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Why PR Won't Generate Leads


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PR doesn't stand for Press Releases. It stands for Public Relations and everything you do in public affects it. Find out what PR is and what it will do. How it can enhance your profile but won't generate leads. It's not supposed to. Find more resources like this at

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Why PR Won't Generate Leads

  1. 1. 1 What is PR? According to some people, PR is as simple as a press release. It isn’t. PR is Public Relations: how you manage the public’s perception of you. A press release is a tiny part of it: the bit you approve for the media. In its broadest sense, PR includes relations with customers, employees, investors and visitors, as well as with the community, media, industry and government. It also includes crisis management, mediation as well as publicity, communications and speech-writing. It’s everything that anyone anywhere may hear or see about you; it’s your reputation, whether you deserve it or not. Many people also confuse PR with lead generation; they think that, if they send out a press release, somehow it will generate leads. It won’t. PR will raise your profile, full stop. Below we summarise some of the facts about the Press Releases part of PR, some context and rules, how to use press releases and some insights to Thought Leadership. Reality check In the technology market, press releases are often announcements of major deal wins, new product releases, alliances, resellers or staff. They’re usually written for one reason: you want to raise your profile. But wanting it isn’t enough. Here is a brief reality check:  If you are Google or Apple, almost every breath you take is news.  If you are completely unknown, the reverse it true: almost nothing you do is newsworthy even if it’s extraordinary.  If your company has a low profile, but has a high profile legend like the late Steve Jobs on the board, rule 1 applies, but only if the release mentions him.  The IT (and other technology) media reserve 60-70% of space for a few big names; everyone else has to fight for the rest.  Even a small amount of advertising will improve your chances of placement. If advertising is regular, placements generally follow.  Any release has the best chance of being published on a slow news day. When major news breaks, the reverse applies; even if you have a reasonable profile and you’ve done something amazing, your piece will still be bumped. Blasting out press releases is like EDM blasts; you get low traction. You’re better off targeting a few relevant media and cultivating them individually. Business media like BRW and AFR aren’t interested in IT, unless it’s a big story about big IT people and issues that impact business and government. If you’re not Google or Apple, your release must follow some rules, and then you need to make it stand out. Expectations As a marketing tool, the press release has intangible impact: improved profile rather than an expanded pipeline, and it’s also transient. The window of exposure is short, as are the period of relevance and the memory of the reader. To build a media profile is not an overnight exercise; you need to keep putting out releases so people keep seeing your name, and you need to vary them. If you need a higher media profile to increase recognition for lead generation, to attract investors or to build credibility in new markets, regular press releases in targeted media should be part of your PR tool kit. But, like all marketing, they’re part of the mix and they may not be the right investment, all the time. If long term profile building is less important and you want Why PR Won’t Generate Leads Realistic expectations are vital
  2. 2. 2 short term return on a limited budget, a better investment may be advertising, like pay-per-click (PPC) that delivers targeted white papers to selected prospects. If your market is specialised and there are specialised media serving it, this can be highly cost effective, and you also end up with the details of every individual who’s downloaded your item. If your market is wider, so will be the appropriate media and the greater amount and frequency of advertising you will need. Think of Telstra. At the other end of the scale, if your market is tightly defined with few players, more intimate tactics like breakfast seminars may be more suitable. A broader approach The short answer is: using press releases isn’t the right tactic all the time. A press release is one of many tools in your kit, to be sharpened and used when it will have most impact. All tools in the kit are important; if any tool lets you down, it reduces the effectiveness of the rest. For instance, if you send out a release about a multi- million dollar deal which includes customer quotes about your global vision and reach, but your website is 10 years old and makes you look like a $2 company, no-one will believe you. You’d be better off spending money on the website first, which will amplify the impact of both activities well beyond their sum. If you have a limited marketing budget and specific threats or opportunities, you need to consider all your options and choose the one(s) that will deliver the outcomes you want. A simple rule of thumb is that mass methods (one message for all) are cheap per unit yet yield very low results. Targeted methods (one message for each) have a higher cost per unit, but yield dramatically higher results. The method of choice depends on your market, goals and budget. Some rules Assuming you are not Google or Apple, there are certain rules to observe if you want your release to be the one published on the day. Your release must:  Have a point of real interest (not just an announcement).  