It’s easy to become numb to the language companies use when they describe themselves. And frankly, that’s because it’s often generic, superficial and hollow. You scratch below the surface and slip right through the gap.
So when we say Augur is the “entrepreneurial” communications partner, how does it make us a better choice for founders who want something stronger than the status quo?
What does it mean?
Curiosity delivers originality
If you don’t ask something different, you can’t find something new. Good questions create the junction to escape the obvious path and discover true inspiration instead.
When you follow your questions back to a source of meaning, it can inform everything you do next. That becomes the origin in your originality — a much more valuable tool than simple creativity, and one that shapes how you show that you see things differently.
effective, REWARDING, inventIVE
Entrepreneurship is about finding better ways to do things, not just whacking lowball outcomes so you meet a service level agreement.
Through systems like Augur Edits, Augur Unbound and Augur Wire, we are pioneering demonstrably different approaches to communications strategy. If you don’t realign the incentives, your behaviour won’t change and you’re just another agency pretending you matter.
The editor’s perspective
You hire us for our judgement and our honesty. To take a strong position requires confidence, imagination and an ability to explain why.
This means we’ll say no when it matters — but it also means we use vision to suggest the alternative path toward the outcome we all want.
One of the reasons I founded Augur is because I believe too many agencies take really talented people and completely waste their time.
They squeeze them dry on hopeless, demanding clients, shackled to ancient inefficient processes and force them to crawl across coals just to be rewarded fairly.
We can do better.
Augur is growing and we are looking for the people who will become new cornerstones of what we build.
We believe the people who make agencies thrive are the hard workers that short-circuit bureaucracy and prioritise ruthlessly to make things that matter happen.
We don’t believe everyone has to be a jack-of-all-trades. We believe there is one core unit of success in this business: getting shit done. If you get that right, you can involve your specialism alongside it, whether that’s data, creating material, delighting clients, or anything else.
Benefits of working at Augur include:
Unlimited R&R days
Quarterly bonus scheme
Company iPhone and MacBook
Mobile working kit
“virtual share” scheme — the longer you are here, the more you benefit.
Here’s what we’re looking for — but, if these ideas resonate with you, we should talk anyway, regardless of everything below.
This is the primary unit of Augur. Our Strategists make things happen.
If you have a few years of experience and are looking for an environment where everything is designed around delivering strategy, measuring it effectively and iterating on it for clients, this is for you.
Campaign management and execution
Campaign iteration: suggesting strategic, creative campaigns that grow the business
Development of skills inc. attention to detail and refining systems
Market awareness, including new channels and industry trends
This is a sketch. If you think it sounds interesting, fill in the blanks for us by emailing email@example.com and let’s have a coffee to improve it together.
Incubation and Acceleration
The future of Augur will be built on finding fresh, raw talent that we can nurture and train before other agencies get their grubby mitts on them.
The focus of our Incubation programme is similar to the startup world: We invite intern-level individuals to pitch us an idea for a project to work on across 3 – 6 months. We will then commission the best ideas, and support them to achieve it, while they learn about how we work.
The project should relate roughly to areas where our interests overlap — for example:
Delving into Google Analytics, measurement and evaluation in excruciating detail
Writing every single day, including regular features ideas that will help them learn about our industry
A video project that gets under the skin of our clients’ challenges and produces an episode a week
They will have to justify this endeavour against their wages, building in a mindset that is aware of the value of work, against the effort put in.
If they thrive in this unique opportunity, we will move their project into Acceleration, providing more resources or learning from it to integrate it into Augur’s processes.
This project is an experiment, and will be driven by the success of the first participants.
Like many, I ended up in tech PR through ignorance. When I showed up for my first interview, I didn’t know what PR was (something like advertising?) and I didn’t know what this “press release” was that I had 30 minutes to write.
But something must have gone right, because not long after that I found myself nestled in front of a tidy desk for my first day at work — still with no idea what PR was.
The good news was, with social and digital flooding into the industry, it turned out neither did anyone else. I found myself arriving to an industry half in crisis because they could see the old ways were dying and half in blissful ignorance as the rug slid out from under them.
What I also found was that the world had tilted toward the internet I had grown up on. As a precocious youth with a father who worked in tech, I’d wasted hours on forums and newsgroups, totally immersed in the original social web.
So when introduced to Twitter, I still may have not known what a press release was — but I knew this was a language I could speak.
I quickly became the cliched Account Exec evangelising the latest thing: Google Wave, Google Buzz, Google+ (and even a few non-Google projects) — I was the man taking them all seriously.
