PR firm Twotone work under a sea of bikes which fly across their Amsterdam office, like an early Spielberg movie. Unsurprisingly, the bulk of their clients come from the cycling industry; visit their agency newsroom and you’ll find brands like Shimano, Komoot, and Brooks.
The team of five, who are spread across Europe, don’t just do bike brands: they also earned their chops working on projects with clients like Redbull and 72andSunny.
Jon Woodroof, Owner and Founder of Twotone, talks through their process as an agency below, and explains how pr.co's PR agency software has improved their relationships with the press.
Twotone before pr.co
When Jon first started in the field, most people sent press releases in PDF format.
“On one occasion a colleague sent a press release but the images were from a competing manufacturer. But they had already sent the zip file to the press.” There was no going back. Jon along with many others in PR has learned how error-prone PDFs can be, which is why he found it important to be able to amend or update your pitches.
Pitching was also tricky without a good CRM: “There's so much noise without a good CRM. People change industries, or you don’t receive complete information.” A CRM helps you keep track not only of basic contact information, but helps you remember the little details: if they like dogs, say, or how many of your emails they’ve opened. Throwing these seemingly small details into an email can make a world of difference. Jon should know-- he’s built a successful agency off the back of them.
I think one of the biggest lessons we've learned is that spray and pray just doesn't work. Now when we do campaigns, we use a handpicked list of 20 people, instead of flashing a 200 person pitch list to a client and then blasting those people with something they don't really care about.
Why Twotone chose pr.co
1. Keeping a professional edge
Jon and his colleagues noticed that their work had more of a professional edge after using the platform. “For us, we made a conscious decision that we wanted to present ourselves and our clients in the best way. And the newsroom did that. It just looks so much better than a Google Drive, which just feels like a draft.” A newsroom has seriously helped improve his clients’ legitimacy with the media; it’s branded, it looks polished, and people get quality information quickly. Journalists take one look at a newsroom and think ‘this brand means business.’
“Furthermore, if you go to the Twotone newsroom now, you can see all the brands we work with and all the other releases. You can filter releases per client. You can't do that easily nor elegantly with Google Drive. It’s like you're looking into somebody's closet or something.’
2. Staying efficient and relevant
As a small team with multiple clients, it’s important for Twotone to stay efficient. “Sometimes it can be tricky to get feedback from busy clients; getting them on the phone or to answer emails before the release goes out... Having our drafts branded and accessible online makes it much quicker and easier for clients to approve things.”
Twotone chose pr.co so they could easily amend pitches on the go. This has been useful both when sending work to clients and to journalists. “With pr.co, the team can quickly remove or replace a media kit. This means if there’s a problem, by the time anybody opens the email, everything is already fixed.”
“It’s also nice to have a database of previous things we have worked on. All the information, contact details, and images you could need are right there. Everything is easy and replicable which makes creating new campaigns much faster”
You need to move fast to stay relevant “when we’re putting out a bike light brand, we’ll be pushing the fact that it's getting darker earlier for example. So we distil everything they're trying to say but at some point, you just have to ship it without hesitation. Pr.co helps with that”
3. Making life easier for journalists
For Jon, making sure journalists have a memorably good experience working with Twotone is of utmost importance. “I think a lot of brands don't know what they're missing by not having a newsroom. They don't really think about why a journalist might not have liked them until they've lost a pitch.”
“The biggest mistake some PR professionals make is that they don't really think about journalists' perspective. You don’t want to waste time in email chains with journalists asking things like “Can I have images? I can't open the release, can you resend it?” It looks bad."
“I think one of the biggest lessons we've learned is that spray and pray just doesn't work. Now when we do campaigns, we use a handpicked list of 20 people, instead of flashing a 200 person pitch list to a client and then blasting those people with something they don't really care about.”
“Ultimately it’s journalists who are expected to do something with all this information, but it’s supposed to benefit them too. The end-user should always have the biggest benefit.”
“If you’re not trying to work out how to make a journalists life easier then the utility of pr.co will be lost on you. For us, it makes us look good to our clients, but also to editors. We show pr.co to clients and say ‘we have this newsroom that we use.’ We're not just emailing random pieces of information to people. With one click, journalists can find everything they need.”
