Cheers to Season 5: BLASTmedia Kicks Off New SaaS Half Full Podcast Season with Inspiration for B2B SaaS Marketers

INDIANAPOLIS — Feb. 12, 2024 — BLASTmedia, the only PR agency dedicated to B2B SaaS, celebrates the launch of the SaaS Half Full podcast’s fifth season, hosted and bartended by BLASTmedia President Lindsey Groepper. SaaS Half Full is inspired by candid bar conversations after conferences and events, providing insights from SaaS marketers and others charged with growing a SaaS business.

The new season kicked off with positioning expert and author, April Dunford, on category creation and positioning; strategic brand builder and storyteller, Totango CMO Karen Budell, on marketing’s vital role in customer expansion; and martech and customer experience expert, Seismic CMO Paige O’Neill, on surviving a new CEO transition.

“From the very start, our vision for SaaS Half Full was to provide listeners candid access to some of the brightest minds in B2B SaaS marketing and growth. Since then, I’ve shared a drink with a line-up of incredibly inspiring SaaS marketers,” said Groepper. “I’ve had so many amazing conversations that give our listeners a peek into the minds of the industry’s biggest luminaries but stripped of the overly messaged and canned responses.”

Since its launch, SaaS Half Full has seen significant traction on top marketing and SaaS podcast lists and featured experts in SaaS marketing and growth, including former Drift VP of Revenue Marketing Justin Keller, former Atlassian Head of Brand Sarah Emmott, 15Five CMO Julia Stead, G2 Head of Marketing Palmer Houchins and more.

Listen to the SaaS Half Full podcast on all major listening platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. For past episode archives and recaps, visit BLASTmedia.com.

About BLASTmedia

Established in 2005, BLASTmedia is the only PR agency in the US dedicated to B2B SaaS, representing companies from growth-stage 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.

BLASTmedia Named Top PR Agency in 2024 by Vendry

INDIANAPOLIS — January 30, 2024 — BLASTmedia, the only PR agency dedicated to B2B SaaS, has been named to Vendry’s Top PR Agencies list for 2024. The list showcases agencies that blend traditional PR wisdom with digital-age tactics.

For more information about BLASTmedia and its services, please visit www.blastmedia.com/our-services.

About BLASTmedia

Established in 2005, BLASTmedia is the only PR agency in the US dedicated to B2B SaaS, representing companies from growth-stage 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.

The Evolution of the Corporate Narrative

Corporate Narrative by Jodi Ireland

The corporate narrative no longer focuses solely on the CEO, category and product talk tracks. It’s broadened in topic and scope to act as another influencer on today’s generation of talent and buyers valuing purpose and connection. 

And really, every company needs a narrative. We’re not talking about self-contained stories with a set beginning, middle and end, but rather an ongoing, open-ended tale focused on the customer — not the company. 

Far too many companies struggle with crafting a compelling, inspiring corporate narrative that’s customer-focused. Successful companies have included Nike, with its “Just Do It” slogan, Google’s “Telling our Story” initiative, Zendesk’s “Let get real” story or Apple’s “Think different.” 

In this post, we’ll talk about the merit of corporate narratives and how companies can expand their storytelling to reach more audiences, create customer loyalty, build resiliency and more.

A brief history

In the early 20th century, most large companies focused narrowly on selling products and services, and corporate messaging centered on product features, quality and customer service. By the mid-1900s, companies expanded their narratives to include related topics such as their history, relationships with communities, social responsibility efforts and value — a significant shift from the original product focus to building a broader identity and reputation.

More recently, companies have extended their narratives to include cultural branding, purpose-driven messaging, social causes and weightier topics like inequality and climate change.

Now, organizations seek to convey compelling stories across multiple channels — advertising, PR, social media, etc. — infusing those stories with personality, emotion and pillars that go beyond profits.

Benefits of telling more stories

So, why do stories matter? Have stories always been important, and we’ve only just taken notice over the past few years? Or have the audiences themselves changed?

There isn’t one single reason why stories have become more important. Still, the numbers show that Gen Y and millennials — who value purpose and meaning when choosing vendors — comprise most of today’s decision-makers. 