Be short and fit on one page (less is always more).  Include succinct, relevant statements and quotes (not just from you).  Be validated by a 3rd party (industry source/analyst validating is ideal; customer is good).  Be relevant to the media audience (be it specific, general, regional or national).  Be written well (correct, intelligent, interesting, different). If your release doesn't contain most of these, your investment in low level sustained advertising will be even more important to tip the balance in your favour, even on a slow news day. In general, journalists are busy, handling a daily flood of press releases. They appreciate releases that need little work, that contain the elements they need to create a credible story quickly for their own audience. When it comes to press releases from overseas parent companies, don’t just accept them and send them out. Usually they need to be trimmed, adapted to speak to the local market using and an appropriate voice. Some logistics Before you sit down to write your release, you may like to consider: 1. Material Type Is it a win announcement, new product release, update, opinion piece? Body What’s the story (who, when, where, how many)? Angle Why is this interesting (who will care)? Positioning How will we get journalists’ attention (over competing stories/solutions)? Interest Is there a personal or regional angle? Relevance How does it fit with your strategic goals? Money Is there a financial angle (cost, savings, value)? Quotes Who is available to say what (better if not you)?
  3. 3. 3 2. Management Timing What is the deadline (will we get approvals in time)? Priority Who will ensure priority to meet the deadline? Contact Who are the main contacts for details? Authority Has the customer agreed to do this? Approval Will marketing or legal approval be needed (yours and customer’s)? Thought leadership Many of our clients have very smart technologies, and frequently they ask us to write Thought Leadership press releases for them, or arrange media tours for their Thought Leaders or re-purpose existing collateral to support their Thought Leadership position. The truth is, there is more to being a Thought Leader than just calling yourself one. Thought Leadership is how others perceive you, not how you perceive yourself, and their perception is framed over time. If you consistently act like a Thought Leader, people will believe you; if you just parachute in one day proclaiming that you’re a Thought Leader, they won’t. Particularly in the technology space, being a Thought Leader is a strong position. More than that, it is the thinkers in nimble, innovative companies who are Thought Leaders not the CTOs of the Telstras, so Thought Leadership is a worthy goal, even for small companies. Also, even if your technology isn’t ground-breaking, if your CTO or CEO is active in the media, with stronger opinions or more credibility than CTOs in companies whose technologies are, you may still win the Thought Leadership title. It’s all about consistent PR. Some prerequisites for an effective Thought Leadership strategy:  Your company must be a technology leader (not necessarily the only player).  Your offering must have more than fleeting relevance to business (not a flash in the pan).  Your company must be active, generating a lot of newsworthy items.  Your CEO or CTO must be distinctive, interesting or controversial (and willing to speak).  Your competitors must not already be doing the above. Thought leadership and the press If you have the prerequisites, everything your designated Thought Leader does in the media must be consistent. Your CTO can’t release a lofty White Paper about ethics in IT and then be caught defrauding the company, dancing naked on YouTube or in a drunken brawl. Thought Leadership is a relationship with the media and the public, and it takes time and trust to build. First your website must be credible. You can’t be a Thought Leader if you haven’t published an opinion on anything and if your website looks 10 years out of date. Start writing in areas where your company has patents, unique expertise or innovative technology. Write to educate, to stimulate, to challenge or to summarise, but not to sell. Your publications must be of value. Then, once your online image is consistent, start to write releases for selected industry press, starting with win announcements (to show you have customers), case studies (to show that they’re happy) and opinion pieces (to show that you know your stuff). While doing this, cultivate the press. Don’t just blast them with releases; take time to get to know them, ask them what they want, in what format, how and when to be delivered; offer to give an opinion in your area of expertise if they need a hand; keep them up to date with key news –but don’t just add them to an email list and blast them with everything. This will have the reverse effect. You need to build these relationships like friendships. They should be. Act like a Thought Leader and the media and your market will start to believe you. Rush it or muff it and you won’t get a second chance for quite a while. Remember, bad news travels to 10 times more people than good news, so it’s worth taking each step purposefully and carefully. You don’t need to take ten at a time and skipping steps can be risky; you could trip up. # # #