Media Relations for a Connected World
The symbiotic relationship between editors and public relations
How to get publicity for the stuff that goes inside of stuff
By Mark Shapiro, President, SRS Tech PR
Electronic and mechanical components need a special kind of promotion –
This flavor of public relations is very different than the typical public relations strategies and campaigns used to promote restaurants, politicians, movies, appliances, or even high tech consumer products like video games, phones and apps. How do you promote the kinds of embedded electronic and industrial products and software that are never on sale at Frys or Home Depot?
There are three important steps to promoting your embedded product – be it chips, passives, modules, boards and/or software or even complete solutions.
Step One – who are your customers and what do they read in order to research and specify components for their products and solutions? In many cases, they do not read the magazine you read – they may not rely on the web sites that you often visit. I often find that component suppliers read the magazines that they need in order to keep track of their competitors as well as to research and specify the materials and components needed to develop their own products, rather than the trade and technology magazines that their customers read. You need to be where your customers are.
Step Two – Figure out why your customers buy from your company. What makes your products superior to your competitors? Do your solutions provide more features and capabilities at a better price point? Are your product pre-certified and pre-configured to sell anywhere in the world? Once you have a baseline of your technical advantages, you then need to assess what is new, interesting and market leading about your solutions? In other words, what makes your products sexy?
If your products are not sexy and interesting, the tech media that covers your space won’t be interested and you may as well just buy advertising. If your company is making and marketing “me too” products that are a just a bit less expensive than the competition, you will probably obtain better results by using advertising and paying for page views. The cooler and more interesting your products, the better tech PR will work for you.
Step Three – Once you are sure that your products are interesting and sexy, and you have figured out which publications and web sites your customers rely upon for their purchasing decisions, it is time to actually reach out and contact the editors and writers.
Working with tech trade publications, websites and blogs is a lot different than working with the general press. First off - in general, they are not looking for scandal. Their ultimate goal is to promote your products and to promote the industry in general. However, just like journalists everywhere, they prefer writing about new and cool stuff - sexy stuff. The trick is make your hardware or software solutions sound sexy.
If you are not enthusiastic about your products, the editors will not be either. They may not be looking for scandal, but they often like printing articles and columns that are a bit controversial and generate a lot of reader feedback. In addition, they want to be the first to break important new technologies and products. They are like the carnivorous plants in the classic film – the “Little Shop of Horrors” . You got to feed them.
Also, you need to understand the relationship between the editors and the equipment manufacturers. The editors need free content for their magazines – manufacturers need free promotion for their new products. It is a symbiotic relationship.
Trust and respect in very important. I have worked with various tech and trade magazine editors and writers for over 20 years - they need to be able to trust you. When you claim certain features for your product, it has to be true. They do not want to have to vet your claims. Trust is a big deal.
It is an ongoing relationship, that once broken, may never be able to be repaired. This means that when you promise an editor that you will submit a contributed article to them by a certain date, not only does it have to be submitted on time, it has to be good and require little or no editing or correction. The less work the editor has to do, the happier they are. Happy editors are friendly editors who will pick up and post your articles, press releases and other documents. Truly happy editors will reach out to you and ask you and your company to provide content – articles and product announcements – as well as to be included in various technology and overview articles.
To have the trade press be a useful component of your marketing and sales mix, you need to accomplish all three steps – you need to know why your products are superior and make sure you can represent them in a way that is interesting and sexy. You need to know the target publications and web sites - where do your customers live? And finally, you need to understand how editors and technology writers work, and then make their lives as easy and smooth as possible.