We talked to Ayelet Noff, founder & CEO at SlicedBrand on how they give businesses the coverage they deserve and she had the following say about:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Ayelet Noff: Of course times are challenging, especially here in Berlin where we are in complete lockdown at the moment; however, I am a positive person and always prefer to look at the positive aspect of things. Having more time to be indoors and not travel from point A to B really allows me to stay focused on the business, and most importantly, work closely together with my great team and clients.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded SlicedBrand.
Ayelet Noff: When I was introduced to the whole world of social media in 2006, I fell in love with it. I saw the potential for businesses to use these networks as a cost-efficient way to get their messages across to the masses – especially for startups who are running as lean as possible.
However, while it’s great that companies can promote their message to their followers on social media, it’s only one piece of the marketing pie. In the PESO marketing model, you have four pillars working hand in hand – paid, earned, shared, and owned. All of these pieces are important. Earned media is immeasurably important because you can’t pay for it – it’s not for sale. I understood that it was crucial for companies to be featured in the press, building credibility through organic coverage from top respected journalists in order to develop trust and truly grow.
I was living in Israel at the time. There was a lot of amazing technology in the startup scene there, but those companies didn’t have the same access to reporters and investors that their counterparts in Silicon Valley did. Coming from the US, I had established relationships with top influencers and understood how to market products on a global scale. That’s when I founded my first agency, Blonde 2.0. I wanted to be their diplomat to the rest of the world.
A few years after its founding, I brought in a partner. At its height, Blonde 2.0 had 35 employees. After several years, my business partner and I were not seeing eye-to-eye how to manage the business. In early 2020, I decided it was time to build something new based on the principles I always felt truly passionate about, and I filed a request for liquidation of Blonde 2.0.
I founded my second PR firm, SlicedBrand, at the beginning of the pandemic. Our firm’s vision is to offer the most experienced senior team to clients while taking on only clients with a product and philosophy that we believe in and want to share with the world – keeping quality truly high on both ends. Our team are all highly senior folks, with many years of experience.
I have always strongly believed in being honest and transparent with our clients, clearly setting goals and being realistic. We share everything with them and offer honest feedback because when our clients are successful, we are successful. I lead all the accounts personally, and I love it. Clients know if they come to us, they will be in the best hands, and we can be selective about who we want to work with.
I have made quite a reputation for myself in the industry, and today I work with tech companies all over the world, helping them craft their stories and making sure they get the brand recognition they deserve. In addition to connecting entrepreneurs with reporters from publications such as TechCrunch, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times, I also get them noticed by Silicon Valley influencers and investors.
How does SlicedBrand innovate?
Ayelet Noff: We are excited about future technologies and the companies that can get us there. We’re fully dedicated to working with innovative companies and next-generation technologies. The entrepreneurs and founders we’re supporting are truly creating a new – and better – future, no matter which industry they are in. We have also made it a mission to work with companies trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
One of our company’s core values is to be “out-of-the-box” – we are creative, thoughtful, and unique in the ways we share our clients’ stories, making them stand out above the noise. We also stay one step ahead by being proactive, continuously envisioning timely ideas to tie our clients’ brands into what’s happening in the news.
Our clients and team are located around the world, so we are able to accommodate journalists and clients in any time zone. After all, PR never sleeps!
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Ayelet Noff: No one knows how long COVID-19 will be around, but we do know that it’s here for the foreseeable future and companies need to adapt. The pandemic has kept us on our toes as we have had to react quickly to changing situations. And I believe that change is good! It lets us take a step back from “the way we’ve always done things” so we can find new, improved, and more efficient ways to work.
