Podcast: Malia Spencer: Portland Business Journal

Podcast: Malia Spencer: Portland Business Journal

Recorded Live at PreGame HQ: An Interview with
the Portland Business Journal’s Malia Spencer

Plus some new PR pet peeves from Malia, and what exactly is a startup anyway?

Malia Spencer has spent the last four years digging deep into Portland’s technology, startup, and entrepreneur culture for the Portland Business Journal. She was originally hired to cover banking technology, but quickly transitioned to reporting on venture capital, private equity, and angel investors because they’re a growing part of Portland’s burgeoning tech sector.

Early in our interview, recorded live at PreGame HQ, I asked Malia for her opinion on Portland’s place in the national tech scene. She breaks the country into three basic tiers, with areas like Boston, New York, and Silicon Valley occupying the top spots, Seattle and Austin in tier 2, and other cities like Denver and Portland in tier 3. In Malia’s view, Portland is trying to move up to tier 2 thanks to its recent growth.

I was prompted to ask Malia about how she defines a startup, because I often ask myself that same question. Could I call my own business a startup and pitch it that way for coverage? While Malia takes a rather broad view of the word in her own coverageoften profiling the abundant maker and food entrepreneurs in PDX – she defines a more traditional startup as a company with a high gross potential over the short term that’s also backed by venture capital funds.

Malia also covers other small companies that might not have a lot of investors, but that often depends on how she believes the story will land with her audience.

The readers who are looking at the business journal are “people who have grown businesses, and can read a story to learn what they can do to help their business,” Malia said. So the stories she gravitates towards are going to include those details.

So what should you do to have your company featured in the journal? Malia was kind enough to share her best PR tips, and perhaps more importantly, what PR pros and entrepreneurs should absolutely NOT do.

 

Malia’s PR Pet Peeves

Always prepared, Malia came to our live podcast interview with a list of pet peeves she’d sourced from the members of her newsroom, which PR Pros would be wise to heed.

  • Malia’s #1 pet peeve is pitchers who don’t do their homework. She says she gets so many irrelevant story ideas from people outside the Portland area that too often turn into irrelevant phone calls. Malia advises people interested in getting PBJ coverage to first read the journal so they understand what’s in it and what the reporters cover.
  • Never ask for an advance review, because no journalist with any ethics would ever send one.
  • If a reporter hasn’t responded to your pitch, don’t do more than one telephone or email follow up. Malia says that if she’s interested in a story idea, she’ll respond to a pitch immediately.
  • And finally, no more than 2 people on a conference call.

 

Malia’s PR Tips

So once you’ve avoided these pet peeves, what can PR Pros or entrepreneurs do to get coverage in the journal? Malia says, it all starts with the story.

  • First there needs to be a news hook. The journal is generally interested in new C-Suite hires that might make a big impact, or if a startup has raised a new round of funding. They also frequently cover businesses that have landed a huge sale or a contract that’s going to change what it’s doing in a big way. So before you pitch, think twice about how you’ll position your story’s news hook.
  • Malia reminded the audience that even if she decides to follow up on a pitch with her own story, the final version could look different than your original suggestion.
  • In response to an audience question, Malia said that pitches don’t have to come in the traditional press release format, and in most cases a regular email is sufficient.
  • Many times, entrepreneurs can get coverage by simply reaching out to reporters personally to let them know who they are and what they’re doing, and then inviting them to talk more about it over coffee.

Beyond feature stories, The Portland Business Journal also publishes other regular content that PR Pros and entrepreneurs should consider.

 

  • One good way to get coverage is through “The Pitch.” This feature is essentially a written investor pitch which combines a company questionnaire with a write up interview about a company’s genesis story. “The Pitch” always runs online and will run in the print edition as space allows.
  • The journal also publishes weekly lists throughout the year, such as The Fastest Growing Private Companies in Oregon or The Largest Architecture Firms in the Portland Metro Area. PBJ editors are always looking for list topic suggestions or business nominations.
  • In addition to lists, the PBJ also publishes regular awards for outstanding businesses and business executives. When this is mentioned, I remind PR folks that clients will love you forever if you get them an award.

About the guest: Malia Spencer

For nearly five years, Malia Spencer has covered the technology, startup, and entrepreneurs beat for the Portland Business Journal. Sign up for her free, twice-weekly newsletter TechFlash.

Connect and follow Malia on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

PR Talk is sponsored by monday

In such a fast-paced, multi-faceted work environment, it can be tough to stay on top of everything. monday is the collaboration tool trusted by businesses of all kinds to help cut down the clutter and streamline productivity. Learn more at monday.com and signup for a free trial. You’ll see in no time why so many teams around the world are choosing monday for their project management needs.

PR Talk listeners can use the coupon code BetterExecute for a 15% discount.

