Hello, I'm Kerry Guard and welcome to Tea Time with Tech Marketing Leaders.
Today, I'm joined by Rachel Ratchford. Rachel and I discussed the art of PR and the death of the press release. It’s such a fun conversation in turning an old process on its head, and how to connect better with our buyers and partners like journalists.
B2B SaaS marketer. Experience with influencer marketing, public relations (agency and in-house), analyst relations, customer advocacy, copywriting, content creation, social media, creative design, and messaging / branding. She has worked at companies of varying sizes, from a startup to a Fortune 1000 enterprise, and gone through several exits (IPO and acquisition). My specialty lies in building programs for scale during high-growth periods.
Here's my conversation with Rachel.
Kerry Guard: Hello, Rachel. Thank you for joining me on Tea Time.
Rachel Ratchford: Hi, Kerry. Thanks for having me. I'm so excited to have you.
Kerry Guard: Before we jump in, why don't you tell our listeners your story, Rachel? What do you do? And how did you get there?
Rachel Ratchford: What do I do? How did I get there? I've been asked this question often every time I have a job interview or talk to a candidate, and I still haven't found a succinct way to tell the story. So I should probably work on that.
I studied English Literature in college because I love anything that lets me read books by Jane Austen. I graduated and realized I had not thought about how that would translate into a career, but I love to write, and I loved journalism. I had just graduated college when that whole industry was going belly up. And so I got into PR, which I thought was the next best thing. I still get to work with press members and write a lot. It was very different than I expected, like client services. Agency work is tough but very rewarding. And then, from there, I moved into a house, and I slowly started to creep into more traditional marketing functions, not just calm. I did things like analyst relations managing a speaker bureau, case studies, content marketing, and website development. I got exposure to many different aspects of marketing, made a lot of lateral moves, and ended up working out because then I was able to take on roles where I was overseeing a team and the various members of my team now have functional responsibility for the programs I used to run. It's been a wild ride right now. I'm at a start-up. I'm a total startup junkie. My last three jobs have been startups. It's a remote cybersecurity company called Cobalt. I have team members across, I think, pretty much every single timezone. It’s very different from my days in a brick-and-mortar office with no laptop signing on from a desktop computer.
Kerry Guard: And when you say across all the time zones, we're not just talking about the US here. The team that you manage is global.
Rachel Ratchford: I have people in Berlin. I don't think every time zone is true. Nobody is completely reversed in me, or rather in my timezone. I do have team members in Berlin. So basically, that was my biggest hesitation when I was taking the job. I was like, “Okay, so do I have to sign on at 6 am and stay on nine till midnight to just span all the working hours with my colleagues?” It's not like that at all. I think the world of work has evolved. The new normal doesn't call for that anymore. It's been fine.
Kerry Guard: Yay for asynchronous communication.
Rachel Ratchford: I know. Companies are getting good at it. It's so different than it was even five years ago. It's crazy. But you know this, right? You’re remote.
Kerry Guard: I'm in the UK, so I'm five hours from you. Berlin is six hours from you. You don't need to have a full overlap. Just need a few hours to make sure you can sync up on meetings, and then you're good to go.
Rachel Ratchford: Jump into that Google doc to track your changes. They'll see them when they come online. It's pretty cool. I am hyper-productive because remote work is my jam. I love to read, and I love to write. It's not like that's taxing for me to sit in front of a computer and read Slack messages. That's naturally how I consume information. So I'm like, “Oh, this works for me.” But I could see it being very hard if you're the kind of person who just needs to poke your head into your co-worker's office asking the question, and you're just like, “I don't want to take this out.” And managing the flow of information is a little crazy. It's just like a lot coming across different channels.
Kerry Guard: You definitely are. Streamline your systems and processes to make them work. So everybody knows where to put and how to get a hold of people and all of that. I just can't believe how much I get.
Rachel Ratchford: I used to go for a walk around the block with my coworker, we'd grab a cup of coffee, sit in the parking chat, and I missed that attraction a little bit. But I also get a lot of shit done.
Kerry Guard: In terms of what's going on for you right now, what challenge you're currently facing?
