This is the eighth article in a continuing monthly series chronicling the growth path of Screach, a startup based in Newcastle upon Tyne in England’s North East. Screach is an interactive digital media platform that allows users to create real-time, two-way interactive experiences between a smart device (through the Screach app) and any content, on any screen or just within the mobile device itself. We invite your feedback.
By Alexandra Reid
When we last caught up with Screach, then called Screenreach Interactive, the startup was in the process of hiring a PR firm to promote its existing platform and to give the world an idea of the diverse projects that it was helping to create.
But just two months after beginning its relationship with a London-based firm, Screach decided to try a different approach to garner the attention of media, the general public and prospective customers.
“We couldn’t have been happier with the overall support we got from (the PR firm), and we’re definitely open to working with them in the future,” said chief strategy officer David Weinfeld. “However, the decision came down to the whole idea of how we were going to promote ourselves as a startup in a crowded market.”
PR isn’t the only way to get noticed
While many startups would love the opportunity to get on the front page of The Daily Telegraph or slap a giant neon sign right in the middle of Trafalgar Square, that can be tough when the budget is tight. Nevertheless, you’ve got to get people’s attention somehow. Simple dollars and cents and a changing marketplace convinced Screach that it could take an alternate route from traditional PR to tell the company’s story.
“It’s the nature of the world of startups to believe that the right type of PR can put your startup on the map,” said Weinfeld. “But it’s easy to get lost in this sea of startups competing for attention.”
As Screach considered its place as a mobile interaction company with a leg in multiple industries, from digital signage to social TV, it realized it was in a slightly unusual position. It already works with several large companies, which have excellent publicity teams at their disposal. Increasingly, it was these companies that were creating their own experiences, while Screach provided the technology to make them a reality.
As a result, Screach reasoned that the best place to focus its attention wasn’t necessarily in promoting the experiences, but in styling itself as a company full of visionary people with ideas as to how to guide the digital signage and social TV industries in the right direction.
Outbound vs inbound
To promote itself as an authority-based company, inbound marketing, namely content marketing, proved to be the most effective and budget-wise marketing approach for Screach. (I extolled the benefits of inbound marketing in an earlier post.)
Inbound marketing, as opposed to traditional outbound marketing, is a term coined by Hubspot CEO Brian Halligan. The idea is to get noticed by taking part in the discussion. It’s about producing blog posts, videos, columns and social media posts on the market in which you operate, and making yourself more noticeable by offering people views and advice they can learn from or discuss.
Because Screach has a strong and informed team, from technology expert Paul Rawlings to digital media veteran Sam Morton and digital signage authority David Weinfeld, it hopes that such an approach will highlight their expertise and encourage them to contribute to the debates that are shaping their industries.
“We realized that we should be focusing on what differentiates us, which is the knowledge of our strong team and the unique ways we look at emerging technologies,” said Weinfeld. “We’re at a stage where we’re looking for the right strategic partners for our technology. We want to draw them to us because of the uniqueness of the platform, but also because they recognize they’re getting more than just the technology.”
The integral role of the journalist
The foundation had already been set for Screach to launch a successful content marketing program. The PR firm helped the startup determine key messaging, its unique selling points, business objectives, and long-term aims and began the process of publicizing the company’s recent technology developments and partnership opportunities. Screach also had the foresight in its early days to hire a social media manager to develop its social media feeds and write content for its blog.
In July, Screach started working with a former journalist who would help promote the work the company was doing. Screach already had a working relationship with freelance technology reporter John Hill who had written stories about the company for local papers. Screach reasoned that a journalist could provide insight as to how to tailor its publicity work to busy media figures, but also on how to share its thoughts on various issues in an interesting way.
Bringing in journalistic expertise is an approach that’s being used elsewhere as well. For example, at the end of July, CNET’s Rafe Needleman announced he would be leaving to become a “platform advocate” for the popular note taking and archiving company Evernote.
Not to mention that three regular bloggers at Francis Moran and Associates have backgrounds in journalism.
As can be expected, Hill is currently wearing many hats at Screach, including media relations, developing content for the blog and social media, and news monitoring. He is also bringing an outsider’s perspective to the company, interviewing key company employees to help them distil their ideas, communicate better, and to determine how they can get involved in more conversations.
The Screach team believes it can offer worthwhile insights in the social TV and Digital Out of Home areas, as well as the future of radio, TV and second screen and the development of “mobile convergence,” which is the trend towards being able to perform more of your daily tasks using your phone. It hopes to do this by creating content that can provoke debate in the industry and beyond, using blog posts, slides, infographics, videos and opinion pieces.
And this approach is also a great way to listen to what other people are saying. Areas such as second screen and social TV, for example, are evolving all the time, and this approach gives Screach a great opportunity to hear what other people are saying and doing and learn from their experiences.
“We’re looking to separate the hype from the information of high value,” said Weinfeld. “We want to add more value to the community beyond just talking about new products and new projects, by really sharing our knowledge with the community out there.”
Next time, we’ll check in on Screach’s progress and dig further into its activities to discuss its specific goals and strategy to surpass them.
Francis Moran and Associates is an associated team of seasoned practitioners of a number of different marketing disciplines, all of whom share a passion for technology and a proven record of driving revenue growth in markets across the globe. We work with B2B technology companies of all sizes and at every life stage and can engage as individuals or as a full team to provide quick counsel, a complete marketing strategy or the ongoing hands-on input of a virtual chief marketing officer.