Tech entrepreneurs are skilled innovators who identify the market need for the “next big thing” and then build products that address those problems. Yet, when it’s time to get their product noticed, they may not know the best way to utilize a more conventional communication strategy: namely, #PR.
Over the past few months, we’ve analyzed how to make PR work for B2B technology marketers. Recently, I spoke with Suzanne Block, Account Supervisor at Merritt Group, a PR, digital and creative firm that specializes in B2B #tech PR. Our conversation highlighted a crucial issue we haven’t touched upon in earlier blogs: what is the best strategy for tech companies to achieve a PR victory?
Like a coach prepping her team for a crucial game, Block recommended following a two-part strategy to win at PR.
Strategy 1: Fit and Match
Too often, companies think all PR firms are the same. Or they choose solely based on reputation. Block emphasized that all strategic communications are not created equal. Selecting a firm with expertise in your particular field and that can meet your specific needs is crucial and is the first step in a quality communications strategy. Just as you’re able to scroll through the profiles of potential partners on a dating site, you should do your research before selecting a PR firm to ensure the right fit.
An important aspect of finding this fit is understanding what PR is meant to do – and what it’s not. Many companies assume that their work is so technical that no PR firm will understand their business or product, so they are somewhat haphazard in their selection process. Block said that if your PR firm doesn’t understand your business, you’re with the wrong firm. Domain expertise is a must for a PR partner.
Tech companies often have the unreasonable expectation that their communications agency should grasp the intricacies of their product as well as internal staff. As Block told me, “It’s not your agency’s job to be systems engineers.” In fact, you actually don’t want them to be.
If your PR firm is too far in the weeds of your product, it will likely compromise their ability to effectively message its benefits to the wider world. A PR firm will never know your product as intimately as you do, but, as Block put it, “What we both need to know is what your product does and what its unique value proposition is, as well as your competitors and what they’re claiming. Ideally, what we’re trying to do is find your special sauce, your special story that aligns with your product capabilities that can really help us communicate in this insightful way.”
Being too entrenched in the details of how your product works can actually undermine the ability to communicate this differentiation effectively at a high level.
The key thing for tech companies to remember is that PR’s main role is to translate your message for a wider audience. Tech entrepreneurs often assume that because they’ve identified a market need, everyone in the world will have the same interest in their product as they do. That isn’t the case. The reality of PR is that you’re usually communicating with people who are not interested in your product. PR’s responsibility is to make people care and make them understand why they should pay attention. They take your unique value proposition and appeal to industry and journalistic gatekeepers in a way that aligns with the larger conversations happening in the marketplace. Thus, wanting, or even expecting your PR firm to know your product inside and out can compromise your messaging and the entire PR endeavor. Your firm should know the landscape well enough to deploy a strategy in which your product fits into the larger industry narratives swirling around you.
The next blog will explore the second part of creating the right PR Tech strategy.
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Suzanne Block is an Account Supervisor at Merritt Group, a PR, digital, and creative communications agency. With a specialty in business and enterprise technology PR and communications, Suzanne works closely with clients to develop meaningful and timely campaigns that elevate visibility among key audiences and align with business objectives for the most external impact.
Check out the whole blog series: