Your tech company needs media coverage, so you bring in a generalist PR agency to get some work done while you handle ‘business as usual’ activities. You wait patiently for the results, but something seems off and your colleagues feel the same way. So what’s gone wrong?
Grasping the basics
The agency keeps asking you to explain basic concepts about your sector that you feel they should already have a grasp of. Instead of making things easier, they seem to be adding to your workload and the way things are going, it looks like you’ll be writing the content for them. You’re probably asking yourself what the point of all this was, and whether it wouldn’t have been better to deal with everything in-house and save yourself the hassle.
Educating the agency
You may think ‘PR is PR’ and to some extent, experience of your sector is a ‘nice to have’ but not an essential. You may even think that experience of different markets will bring an added creative zest to your campaigns. Fair enough, but what we hear from clients about having to ‘educate the agency’ in previous engagements and the pain it has caused, would suggest it doesn’t work out that way in reality.
Taking away the pain of content creation
A tech PR agency can take away a great deal of the pain of content creation. If your agency has already worked in your specialist sector, they will have an awareness of topical issues and challenges facing customers. Instead of spending a day giving them a history lesson, you can spend 30 minutes max on a phone or email briefing and they should be able to get the article or blog 90% right. Any background research should not be your concern. Your time is too valuable doing your real job to duplicate the effort.
Pitching with confidence
A good technology PR agency will always want to get you in front of the media, either offering comments or an interview but for this to happen the media need to be pitched correctly. So you need a consultant that can talk to specialist media with knowledge and confidence to put you on the media’s radar. Bad pitches are the bane of journalists’ lives. If your PR advisers are not on the ball they won’t get you the media opportunities you are paying for. Worse than that, they could damage a relationship with a key journalist and your press releases will head straight to their spam box. This is not just a question of ‘getting’ tech; it’s about understanding the individual publication. TechCrunch is a good example of a site with very specific editorial needs and we explore this in an earlier blog.
Chasing lost causes; the thief of time
With experience comes confidence and you need your agency to be confident enough to challenge you. They should be able to advise you when you have a strong story and when you are wasting your time and consultancy fees by chasing a lost cause. A survey about your ‘great levels of customer satisfaction’ will not cut it with Computer Weekly. Claims that are not backed up by proof points are not going to trump a story that quotes real world stats and customer references.
Trust and relationships
And, talking of customer references, if you are looking to produce case studies either for the media or for you own website you will need to trust your PR agency with your most precious business relationships. A PR consultant with experience in your sector will not sell you short by failing to grasp basic concepts of the project, and will understand the need to take up as little of the customer’s time as possible.
The chosen few
By focusing on a select group of journalists they should be able to bring the benefits of strong working relationships with the tier one media that will actually drive your business growth. How does this translate into reality? Trusted contacts are more likely to look favorably on a pitch from a PR person that has previously ‘delivered’ i.e. stuck to a commitment to write an article that is objective, thought provoking and well referenced. Their time and resources are limited and they don’t appreciate either broken promises or non-story advertorials they cannot use.
Focus also has the additional benefit of only having to track a relatively small set of titles; not only reading up on the latest issues, but also responding to the many requests for content and information that can unlock coverage gold. If we had to monitor every title in the book, it is likely we would miss major coverage opportunities in the Guardian tech section.
Owning the owned media
And it’s not just in the world of traditional media where a tech focused and experienced agency can deliver value. Think about your owned media; the blog, your white papers, e-books and video content. All of these would benefit from a knowledgeable tech expert that already understands your products and your market. How often have you sat waited and pleaded with one of your internal experts to find time to draft a piece of content that you can share on social media and generate sales leads? Trust your agency with this…but first choose the right agency with a tech focus and experience.