Rachel Ratchford: Managing remote teams is wonderful. And I think it's here to stay. Not necessarily the easiest thing because different people communicate in different ways. If this is your first job, and you don't have the opportunity to sit next to people and hear them on the phone or just read their body language in a meeting, I think that's probably. I manage people everywhere, from current college interns to people who just graduated and have ten years of experience. There's a pretty wide spectrum. I see the differences in terms of if you're earlier in your career. I benefited from that opportunity to soak up knowledge and stuff just by being in the same headquarters location as my co-workers. And that's not just like my direct team, either other teams to having a sense of what everyone else is working on. The dependencies across teams are not easy.
I'm a mom, too. I have two kids. Remote work is also my jam because I don't have to run home sweating buckets that the train will be late to pick up my kiddo. It's just so much easier to do both. But finding time to manage it all is a challenge. I would imagine that you can sympathize with that as well.
Kerry Guard: Totally. So much empathy and sympathy there. Question for you. In terms of your Berlin team, is there a language challenge there? Or do you seem layout speak English?
Rachel Ratchford: Yes, they all speak English. I want to go to Berlin. I've heard it's a lovely city, very industrial feeling. They all speak English perfectly. One of the people on my team who's in Berlin is the content head. She edits, and English is not even her first language, which isn't always easy, but you never know.
Kerry Guard: It's mind-boggling. My best friend grew up in Switzerland. She's half Swiss, half Spanish. She would say that she is not fluent. I push her on this because she can speak eight languages or something insane. When you grow up next to all these countries, I guess that's what you must do.
Rachel Ratchford: We are spoiled here in America. Not a lot of different languages. There are a lot of native languages spoken within the Cobalt family, but everybody mostly lands on English. I don't know if some of the people who work are colocated and some of the international locations. Are you speaking their native language?
Another big challenge is that we're in cybersecurity, an incredibly crowded space with so many security tools. To market to this audience, we're fighting—just a lot of other vendors jockeying for mindshare. Finding ways to distinguish ourselves is not easy, and that's one of the benefits of having a very diverse team to bring different perspectives to the table. It's a lot of good brainpower and creative thought.
Kerry Guard: Yes, that's awesome. Thanks for sharing. So you started in PR. Do you do a lot of PR now?
Rachel Ratchford: It is where my heart lies. I don't do as much of the day-to-day management. But I like talk to our PR agency every so often. They're great. They're doing a really excellent job. A woman on my team is the head of PR, and she's great. She's much closer to it than I am. I'm a few years out of my agency. She brings a fresh perspective, and I totally trust her. I just love to join the calls and see how it's going. I think PR is such a fun, functional area to manage. It has changed so much since the days of traditional media, even ten years ago.
Kerry Guard: In what ways has it changed?
Rachel Ratchford: I remember being in a meeting and my first PR agency and my boss being like, what are we going to do with bloggers? What's the deal with blogs? Are we going to treat them like reporters? We pitched them, and we had this whole discussion about it, and it was an ongoing discussion because our clients were asking us, like, should we start pitching these guys? This was before the term influencer even became a thing. We started to bloggers. I could tell that as obviously, as the media landscape when there were fewer reporters on staff at each publication, so it was harder. They're covering more it's harder to maintain a relationship with them. I think it used to be very relationship-based. You take a reporter to dinner, pick their brain, what they are working on, and have that strong bond. I think it's a number game, you just have to have a well-crafted story, know how to get in front of them, what they cover or look for in the pitch, and not come to someone's bullshit, and they'll appreciate that. It's harder to distinguish yourself in today's day and age, and I think a lot less relationship based.
Kerry Guard: It's less relationship based because it's not so much just trying to get out in front of the big publishers. Influencers are a whole channel.
Rachel Ratchford: I haven't done B2B. What is a B2B influencer? I have not cracked that yet. I know that in B2C, you're doing consumer marketing. It's a lot easier. I talked to a girlfriend who works at a CRM company, and she said we're inviting some influencers to our conference. And I was like, "What does a CRM influencer do?" I don't know what that is, but it's out there. I think for cybersecurity, it's a former high-profile chief security officer or maybe former analysts who covered the space which now do the conference circuit. They're steeped in the industry, do a lot of public speaking, and have a very large social media following. It's not as straightforward as the concept of an influencer. It’s definitely not what my mom thinks of when she thinks of an influencer. Many traditional things that worked very well as media tactics back in the day are no longer as relevant, like press releases.
