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The company we keep: Mobile solutions tackle early diagnosis, economic growth in developing world

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The company we keep: Mobile solutions tackle early diagnosis, economic growth in developing world

By Caitlin Haskins

The gathering looked like many that you would see in San Francisco or the Silicon Valley – a modern, sleek office space with a mixed group of men and women, ages twenty-something to forties. Some wore business casual, others came in jeans and were busy snapping photos with their mobile phones. What set apart this particular group from dozens of others like it happening that week?

Everett, the inventor and engineer from MIT that I’d just met, showed off a device clipped to his iPhone. This small smartphone accessory (that looked a bit like a belt clip) could, he told me, enable a mobile phone to take photos of a patient’s retina. Eventually, it might allow a doctor in the developing world to gauge a patient’s chances of developing diabetes or neurological disorders, even if they lived far from the nearest medical clinic.

Held by the Vodafone Americas Foundation, this reception celebrated finalists for the 2014 Wireless Innovation Project, a competition that promotes innovation and increase implementation of wireless technologies for a better world. The inventors, coders, and entrepreneurs in the room were a day away from presenting their technologies to a panel of judges with the goal of earning part of a $600,000 pot of prize money and the mentorship of Vodafone xone, Vodafone’s global center for innovation in the Silicon Valley.

Trainer’s clients represent an incredible class of companies across enterprise software, security, network infrastructure, storage, and consumer tech industries. Innovation and deep tech are our mainstays. Standing in a room with the brains behind so many incredible mobile tech creations – including a fog-mapping system that will deliver a potable water source to rural populations, a drone that can deliver cell signal in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster, and an imaging device that will help doctors better detect and treat cervical cancer – gives a feeling of excitement and hope that is beyond any other in the PR business.

At the Social Innovation Summit in New York, May 28-29, Vodafone will announce the winners of the Wireless Innovation Project and send three teams on their way to making the world a better place through mobile tech. It is such a privilege to work with clients that know the importance of honoring innovation in the community and supporting the incredible tech minds of the future.

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June Sugiyama, Director of Vodafone Americas Foundation

This entry was written by Kayla Bongay, posted on April 11, 2014 at 4:03 pm, filed under Giving Back, PR, Social Media, Trainer Communications and tagged , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.

Courage and Careers Can Go Hand in Hand


On January 10, 2014, The WELL for Women Entrepreneurs held its Symposia::2014 Conference for Women Entrepreneurs. The WELL, which was founded by Julie Gordon White, was established to serve women entrepreneurs aiming to expand their business into a million-dollar business. This year the event’s focus was “7 Stories of 7 Figured Women & Beyond.” The conference highlighted seven women who have successfully established companies. Each woman spoke on one of seven topics: determination, commitment, confidence, social skills, courage, and clarity – and even on rising stars among women in business. Because all seven women are highly accomplished and have inspiring stories of how they attained success, it’s no surprise that The WELL turned to Trainer’s CEO, Susan Thomas when looking for someone to speak about courage.

Susan knows exactly what it is like to establish a successful business. At twenty-nine, she started Trainer Communications. As her company and family continued to grow, she also experienced many personal obstacles – from the loss of loved ones to battling breast cancer. Although these were all high hurdles to jump over, she never let hardships deter her from attaining her lofty goals.

You might ask how a woman of just 29, facing extreme adversity, could face innumerable setbacks to create a million-dollar business in just 3 years.  Susan’s answer is courage. During her speech on courage at the 2014 Conference for Women Entrepreneurs, she laid out her ten steps to building courage:

  1. Identify your core values and what matters most to you.
  2. Have a mentor.
  3. Get to know yourself and develop confidence in your abilities.
  4. Keep a positive attitude.
  5. Practice gratitude.
  6. Identify stretch goals and test yourself.
  7. Take the first step boldly.
  8. Never give up. Even when goals feel out of reach.
  9. Don’t succumb to peer pressure.
  10. Celebrate your success, and then try harder.

