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Public Relations

5 Things to Consider Before Building a Technology Public Relations Strategy

By Victoria Perlak

July 22, 2020

When it comes to tech PR, there’s no one size fits all strategy. Technology Public Relations Strategy is completely dependent on a few different factors. This includes company goals, the industry, your target audience, and more. You can read more about this in my previous blog about running an effective PR strategy. 

Every sector of PR has obstacles, but technology and Public Relations is a different beast. Firstly, it’s a crowded market with constant innovation leads. Secondly, it has an accelerated news cycle full of rising tech startups, funding, and new tech breakthroughs. It’s an exciting industry to be a part of and lead conversations in, but it’s definitely challenging.

Here are 5 things to consider when crafting a Technology Public Relations strategy:

1. Know Your Audience

This is crucial for the beginning of any PR strategy — who do you want to get your message across to? For tech PR, many times they need to dive a bit further into their target audience. One of the most common things I hear from tech executives is that they want to be in the top tech publications. Sounds pretty obvious, right? A tech company wants to be in a tech publication. But just because you’re in tech doesn’t mean you should be sticking solely to Silicon Valley.

Who is the audience you’re trying to reach? Is it your tech peers or is it a specific vertical (or many of them)? There are many sub-verticals within technology, like martech, adtech, fintech, and consumer tech, each with their own customer base. Many tech companies mistake their audience for their tech peers, but those aren’t their customers. Take, for example, a retail technology that’s target buyer is retailers. Retail decision makers are likely not reading tech publications often. Instead they will read retail publications. Of course, it’s good to be validated in your community, but if your goal is to build a pipeline of prospects then you need to focus on the industry they’re in and the publications they read.

The majority of tech companies don’t cater to other tech companies. However, there are, of course some that cater to CTOs and other tech decision makers. In these cases, tech publications are key. These publications might be prioritized if a company is looking for VC funding or an overall profile on the technology itself. 

This audience may change over time as well, as the company expands into new markets or regions. Taking the time to understand exactly who your audience is — and communicating that to your PR firm — will better inform your Tech PR strategy. This will, in turn, help meet your business goals.

2. Have A Business Goal-Lead Public Relations Strategy

You have your audience — now what does success look like with them? Maybe you want to attract leads, acquire customers or gain downloads. Whatever your company wants to accomplish are the key factors that should be leading your tech PR strategy. But remember, business goals and PR goals are not one in the same.

Majority of companies have high level goals that they wish to attain over a certain amount of time. These can be broken down to be more actionable with the help of a PR team. A goal of making 40 million or wanting to be in a specific publication is not a goal that should be leading a technology Public Relations strategy. Instead tech companies should be able to communicate what they want to create. They should decide what conversation they want to own, who they want to partner with, and how many clients they want to sign in certain industries. This will inform your PR firm where you need to be. With this information, they will be able to determine what tactics you need to take to get there.

One of the most important things to remember when creating a technology Public Relations strategy is that you can be creative. Many tech companies think because they’re talking to businesses or because the tech itself might be a little dry that they’re bound to a life of boring PR. That is definitely not the case. 

Your PR strategy should always go back to business goals, but your business goals are not your PR goals. Translating business goals into those that can be acted on by PR and marketing will better align your PR program with your business and make sure that it’s moving the needle — specifically in all the places the company needs it to.

3. Understand How Your Technology Plays into Public Relations

Is your product invisible or tangible? This question will play a big role in your technology Public Relations strategy. Where a beauty company has tons of thousands of lipstick samples to hand out to journalists, tech does not. Even if a tech product is tangible, it doesn’t mean that it can be easily mailed as a sample — or even mailed at all.

With ‘invisible’ tech (i.e. software) you have to get creative to get it in front of journalists and potential customers. While there’s always an option for demos, one of the best ways to tell the story of this kind of tech, is through a customer. You need a way for the reporter and readers to experience your technology — without actually experiencing it. A customer use case can tell that story. Do you have customers who will speak about their experience with your technology? Will they be open to sharing stats and numbers?

While PR can tell your story in many ways, case studies are especially interesting to reporters. With the right brand or company, they can be an ‘in’ for some of those more top-tier publications; it can help you get past the publication gatekeepers. They can also be one of the most influential pieces of coverage from a potential new business point of view. A case study usually identifies key pain points for a company and how a technology helped to solve those problems. Reading this, a potential customer may relate and want similar results, and reach out to a technology to learn more. 

