Stay in Your Lane!
Hooray for enterprise software startups, back in the funding spotlight and deservedly so! “Venture capitalists placed $2 billion with IT startups in the first quarter of this year, according to a survey by Dow Jones VentureSource, a 14% increase from the first quarter of 2011. Meanwhile, investors put 76% less investment in consumer internet companies. Software companies attracted the most funding, $1.3 billion, which is a 61% bump from 2011.”
These startups would be wise to invest some of this in communications, including writing and PR, to help gain visibility and draw customers their way. There are some cost-effective ways to do this, such as booking speaking engagements for C-level executives, participating in award programs for products and services, and leveraging customer success stories to win more business. These efforts can be driven internally or through an experienced pro, who can set up and/or manage initiatives. All these initiatives can be leveraged in numerous ways to build visibility and credibility, especially important for fledgling startups.
I read this blog piece today and while it may be common knowledge to some, it bears repeating–PR can help a startup succeed–or fail: http://bostinno.com/channels/why-pr-is-a-startups-key-to-success/
Here’s my favorite quote from the post: “When startup ventures first break ground in the business world, they lack exposure to potential customers or the media. This is where public relations steps in. While roles change from place to place, PR experts are generally responsible for communications efforts, maintaining the company’s positive image, and gaining exposure. This can include pitching to media – journalists, bloggers, etc. – to get a product or service recognized, creating brand recognition, or hosting publicity and networking events. It’s not just the old fashioned way of press releases in startup success. Ventures need exposure to all outlets, whether that be a client or customer. Good exposure can drive a company straight towards victory!”
You have your accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the list goes on. Now, you need content to push out through all those social media channels, as well as for your site, and perhaps even for your customer or employee communications—but where do you get this content? Who creates it? Where does it come from?
Leverage what you already have, such as company news—new hires, new partnerships, awards your company has won, speaking gigs your executives are participating in, new products or services, new customers, customer successes, events your company is participating in and so on. The stream of possibilities is endless, if you take the time to look for newsworthy items.
Then, you need someone to write the content. Think everyone’s a writer? Wrong! I’m so often amazed by the number of typos I see in business communications. Typos mean more than just a misspelled word or a missed punctuation mark. They make your company look unprofessional and weaken your credibility. Make sure to use a strong writer, if that isn’t among your talents.
If you commit an hour or two per week to plan and craft content to use in your various channels, you’ll be surprised at the results. If you don’t have the time or the ability to create the content yourself, consider hiring a professional business writer to craft the content for you. Once you have it, It can be repurposed in a number of ways, making your minimal investment of time well worth the effort.
Check out yours truly speaking at the Worthington Chamber SOHO meeting June 28! The topic–PR 101 for small businesses, tips and tricks to do your own PR cost effectively: http://worthingtonohcoc.weblinkconnect.com/cwt/External/WCPages/WCEvents/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1481
I attended a workshop at Columbus Business First today to learn more about its Social Media Madness challenge. You can learn more and enter your company at http://www.bizjournals.com/socialmadness/. Entries will be accepted until May 15. Companies ranging from 1 to 500 employees can enter. The grand prize winner in each “bracket” (1-100, 101-499, 500+) will receive $7,500 for its favorite charity! Seems like a great way to get some buzz going about your company and give something back!
Did you know that your customers are one of your best marketing and PR sources? Interview your happy customers to get quotes and even to craft customer success stories or case studies. Garrett Public Relations can help you leverage your customers in your PR and marketing efforts. Reporters always want to talk with customers when writing about your company, so be ready with some customer references to sing your praises!
Here’s a link to my enhanced Manta profile. Interested to see how/if it works to increase traffic: http://www.manta.com/c/mwkv28l/garrett-public-relations
Just joined the Columbus AMA chapter–excited to get involved and volunteer! Such a great group!
“Advertising is only one-third as effective as a news story about a company or product.”
He’s preaching to the choir with this article, but how refreshing to read a reporter sing the praises of PR! After years in the PR/communications biz, I’ve learned it’s hard to come data to back up what savvy companies have known for years–PR is a much better way to spend your marketing dollars than advertising. It’s more credible and you can repurpose it in many ways. It paves the way for your sales team by lending credibility to your product or service.
Tom Foremski’s article continues on to say:
“Tech companies spend 40% and more, of their annual revenues on marketing. Their cost of sales is very high and it amounts to billions of dollars in marketing. But the problem with advertising, as we can see thanks to the Internet, is it doesn’t work that well.
Over the past two decades tech companies have been steadily shifting their substantial marketing funds into public relations, with the express goal to have news stories published about them and their products.”
Companies who aren’t doing this should reevaluate their marketing budgets to make sure they’re spending WISELY, not blindly wasting funds on ads that don’t work.
Read the article in its entirety:
By Tom Foremski | April 17, 2012, 10:39pm PDT
Summary: News stories about products sell more far more products than advertising. Public relations has helped create a new form of journalism, one that’s best suited to their client’s needs.
Why has tech reporting become such tedious product journalism? Why are reporters competing to scoop each other on news that is essentially a spec sheet about a mass-produced product?
Why are we reading about products as a news story and not in an ad?
Whenever I look at the tech press it is heavily focused on product reporting; about gadgets, features in apps or online services, and details about underlying technologies in software, hardware, and the Internet.
Product launches, especially by industry heavyweights such as Apple, are examined in great detail; before the launch, in live reports from the launch, and for weeks afterwards.
The product is weighed, it’s specifications checked against the specifications insiders thought it would have; it’s measured and compared endlessly with other products. It’s taken apart and each component catalogued, and journalists report estimates of how much money it cost to make.
Even a product’s color is questioned in news stories, as in the white iPhone that some said was more beige than white.
Vast amounts of product journalism are being produced. Many mainstream newspapers and magazines are beefing up their product news. And multitudes of reporters race to be the first to write up the product specs of a new device.
When and why did this start?
When did journalists decide that it would be a great job, reporting about products?
When did readers start to think it was cool to read endless news stories about products?
There was a time when it wasn’t like this. Reading about products was usually done by reading advertising – reading news about products was rare. How did it change?
Tech journalism became product journalism for one simple reason: it was created.
Tech companies spend 40% and more, of their annual revenues on marketing. Their cost of sales is very high and it amounts to billions of dollars in marketing. But the problem with advertising, as we can see thanks to the Internet, is it doesn’t work that well.
Over the past two decades tech companies have been steadily shifting their substantial marketing funds into public relations, with the express goal to have news stories published about them and their products.
The reason is simple: Advertising is only one-third as effective as a news story about a company or product.
PR is much more efficient than advertising, you get far more marketing bang.
You sell far more product through news stories and that’s what public relations firms do for their clients, they get their story into the media – and these days – into social media too. They help companies sell large amounts of products.
PR spending continues to increase, every PR company I know is booming, hiring like mad. And it’s because the PR firms do their job well, and the tech industry gets what it pays for: lots of news stories about their products. It’s not because the media are independent thinkers.
You’d think the media sites would prefer advertising money for product launches rather than writing about them for free. After all, there are far more interesting stories to write. I’ll share some ideas over the next few weeks. The future of tech journalism is certainly not in product journalism.