Being a few years out of college and at the start of my career, I can see the importance of all of Susan’s ten steps. Each will help you to build courage to better envision your goals and chart an unwavering course to your future.  And, with each courageous move you make, you will see your goals getting closer and closer.


This entry was written by, posted on March 15, 2014 at 1:36 am, filed under Business Strategy, Marketing, PR, Press Relations, Trainer Communications and tagged , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.

Huge Biz Media Months for Trainer Clients in USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, CNBC and All Points in Between

Colleagues I work with at my day job at Trainer Communications are constantly proving their business media story-telling expertise and strategic knowledge of journalists’ target audiences, the past couple months few are notable. Starting in September, Trainer clients have gained visibility in digital, print and broadcast media outlets that include The Wall Street Journal, San Jose Mercury News, CNBC, USA TODAY, Bloomberg, Forbes, Fox News, NBC and more.

Clients receiving write-ups and broadcast coverage have included a mix of high tech B2B and B2C vendors serving all industries and markets. Here is a brief lineup of clients earning top spots in the globe’s leading outlets, the related Trainer teams, summaries of and links to the news Trainer helped them to develop, articulate and land:

From the IT security team:

Norse: Featured in USA TODAY and syndicated repeatedly as a result, this security start up was covered for its ability to provide live threat intelligence needed to protect the Internet of Things —

Venafi: Featured in USA TODAY and the San Jose Mercury News, this provider of security solutions that protect trust for enterprise digital communications was featured in stories discussing the impact on security the federal government shutdown had and how NSA-surveillance is impacting the business of security —;

SpectorSoft: Known for helping companies to detect insider threats that frequently lead to data breaches and fraud, this client was featured in Fox News Small Business Center for research it brought to market along with a new product –

From the Storage Team:

Virident: Acquired for more than $600 million, this leading provider of Flash storage was featured over 150 times across all news mediums, with a stunning news report in Forbes as well as coverage in Reuters – ;

From the Consumer Team:

OMG Life: This UK-based supplier of precision-based motion-tracking systems and cameras took the consumer-tech world by storm when they popped up on a feature story in CNBC —

From the Wireless, Telecom and Networking Team:

Qylur: Focused on preventing physical security breaches that lead to terrorist attacks and life-threatening incidents, the startup burst onto the US homeland security radar with multiple business features including video reports in The Wall Street Journal and on Fox Business, as well as a feature story in Bloomberg —;;!DED7EF31-6D42-4D52-AB54-BE4613609DB5

Ikanos: This public player (NSADAQ: IKAN) providing advanced broadband semiconductor and software products landed front and center in a conversation with NBC Bay Area news anchor Scott McGrew about the intersection of TV and Internet:

This lineup is just a few of Trainer’s accomplishments over the past couple of months but worth mentioning, as rarely will any strategic communications agency offering integrated AR/PR and marketing have this much high-level business press success across all practice groups in such a short period. I asked Trainer’s founder and CEO Susan Thomas to sum up the success in her own words:

“Most high tech vendors’ attempts to capture executive audience attention through the business press are stalled by communication firms that lack key relationships with top journalists and that don’t know how to develop news into a story that appeals to business audiences,” said Thomas .  “We work very hard at every level of the organization to establish relationships with key reporters, stay abreast of trends and stories they care about, and design events that help us to get to know them on a personal level.”

Did I mention, in addition to this brief success history that has taken place over the past few months, since the beginning of the year the Trainer practice groups have landed clients in top-tier business press 95 times … 95 TIMES!

Great work Trainer practice group teams!

Tweet This: Awesome Biz Press #PR Sept. Oct. @TrainerComms @Norse @Venafi @Virident @Ikanos @Solutionary

This entry was written by, posted on November 5, 2013 at 7:18 pm, filed under PR, Press Relations, Security, Storage, Trainer Communications and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.

