early wins to your executive team. 

At the same time, we’re making introductions to key members of the media — those we already have relationships with and those we want to build relationships with on your behalf — to get that pipeline filled as quickly as possible. Every campaign is different, but in general, if you do not have news (a press release) in your first 90 days, you should expect to see the following: 

  • Between months 1 and 2, you should start seeing interview requests come in  
  • In month 2, you should get your first piece of contributed content for review 
  • In total, you should see around 10 pieces of coverage in a variety of trade, podcast and (yes, sometimes even) top-tier outlets (if you have news, this number will be significantly higher)


After the first few months, we’re off to the races. We’re an anti-black-box agency, so I will share our actual client result averages with you. Each quarter I look at all-up coverage across our client roster and average it out. We hand this to our teams internally to use as a guideline for performance. We also share it with our prospects so they understand what to expect when running a PR program with us. 

After tracking KPIs and coverage types for 10,000+ pieces of coverage over multiple years, I am confident in sharing these numbers with just about anyone. And any PR agency that won’t (or can’t) do the same isn’t as data-driven as they might claim. 

Of course, there are exceptions to these numbers based on client participation, approvals and spokesperson availability. And, if you are a public company, these numbers could be wildly different. But, based on our data, here are the results you should expect from your SaaS PR agency each quarter: 

  • Around 25 pieces of coverage 
  • About half of all coverage should have a backlink to your website
  • The Domain Authority of the coverage you get should be around 60
  • 15 of those 25 articles should be driving traffic to your website
  • Quarterly coverage breakdown
    • 2 – 4 pieces of contributed content 
    • 1 – 2 podcast placements 
    • 2 – 3 quote inclusions 
    • 5 press release postings 
    • 3 – 5 features 
    • 5 – 10 other mentions or syndications 

Choosing the right PR partner can be challenging. But taking your time up front to find one that will be open and honest with you about their process, team and results will yield dividends for years to come. As will taking time to properly invest in and trust their need for proper ramp-up time. 

I’ll leave you with this. If I were hiring a PR agency and I wanted to know how they were going to get up to speed during the onboarding phase and what kind of results I could expect from them, these are a few of the questions I would ask:

  • On average, what kind of results are you generating for your clients each quarter? 
  • Tell me about a time you worked with a client where you had never worked in the space before — how did you get up to speed? 
  • What is the #1 thing that determines how much and what kinds of coverage you can generate? 
  • How do we make the most of our onboarding process? 
  • What is your process for monitoring competitors and trending topics? 

And if you want to know how we’d go about building a successful PR campaign for you, reach out to me!

How to Identify and Prepare Thought Leaders for Your SaaS PR Strategy

How to Identify and Prepare Thought Leaders for Your SaaS PR Strategy graphic

When thinking about spokespeople for your organization, you’ll likely start at the top of the organizational tree with the CEO and leadership team members. But, in reality, your thought leaders should go beyond the CEO, and maybe even your leadership team, to cultivate coverage that supports a variety of marketing goals.

Part of our process to garner coverage that contributes to those goals is setting up story mining sessions with subject matter experts (SME). In addition to traditional spokespeople, like a CEO or founder, our team often looks to story mine with an SME based on the industry the company is looking to target. For example: For brands targeting martech, we may recommend the CMO; for those dealing with GRC, we might recommend someone in compliance/security.


Because — among other reasons — publications seek out various industry expert sources.

Depending on your SaaS brand’s target audience and what messages you want to share, the publications your PR team looks to target likely range from top-tier business publications to trade publications targeting either a specific discipline, like marketing, or a specific industry, like logistics. If your team is targeting more than one type of publication — or trying to generate different types of coverage — you’ll want a few different people on your spokesperson bench ready to contribute thought leadership content.

Here’s how to find them.

