+ Point of view

The robots ain’t coming; if you want a job doing, ask a busy person

Written by Paul Maher

They’re at it again. Snarky commentators claiming professional PR help is an unnecessary expense for early-stage B2B Tech firms. “Don’t waste budget” they say. “Your customers will find you in the app stores’ they advise. “Build your MVP faster” is the mantra on repeat. Normally followed by some lightly-thrown linkbait tweets showing how easily tech disrupts yet another industry. 

It sounds so simple. Bit it’s the modern version of ‘Build it and they (should) come” Just draft a few blogs, self-publish, then sit back and count coins. In reality, “Do as I say, not as I do” is a bit rich from those who have benefited from media relations and bespoke content help already. 

It is simply too to claim busy startups can do it all they need to build their PR themselves with clickbait wisdom, a cheap inbound CRM account and a handful of, often bought, Twitter followers. These days ill-advised Tweets are not even OK for US Presidents.

So, while it may make sense for investors to fail fast and move their money out of what they perceive as failure, is it really fair to expect founders trying to build future Category-defining B2B players to generate instant results, faced with such high execution risks?

Twitter is up, TV even more
Waiting for busy enterprise tech buyers to find out about you via social media echo chambers is at best risky and at worst naive. Sure on the B2C side TikTok, WhatsApp and Snap have all recorded record use during the lockdowns. They, scarily, even act as a source of ‘news’ for younger consumers.

But business-related news is different. It is worth noting that while Twitter has seen a 23% uptick, the old school US cable channels have seen a rise of 200%, according to JP Morgan. This increased volume of content does not make founder blogs more relevant. Not unless you are on your game like Zuora’s Tien Tzou with his weekly and weekend digest. Hat tip and no, he is not a client…

So where are the buyers hanging out?
The truth is, if anything, the COVID epidemic has made enterprise tech buyers far less likely to hang on the every word of founders. Like the rest of us, they literally have other things to worry about. Like their customers, they read the national and business media for the latest pandemic news of course. 

The good news for PR pros is, if no news is bad news, bad news is often the only news. Which means at least you know where enterprise customers’ eyeballs are. If you knew that you stand a better chance of becoming more relevant. Follow me? 

Some of our clients have had their best ever coverage during lockdown. They don’t want to miss out on sales from major customers or leave their reputation vulnerable to rivals with inferior technology. The ones who, mostly with outside PR help, are creating more publicity and winning hearts and minds from customers they don’t know, they did not know. 

Avoid cheapness and snakeoil
Rejecting a professional approach to PR may be a terminal false economy. Rather than counting your savings and coding, you might find your unloved offerings adding your company to the statistics of the thousands of tech startups failing fast in this depressed economy

Get out and sharpen your message to the New Different and yes, don’t be bashful of getting expert help from Positive, or the other flavours available and don’t be afraid, or too cheap, to let others fall for the self-publicity snakeoil. Founders should