I recently came across the 2017 annual State of Inbound report by inbound specialists HubSpot, part of which explored the current state of sales and marketing (from an 'inbound' perspective, obviously…), and was interested to see what the report found influences purchase decisions in 2017, and – notwithstanding newer and more fashionable marketing paradigms like “inbound” – how little things have really changed from the days of 'traditional' PR.
A section of the report asked its 6000+ respondents what sources of information they relied upon when purchasing business software in 2017. Topping the list of trusted sources information for purchasers - at 54% and 45% respectively - were “Word of Mouth” and “Customer References”. Coming just behind these – at 39% - was…media articles! That’s right – journalists: the top source of trusted information for buyers of business software outside of existing customers’ word of mouth/references is: the media, highlighting the continuing and prime importance of communicating with trade and vertical media – and local tech and business media - for tech firms.
In fact, the more I looked at the sources this report’s respondents relied upon for information to guide their purchase decisions for business software, the more obvious it became to me that much of this is precisely what has always been driving PR programmes for technology clients – for directly beside “media articles” was “vendor authored materials” (also 39%) while just behind these came “analyst reports” (at 33%).
If you asked any PR practitioner of the past 20 years to put a PR programme together for a tech company – start up or otherwise – it was bound to have included: communicating with current and prospective customers (newsletters etc.); the media (releases, features, etc.); industry analysts (ditto, along with relevant ongoing communication) – as well as building a suite of technology and product collateral, white papers, thought leadership and insight articles, and so on. And unsurprisingly, these still remain among the most important activities and audiences for disseminating your message today, including in 'Inbound' programmes. And of course, this is because good PR is a process, rather than an outcome.
The report is a good read for those of you looking for some ideas of how to build a modern communication programme: what areas you should be looking at, and what new media and technology is being presented to convey your messages. It is also though, an affirmation of the enduring role of good traditional PR process: constantly seeking to communicate your marketing messages with key groups and individuals through a variety of appropriate media.
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
(Pic: Lavandula Augustifolia in June)