Tag Archive for: B2B PR

In the fast-evolving world of technology, where innovation drives progress and competition is fierce, mastering digital public relations (PR) is essential for tech companies to thrive. PR companies with tech experience use successful PR strategies have the power to enhance brand visibility, cultivate thought leadership, and nurture significant relationships with the intended audience. So, whether you’re a burgeoning startup or an established tech giant, here are 20 digital PR tips for tech companies to elevate your digital PR efforts and achieve maximum impact.

1.      Understand the Tech Landscape

Before delving into your digital PR initiatives, you must comprehensively understand the ever-evolving tech landscape. On the surface, B2B tech PR and consumer tech PR might seem to have little in common, but each can learn from the other. Stay updated on emerging technologies, industry trends, and market dynamics to inform your PR strategies effectively.

This comprehension will allow you to tailor your messaging, pinpoint relevant media outlets, and engage with your audience meaningfully. By staying proactive and attuned to the latest developments, you can strategically position your tech company for success in the constantly evolving and competitive digital landscape.

2.      Embrace Data-Driven Insights

Data is a potent asset in crafting PR strategies in the digital age. Utilize data analytics tools to glean valuable insights into audience behavior, media trends, and campaign performance. By scrutinizing metrics like website traffic, social media engagement, and media mentions, you can fine-tune your approach, optimize messaging, and gauge the precise impact of your PR endeavors.

Armed with this data-driven intelligence, you can make informed decisions, pivot strategies as needed, and ultimately, drive more effective outcomes for your tech company in the ever-evolving digital landscape.

3.      Craft Compelling Narratives

Effective storytelling is the cornerstone of successful PR endeavors. Various captivating tales await tech firms, from groundbreaking innovations to customer triumphs and industry revelations. Craft narratives that deeply connect with your audience, infusing humanity into your brand and spotlighting the tangible impact of your technological advancements.

Engage your audience with narratives that inform and inspire, fostering a genuine connection and showcasing the transformative power of your solutions. Authentic storytelling can elevate your brand, build trust, and leave a lasting impression on your stakeholders.

4.      Position Yourself as a Thought Leader

Establishing thought leadership is paramount for brand distinction and credibility in the tech realm. Disseminate your expertise via captivating blog posts, thought-provoking whitepapers, and dynamic speaking engagements at industry gatherings.

Through these channels, impart valuable insights and engage in pertinent discussions, solidifying your company’s status as a reliable authority in the domain. Embrace opportunities to shape the discourse and guide the industry narrative, earning the trust of peers and stakeholders alike. Thought leadership sets you apart and nurtures an environment of innovation and expertise within your organization, driving sustained growth and recognition in the competitive tech landscape.

5.      Leverage AI-Powered PR Solutions

In today’s AI-driven era, leveraging AI-powered PR solutions offers a distinct competitive advantage. PR strategies for AI companies necessitate a profound grasp of leading-edge technologies, rendering AI-driven tools indispensable for tasks like media monitoring, sentiment analysis, and predictive analytics.

By embracing AI-powered platforms, you can streamline PR workflows, unearth actionable intelligence, and maintain a proactive stance in the fast-evolving landscape. Invest in these innovative solutions to enhance efficiency, optimize decision-making, and position your company at the forefront of innovation.

With AI as your ally, navigate the complexities of modern PR with agility and foresight, driving sustained success in the dynamic AI ecosystem.

6.      Build Strong Media Relationships

Building strong media relations is pivotal for garnering press coverage and expanding your brand’s visibility—Foster connections with journalists, bloggers, and influencers entrenched in the tech sector. Tailor your pitches, offering personalized insights and exclusive access to company updates. Nurturing these connections enhances the likelihood of securing favorable media attention and helps you fortify a favorable industry standing.

Cultivate trust and credibility among media professionals through genuine engagement and transparent communication. Consistently delivering valuable content and fostering reciprocal relationships can amplify your brand’s presence and influence, driving sustained growth and recognition in the competitive tech landscape.

7.      Optimize Your Content for SEO

In today’s digital landscape, utilizing the potential of search engine optimization (SEO) is vital for enhancing the online visibility of your PR content. Perform comprehensive keyword research to identify terms and phrases that resonate with your intended audience. Then, incorporate these keywords strategically into your press releases, blog posts, and other digital assets to develop your search engine rankings and draw organic traffic to your website.

By optimizing your content for SEO, you not only bolster your online presence but also increase the likelihood of reaching and engaging with your desired audience effectively. Keep abreast of evolving SEO best practices to stay ahead in the competitive digital sphere and ensure sustained visibility for your PR efforts.

8.      Engage with Your Audience on Social Media

Social media platforms are indispensable tools for audience engagement, amplification, and building meaningful connections. Cultivate an active presence across platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, where your target audience gathers.

Share compelling content, join relevant conversations, and promptly respond to comments and messages, showcasing your brand’s accessibility and authenticity. By nurturing these interactions, you enhance brand visibility and foster loyalty and trust among your audience.

Ultimately, embrace social media as a dynamic avenue for storytelling, relationship-building, and staying attuned to your community’s pulse, driving sustained engagement and growth for your brand.

9.      Monitor Your Online Reputation

Managing your online reputation is more important than ever these days. Vigilantly monitor online conversations, reviews, and social media mentions to stay abreast of perceptions surrounding your brand. Promptly address any negative feedback or misinformation with transparency and authenticity. Proactively manage crises to mitigate potential damage and uphold your brand’s reputation and credibility.

