How to test whether you are qualified to comment on a technology trend

Tech TrendsMany analyst houses and big consultancies have released their top technology focus areas for 2015.  The Economist and PWC are suggesting private cloud, data mining and analytics, and cyber security will top the agenda for 2015. Gartner is also tipping cloud as a major focus area, among other technologies such as the Internet of Things and 3D printing.

Any PR agency worth their salt will try to shoehorn their client messages to fit these subjects. After all, these are the topics the industry cares most about and consequently that the media will write most about. However, enthusiasm quickly turns to boredom as journalists’ inboxes fill with pitch upon pitch that starts with much the same sentence about private cloud or the Internet of Things. 

So, how can you make sure that journalists don’t view your content with the same level of interest as requests for help to transfer money out of Nigeria? As usual, original content is king. We always ask our clients what they have to say on the hot topics of the year, but it needs to be more than a soundbite. Our job is to dig until we’ve got something that will make our pitch stand out. Here’s an example from The Guardian of the results of that time investment.

But how do you build a killer pitch that avoids a journalist’s trash folder? You start by rewinding to several stages before the media pitch. First, analyse how you want your customers to perceive you in relation to the trend. If you can convince customers that you have a part to play in addressing the challenges around a technology trend, then you are halfway there with journalists. Some useful questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the ‘big’ problem that your customers are looking to solve? What is the opportunity they are missing and how does your offering specifically address their challenges?
  2. Are you behind the curve or too far ahead of the pace? Where are your customers on the journey to solving this problem? Do they know it is or will become a ‘big’ problem (be honest, is it really a big problem or is the link to the technology trend you are suggesting too tenuous)?
  3. Do you feel confident that you currently articulate your offering in relation to the technology trend in a way that resonates with customers?

If you aren’t able to answer the above, then it’s most likely that you haven’t spent enough time working on your value proposition in order to create in-depth, quality content. Most topics are more akin to a marathon than a sprint, so spend time on building a campaign that will engage your target audience. Define what your customers or prospects think at the moment, tie this into a wider trends story and then sound out everyone and anyone in the company that you can ‘mine’ for facts and anecdotes; this will give you the detail and the differentiators that will give your opinion credibility. The aim is to join the dots between what your ‘buyer’ wants (that might be a journalist or a customer depending on whom the content is aimed at) and what you want to say.   

In general, you will need to take a slightly different approach with journalists than customers. The trend rather than your solution will take centre stage and having a piece of original content, such as a research report, really helps build credibility with the media.

Now more than ever, it’s all about the strength of the story for both journalists and customers.  Messaging and storyboarding used to be a fairly infrequent activity; tied to starting a new PR campaign when launching a solution, or updating a product. But it has now become a quarterly activity for many of our clients. It is key to creating a unique point of view, which is the basis for a regular supply of quality content to feed to prospects, customer and journalists. You need to keep one step ahead of the competitionand that means innovating not just on product, but also on the story that you tell. 

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  1. By Top 5 Client PR Traits | Michelle Allison on July 28, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    […] and your customers better than anyone, the most successful clients know exactly what they arequalified to comment on and don’t try to comment on every passing […]

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