Uncovering the right subject matter experts

The right SME is not always a member of the C-suite. It might be someone more ingrained in the day-to-day tactics of a specific department who has perspective on a new best practice. Consider what job titles you want to reach: Is there someone from that same discipline who could speak to their pain points and point to solutions? Consider your industry: Is there someone who really has their finger on the pulse of what’s happening, who could offer perspective on the industry as a whole? These individuals have the potential to contribute to thought leadership content efforts as industry-specific SMEs.

For example, frequently quotes and shares content from HR leaders whether they be directors, managers, generalists or c-suite executives. The content might discuss HR tech predictions, how to leverage an applicant tracking system or an op-ed about location-based pay. Marketing Land taps CMOs, VPs of marketing and directors in its content. Marketing Land articles cover a variety of trends in marketing tech, data privacy regulations and best practices in ABM strategies.

Guide them through media interactions

Now, you might see some of the examples above and say, “Kelsey, there is no way I can put my HR manager in front of the media!”

Yes, not everyone at your organization will be ready for a media interview tomorrow — and that’s okay. There are ways to involve new thought leaders, especially those who are not yet ready, trained or comfortable in an interview setting. Work with your PR team to identify opportunities that allow for collaboration and review. Here are some of the ways to leverage new industry-specific SMEs to secure media coverage:

  • Contributed content This is an easy way for PR professionals to turn a story mining session with an SME into a piece of content. The message is controlled and facilitated through you and your PR team.
  • Pre-approved quotes In the case of a media contact looking for a story source, they may accept a quote or written answers to questions in lieu of an interview. Again, the messaging is controlled and can usually be facilitated through you and your PR team.

Media interviews are a learned skill and PR teams have media training resources available to help key opinion leaders nail interviews. Training sessions could include information about the interview process, potential questions, interview “don’ts,” conversation control techniques and mock interviews. With training sessions, those leading overall strategy will have the opportunity to gauge an SME’s level of readiness for interviews and spot areas that might need more work before going on the record.

As SMEs become more experienced in participating in thought leadership content opportunities, you can always reconsider what kinds of opportunities they can take on. I recommend starting with opportunities like podcasts or interviews with trade outlets. Then they can graduate to top-tier interviews. You can accelerate this process by developing the thought leader’s media presence with additional training and feedback sessions.

Looking to identify thought leaders for your SaaS organization? We can help! For questions about the right SMEs for your SaaS PR efforts contact our team.

PR and IR’s Role in a SaaS IPO

Now is an exciting time for SaaS companies across all industries: fundraising is hot, IPOs are booming and the opportunities for growth are unprecedented. With so many paths to choose from, we’re at a pivotal moment in the tech industry.

For those looking toward an IPO, putting support in place to assist with investor relations (IR) is likely top of the to-do list. Historically, companies may have saved this task to just before an IPO — some even going public with no IR plan in place. However, today, SaaS companies often involve IR teams earlier in the process, as soon as they’ve determined that an IPO is the best option. 

While IR and PR sound similar, adding IR to the mix doesn’t mean it’s time to drop your PR team or downplay their efforts. (In fact, it might actually mean the opposite.) Let’s take a look at the difference between IR and PR — and why, if you’re on the path to an IPO, you need both. 

The difference between IR and PR

National Investor Relations Institute defines investor relations as “a strategic management responsibility that integrates finance, communication, marketing and securities law compliance to enable the most effective two-way communication between a company, the financial community, and other constituencies, which ultimately contributes to a company’s securities achieving fair valuation.” 

While a few global PR agencies may have an internal IR team, most PR agencies are not equipped with knowledge of the financial and securities laws, which falls under the specialty of an IR firm. With both marketing and communication listed in the IR definition, however, it’s easy to blur the lines between IR and PR. While both disciplines stress the importance of consistent and effective communication and look to influence investors, the strategies and tactics implemented by each differ in the months leading up to an IPO. For example, IR might focus on working with the general counsel in developing a disclosure policy, whereas a PR team might execute a thought leadership campaign in the media to show executive expertise in the space. 

