No BS Blog

Life After Ad Value Equivalency

August 17, 2017

Ad value equivalency, or AVE, is a slightly fictitious metric that has besieged PR pros for decades. AVE is based on the idea that PR and advertising accomplish the same thing and can be compared interchangeably – when as we know, the disciplines are incredibly different.

Recently, the International Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication announced its plan to fully eradicate the use of AVE and similar measurement tools as acceptable metrics in public relations work. And while this may have sent some PR pros into a tail spin, others know there are far more accurate – and impactful – ways to measure results.

Tie PR results to business successes

Whether onboarding a new client or kicking off a planning session for the quarter, aligning on business goals is crucial to the success and measurability of a PR program. CEOs want to demonstrate to their boards a growth in market share, sales, customer acquisition, or stock price, so we must establish how PR best contributes to this growth. Identify the connection between what PR does and what the business wants to do. Once consensus has been made on the business value of what you’re supposed to deliver, work backwards from those outcomes to develop strategies and tactics.

Look beyond impressions

AVE has largely stuck around because it’s an easy way to quell a quarter’s work of PR efforts into a single number with a dollar sign. Instead, set figures to evaluate the impact of coverage – not just its impressions. Determine what is most valuable for your client and its business goals. What elements will persuade or dissuade a reader from doing business with your client? Some factors to consider include positive sentiment, publishing medium (e.g. print vs. online), inclusion of a positive visual, key message proliferation, addition of a call to action, customer leads, etc. These elements can also help highlight an increase in average media quality over time, as well as the likelihood a reader will consider or prefer your client’s brand.

At Barokas PR, we work to deliver clients meaningful results that impact not only their reputation in the media, but their bottom line. We also aren’t fans of BS – so we’re happy to see AVE on its way out, and careful, measured evaluation of PR campaigns on its way in.


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An update on what’s happening in our Detroit office

August 17, 2017

Every day, something promising is announced in Detroit. Facebook and Grand Circus are partnering to develop the next superstars of coding, LinkedIn and Snap are opening offices downtown, Venture for America moved its accelerator to the City, new restaurants are popping up on every corner, and once abandoned buildings are opening their doors for the first time in decades.

What a time to be a Detroiter.

And just as the City is growing, we’re proud to welcome GoKid, Identilock and Tome Software to Barokas PR’s growing roster of clients.

A mother of two active kids, Stepfanie Lemcke founded GoKid to help families, schools and teams streamline carpooling in a safe and easy-to-use app. With live-tracking, in-app messaging and family profiles, GoKid provides a way for communities to connect over child transportation.

Developed by Omer Kiyani, Identilock is a biometic gun trigger lock that’s activated by the registrant’s fingerprint and unlocked in less than a second. Identilock aims to help end accidental firings that claim hundreds of lives in the U.S. every year. Barokas PR will be spearheading Identilock’s media strategy, as the company enters its next phase of growth.

Founded by metro Detroit entrepreneurs, Jake Sigal and Massimo Baldini, Tome Software develops connectivity products to keep people mobile and active. Our team will be managing Tome Software’s exhibition at Technology In Motion, the largest Mobility conference in North America, this September.

It’s also my deepest pleasure to share that I’ve joined Techstars Mobility as a marketing communications mentor for the 2017 class. I look forward to highlighting more about what this innovative group is doing in the near future.

In related news, the Michigan Venture Capital Association recently reported unparalleled investment growth throughout the State. Detroit has seen some of the largest gains in software jobs in the country. Despite these strong financial and job growth numbers, the increased demand for access to early stage and seed capital still leaves an incredible amount of opportunity for investors looking to expand beyond the Valley.

Reach out, and we’ll show you what all this Detroit hustle is about.


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Ready, Set, Onboard

August 16, 2017

Onboarding new clients is the honeymoon period of the new relationship. Both parties are excited but still figuring out what’s to come. Starting off on the right foot and being on the same page is crucial to set the tone for the agency-client relationship.

