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Getting the Tech News Out

In most tech sectors, journalists want highly relevant news for their readers, which may be delivered in any number of ways, including the now often-questioned news release. The information just has to be newsworthy . There's nothing at all new about this.

Yet many organizations still issue “My Cat Had Kittens” sorts of announcements and blast them to hundreds of tech journalists. If there clearly aren't external stakeholders (customers, prospects, investors, business partners) who will care about the “news” item you or your PR team may be contemplating sending out — then don't send it out . The world is already filled with plenty of meaningless things. Adding to it hurts your brand reputation and may cause journalists, bloggers, and others to ignore you when you, in fact, do have significant news.

When you have newsworthy information, integrating your information using various on- and off-line media is obviously preferred. Issuing a news release is not usually a yes/no question if you have a good story. In the tech sector, news should always go out using all the channels your company is used to communicating with, perhaps applying new ones for the brand such as social media channels and preferably simultaneously. Tight timing is essential. Also remember the news release is no longer a print-only tool. Consider how a few key links to closely related information can make the release far more powerfully informative. How much push is placed behind a piece of information depends on its value/importance to recipients, not just to someone in management. A CEO's or VP's pet idea still needs to pass the newsworthiness test.

If your brand/company is small or unknown (yes, there are still large, virtually unknown brands), breaking through with just one means of communicating won't likely bring desired results. If your company only occasionally issues news releases via some automated service, they're probably being ignored. Try adding some fresh or alternative approaches to getting the story out — email newsletters, blogs, videos, videoconferencing, social media posts if you have a following, speeches, and even engaging journalists directly for an interview. They may not be available on your schedule, so be sure to try contacting them well in advance. Don't abuse this tactic. Make double-sure the story is good and your spokesperson can deliver well.

When it's huge news, pull out the stops! Don't miss your chance. New companies often miss heralding excitement of their newness because of budget or other problems. Others blow it because they don't have their competitive story together and can't clearly express why people should pay attention.

Events and stunts still work when you've got something that grabs attention. While not a B2B tech brand, when GoProthe world’s leading activity image capture company (how's that for nailing your differentiation?) — introduced its new Hero3 camera recently, it invited consumer electronics, tech, and lifestyle reporters to take the new camera and discover its benefits. Three venue choices were arranged for the reporters' experiences, and the journalists loved it. More here. Involving the media in the product excitement is a winning way of getting the news out.

Tech marketing history is full of successfully innovative efforts that broke through with big news. It's been years now, but a landmark stunt I recall is when the Concord supersonic plane was rented for a tech product launch that included journalists getting a ride. That had everyone's attention. Talk about reaching escape velocity!

Coming back to earth now, if you're a publicly-traded company, issuing an announcement for “material information” (technical term for SEC-required transparency), then you better be on it with the legally-required and essential forms of delivery, which typically mean a news release. Just posting the info on a blog will probably get someone fired, or a lot worse.

As with so many things in tech marketing and PR, what's best depends a lot on circumstances. “Best-practices” aren't necessarily always the best options in every situation. There may be better ideas if your team is open to them. It's another good reason for having competent, experienced, imaginative PR pros on board well in advance of when the news needs to go out.

11 comments on “Getting the Tech News Out

  1. Barbara Jorgensen
    December 12, 2012

    Hi Ford: there are fewer outlets for thoughtful, analytical articles as print continues to decline, which increases the importance of your message. It definitely has to be a compelling item to get anything beyond linking to a url. Even as a journalist I'm not sure what to recommend to companies. It is a service to get releases (we don't have to hunt for news as much) but we also have less time to report on them before moving on to the next thing. Plus, all companies have their own websites that post their own releases, so running press releases is almost a waste of time for publications. I think it is still difficult in the digital age to figure out the right balance.

  2. Ford Kanzler
    December 12, 2012

    To your point Barbara, just doing news releases may not be the best way of attracting journalists' attention. In fact, in some cases firing off yet another release may be the worst way. Standard packaging is likely to be missed. So, try a different approach. Dress it up! Use a different channel.