It can be difficult to have clients sign on for case studies. Remember to check in with your happiest customers for potential PR opportunities. It’s a win-win — they get press and you get to showcase your technology and have a customer validate your company. 

 4. Accept That You Won’t Always Have News

You’re not going to have news all the time – and that’s okay. In tech, you’re not launching new products or updates as much as a consumer company might. Other news might include funding or new hires, but that’s not something that happens frequently.

This does not mean you can’t be in the news. Your tech PR strategy doesn’t have to be dependent on you having news. In fact, you shouldn’t be only getting press coverage when you have news. That’s not a sustainable PR program for your company. This is why case studies are important. As noted above, case studies are a great way to get press when you don’t necessarily have hard news.

Determining how to get press without news also goes back to some of your business goals. Do you want to educate the market? If so, place thought leadership articles in publications that target your audience. This will put your message in front of your market of existing and potential customers.

Another way to stay relevant when there is no news is to be reactive to what’s going on in your industry. Are there breaking news stories in tech or those that appeal to your customers that your company can comment on? Journalists are always looking for expert sources to comment on the latest and greatest industry topics. In a fast news cycle like tech there’s always something to talk about. Make sure what you have to say provides a unique perspective on the story and, if possible, goes back to your company without being self-serving. Commentary that’s the status quo likely won’t make it into the article.

And in addition to being reactive — don’t forget to be proactive. Tech executives are the experts on what’s going on in the market. What predictions do you have for the future of the industry? These are especially timely looking ahead into the next year, but can be relevant year-round. Nothing quite validates a company like predicting the future of an industry — and being correct.

5. Expand How You Think of Technology and Public Relations

Tech companies can incorporate so much into their PR strategy beyond just media pitching and thought leadership. Thinking outside of the box will help any company stick out in the crowd, but this is even more true when it comes to technology companies and tech PR.

Consider attending trade shows – especially those beyond the big technology ones like CES. Go where your audience is. If your customers are retailers you should definitely be at Retail’s Big Show: NRF. Not only are your customers here, but so is the right media. This is a great time to meet 1:1 with journalists and build relationships. And remember: you can do this without having hard news. Trade shows can also be a good spot for company executives to speak in front of their target audience. There are featured speakers, panels, and many other opportunities for companies to speak.  Trade shows often require a brand or customer to speak with a tech executive. Sometimes they require sponsorship, but if it’s the right audience attending, it might be worth the investment.

Hosting events is also another way to connect with your customers, potential customers and media. This can be large scale like a day-long conference featuring executive speakers and breakout sessions, or a bit smaller like a roundtable dinner on a specific topic with customers,moderated by company executives. While these might not always be events for the media to attend, the takeaways from them can always be turned into something to be shared with journalists. 

And don’t forget about awards, they provide validation of a company by some of the biggest groups and publications. From tech to vertical specific there are hundreds of awards that can be submitted for to help align with tech PR goals. If you win these awards, it’s another piece of news you can push out to both media and your customers.

Technology and public relations strategy – a summary…

There is a lot to consider for any company before diving into PR. 

For technology public relations there’s a quick-changing news cycle — due to constant innovation and new companies breaking into the industry every day. As a result, this adds  obstacles to tech PR that should be kept in mind as a strategy is built. Consider the five  steps above as you build a technology Public Relations strategy. This will help ensure that PR is successful. Your tech PR should drive the business goals that will grow your company in the direction you want. Tech PR goes way beyond just media pitching and thought leadership. So, expand your program and think outside of the box – and most of all think creatively. In addition to key messages and company vision, the heart of your tech and company should shine through your PR program. 

About Victoria Perlak and Channel V Media

Channel V Media is an award-winning New York City PR Firm and communications agency. Channel V Media specializes in creating and executing communications programs for innovative, visionary and disruptive companies. 

Clients include fast-growing technology companies and industry disruptors across verticals and industries.

Victoria is Channel V Media’s Senior Account Supervisor. She works with our clients to manage media relations strategy and outreach behind campaign launches and milestone announcements. During her career, Victoria has worked with 20+ technology clients including Acxiom, Fujitsu, Bluecore and Embroker. Her favorite tech PR moment to date has been attending the Inmarsat-5 F4 launch by SpaceX.

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