Having a process in place provides a strong foundation for your team and puts your client at ease.  Below are some easy steps to implement and personalize for onboarding.

Lay the foundation

First impressions are significant. Showing that the agency is organized and proactive early on builds a strong foundation for a trusted relationship. The tasks below are simple steps that should take place the day the contract is signed.

-Schedule an internal meeting to discuss first steps and ensure all team members understand account

-Share a ‘meet your team’ slide with client

-Setup an in-person kickoff meeting with client

-Establish a weekly or bi-weekly call with client and internally

-Continue to extensively research your new client so you can make targeted recommendations out of the gate


Align goals in kickoff meeting  

Goal alignments can come in many forms. It’s critical that the agency team leaves the first official meeting with well-defined answers to the questions listed below.

-How does PR support business goals in the first 6-months? Year?

-How can we best measure PR’s impact on these goals?

-Who is your targeted persona? Who is the decision-maker buying your product?

-What does success look like to you? (Monthly and quarterly)


Create a first month workback plan  

Showing that the team has internalized the first meeting with a ‘starter’ work back plan provides the client confidence that their PR team is efficient, smart and eager to hit the ground running. A work back plan can come in many forms, such as a shareable dashboard, an Excel spreadsheet or a pitch deck (this can also be a deck of ideas). It’s imperative to share this document within the first week and prior to your second meeting.



When an account successfully launches, both the client and agency team should feel confident and at ease. Every day we think about ways to make that first experience with media an impressionable one – the same applies with clients. Be buttoned up, be personable and follow the process to set the stage for a successful client relationship.

-Julia M

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Data-Driven Storytelling – The PR Gift That Keeps on Giving

August 8, 2017

Reporters at every rung of the media landscape, from high-profile, top-tier publications all the way down to niche, vertical outlets, strive to create the most thought-provoking stories possible. But they need compelling, digestible facts and figures to create a solid story concept that will resonate with their audiences. And while the benefits of data-driven storytelling have been extolled in the PR world for some time now, we often forget that our clients are the keepers of their own best asset – data.


Telling stories with stats

Whether it’s technology, consumer, B2B or any number of other industries, data plays an increasingly powerful role in shaping how businesses and consumers interact with the world. That’s why leveraging proprietary data can be incredibly beneficial when it comes to securing media interest, especially when the data has a longer runway. But organizing data into digestible, interesting statistics not only incentivizes reporters to cover our clients, it also helps establish them as authorities in their respective industries. And when data-driven PR strategies are leveraged over time, the results can be especially impactful. The success of Ibotta’s ‘best days to buy’ data is just one example of how data, when compelling, relevant and timely, is the ultimate PR gift that keeps on giving.


Best days to pitch

Last summer, mobile shopping app Ibotta reached its $100 million milestone, meaning users had received $100 million in cash-back rewards since the app launched in 2012. Obviously, this was a big deal for Ibotta, but the team knew we needed more than just the typical announcement strategy to celebrate such a momentous company benchmark.

To really maximize the story, we worked with Ibotta’s analytics team to mine the app’s wealth of shopper data and identify a few press-worthy stats to use in outreach. After evaluating millions of grocery receipts, we landed on a goldmine.

Armed with just a handful of stats showcasing the best and worst days to buy certain items, like beer, wine, ice cream, cleaning products, and a few other essentials, the team immediately earned an exclusive with Forbes, and went on to place more than 40 pieces of original coverage positioning Ibotta as a resource for how and when to save money. And that was in just the first few weeks! Over the last year, the team has consistently placed print and broadcast stories in key local, consumer and top-tier outlets highlighting Ibotta’s mission to reward consumers just for making everyday purchases.

And while the success of a data story like ‘best days to buy’ is not typical, it is proof positive that when data is valuable to a certain audience (in this case, everyone who grocery shops), its longevity can drive remarkable PR results for a brand.