Event: PR Talk Live with Malia Spencer

Event: PR Talk Live with Malia Spencer

Join us on June 7th at Pregame HQ in the Pearl

Amy will interview Malia Spencer, the Portland Business Journal’s startup and technology reporter. Get your questions answered and meet Malia — sometimes all it takes is putting a face behind the blind email pitch or press release.

5:00 pm | Doors & initial Happy Hour
5:15 pm | Live Podcast Interview
6:00 pm | Q&A and First Thursday Happy Hour

More info and tickets at pregamehq.com.

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5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

June 7th

Pregame HQ

926 NW 13th Ave, Portland, OR 97209

PR Talk Live with Malia Spencer

At Pregame HQ in the Pearl

Register Now, Free for Pregame Members, $47 for Guests

To learn more about Pregame, listen to our PR Talk episode with Pregame Founder, Ciara Pressler.

Join Us Honoring Ethical Businesses

Join Us Honoring Ethical Businesses

Oregon Ethics in Business Awards

It shouldn’t be surprising that a company called Veracity supports ethical business practices. Veracity is proud to sponsor the Oregon Ethics in Business Awards, of which our CEO, Mike Rosenberg, is Chair. Congratulations to the impressive 2018 recipients:

  • KEEN, Les Schwab, The Portland Clinic
  • Fully, Lakeside Lumber, Tom Dwyer Automotive
  • Shriners Hospital for Children, Portland Children’s Museum, Habitat for Humanity.

We hope you’ll join us on May 23rd at the Oregon Ethics in Business Awards hosted by the Rotary Club of Portland and presented by KGW Media Group. Listen to Mike’s interview about the Awards & the Rotary on the Weekly Portland Podcast.

Oregon Ethics in Business Interview

Listen to an early episode of PR Talk for more in-depth information on the Oregon Ethics in Business Awards with longtime committee member and former committee Chair Dick Clark.

Podcast: Kevin Getch: Engage Conference

Podcast: Kevin Getch: Engage Conference

Kevin Getch of SEMpdx Has Us “Engaged” Before the Annual Digital Marketing Conference Hits Portland

Each year as winter folds over into spring, many of our friends and colleagues, along with those in our office, are busy planning, organizing and corralling for Engage Conference (formerly called SearchFest). Scheduled for March 8th, the creme de la creme of the industry share knowledge, learn and network at the Pacific Northwest’s only digital marketing conference organized by a nonprofit (SEMpdx).

That’s why I took the opportunity to catch up with Kevin Getch, President of SEMpdx, before he got too busy with Engage commitments. Also the Founder and Director of Digital Strategy for his company Webforan agency specializing in search engine optimization (SEO) and UX driven web design — and familyman extraordinaire, this guy has a lot on his plate!

In the episode, Kevin talks about how Search Engine Marketing (what the SEM part of SEMpdx stands for) has everything to do with PR and why all types of marketing professionals should consider getting involved with SEMpdx. He also gives us a sneak peek into how Webfor approaches PR for its clients. It’s a far cry from writing press releases but it drives their clients’ websites up in the search engines — which is the name of the game in SEM….and possibly in PR too.

Symbiotic Relationship Between SEO & PR

Kevin explains how the two functions overlap. “So much of PR is what people are searching for online. What type of content is showing up in a search and is it positive? Good story placements and positive content will lessen anything negative that might come up in a search, such as a bad review.” He believes that bringing all of the marketing areas together, rather than keeping them siloed, creates the best results.

According to Kevin, a psychological component can be intertwined into search, which typically functions within a more technical capacity. The inherently non-technical PR mindset can help SEO teams intuit their jobs on a more advanced level.

“PR’s are doing aspects of SEO. Mentions of a brand, even if they aren’t linked, have a positive impact on SEO.”

How Webfor infuses PR into digital

Kevin founded Webfor in 2009 after coming to the realization that some in the industry, particularly where he was working at the time, weren’t looking out for their clients’ needs. Focusing on all aspects surrounding search, design, content strategy, paid search campaigns and more — Webfor ties PR into many campaigns. But with different angles that PR traditionalists may not be familiar with, such as:

  • “Reverse Engineering” the link profiles of their competitors. They look into the opportunities, such as thought leadership placements, their clients’ competitors are garnering and attempt to generate the same type of coverage for their own clients.
  • Running promoted Facebook posts to follow reporters and publishers at a targeted media outlet so that by the time they reach out their pitch is warm.
  • Creating great “on-site” content and reaching out proactively to external websites, sometimes media sites, to link to it.
  • Reviewing websites, sometimes media sites, they want their clients to be placed on and coming up with ways to get that done, such as writing editorial-focused articles which link back to their clients’ websites.

More about SEMpdx

SEMpdx was one of the first nonprofit professional trade associations created for the digital marketing industry. Looking for community and a way to expand their skills, a group of competitors banned together to start the organization. Mentioning that I’ve always thought it fascinating that competitors would join together in such a way, Kevin says the group is “the opposite of hiding secrets.”

