+ Point of view

Tech PR’s new mandate

Written by Paul Maher

 

Unlike other marketing, B2B Tech PR relies on intellectually reasoned arguments to engage sophisticated time-poor, if relatively cash-rich, IT buyers. Celebrity endorsements, free product samples at railway stations and cat video memes are unlikely to interest an engineer wrestling with a network outage, or a CIO facing a huge unexpected bill for cloud services.

Tech PR does though need to move on from its Noughties image as an ‘art form’ disconnected from the real work of marketing, which is to sell more. This point became crystal clear at the excellent 10th annual TechTarget ROI Summit, attended by Positive. A marketing director asked  Bryan Glick, the long-standing editor of TechTarget’s jewel in the crown, Computer Weekly, this seminal question.

Why should I pay my PR agency to achieve editorial coverage and then pay again for TechTarget’s commercial team to promote my message directly to its community?”

The answer was at once reassuring and, perhaps predictably, unsatisfying, ‘You should do both”. However, budget is budget and so doing both is often not an option. A less-nuanced and more pragmatic, view is.

  1. “PR” was never just about media relations
  2. Publishers need PRs now more than ever
  3. Vendors stand to gain from the changing roles of both PR and Publishers

To explain, let’s break the traditional role of PR into three; its two traditional ‘buyers’, Tech Vendors and Tech Publishers, and the Tech PR consultants some now view as disposable

FOR PUBLISHERS
Publishers create the editorial stories which kick off many ‘customer journeys’ towards a sale. They seldom create these stories alone. Without access to ‘Free at the point of delivery’ research and offers of access to busy executives, producing this compelling ‘top of funnel’ editorial content would be a struggle. With budgets on the wane for journalists, their ‘little helpers’ from PR are big moneysavers.

FOR PR FIRMS
Despite the kind words, savvy PRs know publishers do represent a new competitor for our clients’ hard-earned marketing spend. Prestigious publisher platforms, like TechTarget, provide great data points to help tech marketers hone their content. However, skilled PRs can take a view across multiple publishers, ensuring their clients’ content is visible where and when relevant buyers are consuming media. This is a core new PR skillset.

FOR VENDORS
To date, too many tech vendors see PR agencies as bringing value by dint of their ‘magic Black Book’ of contacts. This is outdated. Passive PR pushing of corporate releases no longer works, if it ever did.

A key role of PR today is to help tech firms shape their ‘Top of Funnel’ content based on their unrivalled exposure to the news agenda. If stories appeal to journalists it will likely also stimulate customer responses too. Not always, but often enough to make this a core consideration for Lead Generation.

With more B2B content available from more sources than ever, PR has a new, more involved, role in content creation and curation. It’s no longer as valuable as it once was. It is more valuable than ever.