Elizabeth Ducoff
Read This Before Hitting Send


Emails, tweets, blog posts, texts and pictures beg us to send them all day long. You shouldn’t keep thoughts locked up in your head. Use that megaphone the tech luminaries designed for you!

Well, not so much.

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Create The Culture You Want


When I started my career working at a branding consultancy in New York, we didn’t talk about culture and certainly didn’t blog about it. And yet our mission was to help companies build exceptional, longstanding brands. How can you do that without thinking about the clients’ culture and certainly one’s own if we wanted to be a business around in the future?

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What Makes A Great Startup PR Partner

Many startups have a love/hate relationship with public relations. This makes sense if it’s unclear why you might want publicity, who’s the best fit person or team to help you get it and how to measure results. 

My friend Adam, who heads up PR at Dyn, and I were discussing point #2 - what to look for in your first PR hire - for a little project we’re working on.

Here are some qualities our peers value.

  1. Cultural Fit - your team and industry will like them
  2. Trustworthy - guard sensitive material with their life
  3. Honest - tell you if a story/spokesperson isn’t ready + get them there
  4. Proactive - ask for forgiveness, not permission to boost your brand
  5. Market Maker - talk about your market in new, provocative ways
  6. Story Teller - weave together events in unique ways
  7. Fast Friend - make connections in-person and over the web
  8. News Junkie - know what’s up to tie your stories to relevant events
  9. Available - on 24/7 and respectful of journalists’ time 
  10. Calm - in a crisis they make a plan and get you to the front lines 

Whether you’ve hired external (agency, freelance) or internal help, we’d love to hear what you look for and what frustrates you about the vetting process.

If You’re Not a Growth Hacker, What Are You?


When I came out of business school in 2010, my marketing friends and I were applying to “Brand Marketing” or “Product Marketing” jobs. Nearly 4 years later, there’s a new crop of marketing roles within technology companies that have arrived.

Coined by Sean Ellis in 2010, but all the rage today, the Growth Hacker owns finding low-cost, fast ways to connect customers with your product that are scalable and repeatable. Check out Sean’s new site, growthhackers.com, devoted to connecting the growth hacking community and revealing their tactics. You won’t find these methods taught in textbooks or HBS case studies yet.

Across the Web, most growth hacking articles discuss how to turn site visits into activations and Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) or, better yet, Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) and customers.

But who’s the Growth Hacker’s counterpart, optimizing the 7+ touches it takes on average to get a visitor to your site in the first place? The “Awareness Marketer” is not yesterday’s Brand Marketer. And no startup or large corporation should accept a spray and pray approach without metrics that’s unfortunately associated with brand marketing. 

Today’s Awareness Marketer:

  1. Quickly identifies everywhere your customer lives, works, plays and researches things - both online and offline.  They shadow and become the customer to observe and do what they would do. They also poll prospects online, over the phone and in-person. Working hand-in-hand with the sales team is advantageous here. With their help, you can ask hundreds of customers your questions everyday.
  2. Ranks the channels by a weighted algorithm that reflects a) how fast you can reach customers, b) how cheap it is to reach them, c) how deep an impression you can make and d) whether the process is repeatable. Channel attribution modeling is just one piece of the equation though. The Awareness Marketer understands that customers remember experiences over ads, and seek to turn every impression into a unique experience to score well on C.
  3. Combines the channels in different orders to find the most efficient path to getting the customer to your site. It’s not about first touch or last touch being the “moment of truth,” but the right combination of impressions that build on each other. 

Do you know a marketer who’s great at building and measuring awareness? Please share in the comments. 

How to Get Press, Part 2: Go From Email to Interview


You’ve crafted an irresistible subject line, and are ready to conquer the body of the email. Follow these 4 tips and you’ll have a repeatable approach.

  1. Keep it short. Limiting yourself to 3-5 sentences will force you to be direct and succinct. If you must, move additional info below your signature or to a P.S., or link to it. Including a link can also help you track whether someone engages with your email if you’re using Yesware, Hubspot, Marketo or a similar email tool.
  2. Deliver 3 bits of content: I particularly like Jeff Hoffman’s “F” framework for writing any email to get what you want. For pitching, I usually reverse Jeff’s recommended first (why you) and second (why you now) sentences. 1) Say why you’re writing now - connect your company to a trend that’s relevant. The trend is probably bigger than your company, so hook them with the big thing they’re familiar with. 2) Say what makes your story unique (untold). 3) Prove you’re easy to work with - write like a human and clearly articulate next steps. More on #3…
  3. Be a confident, spirited human, not a robot. Don’t you prefer “Happy Hollandaise!” to “Happy Tuesday!”? Ok, that might be taking things too far depending on the recipient, but it’s undoubtedly more fun to write, to read and will get you noticed. Convince somebody that you have an entertaining story by being a colorful storyteller with data to back you up.
  4. Ask for what you want. Don’t assume anyone knows why you’re writing after your first 2 sentences. Distinguish whether you’re asking for an in-person coffee, phone interview, or to be filed in an email folder labeled [X] trend to be a resource when they swing back to that topic. If you’re asking for a meeting, provide a few day and time options in their time zone to cut down on subsequent emails. Make it feel like a no brainer to commit.