Millennials expect something beyond the typical, traditional sales pitch. They crave meaning when selecting a vendor, and since millennials are involved in 73% of all B2B buying decisions, companies need to step it up to sate this craving. Brands must employ any strategy to attract those buyers, including creating a strong narrative beyond products and:

  • Building an emotional connection.
  • Inspiring evangelists.
  • Driving culture.
  • Guiding decisions.
  • Cultivating trust.
  • Sparking movement.
  • Differentiating the brand from its competition.

Drive authenticity by involving the C-suite in narrative development and leveraging more “internal” SMEs — think CHROs, DEIB and ESG leaders — externally to add layers to the corporate narrative and its importance.

Sure, marketing can distribute the message, but leadership must immerse itself in customers’ needs and expectations. By understanding the full scope of potential opportunities, your leadership can author a narrative that truly resonates. 

Once the C-suite is invested, invite employees to embrace and buy into it. Help them grasp the narrative’s significance, connecting it to their roles in enabling customer success. An inspired, unified workforce multiplies the narratives’ power. When each employee lives out a meaningful story, customers feel the impact.

Looking beyond products fuels inspiration. Delve into your customers’ needs, aspirations and ambitions. When their purpose resonates with your own, passion ignites. Let that intrinsic excitement guide you toward other paths for shared growth.

Then, empower meaningful action. Outline achievable steps to engage customers’ potential. The path to action should challenge — not overwhelm. Progress takes commitment; with care and courage, customers can act on the narrative to drive change.

Best practices for creating a corporate narrative

Corporate narratives have grown increasingly multidimensional and sophisticated, focusing on invoking something beyond a transactional relationship with target audiences. These expanded narratives help attract talent, connect with customers on a deeper level and portray the company as more than just a business. 

But the narratives also invite more scrutiny if actions don’t fully match messaging or aren’t backed by meaningful policies and practices. Avoid serious missteps with these best practices.

  • Articulate a clear purpose and values driving your organization beyond profits to build a solid and consistent foundation.
  • Align the narrative with business goals and strategies to ensure you’re not simply sharing fluff.
  • Get to know and understand your audiences so you can tailor your messaging and channels to resonate with target customers, stakeholders and communities.
  • Showcase company culture authentically, with transparent glimpses into what’s really happening versus portraying more idealistic interpretations of the culture.
  • Make corporate social responsibility (CSR) integral to your company, incorporating it into practices rather than treating it as merely an add-on or afterthought.
  • Evolve and grow the narrative as your company and social expectations change.
  • Substantiate the narrative and claims with action via concrete policies and measurable progress.

Not “The End” but rather a continuation

Investing in your brand is the most powerful intangible asset on your balance sheet. When you invest in expanding your corporate narrative to tell stories that your audience wants to hear, you foster customer loyalty, influence perceptions, drive advocacy, establish credibility, differentiate yourself from the competition, build a solid foundation in a changing world — and perhaps most important of all — create resilience. 

Modern PR: All About Business Value

The PR industry has traditionally been a fan of big numbers. Hitting the 100+ pieces of coverage mark is exciting. Watching the likes and comments flow in on social media provides a dopamine rush. Metrics like advertising value equivalency (look, we’re in the millions!) or total potential reach (we’re in the billions!) can look great on a slide deck.

But, friends, the hard truth is that all of these KPIs or KRs — sheesh, we’re a fan of alternatives to “goals,” too — may not provide any real business value. 

Is this the end of the industry? No, not at all. Do we have to evolve? Absolutely. Modern PR professionals must take a data-driven approach, tying their efforts to broader marketing objectives and demonstrating contribution to real business impact.

This post shows how traditional PR measurement limits PR and marketing teams and how the industry must shift to metrics that matter.

The Drawbacks of Traditional PR Measurement

Most PR teams report to marketing leadership, and according to MuckRack’s State of Marketing and PR Leadership, lead generation, the number of stories placed, sales, web traffic and conversion rates are the biggest priorities. 

A simple, quick takeaway? Vanity metrics don’t cut it. Stakeholders want to see the measurable impact of PR, not just feel-good clips. Efforts need to sync with broader business goals to raise PR’s value. That requires moving beyond shallow reporting to prove links between PR programs and tangible marketing outcomes.

