pitch public relations

How technology public relations firms pitch public relations

Strong media relations is something that sits at the heart of any PR campaign.

In the world of tech where knowledge, nuance and specific sector knowledge sets can be so varying, not to mention a highly competitive landscape, having strong media relations will pay dividends in your quest for coverage and profile.

PR strategies are only as strong as the means by which they are activated. Tech companies and tech PR firms can have the greatest vision and strategic communications in theory, but if their media pitching isn’t up to scratch, then all that planning is done in vain.

In this blog, we’ll share our insights based on decades of technology PR and corporate communications experience, as well as some common mistakes to avoid when managing media.

Here are our top tips on how tech PR firms should pitch to the press.

Pitch the story

For tech companies looking to break into the media landscape, the first thing to understand is that tech journalists aren’t just sitting waiting for news of the latest products to land in their inbox… very few unicorn-level businesses can achieve this.

Taking a creative storytelling approach to your releases and news stories rather than just focusing in on products and specifications can help a tech business be better received in the media.

This can be a particularly helpful tactic with tech startups who may be entering new, competitive markets where the media share of voice is potentially highly diluted.

With a start-up, so much of what’s newsworthy can be found within the organisation itself and can be a tremendous entry point for media channels. Yes, innovative startups may well have a fantastic product or service offering, but you also want to get the story of your business across in order to build that brand reputation.

Beyond that, and this tactic serves to aid start-up and long-term business alike is if you’re looking to gain traction or coverage for a product, then focus on why that product exists, rather than the mere fact that you have a new product.

Make the story about the end user and the outcomes, hook it around the why, rather than the what.

Never assume prior knowledge

When it comes to pitching to media, the most important thing to factor in is to never assume anyone reading your releases has any prior knowledge.

This is particularly so if you’re dealing with technology companies and individuals with specific high-level expert knowledge.

In the case of dealing with national and non-sector-specific media, this rule is absolute.

When you start to delve into the world of tech media and sector-specific journalists, while it’s true they may possess a certain level of knowledge specific to your industry, projects or products it is still best practice not to overload your media releases with difficult language or complex specifications.

If you’re looking to pitch a brand new, bleeding edge, product development into trade media, then you need to factor in that prior knowledge may not exist. That there may be aspects of what you’re trying to communicate that are not known, commonly or otherwise.

Quite simply, a press release which is filled with impenetrable jargon and undecipherable product specification often runs the risk of falling at the first hurdle.

Busy journalists are highly unlikely to respond by seeking clarification on a matter they do not understand. So as a tech PR firm, not giving them the means to do so is good practice.

Tailor your approach

A scatter-gun approach to media relations rarely works out better than a careful and considered approach.

Consistent pitching of poor, or irrelevant content, can result in media and journalists themselves becoming online detractors of your brand. You need only look at Muckrack for their monthly bad PR pitch breakdown to see how this can backfire on you.

Taking the time to assess your target media, reading some of their latest bylines, getting a feel for their work and their specialisms is a crucial PR skill and one that any PR agency or public relations expert should be employing.

The tech sector can be treated as an umbrella term, and within this umbrella sit hundreds of separate sub-strands and specific specialisms. Any tech PR agency worth its salt will be able to identify the media that are applicable to your cause, while also identifying those that are not.

It may sound contradictory, but it is perhaps the journalists that are not relevant that are the most important. So much time and resources can be spent attempting to court media outlets and journalists who simply are not relevant to a brand, this causes PR campaigns and PR firms to stall in getting good results.

This can be wasteful and it can be damaging to reputations. So, take the time to assess and tailor your pitches to a target audience of choice journalists. This isn’t just a practice solely devoted to technology PR, it’s PR 101.

Finally, personalise your pitches and never rely on mass-mail release pitching tools or a PR agency that does so. There is no-more surefire way for PR firms to get media blacklisted as sending an email which starts with Hi %FirstName%.

Media Training can be your best friend.

In the world of bleeding edge tech and technology PR, development often occurs at a speed that can be difficult to communicate.

Particularly in the national media landscape, tech brands can run the risk of having their messages become confused, their spokespeople ill-equipped to communicate the real-life benefits of a given product or service, because they are bound by a particular set of technical linguistics and terminology.

