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5 Top Benefits High-Tech Gets From Great PR

Companies create and execute PR campaigns for lots of reasons. They include management habit (we've always had one), helping to drive demand (a reasonable move), getting a company mentioned in the news media (very old school), and, of course (for public corporations), conforming to Securities and Exchange Commission regulations. But PR support of tech brands can cost-effectively accomplish lots more than any other promotional form. Here are some far better reasons to create and sustain active public relations programs in the tech marketplace and benefit from its value:

  1. Maintain share of voice.
  2. Tech markets are always changing, and now they're talking more than ever via social media. Word-of-mouth has always been there, but now it's amplified exponentially, and it occurs nearly instantly. Do you really want to ignore that? Public relations should help lead brand communications via this new medium as well as traditional channels, including news reports, feature stories, executive speaking, self-publishing, blog posts, and one-on-one contacts with industry influencers. Being there with something valuable to say to your tech niche, including explanations of product applications, is within the grasp of nearly any tech business, regardless of its size or budget. PR helps this happen.

  3. Counteract or overcome competitors' communications.
  4. One of my mentors pointed out that, if you don't have an active PR program, you give up valuable opportunities to speak for yourself. If you give that away, expect your competitors to use your lack of involvement to speak in your place, reposition your brand, and attempt maximum damage. Even if you're the big dog in your market, smaller competitors can hurt you with giant-killing PR strategies — if you let them. Listen and respond. Or, better yet, preempt competitors with your stories.

  5. Develop and disseminate valuable content.
  6. It's recently become popular to rename publicity as “Content Marketing.” A little history here: Effective PR campaigns have always created and spread audience-valued content on behalf of sponsors or commercial brands. They've done it for decades. PR pros are great at far more than dreaming up ideas for and firing off press releases, although sometimes that's a perfectly good tactic to apply. These pros have been proposing and executing content-based tactics like seminars (Webinars), contributed articles (blog posts), white papers (online white papers), speaking opportunities, sponsored films, audio and video productions (Webcasts/podcasts), magazines, and even books for their employers and clients since the dawn of professional PR in the 1920s. They still do.
    PR creates informational content that helps promote brand awareness, preference, loyalty, and “engagement.” More on this is avaiable here. Skilled PR pros are great at applying content creation to tech marketing campaigns.

  7. Establish connections or remain engaged with your market and customer base.
  8. Being heard and seen as a participant, ideally one offering a customer value that others don't, is essential to marketing and sales. PR does this more cost-effectively than nearly any other method. This value must be earned by offering information that benefits the audience. Being an information resource is a sure path to improving awareness and credibility — two things every brand seeks. (See: PR Is a Top Tech Management Function.)

  9. Prepare for crises.
  10. If it has been communicating well during good times, a tech brand is in much better shape to address its woes when something bad happens — and you can be fairly certain it will happen eventually. Coming out of nowhere to begin addressing problems around products, distribution, management, takeovers, employees, or plant mishaps is much harder if the company hasn't established a strong reputation in its market via PR. It can be done in other ways, but having a well established voice in the community makes it considerably easier, because your company has a recognized voice that's used to being heard.

Are there other reasons? Certainly. How about just getting the word out about new products, services, versions, company events, or participation at trade events? News is important to transmit if it's interesting to your market. Overcommunicating can be hazardous to credibility and, worse yet, highly wasteful of PR talent. Lots of tech brands are guilty of running a news release mill. For more on this, read my story here.

12 comments on “5 Top Benefits High-Tech Gets From Great PR

  1. FLYINGSCOT
    September 2, 2011

    In the engineering space I have seen a lot more PR blogs/webinars etc. from very senior engineering VPs and the likes.  I believe this is an excellent move by companies eager to demonstrate they are being managed by down to earth people who know what they are talking about and not simply fat cats trying to make a fast buck.