Using ABM to Demonstrate PR Impact

Let’s explore a concrete example of reorienting PR to business goals. A recent Terminus report reveals most marketers have an Account-based marketing (ABM) strategy, which relies on aligned cross-functional efforts across the most relevant and highest-value target accounts and contacts.

PR teams can support ABM by reviewing your target account list and decision-maker details to understand the businesses, roles and industry demands. 

It can support sales penetration by spotlighting those accounts through earned media and relevant thought leadership. This captures decision-makers’ attention while associating the brand with strategic interests. It also provides valuable touchpoints for account reps to reference, facilitating meaningful engagement.

How does this look in action? A three-pronged effort could focus on:

Cornerstone content supporting lead generation 

  • Dynamic short-form video puts the company and experts front and center in our digital “town square.” 
  • Educational blog series provides content worth sharing 

Customer elevation, supporting referral traffic 

  • Fresh and timely case studies give your best ambassadors the spotlight. This can be tough, but we outlined the customer PR process here!
  • Strategic award nominations provide additional validation.

Sales support, supporting conversations 

  • Use our ABM list to incorporate key names in contributed content or podcast interviews, catching key targets’ attention. 
  • Drafting sales enablement emails to better equip your front line with the latest and greatest wins

The Bottom Line? PR Needs to Be Part of the Bottom Line.

The future of PR is integrating with broader marketing frameworks and goals to demonstrate real business contribution. Whether supporting an account-based sales pipeline or overall brand lift, PR must quantify impact through goal-aligned metrics rather than isolated vanity metrics. 

By keeping measurement tied to targets the C-suite cares about, data-savvy PR teams make the function indispensable. Ready to modernize your PR program? Let’s chat.

B2B Tech PR Trends to Dominate 2024

As 2023 wraps up, our team reflected on the significant events of this past year to forecast the top trends shaping tech PR strategies in 2024. From big moments like Silicon Valley Bank to Hamas attacking Israel to Open AI firing Sam Altman, the need for communicators in the decision room is clear. Here are our top predictions for tech brands gearing up for an unpredictable 2024 environment.

Non-traditional media outlets like Reddit, YouTube and podcasts will gain prominence for targeting developer and technical audiences rather than broader trade publications. Also, while AI may have dazzled as a buzzword, it will take more substantive narratives around problem-solving use cases rather than generic “innovation” to drive ongoing coverage. – Kate Johnson, VP of PR

Large analyst firms will face more hesitation from tech brands due to high costs and rigid frameworks that don’t always fit. Attention will shift to more specialized firms that provide flexibility, custom insights and impactful recommendations in a tight funding climate. – Jake Doll, VP of PR

With tightened funding, B2B SaaS PR strategy will pivot from product marketing to executive thought leadership. Owned assets will highlight innovations, while earning external media coverage builds credibility for company leaders to court crucial investor and employee audiences. – Kim Jefferson, EVP of PR

Per recent surveys, buyers rely more on LinkedIn to research vendors. Hence, B2B SaaS brands should invest more in ghostwritten, bylined content for executives to extend their industry voice and drive qualified traffic. – Zach Weismiller, VP of PR

And my own prediction…Industry watchers will shift from established analyst firms seen as “pay-to-play” to more impartial emerging influencers. For a transparent software selection process, customer review platforms like G2 that provide objective validation will only grow in value.

While the forecast for 2024 is more uncertain for PR pros, it also offers ample potential for brands willing to navigate this changing environment. As new influencers, platforms, and priorities emerge, the principles of conveying compelling and trustworthy narratives through engaged human connections remain.

For more 2024 predictions, check out 2024 SaaS PR Predictions: Navigating Data and Brand Trust.

2024 SaaS PR Predictions: Navigating Data and Brand Trust

From guiding communication around the war in Ukraine and the Silicon Valley Bank collapse to navigating the launch of Threads, 2023 was a big year for the PR industry. Throughout it all, our leadership team was involved in countless conversations to help guide our clients and team as we watched the industry — and world — evolve.

