Broadly speaking, tech PR encompasses a long list of marketing activities, from product datasheets and briefs on up to trade shows. Media relations and content marketing are sandwiched somewhere in between. In most instances, Silicon Valley tech companies follow long standing traditions when it comes to promoting and showing off their products and technologies. That practice is placing the lion’s share of their marketing dollars and assets on trade shows and major events in an attempt to generate sales leads and satiate the appetite for closing customer sales.
Thousands upon thousands of dollars are thrown at the most extravagant trade show booths. The bigger the event, the more dollars are thrown at it. Silicon Valley is fraught with major trade shows, and the harried trade show manager for any given tech company finishes one trade show and immediately sets forth on making arrangements for the next one (or two or three).
|This article is featured in O'Dwyer's Nov. '19 Technology PR Magazine.|
Generally, there’s virtually nothing else in the arena of technology public relations, but trade shows and a few periodic press releases. Therein lies the state of lopsided tech PR. Or put another way, a large number of a tech company’s influencers and stakeholders fail to get the word and are virtually left in the dark. From a business perspective, that’s a bad place to keep them.
It’s also important to point out that lopsided PR is more in tune with company-oriented marketing than customer-oriented. Some tech companies relish in hyping their products as a way to get their PR messaging across to customers with little understanding that the customer wants technical answers to his/her pressing new product and engineering design issues.
Most stakeholders make it a point to attend trade shows to learn about the most recent product and technology trends. Unfortunately for them, in many instances they’re not getting the full story. The reason is because, generally speaking, attendees get a shallow sales and marketing pitch to get the best customer leads possible. Often, sales and marketing pitches are right off a data sheet with a litany of product benefits. However, those pitches are generally empty of in-depth system application details or technical applications tutorial.
Certainly, the PR pro shores up that shortfall by playing a supplemental role at trade shows. He/she rounds up editors and reporters as best as possible for interviews at the company’s booth. However, due to busy editor schedules, lack of a conducive interviewing environment and ill prepared company spokespersons, those scheduled interviews usually go awry, or at the least, prove ineffective. Certainly, your company can get ink, but is it the right kind of ink?
What’s a PR pro to do?
With all the attention on trade shows and the huge dollar outlays, what happens to tech PR operations? What is the PR pro to do to get more management attention and effectively get the word out? How do you connect to key influencers such as:
Prospective customers who don’t have travel budgets to attend tradeshows?
Top tech executives who have a say in the buying process but don’t have the time to go to tradeshows?
Engineering staffs that don’t attend tradeshows, but are on the verge of transitioning from one generation of a technology to the newer ones you’re launching?
What happens to the importance of communicating a company’s detailed technology story to all the influential stakeholders, like investors, financial analysts, market analysts, the technical press, the business press? What happens or can happen?
In short, a tech company’s critical technology message that should be going in the press goes into a black hole. But also, savvy competitors see your absence and exploit it by using the trade press to one up your technology approach to gain greater market favor.
You can be strategic about tradeshows if your top management wakes up to certain opportunities. However, you have to gently nudge those top captains and do a show and tell regarding how an effective PR and content marketing program can pay big dividends at those trade shows. It’s called being strategic with your PR operations.
If you’re going to throw big bucks at one, two or three major trade shows annually, complement that herculean marketing effort with a modest budget for a sustained PR and content marketing program focused on contributed byline technical articles in the trade press. Not just random byline articles, but strategically developed ones that set the stage for more effective trade shows.
Setting the stage means using contributed bylines to discuss customer challenges and issues that your company’s upcoming new products or technologies will resolve. Those new products and technologies are the ones targeted to be the big showstoppers at your next trade show.
Get your act together
This means organizing a cadre of technology and product Subject Matter Experts to provide the necessary product and technology information as the basis for those articles. Also, execs should be involved in such a program to provide some very critical thought leadership.
This is where you—the PR pro adept at effective content marketing writing—steps in to orchestrate the overall program. As we say, this PR content marketing program sets the stage for upcoming trade shows. You do that by creating your strategy and defining your article topics. Each and every one of those topics discusses customer challenges and issues and lays out a few solutions with the pros and cons of each.
Executive thought leadership articles, meanwhile, are inextricably intertwined with this on-going technology contributed article campaign to further fuel the solid barrage of marketing content being delivered to customers and potential customers. In effect, these twin barrels of PR marketing content educate the market and generate even greater customer interest, as well as convey an aura of technology leadership to other key influencers.
Your potential customers read your contributed articles in print and online publications to learn more about the technical product issues they face. If they don’t get a chance to read your articles, they’ll readily find them on Google, Bing or some other search engine. By taking this route, you increase your chances of making your trade show a greater success because attendees will have read your articles and have a better understanding of how you’ll be helping him/her to resolve their next generation technology issues.
Dan Garza is a marketing PR professional and veteran observer of Silicon Valley PR.