This should be factored into strategic planning, it will help your spokespeople get camera ready, but can help to hone key messages and statements.

It can help to break down difficult jargon, serve to highlight core services, and be tweaked to serve a specific target market. But fundamentally it will help to make a spokesperson more confident, concise and coherent when it matters.

Then there is, of course, the need for media training during crisis management. If a business finds itself in the midst of a crisis management situation, then appropriate training is invaluable.

Having some element of media training and crisis communications response baked into a communications strategy is a must, and Tech PR agencies offering these services should be utilised by tech companies, if they want to put their best foot forward and properly communicate their messages.

Timing is everything

Timeliness is one of the most important aspects of a news story, if you can maximise the news agenda to your advantage, providing media with a piece of news or content which fits well with the zeitgeist, then you’re more likely to gain media exposure as a result.

There are two means of achieving this: proactive and reactive responses.

Proactive timeliness will make use of a media outlet’s planned forward features. This can be anything from subject-specific comment features, specific sector or product focuses or maybe just an overarching theme by which businesses and pr agencies can leverage.

This aspect of timeliness is fairly straightforward, it requires the tech PR in question to be forward thinking and tactical in their planning. Engaging with media early to build the core pillars of a pr strategy and campaign overview.

Reactive timeliness is a little more difficult because it is an intrinsically unplanned and unplannable PR activity.

This can take many forms, it could be a PR agency monitoring media requests and newswires to gauge interest around a particular subject and sweep for specific enquires.

This could be breaking news, in the form of the hiring of a new CEO, or the departure of an existing one. It could also be or be entirely reactive PR activity in relation to breaking news agendas, which are relevant – or could be made relevant – to your particular sector or individual business.

Let’s say for example, that news breaks that Elon Musk is stepping down from TESLA, this then creates a media scrum around titles discussing not just the future of the business itself, but the electric vehicle industry and its subsidiaries.

What an occasion like this provides, is the chance for companies that are directly within, or are affiliated with this sector, to start lobbying and pitching their response not only to the immediacy of an industry leader stepping down but to paint a picture of how this could affect the future of a sector.

The best tech pr agencies will be able to effectively plan that which is plannable, while still being flexible and agile enough to maximise incoming and breaking news opportunities.

Become a strong and trusted source

The ultimate goal in media relations is to build your business and its spokespeople up to the point where media outlets and individual journalists know and value your opinions and expertise.

Taking the time to build a relationship with media, particularly within key sector media is a crucial activity. Start slow and small and build up, pitching for comments and responses on timely topics and agendas is a good way to get a foot in the door and build a strong corporate reputation.

Making your presence known as a reliable and knowledgeable commentator, will build your reputation with the media and build the profile of your spokesperson, or spokespeople, into that of industry leaders.

This kind of activity takes time, patience and lots of pitching. But tech PR experts will always be on the lookout for opportunities to pitch. Long term, this kind of bio building has many benefits, it can help attract clients and new talent, channel the thought leadership of your C-suite executives and align your spokespeople with industry key influencers.

But this kind of status is built through mutual trust.

One of the most damaging media relations approaches is to see the relationship as a one-way street.

Pitching to a journalist only when you need something from them, journalists can see right through this and if a PR firm’s motives are this way inclined, journalists will never full warm to them, or their clients.

In summary

The tech industry is a fast-moving one and PR firms operating within these sectors need to be adaptive in order to gain the best results.

When it comes to communications services within tech, a public relations company which displays the best aptitude for foresight in planning and agility in active response will naturally be the one that yields the most success on behalf of its clients.

The way an agency handles media engagement on a day-to-day basis has both immediate, mid and long-term results.

In the short-term, effective communications campaigns can help a business get over the initial inertia of entering a specific market or media landscape, getting a name out there and into the inboxes of people of influence.

In the mid to long term, effective and efficient media management is a tool to raise brand awareness, leverage leaders for thought leadership, build a pipeline of consistent press coverage and handle important reputation management issues and crises when needed.

If you’re looking for a PR firm that can deliver all of this on behalf of your business, then why not get in touch with the AMBITIOUS team to start a discussion and see how we can help build your platform [email protected].