By: Alex Goss, Director at Stanton
While there’s an impulse to grab reporters’ attention with the newest industry-transforming tech product or service, a back-to-basics approach focused on telling the right stories to the right people is a far more successful way to ensure your technology campaign breaks through the clutter of today’s crowded tech landscape.
Most PR professionals I know relish the chance to work with truly innovative, game-changing technology that can grab the attention of reporters and readers alike. Bringing a dazzling new tech tool or industry-transforming service offering to a reporter will get you a conversation, if not a feature story. But there’s a difference between making a splash and telling a story that supports your client’s long-term business goals.
In a crowded technology landscape dominated by buzzworthy topics, where it’s increasingly challenging to rise above the din—the inescapability of “AI” being the latest and greatest example—going back to basics to focus on telling the right stories to the right people can be the key to breaking through in a sustainable way. Here are some key questions to ask before you roll out your next tech campaign:
Do your messages align with your company’s business goals?
Many tech companies engage with media, run their marketing programs and write thought leadership pieces without first asking a few simple questions critical to an effective campaign. Namely, are we effectively differentiating our business for our most important audiences? And do our stories align with our company’s broader communication goals?
Whether you’re a B2B software-as-a-service provider or a consumer technology company, your overarching brand messages should inform all your communications activities. For too many organizations, conversations around the brand are separated from those around products and services.
Whether you’re a venture capital-backed startup or a public company with a long history, it’s imperative to regularly review your messaging architecture against your business priorities to ensure that the two align. You may be launching a new technology that you’re excited to share with the world, but has the necessary work been done to connect the dots and explain how the product fits in with your company’s vision for the future or even its past? Or, perhaps more importantly, your customers’ futures? It’s possible that only certain elements fit the business objectives your executive leadership team is focused on.
Identifying gaps between your corporate narrative and your product or service strategy will help you prioritize the right content, increase the efficiency of your communications budget and better position the communications team as a strategic partner to the leadership team. Follow through on this work by setting up complementary KPIs for public relations that align with your company’s wider goals and objectives.
Are you able to show the impact?
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, newsroom budgets have decreased, reporters have become less reachable and editors are less inclined to greenlight features on niche topics. If you’re looking to highlight a technology product or service, it has never been more important to help the media tell that story efficiently and dynamically. This is especially true if the product or service is complex or works its magic behind the scenes, making it less tangible for a reporter.
One way to turn the head of a reporter is by illustrating impact. Are there trends over time that paint an interesting story? Can you use customer testimonials to underscore the game-changing aspects of your technology and how it’s disrupting the status quo? Is there anything that might surprise tech experts already familiar with the company? Do you have proprietary research or data to show simulated results or benchmark the product against existing solutions? The numbers don’t have to be extraordinary or unique, but they should add heft and depth to the story you’re trying to tell.
Many communications programs simply overlook this step because it can require the time and input of other departments and teams. However, these short-term investments can lead to benefits down the road, both in terms of media results and buy-in to the importance of communication from those across the organization.
Who does your business need to reach?
When companies engage with a new agency or conduct internal communications planning sessions, there’s typically a moment when someone asks: “If we could appear in an article in our dream publication, what would it be?” Many will answer this question with leading newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times. While appearing in one of these widely read publications would be a big win worth sharing, for many tech companies— especially B2Bs—these are not necessarily the publications that will be most influential with your target customers.
Every communications campaign should start by identifying the key decision makers the client needs to reach, focusing the team’s time and effort on the most impactful channels. Though this may seem like an obvious step, often, the default instinct is to aim for the biggest media target available. But often, media metrics, such as an outlet’s reach or unique visitors per month, aren’t that helpful and don’t paint the full picture. Many tech-specific outlets— including podcasts and daily newsletters—have highly dedicated audiences and are typically more willing to go indepth on technology topics rather than simply scratching the surface.
Being flexible and open-minded about how your story is told
Now, more than ever, there are numerous formats that tech communications professionals can exploit, including podcasts, videos, written profiles, contributed thought leadership pieces, webinars, roundtables and trend commentary. Each of these channels has a place in a PR program, reaching different audiences and conducive to telling different stories. Moreover, with the proliferation of social media, there are more ways to repurpose and amplify content than ever. A well-thought-out tech campaign is open to integrating various forms of media.
Knowing which pieces of content will help you break through can be more of an art than a science. Sometimes, it takes just one article getting syndicated and reposted to give the program the lift it needs and help you meet your KPIs for the quarter. More often, it’s a matter of trying different approaches and building a mass of coverage that moves the needle over time.
By taking a step back to focus on the basics, aligning your messages with your business goals, driving home the impact of your product offerings and remaining open-minded about your tactics, you can maximize the chances of your technology campaign breaking through the clutter and having a real and lasting impact on the business.
This article originally published in O’Dwyer’s Public Relations News.