Kerry Guard: Let's talk about what you consider the PR channels, then. So when you're trying to craft your message, you have this beautiful story about what you got going on, and where it goes?
Rachel Ratchford: It's a great question. I have the benefit. PR is a functional area that rolls up under marketing communications, which is the department I am the head of, but I also oversee things like content marketing and the website, and PR at Cobalt also includes not just traditional media relations but social media and speaking. We take those stories and chunk them across many different platforms. If it's a really good PR story, why don't you blog about it? We have one of our executives who has a podcast; we'll have a guest on the podcast to talk about it; we will pitch it to an event as a speaking submission; we will package it up for award submissions, especially if it's something like "innovation-focused" and it's the right kind of audience; and then we will also take it to the press. There is longevity across different channels. It's not just looking at PR in a silo and having PR over here doing its own thing while everybody else is trying to generate demand for the company. It's like clipping it into everything else the marketing team does.
Kerry Guard: I love that. And I feel a huge shift happened in the last ten years where all the different parts of an organization were siloed. You had sales over here, product over there, PR, and now it's all coming under the umbrella of demand where things are headed.
Rachel Ratchford: I think that's the benefit of looking at working at a start-up. I have a close relationship with the head of demand generation and product marketing. I see how the revenue engine of the house works and things. We have a CMO who believes that really nothing marketing is doing should be separate from driving sales, even if you could argue the value of a press hit. Everything's generating awareness for the company. There are downstream applications. They're going to a website and booking a demo or whatever. The idea of that rising tide lifts all ships, but it isn't always that way.
At my last company, we were bought by a large enterprise technology provider of 10,000 people. I was absorbed into the corporate communications team, and they had no idea why they didn't work. They were trying to get one of our spokespeople to join something, and I was like, "He's busy. It's the end of the quarter." And they were like, "What do you mean?" "When is the end of the quarter again?" They had no idea what the sales team was doing. Just very focused on getting press coverage. That was a way to remove from what the core business was doing. It's a different way because they weren't measured the same way. They weren't under the same scrutiny. So it's just a different way of doing communications.
Kerry Guard: I hope those different ways are going away because it feels disconnected from what the whole organization should be driving toward that bottom line. And I love what you're saying about the rising tide, so let's go back to what you said about press kits, which is a bit dense here because I haven't touched PR too much, but maybe other listeners who are with me.
Rachel Ratchford: I think I said press release, not kit, but a press release would be the marquee item and a press kit, where a press kit includes logo headshots, executive, and a couple of package quotes. I haven't sent out a press kit in a while.
Kerry Guard: How are you getting this stuff out if it's not a press release? Because you said something about press releases not being anything.
Rachel Ratchford: I should probably explain that sentiment because it is not always popular. I have written so many press releases in my career that it is crazy. I used to write them, and it would take weeks of writing, and then the executives or spokespeople, the business leaders, would get them and scrutinize every last line, then you go back and forth, you'd write the press release for a few days. And then the editing process was like a week or two because everybody picked every line. It was even more painful process when I worked at a public company. It was like investor relations had to review it legally, and then we would issue it over the wire. I don't even know what the wire is anymore. In my opinion, it is just like a holdover from the days of a traditional newsroom. You had everybody sitting around a table, and the news of the day would come over the wire, and people would look at those headlines to see what they wanted to cover that day. And that's not the way things are structured anymore. Now, it's like $2,000 to attach an image to a press release, and I don't understand why it isn't the intranet and why it isn't more money to attach an image on the internet if it's going out. And then you get pickups in these tier three outlets, basically bots that pick up like wire crawlers that pick up the news. And so not saying there's never validity in going the press release route.
If you are a public company and want to show the market that you want them to go to your ticker symbol and see recent announcements, there is a lot of merits. But for most companies, the money can be better spent elsewhere. If you are issuing a press release, your goal is coverage. You can get the same amount of coverage with a well-written blog post and a good agency team that's taking the news out and has crafted a well-written pitch and tailoring it to their audience. I just don't think a press release is necessary to get headlines anymore. We do them at Cobalt, but we typically do them. We pull all our news from the quarter into a single media announcement versus one-offs here and there because I don't see product news getting covered the way it used to be.
