What Communications Professionals Can Learn from Today’s Leading Direct-to-Consumer Brands

Public relations today requires more authenticity than ever before, and some of the biggest direct-to-consumer companies from Warby Parker to Casper are adopting a new mindset to communications to drive their brands forward.

With roughly $4 billion in venture capital (VC funding) having been pumped into DTC brands, it’s safe to say the DTC explosion is real.

Kite Hill PR CEO and Founder Tiffany Guarnaccia joined Meredith Klein, director of media and public relations for Jet.com, at this year’s PRSA Corporate Communications Conference for a fireside chat discussion on how industry leaders can adopt the DTC mindset to communicate more authentically and effectively with their consumers. 

The discussion also focused on strategies Klein has implemented to boost Jet’s approach to PR, from using a technique called key message penetration to measure PR success to using chemistry meetings as a way to vet PR agencies and ultimately create more impactful, integrated programs. As part of her measurement technique, Klein would identify two to three key messages with the goal of achieving 100 percent penetration in over half of Jet’s coverage; if over half of coverage could consistently refer to the company’s mission, Klein said this would elevate Jet’s awareness as a superior shopping experience for customers. Klein also argued that authentic communications professionals do their research on their consumer and get deep into analytics to understand them better. 

Throughout the chat, Klein stressed the need for PR professionals to be real in their communications in order to be relatable. “If you’re relatable, you will form a trust for your brand, which will in turn gain loyalty from your desired consumers,” she said. 

Having worked on Jet’s rebrand in 2018, Klein discussed the company’s new focus on urban consumers who live in large metro cities and acknowledging the difficulty to break out in the New York market. She organized an event known as the Jet Townhouse in which attendees were able to walk through a mock house that contained a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and beyond each equipped with Jet merchandise to visually bring the Jet customer’s experience to life. Reporters who attended were able to understand how Jet integrates into their everyday lives. As a result of this campaign, Jet engaged over 100 journalists to attend along with leading influencers to bring Jet into the consumer consideration set. 

Guarnaccia and Klein wrapped up the chat by sharing three ways professionals can adopt this mindset for their own programs. By keeping personalization top of mind, using an authentic voice and leveraging emerging technology, you can ensure your brand will break through the noise and not be left behind. And above all, don’t be afraid to shake up your go-to publications and spread the love for your brand.

- Mike Siegel, Account Manager

Mary Meeker’s Report is Out and One of the Most Interesting Elements is the Future of Social

Every year Mary Meeker makes us pause and contemplate the future of digital media with her annual Internet Trends report. This year was no different. In fact, a few findings, in particular, shed an interesting light on the future of social media and how the younger generations might change the course of digital communication.

In her report, Meeker identifies gaming platforms like Fortnite, Twitch and Discord as doubling their user base and time spent, as well as a marked increase in communication on the platforms. Fortnite has certainly taken notice of this behavior. Just the other day, the company announced that it bought video-chat app Houseparty. Meanwhile, Twitch announced that it bought social networking platform Bebo to bolster their business and social efforts.

It’s fascinating to think that in just a decade of dominance of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, a whole new way of interacting is emerging on esports platforms. How will this communication evolve as these generations grow older? Will these platforms spawn into standalone social networks? Will similar interactions start happening in other digital communities?

Another stat that points to how social media and digital communication are changing is around the increased use of images and videos. According to Meeker’s report, over 50% of tweets now include images. I guess 5G couldn’t come at a better time.

The growing importance of images is something we at Kite Hill know well. We are working with Photoshelter, a leading digital asset management platform for visual storytellers. The company’s client base spans many major sports teams, food brands and tourist destinations, among so many others. It’s clear that marketers understand the growing importance of images and are investing in more sophisticated platforms to manage their assets.

The impact of the internet shifting to images and new social platforms is overwhelming to consider. For PR specifically, images, videos and understanding an entirely new set of platforms will be important to push stories through and reach audiences.

It’s exciting to think about what lies ahead.

- Gina Preoteasa, Vice President

Kickstarting Your Newsjacking

Most communications programs have naturally defined peaks and valleys. Peaks are the times when you have a big news announcement such as a new product launch or funding round (see our tips for funding rounds here). Valleys are the periods without hard news. Many companies find themselves constrained during that time, but that’s where the true art of creative media relations and proactive storytelling comes into play. During these periods, “newsjacking,” derived from the concept of literally hijacking the news, can be essential to drive consistent coverage for your company.

Newsjacking is an art, not a science. Here are three recent examples of how Kite Hill PR inserted our clients into the news:

Fifty-Five, a data consultancy and You and Mr. Jones company, was one of the first companies to provide commentary regarding how Amazon’s recent acquisition of Sizmek would play out for the tech giant and what the major news means for marketers. With our counsel, the company was able to secure coverage in Ad Age.

Garrison, a groundbreaking technology firm reinventing cybersecurity solutions at the hardware level, proactively produced commentary related to the news of the U.K. government’s creation of a cybersecurity ambassador role and provided insight into how the appointment will have an impact on cybersecurity. We were able to secure coverage in the U.K.’s Cybersecurity Magazine.

Goodway Group, a leading programmatic services provider, amplified their voice while attending Facebook’s F8 conference by sharing commentary on how the news stemming from the event will affect the larger advertising industry. As a result of our outreach, we secured placement in Business Insider.

Newsjacking is an incredibly important practice to implement when your brand needs to break out. In all of the cases above, our team took into consideration not only the knowledge of their clients’ industry but also of the key executives and spokespeople and how their unique POV would show that they have a stake in the game.

Are you an in-house PR professional looking for some newsjacking inspiration? Here are three strategies we leverage at Kite Hill PR:

Take a Vertical Approach

We constantly are on the hunt for stories close to the heart of our business. However, there are often opportunities to issue comment and showcase your company’s value proposition in verticals outside of your core industry. Embrace your creativity and make connections with what’s happening in other verticals for even more opportunities.

Keep a Pulse on the Trends Emerging at Industry Events

As you are keeping a pulse on industry events, monitor the news and keep on top of new trends coming out of the conference. You have an opportunity to engage a reporter with unique insights that could ultimately lead to coverage.