Here’s one of my favorite examples:

Hi X-

Disruptive Tech Startup? Check.

Non-profit? Check.

Church? Check.

Pretty unique package, right? It’s time to check out [COMPANY], a [CITY-based] non-profit that, yes, happens to be a church but has an engineering team to rival any other in SV, SF, NYC, you name it … (admittedly it went on a sentence too long here with a few links to their products, but I thought they helped sell the story).

Can I convince you to jump on the phone with their CEO, [NAME], for :30 to hear more? Here are a few times when he’s free …

How To Get Press, Part 1: Get Your Pitch Opened


How To Get Press How To Make Friends

If you don’t work in PR or marketing, these tips still apply to getting what you want over email, so stay with me folks.

  1. Connect with your target any chance you get in person or over the phone before you email them to read your pitch. They need to recognize your name and trust that you’re not going to waste their time.
  2. How do you get the in-person or phone meeting in the first place? Have a mutual connection make the intro, attend an event where they’ll be or grab their attention in an open channel like Twitter. On getting an intro - ask your connection for honest feedback if the journalist declines the intro so you can learn from it. On events - events you’re hosting are the perfect place to invite journalists to meet you and others they might have on their list without much pressure. Even if they don’t show, you’re building awareness and keeping them aware of your momentum. On Twitter - be prepared to follow up over email immediately if you have an opening to get into a deeper conversation and use a clear subject line referencing the Twitter connection.
  3. Offer help. If you do nothing else, follow this tip. This was the first thing my friend and mentor, Josh Jones-Dilworth, taught me about PR. And it applies to life. You’re going to feel terrible if you spend all day asking people to help you out. It’s needy and unfulfilling, jeopardizes your credibility and will make you feel lonely when people stop responding. What can you give a journalist? Background on the industry when they’re researching something new, a story you find interesting at another company they care about, a thoughtful comment on a post that extends its shelf life and increases engagement, help building an awesome lineup at the conference they’re planning and suggestions for under the radar leaders to feature in their next roundup.
  4. Own your subject line. The first step is to uncover the 3 most unique things about your company that resonate with others. Remember, it’s about what they find interesting, so stop drinking your own Kool-Aid. Pretend you’re a greeting card writer and create a list of 50 openers in a Goggle doc (yep, it’s meant to be a stretch). Invite others within and outside the marketing team to collaborate. It’s a fun exercise and getting multiple viewpoints is exactly what you want. Download free software like Yesware to track which emails get opened, and start attacking your list. You’re not going to find your secret sauce with one round of experiments, so spread it out over pitching for various announcements and evergreen stories. Feel free to email me if you’re looking for feedback or examples. And if you’d like to jump into offline marketing territory, sign up for Nicely Noted to get a few greeting cards in the mail every month that you can use to pitch or say thanks.

P.S. How To Get Press, Part 2 will tackle what to write in the body of your email so let’s meet back here soon.

8 Trade Show Exhibitor Tips

  1. Set quantifiable goals. There’s no reason to go unless you’re measuring the number of pizza rolls you sample, emails you collect or demos you give.
  2. Never pay menu pricing for sponsorship opportunities. Propose the custom opportunity that supports your goals.
  3. Walk your booth in the door. This ensures it’s light and portable. Otherwise, shipping and handling costs will make you want to bash your head in and large, complicated pieces will take too much time to set up.
  4. Make friends. Your neighbors will feed you, give you a power strip, share lead lists, suggest new ideas for your booth and make you laugh.
  5. Map out your CTAs. You want to get leads to the show -> to your aisle -> to your booth -> to give you something. Rope them in with a provocative message, thoughtful question, fun game and always genuine interest in why they’re there.
  6. Plan follow-up before the show. Draft your “great meeting you” email before you leave the office so you can quickly edit it after the show. Decide who the will be the face of the email (sender) and who will call leads to after sending the email. If it’s someone who wasn’t at the show, brief them as soon as you get back to make a seamless handoff.
  7. Use Twitter. I’ve collected leads from folks who never stepped in my booth by live tweeting during a panel talk and sharing event pictures with folks who never even came to the show - you just never know. Plus you can reuse that content in your emails and blog posts related to the show.
  8. Track and share results. I track costs, leads, ARR and ROI in a Google spreadsheet that I link to from a Trello card (1 card per event) and share with my team.