Reporters are looking for more human stories. They're less interested in what feature a startup is rolling out and more about what it says about the market and who's raising funding. So that's my take on my press releases being dead. I rarely advocate for them. In some circumstances, they're appropriate, but I usually push back on it. I've seen people ask, "How are we going to do a press release on this?" and "Why do you know what that is?" I don't even think most people know what a press release is. I think they just know that it carries some cachet, and they're like, " Yeah, I was at a press release."
Kerry Guard: I think what they're really asking is, "How are we going to spread the news?" "We have this story exactly. How are we going to get it out there?" The internet is just so much bigger now. Then there are the news outlets, and there are so many great ways to really build relationships with your audience that are almost one-on-one or personalized and aren't just a news blip in a news outlet that maybe we'll get noticed. I don't read the news, do you? I don't read.
Rachel Ratchford: I love the news. I signed up for every single New York Times newsletter and app. I love my local news outlet, the Boston Globe, which is still the only major media publication. I would probably still get the newspaper if it weren't so convenient to just read the news on my phone. I'm a pretty big news junkie. It's hard to convince; there are so many outlets and not enough time. We also get a lot of bang for our buck with employee advocacy and getting people across the company to share and amplify our news on their networks, and that's a great way. There are many great tools out there that allow you to measure that ROI at impact. And so that's sort of like monetizing you, your colleagues, and because we're all invested in the success of this business. And so that's another good strategy that we've found.
Kerry Guard: I love what you said about there. I love what you said about how news outlets are looking for more human stories. What do you mean by that?
Rachel Ratchford: So there's a balancing act and a bit of a tightrope walk we have to do because companies, depending on who your boss is, who you're reporting to, and how they view PR, will view it as a way they don't fully understand the difference between that and advertising. There'll be something like that to tell the story about how we announced this new feature. I'm not sure if the reporter wants to cover it, but you can use the news of the new feature as a Trojan horse to discuss market shifts, how the world of digital transformation is evolving, and how users are struggling to deal with X issues.
One of the most successful stories that our PR agency and our Cobalts head of PR told last year was that we're a fully remote company, as I mentioned, and a member of our head of customer success lives in a souped-up RV. It's beautiful. It's like a luxury RV. He just travels around with his dog. He spends a lot of the year on a farm with his in-laws, brother, or sister-in-law, but he is also just traveling the world as he can capitalize on the remote revolution to live the life he wants to live and still be successful in his career. And that was the story that they seized on. It's not about our product or how cybersecurity evolves; we've placed those stories. It was this really in-depth feature talking to this guy about getting into the human piece of a shifting industry. And so we can carry those learnings across into. We have had a lot of success. We have the good fortune to work in a very hot industry with a lot of headline-making news, breaches, and ransomware. We have a blog, and we have discussions about cybersecurity vulnerabilities and legislation. We can do a lot of trend-jacking to jump on those stories that are breaking news and offer up commentary. We do get a lot of a lot of coverage that way. It's been a core component of our program. But those two things really do fuel the PR engine in Cobalt.
Kerry Guard: I love that human story. So cool. Because I think that when people are looking at the organizations and the companies, they're buying from, knowing who they're buying from is becoming more and more important. Not because they want to know every single person at the company, but even by telling you a few of those stories about the kinds of people that are at your company, people get an idea of who they're working with, what kind of culture there is, and what kind of values there are. And I think that just goes so well into your point, Rachel, about the market being so crowded and how you differentiate. You can talk about it all day.
Rachel Ratchford: Rapid7 was a pretty well-known cybersecurity company. When I started there, they were like an early-stage startup that hadn't gone through its IPO yet. I worked in the Boston office, their company headquarters, and there's a pretty strong media and tech scene here in Boston. There's also a strong innovation scene where a lot of people are showcasing people, entrepreneurs, and local people in the tech economy and the burgeoning tech economy. We got a lot of great coverage for being a top workplace for an employer hiring a lot. I did a lot, getting coverage in like the Boston Business Journal built in Boston and a lot of local publications. And that was very much a springboard into national exposure and national coverage. It started with telling stories of the people, as you said, spotlighting engineers, products, sales, marketing—pretty much everybody. We would do spotlight columns on them, and they got a lot of pickups. Half tougher and a fully remote world where the headquarters of the conference. It's a little bit blurry. It gets back to what you're saying: people care about the people who work at a company, and they want to work with a good employer vendor where people like to be there. Because it means that they like their jobs in that city, you'll get good service or a good product.
