The Larry King Approach to High-Tech PR

© Jeffrey Geibel, All Rights Reserved

If you review as many high-tech web sites as I do each week (a dozen or more), you can't help but notice that they all begin to read the same - mostly product announcements, some strategic alliances, management resignations or hirings, earnings statements (if public) and occasionally a new customer or two.

Which is to say boring.

However, there are a very few that stand out. When you examine them in detail, the difference is subtle, but makes all the difference in the world. What they do is use the Larry King approach to high-tech public relations.

Larry King is the phenomenally popular CNN talk-show host. A year ago or so I was watching him being interviewed. The reporter asked him why he (Larry King) was so popular - top personalities in entertainment, politics, world affairs all jump at a chance to be on his show - he thought a moment and said: "Probably because I'm not so interested in what they do, but why they do it. If a firefighter runs into a house to rescue a child, I don't want to know what he did - I already know that - but why did he do it?"

When applied to high-tech public relations, they Larry King approach will have you documenting your customers in terms of: Why did they do that? In other words, document the purchase decision in terms of why they chose you and your technology. Not the more common 'case study' of how they implemented the technology and used it - which is about as exciting as reading an operator's manual.

The other reason that the Larry King approach is so powerful is that it keeps you focused on the customer's buying decision, and using that information to craft your message to the market. Conversely, the further you get away from this decision (that is, more into their operational experience) the less interested other prospects will be. Basically, prospects often don't care about someone else's operational experience with your product - they think that their situation and experience will be unique (whether in fact it is or not is another issue.) But they are keenly interested in the buying decision - because that information can help them make the 'right' decision in purchasing the technology that they need or want.

This is somewhat contrarian to the current infatuation with operational 'best practices'. What may be regarded as 'best practices' for one company may be held in disdain at another. I first noticed this phenomena several years ago when I was doing marketing strategy consulting. When I suggested some techniques or methodologies to my clients that where used by other businesses, (either competing or noncompeting) more often than not I got a response to the effect of: "That may work for the way they run their business, but it's not how we do business." Right or wrong, this is the way a lot of management looks at the world.

If you don't want to get your public relations message bogged down in this debate, it's best to stay close to the buying decision. Rather than dismiss it as they would with 'best practices', the Larry King effect takes place and your prospects will lean forward when you say: "Do you want to know why they did that?"

Here's a few pointers for taking advantage of the Larry King Approach to high-tech public relations:

Larry King is the most popular talk show host around, possibly of all time. And that's for a reason. You may not make the millions he does, but if you apply his approach to your company's public relations program, you can help your company make those millions.

Copyright 1998 Jeffrey Geibel, All Rights Reserved

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