More about Engage

As more and more marketers began to infuse search principles into their campaigns, SEMpdx broadened along with the industry. No longer applicable to only technical search professionals, the group decided to change the name of their hallmark event from SearchFest to Engage two years ago. With four tracks focusing on varying digital components (brand, SEO, Paid/PPC, mobile and more), the name Engage communicates more inclusivity.

While Engage has a lot to offer, Kevin is most excited about its prominent speaker line-up, featuring Purna Virji from Microsoft and Ian Lurie from Clearlink as keynotes. Event attendees have access to videos from all of the presentations to use later for training or to put themselves in two places at once since there are simultaneous sessions.

A new perk is that non SEMpdx members will receive a membership ($125 value) with the purchase of an Engage ticket. Membership includes discounts to monthly networking events featuring speakers from across the country, as well as discounts to other associations’ events and conferences, not to mention invaluable networking resources and a supportive community.

The “community speakers” are another new Engage feature. An open call for speakers went out into the community and members voted on who they’d like to hear presentations from. Yours truly, along with Christian Bullock (MKG Marketing), were selected! Again, you’re probably wondering why the search community would ask me, a PR person, to speak. Well, my presentation is titled “PR Your Way to the Top of Google” so maybe that is why. All I know is that it seems like every time I attend a search event I hear how important links from earned media sources are. Hopefully I’ll be able to give them actionable tips on how to actually get these links through PR.

If you see me or Kevin there, please reach out and say hi!

About the guest: Kevin Getch

Kevin Getch is President of SEMpdx, the nonprofit professional business association for digital marketers in Portland and producers of the Engage Conference. He is also the Founder and Director of Digital Strategy at Webfor, a full-service digital marketing agency providing search engine optimization, social media marketing, website and logo design.

Connect and follow Kevin on social media:

This episode of PR Talk is brought to you by PRSA Oregon

Throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington, PRSA provides members with networking, mentorship, skill building and professional development opportunities – whether you are a new professional fresh out of college or a skilled expert with 20 years in the industry. Check out PRSAoregon.org for more information on how membership can help you grow and connect.

PR Talk is sponsored by monday

In such a fast-paced, multi-faceted work environment, it can be tough to stay on top of everything. monday is the collaboration tool trusted by businesses of all kinds to help cut down the clutter and streamline productivity. Learn more at monday.com and signup for a free trial. You’ll see in no time why so many teams around the world are choosing monday for their project management needs.

PR Talk listeners can use the coupon code BetterExecute for a 15% discount.

PR Internship | Launch Your Career at Veracity

PR Internship | Launch Your Career at Veracity

Do you want in? Launch a career in marketing with a PR Internship at Veracity.

 

What is Veracity?

Veracity is a boutique marketing agency that takes pride in creating engaging campaigns that help our clients get noticed. We put our story-telling hats on to uncover how we can break through the clutter. Then we get busy putting the most appropriate marketing discipline — whether that is public relations, social media, media buying, email marketing or website development — to work for our clients.

 

Why Should You Care?

Making coffee will only get you so far. Sure, you’ll always need to do that kind of work as you start (or switch) careers, but this small, client-centric firm needs help on the real work. We’d rather have you writing press releases, strategizing social media content and proofing creative briefs than wasting your talents on errands.

You’ll learn a ton shadowing us as we work with long-establish and fast-growing clients; plus some fun events. We are rising and would always rather promote from within.

Grow up with us at Veracity.

 

Details

This is an estimated 12 week (20-40 hours/week) paid internship (stipend) at our hip creative office space in Northeast Portland’s up and coming Bakery Blocks Building.

Be sure to let us know about any specific skills or experience you have, including (but not limited to): press release writing and other PR functions, social media management (including tools used), graphic design, web development (including platforms/CMS), photography, copywriting, email marketing, SEO/SEM, other marketing software usage. Writing samples and/or links to work samples are mandatory.

To apply: email your qualifications and at least one writing sample to careers(at)veracityagency.com. Please let us know if you intend to earn credit for this internship.

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

 

Event: The Ins and Outs of Podcasting

Event: The Ins and Outs of Podcasting

Join us on September 28th at UO in Portland White Stag Block

Amy and Connor will talk all about how to launch a podcast and why you should be paying attention to this marketing medium.

This breakfast meeting, hosted by PRSA Oregon, will be full of tips for agencies and in-house PR pros about launching a new podcast, connecting with existing shows and leveraging the created content.

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7:30 AM - 9:00 AM

September 28th

University of Oregon in Portland

70 NW Couch Street, Portland, OR 97209

Ins and Outs of Podcasting

At the University of Oregon in Portland – White Stag Block

Register Now, Tickets Start at $15

For a preview of what we’ll cover at the event, listen to our PR Talk episode with PRSA Oregon President, Colby Reade.