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Stay the interview course – nothing is ‘off limits’

by ballou_admin | 19th October, 2018 | Uncategorized

There’s nothing that gets everyone talking (and sharing), quite like a good ‘walk off camera’ story. The drama of the escalating conflict, the anticipation of ‘the moment’, the post walk-off analysis.. it’s all very entertaining, particularly if it’s a celebrity or CEO with skeletons in the closet.

For person doing the walking off, however, the situation is far from fun.

Today Persimmon boss Jeff Fairburn became the latest high-profile business person to find himself in this position during a BBC interview – not so much walking off (although this is how the BBC billed it), but refusing to go on when asked about his £75m bonus, on the advice of his off-camera PR adviser.

The serious question for the PR industry is why?  Why was Persimmon’s PR team not prepared for such an obvious media ambush?  And why, instead of trying to enforce what is, at best, a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ (that the BBC journalist not ask about the CEO’s controversial bonus), did they not simply brief him on how to answer, or at least handle, the question in an authentic way.

By instead trying to micro manage a broadcast interview and stepping in to enforce ‘off limits’ subjects they’ve simply embarrassed their CEO and drawn greater attention to the issue. It’s now a more prominent story for all the wrong reasons.

Unlimited holidays for the employees at French startup Popchef!

by ballou_admin | 12th July, 2017 | Uncategorized

At a meeting with our French client Popchef a few months ago, the founders talked about an HR measure they put in place in their company: unlimited holidays. We started to communicate about unresricted holidays in February and it is still generating media interest today. We had the chance to introduce Popchef to high-profile journalists from the French TV networks BFM TV and Arte. We also scheduled interviews for the founders of Popchef with other national publications including radio station Europe 1, national newspapers : Les Echos, Le Figaro, Challenges, 20 Minutes and many others, resulting in a total of about 50 articles, which included 14 written or radio interviews and two pieces of television coverage. We’re pleased to have seen a huge increase in brand awareness for Popchef since securing this media traction.

Four new clients select Ballou PR France for their B2C PR campaigns

by ballou_admin | 30th March, 2017 | Uncategorized

Ballou PR France further expands its clients list with Popchef, Secret Escapes, and Campanda.

Campanda is a platform based on the ‘sharing economy’ principle: campervan owners can rent out their vehicles to travellers at an affordable price. Campanda has more than 26,000 campervans available in 42 countries.

Secret Escapes is an online travel agency specialising in luxury holidays in France and abroad., previously GoGoBot, is a trip-planning application which provides users with recommandations based on their interests. Ballou PR will help to launch the app in France.

Popchef, a startup that delivers lunchtime meals to hungry customers, is one of the main operators in the French foodtech sector. Ballou PR look forward to working with Popchef again after they handled the PR around their last fundraising round.

Ballou PR has been appointed to increase the visibility of their new clients in the French media by developing strategic B2C campaigns.

Inside the world of investors: Insights by Beezer Clarkson

by ballou_admin | 10th March, 2016 | Uncategorized

At Ballou PR, we work in the field of high-growth technology and technology enabled companies. Of course, this requires being well-informed about the technology scene and PR trends – but we are also required to know about the greater universe of limited partners (LPs), venture capitalists (VCs) and how fundraising works. So who could be a better teacher than the managing director at Sapphire Ventures, a well-known LP?

Recently we welcomed Beezer Clarkson to our Berlin office. As well as being a managing director at Sapphire Ventures in San Francisco, she was awarded one of the “Forty Over 40 Honourees” of 2014, graduated Harvard Business School, and is a close friend of our president, Colette Ballou.

She gave us an overview about how limited partners and venture capitalists function and invest, where they get their money from, and what it means to work in this field.  Out of all this knowledge, we picked three key learnings that Beezer explained to us in a very memorable way and that we’d like to share:


  1. How funds work

The investment chain consists of several links and each link wants to earn a return on their investment – the LPs are the sources of investment to venture capital firms.  The VCs are the source of funding to start-ups. However, many startups fail to return significant capital to their venture funds. Therefore, for a venture fund to make a return on their overall portfolio and return money to the LPs , for every start-up that fails, an other start-up in the same portfolio has to compensate for the loss by performing that much better.   That’s high pressure.

  1. How to find the right ventures to invest in

Being a successful VC includes saying “no” a lot. For every startup a VC invests in, they say no to many many startups. However how a VC says ‘no’ matters. A VC might want to invest in the same company later once the company has matured a bit more, or the subsequent company by the same entrepreneur. Finding the best start-ups to invest in is therefore a process of having a lot of conversations, considering and selecting.

  1. How predictable is the success of a fund?

VCs are under great pressure to choose the right companies for their funds, but there is no such thing as a sure thing.  Beezer used a picturesque parable: imagine you are betting on a race with different animals like a rabbit, a turtle and a bird. With the animals at the starting line you place your bet on who you think will perform best, based on the information you have at that time. It seems simple: you think the bird will win because it has wings, can go faster andfurther, than the others. But once out of the gates, you realise that you backed the wrong horse (or in this case, bird), because the turtles are performing solidly, yet slowly, and the bird unpredictably flew off in the wrong direction, away from the finish line (the rabbit as we all know from the famous parable takes a nap). Investing into start-ups is risky and to a great extent, unpredictable. There is no sure thing, no way to guarantee that you have made the right choice. It’s a lot about doing the best that you can with the information that you have, the value of pattern recognition and experience and hard work.

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