We can conduct business meetings via Zoom and save ourselves the time it takes to travel to every meeting. Also, as everyone is working remotely, I’m no longer constrained by geography or a physical office – my team can work from anywhere, allowing me to work with the best out there. The pandemic has actually enabled our whole team to work more closely together and be more productive. Instead of needing to travel from conference to conference, we are able to spend that time on actual work.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Ayelet Noff: Liquidating the first company that I founded and built into a global brand, was definitely the most difficult decision that I had to make, but one that had to be made as my partner and I disagreed on how to run the business. At the beginning of the pandemic, I decided it was time to build something new based on the principles that I felt truly passionate about. The biggest lesson I learned from the experience was always following my gut – which was telling me to take this step – and that stepping out of your comfort zone is often scary, but it’s the only way to achieve even greater things in life.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Ayelet Noff: Confucius once said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” PR is a stressful job. They say, “If you don’t like the heat, get out of the kitchen.” I like the heat, the excitement of it. I thrive on the stress. I would get bored otherwise. I’ve always found that I’m less stressed when I feel like I’m productive – which is easy for me because I love what I do. I also exercise and do yoga daily, which helps me de-stress.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Ayelet Noff: Of course, other PR firms that handle tech companies could be considered competitors, but we’ve always had our unique way of doing things. We pride ourselves on being different from big PR firms, where a client may work with a senior partner on their first story, but then they get handed off to a junior partner immediately after that. At our firm, I am 110% dedicated and involved in each of our accounts. SlicedBrand is really an extension of our clients’ teams. We are part of their families and they are part of ours. It is one of our core values to dedicate our hearts and souls to our clients’ projects as if they were our own. We are always available to them 24/7.
Additionally, we have years of experience working with tech companies, and we know how to tell their stories in the best and simplest manner. We’ve fostered relationships with journalists and key influencers for the last 20 years, which results in our clients being frequently mentioned in outlets like Reuters, Business Insider, Forbes, TechCrunch, Fast Company, and Engadget, among others.
Our way of working with our clients has proven to be recognized time and time again. This year, I was selected together with my team as one of the top 36 PR pros in the tech industry by Business Insider. Previously, in 2017, I also made their list of top 50. And in 2018, Forbes named me as one of five female rock stars leading the crypto scene. We keep getting selected because of our extensive network of the press, our creativity and experience in storytelling, but, most importantly, our complete and utter dedication to our clients.
Your final thoughts?
Ayelet Noff: I never forget that the brands I work with are reaching out to consumers, who at the end of the day are human beings who deserve to be treated responsibly and compassionately. It’s my goal to make sure my clients aren’t just promoting their news, but that they’re sharing stories and engaging with the public in a way that provides real value. The world is in the midst of a pandemic, and people are going through tough times. As brands, we have a responsibility to be attuned to the needs of the people we are reaching out to – in both our actions and our messaging.
First, we need to look for ways that we can actively try to help people and share knowledge to improve their situation, in whatever way we can. For example, if you have a startup that offers project management tools, you can advise people on managing their time effectively. Since many people have lost their jobs and are looking for secondary incomes, if you have a Fiverr or Upwork type platform, you might want to offer something like special incentives and guidance to those who are registering a new profile and maybe freelancing for the first time in their lives. If you have a platform that empowers people to sell hand-made items online, you can think of things to offer users who are trying to bring in supplemental income through an activity they formerly thought of as a hobby.
Second, we need to be sensitive and kind in our messaging. Whenever you are communicating externally, you need to pay close attention to the language you use, the specific words you include in your texts – regardless of whether it’s a press release, a blog, a LinkedIn post, a newsletter, or even a Tweet. People are panicking about their jobs, their kids, their parents, and their own health. So irrespective of your own feelings, your messaging needs to be tailored to such concerns.
As we continue to reach out to consumers during the pandemic – and even in the post-pandemic period – our actions and messaging need to go beyond promotion. In order to be heard and seen as relevant, brands realize they need to demonstrate their value to society and their customers. This shift is important and necessary. Not just because of what is happening with COVID-19, but because it is what the ultimate objective of PR is in the first place – helping brands make a difference in people’s lives.