I am experienced in successfully creating long-term event marketing and PR strategies. I believe communication is most effective when it grabs the attention of people. I create moments that matter to people within the company and outside of the company.
During my time at Parse.ly, I had two main objectives. Firstly, develop a PR strategy and secondly, drive PR coverage. Driving coverage meant that I would screen and answer incoming press inquiries as well as contact journalists with interesting stories.
In developing the strategy I looked at the PR history of the company and determined public personas and the role of each individual in the press and on stage. I defined new public personas and a communication plan. That included defining topics, building up a reputation as a market expert, and generally increasing brand visibility.
Click on the images to enlarge them.
In the media industry referral traffic can be a huge source of traffic and oftentimes the dominant source of traffic for websites. Publishers need to know where their readers are coming from and which platforms send the most loyal readers. For a long time Facebook was and still is the biggest source of social traffic but over the last year the landscape had somewhat changed. Facebook changed its strategy and is now sending less and less traffic to other websites. That development gave rise to smaller traffic sources like Pinterest or Google News.
The communication strategy for Parse.ly was simple: establish a reputation as an innovative company and a consultant for the industry. The quarterly "Authority Report" highlights a new field of interest like niche referrers or the advantage of engaged time vs. page impressions. Blog posts dive deeper into a specific topic, e.g. the difference between Google News, Google QuickSearchBox, and Google API traffic. These content pieces were a great starting off point to contact journalists and get them excited about a topic which led to coverage in outlets like Axios, Bloomberg, or Forbes.
"People are paying close attention to the Cambridge Analytica scandal... Our data shows that in the past two weeks, views shot up by a factor of 18 when it came to articles mentioning 'Cambridge Analytica', 'Mark Zuckerberg', or 'Facebook' compared to the weeks prior."
— Andrew Montalenti, co-founder and CTO of Parse.ly
For publishers, the past two years were a lesson in chasing traffic and finding the true value of an audience. Some have shut down and others have undergone layoffs. The ever-growing threat of a simple algorithm change continues to loom over publishers, but Parse.ly’s latest traffic report has a few solutions and takeaways to that issue.
Dubbed “The Authority Report,” Parse.ly’s traffic report analyzed 8 billion page views for 1 million articles in its network for the months of April and May 2018. While Google and Facebook still dominate referral rates for publishers, others like Flipboard and Pinterest are growing—and gaining an edge.
Web analytics company Parse.ly says Pocket isn’t among the top 10 sites that refer traffic to the more than 2,500 publishers in its network and that Facebook is still the No. 1 sender of social traffic by far.
Pocket is, however, sending almost 75 percent more traffic to Parse.ly’s publisher network than it was at the start of 2018.
Google now accounts for more than 50% of referral traffic sent to digital publishers, according to the web analytics firm Parse.ly, compared to 27% from the second-biggest referrer, Facebook.
Wall Street Journal
Over the span of five years at mobile.de, I fulfilled many roles. I took charge of internal communication for almost three years. Starting out with a single monthly newsletter, I grew the publication into an adaptable tool that helped foster a cultural change. When the company was fairly small (less than 150 people), it was easier for the individual to be informed and know almost everyone at the company. But with more people joining the team and another office opening, it became more difficult to communicate effectively and give everyone a chance to talk to the leadership directly. That is why I introduced measures like the monthly lunch table with the management team, which was open to anyone who wanted to join. Other measures like the monthly company meeting and the newsletter offered the opportunity to set the agenda and explain management decisions. This fostered an atmosphere of openness where anybody could voice their opinion and start conversations about new ideas or problems with legacy products.
External communication followed a different strategy. At first, mobile.de’s PR was reactive and fairly sluggish. The first step was to target B2B media and create continuous, positive coverage in key B2B media outlets. That first step also involved utilizing the vast pool of data that users of mobile.de generated each day. The “Car Barometer” was the first PR product that used data to create newsworthy content on a regular basis. This certainly got the attention of journalists, who started to contact mobile.de for data to bolster their own stories.
The next big step was to establish relationships with journalists. Again, data-driven stories gave me an opportunity to sell new and substantial content to journalists. Some of those stories were: the youngtimer market in Germany, Germany’s favorite cars, and a variety of top 10 and top 5 lists. The pieces ranged from small consumer advice clippings to bigger stories that were featured in most of the German newspapers. However, I didn’t use data just for its own sake. The marketing campaign promise over the years had many connotations, but the main statement was: “Life is too short for just a few cars. Switch more often – it’s fun.” Every story had to include some element of that narrative, whether it be in a statement by the CEO or as part of the interpretation of the data. Even small things like using the company’s hue of orange as the primary color in graphs or infographics helped to build the brand image.
By 2016, mobile.de was established as one of the primary sources for data on the car market in Germany, beating direct competitors and companies that specialize in generating market data. That gave us a high profile in the unfolding Volkswagen diesel scandal, which presented its own problems. VW dealers made up the majority of the company’s customer base, and the company itself spends a lot of money advertising on the platform. I explain in greater detail further below how data helped debunk several myths and misconceptions.
