Stuff and ThingsTop 50 UK PR Blogs 2013Top 50 UK PR Blogs 2013

The importance of a tight PR sell-in process

phone-148955_1280Critical to the success of any PR announcement is a tight and persistent sell-in process.  Despite what journalists profess, unless you have a tight sell-in and follow-up process, you aren’t going to get the desired results [jumps back to avoid objects thrown at her].  It simply isn’t enough to just email an announcement to a press list and expect it to get great coverage.  Now I am not talking about the understandably hated ‘have you got my press release’ but I am talking about calling a journalist more than once to run through the news, including why it is significant and what the story is.  

So, our top tips for a tight sell-in process are as follows:

Draw angles out – Whether it is about creating news or drawing news out of a client story, it is the PR agency’s role to ensure that the angle is clear to journalists. For instance, Elastichosts was launching new container-based cloud infrastructure as a service, which would enable usage billing. Spark did a messaging session to draw out the benefits and angles.  Following the initial launch, Spark developed a media alert looking at how much is wasted each year by companies on underused cloud capacity; by using statistics we were able to get more in-depth coverage in top-tier media such as Cloud Pro and ZDNet, which helped drive further demand for the product.

Pre-selling announcements – By pre-selling announcements we enable journalists to prepare and cover the news ahead of the official time, which means you can target a wider pool of journalists. This approach enabled us to secure comprehensive enterprise IT press for HCL’s SAP cloud research, including Computer Weekly and ComputerworldUK.

Tailoring the news – With any announcement it is critical to tailor news to individual publications and their readerships, both to provide relevant news and also to ensure that you secure increased levels of coverage.

Thorough press list – A really thorough target press list is also very important, for instance, ensuring that relevant IT media, nationals, verticals and freelancers are all included on any list. This helped in securing two rounds of press coverage for an FOI request to the police forces looking at crime figures for ViaSat and meant we got pieces in Daily Telegraph as well as The Register.

Persistence – Ultimately the success of any announcement is tightly linked with the persistence of the team continuing to speak with journalists until coverage appears.

We don’t just treat client news as a way to hit our coverage targets, by leaving no stone unturned we’ve achieved excellent instead of simply good coverage for our clients.

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Coverage Cup round up w/c 1 September 2014

Coverage cupLast week saw coverage across a wide range of different media, from IT to retail to travel. The ElasticHosts team launched a research study last week, which looks at CIOs attitudes towards the service they receive from cloud providers, this resulted in top-tier coverage in the likes of ZDNet, Computing and ComputerworldUK. Elsewhere, the Compuware team placed an opinion piece with Information Age on the influence DevOps will have on the future of IT, while the iPass team secured an opinion article on Travolution on the importance of connectivity services for the modern business traveller. Below is a selection of the best coverage from the last 7 days:

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Coverage Cup round up w/c 25 August 2014

Coverage cupWelcome to this week’s Coverage Cup round up! The ViaSat UK team began the week with a news hijack on the Ministry of Justice’s fine from the ICO which resulted in coverage in Computing and Computer Weekly. In addition, there were a number of successful byline placements across several accounts – the Compuware team placed a Mainframe opinion piece on the EU Data Protection Directive with ITProPortal, while the JDA team secured an article on the challenges posed by the rise of online shopping and the convergence of digital and physical supply chains with Retail Technology. Below is a selection of some of last week’s highlights:

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Tick the box or kick the bucket: getting tech PR surveys right

TickThe headline-driven research survey is chief amongst the many weapons in the technology PR arsenal. Initially, it’s a great way for us to help our clients create a newsworthy story that will resonate well with the media and win that all-important coverage. It also creates more long-term advantages by providing clients with a means to test the waters for their IT services and solutions. Research results can even form the basis of industry whitepapers, infographics and other broader marketing collateral that can be used to drive additional value across our clients’ business.

