The “right” answers to these three common questions will help you pick your technology PR agency partner
Technology PR is different. And complicated. This is not to take away from other areas of public relations at all, but there are several nuances that make tech PR just a little different. The spectrum of technologies, ranging from the most complex B2B enterprise technology to consumer apps for toddlers, is almost limitless. And while most firms claim they have knowledge “an inch deep and a mile wide” that encompasses all of tech, how do CMOs, VPs of Marketing and Directors of Communications decide which technology PR firm will best help them achieve their marketing and business goals?
Your PR agency partner must meet your specific needs and, in particular, match the personality, culture and speed of your organization. We’re proposing three standard questions to help you navigate the process, differentiate real substance and “spin” (come to find out, PR folk are good at this), and set you on the path to PR success.
1) Do you have the right experience, and more importantly, approach for my company?
Nearly every tech PR firm can make even the most specious ties to your technology from its current or previous client roster. But do they also have the right approach to make an impact?
To drill down and get the answers you need to make an educated decision, you need to understand how their approach will be applied to your business. Can they share successful case studies showcasing their unique approach to PR? What was the agency’s biggest challenge(s) applying its approach with similar clients? The answer to the challenge question (and these follow-up questions) can determine not only if the agency understands your technology, but also if they recognize how the media covers your market and the unique requirements for breaking through with your story. This knowledge often helps inform the agency’s strategy for securing coverage and producing on-message content as quickly as possible.
2) How will you reach our target/buyer audience?
PR practitioners love to talk about media hits and potential impressions and will dazzle you with numbers that often lack any context. The more important metric is reaching the right audiences, not just any audience, with your key messages. Whether that metric is measured in website hits, LinkedIn post views, downloads, leads, etc. is up to you, but the methods (paid, earned and owned media) available to best reach your target audience are changing. Make sure your agency of record can clearly articulate how it will find and reach each of your key constituencies, such as customers, prospects, partners, employees, new talent, investors and the like. Simply pitching Informationweek for a B2B tech story will no longer cut it. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and native ads have enabled firms to target your audience more precisely than ever. Make sure your PR team can employ a strategy that utilizes all of the targeting tools and channels now available to move your business’s needle to the right.
3) What is your process for distilling complex technologies into consumable storylines?
It doesn’t matter how many agencies you talk to, identifying, packaging and selling your authentic story so it appeals to the right audiences is critical to reaching your PR and business goals. Most media outlets don’t go deep anymore, making the ability to weave your story into the greater business context a critical requirement for your agency partner.
So how do you decide which answers are garbage and which ones you can attach your marketing budget to? Look for an agency where you have good chemistry with the team and confidence in their ability to distill complex technologies into understandable bites, often times taking you out of your comfort zone in the process. If they’re pushing you to think bigger, broader or higher, then you’re probably going to land on a storyline that hasn’t been told before, giving you a unique voice in the market. If your prospective agency is merely regurgitating your product pitch and claiming it as a thought leadership platform, walk away, quickly.
Each of the above questions has more than one right answer, but there are common “smoke and mirror” tactics that can obfuscate a potential agency’s lack of understanding. Clear, substantive and concise answers to these queries are necessary to make the best decision for your company. Finding a tech PR agency partner should be a fun, enlightening experience: the right partner will help you meet your business goals. You get to hear how outsiders think they can tell your story with new (and hopefully, creative) ideas. Embrace and enjoy the process!
Whether it’s big data, mobile, application development, analytics, virtualization, data science, artificial intelligence or cloud, Senior Vice President Keith Giannini is dedicated to helping clients distill complex enterprise technologies into consumable story lines and thought leadership campaigns that resonate with key opinion leaders to move the business needle.