The Only Real PR Challenge You Have Is Your News Interests No One
This bulletin just in for tech companies: no one cares about your news.
It's nothing personal. It doesn't even mean the news isn’t interesting. It just means that most people don't care enough to even notice your announcement.
The go-to strategy for companies seeking to launch and grow has been to pursue press coverage. However, it is tough to get overworked and underpaid media to spend much time with vendor-driven tech news. In the winner-take-all battle today for attention, where the truly big stories and viral time wasters crowd out everything else, your announcement is pretty far down the list.
But you need to build buzz and visibility for your launch so you can start selling. What is the secret to getting attention and motivating action?
It begins by starting where you want to wind up -- with the user.
Some of the trends are well-known. The media are increasingly fragmented, and news cycles are diminishing. Fewer reporters are churning out more articles, trying to reel people in with must-read stories and (often, sadly) click bait headlines.
In this climate, who has time to sit with a vendor for a quality, in-person briefing? And if they do write, who even sees or reads the stories? There are many other ways to vet the latest tech products and services (no one ever got fired for following Gartner's guidance). The earned media hit just does not drive the same the results anymore, in terms of web traffic, attention or sales leads.
Much of the problem has to do with information overload. How do people cope? We scan. We prioritize. We note what's trending. Google and the social networks track our content engagement, and adjust newsfeeds accordingly. People stir the content soup in myriad ways and, in doing so, affect their popularity.
The result is that the architecture of content and news distribution has changed. It's no longer primarily top down. Sure, big media still has reach and influence, but the revolution is by and large user-driven, with a healthy dose of platform and algorithmic selection thrown in.
Get user-driven and go organic.
Startups, and their PR and marketing teams, need to recognize the new rules of a user-driven world of news and content. This means going where the users are, and communicating on their terms. It means lighting a fire that they will help spread.
These steps will help you accomplish your launch and marketing goals.
Talk the customer’s language.
PR used to be about communicating through the media filter. Being user-driven means developing news and content that resonates with customers. Throw out the PR clichés, press release happy-talk and indecipherable jargon.
Tell a story they will care about.
Put news in context starting with the headline that clearly and concisely explains how the information relates to customer problems. It's not possible to target people individually but you can get a bead on what is trending in your niche. Check out Trendspottr and Buzz Sumo for starters. Both sites give you ways to track the hot stories and social media topics for your space.
Uprise.IO goes further, with in-depth data to help you understand your audiences, and the characteristics of popular content.
Go where the users are.
To get the attention of your intended audience, you need to discover how and where they get information, then work hard to ensure that your news is right there. Of course, media and blogs are important but so are communities where users share the latest stories. You can submit your news and rally colleagues and users to vote it up on social news sites like DZone and Stack Overflow, for the software developer community.
Hone your media strategy.
Choose your PR shots wisely. Don’t chase every media opportunity down a rat hole. Aim for the bigger stories by the recognized reporters in publications that matter to your target market. Coverage in the right places is the first step toward getting your content curated and shared elsewhere.
Focus on content curation and sharing.
Some publications get curated much more than others. How do you find them? It can vary by industry and network (e.g., see the TechMeme leader board). You can pitch curators. First, take the time to read and better understand the outlet. Then, contact the editors to learn about their criteria and pitch your news if appropriate.
Make your information easy to share. For example, can your press release headline easily fit in a tweet? Does your blog have social sharing buttons? The Moz blog recently wrote that wonky articles attract more links and shares. So do articles with lists.
Tap owned and social channels.
Being user-driven means being present and vocal where the customers are, which increasingly is on social media/networks. The company blog and website should support your communications effort, and serve as hubs that can connect PR with social channels and inbound marketing.
Building your social presence is an important long-term strategy. Having a large following offers another communications vehicle to support news promotion. Meanwhile, seek the cooperation of friendly influencers who have larger social footprints to help get the word out.
It is still early days for the new world of user-driven news and content, but it is not too soon to adapt your strategies. There is a growing number of tools to help you understand and reach the customer. Use the above strategies, and you will be on your way to getting your news noticed, and inspiring interest and action.