Kerry Guard: Maybe this is an odd question, out of the left field, and not totally tied to PR. But it's really interesting when you're talking about bringing so much visibility to your internal team. Is your internal team cool with that? Do you have to figure out how to work with them? Or they're so excited, and they can't wait? What's the dynamic when you want to highlight your people?
Rachel Ratchford: You're right. That is not unique to PR because we want speakers for trade shows and people to join our webinars. Some people love the spotlight. It's true from customer marketing to like sussing out those customers who you can really amplify to become references and champions with your brand. Some people love it. They see it as a personal brand-building exercise and want to add it to their resume. They are all about it, and that's great. Some people are much more hesitant and reluctant and want to do a lot more prep; they want to know exactly the questions they will have to talk about or respond to. I love doing both. It can be a little bit easier to just go with the super extroverted people who love to be the center of attention. Or natural spokespeople; I'm not saying that every spokesperson was looking for attention, but some of the best spokespeople I've worked with have been the more reluctant ones; my previous company's CTO and Founder were phenomenal. He worked with a speaker coach, and he got better at it over time. He brought a very authentic vibe to his speaking engagements and his press interactions.
For my current company, he is not one of the key spokespeople we use regularly. We have a fantastic chief strategy officer, and she's our primary evangelist. But what I do is that sometimes you just talk to someone and they want to talk to the CEO, because they need access to the CEO or founder in order for the articles to run. When he does talk to the press, he's very transparent and authentic, and it carries through, and they can pick up on that. It creates a very positive vibe and a sense that there's no veneer. Those are the people knocking that, and like the engineers, you would often prefer just to let them do their thing. But, if you want them to seem they know what they're talking to, it's okay to be a little bit awkward or a little bit not super comfortable on stage. People can warm to that, as long as it's not painful for everybody to just leave this month and get this poor person some pee. I'm all about having different personalities that you showcase. It makes even prospective candidates feel like there's a place for them at that company. They don't have to be the person who's begging them to present in the all-hands meeting, which I know you surely are.
Kerry Guard: I would rather not. I would rather have some of the co-founders.
Rachel Ratchford: But I think that's also really great. I've had a lot of CEOs who were brazen swagger. I've had CEOs that were not, and I think both are wonderful and great to showcase that you don't have to be any one personality type to succeed.
Kerry Guard: Exactly. My business partner is more of that swagger. This is really helpful, Rachel. In terms of how you find stories, making them more people and authentic around the human aspect from both internal and external. In terms of the external human, we talk to that a lot about the internal, which is cool. In terms of the external human piece, does that become more about your potential customers? Who are you leaning into there to help fuel your message when you're looking externally? Is that from a people standpoint?
Rachel Ratchford: When we're talking about PR, many reporters will say, " I don't just want to talk to vendors. I want an end user." It's like a must in order to get your article to publication. It's tough. Customers are not on our timeframe. They are even if they love our brand; they have their own, usually very demanding jobs. So setting deadlines and getting them to participate in prep calls and stuff, we have to think a lot about what kind of load we give them. I'm also really lucky because our chief strategy officer does a lot of external speaking; she does not feel like a vendor. When you talk to her, she's very good at not just talking about the products but connecting with her audience, talking about the things that matter to them, and being a voice of authority in the industry. We're lucky in that regard. I've been in similar positions at other companies where we had to do much more coaching to get the primary spokesperson to that point. We have some solid spokespeople or other functions, like our delivery director. You’ll talk to him, and he'll riff on anything in the security industry. It doesn't have to be about pen testing, which is what Cobalt does. Customers are the way to go. If we have a juicy story and want major media coverage, we almost always have to have a customer.
Kerry Guard: And they jump on board and are cool with it, or you have an agreement?