Data then. What does it do to PR and how can it be utilized? First of all, it can help generate stories that have nothing to do with new products or other changes within the company. If you want to have a constant buzz around your brand or if you simply want to stay relevant in the mindset of your customers, data can help. Secondly, data helps to build trust with journalists and readers alike. But most importantly, data can be a vehicle to transport your brand messages across all forms of media, whether earned, paid, or owned.
No price drop for used diesel cars
The current debate about the diesel engine has apparently no influence on the used car prices. On the internet portal Mobile.de, a diesel car currently costs an average of 23,175 euros - just four euros less than a year ago. The online marketplace sees this as a sign of stable demand even in the face of impending driving bans. However, there are strong model-dependent differences in price development. The VW Golf TDI costs 16,963 euros on average that is 1,000 euros less than last year (minus 5.2 percent), while the Audi A4 diesel is offered for an average of 8.2 percent more. The total number of diesel cars listed has increased by 3.6 percent to 67,712 - according to the portal, an indication of a high willingness to sell.
Click on the images to enlarge them.
The Volkswagen emissions scandal prompted many, many press inquiries - at times 5-10 per day. The topic was delicate for mobile.de, in part because the Volkswagen group is one of the biggest advertisers on the platform, but also because VW dealers are the biggest group of paying customers on the platform. Although mobile.de was not the target of the reports, the company could have easily been caught in the crossfire. What to do then?
On the one hand, we needed to maintain our reputation as an expert with the most reliable data on the car market. On the other hand, we wanted to avoid messages like: "Prices for VW Diesel cars are tanking." Fortunately, the data provided us with surprising insights. The average price for VWs went up and not down while other brands saw a price decrease. That meant we had a story: "Don't panic, used Volkswagen cars don't show a significant price drop."
The discussion about driving bans for diesel cars bears little to no fruit on the prices of used diesel, even in the most affected region of Stuttgart. This shows a current evaluation of Mobile.de for Automobilwoche. […] In the city [of Stuttgart] and its region, Mobile.de data analyst Daniel Banta observed an average decline in prices for July  of 2.6 per cent compared to the same period last year. Meanwhile, prices for used cars across all types of engines have risen by 3.1 percent in Germany. "Prices are coming under pressure ever so slowly," commented Banta on the development.
Is it the right time to get rid of your diesel, as long as you still get money for it? Many buyers ask this question. That uncertainty is also reflected in the real car market. […] Germany's largest car market mobile.de has analyzed exclusively for FOCUS Online the development of prices, listings, and the days a car sat on the dealer's lot for diesel vehicles as a whole and for individual brands - from 2015 to today. […] "The number of days a car is sitting on a dealer's lot is not driven by VW diesel cars," says mobile.de data expert Daniel Banta, "though they are selling slower than a year ago, they still sell faster than other cars in the overall market - both stay 91.2 and 91.5 days respectively at the dealer - a year-to-year growth of 10.1 percent in the overall market and 8.6 percent for VW-brand diesel." In other words, although diesel vehicles sit longer on the dealer lot than before, VW is not affected worse than other brands. On the contrary, they fare even slightly better.
How can you transport the promise to your core customers that your brand and your product provides added value? In the case of mobile.de, the core customers are car dealers who advertise their inventory on the platform. In many conversations with the dealer sales team we found that dealers think of the brand as a tool. We wanted to become more than just a tool to our customers. We wanted to be their partner. That is how the idea of the "Car Barometer" was born.
Every month I would analyze the used car market and create a detailed report on both the overall market and a breakdown of various market segments. Combined with quotes from the Head of Dealer Sales, the report provided information and insight on the car market. In addressing mostly B2B media, I could ensure that car dealers would get tips from what they would otherwise think of as tool. Featuring the Head of Sales in the report gave a face to the “Car Barometer.”
What started out as a small project turned into the most reliable tool to create media coverage. By 2015 the “Car Barometer” was featured regularly in every important B2B medium. It also bolstered the reputation of mobile.de as a reliable partner for data on the car market.
On a side note: although conceived for B2B communications, the "Car Barometer" was occasionally featured in B2C press as well. On one occasion it even appeared in a top 5 list on the first page of the Bild Zeitung (Germany's biggest daily newspaper and no. 16 in the world, followed by the New York Times).
Used car market: summer doldrums let vehicles sit longer
- Summer slump: used cars sell more slowly
- Stable prices in August
- Bucking the trend: small cars continue as bestsellers
As is typical of the season, used cars sit longer on the lots in the summer months - compared to the previous year even a whopping 6 days (+ 8.0 percent). Full-size luxury cars sell much slower, on average 105 days, than vehicles in the neighboring segment - in the executive segment cars sit on average 88 days on a dealer's lot. "During the summer months, the used car market has lost its momentum as expected. For the car market, it is now important to initiate the late summer final spurt,” says Torsten Wesche, Head of Dealer Sales at mobile.de.
The idea behind this project was to establish a close relationship with the journalist and to portray mobile.de as an expert in the car market. Usually, I had a meeting with the journalist to discuss a possible list of cars we wanted to take a close look at. That list was the starting point for my data analysis. After checking to see whether there was enough data to work with, we would take a second meeting to cross car models off the list or add other models. The next step was a detailed analysis using data reaching back to 2010.