Don’t Shy Away from Controversy

One mistake often made in PR is being afraid of being too contrarian or controversial. If you have a unique opinion that strays from the norm that you think the world needs to hear, embrace it. Reporters are always searching for fresh takes; by leaning into insights from your business, you can give journalists a story they didn’t even know they were looking for.  

By following these tips, you can help to ensure consistent visibility for your business.

- Ryann Slone, Account Executive

Digital Ethics and Real-World Issues Take the Spotlight at London Tech Week

As we wrap up London Tech Week, some of the key themes that emerged at the recent Leaders in Tech Summit were surprisingly not about technology. Refreshingly, the usual tech jargon was eschewed for a realistic talk about technology’s impact on our society.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

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  1. Digital ethics are a priority topic for startups and established companies alike. Founders noted that VCs are now questioning them about digital ethics, and not just the validity of their business model when investing in an emerging company (especially if they leverage AI).

  2. #techforgood is a powerful force indeed. IBM showcased the power of #techforgood during a keynote session. They touched upon their work but also called upon attendees to look to it as inspiration. “We leveraged the power of developers to change and potentially save lives. That motivation is unbelievable,” said Andy Stanford-Clark of IBM as he talked about their past projects and upcoming initiatives under Tech for Good.

  3. Creativity is a superpower. Speakers raised the notion that in an age of AI, VR and more, only people have the creative superpowers to evolve, adapt and leverage technology to make the world a better place.

In the end, Google said it best. “I believe the digital age is, more than ever, a human age.”

- Tiffany Guarnaccia, CEO and Founder

A Decade in Cybersec: How Media Interactions are Changing

Three days of a cybersecurity conference... the yawns from some of the creatives in our industry may be a little too audible, but I've been attending since 2007 and this year was one of the best yet. As an exhibitor, you're pumped with adrenaline, ready to wow one of the biggest IT crowds ever to fit into a convention center, and as a visitor, the excitement to see what the biggest security minds on the globe have on display in IP or in product form is palpable. This year, the hype around AI had diminished into reasoned exhibits, and the micro metropolis buzzed with informative talks and intelligent chatter.

At my first Infosecurity (just over ten years after its inaugural event) media interest around the show, vendor announcements, and the drinks receptions were beginning to reach fever pitch. A vendor with a good story to tell would be able to court at least five interested journalists, throw in some good relationships and this could double. Not only was Infosecurity a marketer's lead generation dream, but the coverage garnered during the event was unexpectedly voluminous. 

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Fast-forward to this week and we're seeing a very different picture. Whether it's the macro-economic climate, or simply event fatigue, the number of journalists that we heard were not making the journey to London for the three-day conference was surprising. With over 300 vendors showcasing the latest technology, we presumed there would be many stories to be told and news to be broken, but many of our media contacts either didn't attend or were only interested in speaking to some of the keynote speakers. 

So as we roll on through the summer, and make recommendations to our clients about which industry shows to attend, we'll continue to monitor trends around media attendance and the value of PR at these conferences. Based on the agency's long-standing work in the PR and cybersecurity worlds, we'd recommend that clients consider the following when investing in conferences and such as Infosecurity:

  • If you're looking to drive media traffic, have a strong reason for engagement. Run-of-the-mill corporate announcements may not be enough to wow the media.

  • Ensure booth investment is not just about sales and lead gen. Get the marketing and PR teams involved early on to exploit media and third-party opportunities.

  • Make sure your PR team has a copy of all sales and marketing materials to see if you can take multiple bites out of the apple. 

- Yogi Patel, UK Account Director

Kite Hill PR Continues Rapid Growth Fueled by Strategic Executive Team Hire and New Client Wins

New President Rachel Hadley to Lead the Tech PR Agency’s Operations and Spearhead Further Expansion of Service Offerings


Kite Hill PR, a leading public relations agency specializing in the tech, media and advertising sectors, announced the appointment of Rachel Hadley as its president. She will be based in New York and report into Tiffany Guarnaccia, CEO of Kite Hill PR and Founder of Communications Week.

In this new role, Hadley oversees international operations, finance and staffing. She brings nearly two decades of experience in public relations and social media marketing. In partnership with Guarnaccia, Hadley will also focus on expanding the company’s core service offerings to include advanced social media and content marketing capabilities as a part of the Kite Hill Content Studio.

She previously served as the president of Likeable Media, a leading digital and social media marketing agency, where she doubled revenue during her time there and increased profitability by more than 15 percent. Prior to Likeable Media, she served as the head of corporate communications at Cinnabon after spending five years growing the B2B business at Weber Shandwick Worldwide in Atlanta.

“I’m incredibly excited to join the Kite Hill PR team,” said Hadley. “Tiffany has aspirational goals that will transform the PR industry, and there are endless opportunities for the company to grow in the U.S. and in the U.K. I look forward to working with the team to continue the momentum they’ve built since launching and to further international growth.”

“Rachel is a seasoned communications executive with a proven track record of leadership,” said Tiffany Guarnaccia, CEO of Kite Hill PR and Founder of Communications Week. “Over the last few years, we expanded our service offerings and have represented some of the most innovative companies in technology, media and ad tech. I look forward to working with Rachel and our talented team to build on our momentum and create value for our clients.”

This appointment comes off the back of a winning and growth streak for the agency. Following the company’s acquisition of Cutler PR in February 2018, the agency expanded its client base in the cybersecurity and emerging technology sectors. Kite Hill PR was recently recognized by Bulldog’s PR Awards for “Best Thought Leadership Campaign.” The agency was also recognized in 2018 by Bulldog’s Stars of PR Awards as “Most Innovative Agency” and by PR News as one of the Top Places to Work in PR.

Funding Makes the Headlines at Kite Hill

As a tech agency working with thriving and growing startups, one key piece of news we’re often tasked with announcing is funding. From showcasing business growth to entering new markets, three Kite Hill clients recently leaned on our expertise to tell their brand story in an impactful way.

  • Applicaster, a company simplifying the production, delivery and maintenance of direct-to-consumer media applications, secured a $20 million round in funding to expand their global presence and product set. We generated more than 30 pieces of coverage for them, with key placements including Axios, VentureBeat and WSJ Pro Venture Capital.