  2. Ford Kanzler
    September 2, 2011

    Flying Scott – Agree wholeheartedly that engaging technologists in a company's communications program is a wise move. Please see my February post at: http://www.ebnonline.com/author.asp?section_id=1205&doc_id=203807 – which is directed specifically at that idea. Technical staff are the ones who can provide insite to how the technology is evolving and hopefully have a clear picture of the customer's pain points. There are roles for various people within an organization to speak publicly, including Sales and Marketing.The trick is getting the whole team on the same page. 

  3. itguyphil
    September 3, 2011

    flyingscot,

    I think the fat cat comapny mentality is overstated (mostly by TV & movies). For the most part, a company would not be able to survive if the leader has that type of mindset. There has to be balance and a desire to succeed in the marketplace more than the $$, so I think after a certain point, pride drives you more than profits.

  4. t.alex
    September 4, 2011

    It is no doubt engaging PR companies will definitely help a lot. Is there any criteria we should look for when selecting PR company? 

  5. Ford Kanzler
    September 4, 2011

    t. alex – There are many criteria for choosing a PR firm. Most importantly, are they people you like and can work with? After that, do you respect them and will you take their advice? Additionally, agencies should lead their client, not the other way around. Agency senior management should help their client create effective communications strategy that is well differentiated from competitors, not me-too-sounding and acting. Further, they should provide lots of actionable, strategically relevant ideas, show initiataive and work within a defined budget. Clear plans should be in place and be revised as market or business conditions change. Monthly adjustments can make the campaign more agile and effective.

    Having been a client myself, I'd suggest your account be among their important ones, not a minor piece of business that doesn't get top level attention. choose and agency that really wants your business. Demand and get senior agency team attention as well as junior staff tactical execution. Lastly, be a good client by taking and using the agency's advice. Remember, they're the experts you hired. Be available to your agency team. Public relations services aren't done “to” a client, they're done “with” them. Various people withing the company can and should participate, including top management. Maintain a budget that allows good work to be done. On and off campaigns rarely gain adequate traction. Pay your agency's bills on time. Slowpayign clients and highly demotivating. Have fun with your agency team and make them truly feel like part of yours. A “them and us,” arm's length relationship won't get you the service you desire.  Here's more on this topic – http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2008/2766/how-to-be-a-good-public-relations-client

    It's also covered more extensively in “Connecting the Mind and Voice of Business” – available later this month. More on it at: http://www.prsavvy.com/book.php

  6. Daniel
    September 6, 2011

    PR plays a key role in company’s campaigns. If the employs are getting a proper training, then there is a better chance for them to deal with their customers and public communities. Now a day’s most of the companies have social networking media presents for both employs and customer care. So these PR skills can help them to increase the company’s quality in vision and mission through such social media interactions.

  7. t.alex
    September 11, 2011

    Ford, that is really great advice.  I believe if a PR firm has a strong presence in the social network will be a big advantage as well. 

  8. JADEN
    September 13, 2011

    High-Tech market has become a crowded one with a several aggressive competitors, and PR is a very important function in moving the business forward.

  9. Anne
    September 13, 2011

    With competition in every high tech sector fierce, all high tech companies have the need to employ a consistent high tech PR strategy that will target their right audience.

  10. Ariella
    September 13, 2011

    PR is the sizzle in the saying, “It's the sizzle that sells the steak.”

  11. Himanshugupta
    September 26, 2011

    PRs are usually limited to big organizations as they have some extra money to spend on such activities. Do small electronic companies need to worry about PR campaign? There are some visible benefits of running PR campaign such as talent acquition, visibility to the wider market and the ones that are put in this article but how to reduce the PR cost to bare minimum?

  12. Ariella
    September 26, 2011

    I have a client that is looking to build up PR through content on its blog and social media. It doesn't cost a fortune to do that. A company would be wise to consider how much it can afford to invest without just trying to scrape by on the bare minimum if it wants to reach more people. For example, if a company really wants people to know about its FB page, I believe it pays to advertise to your target audience on FB. Without the ads, you would only reach the people who already know the company through its site and email list.

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