Rachel Ratchford: No. I have another woman on my team who manages our customer marketing program, which is primarily advocacy-focused, getting references, and public-facing references, and she's good at her job. It's tough. They have to love our brand. They have to find something they're passionate about and be comfortable getting on the phone with a reporter. It depends on the app; people get finicky to hear the word press release. I don't know if I can give a quote for a press release. But at the same time, they'll give us a case study, and they're just a little more comfortable with that medium; they're both public and will be externally facing. So I don't necessarily understand why we'd be so comfortable with one over the other.
We have had to turn down press opportunities a lot of times. If it's a tight turnaround, and they want a customer, we can't make it work unless the stars are aligned. We happen to have somebody on hand who can comment on that specific thing and wants to, and we've coached them. But it's an honor and a full-time job here at Cobalt to uncover those champions and get them to a place. We understand how we can partner with them on advocacy initiatives.
Kerry Guard: I don't know that I run into too many startups and marketing departments that put so much emphasis on PR. It's a huge function of what you do.
Rachel Ratchford: We have a very good-minded executive team, but you're right. I was hired at Cobalt right after or before we got series B funding, and that's early for a marketing communications hire. Usually, you're going to focus on product marketing and demand gen because you want to grow that part. You just are growth-focused. I've had the good fortune to be brought on early stage at several companies. It's benefited me in my career because it made me laser-focused on the ROI and the impact of sales. I've learned how to shape these programs in a way that does have a business impact.
Kerry Guard: I think that's so cool. I don't know that people look at PRs as the opportunity for that. Is it your visibility into what's going on from a demand-generation standpoint? Or have you built the PR engine over there? What's the connection? For people who are like, "Oh, maybe I should be figuring this out?" What's the connection between the knowledge of knowing the ROI and the sales team and what they need, and then using the PR function to actually and the strategy to drive that through? You've said coverage a lot, but it sounds like it is the top-of-the-funnel piece of that. How do you take somebody from seeing an article or news about you to getting them through that? Almost passing them off to demand generation. It feels like there's a sort of handoff that happens.
Rachel Ratchford: Not necessarily a straight handoff. There is connective tissue, but of all the functions within marketing, you would probably be right to say PR is the most removed from specific growth numbers and generating. It does generate demand, but not directly. One example is the web and SEO. A lot of times, when you're looking at search intent, the best top hits for our market category, or even key terms indicative of buying intent for Cobalt. The top hits are not vendor websites. It's like news outlets because they're seen as very authoritative sites. We get a tremendous amount of visibility from strong feature coverage. The top results on how to buy X were our article in a third-party publication or a contributed article we've written, so that's great for us. We've been doing it so well that we're starting to see competitors do it. A couple of our executives have recurring columns in publications, and we now see that the head of marketing at one of our competitors now has a column, which is not a coincidence. They're just trying to bump us from the top buy. For sure, there's an organic search component. We have office hours and pretty good relationships with the sales team. We'll ask them, "What do you want from us?" "We want to see from marketing. What do you need?" I read a lot of articles that quote Ben. Do we do any of that stuff? Yes, we do. I do think that we equip them with the coverage. They don't always see the eternal struggle. You're giving out sales and all this stuff. They don't know what's there. They're not reading it because anything that takes them away from selling their focus on closing deals. You have to tell him what you told him again and again.
The things that the company rallies around the most and that we see shared across social or just get a lot of amplification from the internal team are when we win that workplace award and when we get a feature profile in TechCrunch. Those are the things they share across their networks the most—way more than the marketing team releasing a white paper. We get a much broader reach with those more thought-leadership pieces. It's great. Everybody can use them. The people team loves the best workplace badges; we put them on our LinkedIn profile and get more candidates. It's a great employer branding tactic. The sales team will also use things like "Oh, did you see we won this award?" and "I like being on the PR side and knowing what goes into awards." I'm a lot more jaded on them, but they are a great tool for selling. We have directly gotten feature coverage and won awards, where random executive team members will get kudos from our investors, founders, or advisors because they came across something that showcases Cobalt, and I love seeing that stuff.