    One channel I belleve isn't used as often, is the direct, one-on-one executive briefing, either in-person or by phone. If the news is significantly appropriate to a journalist and advance arrangements are made with consideration to news cycles and available time, I've found that talking (what a concept!) still works quite well. Having the story down with supporting information like an announcement, a brief PowerPoint and publishable images can still make an attractive package for media relations. The good news seems to be that many tech marketers either forgot this or aren't taking the time. What's your experience with this?

  3. Barbara Jorgensen
    December 12, 2012

    Great question! I'll always take advantage of a one-on-one: I always learn something I can use. It is also valuable as an ice breaker for  the next time I want to call a company. It can be a win-win: an executive may be top of mind when a journalist is looking for feedback; or the journalist is more receptive the next time a company has a news item. We are all busy in this industry: if an executive or manager is willing to spend some time with me, I always try to accommodate.

  4. _hm
    December 12, 2012

    Some niche market and specialized products do not like to have tech news out. They like to understand customer applications, educate them regarding unique solution and work with them. They may not like many unnecessary people knowing aobut their product.

     

  5. Ford Kanzler
    December 12, 2012

    I guess you're correct depending on your definition of “unnecessary people.” Correctly targeted media reaches customers, prospects and others who may buy or not. If your product is for sale and your company already knows everyone in the world who will potentially buy your product or service, then perhaps publicity and getting the news out aren't required. However, that's not typically the case with most companies. “Educating them (customers) regarding a unique solution” is part of what “getting the news out” should help accomplish.

  6. ahdand
    December 14, 2012

    Its good to see tech news getting out. That means people are being updated regularly but the issue is that it does not happen in practical sessions. Dont know which party's fault it is but things are not happening  

  7. FLYINGSCOT
    December 14, 2012

    I wholeheartedly agree with your comment on companies needing seasoned PR pros.  Many companies overlook this and try to do it for themselves and that normally results in a non optimum situation.  Companies need to think smart and pay for the right talent when required.

  8. SP
    December 14, 2012

    Absolutely agree that dont just be a part of news brandwagon unless you stand out of crowd. Else you will loose your value and will be just part of the same old boring newspaper.

  9. Ford Kanzler
    December 14, 2012

    For company information to be newsWORTHY, is must have value in the context of the marketplace and the interests of publications' target readers a.k.a. “your customers and prospects.” That's one of the values journalists bring to publications. They edit out the junk, “my cat had kittens'” kinds of releases, which they recieve far too many of, and either publish or report on business information they know their readers want to receive.

    Here's some links that may help understanding:

    http://www.mediacollege.com/journalism/news/newsworthy.html

    http://www.getthewordout.com.au/articles/whatnews.htm

    http://uat.mediatrust.org/get-support/community-newswire-1/tips-and-faqs/what-makes-news

    Thinking like the editor of the publications you wish to have your news covered by is a key step in determining whether the information you may have is news that will attract attention. If it doesn't clearly pass the newworthiness text, don't put it out as a news announcement. It MAY be worth including in a blog post, customer newsletter or other company-owned media channel. Just don't call it “news.”

  10. prabhakar_deosthali
    December 14, 2012

    In my opinion , for the tech news release , apart from the content, target audience etc, the timing of th release is very important.

    The tech news should go out only when the company has completed the testing of the new tech feature into its products.

    An early release of the tech news when the related product is raw will only serve the negative purpose of alerting the competition who will grab your market share before your product is out

  11. Ford Kanzler
    December 15, 2012

    In addition to the obvious rerquirement of products and support materials being ready for prime time, announcement timing should take into consideration externialities such as: national holidays in key geographies where you're selling, major news events; political disruptions; likely competitive activity, including competitors' upcoming announcements, forecasted severe weather in key locales (Visualize attemptng a product intro during the week Hurricane Sandy hit) and important trade shows in your market. Announcing AT a trade show seems to have become a bad habit in the tech sector…Trade Show =s Put Out a News Release, or perhaps even several of them. The record with one client I had was 8! The result is a glut of news and non-news going into and during a trade event. Far better waiting until the noise level subsides if you want media attention. If you have several solid news items, space 'em out. Don't fire a broadside. Yes, timing is quite key.

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