  • PhotoShelter, a leading digital asset management platform for visual storytellers, raised $8 million in order to drive product innovation across its cloud-based visual media platforms, PhotoShelter and Libris; accelerate staff expansion; and finance a new company headquarters. We worked with their team to secure 11 pieces of coverage including features in New York Business Journal and VentureBeat.

  • TRIBE, a self-serve marketplace connecting brands with influencers, secured $7.5 million in funding to support their US launch and platform expansion. Results included an exclusive feature story in TechCrunch, with 11 placements across the US and UK. 


Funding is incredibly important to businesses, and communicating this news efficiently is even more crucial to support your company’s growth. Here are three tips to keep in mind for your next funding round announcement.

Plan and Prepare Efficiently
Beyond the time it takes to share the news and secure coverage, there is so much critical behind-the-scenes work that needs to be done for funding announcements. For PR teams to be able to shape the right story, engage a PR firm well in advance of the proposed announcement date. Make sure you establish what key information is necessary from both internal and external stakeholders and develop a clear and strategic plan of action in advance. 

Go Broad
Everyone has their “cream of the crop” publications. You should target outlets that are most important for your business, but remember that there’s a broader media environment through which you can amplify your message. The right PR partner will be able to target your message at both the key trades as well as business, financial and venture capital-focused publications. A tailored, yet broad outreach strategy will help you break through the noise and ensure the right people see your message.

Amplify the News Beyond PR 
When announcing your funding round, think about creative ways to amplify the news beyond press coverage that directly reinforces your business goals. For example, TRIBE shared their funding coverage across different social media networks, and as a result of sharing the news on LinkedIn specifically, they received dozens of job inquiries from applicants in the US. Meanwhile, Applicaster saw a significant increase in traffic to their website during the week the funding was announced. 

There are so many ways to announce a funding round, but these core strategies will help you produce the right results for your business.

- Mike Siegel, Account Manager

Catch These Kite Hill Clients At NAB 2019 Plus Tips for Maximizing Your NAB Investment

NAB 2019 is nearly upon us. Kicking off on April 8 in the vibrant city of Las Vegas, NAB will explore the latest media, entertainment and technology developments. Industry innovators and leaders are preparing to exhibit their latest developments and explore the hottest industry topics such as AI, 5G, and eSports, to name a few.

All eyes are on Vegas to see what creative ideas emerge from the event surrounding managing, delivering and monetizing content in new and efficient ways across every platform. From cybersecurity, to in-vehicle entertainment, no corner of the industry will be left untouched and Kite Hill’s clients will be leading the conversation. 

Keep an eye out for these Kite Hill PR clients at NAB 2019: 

  • Applicaster, a media-app maintenance company, will be amongst the first round of startups exhibiting at SPROCKIT’s 2019 show. As a company that allows users to quickly develop high-quality media apps at scale through an innovative SaaS platform, NAB will give Applicaster a platform to connect with attendees about new changes coming to the world of app development, which is crucial to the 5G conversation. Applicaster will be demonstrating its Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based app platform Zapp.

  • Deluxe, an entertainment content creator and distributor partner, has solidified an exhibition spot at NAB as well to showcase how its capabilities help content creators. At 2018’s NAB Show, Deluxe unveiled Deluxe One, a cloud-based solution. This year, the company’s top execs will be there to showcase the brand new features - including AI and ML capabilities. Deluxe’s SVP of media and cloud architect Konstantin Wilms will participate at the Streaming Summit on the panel SRT Technical Panel: Implementations and Best Practices.

  • Stringr, a video marketplace that enables media organizations to source custom footage, edit and publish, is among Kite Hill’s clients that will be on the ground exhibiting. CEO and co-founder Lindsay Stewart will be moderating the Women in News: Immersive Journalism  panel on Tuesday, April 9 alongside other female industry powerhouses.  

We're only just a few weeks away from the kickoff of NAB 2019. It's a pivotal time for every industry player to prepare to be apart of the conversation that will shape the future of media and technology. 

Are you attending NAB? Here are some ways that you can maximize your company’s exposure at the show: 

  1. Tell your story. Before the show, leverage your social channels to let your network and other members of the industry know that you will be at NAB and why your product or service is unique. Post the details of your panel, booth, etc., and promote accordingly to keep your followers, clients, potential clients and target audience in the know!

  2. Consider your competition. Major events are leveraged by many different companies, including your competition. If this is the first time you are attending the show, research which journalists have covered your competition. This will give you a sense of what media will be attending the show. This will also help your team understand how the media or attendees talked about services like yours last year. Use these learnings as your team preps for its presentations overall. 

  3. Engage with relevant journalists, with relevant information. The best public relations professionals understand that targeted journalist outreach can lead to great earned media coverage of your company and help lay the foundation for a positive, ongoing relationship. Reach out to journalists and offer information that is relevant to their beat. They will likely be writing articles about news released at the show or major trends coming out of the conference. Be sure to tell them why your company is relevant and what insights you and/or your executives can speak to.


If you are looking for PR for your media company or service, Kite Hill PR will be in attendance at the NAB. If you’d like to arrange a meeting to talk about PR tips and tricks, please contact Dana@KiteHillPR.com 

2019: The Year Brands Get to Know Their Audiences

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As an agency with an expertise and deep understanding of the ad tech, publishing and media spaces, we host regular events that examine the most pressing topics and trends affecting these increasingly integrated industries. Last week, we hosted our first NY AdTech Meetup of 2019 at dailymotion’s offices, welcoming nearly 100 guests who were eager to learn about the value of personalization in advertising and marketing.

Panelists included Caroline Blavet (VP, Business Operations, dailymotion), Josh Neckes (Co-Founder & President, Simon Data), Claire Mitchell (Director, VaynerSmart, VaynerMedia) and moderator, Ginger Conlon (U.S. Editor, The Drum), who broke down personalization as it applies to publishers, media and ad tech companies. 

As the discussion unfolded, a few keys components of personalization came to the forefront; How do you define personalization? How do you make it cost-effective? And what are the benefits?