The numbers don’t lie

It’s safe to say none of us got into to PR to review data and crunch numbers all day. But there’s no denying that hard data carries significant weight with reporters and media outlets. And over time, the cumulative effect of that weight can help our clients build brand awareness in a dramatic and influential way.

-Jen L


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Harnessing Grit Like the Boys in the Boat

August 4, 2017

If you are a frequent reader of the No BS Blog, you know that every so often we make a point to tear our eyes away from our computers, get out of the office together, and enjoy what our cities have to offer. If you can throw in a little competition – even better.

Last week, the Seattle team enjoyed our summer fun day kayaking on beautiful Lake Washington. We paired off two-by-two and were led from Portage Bay, through the Montlake Cut, and into the west side of the lake, flanked by Husky Stadium on one side (go Dawgs!) and the 520 floating bridge on the other. I promise it’s nicer than it sounds.

Beautiful Husky Stadium

The Montlake Cut

As we kayaked together, our guide pointed out famous houseboats (sadly not the Sleepless in Seattle one) and showed us the Conibear Shellhouse, home to the famous UW rowing program. As we passed through The Cut and viewed the messages left by local rowing teams, he regaled us with the story of perhaps the most famous UW rowing team, nine working-class boys who captured the hearts and minds of America when they won Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Their story was documented in the book, “The Boys in the Boat” – a good read by the way!

The writing on the wall

When it was time to turn back, perhaps it was this story that encouraged Kayla and me to ignore the blisters on our hands, harness our grit, and paddle faster than anyone else to get back to the docks first. Weaving between large boats and Canadian geese, we battled through lily pads and crashing waves to victory. Did everyone else know we were racing them? Probably not. Did it matter? Absolutely not. Harness grit is one of our agency’s core values, and one that we take very seriously. For the first time maybe ever, an Oregon Duck and Washington Husky joined forces to battle for good over almost-just-as-good.

The winning team


As our prize, we were first to a delicious Mexican feast prepared by the Agua Verde Paddle Club, although we could barely lift our arms to eat lunch. As we sat around the tables, I realized that many of us (not all – are you crazy?) still had our phones tucked away and were conversing face to face instead of through keyboard and screens. It was a delightful day of awe-inspiring action, and I have no doubt the kayak guide is telling the tale of The Duck and the Dawg to his new tour right now.


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Barokas PR Denver – Moving on Up

July 27, 2017

“We sat and drank with the sun on our shoulders and felt like free men. Hell, we could have been tarring the roof of one of our own houses. We were the Lords of all Creation. As for Andy, he spent that break hunkered in the shade, a strange little smile on his face, watching us drink his beer…You could argue he’d done it to curry favor with the guards, or maybe make a few friends among us cons. Me? I think he did it just to feel normal again, if only for a short while.” –Shawshank Redemption. Also, every Barokas PR employee after moving day.

Barokas PR opened its doors nearly 20 years ago in Seattle with a focus on technology and none of the BS. Four years ago, we set out to find our second home in Colorado. We started as a team of one at a shared space in Boulder. Our vision was to offer a strategic PR program to the startup community focused on results. And the community, looking for a PR model that “spoke startup,” welcomed us with open arms. We partnered with entrepreneurs eager to build their brands at companies like RoundPegg, Rapt Media, Mocavo and PivotDesk. Eventually we hired an intern (he’s now an Account Supervisor), and started recruiting from across the country, bringing in talent from Boston, Canada, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, San Francisco, Seattle, and St. Louis.

We felt grown up. Feisty, nimble and ready to tackle the Colorado tech scene with our own brick and mortar space. In 2015, our now team of six moved to LoDo (lower downtown Denver for the unfamiliar), and into our first permanent Colorado address at 1830 Blake St. Seattle came and helped us pack and even went on a Costco run with us so we wouldn’t starve. The space felt huge and exciting. We were ready!