I’ve since come to understand this is from the same instinct that makes me sit in the front row at standup shows: I want to try and experience the thing first, by myself, before I let others influence my view.
But as I watched platform after platform collapse, or evolve in disappointing ways, I also learned another significant lesson. From the latest to the ancient, some things that don’t change. Ultimately, whatever the means, people have the same drives, instincts, fears and desires they have had for thousands of years.
And so, a crucial lesson of my career has been: write strategy that optimises for the things that do not change.
This means things like:
People trust other people, not brands.
They especially trust people like them.
They are all trying to achieve something — and if you help them, they may be grateful.
Some people just want to be heard (think about complaints on social media.)
The principles of marketing aren’t really changed by developments in technology or new channels — It’s just our ability to fulfill them that does.
People became effective at broadcasting messages and not listening to their customer because really there was no simpler scalable route for some time.
PRs became effective at relying on journalists and publications to help spread their story, because there was no other channel.
But that’s just not true anymore.
By focusing on the higher, strategic level, by not saying “we’re going to do a social media strategy now” or, god forbid, “a Twitter (or Mastadon) strategy”, we can achieve more.
So when reviewing your strategy, it’s worth asking: have you found a way to appeal to the human habits that stay the same, or just a way to tweak the tech and algorithms to produce a short term result?
https://i0.wp.com/augur.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Screenshot-2019-12-16-at-09.24.38.png?fit=1822%2C1352&ssl=113521822Max Tatton-Brownhttps://www.augur.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/au_black-300x73.pngMax Tatton-Brown2019-12-17 09:00:202020-01-17 09:37:28Communications: Optimising for the things that don’t change
We’ve been writing again, this time for Influence, the official publication of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.
Cash obviously keeps you alive — but if you don’t really achieve momentum on the other three, you aren’t developing an engine that can sustain value for the long term. In many ways, getting that cash in the bank builds a more resilient system to be able to pursue the more important priorities.
And yet, how often do agencies place bets that threaten these priorities for trivial financial return?
Every time they take on a mediocre new client for a few grand in the forecast, they are leveraging a true cost for the team, brand and potential to attract future clients. You not only frustrate and waste the time of talented people, you undermine their interest in your agency and their job at the same time.
https://i2.wp.com/augur.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/C8E-EygW0AAALjh.jpg?fit=420%2C420&ssl=1420420Max Tatton-Brownhttps://www.augur.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/au_black-300x73.pngMax Tatton-Brown2017-03-30 09:00:432017-10-20 12:17:54Augur talks to Notion Capital about SaaS PR
We get it. Everyone in our business wants to be Don Draper.
Big pitch day. Stand up, leaf through the cards, standing ovation.
But then reality strikes. You do the kick off meetings and start trying to implement things, only to find that the “big idea” in your strategy isn’t possible for another year (if at all.) Or that the founders’ real passion isn’t “OPPORTUNALISING ENTERPRISE SOLUTION BEST EXCELLENCE”, but something rooted in the reality of their industry and experience.
For a couple of years now, we’ve been trying a different approach to the traditional pitch. And it’s based around a simple question:
How can a company who hasn’t spent any time with you write a realistic plan that reflects your true strength accurately?
So here’s what we do.
Phase 1: Discovery
After gathering a few top line details, we’ll talk on Zoom or Skype. Having written up interviews for places like tech.eu and Wired, we like to think we know how to ask the right questions.
The idea is to really listen carefully, pin down the specifics of the next challenge and determine what we think might conquer it. It often gives you an opportunity to learn more about us and our experience too.
If we don’t think it’s a match, we can help you find someone who is. Remember, Augur is designed for one thing: companies at Series A upwards, in “Unsexy” tech categories, looking for integrated comms against business challenges.
Alternatively, we might suggest we help out with Augur Unbound, our free service to share great stories from younger companies with key media.
Once we have what we need, we’ll start on the Strategic Spec document.
Phase 2: The Strategic Spec
This is a very simple one pager, designed to take the minimum time possible to create a first outline of what we might recommend, based on our previous experience.
It’s a starting point for you to provide feedback, to start the conversation going, instead of disappearing for weeks in Powerpoint with only the occasional question.
Diagnosis — what is the problem, as we see it?
Guiding Strategy — what is our topline mechanism to tackle it?
Example Objectives and Key Results — what’s the goal and deliverables?