How do you define personalization

“At the end of the day, personalization is about relevance,” led Josh Neckes, to which the entire panel agreed. However, the bar at which brands are now being measured, according to Neckes, is very high. And although our expectations as consumers are very high, the panel agreed that few brands other than Google or Amazon can achieve that level of personalization. There is hope though, using the analogy of the bear and the sprinter, Ginger Conlon joked, “as long as you’re faster than your friend, you don’t have to be Amazon or Google.”

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Claire Mitchell then broke down personalization into three buckets. The first, and the one that most encounter, is your name appearing in an email or in an ad you see online. Followed by segmentation, or creating different creative assets for different groups based on interests, demographics or location. Finally, there is contextual relevance, not just how to personalize an ad based on information about the user, but meeting them where they are.
As is commonplace when discussing advertising and media in today’s tech-heavy landscape, data began to permeate the conversation. Specifically, how customer data is used by brands when it comes to personalizing experiences, and in turn, what consumer expectations are for their data. “What data is the consumer generating,” asked Neckes. “The data being generated is what creates expectations.” The gaps created when it comes to data and expectations for the user are responsible for the weird middle ground that Neckes believes we are currently in.

How do you make it cost-effective

Creating personalized experiences for users doesn’t come cheap though. There needs to be an investment made by the brands on both the creative and technology side. Those investments need to be carefully vetted and allocated however, or companies risk wasting money before they’ve even started. According to Neckes, one of the biggest mistakes brands make comes in the form of their data team. Having good, clean data is more important for your data team than having a good data scientist. An average data scientist with good data can do much more than the best data scientist with bad data.   
“Our bet, ultimately, is that it will be more cost effective in the long run to create something relevant for specific segments and individuals, rather than creating one piece of content and hoping it is resonant with the entire population,” argued Mitchell.

What are the ultimate benefits

“Consumers want it and it works,” stated Caroline Blavet. Blavet then continued by citing studies that showed that consumers prefer personalized ads, as opposed to non-personalized ads. Consumers are willing to give up their information, as long as there is trust involved and explicit disclosures are made available.

“Regardless of fears about privacy, users are open to personalization,” Conlon agreed. The key is making sure that you are able to stay on the right side of the creepy/cool line. A line, Conlon states, that moves depending on the person and the brand. A way to make sure you stay on the cool side of the link, according to Neckes, is to ask who are you targeting, why are you targeting them and what’s the explicit agreement. What’s the value proposition.

The bottom line, personalization is something that all brands need to be cognizant of. Not only because consumers want it, even with concerns about privacy, but because in the long run, personalization is the most profitable way forward. However, brands need to make sure that they are considering their audience, their product and the message, as well as establishing the value exchange. Doing so ensures that they are able to stay on the cool side of the line. 

- Michael Deleo, Senior Account Executive

2018: A Look Back at Kite Hill PR

A Look Back on My Internship at Kite Hill PR

As a senior year at Manhattan College, I’d already spent many hours learning about what PR agencies do, but had yet to experience it hands on. At the end of this past August, I was offered the opportunity to join Kite Hill PR as the agency’s fall intern. Over the past several months working with the Kite Hill team, I have expanded my knowledge of the industry and have learned the true importance of a collaborative and proactive work environment.

Throughout my internship, I was able to explore an industry that was entirely new to me, adtech and martech! I quickly learned the basics of the industry and began to realize that martech is actually behind almost all of the marketing I’m exposed to on a daily basis. My hands-on work with Kite Hill’s clients and team projects allowed me to learn how the industry is constantly evolving and linked to many, if not all, marketing efforts in today’s interconnected advertising ecosystem.

In addition to learning about the broader technology landscape, my assignments showed me the importance of research, and the impact it plays as a strong foundation for all of the work the Kite Hill team does on a daily basis. Without detailed research, projects will not be completed as accurately and effectively as possible. Expanding my research skills and learning to identify what information is relevant to a task has at the same time helped me outside of Kite Hill with work in my college courses.

Not everything I learned was PR related, however. I’ve also been able to sharpen my time management and multitasking skills throughout my internship, seamlessly switching between different client tasks. I’ve become more confident in  handling day-to-day activities that require me to multitask.

The team at Kite Hill is made up of some of the most ambitious, friendly, positive professionals I have encountered throughout my prior years of interning. Everyone has contributed to the development of my skill set, setting me in good stead as I prepare to enter the workforce this spring. I am sincerely grateful that the entire team welcomed me with open arms and helped me learn so much.

Thank you Kite Hill for welcoming me as a part of the team!

- Nora Duffy, Senior at Manhattan College, Intern

Kite Hill PR Hosts UK University Students for Chat with Vox Media on Becoming a Seasoned Pro

Each year, as students near graduation and head off into the workforce, they often ask themselves, “how can I set myself up for success?”  At Kite Hill, we work closely with our interns and young professionals attending Communications Week, to help those interested in PR, media and marketing become a proactive, solutions-driven professional. When we heard  University of the Creative Arts students were headed to NYC looking to fill their itinerary with lectures and events on how to do just that, we immediately welcomed the opportunity to have them in our space. With the help of Carly Walsh, Senior Communications Manager at Vox Media, we were able to host a fireside chat filled with advice and lessons learned for these vibrant, international students.
 
Kite Hill’s very own Dana Casalino, PR Director and Head of Kite Hill Experiences, moderated a discussion with Walsh. The conversation dipped into what the future of the workforce will look like, the evolving world of PR and integrated communications as well as the importance of developing key hard and soft skills for continued career growth.
 
Kicking off the discussion by recapping their own personal career progression and professional background, Walsh and Casalino shared insights on how students could prepare themselves for their first job by identifying transferable skills they’ve picked up along their professional journey. While many young professionals progress and often times switch roles and companies, Casalino advised students, “Even if you don’t start out in the place you hoped you’d be, think about what you’ve learned in your past or current experiences that you could take with you along the way.”
 
While there are a few key differences between the U.K. and U.S. media landscape, Walsh noted that regardless of industry or marketplace, creating a valuable network that can help guide you is important no matter where you are.  In an effort to build your network, Walsh advised that students should expand their activities, “Make sure you are getting connected with organizations outside of work." She referenced her involvement in an improv group that’s helped to fine tune her quick thinking and public speaking skills.
 