Gen. Alexander Can’t Access Daughters’ Emails, Says NSA Only Interested in Terrorists

Black Hat (@BlackHatEvents) 2013, Las Vegas – On Wednesday, National Security Agency (NSA) Director General Keith Alexander informed a rather tame crowd (with the exception of one or two hecklers) that his agency isn’t interested in phone or other digital communications unless they impact foreign intelligence gathering or involve known or suspected terrorists. He emphasized that congressional oversight, court rulings and regulations stop even him – a four-star general – from reading average Americans’ emails or listening in on phone calls. “I have four daughters, can I go and intercept their emails … no,” quipped the general to a chuckling crowd which applauded his organization’s activities at the end of his presentation.

As part of his opening-day keynote, he emphasized that over the past couple of years legal mandates giving his organization the authority to intercept and review communications have stopped upwards of 57 planned terrorist activities against the US and its allies. In all cases, operatives involved handled intelligence gathering under strict oversight, which includes a lengthy audit trail and multiple “permission” layers, said the NSA’s head.

Tweet This: New Blog: Gen. Alexander Can’t Access Daughters’ Emails, Says #NSA Only Interested in Terrorists: #BlackHat

He further justified the NSA’s digital intelligence gathering through a slide deck showing that since 2012, the NSA has only focused on 500 telephone numbers and calls that it believes were/are linked to threats against the US.

“We don’t go after everything,” said Alexander. “We just want to find the terrorists among us.”

Not more than two in the standing-room-only audience of more than 3,000 attendees heckled and jeered the general with challenges to NSA programs they described as “Bullshit.”

“Read the Constitution,” exclaimed one of the hecklers.

“I have, you should too,” responded the general.

A day after Alexander told the Black Hat audience that the NSA isn’t interested in the day-to-day digital activities of Americans, The Atlantic Wire broke a story about a husband and wife whose home was raided by a gun-wielding anti-terrorism task force after each had searched “backpacks” and “pressure cookers” on Google. Although the article did make it clear that there are specific boundaries the NSA says it must operate within, it was not clear how or why the task force received information about the couple. You can read the article here:

Joe Franscella’s (@joefranscella) articles typically include Twitter account links, however, neither General Alexander nor the NSA have official Twitter accounts.

This entry was written by admin, posted on August 2, 2013 at 3:35 pm, filed under Marketing, PR, Security. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.

Making Headlines at Black Hat 2013? In Vegas, Nothing Beats Five Aces

Black Hat and DEF CON are here, and while the feds may not be attending this year (at least not overtly), the cybersecurity media community will be. If you are attending either of these premier security conferences and your company has staked a claim on the floors, you have probably made an effort to pick up leads and drive demand through badge scans, booth conversations, product and services demos, and media relations.

If your organization isn’t part of the elite crew making a presentation during one of the briefings, unveiling a monstrous attack or announcing new technology that surpasses the cutting-edge, then you are probably finding that media relations is giving you the most pain. You may even be asking yourself if it is worth paying an agency to do media relations around Black Hat, DEF CON and other shows.

The truth is that even if your company isn’t presenting or revealing something provocative, you can still secure media coverage that will support your event goals.  If your public relations agency tells you that it will be difficult at best to support lead and demand generation through media relations for any reason during a show, then you’re paying the wrong agency.

It’s proven every day in the cybersecurity press that there is a winning hand when it comes to newsworthy stories, and it is proven every year during major events that if you play your cards at the right time you will get the visibility you deserve and expect. The question is, “Just what is this winning the hand, and when should we play it?” The answer is really quite simple and painfully obvious if you keep pace with the cybersecurity media and the vendors they frequently write about.

The Winning Hand

In poker, a wild card makes it possible to draw five Aces – an unbeatable hand at any table. But drawing such a powerful combo is (most of the time) a matter of chance – and the odds are against any player drawing it. In cybersecurity media relations, you don’t have to leave anything to chance. Any vendor can stack the deck and draw a five-ace hand that will win with journalists every time. You just need to know when to play them and what the five Aces are.

The Ace of Victims

Believe me, plenty of agencies are scrambling right now to come up with ways to get their clients noticed, and they’d stop short only of killing to know how to stack the deck. I’m not in the business of giving away free strategic advice to the competition, so I won’t go into much detail. However, I am willing to show one of the cards – the Ace of Victims. If you want to strike a chord with the cybersecurity press and aren’t presenting at the show, you must demonstrate as part of your story who the intended victims are – financial services providers, government agencies, retailers, consumers and so on – that can benefit from your product or technology.