Investing in PR ahead of a SaaS IPO

Many SaaS brands looking to IPO already have a PR strategy in place before engaging an IR firm or otherwise enlisting help with investor relations. These brands understand how PR can support factors that contribute to the perception of IPO readiness, including category creation, brand awareness and positioning. 

If you are at least 6-12 months from filing your S-1 and without a consistent PR strategy in place, engaging with IR might be a good signal that it’s time to engage a PR partner as well. Be mindful to establish a consistent PR presence well ahead of the quiet period, as the SEC will take note of any new or aggressive changes in PR strategy once you enter that period. Not only are investors one of the four pillars of SaaS PR, but establishing a consistent PR strategy — including interviews with the media and other thought leadership — well ahead of filing, can lead to a more productive quiet period.  

If an IPO is on the horizon, BLASTmedia — the only B2B SaaS PR agency — can play a pivotal role in your strategy. Or, if you’re simply looking to learn more, come say hello! 

PR When Preparing for an IPO Quiet Period

We’re in the middle of an initial public stock offering (IPO) boom, with Renaissance Capital reporting a nearly 200% increase comparing the first half of 2021 to 2020. Preparing for an IPO process is an exciting time for companies, which often announce the news with fanfare. And, as we’re still working through a pandemic, positive news on growth and development feels all the more exciting.

But for SaaS PR teams, quiet periods might introduce a caveat into their IPO timelines and strategies. Mandated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), quiet periods exist to stop insider training and improperly impacting stock prices. They’re also sometimes used around quarterly earnings reports. Despite the “quiet” in quiet periods, public relations for companies going public doesn’t need to come to a screeching halt. Here’s what to understand about the process. 

PR does not need to come to a halt during an IPO

If stopping all external communications is one side of the coin, the other uses a megaphone to shout audacious statements on products, trends or financial information. While there might be a scenario for either, the ideal strategy is somewhere in the middle.

Maintaining a normal course of business and communication is possible. For example, if your company has provided a “State of the Industry” report every quarter, this asset has a paper trail and is something your prospects or customers have come to expect. However, issuing a brand new announcement around a not-yet-generally available product with executive quotes on how it will revolutionize the category could generate a flood of new customers or interest. In a quiet period, that announcement may be interpreted as a ploy to pump up stock pricing. 

Additionally, if reporters often interview your subject matter experts (SME), you don’t have to freeze this strategy. However, consider the topic and publication. A video interview with Cheddar will likely require disclosing financial information — avoid this! — whereas an SME speaking on the best practices of team management to an HR trade publication will likely not broach sensitive topics. Again, if this type of media engagement was a normal course of business before an IPO, it can likely continue.

PR teams should also consider requesting email interviews rather than calls to ensure all parties (marketing, legal and the executive team) fully vet responses before publishing. This tactic avoids any accidental slip of the tongue or an unexpected question from the publication. 

Don’t ghost the audience that got you this far 

While a quiet period is necessary for brands, your customers and prospects aren’t expecting you to disappear on them for weeks. Keep your base engaged with the activities that caught their attention in the first place, like data-driven insights that shines a light on a new trend or helps your base solve a problem and thought leadership from your SMEs.

If you’re seeking public relations for going public, BLASTmedia — the only B2B SaaS PR agency — has played a pivotal role in every step of the process. If you’re looking to learn more, say hello.

The Intersection Between PR and SEO

We know PR coverage can positively impact SEO. From securing coverage for contributed content with target keyword phrases to earning natural editorial backlinks in media outlets with a high domain authority, SEO is an important part of our PR strategy. But you don’t have to take our word for it. 

I got together with Cyrus Shepard, an SEO strategist from Moz, to pick his brain about how PR affects SEO. We talk about the intersection between PR and SEO, keywords, search engine result page (SERP) rankings and links. 

MEGHAN: Does PR help with SEO?

