2018 is expected to be a big year for the tech industry, with many developments that experts expect to come to fruition in the new year, including Cryptocurrency will go mainstream, the rapid development of Internet of Things (IoT) will accelerate the rise of Smart Cities and security attacks via IoT devices will get worse.
Technology companies preparing to make a big splash in the first quarter before key industry events such as Mobile World Congress, RSA, ITEXPO, Enterprise Connect and others need to be smart about the strategies they take to get a mindshare of the media that will influence their market. Not surprisingly, every company ramps up its press release schedule now. Companies that held back on or limited the amount of news between Thanksgiving and Christmas now start issuing a steady clip of news ahead of big trade shows, industry events or even big customer meetings. Their goal: gain visibility and validation for their products and services and highlight company momentum.
This amped-up release schedule puts pressure on public relations firms to get that big hit or generate massive coverage for their clients. The problem with this approach is that you’re not the only company issuing releases now. Large brands are also issuing news and because of their size and market impact steal focus. Making it even harder to stand out, there are simply far more companies and PR people than there are journalists who cover the news.
While I realize the importance of issuing press releases to communicate critical information to your audiences (not just the media), you can help drive even broader awareness of your press release by employing these tips.
1. Consider the timeliness of your announcement. For example, if you have interesting data about the number of people who will watch the Opening Ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics over-the-top rather than on a television set, note that such data has a shelf life of one to two weeks, maximum. If you issue your release after that, don’t be surprised if the media decides it’s no longer newsworthy or relevant.
2. Include interesting data and customer perspectives that support your announcement. Bulletized points are easy for reporters to ‘lift’ for an article. Customer surveys and industry-analyst reports bring more credibility to your announcement and give reporters other resources that will help them write a broader story. If data comes from an analyst firm, be sure to name the analyst and the firm.
3. Avoid the trade-show news barrage. These shows are the busiest time for media and analysts because larger companies are usually issuing news. While you want to use trade shows to attract media and analysts to your booth, you should realize that your news will likely get lost in the noise.
4. Anticipate and research dates for upcoming major news events, especially events by major tech or consumer brands such as Apple, and don’t issue your big announcement on those days. If you truly have a unique point of view or qualified data that will support a reporter’s efforts to write a story on this major news event, then you may be the exception to this rule. If not, hold off your press release to a later date.
5. Make sure your release is really newsworthy outside of your company. The simple truth is that while your press release is news to your company and maybe your customers, that doesn’t mean it will be viewed as news by a major media outlet. Some milestones are better suited for blog posts, or if a story has an interesting technical angle, for an exclusive in one of the trade outlets. Be smart and strategic about how you handle your releases.
6. Be clear about what the headline is and limit the use of jargon and technical specifications. Clearly articulate how your news is a first or unique for the industry or your target customers. This one should be obvious, but we often find that clients spend so much time weaving in their messaging and technical jargon that the release has limited news value. Reporters are bombarded with releases and only pick up those that are interesting, well written and not self-serving.
7. Get the release in front of the right reporters before it crosses the wire. Sometimes reporters will be willing to speak with you under embargo, which gives them more time to write their article and will ultimately result in stronger coverage that will help amplify your story.
8. Customers are a big draw. Ask customers to provide quotes in your release and, if possible, talk to reporters, if you want to get the attention of the media. Customers will help you articulate the business benefit of your offering and will bring more credibility to your story.
9. Last but not least: leverage social media channels to provide teasers leading up to your announcement, and afterward continue to talk about the importance of what you’ve announced in social media. Don’t make the content too marketing-specific; instead, focus on your product’s or service’s business benefits. Most importantly, engage with other influencers, including the media and analysts who wrote about your news. Thank them in social media and help promote their stories.
2018 is expected to be a busy year, with tech companies of all sizes generating press releases and news. If you want to get the attention of the media, be smart in your approach or your efforts could be wasted.
Jeannette is the Co-founder and Chief Relationship Officer at Witz Communications. She has more than twenty years of experience in high-tech public relations, with an emphasis on enterprise, security, telecommunications, industrial IoT, and mobile technologies. She has worked with both public and private companies and has a proven track record of developing and managing public relations programs, including company and product launches, initial public offerings, mergers/acquisitions, and media and analyst relations. She has also established long running relationships with technical and business media, and industry analysts.