When to Play

When should you play? The answer again is painfully obvious and simple if you follow the cybersecurity press. It starts with knowledge of how journalists feed their news pipelines and of what parts of the upcoming show they will be most interested in. Should you announce your news before, during or after a show? Understand the previously mentioned factors and the answer will materialize.

There are of course four more Aces and more detail on timing to consider, and my team and I are always ready and willing to discuss with you what they are and how to draw the winning hand that will ensure your organization gets the media visibility it needs during major security trade shows. And, as always, this year we’re happy to meet with you in Las Vegas the last week in July for a face-to-face talk – obligation-free, of course.

It’s not too late to develop a successful media-relations plan for Black Hat this year. To find out how, contact us at or call 925-271-8200. If you don’t have time to change things up at this point but want to be better prepared for future media-relations campaigns and trade shows, let’s connect for an in-person meeting at Black Hat.

This entry was written by, posted on July 18, 2013 at 8:36 pm, filed under Marketing, PR, Security. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.

Why They Wired It: Box Jumps Out of Box on Security & Compliance

What a triumph, not only in functionality but also in positioning. Although not a security company, last Thursday Box (@BoxHQ) announced it had achieved HIPAA/HITECH compliance on a number of fronts, emphasizing security and privacy capabilities for personal health information (PHI) record sharing via its cloud-based file sharing and storage application ( The release was flawless, not only did it outline a rich ecosystem of partners that makes it compliance-ready, it also leveraged big name organizations already using the services to prove that it works:

In the past year, Box’s sales in the healthcare industry grew more than 81 percent, with leading organizations such as Henry Ford Health System, Beaumont Health System, HealthTrust Europe, Johns Hopkins HealthCare Solutions, Wake Forest Baptist Health, San Juan Regional Medical Center and Garden City Hospital, joining hundreds more healthcare customers that use Box to share, manage and collaborate on content in the cloud.

Most significant for Box is that the company is now positioned as a security and compliance leader when it comes to information sharing for more than just healthcare, it positions them as in the lead to provide cloud compliance-readiness for a whole litany of other regulations as well.

Marketing ad PR departments that want to take a lead in security and compliance positioning for their cloud information sharing applications should take their cues from this release, it has everything needed to make the point that it is the solution of choice for HIPAA/HITECH compliance:

  • Trend leverage — healthcare and privacy
  • Partners — making compliance available
  • References — citing major healthcare names
  • Mobile — citing mobile capabilities
Additionally, it spells out very simply exactly what users receive:
With Box’s platform, customers subject to HIPAA can:
Provide a secure cloud-based folder where a patient’s medical record or clinical summary can be saved and shared at their direction
Facilitate secure sharing and collaboration of clinical documents, images and medical records within or between differing EHR systems
Allow doctors to push medical records or clinical summaries in a secure manner to their patients
Collaborate around a patient’s diagnosis and exchange medical research

“Why They Wired It” is a new, ongoing look at why, how and when cybersecurity organizations use the wire. To follow it grab this blog’s RSS feed or follow @joefranscella or @whytheywiredit.


This entry was written by, posted on April 30, 2013 at 11:19 pm, filed under Marketing, PR, Security and tagged , , , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.

Does PR and Marketing Really Matter to Sales?

Does marketing and PR really matter in sales situations

Recently the team at Trainer Communications had the good fortune to host a panel of talented sales executives and sales trainers from some of the hottest companies in Silicon Valley.  Our objective was to find out if marketing and PR really matter in sales situations.  And, if so, what matters most versus what is least useful?  The panel consisting of Mark Musselman, Senior Director of Sales, of Sumo Logic (@SumoLogic), Carl Wright, Executive Vice President of Worldwide Field Operations of Coraid (@coraid); Eric Siegel, Borderless Security Sales for Cisco Systems (@CiscoSystems) and Chip Doyle, Franchise Owner of Sandler Sales Training (@chipsell) provided some excellent food for thought!