However, it’s not just a case of banging out a few questions and sitting back to revel in the results (thankfully, or we’d be out of a job!) A lot of thought and planning needs to go into the creation of a PR survey; along with a good amount of blood, sweat and tears. As with any craft; there are some very distinctive dos and don’ts to take into account:

  • Do: Create a win-win – tech journalists won’t want to cover a story that just plugs one of our client’s services without offering a meaty story, but our clients will be understandably averse to investing in a research project that offers little else than media mileage. The knack is to find a happy middle-ground; which is why in tech PR it’s so important to combine an in-depth knowledge of the major issues of the day with a detailed understanding of how our clients help to solve them
  • Don’t: Create a ‘no sh*t Sherlock’ survey – the market is now so crowded with research surveys that an already cynical media is becoming even more so whenever the word ‘research’ is uttered. As a result, tech PRs can’t afford to be plaguing them with surveys that just tell them what everybody already knows; or worse still, what another survey ‘revealed’ weeks ago. Taking the time to do some research into what other surveys have been conducted, the levels of coverage they achieved and then spending a while thinking about how the debate can be moved on is crucial to success
  • Do: Think about the story – your intricately crafted research questions might sound like the most insightful thing that man ever uttered, but if the endgame is to give clients a platform from which to voice their message then that’s the best place to start.  Thinking about what questions need to be asked in order to create a clear and concise story that builds that platform is far more effective than just plucking questions out of thin air, or asking them because they sound intelligent!
  • Don’t: Ask pointless questions – I can’t stress this one enough. Not only do questions cost clients money (so you don’t want to be wasting one on ‘setting the scene’) but they can also have unforeseen consequences. For example, it’s fairly standard in consumer research to make demographic comparisons, but when it comes to B2B tech is it really that necessary to highlight what sex the survey respondents are? Fairly innocuous you might think, but then a recent headline in Cloud Pro suggests otherwise. It’s difficult to imagine any modern business that stands to benefit from a touch of overt sexism, so it’s a safe bet that they didn’t take this line in the press release! At the end of the day, any journalist worth his (or her!) salt will be looking for the juiciest story in the research findings. Unintentionally creating an angle that sheds clients in a negative light is inexcusable

When handled right, a good research survey can yield some fantastic results; providing our clients with a gramophone to make their voice plainly heard, whilst giving our colleagues in the media industry a decent story to really get their teeth into. So let’s focus on getting it right.

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Should you be transparent in your communications?

transparencyMore and more organisations are now conscious of being transparent in terms of how they run their business and who they do business with. Increasingly, this is becoming a significant PR exercise for some big tech companies who are being more transparent regarding their business activities.

Last year, Google and Facebook both released its facts and figures regarding the efficiency of their data centres; indeed many technology writers were surprised by the levels of efficiency each company claimed it had achieved.  Google even stated it has the world’s most efficient data centre. Joe Kava, senior director, data centre construction and operations for Google said, “In the same way that you might examine your electricity bill and then tweak the thermostat, we constantly track our energy consumption and use that data to make improvements to our infrastructure. As a result, our data centres use 50 percent less energy than the typical data centre.”  Facebook also recently released a tool which shows live updated efficiency figures from its data centres. The reaction to both Google and Facebook was positive and many saw it as the first step towards greater data centre transparency.

Another recent example of using transparency to gain media attention is a social media company Buffer who used a blog post to reveal their pay structure right from the CEO down to the secretary. The company was then inundated with CVs from prospective employees.  The media reaction was a little bit more mixed, with many people questioning whether it was an invasion of privacy.

Twitter also recently published a report on the diversity of their workforce. The report revealed that 90% of tech jobs at Twitter are filled by males. Twitter stated that “By becoming more transparent with our employee data, open in dialogue throughout the company and rigorous in our recruiting, hiring and promotion practices, we are making diversity an important business issue for ourselves.”  Companies such as Twitter and Google have been under pressure to do more to address diversity in their workplaces. However the reaction towards Twitter was quite negative, with many stating that the lack of diversity at Twitter was not surprising with over 90% of their workforce being male.

Using the media can aid businesses in demonstrating how transparent they really are, for example it can give consumers a chance to show exactly how things operate. However, businesses need to be aware that becoming more transparent might be seen by some as merely a back slapping exercise, which could then risk in negative PR. Therefore transparency must be managed correctly by businesses and not used in the wrong way.  

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