In-House PR at a Tech Company? TechNews Was Designed for You.
Ben Stricker | Communications Director at Behavox
I started working in tech PR in the late 90s at Copithorne & Bellows (shout out to C&B'ers!), and made stops at some other tech PR firms during those crazy early days of the commercial Internet. In 2004, I switched gears and was on the PR teams for events like Comdex and Interop (the two biggest events in information technology, at that time). That interest in IT PR led me to in-house roles at industry titans such as HP and Cisco, among others along the way, where my roles have run the gamut from being part of an award-winning PR team to taking on the whole communications enchilada myself. Now I'm at Behavox, a startup applying AI to organize all the data in the world and making it useful to stop misconduct and eliminate other enterprise risks. It's been a fun career.
Along the way, whether you're part of a team or doing it all yourself as a PR army of one, you start to wise up to the variables that have the biggest impact on your success rate as a PR pro.
One class of variables is what you start with on day one in your job that will ultimately help you achieve press coverage and external awareness. Things like the number of authors that write about your product category (someone promoting virtual reality will have a lot more opportunity than someone in an arcane category with few authors, like materials science or industrial engineering, for example).
You'll need to gauge the interest of reporters and industry influencers in hearing about your company, your products, and the point of view you're trying to promote. Once you factor in the talent of your spokesperson bench and the storytelling abilities of your customers (the rare few who will actually talk with press), you'll have a better analysis of what you have to work with, and the ultimate impact you're able to make.
But you also learn that there's another class of variables that are totally under YOUR control. How much time are you willing to personally invest in understanding your company's subject matter? Have you interviewed your own engineers, salespeople, customers and investors, to really understand all the angles? How well do you keep track of the authors that are writing about your domain, and are you reading enough? Do you have an organized concept of all of the topics that you want to "own" in the press, and are you aware of all your competitors and their own efforts within those areas? Are you versed enough in these areas that you are inspired by deeper insights for story ideas, or are you just sort of understanding things superficially?
These are the sorts of variables that I have seen distinguish the best in-house tech PR pros.
Working as the "In-House PR Agency," at a startup or small company, you do a lot of media relations yourself. Or sometimes, you do all of it yourself. How many reporters could potentially be writing about us – and are already writing about our competitors? Are we missing articles we should be included in? How can we build new relationships with reporters who are covering our industry?
If you're willing to do that hard work, there are a lot of great opportunities out there for you - because every tech company faces the major challenge of how to get noticed in an ever more crowded online marketplace.
But historically there haven't been good TOOLS for in-house PR people who want to do that type of analysis. For decades the common research "stack" being pushed by the big PR platform vendors is the "one stop shop PR Platforms" that combine big media list building; blast emailing; press release distribution; and nonsensical "reports" based on web crawl bot content. We all know that PR is not a coin-operated process, and it's hard to understand how those companies have survived.
What I wanted to share is that for me, there is ONE platform that supports the sort of research patterns that conscientious PR teams in-house at tech companies should be embracing. For me, that tool is TechNews (https://technews.io/).
These are the types of datasets that TechNews will put you in instant control of, in ways that none of the other platforms allow:
- The largest indexing of authors writing about technology in the English language
- Simple ways to map out the tech topics you care about, so you can get alerts and not miss anything
- The easiest way to explore any specific outlet you care about and have the best intelligence about who writes for them
- Easy ways to keep track of the specific author relationships you care about ongoing
- Your own coverage (are you a tech company that gets hundreds / thousands of articles annually? TechNews in seconds will give you all kinds of metadata about that coverage that you can't get in any of the other tools)
- You can get a list of authors that just started writing about a topic you care about for the FIRST TIME (if your media relations efforts are connected to any brand new trends this is a huge advantage)
- The Share of Voice functionality in TechNews is the easiest-to-use, most useful comparative thing you can use to stack up your coverage against your competitors, or topics you want to own ... and see exactly what holes you need to fill in
If you are doing in-house PR at a tech company, what other tools do you think belong in this conversation? I'd love to hear about any other tools you hold in high regard for PR pros that need a depth of control over complex subject matter in the quest to keep growing the brand.