We started with a softball question – “Does media relations or analyst relations really matter when you are working with a prospect?”   Our panelists unanimously answered – yes, but with a caveat – the PR or AR deliverable must be “the right one” to make an impact.  All these sales hot shots believe that an analyst report from a credible firm, an affirming nod from a Gartner analyst (or better yet, a report from Gartner) can make a big difference in the sales process.  They also all felt strongly that customer case studies, particularly those that have specific ROI metrics included, were very helpful in working with prospects.    One panelist said that if the case study wasn’t balanced (mentioned challenges), it wasn’t credible and wouldn’t help much.  So far, no big surprises…but wait…

A couple of the panelists suggested that the more complex the sale, the less marketing can do to help them – and the more the sales person had to do.  They agreed that with simple products, marketing practically sells the product without sales.  All of the panelists agreed that the selling process is much different for selling enterprise solutions, for example, versus selling SMB products and services.  In an enterprise sale,  prospects look at every type of validation including social media, collateral, media coverage, analyst reports, and many other types of marketing.  In an SMB sale, the validation process is much quicker and much less rigorous.

One panelist cautioned that Twitter is an awesome sales tool, but not the way you would hope.  He watches his competitors on Twitter and they invariably tweet (aka: brag) about the appointments they have set up with key prospects.   That executive simply watches these sales guys’ twitter feeds and sets up meetings with the same prospects, knowing full well they likely have an RFP for a product he can sell.  Note to the sales guys:  not everything belongs on social media.

When asked what press helps the sales process the most, one panelist told us that the Wall Street Journal plays especially well on what he called the “money coast” – meaning the East Coast.  They all  agreed that awards were good – but no one could come up with the “holy grail” award.

At the end of the session, the team challenged the panelists to list their top marketing and public relations programs that deliver the most impact in a sales cycle, which resulted in the following list:

  1. Analyst reports
  2. Webinars with customers or analysts
  3. Video testimonials
  4. Targeted conferences and tradeshows
  5. Data sheets and white papers
  6. Competitive battle cards
  7. Presentations for business decision makers
  8. Speaking opportunities

So here’s a shout out to Carl, Mark, Eric and Chip!  Your insights are valuable and appreciated!  For those of you in PR and marketing, take your favorite sales person to lunch.  There’s a lot to learn.


This entry was written by, posted on March 14, 2013 at 9:26 pm, filed under Business Strategy, Marketing, PR, Sales, Trainer Communications and tagged , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.

Love the One You’re With – Keeping Client Satisfaction at an All Time High

How to Keep High Tech PR and Marketing Clients Deliriously Happy

OK, I admit it, I just love the oldies – and the song title “Love the One Your With” is the perfect expression of a strategy for ensuring your client satisfaction is “crazy good.”  Recently, I was reminded in a talk with Jack Kane that clients come because they are invited and they stay because they are appreciated.

It seems so simple, make sure you are constantly making offers and helping your existing clients, because we all know it is much easier to keep existing clients happy than selling brand new clients.  Yet, most of us don’t really have time to sit down and map out a strategy.

In a recent client loss audit, we set out to understand why clients were no longer with Trainer, with a goal of once again improving our client retention.  We found some interesting things that helped us develop some account strategies that may be of use to you in your customer nurturing strategies.

Trainer’s best practices for “crazy good” client satisfaction include:

  1. Communicate with as many from the team as possible. Don’t limit your lunches, inquiries and offers to your client contact, reach out to the sales person that gave you a customer for a marketing or PR project, or that product manager that was critical in creating the sales fulfillment piece.
  2. Thank them for the business.  We send an annual anniversary card expressing our gratitude to all of our contacts.
  3. Think ahead constantly. Ensure there are quarterly strategy check-ins.  Review the corporate goals, successes and focus on coming up with new ideas.
  4. Ask them what they think through anonymous survey opportunities.  And make sure you include a nice incentive so that they take the time out of their busy day to fill it out.
  5. Conduct half-yearly satisfaction check-in luncheons with your buyers and the senior decision makers.
  6. Invite them to share in training events and educational seminars you may be conducting or sponsoring.
  7. Send them content they can use to get their job done – even if you didn’t create it.
  8. Don’t hesitate to say you’re sorry.  Mistakes happen.  Recognize them and apologize.  Offer to make amends.
  9. Ask them what they would like to see you do differently and / or what is missing from the program?
  10. Expand their network.  Introduce your clients to one another.  Connect them with job seekers, be a great resource!