Casalino and Walsh concluded the chat with top career tips for the rising stars in the audience. Walsh wrapped up with advise on how students can champion tactical elements that will have a big impact on their career. She referenced programs like InDesign, PowerPoint and others that will become invaluable to teams that are looking for young professionals who can quickly develop high-quality social assets, presentations, marketing collateral and more.
 
Walsh also encouraged students to remain creative and authentic when presenting themselves to future employers. She challenged students to think about:

  1. What non-traditional platforms they could use to accompany or replace their resumes to represent themselves in a unique way.

  2. What ideas/strategies they could proactively recommend in follow ups or interviews.

 
Walsh’s final thought was simple but vital for young professionals, “Ask as many questions as you can. Nobody expects that you are going to know everything.”  
 
Casalino harped on the importance of building a strong network reminding students, “Be sure to surround yourselves with like-minded people. Those people are the ones that will lift you up in your career.” Casalino left students with insight on how to remain relevant in the continuously evolving digital media landscape. “You will not survive in PR and marketing if you are not taking an integrated approach to communications. You must incorporate all the channels in which you can reach your brand or clients’ audience to tell your individual story.”
 
Thank you to all the students from University of the Creative Arts UK for joining us!
 
- Kara O’Donnell, Senior Account Executive, Kite Hill PR

2018: Kite Hill’s Award Winning Year

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2018 has been an eventful year for Kite Hill PR. Our team has continued to deliver groundbreaking results through our hands-on approach, which has not gone unnoticed by our broader industry!

Earlier this year, Kite Hill was recognized by PR News in its listing of the 2018 Top Places To Work In PR. This recognition is given to organizations that work hard to become leaders within the PR industry, while also creating an engaging and productive environment for their employees. Receiving this award has been a great acknowledgement of our dedication to the growth of our employees, while also delivering stellar results for our clients. Kite Hill’s culture of collaboration, creativity and flexibility are some of the driving factors behind our commitment to employee progression and originality.

In addition, our fearless founder and CEO Tiffany Guarnaccia was named among PRWeek’s 40 Under 40 this year. PRWeek carefully selects industry leaders from the top PR pros that demonstrate the most innovative approaches to redefining their industry. Tiffany’s dedication to advancing our agency and clients, as well as adapting to and progressing in the ever-changing PR industry, helped to land her a spot on the elite list.

Most recently, Kite Hill was recognized in Bulldog Reporter’s Stars of PR Awards. Named a Most Innovative Agency, Kite Hill was featured alongside other agencies that are continuously approaching PR in a creative way. Kite Hill firmly believes that the days of “traditional PR” are long gone, and continues to innovate the way we approach our work differently for each individual client and project.

As 2018 comes to a close, the momentum continues as Kite Hill will be entering 2019 on a high note. Keep your eyes open as the dream team aims for “Bigger and Greater!” 

Will Vogel, Account Associate

Being open about mental health needs to start at the top

Last week I had the pleasure of observing HRH The Duke of Cambridge speak at the insightful new mental health in the workplace conference, This Can Happen. About halfway through the session, referring to a traumatic incident he’d been party to while serving in the Air Ambulance service, HRH explained that he didn’t tell his family what he’d seen or how it affected him – he didn’t want to burden them with it. Consequently, his workplace became the antidote to these negative feelings; he was able to process them by sharing these experiences with his colleagues.
 
This is both brilliantly observed, as well as blindingly obvious once you start thinking about it. Our families and friends are the people we love the most and try hardest to protect. Yes, we’re supposed to share our thoughts and feelings with them, but at the same time we wish to avoid hurting or upsetting them, often an unwanted consequence of being honest about mental health issues. On this logic, of course the workplace must play a role in helping people stay mentally healthy.
 
Conversely, our family and friends are not there to serve as lifeguards or human stress balls to the mental troubles induced by stressful or over-pressurised working environments. High performance workplaces should not come at the expense of high performing personal relationships.
 
Research unveiled by Accenture at This Can Happen revealed that the scale of our exposure to mental health problems is greater than previously calculated. Two out of three people have had a personal experience of mental health challenges – that’s as many as have been considered obese at some point in their lives, and as I understand it we have an obesity crisis in the UK right now.
 
Fewer than half of companies are currently set up to support employees with common mental health problems. I don’t believe that’s due to a lack of corporate interest. Rather, in most cases it’s an inability to understand what companies need to do to put these systems, processes, values and cultural practices in place.
 
Yet any of the 750+ delegates visiting the event will have seen that what’s needed is pretty straightforward, albeit not always easy to implement. At its core, this is about talking. If people talk about how they’re feeling and what they’re experiencing, knowledge and information will be shared, empowering employers to act accordingly. The issue isn’t a lack of solutions – we were shown one slide with 40+ digital mental health care provider logos, a far-from-comprehensive outline of the sheer range of support options available… and that’s just in the digital space. Once employers understand what the problem is, it’s not hard to investigate the potential options available. However, too many employers never receive the right information in the first place.
 
This is because encouraging people to talk requires, a) a culture of openness and, b) a culture of leaders being open. If people are afraid of sharing their stories - through fear of professional reprisals, of appearing inadequate, or simply through a lack of belief that anyone is there to listen – they will almost certainly keep their lips sealed. Likewise, if leaders appear omnipotent and utterly invincible then there’s little chance the rest of the workforce will want to share their all-too-human troubles, irrespective of the support that’s technically available to them.
 
When I first experienced mental health problems in the workplace – severe anxiety brought on by chronic insomnia, itself a product of silent, internalized depression after a very tough year in my personal life – I was fortunate enough to be given as much time out of the office as I required to receive the treatment I so badly needed. It took me having to flee a meeting because I thought I was going to be physically sick from the stress, in order to even realize there was something wrong. Back then, we just weren’t talking about the potential for mental health issues to arise in the workplace, irrespective of cause, or the impact they could have on our ability to carry out our jobs.
 
Today I try and talk about the ongoing, complicated relationship I have with my mental health as openly as possible, because I find it helpful and because I hope it makes other people more comfortable in sharing their own stories. I haven’t always done this within a workplace context. If This Can Happen has taught me anything, it’s that if I want to be a true leader, I’m going to have to lead the conversation about mental health rather than keeping quiet around my colleagues.
 