CYRUS: Ultimately, SEO is about popularity, relevancy and trust. In that regard, strong PR can definitely help with SEO, albeit sometimes indirectly.

MEGHAN: Are there specific SEO metrics PR can help impact?

CYRUS: There are actually several metrics PR can help impact. The first—and likely most important to SEOs—are web links. Links are a significant SEO ranking factor and is measured by metrics such as Domain Authority and Page Rank.

When PR is successful, it can impact the volume of Branded Searches (when someone searches Google for something in a way that uses your brand name). Branded search volume is another important metric that is often correlated with SEO success.

Finally, though not directly connected, good PR can help a business win search traffic Share of Voice (SOV). This simply refers to the amount of visibility a website has across a large range of search results relative to the competition.

MEGHAN: How does coverage that mentions your brand name (but doesn’t link back to your website) impact your brand’s overall SEO?

CYRUS: In SEO, we refer to “unlinked mentions” — i.e. mentions of your brand that don’t link to your website. While these don’t carry the weight or influence of actual links, they can still be important. Google has the ability to extract “entities” from web copy. Your website/brand could be an entity, as well as your employees or products. When Google identifies an entity, it can often make a connection with other entities—including your website—even when there isn’t a direct link. It’s also possible Google can learn other things from these unlinked mentions, such as when they perform sentiment analysis. So an article that has positive things to say about your brand, even if that article doesn’t link to you, may produce a small positive signal about the entity that is your website.

MEGHAN: How does the domain authority of publications for which coverage is secured impact a brand’s domain authority?

CYRUS: Roughly speaking, the more authoritative and trustworthy a site is, the more powerful authority it passes to other sites (generally through links.)

That said, a site’s authority isn’t the only factor at play. Relevance is another huge factor. In this way, it can sometimes be more beneficial to get coverage on a smaller but highly relevant site/page than less-relevant coverage on a higher authority site.

MEGHAN: How can PR coverage help impact SERP rankings for branded and non-branded keywords?

CYRUS: In general, PR coverage can help a site rank for branded and non-branded terms based to varying degrees on the following factors:

  1. How relevant the coverage is to the site’s target topics/keywords. E.g. Does the coverage use the same terms/topics in its headline and body copy?
  2. Does the coverage include links to the site? Followed links are typically stronger than nofollow links (though Google may now take nofollow links into consideration). And nofollow links are typically stronger than unlinked mentions, but all of these could be valuable.
  3. The authority and trust of the publication where coverage is obtained.
  4. The sentiment of the coverage. While this is only rumored to be a ranking factor, positive coverage may help rankings, while negative coverage could actually hurt.

MEGHAN: When developing a marketing strategy for companies you’ve worked with in the past, did PR align with any SEO efforts?

CYRUS: Some of the best SEO campaigns I’ve seen were actually led by great PR people. I’d love to see more PR guiding SEO strategy itself. This is because PR folks on the ground often have a good sense of what journalists are looking for and the topics they want to cover. The “PR-First” approach can often lead to more significant SEO gains.

MEGHAN: Are there best practices PR professionals should adhere to in order to be SEO-friendly?

CYRUS: Based on the above question:

  • Try to get coverage from the most relevant sites/pages possible
  • Work to get links/mentions direct to the client website, in the following order of importance: Follow Links > Nofollow Links (including those with “ugc” and “sponsored” attributes) > Unlinked mentions.

For more information on how PR can support SEO, check out our PR for SEO blog series!

Overlooked Marketing Tools That Can Be Leveraged By SaaS Sales Teams

Whether the discussion centers around lead quality, buyer personas or content, there seems to be a never-ending battle between sales and marketing departments to stay aligned — not just in SaaS, but across industries. When it comes to content, the sales team is rarely using the content that the marketing team is creating — in fact, according to data from eMarketer, 90% of content developed for sales is never used in selling. Continue reading “Overlooked Marketing Tools That Can Be Leveraged By SaaS Sales Teams”