We’ve even created a calendar with ticklers for each of these items so that we remember to love our clients.  Now that’s amore!

This entry was written by, posted on March 7, 2013 at 6:57 pm, filed under Business Strategy, Marketing, PR, PR and marketing agency best practices, Trainer Communications and tagged , , , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.

Trainer Team Hits a Grand Slam: Four Clients Score a Spot on the Wall Street Journal’s “Next Big Thing” List

At Trainer Communications we strive to deliver what we call “Crazy Good Client Satisfaction”. So when we found out that, not just one, but FOUR of our contracted clients made it to the Wall Street Journal’s notoriously exclusive “Next Big Thing” list for 2012, we were over the moon!

Comprised of the top 50 venture-capital backed U.S. companies, the Next Big Thing judges selected our “fab four” clients from a list of more than 5,900 candidates. To qualify, companies must have received an equity round of financing in the past three years and be valued at less than $1 billion.

CONGRATULATIONS, once again, to Appcelerator, Coraid, Nimble Storage and Xirrus for making the list! We are so very proud of your accomplishments and look forward to continued success together!

  • Xirrus, Inc.(No. 2) provides leading high-performance wireless networking technology to the education, healthcare, government and enterprise industries that depend on wireless to operate business-critical applications.
    • Why WSJ says it’s HOT: Founder Dirk Gates previously took another start-up, Xircom, public and then sold it to Intel.
  • Nimble Storage, Inc.(No. 26) developed the first hybrid storage architecture engineered from the ground up to seamlessly integrate flash and high-capacity drives, believing that enterprises should not have to compromise on performance, capacity, ease of use, or price.
    • Why WSJ says it’s HOT: More than 300 enterprise customers have signed on in the last six months.
  • Coraid, Inc.(No. 32) refines storage with its breakthrough line of EtherDrive and EtherCloud solutions, delivering scale-out performance, Ethernet simplicity, and elastic storage architecture to handle massive data growth.
    • Why WSJ says it’s HOT: Users can access data from any server or host computer attached to its Ethernet storage network.
  • Appcelerator, Inc.(No. 39) provides a leading open source mobile platform of choice for thousands of companies seizing the mobile opportunity. Its Titanium platform leverages more than 5,000 mobile devices and operating system APIs to create native.
    • Why WSJ says it’s HOT: Reduces development time and costs for applications.

Discover what Trainer Communications services can do for you or join the discussion on Twitter: @TrainerComms

This entry was written by, posted on December 4, 2012 at 6:33 pm, filed under Marketing, PR, Security, Trainer Communications and tagged , , , , , , . Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.

Trainer Gets Up Close with Nick Bilton of the New York Times

Trainer Gets Up Close with Nick Bilton of the New York Times

He’s been interviewed by ABCNews’ Diane Sawyer and CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, but New York Times technology reporter and author Nick Bilton never really hit the big time until he spoke to Trainer Communications earlier this year (can you sense a heavy dose of sarcasm here?).  We caught up with the equally ebullient and brilliant Mr. Bilton who prognosticates and pontificates about the future of TV, the pervasive impact of the Cloud, and dare we say – another tech bubble.

Got a minute?  That’s all Nick needs to share his top tidbits with Trainer.  Roll the video please…

This entry was written by, posted on August 8, 2012 at 10:03 pm, filed under Marketing, PR, Social Media, Trainer Communications, Video. Leave a comment or view the discussion at the permalink and follow any comments with the RSS feed for this post.

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