M&E Daily

M&E Journal: Why the Holy *&^% Do You Need PR?

By Bob Gold, Founder, President & CEO, Bob Gold & Associates

Did I get your attention with the censored title? Turns out book publishers lately add all kinds of rude words to make their titles more attention-grabbing and sell more books. This is a trend. And when it comes to how we talk about ourselves, we’d best be in touch with the latest trends.

In today’s tech world, it appears the priority is all about the speed of innovation and how we move content safely, effectively, efficiently and securely. But if no one knows about your solution, how will they purchase and use it?

In such a world of amazing tech innovation, talk about the role of PR in technology feels a bit like the “Man Bites Dog” headline, since our inclination is really to talk about how technology affects the role of communications. But if we don’t control the story of what we do and what we make, the story will control us. And really, without good, ethical, PR-skilled people in place, we may find ourselves living in a world of alternative news. That is bad for business.

Today we communicate in a virtual three-dimensional level of game-like complexity— we do more and more on mobile, while managing larger and larger databases of friends and associates on multiple platforms, while multitasking in simultaneous discussions. In other words, it’s noisy out there! Worse still, we usually can’t remember the source of information we share.

How noisy is it, you may ask?

* By some counts, the number of marketing technology solutions has doubled since 2015 and will soon surpass 4,000.

* Today’s executives are overwhelmed by the amount of technology choices and confused by vendor claims that their platform can do it all. Before investing in more technology, they want to optimize what they already own.

This brings us back to the role of PR in technology. Can’t technology speak for itself? Do we need it? And if my title doesn’t already make it clear, you bet your sweet a** we do, baby! For one simple reason: If we want folks to adapt and use our innovations, they must be educated about the benefits they bring.

The process of storytelling requires a specialized PR discipline to break through the noise buzzing with clichés: “We have an end-to-end solution” (isn’t that what you get when you mix salt with water and stir?); “We are Best-of-Class” (which rarely comes with a degree or grade point average); or one of my favorites— the promise to be able to monetize technology investments.

For MESA members, focus beyond these clichés, to explore:

SECURITY. Everybody is hacking everyone else – if it can be made, it can be broken. How can you tell the market, with specificity, that your security system addresses this issue?

LACK OF POLICIES. Exploding quantities of data zapped into hidden clouds, without access and use policies means we have a big problem. Big Data and real-time analytics are super sexy in 2017 (thanks Alexa!), and for an on-demand world where all content is supposed to be available anytime, this will be big! How will you take advantage of this building trend?

CONTENT PROTECTION. This takes us to a world where everything is on-demand and connected. How will “autonomous everything” work? In a world facing more confusion than certainty, there is an “opportunity ahead” street sign in your path to address this overwhelming and often confusing situation.

So, following are six key dos, don’ts and cautions. (Doesn’t everyone today love a listicle?) Caveat emptorreader beware! There is no one-size-fits-all for every situation, but there are some general rules of thumb that when followed will generate success.

1) START WITH A CLEAR MESSAGE. PR is all about your core message, positioned as a story with a beginning, middle and end— that’s just good construction. Yup, companies are great at cool slogans like “We do monetization right” or “Just tech it” or “The slicker picker upper.” OK, you caught me—I riffed off consumer slogans. Good storytelling starts with a clear message.

2) DO AN EXERCISE TO SEE IF YOU CAN SUCCINCTLY TELL YOUR STORY. Try this one for fun. Fill in the underlined: “For (my customer segment) who are trying to (their challenge) in a (describe the situation), (name of your company) provides the (describe your unique benefit) (name of the product or service category you are in) in the market today. It might read like this: For MVPDs who are trying to stay competitive in a changing video market, RedGreenBlue provides the most advanced multi-purpose video processor on the market.

3) DO SAY WHAT ELSE MAKES YOUR COMPANY DIFFERENT. Can you answer these questions about your company and about your product?

What are the three core messages about your company?

You might think about your founders and executive leadership

Are you the most complete (Gulp! I’m gonna say it) solution? Serving which market areas?

What problems do you solve for today? Are you visionary and future proof?

4) Do validate your story with numbers. What are the most profound messages about your product/service?

Can you describe your product more succinctly than “it’s non-intrusive to install?” State your big customer benefit. For example, is it 50 percent better than anything else on the market? Does it consume 50 percent less bandwidth? Or, think about describing your product validated by numbers and in measurable scope.

5) BE CONSISTENT. Execute new messages with consistently written news releases, whitepapers and video. Make sure you provide a written guideline to your social media folks as well.

6) CAUTION: DON’T FALL INTO THIS TRAP! All too often companies decide to put out a news release, but then activity stops. In other words, their sole communication tactic is what we in PR call “spray & pray.” The truth is, all business is the business of relationships. You should manage your media and analyst relationships just as carefully as client relationships. One-on-one communication is essential. Treat every reporter as your client, but cull those relationships to a manageable number. If you do, you will get terrific results.

This brings us back to PR. Executives like to think in-house PR people or outside PR agency personnel are the most connected people they know. All connections start with sharing good stories. Breaking through isn’t as simple as sending an email to a reporter, calling a friend or telling one colleague who has 2,000 followers on Twitter. It takes diligence and the ability to find new ways to tell your story repeatedly.

The case for storytelling has never been more powerful. Your space has never been more competitive and the noise about other companies’ tech options is deafening.

PR is the secret sauce that reinterprets the science in human and business benefits that can drive change. Sure, one-on-one word of mouth is powerful, but for businesses, nothing beats engaging, resonant, pervasive, quotable stories, as presented by your experienced PR professional. And PR will freakin’ beat any other investment as the most cost effective tool in your sales and marketing arsenal.

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