Tech PR: Getting Buzz That Doesn’t Go Splat


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“Buzz” is one of those PR terms that drives me crazy; over-used by the under-skilled, the main image it conjures in my mind is the last thoughtless dance of a fly as I tiptoe over, rolled newspaper at the ready.

But actually, in this age of SXSW, AngelList, and others, that image just makes the term more apt. Interesting ideas are a lot more common than staying power, and the real PR challenge for start-ups isn’t initial buzz — it’s sustained relevance.

There’s a lot of material out there on how and whether start-ups should integrate public relations into their already manic multitasking. Clearly, over-focus on promotion is a grandiose fixation for a company that doesn’t have any clients yet. At the same time, if product development is proceeding apace, there can be tremendous value in a unified communications strategy — value that can manifest as media buzz, as VC investment, and eventually as a factor in acquisition or IPO price.

The smart approach is to focus on the product, but partner with an experienced tech PR firm that can provide a combination of connections and perspective, so a brilliant technological innovation is supported — not handicapped — by how it’s presented. A few vital thoughts:

  1. Have a product that works. I wrote a bit on this last week in regards to Apple, but PR shouldn’t be used as a smokescreen to cover up delays, mistakes, or failings. In fact, obfuscatory PR has a way of really biting you in the @$$ when the media catches on that you were more hype than substance. Especially if you had them fooled. So never, ever, ever put more thought into your image than your product.
  2. Give media access, not t-shirts. As one SXSW attendee said recently, “don’t give me anything to promote your company, unless it’s a beer.” Potential reviewers, investors, and customers want a demo, and anything less is going to get ignored. If you need a bobble-head to be memorable, go straight to crisis PR.
  3. Plan, Follow Through, Rinse, Adjust, Repeat. Sit down with your PR strategists and hash out how you want the next six months to go. Identify spokespeople, media train them, identify probable external stories, timeline your own news, and prepare for the unexpected. Great PR is a combination of preparation and improv; don’t be the guy on stage who can’t think of anything to say.

As a start-up you have to work overtime to align your own stars, and knowing how to promote your product for long-term growth is less important than the product — but not by much.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Kate Schackai
Kate combines a technical understanding of web 2.0 with classic PR savvy, resulting in online communications that both humans and Google love. She joins Crawford from WordPress development firm TCWebsite, where she worked in online marketing and search engine optimization.


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