Estimated Timelines & Resourcing — how long will it take, and cost?
Beat it up, tell us what you love or hate, tell us what you think of our measurement and evaluation suggestions, or how it may need to fit into other plans.
The result is designed to give you an estimate of how the plan might look, at the top level, if we start working together.
It establishes an agreed rough outline, so you know what to expect if you go ahead with the next step: The Planning Project.
Phase 3: The Planning Project
Now this is the big difference.
Augur will come to your office, spend time with you, interview key members of the team and really dig into what makes your company great. It’s about finding what you believe, holding a mirror up to your most talented people, helping identify the insights you may not even quite be aware of.
We try to find the signal in the noise.
Instead of going away and making up ideas by ourselves, we look to your strenths to build our plan. And we work with your team to identify what’s practical and possible for the first phase and further down the line.
We worth together, with just a little of your time, to flesh out the skeleton of assumptions from the Strategic Spec.
We deliver on questions like:
What is your pitch and key campaign ideas you will keep coming back to?
Who should you be introducing the company to?
Do we have a customer pipeline for case studies and other stories?
Once we’re done, the planning document usually looks about a dozen pages long, full of everything you need to hit the ground running.
It literally gets everyone on the same page with what to expect in the first episode of activity.
And it’s yours. In the past, we have actually recommended to one company that they take the Planning document and run with it themselves. Because it is a paid project, we are not incentivised to try and close you on a long programme, just to justify our costs on the pitch.
The resourcing costs for this project tend to be about half the anticipated monthly total we expect to end up at.
The point is: agencies say what they want but while their incentives don’t change, their actions won’t either.
This update refines Augur’s focus further around strategy and iteration in house, while introducing new ways to create value for the tech ecosystem alongside it. A great agency does not try and do all things for all people — and Augur is being designed very intentionally for a specific purpose.
Two example programmes in particular reflect how Augur differs from other PR agencies in its actions, not just words.
Revealing Augur Edits
In trial with retail tech clients in late 2016, Augur Edits invites freelancers from Retail Week, the FT and more to pitch their best ideas to Augur’s clients. Not PR fluff — but exactly the kind of ideas they are already pitching to traditional editors.
Clients get access to the best editorial, great journalists can place more ideas (with 24 hour payment terms) and Augur manages the back and forth, providing a brief to ensure it is perfectly in sync with the rest of the strategy.
Augur Unbound subverts the idea that PR agencies are a channel to media. Great news stories are easy to pitch — so we will take any good piece of news and pitch it to the most relevant influencers for free.
Clients hire Augur to build and optimise ongoing, channel-agnostic strategies, not to spam journalists. This is about sending a message about exactly what we believe is really valuable, while helping great companies get their message out.
Of all disciplines, you should expect technology PR to change with the times.
Here’s a 10 facts about how we work, and most importantly, the actions we take to deliver a demonstrably different service.
1. ENGINEERED MORE EFFICIENTLY
Modern work can be a mess of information overload, sprawling spreadsheet plans and bureaucracy that slows action to a crawl.
We put everything in one place: Asana. Here, you can see all upcoming tasks, find every document and directly comment or ask questions. And we support it with intelligence channels in Slackand files in Google Drive.
2. MEASUREMENT MADE MEANINGFUL
Ad Value Equivalent, coverage, estimated reach are all pointless if your comms plan doesn’t relate to your sales funnel.
Augur’s measurement process is driven from Google Analytics (or better, if you’re using it). Choose from a measurement menu that asks questions like: “of every visitor last month that became a lead, how many saw content in their journey?”
3. WORKING FACE-TO-FACE
How can an agency accurately represent someone they don’t understand?
By spending time with your team in person every week, we get under the skin of the company faster. So when we tell the world what you think, it’s the truth.
4. OWN YOUR STORY, OR DIE TRYING
You are a newswire. And the opinions section of your vertical target media. And an industry commentator. And an advocate of your customers. And an educator of your users.
If you want to be.
If you want authority, you need to start authoring it. Shuffled press releases behind closed doors pale in comparison to publishing your story on a regular basis anyway and giving the right people an early peek because it’s relevant.
Don’t duplicate and add to the noise. Find your signal and amplify it.
5. AMPLIFY WITH CARE
Embrace the real cadence of your company story. Not every step you take is a moon shot, and that’s okay. A flash in the pan will always appear less natural than consistent, growing fission.
Proper amplification should push more out of a story engine that’s already working independently — not compensate for its absence.
