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I read a novel recently that described a futuristic society where AR-like glasses identified the personal stats and characteristics of other humans in your vicinity. Almost like a video game—where your health meter hovers delicately over your avatar's head—the novel’s protagonist could identify names and ages, when the person last ate and more, all by glancing at them through her high-tech glasses.


While at Finovate this week, there were more than 70 seven-minute demos from companies challenging the current state of financial services and offering something new. From feature launches to the unveiling of entirely new companies, there was a lot to digest. But the biggest miss, in my opinion, was the lack of engagement during the demo portions. Yes, there was plenty of time for one-on-one discussions. However, if I’m going to sit through a demo with an audience of people who care enough to be there, it’s much more valuable to force the presenter to answer some questions. We’ve all flown into a city to take in a ton of information, so let’s get more value out of the presentations and offer a give-and-take conversation. Imagine that a bank asks a key question, a VC asks a question and a potential tech partner asks a question. Now you’ve opened up a dialogue and the minds of the people sitting in row after row of seats.

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Do you have what it takes to pack a perfect product demo into seven minutes? FinovateFall’s nearly 70 demoing companies aim to dazzle and captivate audience members in less than ten minutes--no easy feat.


Millennials are a misunderstood bunch. Every generation is, or feels that way—but this one in particular has marketers slinging stereotypes and shaking their heads. You’ve heard the labels. Lazy. Entitled. Fickle. Bored. Bent over their phones.

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In less than two weeks, established and emerging financial services companies from around the world will converge on the demo stage at FinovateFall.


Every year, there comes a time of reconciliation for a company’s division heads, when product officers, marketers, sales reps and every other department are vying for the same pool of resources that will be allocated to best achieving the business’s objectives for the coming fiscal year. For the CMO, that means making perpetually hard choices around ad spends across channels, paid relationships with market research firms, internal initiatives, traditional marketing campaigns, travel and trade shows, awards submissions and more.


In the midst of Hurricane Harvey, our hearts go out to the many communities in Texas affected by the catastrophic rain and flooding. While live news streams play in the background of our daily activities, we know there are hubs of communications teams assembling throughout the state and country preparing their pitches, social media efforts and more. We have a job to do.


Industry conferences are a seemingly never-ending affair. For some, it’s a time to network with other industry professionals and experts. For others, a chance to show off their latest products and services, impress investors and advance their businesses for everyone to see.


Like many people, I do most of my banking through devices, and I am so thankful that technology exists to make it so! However, while there's a lot we can do on our phones, computers and bank kiosks, bank tellers aren't going away completely. Here’s why:


Public relations has traditionally struggled with measuring its own success. The impact earned media coverage, thought leadership campaigns, executive positioning, paid advertising and other facets of the umbrella term “PR” have on a company’s business objectives have historically come in the form of inflated impression numbers, advertising equivalency (AVE) and unique visitors per month.


So you’ve built your company, growing it with care. Now, you’re starting to think about how to make it even more attractive for a lucrative acquisition. The No. 1 thing to know: It takes time.


Many companies positioning for an IPO don’t have a seasoned professional in their marketing or PR departments who has been through the process before. In such cases, the lack of “been there, done that” necessitates an external partner from which your internal department can learn while keeping all channels between your legal department, CEO, CFO and other executives open. This group especially will be spending a lot of quality time together—from initial planning and kickoff meetings to ringing the bell on the stock exchange—so it’s imperative that all parties are aware of what each is doing. No “Left hand, right hand” nonsense here!


Red Fan specializes in helping organizations at three critical points in the business life cycle: launch, growth and exit. Our clients are startups preparing to introduce their works of genius to the world (not to mention funders), established businesses eager to build brand visibility and accelerate growth, and companies gearing up for a merger, acquisition or an IPO.


Do yourself (and your investors) a favor and don’t be that guy or gal. I’m talking about the founder or CEO who assumes his or her latest accomplishment—no matter how small—is newsworthy. Trust me when I tell you that no one, and I mean no one, loves your company as much as you do. At least not yet.


Every week, I talk with angel investors and venture capitalists in Austin and beyond, and often I ask what common mistakes they see startups make during a pitch. Most are quick to reply that as potential investors, they are most wary if a company does not offer an exit strategy. Specifically, a plan for growing and becoming so desirable it can eventually either be acquired by another company or successfully go public.


A cohesive public relations strategy is an essential part of any company’s success, whether you’re announcing funding, scaling your employee or customer base or looking to make an acquisition or go public. Maintaining a positive reputation, creating meaningful relationships with key stakeholders and increasing customer engagement are all key to thriving in the business world, and PR has an important role to play in all of them.


Last week, I attended an event called “Raising Capital: The Art of the Deal,” sponsored by Bank SNB and the Austin Chamber of Commerce. The event’s keynote speaker was businessman and entrepreneur Joel Trammell, who has shepherded several companies through various funding rounds, beginning with his startup Prodigy all the way up to Khorus, his current software management firm.


There’s hardly a day we don’t talk about influencers under the Helms House roof, whether it’s a potential new partner chatting with us about what they’re looking for in a PR agency or with the post office worker who has seen us mailing out the same product once a week for the past month (yes, this really happens).


There’s a mantra you’ll hear the Red Fan team say when describing our clients: “We work with good people and brands we believe in.” This isn’t just a feel-good saying, it directs every partnership we make. Working with like-minded companies provides natural synergy that makes relationships last.


It doesn’t matter what stage your business is in: Maybe you just launched. Maybe you’ve just experienced a growth spurt or maybe you’re getting primed to sell­—if you’re reading this blog post, you’ve likely determined that your company has a story to tell. This is an exciting time, to be sure, but a question that we find comes up quite a bit—no matter which stage you’re in—is whether a company should build an internal PR team or hire an outside agency. Well, we can certainly help. While we are a PR agency, we can still offer some unbiased advice.

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The age-old debate on press release distribution is akin to the schism between political party lines. Some marketing professionals sit in Camp Release-it-All, whereas others set up shop in Strategyville. Bottomline: the press release is a foundational PR tool that can’t be ignored by companies large or small. The dissemination of said release, though, should be a careful conversation mapped to business goals, budgets and media relations intentions.


Companies scale at different speeds. There’s no magical template every company can follow religiously that leads them to the promised land of billion-dollar valuations, a massive buyout or the most successful IPO on the New York Stock Exchange in a decade.

Heart of Business Summit

We take great pride in our hometown of Austin, Texas. The community is unlike any other and giving back is in our DNA. It was only natural for us to become partners with Austin Gives in 2013. We surround ourselves with like-minded companies to strengthen each other with direct results to our community. This year, Austin Gives launched The Heart of Business Summit for HR directors, marketing and communications teams, nonprofit leaders and CEOs to learn about the changing landscape of business and the need for community engagement in your business model.

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Through the years, Red Fan has hosted quite a few exclusive events at the Helms House, including a private visit with Guy Kawasaki, Apple veteran and currently brand ambassador for Canva and—more recently—with Samantha Ettus, author of “The Pie Life.” This week, we enjoyed an evening with our friend Olga Campos Benz for a reading and discussion with business and fellow PR leaders of her new book, “It’s News To Me.”


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