Our team and our client base grew to include more awesome local companies like Ibotta, Craftsy, Rachio, Notion, Vertafore and Techstars to spread the word about Colorado tech. We worked with The New York Times to bring its Look West Denver panel to life, hosted Denver Startup Week panels, brought Denver companies out of beta, through funding, acquisitions and even through IPO. And we single-handedly kept the Starbucks on the 16th Street Mall in business.

But like many of the startups we work with, we grew quickly. It’s hard trying to hire new employees when the ones you have are spilling out into the street. Our client list was growing and our team had more than doubled in size, which meant it was time to move again. So, last week we packed up and moved to our new home in the Elephant Coral at 1444 Wazee Street (Suite 333 if anyone wants to send an Edible Arrangements). It felt like leaving your childhood home. We were ready for our next chapter and yet a little sad to say goodbye to where it all began.

It might just be a few blocks down the street but the impact is significant. We set out four years ago to be the communication partner for Denver tech companies. Not just some of them. All of them. And while we’ve been fortunate to work alongside some of Colorado’s most respected and innovative companies, there are many more we hope to partner with in the near future.

Barokas PR has experienced incredible growth alongside our partners in the three cities we now call home – Denver, Seattle and just this month, Detroit. All known for their cultures of innovation, entrepreneurial spirit and supportive startup communities. We are proud to bring these communities our Barokas PR grit with none of the BS.

Our new Denver doors are always open, and we look forward to hosting new and old friends from Colorado and beyond!


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#Winning at Client Relations – Ingredients for Success

July 21, 2017

Arguably more difficult than landing that perfect company feature in a top-tier outlet is managing and maintaining positive client relations year-over-year. As your client’s company culture morphs, executives come and go or product roadmap shifts, your trusted PR team is along for the ride, adapting on-the-fly as the company evolves. Despite the inevitable changes that you’ll experience with your client, what should never change is continually striving to maintain close relations with the client. Whether you’re working directly with the CEO or marketing lead, there are a few key success ingredients that should remain top of mind. After all, an investment in client relations is going to make your work life more positive and productive.

Here are a few fool proof ways to build successful client relationships:


It’s All About Expectations

One of the biggest PR-to-client pitfalls is being misaligned on goals, strategy and associated metrics. Even worse? Getting through a launch and presenting what you believe to be a positive recap only to find that the client expected a different outcome. Ouch. To avoid those awkward and unwelcomed conversations the best bet is to start the relationship with a clear strategy that both parties agree on. This means that the PR team needs to call BS when the client believes something is worthy of the NY Times when in reality it’s better suited for a blog. In the same vein, the client needs to be forthcoming about their expectations for PR – are we looking for lead gen, general awareness, app downloads or product inquiries? All of the information sharing and transparency will ultimately lead to better expectation setting, resulting it better PR outcomes that both parties are happy with. As client priorities and goals shift, revisit the strategy on quarterly or bi-yearly basis to ensure you’re keeping pace with the quickly evolving client.


Communication is King

While it seems obvious that PR pros (most who have communication degrees) should be communicating with clients, it’s not always the case. Communication isn’t simply following up on the status of a press release that’s in the reviews process or scheduling a call with a reporter. The most successful PR-to-client relations are those where the communication is multi-dimensional. When’s the last time you picked up the phone to check in with the client on the status of the account or catch up on the company? How frequently are you sharing an article on the client’s space because it reminded you of a recent conversation you had with the client? How frequently are you having in-person meetings? Don’t forget that client communication can be personal as well. Whether it’s asking about a vacation or commenting on the status of a sports team they follow – these interactions are important in establishing closer ties to the client. While sky is truly the limit when it comes to client communications, refrain from being transactional, deviate from the action items and look for opportunities to truly build the relationship.


Have Fun! 

As PR pros, we spend a ton of time getting to know our client’s, their product, company and space. Admittedly, you’ve probably been out on the weekend and something sparks a great idea for your client. Indeed, it’s a 24/7 gig. In being so close to our clients, it’s also important take time and have fun together as well. A little personal time where you force yourself to not talk about work and get to know them goes a long way when building what you hope to be a long term relationship. Does your client like baseball? Take them to a game. Music fans? Go catch a show. Don’t miss an opportunity to grab coffee or lunch and catch up.