How Twotone use pr.co to produce top-quality PR
Improving their workflow
“Our typical workflow is this: our customer has products and messaging that they've determined within their teams. They brief us in English or German, and we translate (if necessary) and put together the visuals and text. Once this is done, we share the list of journalists we are going to pitch to.” If the client is happy and signs off on this list, Jon and his team get to work and start shipping it. Being able to pitch journalists with a link to an online newsroom has increased their coverage, because writing about them is easier.
Having a neatly organised, easily downloadable image bank has been key in this process. “Sometimes we receive images from a client via Google drive or Wetransfer. But for us, Wetransfer on a wide scale doesn't make sense. A journalist shouldn’t have to download 400MB folders. We try and organise images and put them into different subfolders in the pr.co newsroom so journalists can easily find them.”
“We want images to be as easy as possible to find. So if a journalist wants an image of a bike against a white background they can find it in seconds. We categorise images in all sorts of ways depending on the brand. Product shots, lifestyle, store openings, navigation computer. Whatever the category, it’s clearly discernible where the images are with an online media kit.”
Offering a newsroom to clients
Offering online newsrooms has also been a big win with sales documents. “We often add client newsrooms as an option in proposals.” When Twotone signs a new client, each brand usually wants a different setup based on their unique situation: clients get a subsection in the Twotone newsroom, or a separate newsroom entirely in the client’s branding.
“In the interest of getting things done, everything needs to be set up easily and quickly. Sometimes it makes sense to have news in our agency newsroom, and other times for a client to have their own branded newsroom embedded into their existing website, which is easily accessible to their team.” With pr.co, Twotone can set up either option for them in a matter of days.
“With Komoot and Shimano, we’re excited about them having their own newsrooms for example. Smaller brands often don't have the time or resources to maintain a newsroom so they just WhatsApp or email us information and we do the rest”
Using pr.co to promote events
Events are an area of specialisation for the agency, so being able to set things up easily was especially important to the team. “Up until March (when the Netherlands entered lockdown), we would send out the details of events in a press release format. RSVPs, which typically are sent to a handful of targeted people, is still done via email.”
“If there was a more public aspect to the event that we'd want them to share, then we'd also create a Facebook event or something similar. But the advantage of pr.co is that there's a newsroom link that has everything about that event on that page, that you can include whatever the platform you’re promoting on.”
“We sometimes make JPEGs in email invites that click through to the newsroom. Because ultimately, if it's a launch and there is an event, you’re still going to need a release and high-quality images of the product you're launching to go with it. We may share the release under embargo, but we also want journalists to come to the event and experience the product first hand.”
If you’re not trying to work out how to make a journalists life easier then the utility of pr.co will be lost on you. For us, it makes us look good to our clients, but also to editors. We show pr.co to clients and say ‘we have this newsroom that we use.’ We're not just emailing random pieces of information to people. With one click, journalists can find everything they need.
Results: Strengthened relationships, increased coverage, and improved sales
One of the most noticeable results from using pr.co has been how strong Twotone’s relationships have become, both with clients and with journalists. “When a potential client sees the brand's you work with, they're stoked and proud to be on your portfolio page.”
Collaborating with the agency on a story is easy: assets and information are easy to find. Journalists, unsurprisingly, keep returning.
Another unexpected result has been cross-pollination. Journalists visiting the agency newsroom discover other brands, and brands are put in touch with each other. New partnerships have sprung up. “Sometimes we're contacted by people who have seen brands we’ve previously worked with and are interested in their work. We still contact that previous client and inform them that this other party is interested in collaborating. There's no point in burning bridges. That's why we prefer longer-term partnerships with people.” And why some clients return.
The Spokesperson feature has been great for their Inbound PR, and also for their agency newsroom’s findability. “Sometimes it doesn't make sense for certain people to get contacted so being able to change the Spokesperson is helpful. It’s particularly useful because now our newsroom ranks high on Google News, it's super cool knowing that our newsroom shows up more now.”
Offering the newsroom is an added feature that has improved Twotone’s proposals to potential clients. “We include example newsrooms and link to them at the end of PandaDoc proposals. People often say they’d love to be presented in this way.”
pr.co has helped Twotone with their goal of making their clients as successful as possible. “it all comes down to what our clients are trying to do. If they tell us what they want, we will make it happen. As soon as they ask us to do something, before we get on a call with them next week, we've done it. That's our secret sauce. pr.co helps us achieve that.”