For most tech firms, proper ‘newsworthy’ events are few and far between – a big new customer win, a funding announcement, a significant new hire or board member, a new product or important new product version. For most SME tech firms in a typical year, this amounts to no more than one or two press opportunities.
For a tech firm's PR, this shortage of ‘real’ news events raises two issues.
The first is obvious: how to make the most of every opportunity for real news that presents itself. The answer is to be ambitious: act ambitiously, and look ambitious. Seize every opportunity. Surprisingly though - and contrary to what one would expect from such a thrusting sector - many of the most highly innovative tech firms actually shy away from taking this step, or 'half do' it. Many might write a press release, or maybe put up a blog entry, but then take it no further. A box-ticking exercise, which gives the impression of taking action, but actually takes no real action at all.
This diffidence by tech firms is both surprising and perplexing. A press release is not a press release if it hasn’t been proactively released to the media. And properly proactively releasing it means drafting the release, having a picture/graphic ready, lining up a spokesperson, preparing an accurate and relevant media list, pitching and prepping selected journalists in advance, sending out the release, and then following it up afterwards. It's a time consuming process, but one that can bring great returns to your firm in terms of exposure and projection.
For most SME tech firms, these newsworthy events are annual or bi-annual events at the very most, so failing to make the most of the opportunity means the gap between newsworthy events further widens, to once every year or 18 months or more. And remember who your potential audience is: as well as customers and potential customers, you are also reaching out to investors, government funding agencies, skills pool and your own team, all of them key stakeholders in any tech firm's success. Every real opportunity to celebrate your firm's achievements and successes should be seized upon, as should your firm and team be projected as leaders and innovators.
The other issue for tech firms is this: given how few and far between real news events are, how should they fill the gaps between newsworthy events? As with news events, the answer can be found in the day to day activity that occurs in every tech firm: for example white papers, or simple case studies drawn from surveying customer experience. This is why it is so important to map out your marcoms year in advance. So your firm's comms team should build your own ‘editorial calendar’ and populate it with communications opportunities spread across the year: pitches to relevant industry features lists, appearances at trade events, white papers, case studies, use cases and so on. Each of these can be maximised for PR purposes, giving your comms team constant 'good news' reasons to reach out to your audiences with a stream of good news stories.
By managing this activity carefully and following up on your opportunities, over time you can find yourself pitched as an industry leader and your firm as innovators. And it can all start by making use of regular company events, dressed up with a few simple PR tools which are readily available to every SME tech firm.
(Pic: July Fuschia)