Crunching 30 million rows of data did take some time. And we clearly wanted more than just a brief mention as the data supplier. We wanted coverage that made us part of the story. The CEO and the brand had to feature in the article in multiple places. I would write up some initial observations to help guide the journalists through the data. In addition, I created interactive graphs to help illustrate the data. I also prepared statements from the CEO that positioned him as an expert of the car market.
For the fourth time FOCUS Online and mobile.de have investigated the youngtimers that are good value at the end of the classic season 2016. The price trend is analyzed on the basis of real world market data - not just of expensive Porsche or Ferrari models, but also of affordable classics.
Of course, there are always bubbles, as with, for instance, the VW Bulli T1. Another example is the hype around old Land Rover models after the discontinuation of the Defender - which has faded somewhat. "Currently, we see no big price increases on the overall market for classic and vintage cars. The average prices in this market segment hover just under € 10,000. But the selection has increased significantly: car buyers can choose from 40 percent more vehicles at the end of 2016 than at the beginning of the year," says mobile.de CEO Malte Krüger.
While you can get a Chevrolet Blazer for a small buck, the Ford Bronco has recently jumped significantly and has seen a price increase of more than 100 percent since 2011. The analysts of Mobile.de predict a further upward trend. Also upward - albeit not so steep - is the price trend of the Toyota Land Cruiser.
I took over responsibility for event marketing in 2014. At first that mostly meant sponsorships of events: spending for exposure in the form of a logo on a wall or a website. Over the course of three years I reduced the number of events significantly so as to ramp up the quality. That meant linking sponsorships to mobile.de’s direct involvement in any given event, whether through a speaker slot, taking part in a panel discussion, or any other form of participation. Eventually that led to speaking opportunities at the most illustrious industry events, such as the Automobilwoche Kongress 2016, which included mobile.de's managing director and Mercedes CEO Dieter Zetsche among others.
My work involved mostly the budget, strategic planning, and the creation of presentations and/or Q&A's for the company's representative. I managed an in-house team of two as well as three different agencies. Part of the event marketing was the company's merchandise, which I was also responsible for.
This event was a partnership between the publisher Vogel Business Media and mobile.de. Once a year in November, B2B magazine kfz-betrieb invited car dealers for a day of workshops, discussion panels, and presentations. The topics and presenters were chosen by mobile.de and the kfz-betrieb. That meant that we had a say in the content orientation, allowing us to inject topics that were at the core of the brand.
Participation was secured through a seat on the obligatory discussion panel and the Head of Sales serving as the moderator of the event. A cooking workshop with selected participants gave us more networking time to build close relationships with dealers and other influencers in the automotive media.
The obvious benefit of the event was the positioning of the company as a partner of the car industry. But because we were able to set the agenda, mobile.de could also address key changes in the industry, including the digitalization of the car industry.
Press coverage before, during, and after the event was guaranteed due to our partnership with the publisher. To put that in perspective: Vogel Business Media dominates the B2B automotive press in Germany, guaranteeing exposure to most of the car dealers in Germany.
Mobile.de itself is launching its own platform in the coming year through which dealers can buy used cars from private individuals in their region.
"We want to act as an intermediary between dealer and customer and we want to deliver a better offer than what has been on the market so far," said Breves [Director of Sales at mobile.de]. In doing so, Mobile.de wants to work with price estimations that are as realistic as possible. Previously, BVfK [German equivalent to the National Automobile Dealers Association in the US] board member Klein noted that some competitors in the market "provide an unfair competition by applying a loss leader strategy".
kfz-betrieb (B2B Press)
The marketing campaign had just launched earlier in 2016. The slogan "Welcher ist Dein Nächster" (Which is your next one?) and the visual remained mostly unchanged from the previous campaigns. But after the acquisition of Motor-Talk, the advertising team was not just selling mobile.de - the car marketplace - as a platform, but also Motor-Talk and its forum community. This acquisition transformed mobile.de Advertising into a one stop shop for any advertiser. Those two assets needed to be incorporated into the campaign story.
Targeting specific customers at any stage in their car journey – from gathering information, to buying the car, to owning the car – gets rid of a lot of headaches for advertisers. The brand campaign incorporated narratives like choice, fun, and most importantly ease. By taking "ease" and turning it into the main narrative for the B2B communication, we had our story: mobile.de Advertising has you covered. We are here for you.
All we knew when starting out at the beginning of 2016 was that we had three stakeholders: a marketing liasion from the ad sales department, my B2B brand marketing colleague, and me. Planning started in February 2016 by getting everybody's agencies around the same table. At first it was necessary to determine who would be in the lead for what. Another factor was the location because the agencies where scattered all over Germany. We established new ways of communication and connected the agencies more closely together. That last part turned out to be vital. A lot of ideas were floating around and having specialists from all disciplines on board meant that ideas could be tested early on without investing a lot of money and or time.
Click on the images to enlarge them.