After a big product launch and the biggest conference of the year, our client, Airbiquity, treated our team to a funday where we played tourist in Seattle. From tacos in West Seattle, to the Smith Tour observatory deck and the Great Wheel – we didn’t talk about work once and had a blast.


While building and maintaining positive relations is much more robust than three simple tips, it’s something that every PR pro and agency must invest in and continually work to develop.


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Research to PR – A Whole New World or One in the Same?

July 19, 2017

Being new to things is always a mix of discomfort and energy. At the start of my PR journey, that is exactly how I feel. Leaving the marketing classroom, I was excited to finally put all of my “book” knowledge to use as part of my career. While my college classes were helpful, I find myself most often applying to PR what I learned as an assistant research analyst with my university’s research center. Some people tend to joke that marketing and PR people are on a mission to avoid numbers, but I’ve truly found that they go together better than we think. Here are my insights after a couple months on the job:



  1. Use Excel to excel

I can vividly remember sitting at my desk as a research intern staring at excel, not knowing one thing about the program. Fast forward a few months of learning from other interns and a search history list that could be titled “Excel for Dummies,” and it became the center of my comfort zone. Now working in PR, I see a lot of charts, tables and media lists that could benefit from a little creativity and user-friendly techniques often used in research.

  1. Clarity is key

This goes for most group projects, but there is nothing worse than walking out of a meeting, sitting down to work on the assigned project and thinking, “Ok, what am I actually supposed to do?” For the sake of efficiency, it is vital to set specific paths to achieve your goal. In research and PR, I have found spending time on creating clear goals always produces a better end-result.

  1. Information is out there, you just have to find it

Whether you’re building a media list for a client or trying to find methodology for a research topic, the Internet is often your most powerful source of information. Although information is almost always somewhere online, it is important to think outside the box when searching. I have spent countless hours looking for information and often all it takes is changing a key search term or readjusting my mindset.

  1. Numbers are your friend

Despite the chuckling about PR and numbers, there is no doubt that PR professionals see the impact of incorporating data points into pitching. If research has taught me anything, it’s not to be afraid of data. Leverage it to your advantage. Surveys, graphs, and statistics are a growing part of PR and I am happy to have strong research experience to support this.

So, the next time a project comes your way, remember that research and data can provide you with a great foundation for success!


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W Bellevue: Where Green Meets Global Glamor, and Where PR Meets Influencers

July 17, 2017

June 15 marked a momentous occasion, the Grand Opening of W Bellevue, the newest hotel opening for W since 2010.

Over the last few months, we have been working with W Bellevue as the team prepares to open its doors to tech business travelers, staycationers, and locals looking for a new place to sip cocktails and unwind. We were fortunate enough to get a few behind the scene tours as the property came to life to see just how incredible this hotel would be. From design elements which pay homage to the traditional lake house, to beautiful and creative street art adorning the walls, W Bellevue is something spectacular.

As we marched toward Opening Day, one thing was clear: our PR approach had to be as non-traditional as the hotel itself. While we still wanted to ensure we hit the local print, broadcast, and blogger networks, we identified an opportunity to create relationships with local influencers who would be integral in sharing the hotel elements with their thousands of followers. The result: 20 pieces of coverage including a CNBC travel article, and 60 social media posts which total nearly 1 million impressions!

The best part of it all? We’re just getting started! We still have a number of opportunities in the works including a larger national campaign that will be sure to drive additional placements and ultimately heads in beds (aka bookings) for W Bellevue.

If you haven’t had the chance to stop by and sit in a porch swing, or cozy up to one of the fireplaces, I highly encourage you make your way to W Bellevue. It’s the ultimate place to see and be seen while imbibing in the area’s best craft cocktails.