And a word about paid social. If we can directly target the people that journalists used to, in an easily measurable manner and on a basic budget, we’re doing it.
6. EXPERIENCE BEYOND AGENCIES
We have written for Wired, Quartz, The Guardian, Telegraph, Tech.eu and more. We’ve led PR and Comms for a $750m global tech startup from Series A to C. We’ve managed communities of 3000+ tech journalists and PRs, with members from Apple to the Economist, TechCrunch and beyond. Variety of experience spices our advice.
7. RESOURCING ATTENTION
The ‘hours’ agencies sell don’t exist, they are just 8 units of abstract value. That works great if you want to sell a dozen hours of an office junior and moments of the MD.
Augur simplifies this by resourcing teams across 4 units of attention per week. By being less granular, our plans reflect the value we offer across Strategy, Creation and Engagement. You pay for our value, not just our time.
8. UNSEXY IS THE NEW SEXY
How do you persuade a trendy teenager to become an advocate of a fizzy drink brand? Honestly? We can’t see why they should.
But if you ask what a decision-maker or industry commentator has to gain by being aware of the coming wave of change in their sector, that’s something else. Our clients’ technologies help other companies grow. And that shows how good they are at their job.
9. RELATIONSHIPS COME FIRST
Every time a journalist simply copies and pastes a news announcement, the world becomes a worse place. We want key people to question and engage with why you matter, not just trot out easy coverage.
That’s what generates the kind of third party endorsement your team can use to reach new people and drive sales. If you can build understanding, then solid coverage and customers will come.
10. A BETTER PROPOSAL PROCESS
Agencies traditionally try and knock your socks off with grand pitches before they have even spent a day working on your account.
At Augur, we start with a one page strategic spec — our diagnosis, guiding strategy and Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). If we agree this is along the right lines, we kick off a small proposal project, where we interview your leadership, your team, everyone we can get our hands on to help us write a full 6 – 12 month plan.
Joining BookingBug and card-linked offers platform Birdback
Augur mentoring at Level 39, Barclays Techstars Fintech Accelerator, Notion Capital and more
Money makes the world go round. But often too slowly, inconveniently and on the bank’s terms.
Fintech promises to present a glass of icewater in this hellish landscape. What’s more, London’s history as a financial capital means it is literally made to nurture the greatest fintech companies in the world.
In the consumer world, yes, there are wiser ways to transfer money across borders now. But in the B2B world, that’s where fintech is really rewriting what’s possible.
With GoCardless, we have been working together since its latest funding round, revealing its unique position to build the first global payments network on debit.
Soon after the initial work, Co-founder and CEO Hiroki Takeuchi said:
“Our first project with Augur was intended to be a one off around an important piece of news. However, the speed and effectiveness with which they advanced key relationships and delivered against our KPIs convinced us to add ongoing PR to the marketing mix.
“We are now working together on a smart, integrated PR strategy that will support the next stage of GoCardless’s growth.”
“Even a great story will flounder without great implementation. Augur helped us refine our pitch for the UK, identify key audiences and kickstart the relationships that will serve us as we grow.”
“Their understanding of what’s important in B2B and Fintech is outstanding in their industry.”
2017 is about really showing the world what a PR agency can do when you re-engineer it to better fit for fast-growing technology companies.
Coming next, we will reveal what Augur has been doing to create a PR service that isn’t just different in rhetoric — but demonstrably different in its design. Rethinking the old PR incentives, we are aiming to do what older established agencies can’t (or won’t.)
One thing we think is really important at Augur is to be properly connected to the world of the companies we work with. So we often end up writing for places like Quartz, Wired, The Guardian about technology and culture trends that are changing behaviour.
I write. I work with writers. Many of my friends are journalists. The future of being able to charge for quality material online is really important to me.
However, to make progress in this area, I think the industry needs to stop pinning its hopes on the same dead ends that come up again and again. To me, one of these is microtransactions for material.
Leading this field, Blendle has recently been on a PR push around its U.S. launch. Twenty U.S. publications will share with an audience of 10,000 test users articles for between $0.09 and $0.49 (9-49 cents).
Basically, none of this matters. It’s a wasteful diversion. Because to make real impact on this challenge, you need three key things — and Blendle has none of them.
https://www.augur.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/au_black-300x73.png00Max Tatton-Brownhttps://www.augur.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/au_black-300x73.pngMax Tatton-Brown2016-04-22 09:55:302017-02-08 11:34:16Augur writes about the future of journalism on TechCrunch
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