Today, a Q & A with the President of Racepoint, Bob Osmond.
Tell us about your agency’s mission and the types of clients you serve.
At Racepoint Global (RPG), our core mission is simple: we help our clients navigate and succeed in today’s landscape by shaping conversations that matter. We aspire to tell stories about technology’s role in supporting humanity and we work with clients in a range of sectors to help them establish competitive differentiation that drives business impact.
What are some key trends you’re noticing in the B2B technology space?
A lot of what people are considering new B2B trends today have been at various stages of adoption for a long time. With the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve seen tremendous acceleration of technology adoption in several sectors, from live streaming to contact-free transactions.
Live Streaming Tech to Engage With Existing and New Audiences
Industry events have been transformed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Travel bans and social distancing mandates forced technology conferences, such as MWC, CES and VMworld to become virtual events. VR technology is having a moment as virtual events become the new norm in 2020. More companies are incorporating VR into their virtual events. For example, HTC held its Virtual Vive Ecosystem Conference (V2EC) 2020 back in March.
Contactless Technology Has Its Moment
Contactless retail and payment technology is expected to see a rise in adoption, as more people, fearful of touching cash or unnecessary contact within retail or travel settings, are using their mobile devices to pay for goods and services and move through the world. This phenomenon is already the norm in many regions and the pandemic is sparking US consumer adoption.
What new challenges has the pandemic created for Racepoint Global and how have you worked creatively to overcome them?
A lot of our media interactions are driven by events, conferences and tradeshows, where we get to meet face-to-face with reporters, analysts and influencers and facilitate those relationships for our clients. Obviously, a global public health crisis calls for different approaches, which we’ve embraced on behalf of our clients.
For a major tech client, we coordinated several virtual meet-and-greets between reporters and company spokespeople through virtual cocktail hours. We sent everyone Moscow Mule Cocktail kits (we provided non-alcoholic options, too!), and everyone shared a drink in a fun virtual environment where we engaged in meaningful conversations with media and influencers.
An e-learning tech client took what was meant to be their annual in-person conference and converted it to a digital, 24-hour learning experience. RPG helped guide their event decisions through a communications lens. We amplified event messaging to drive media coverage and registration. We pitched a range of media across technology, innovation, trade and vertical publications and we managed all social channels over the course of the round-the-clock, round-the-world event. Months later, coverage is still posting from the content-rich event.
You previously mentioned the key role virtual events have played in clients’ responses to the pandemic. Could you expand on that and share some tips for making this new class of events successful?
One big lesson is that you can’t just take what was originally meant to be live, in-person content and put it online. You have to make it engaging. In the event I previously mentioned, our client organized virtual break rooms, which were organized by job roles or topics of interest. This allowed for networking and discussion, even when everyone joined from home. Virtual events also flatten the barriers of time and space, allowing for greater diversity and breadth of attendees and speakers. In the case of the 24-hour client event, we had speakers from all over the globe—not one of them had to travel.
What are some benefits agencies can bring to clients during these unprecedented times?
During these challenging personal, social and economic times, where we are reevaluating our attitudes about virtually everything, businesses need to be authentic, sensitive, and helpful—while not being overly promotional. Agencies bring perspective and outside-in thinking to their client partners. Our job is to use peripheral vision to give our clients good guidance about where and when to engage. Business hasn’t stopped, it has changed. In a time of great upheaval and confusion, an agency’s job is to help its clients navigate change in authentic and purposeful ways, keeping them focused on the hero of their story: their customers.
Where do you see the future of the B2B PR industry? Do you think the pandemic will leave a significant impact?
Virtual tradeshows, industry events and meetings will be the norm for the foreseeable future, as social distancing measures continue and people become more accustomed to conducting business without physical meetings. In its essence, it’s an issue of risk management.
As a result of the downturn, purchasing decisions will become more complex. Enterprise buyers, in particular, will rely more on third-party validation to build confidence. For PR and communications practitioners that means revving up the content engine, leveraging earned media, customer success, and reviews programs and amplifying these assets with a multi-channel approach.
Bob Osmond is president ofRacepoint Global. Bob has more than twenty years of integrated and award-winning marketing and public relations experience with leading B2B and consumer technology and services firms.