Profiting With PR Power, Part I:
Public Relations For Your Technology Marketing
Why is public relations critical to your business success? How can you
get your company in the media spotlight? How can you get them there more
often? What are the advantages and disadvantages? These questions and
others have inspired this series of columns on public relations (PR).
Let's begin with why PR is critical to your marketing strategy. Later,
we'll discuss developing your strategic PR plan, PR vs. advertising, press
releases, and promotional events. Finally, we'll look at the pros and cons
of hiring a PR firm compared with taking the economical DIY path.
PR Power Means Profit
Many tech companies commonly acknowledge the power of public relations,
yet it remains underutilized, or ineffectively applied, as a powerful
Media coverage gives you access to prospective buyers, investors,
additional media coverage, and centers of influence. It is a subtle
introduction rather than an aggressive promotional or sales pitch. PR also
contributes to your existing client's confidence with their original
decision to work with you, while keeping you at the front of their minds
for referral business.
Increase Your Lead Generation
PR is strategic communication with your market place to increase awareness
about your company, your product and services, or your industry in various
media. Print media includes magazines, newsletters, and newspapers while
broadcast media is via television or radio. The Internet is a hybrid of
both the print and broadcast media and offers great advantages, especially
to smaller, growth organizations.
PR is primarily used for publicity in brand building, in the promotion
and launch of new products, and for public announcements, related to
investor relations or attracting investment capital. In addition, PR is
used for the undesirable task of damage control, such as a response to a
publicly filed lawsuit. These are all worthy reasons, but the greatest
reason behind them all really should be to get people calling you to buy
How PR Fits Into Your Marketing
You must recognize that PR is one tool in your marketing toolbox.
However, it can be the most powerful when applied properly, especially
when it is interlaced with other marketing efforts, like your Web site,
advertising, direct mail, conferences, and trade shows.
A properly developed PR strategy is cost-effective when compared to the
cost of advertising. That's not to say it should replace advertising or be
your only public communication channel. In fact, if integrated correctly,
PR increases the effectiveness of all your marketing efforts. For example,
when you launch a Web site, you publish a press release to increase your
site traffic. A new Web site may not be news unto itself, but you can
focus on your innovative, interactive services for education or other user
benefits... now, it's news.
Get Results With Your PR
PR must be implemented with clear objectives. Without them, confusing
messages or negative perceptions may result. Concise, powerful statements
lead to greater control of your message. One challenge with using the
media is that your message can be distorted and twisted, or taken out of
The best messages are clear and simple and deliver measurable results.
Money is wasted if you merely count media "hits." Larger
corporations are able to afford media campaigns merely to maintain brand
awareness. Small and medium enterprises must be more concerned about
immediate and direct reaction to their PR efforts.
These objectives cannot be emphasized enough: Your primary PR objective
should be to increase contact or inquiries into your business to engage
new prospects in your sales process and to upsell, or cross-sell, your
existing clients. Secondary objectives include gaining additional media
coverage and positioning your company as a leader within your industry.
Being chosen as a subject for media coverage gives the impression that
you're credible. The media machine is perceived to have filters in place
to select professional and credible experts to comment on industry trends
or events. If you've dealt with the media, you may have already
experienced being pre-screened or interviewed by an assistant or executive
producer, editor, or journalist prior to being chosen for a TV or radio
interview or for a published column.
Why would leading television networks or newspapers pick you over the
hundreds or thousands of other specialists or business leaders? They have
professional reputations to protect around the quality of their content
and its accuracy. By positioning yourself in the media, you gain this
media credibility by association.
Enjoy Third Party Promotion
This is a positive side effect of the credibility factor. The fact that
you emerged from the media selection process as a credible expert for your
opinion, or as a news story focus, automatically gives you the benefit of
some third party promotion.
Since the media is generally accepted as an objective source, there is
an accompanying sense of recommendation. Haven't you yourself investigated
a product after reading a positive review in a magazine or on the Web?
Is Any Publicity Good Publicity?
Recently several companies have successfully made front-page news -- for
the wrong reasons. Major tech companies have been dominating the financial
and business news for mail, wire, and securities fraud. WorldCom and
Adelphia former executives have been photographed being led away in
handcuffs by FBI agents. Obviously, this is not the way anyone wants to be
in the news, and it is certainly the exact opposite of the media coverage
However, this example does show two things. First, your company can
become well known in a short period of time given a lot of media coverage.
Second, it is indicative of a trend in the mainstream media that you
should be aware of, but also take advantage of, when approaching them.
Media outlets tend to give front pages and more space to
"negative" stories than to positive ones. So, play on this
angle. For example, your press release could state how your latest
software is a solution for the "struggling companies in the telecom
sector, as world markets increase pressure for better financial
Public relations works within any budget and can yield massive
results. PR builds credibility and third party recommendations for your
sales team. You need a comprehensive strategy and clear, concise messages.
PR is a subtle marketing approach you can use to build sales. Use it to
introduce and raise awareness, not just for a hard sell -- it is an
opportunity to educate rather than demonstrate.
PR is an immediately applicable marketing tactic. It's a priority in
all successful tech marketing. Get out there and make some headlines!
Martin Wales, The Customer Catcher™, "helps you get customers
'til you beg him to stop." Using your company's existing resources,
he creates maximum results with minimum risk. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
with "Referrals" in the subject line for info on the latest
audio program, "How to Grow Your Business Profits by Increasing
Client Referrals." Your questions and comments are always welcome