PR and Improving your Bottom Line
How are PR firms still staying at the top when working with clients and getting them editorial coverage?
It’s an interesting field right now. With the rise of some really reputable online media outlets and influencers not tied to any particular traditional media parent, this is definitely a balancing act.
You have to be smart about timing your outreach and where you’re targeting. Spread it out, offer the right stories to the right reporters, but don’t forget the smaller, up and coming outlets too. Maybe the little guys don’t get to break the news, but give them something to make their stories special too. In a year from now, they could be the next big influencers.
PR isn’t just about existing relationships with journalists – a huge part of it is being able to give them the tools they need to create a great story. If you put together the right pitch for the right journalist, the opportunity for coverage should be there.
What are the pros and cons of PR versus advertising?
A successful PR campaign carries a lot of weight. There’s a level of trust with editorial. For example, when you read Newsweek, Women’s Health, Wired, and Men’sJournal or see things on your local news, you’re gathering information from what you consider trusted sources.
I am a big believer in advertising. Well-produced ad campaigns have real value. When I hear from someone that “advertising didn’t work” for them, I have to wonder if maybe it was the overall campaign strategy.
Advertising has more than a few solid selling points for marketers. You get to control the message and you can repeat that message as frequently as you have the resources for. Just throwing images on a page with some copy and website isn't necessarily going to do anything except take some resources out of your marketing program.
PR allows for repetition of message as well, but in a different way. If a particular magazine covers your company’s new tennis racquet in April, they’re most likely not going to do another story on it in May. But that’s where a strategic, well-thought-out campaign comes into play. Maybe that same magazine will cover your hot new player in their next issue, and they’ll talk about or show the racquet. A similar magazine or national newspaper could cover that same racquet in the same month, followed by some online coverage in leading outdoor websites. The racquet brand’s message is being repeated, but in a different manner than a controlled ad campaign.
Dark Wolf: accelerating security for USAF
As a small company whose biggest customers are the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community, Dark Wolf Solutions (Dark Wolf) is a triple-threat, specializing in Cybersecurity, Software and DevOps, and Management Solutions. Dark Wolf secures and tests cloud platforms, develops and deploys applications, and offers consultancy services performing system engineering, system integration, and mission support.
The break for Dark Wolf came when the Department of Defense decided to explore software factories. Rick Tossavainen, Dark Wolf’s CEO, thinks it was an inspired path for the DoD to take. “It was a really great decision,” he says, “Let’s pull our people together as part of this digital transformation and recreate what Silicon Valley startup firms typically have. Let’s get into commercial facilities where we have open windows and big whiteboards and just promote ideation and collaboration. And it creates this collaborative environment where people start creating things much more rapidly than before.”
It has been, Tossavainen says, “amazing to watch” and has energized the Federal Contracting Sector with an influx of new talent and improved working environments that foster creativity and innovative ways of approaching traditional problems.
“We originally started working with the US Air Force about three years ago. The problem was at the time you could develop all the software you wanted but you couldn’t get it into production – you had to go through the traditional assessment and authorization process. I talked to Lauren Knausenberger and she told me about Kessel Run and what eventually came out of this was the DoD’s first continuous ATO [Authority To Operate].”
The secret to Dark Wolf’s success – and its partnerships with USAF and Space Force – lies in a client-first attitude. “We’re not looking to maximise revenue,” Tossavainen explains. “We tell all of our employees, if you’re ever faced with an issue and you don’t know how to resolve it, and one solution is better for the customer and the second is better for Dark Wolf, you always do number one. We’ve just got to take care of our customers, and I look for other partners that want to do that. And let’s work together so that we can bring them the best answer we can.”
Rapid releases and constant evolution of software are common themes among USAF’s partners. Like many firms operating in the commercial and public sector spaces, Dark Wolf leads with a DevSecOps approach.
“Failure is tolerated,” says Tossavainen. “If it’s not going the right way in three months, let’s adjust. Let’s rapidly change course. And you can tell really quickly if something’s going to be successful or not, because they’re doing deployments multiple times a day – to the customer.”