– Morgan

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How to Build Social Media Savviness

July 10, 2017

If you’re an avid reader of the blog, then you’ve already seen previous posts from my colleagues Holly (social media monitoring) and Marney (5 common social media mistakes). Now I’ll share my two-cents on how to further develop your social media savviness.


Steps to Mastering Social Media

(Source: Flickr)


Create Meaningful Content

  1. The first place you should always start is to create a content calendar where your team and your client can see all future content that will be published, as well as the content that has already been published previously. This will keep your team and client organized, and on the same page in terms of strategy and execution.
  2. Make sure you’re utilizing the appropriate hashtags and keywords when posting on social media. Using the hashtags that will drive the most traffic is important and it’s our job as public relations specialists to know these like the back of our hand.
  3. Always tag the reporter, and/or the publication if you’re sharing industry news with your audience. This not only helps amplify a reporter’s story, but it will get your client involved in the conversation on social media. This strategy will in turn drive additional web traffic for you client.

(Source: Pixabay)


Analyze Your Social Media Efforts

  1. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all have social media analytics pages that you should utilize on a regular basis. What content is driving the most traffic? What visual components are driving traffic? Is there a specific hashtag that works better than others? These are all questions you should be asking, and answering, in order to align your efforts with your client’s goals.
  2. Google Analytics should be another key go-to resource for analyzing and evaluating the success of your social media efforts. What pages on the website are consumers visiting the most? How often are they staying on the page? Which social media channels are driving the most traffic to the website? All important questions to keep in mind moving forward.

(Source: Flickr)

Monitor What Is Being Said on Social Media

  1. Monitoring the news is arguably the most important aspect of our job in public relations. We always need to be finding every opportunity to insert a client into relevant conversations — it solidifies them as a leader in the industry.
  2. A few tools to consider using when monitoring social media:
    1. TweetDeck – help keep track of where your clients are mentioned and what is being discussed in respective industries through the customizable columns feature.
    2. HootSuite – monitor conversations on multiple social media channels in one user interface.
    3. Sprout Social – find conversations by searching relevant keywords related to your client and their industry.


PRSA Webinars

I’m sure you all know PRSA can be a great resource, especially as students looking to land that first internship/job. I’ve been in those shoes. BUT, it’s also a great resource to develop your skillset through the webinars offered on the website (free with your membership!). Here are my key takeaways on the best steps to becoming that social media expert and the webinars I suggest for those looking to improve social media savviness:

Harness the Power of Social of Social Media to Drive Business Results

  1. Why is social media so crucial? It drives third-party conversations around the client/product you’re representing. Earned media is more effective in driving company business results — 83% of word-of-mouth referrals translate into a sales lead and editorial content 66%.
  2. Reporters get paid by editorial coverage (i.e. article clicks!). As a PR specialist, make sure to help a reporter you’ve worked with to secure coverage for your client amplify his/her story, the reporter will appreciate it and remember you in the future.
  3. Start to implement visual press releases in the future. Press Releases with a multimedia aspect get 3X more views, coverage, and activity. Something to consider for your client’s next press release.

The Social Newsroom: How to Use News to Tell Your Story

  1. What is a social newsroom? A page on your client’s website where all shareable social media content published by the client can be found and easily shared by customers. Visit the Lenovo newsroom for a good example of how to execute.
  2. Why implement this on a website? 91% of the public follow news on social media, 60% share what they read, and 70% visit a corporate website or newsroom after reading news on social media.
  3. How to start a social newsroom? Make a Facebook and/or Twitter news account for your company, which will be separate from the main consumer-facing account. This is where companies post/tweet all company news and link back to the social newsroom on their website (a.k.a. driving organic traffic to themselves). Back to my first point – make sure all content a visitor sees on the social newsroom is shareable in order to amplify further!


Social media has been, and will continue to be, an area of the industry were we all need to become experts. As consumers move to receiving news via social channels rather than a newspaper or magazine’s website, our job in this industry is becoming more important now than ever. Taking the first steps and implementing these tips and tricks will help you develop your own social media savviness. Until next time!


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