Here at Sofarbeyond, we asked PR communications specialists – Sam Howard, founder The Comms Crowd to tell us more about the value of PR and why companies need to think differently about how they do it.
PR is a core component of the marketing mix, done well, it provides third party objectivity, delivers credibility and is a perfect complement to more direct marketing vehicles. In the world of B2B tech, the purchase decision making process is drawn out and with multiple stakeholders, who each have their own agenda and their own influencers.
Sustained media coverage of a company and its solutions can help establish brand trust and preference. Another positive, in terms of budget demands, PR leaves a much smaller hole in your spreadsheet, than advertising or event participation.
Hurrah! I hear you chorus, where do I sign?
But it’s called ‘earned media’ for a reason and you have to be prepared to earn it. Effective PR that delivers to your bottom line is less spin, more graft. If your software company is thinking about ‘doing PR’ here’s some factors to consider:
1) A good book relies on more than just a cover: PR is the best vehicle for telling your company’s story, explaining your strategy and demonstrating delivery of your values and vision. If your company has news, views, beliefs and genuine success stories, PR can help articulate them for you – but we can’t just make it up! If you have nothing to say, that’s absolutely fine, but don’t waste your budget on white noise either.
2) Not all children are above average intelligence: If I had a pound for every ‘world’s leading provider’ I had encountered, I’d be running a donkey sanctuary right now. The pub is the place for inflated claims of greatness, not PR. Be prepared to forgo the hyperbole!
3) PR can ensure molehills stay molehills: This is the era where we witness reputations rise and crumble in hours not years. But companies that have invested in telling their story intelligently are in a far better position to ride out the lows than those that only invest in riding high. PR channels give you the opportunity to rapidly respond and restore trust. However, if what you’ve got going down is more Kilimanjaro than molehill, you might want to prioritise attending to the cause rather than hoping for the PR cure.
4) Techies need to talk business: Often in B2B tech, the software is made by a guy with a PhD and will be used by a guy with a PhD. So why do you need some PR (probably without a PhD) in the middle of that food chain? Well the thing is, what’s important to the guy that made it and even to the guy that uses it, may not be that important to the guy that pays for it. A good PR will help you articulate the issues in the marketplace, what problems these are causing, and why your technology solves them. It’s about the business benefits, not just the technology features.
5) Keeping it topical: I hate to sound mean but the old adage is true: Only you, are that interested in you. So often I sit in kick off meetings and hear the client say, ‘what we want to say is…’ and I get a bit of a sinking feeling. While it’s valid to announce new products and client signings, you need to be prepared to invest in the wider debate – whether it’s providing comment on the impact of impending legislation, producing a blog on next generation security issues, or penning an article on how the latest fat finger blunder could have been prevented. Thought leadership, requires your time and intellectual input.
In summary, PR done well and in collaboration, can deliver a credible platform to tell your company’s story, share your successes and demonstrate understanding of your market – you’ve just got to be prepared to work at it.