Complex Technology
Requires an Intelligent, Sales-Based
Public Relations Message

Copyright Jeffrey Geibel, All Rights Reserved

Every technology executive I've spoken to expresses the desire to have a highly visible industry profile, one that will help them to shorten their sales cycle and also their time-to-market and time-to-revenue. Yet in the next breath, they express frustration that their public relations is a disappointment, and that is often after they have devoted substantial resources to this effort.

Upon further questioning of these executives, what I discover is that the missing element is the understanding that successful technology public relations has to be an integral part of the sales and marketing strategy and planning. This is from the get-go - not a disjointed afterthought, which is often how public relations is treated. ("I want this product to be a big splash," one CEO told me, right after he explained that it was a mediocre piece of software that any good programmer could do in four months, and an interim product that the company had no real commitment to. I declined to work on the account. The splash, as it later turned out, was more that of the software being used as a boat anchor.)

However, integrating your public relations effort with your sales and marketing is easier said than done. In order to pull that off, you need a public relations resource (agency, consultant or staff) that understands your technology, the selling (and buying) process for it, and your marketing challenge - and that combination of capabilities is a tall order. In public relations, one size doesn't fit all - and technology public relations is complex, to say the least. By and large, with complex technology that has short commercial product cycles, public relations isn't 'branding' (which comes from consumer marketing), or 'awareness' (which comes from the advertising community and multi-million dollar budgets) or even 'influence the influencers' (which comes from Regis McKenna in the early 80's - a high-tech millennium ago). If you hear "PR is PR" from your advisors - watch out. I saw a recent interview with a supply-chain software executive where the interview wandered so much that the executive commented that the only reason they lost sleep was that their dog snored. Because this executive or their advisors either didn't understand how to guide the interview to get across their sales and marketing message, or the need to focus solely on what their market cares about (which is not a snoring dog), they wasted some valuable media exposure. It's similar to getting in front of the venture capitalists and not knowing how to present your business plan. Doesn't exactly inspire confidence.

The real metric for finding a public relations advisor (and they are out there) is to ask yourself a very basic question: Does this advisor demonstrate the capacity and capabilities to make a legitimate contribution to our sales and marketing strategy? If the answer is not a strong 'yes' - then it is highly doubtful that they will subsequently be able to construct a public relations program that will support your sales and marketing.

Here are a few other capabilities to probe for that will quickly point you to qualified advisors:

What benefits will you see with a public relations effort that is targeted at supporting your sales and marketing? The initial results will be that your editorial exposures are much more in line with your sales and marketing messages - guiding the reader through the phases of establishing your credibility and competitive distinction. As any experienced salesperson can tell you - if you have interest after that (such as a telephone call or email query) - you have a well qualified prospect that needs to be closed. Additionally, these media exposures can be used for direct marketing efforts, as sales collateral and posted to your web site. With all those benefits, what more could you ask for from your public relations program?

Copyright Jeffrey Geibel, All Rights Reserved

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