They usually forward it to me. I love to see cobalt in this piece. That's a great quote you have, and people read this stuff. As we sell to more corporate enterprise companies, they want to know that we are not men in a garage. They're looking for industry validation and have analyst research firm coverage. Have you been in the press? Have you won any awards? What are the customer logos on your website? Are you working with established companies? Okay, I'm convinced. I'll talk to the salesperson. All this forms a perfect storm. But it's all somewhat interrelated. It can be tough to measure the impact of things like PR, but that's how we think about it a little bit.
Kerry Guard: No, that's incredible. I mean, the validation of it. It's just such powerful and great content for people to share and gain visibility for, and it has a direct impact on SEO, from backlinking to visits from people reading an article and then searching for you. If you were to turn PR off for a week and then measure your SEO before and after, there would be a clear correlation there.
Rachel Ratchford: It might take longer than a week. But yes, it would, for sure. We would take a hit. The metrics are so tough. In my last job, the VP of marketing always asked, "How are we going to measure the ROI of PR?" so we would do things like share a voice and had the SOV calculator. And those are such imperfect algorithms. It's a great month of revenge benchmark. But I don't put a ton of stock in the actual because you could have a competitor that put out a piece of news that got a decent pickup, but it was all bots, so it's going to skew the SOV number. I haven't fully cracked that yet.
Kerry Guard: Maybe we should hang out and riff on it because I love problems like this. I think they're so interesting. And I say that it wouldn't be part if you can't get to a perfect number. There are some key metrics that I think would, especially when talking about demand, like PR, to me feels like a huge demand generator, which is all about that awareness piece that's top of the funnel and then nurturing people through to that angle and eventually leads. It's not what it's about at the onset.
Rachel Ratchford: No, come to Boston. We'll riff on this over drinks.
Kerry Guard: Rachel, thank you so much. This was awesome. I had a blast. Before we close out, I have my people's first questions because we're all humans. I feel like that's been such a clear theme throughout our conversation here. It was a better way to wrap up and learn more about who you are outside of being the marketing guru of everything you do. All the hats.
Rachel Ratchford: They were mostly headbands. I do have some good hats. I am an avid Peloton enthusiast. I know that's almost becoming cringe these days, but I was a peloton enthusiast. I was spending so much on SoulCycle, and when Peloton came out, I was like, "Oh my god, amazing." And I bought one, and I've never looked back. It has changed my life and helped me get through two pregnancies and the pandemic. And quarantine, to this day, continues to keep me sane. If I have an hour between calls, I can squeeze in a workout, and I have no excuse to pass it up. I can do it in 20 minutes. They have 20 minute classes. I hope to be a Canadian one day. I'm married to one, and I want to get citizenship. Hopefully, we can figure out how to do that one day, and my kids will have dual citizenship. Other than that, I'm a pretty big crossword puzzle nerd. As I said, I have every New York Times app and any New York Times word game. I am a mom, and I have a baby and a toddler, and my baby is just a mega baby. He's huge. He screams like a foghorn. I'm trying to get him to learn some words so he can start asking for some of the things he needs instead of screaming at me.
Kerry Guard: I don't miss those days. It was glorious. I'm saving your oldest from your old phone. When they could start asking even for simple things is, like up or more,
Rachel Ratchford: Completely. It will be a game changer. Every little milestone gets a bit easier once he starts sleeping through the night. We can get a couple of words in. I'll be a happy camper, but I'll miss these days.
Kerry Guard: Rachel, thank you so much.
Rachel Ratchford: Thank you so much for having me.
And that was my conversation with Rachel Ratchford. Thoughtful, effective messaging seems to be a theme this season. If you'd like to learn more about Rachel, be sure to connect on LinkedIn. The link is in the show notes.
Thank you for listening to this episode of Tea Time with Tech Marketing Leaders. If you found this conversation with Rachel helpful, please subscribe, share, and like. I appreciate your support.
This episode was brought to you by MKG Marketing. Our agency accelerates the mission of cybersecurity vendors via SEO, digital ads, and analytics.
It’s hosted by me, Kerry Guard - CEO and co-founder of MKG. Music mix and mastering done by Austin Ellis.
If you'd like to be a guest, please visit mkgmarketinginc.com to apply.
Rachel Ratchford is the Head of Marketing Communications at Cobalt.io