One final thought: Another stat that emerged from the conference is that a culture of working 11+ hours per day, as opposed to 7-8 hours, makes someone 2.4 times more likely to have a major depressive episode. In our Kite Hill handbook we specifically state the following:
 
“We believe that best-in-class client service is achievable without the pressure-cooker environment and long working hours so often associated with our industry... A stressful workplace does nothing to foster account teams that are always passionate and motivated.”
 
So keep it in mind folks – the PR industry can do a lot to improve everyday mental health simply by making sure everyone sticks to their contracted hours. This too needs to start at the top.

-Tom Kirkham, VP

2018: A Letter from the UK

Kite Hill UK is three years old! If it weren’t for our steadfast commitment to avoiding client-servicing while half-cut, we’d be cracking open the champagne right now. Maybe we’ll pour a glass later; we have prosecco on tap after all (how very PR of us), courtesy of our good friends and landlords at WeWork. 
 
When the UK operation began, we had neither landlord nor prosecco, just a small handful of part-time freelancers lending a few valuable hours to support a limited number of ad and marketing tech clients looking to expand their communications outreach into the UK market. Today we’re a full-fledged tech PR agency with our own client roster, a permanent, growing team, our own lovely WeWork office, and even our own inaugural hosted educational industry event behind us.
 
So much progress has been made, but rather than spend further time reeling off our achievements and boring everyone to tears, I thought it would be infinitely more interesting to ask some of the UK team for their personal reflections and highlights on 2018 at Kite Hill UK.  
 
Frances, Account Executive: "My client highlights of the year, in no particular order; revealing the DMARC implementation - or lack thereof - of cybersecurity’s leading lights at Infosec with Red Sift; starting work with Attest where food + tech + brands = all of my professional goals realised; elevating the voices of Qutee’s influencers to challenge the negative stereotypes of video gaming; and coordinating with the PB to my J, Moira Shannon, on IgnitionOne. Who knew the auto industry was so interesting?!
 
But I know that my top highlight of the year is yet to come; it’s only a few days until VP Tom and I are heading to Kite Hill HQ in New York, where I finally meet the team I’ve spent a year learning from, working alongside and exchanging ridiculous gifs, laughs and sarcastic Slack messages with.”
 
Georgie, Intern: “In my first few weeks at Kite Hill, I felt welcomed by the team and was presented with an array of clients paving the way with innovative tech which sparked my excitement from the offset. As someone who is fresh out of uni and whose parents were convinced the only pathway I had was to teach, everyday the Tech PR industry presents me with new opportunities I can only struggle to explain to them! 
 
A particular highlight was the inaugural London Comms Week event, which embodied the spirit of Kite Hill and showed how a small team of hardworking individuals can produce big results with the help of our lovely colleagues from across the pond. The event contributed to an important dialogue about the future of PR, which for me, as someone who is just starting out in the industry, raised lots of questions and gave me hope and excitement as to what my career has in store…” 
 
Yogi, Senior Account Manager: “If I had to use just one word to sum up 2018 for Kite Hill UK, I'd say 'startup'. We've had startups and scale-ups aplenty coming on board over the past 12 months. Unlike the multinational conglomerates or the sassy independents now heading into their teens, they've afforded us the freedom to push the boundaries of conventional corporate news-driven PR, for example, using proprietary data to drive media interest, set debates on fire and land some hot, high-impact coverage.
 
We’re lucky to enjoy an incredible working dynamic between the humans in London and New York. We strive to support, mentor and champion each other and the agency’s successes are testament to the excellent people that call themselves the Kite Hill Dream Team. Our inaugural London Communications Week event looked at the agency of the future and how to attract the next generation of talent – at Kite Hill, I believe we’re already doing much of this right – we are diverse, we are flexible and we nurture raw talent. It’s a great platform to build on.”
 
Alice, Account Associate: “I joined the Kite Hill UK team as a fresh graduate slightly nervous about moving from the world of Fashion PR to Tech PR, but I’ve felt embraced and encouraged by the entire team, including the team in the US.
 
The last few weeks have been very busy with a lot to take in and new clients to learn about, but I feel like I am learning from the absolute pros in the industry here. I have particularly enjoyed working with Garrison, our cyber security client. I have loved stepping up to the challenge of learning about a new industry, and I’m really excited to see what 2019 will bring!”
 
And there you have it - the view from the people that really matter, the people that have enabled this young PR agency, in a vastly competitive marketplace, to enjoy such a positive and promising 12 months. So hats off to the team: Kite Hill UK is three years old, but 2018 is the year our UK business truly came alive.

-Tom Kirkham, VP

Communications Week® Concludes Fifth Annual Conference

Now in its fifth year, Kite Hill’s industry event series Communications Week® concluded its annual conference with successful events in New York City, Toronto, Chicago, London and Hamburg. Founded in NYC, 2018 was the first year the event expanded globally.

The 2018 theme “Workforce of the Future” was addressed at each event, discussing the most pressing issues in each marketplace. Our New York City events kicked off at Blender Workspace, featuring speakers from companies such as Business Wire, Away and Johnson & Johnson, as well as executives from agencies such as Ruder Finn, Ketchum and Kite Hill PR.

Speaking to the future of the PR, media and marketing industries, sessions examined not only the tools and skills needed to be successful in our industry, but the kinds of people and talent companies will continuously want to attract and retain. Sessions dove deeper into the importance of building a healthy and trustworthy external relationship with partners and vendors, and how these relationships will result in better quality work and a more engaged workforce. As covered in PRWeek, our “Workforce of the Future” event stressed the importance of PR professionals not only being an expert in their space, but making efforts to better understand marketing and other business departments.

The week continued with events at Viacom’s Sky Square Amphitheater, including our “The Human Factor” conference which looked at holding a closer lens to the people-centric issues that will impact the future of the PR industry. Sessions addressed how leaders can encourage a low-stress environment while setting up their teams for success. Executives from companies such as WHOSAY, Bloomberg, Thrive Global, MSNBC & NBC News, among others, addressed pressing industry issues such as the importance of creating and fostering a diverse culture and work/life integration.