Here’s what several of our leaders predict for the industry in 2024 based on what they saw this year, from changes in how PR pros approach media relations to our tools taking new form.

PR will focus on the message over everything.

In 2024, PR professionals will shift their focus from the medium to the message. While securing media coverage for our clients remains a core responsibility, we must expand our horizons beyond traditional editorial publications. By crafting compelling narratives and aligning them with both owned and earned mediums — company blogs, LinkedIn posts, contributor profiles, and so on — we can orchestrate more impactful campaigns. This strategic approach will not only enhance the reach and resonance of our messaging but also establish our clients as industry thought leaders with the audiences that matter. Kim Jefferson, EVP

Data pitching will need to evolve.

In the current data-saturated landscape, data alone no longer holds the power to captivate attention or establish industry authority. Data is now table stakes, and we must act like it when pitching it to the media. To ensure your data report escapes the cacophony of information overload and truly resonates with journalists, you must now look to data released in partnership with other brands, vendor-neutral reports and larger sample sizes to set your data apart. Kelsey Sowder, VP of PR

Communications will move beyond awareness generation.

The role of communications has evolved beyond mere awareness generation. While securing prominent media placements remains valuable, the true power of communications lies in fostering brand trust. In a world brimming with skepticism, buyers are increasingly discerning, preferring to conduct their own research and rely on trusted sources for recommendations. Their decisions are guided by data, gut instincts, and the opinions of those they respect.

Amidst this shift, communications can serve as a bridge, enabling brands to establish themselves as credible sources of reliable information, insights and best practices. By consistently delivering valuable content, brands can cultivate affinity and loyalty among their target audience, ultimately translating into increased customer acquisition. Communications will take its rightful place as a strategic instrument for building trust and driving business growth in the year ahead. Grace Williams, SVP of PR

X looks at an untimely demise.

The mass exodus of media and brands from X, once known as Twitter, is a troubling sign for the platform’s future. Companies are hesitant to invest in advertising on X because of concerns about reputational damage. The risk of impersonators tarnishing their brand image is simply too high. Moreover, a HubSpot report recently indicated that Twitter offers one of the lowest ROIs among social media platforms. Taken together, these factors suggest that X’s time may be drawing to a close as brands seek more secure and effective avenues for reaching their target audience. Jake Doll, VP of PR

BLASTmedia Honored Within PRNEWS’ Agency Elite Top 100 for Second Consecutive Year

B2B SaaS PR agency spotlighted as one of the most innovative PR and communication firms in the world

INDIANAPOLIS — November 28, 2023 — BLASTmedia, the only PR agency dedicated to B2B SaaS, has been named to the Agency Elite Top 100 list by PRNEWS for the second consecutive year. The Agency Elite Top 100 is the most comprehensive guide of the top 100 most innovative PR, marketing and communications firms in the business.

“We not only want BLASTmedia to set the standard for SaaS PR, but for the PR and communications industry as a whole,” said BLASTmedia President Lindsey Groepper. “Being named to the Agency Elite Top 100 for the second consecutive year validates our team’s innovative thinking and tenacity to tackle the evolving communications landscape. We aren’t afraid to experiment or evolve a best practice — we embrace growing through change.”

According to PRNEWS, the list is designed to demonstrate the wide range of industry specializations and core capabilities that PR, marketing, and communications encompass, recognizing the top agencies across multiple segments and channels.

On top of the PRNEWS Agency Elite 100, BLASTmedia has been acknowledged as a leader in the industry through multiple recognitions over the last year, including being named a Leader on the first G2 grid for PR firms and receiving PR Daily’s Top Agencies award. The agency has also received recognition for its exceptional culture and employee experience, including being named one of Inc. Magazine’s Fastest Growing Private Companies for the second consecutive year, Inc. Magazine’s Best Workplaces for 2023, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce Best Places to Work list for the 8th consecutive year and nominated for the Mira Awards Exceptional Employer Award by TechPoint.

For more information about BLASTmedia and its services, please visit www.blastmedia.com/our-services.

About BLASTmedia

Established in 2005, BLASTmedia is the only PR agency in the US dedicated to B2B SaaS, representing companies from growth-stage 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.

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.