Communications Week® continued across the pond with London’s event, “Meeting the Needs of Next Gen Talent.” With a panel discussion led by our own UK VP Tom Kirkham, the event featured panelists from companies such as Luminous PR, ICCO, PRCA, Reuben-Sinclair, The PR Networkand Women in PR UK. The panel dove into the challenges we face as an industry in attracting and retaining a talented workforce. The conversation then shifted towards the importance of positivity in PR. Panelists shared insights and tips not only on how we can make sure we are promoting the positives of PR, but actionable ways we can ensure we are living out these values in our own workplace.

Communications Week® once again brought together top talent to discuss how we can improve our industry, as well as how we can better ourselves as professionals. As our fearless founder and CEO Tiffany Guarnaccia, also the founder of Communications Week®, shared with attendees, "Take control and manage up. You're in control of your own universe." 

- Kara O'Donnell, Senior Account Executive

Kite Hill PR CEO & Founder Joins Powerful Women Leaders to Reflect on Success & Look to the Future

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The workplace is in a moment of reckoning. Our workforce has overcome incredible feats in the past few decades, including the promotion and support of female leaders. With so many monumental breakthroughs and milestones on inclusion and employee empowerment, the question now is how leaders can empower top talent and the workforce of tomorrow.

Tiffany Guarnaccia, CEO and founder of Kite Hill and founder of Communications Week®, recently joined top female executives in the media, marketing and technology industries to discuss how they rose to the top, sharing lessons, insights and best practices they learned along the way. Hosted by Dailymotion, Guarnaccia moderated the conversation and was accompanied by Laura Burkhauser, Director Product Management at Rent the Runway, Stephanie Fraise, Chief People Officer at Dailymotion, Morgan Greco, VP Digital Partnerships at A&E Networks and Jacqueline Quantrell, Chief Revenue Officer at TripleLift.

Kicking off the conversation, Guarnaccia asked each executive to share insights from their personal career journeys and explain how they came to their current roles. While each panelist had a different background story, Guarnaccia pointed out that “there was no one path to the top, everyone had an entrepreneurial spirit while establishing themselves in their career.” Panelists went on to shed light on particular company initiatives that are helping to support women specifically.

The conversation then shifted to broader workplace challenges. While climbing the ranks within a workplace, professionals are tasked with achieving a healthy work-life balance. Burkhauser shared a tip for all audience members, advising them to find the things that matter most to themselves while striving for a balanced life. With so many senior leaders raising a family, Burkhauser advised parents to “take the time to do what you enjoy with your child and the rest of the time be the best parent you can be. Also add in the things that give you energy and make you happy." While it’s not always about doing less, it’s often times about making time for the commitments that make you feel energized and complete. Panelists went on to expand on the fact that a healthy work-life balance is not something that comes without putting in the effort. "You have to seek the work-life balance for yourself. Part of it is the support your company can offer directly and another part is support you demand for yourself," explained Greco.

Panelists reflected on situations where they’ve worked to “break the mold” of women in the workplace. Quantrell shared an experience from early on in her career that has stuck with her to this day. While travelling to CES, she recalls walking on a flight and quickly realizing she was one of only four women on a flight of 300 passengers travelling to the event. While the industry has made huge strides and improvements over the past decade, women need to continue finding their voice in the workplace.
Speakers went on to share advice for those coming up in their career. “Use all the experience you’ve learned throughout your career to make insightful, powerful decisions to make sure your voice is heard,” noted Quantrell. When managing a team, it comes down to leading by example. Guarnaccia challenged leaders to “manage with transparency and to be authentic when communicating to your team” - a best practice she lives by while managing her own company.

Burkhauser chimed in, "Sometimes we feel like we need to wear a mask at work. It's really important for leaders to be the ones that are authentic for their teams to feel they can be themselves in the workplace."

Looking to the future, speakers shared how they want the workforce want to look in 2025. Panelists agreed that inclusion will continue to prevail, hoping all workplaces will foster a fully diverse environment.

The panel concluded with tips on how to advance in today’s workplace. While anyone on a team can identify what’s going wrong, professionals can differentiate themselves by providing strategic insight on how to fix an issue. “Have a voice, be strong and be passionate,” Quantrell advised. Coming to work motivated and enthusiastic is another factor up to each individual employee. While it’s easy to teach someone skills, strategic thinking is a technique that is learned through experience. Guarnaccia stepped in to explain the importance of an employee taking the time to understand the larger business and how their role impacts the broader company.

Promoting a strong future workforce stems from the actions of today’s leaders. Thank you to all  the attendees for joining us!

- Kara O’Donnell, Senior Account Executive

From Mumbai to Kite Hill: Observations on Advertising’s Future

Does advertising have a future? That was the thought-provoking question posed to us by Ana Milicevic, co-founder and Principal of Sparrow Advisors, at a recent adtech breakfast we held at our office. Ana, an adtech veteran and consultant, began the session by asking what the last great, or even good, ad we saw was. Most of us needed to go back half a year, to the Super Bowl, to recall such an ad. 

Which leads us to the short answer of no – at least not in the capacity as we see it now. Instead, advertising will have to go through an evolution. As Milicevic continued to drive home, the only constant is change. Definitions change. Behaviors change. Expectations change. And in today’s mobile and digital-first society, the speed of these changes has increased exponentially, and advertising will need to adjust accordingly.

Flexibility

In today’s tech-heavy and user-centric society, these changes have lead to the shift from mass media to semi-private channels. This shift in media consumption habits has forced advertisers to create more targeted experiences for consumers, or face being skipped. With the growth of ad blockers, whose usage is up 15 percent (2014) to 30 percent, advertisers need to have the flexibility to change their “old world” models to adapt to changes in consumer behavior and preferences of the “skip-ad” generation. 

Think like a consumer

In order to combat ad blockers, and being skipped, advertisers need to put themselves in the consumer’s shoes - which shouldn’t be hard, they are marketed to during their daily lives as well! Milicevic highlighted five key factors that are important to today’s consumers: curation, personalization, simplicity and semi-automation, immediacy and non-friction. Essentially, consumers want everything today to be a mix of the Netflix and Amazon models - and you can’t just blame Millennials for this one.  

Milicevic also highlighted a number of trends we are seeing in regards to consumer behavior, as opposed to what was traditionally thought of as the standard. No longer do consumers feel comfortable with invisible services and assets, they want to feel like they are in control. Loyalty and trust have become defining factors when considering products and services for today’s consumers, leading to a shift from push marketing to pull marketing. Additionally, consumers today have been shown to prefer experiences, rather than just accumulating things, and are far more open to sharing (Uber, Netflix) rather than owning. 

Challenges for the industry

In our profession, and in adtech PR specifically, GDPR has been ever present since the 25th of May. As such, there is no need to go into great detail, as you’ve heard it all before. However, the impact GDPR has had on advertising cannot be understated. With the recent legislation in California, Milicevic believes it is only a matter of time before we have country-wide regulations in the US as well. Another aspect that came out of GDPR was a more scrutinized look at where your data is coming from - whether it be first or third-party data. 

Data regulations and the way that it’s collected aren’t the only challenges advertisers are facing either, as both ad fraud and the duopoly continue to play major roles within the industry. Milicevic, however, voiced confusion at the fact that some executives within the industry have come to see ad fraud as “just part of doing business,” instead of an actual problem. Some even include expected losses due to ad fraud in their budgets, anywhere from 15 to 20 percent! 

Silver Lining 

Not all is doom and gloom in the industry and advertising is not going away, nor should it. However, like the automobile, telco and media industries, the advertising industry needs to adapt. Consumer’s habits change – Baby Boomers consume products and services differently than Millennials, and Gen Z will bring an even bigger shift in its consumption habits. Using Ana’s insights, paired with our own experiences, it is now up to us to help our clients, and the industry as whole, to adapt and rebrand.

Be sure to check back in a couple of weeks to see our blog post expanding on the current challenges adtech, and the advertising industry as a whole, are facing. 

- Michael Deleo, Senior Account Executive

Following GDPR, ad tech has a PR problem

The drumbeat “ad tech is dead” has risen in intensity and bubbled up from what was an insider conversation to the mainstream media thanks to the roll out of GDPR. Experts questioned the model of many ad tech providers -- pointing to the fact that in order for online advertising to be effective, it needs to be based on personally identifiable information (PII). But the reality is different from the picture that’s been painted. 

GDPR could positively impact the industry by pushing issues that have been swept under the rug up to the forefront. If you’re an ad tech company, here are four ways that you can help combat the industry’s PR problem. 

Highlight Compliance & Proper Use of Data
The best ad tech players in the industry, like Kite Hill PR client Tapad, have been preparing for this rollout and have taken a proactive stance in communicating the impacts, new process and procedures that they’ll employ in the post-GDPR world, including “3 Reasons Why Marketers Should Welcome GDPR.” 

Another Kite Hill PR client Merkle recently voiced a positive perspective on the legislation, explaining that it validates the way marketers are striving to communicate with consumers. Rather than a en masse approach, GDPR enables people-based marketing. 

Deliver Better Ad Experiences
In some ways, the industry created its own issues. Frequently forgetting best practices and letting ads follow uninterested consumers around the internet, burying user terms and conditions so that privacy policies are an afterthought - there’s plenty of no-no’s to highlight. GDPR will help weed bad players out. Companies should now be taking control into their own hands by reviewing how marketers are leveraging their platforms and offering training on how to deliver the optimal experience. We’re well past the John Wanamaker days. Every ad dollar counts and should be put into great creative that reaches the right users.

Demonstrate the Benefits Beyond the Duopoly
The media industry needs ad tech. And ad tech needs media. An unexpected consequence of GDPR’s rollout could be to strengthen the hold that Google has on the marketplace. Google has noted that websites and apps using its ad tech tools must get a user’s consent, while also limiting their use of other ad tech vendors. A more diverse ad tech ecosystem can put the control in the hands of publishers.

Think about What’s Next
In the U.S., there are several laws being proposed that would curb data usage in similar ways to GDPR. In the EU, ePrivacy legislation is also now being debated. ePrivacy would go further than GDPR to curb a company’s ability to use data. Speaking about the potential consequences of these proposed laws offers ad tech companies an opportunity to stand apart from their competitors, and might even play a hand in influencing the likelihood that the laws will be passed.  

The ad tech industry isn’t dead. But it is evolving. Highlight how you are a part of the industry’s evolution to survive.

Reflecting on my time interning with Kite Hill PR

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A couple of weeks ago, I was asked if I could start thinking about my time with KITE HILL to help inform the company’s internship program going forwards. And so, after digging through my notes, emails, past tasks and briefs on anything and everything we have been up to during the past 12 weeks, I thought I’d offer some reflections on the most educational and formative experiences of my time with the UK team. I have also met some of the most creative, motivated, friendly and fun individuals since I moved to London and therefore I would first like to thank the KITE HILL UK team for their support and guidance through all of my assignments.
 
I have a profound interest in the tech and the start-up scene, especially new and innovative tech companies that tackle issues and problems impacting our everyday lives. Innovating is hard work, and within the walls of Kite Hill I have discovered how working with some of these tech companies demands similar innovation and creativity be reflected in their PR strategies.
 
Arriving to the office on a typical Monday morning to be introduced to new clients with unique products or solutions is something I will miss. To assist my colleagues in their work on these accounts has made me realise the importance of clear and strong research and insight to inform valuable strategies for clients, as well as good outcomes for the team. My time at Kite Hill has introduced me to several new methods for improving my research and communicational skills, whether compiling reports or researching for client projects,  which is something I am grateful for and will take with me to future roles.
 
Another skill I have enjoyed developing over the past weeks is employing creativity whilst conducting research. I found the most success while thinking creatively while still demonstrating great attention to detail. Bringing creativity and new thinking to everyday tasks can be a challenge, especially when a task is, as my colleague Yogi once remarked, “Mammoth”. However, I have learned the importance of learning and pushing for continued improvement through each assignment.
 
I thoroughly enjoyed working with the KITE HILL UK and US teams: they are all strong communicators and team-players who deliver great feedback that has certainly helped me to develop in the role and allowed me to benefit from new experiences as a consequence. These personal developments mean a lot to me and I am glad and grateful that the team of Kite Hill PR took me on for this truly educational and fun stint. Thank you!

Jacob Möller, University of the Arts London, School of Management and Science