By staying actively engaged and responsive, you can effectively shape public perception, foster trust, and maintain a good brand image in the digital landscape. Prioritize reputation management as a cornerstone of your digital strategy to ensure long-term success and resilience in the ever-evolving online sphere.

10. Invest in Top Tech PR Firms

Teaming with a top tech PR firm with extensive experience can be a game-changer for your brand. Seek firms with a solid track record in PR for tech companies, showcasing expertise across media relations, content creation, and crisis management. Their tailored solutions can align with your unique goals, whether it’s enhancing media visibility, crafting compelling narratives, or navigating challenging situations.

So, look for PR companies with tech experience and a history of delivering measurable results for clients. Utilizing their expertise and networks can raise your brand’s presence, credibility, and impact in the competitive tech arena.

11. Showcase Customer Success Stories

Your customers serve as your most powerful advocates. Share their success stories, testimonials, and case studies to illustrate the concrete impact of your technology solutions. By spotlighting how your products or services have empowered customers to surmount challenges, reach objectives, and yield tangible outcomes, you can establish trust and credibility among prospective clients and stakeholders.

These narratives humanize your brand and provide compelling evidence of your value proposition. Utilizing genuine customer experiences as social proof can greatly impact purchasing decisions and enhance your reputation as a reliable provider of innovative solutions in the tech sector.

12. Embrace Video Content

Video content remains the dominant force in the digital realm, offering a highly engaging and shareable format for PR campaigns. Craft captivating videos showcasing your company culture, product demonstrations, thought leadership interviews, and behind-the-scenes insights into your operations.

Integrating video into your PR strategy enables you to captivate your audience, convey your brand’s personality, and enhance brand awareness. Whether through storytelling, tutorials, or immersive experiences, video content provides a potent method to engage with your audience and make a lasting impact deeply.

13. Stay Agile and Adaptive

No list of digital PR tips for tech companies would be complete without the reminder to stay nimble. Tech and PR are rapidly changing, so what worked last year may not work this year.  In the rapidly evolving tech industry, being agile and adaptable is essential for maintaining a competitive edge. Be prepared to pivot your PR strategies in response to shifting market dynamics, emerging trends, and unforeseen obstacles.

Monitor industry developments closely, anticipate potential disruptions, and proactively adjust your tactics to align with evolving priorities and opportunities. Embrace a mindset of flexibility and responsiveness, ensuring that your PR efforts remain relevant and impactful amidst constant change.

14. Foster Community Engagement

Creating a dynamic community centered around your brand can boost brand loyalty, drive word-of-mouth referrals, and amplify your PR efforts. Engage with your audience across online forums, user groups, and social media communities, is an digital PR tip for tech companies.

Encourage the creation of user-generated content, facilitate meaningful discussions, and offer platforms for customers to connect and share their experiences. By embracing a sense of belonging and collaboration within your community, you strengthen customer relationships and harness the collective voice of your advocates to bolster your brand’s reputation and visibility.

15. Host Webinars and Virtual Events

Hosting webinars and virtual events is an excellent way to engage with your audience, demonstrate thought leadership, and showcase your expertise. Whether launching a product, facilitating an industry panel, or hosting an educational workshop, virtual events foster meaningful interaction and knowledge exchange.

Spread the word about these events with focused PR efforts, utilizing social media platforms to boost participation and interaction. Ultimately, embrace virtual events as a cornerstone of your PR strategy, enabling you to captivate, educate, and inspire your community while amplifying your brand’s reach and impact.

16. Offer Exclusive Content and Insights

Deliver exclusive content and insights that offer unique value to your audience, setting your brand apart. Offer early access to research findings, conduct in-depth interviews with industry luminaries, or provide behind-the-scenes glimpses into your product development process. These exclusive offerings add value, incentivize engagement and foster loyalty.

Leverage PR channels to promote these exclusive content pieces, generating excitement and curiosity around your brand. By consistently providing distinctive and high-quality content, you showcase your expertise and cultivate a dedicated following eager to engage with your brand’s offerings and initiatives.

17. Participate in Industry Awards and Recognitions

Yes, in person events are an important digital PR tip for tech companies. Engaging in industry awards and accolades can significantly elevate your brand’s credibility, visibility, and differentiation in the market – and provide valuable authority and influence online and offline. Identify pertinent awards within your industry and submit nominations highlighting your company’s achievements, innovations, and contributions.

Winning or even being nominated for esteemed accolades can attract positive media attention and solidify your company’s position as an industry leader. Embrace these opportunities to showcase your expertise and excellence, effectively distinguishing your brand from competitors while bolstering trust and recognition among stakeholders and customers.

18. Engage with Influencers and Thought Leaders

Influencers and thought leaders wield significant influence in the tech industry and can help amplify your PR efforts. Influencers and thought leaders for B2B PR might not be the kind you see on TikTok or Instagram. Or maybe they are. Be open to considering the influencers and thought leaders most relevant to your strategy – including journalists.  Identify key influencers and thought leaders whose values and audience align with your brand.

Interact with them on social media, collaborate on content initiatives, and seek their endorsements or testimonials. Partnering with influencers can extend your brand’s reach, bolster credibility, and foster engagement with your target demographic.

19. Foster Transparency and Authenticity

During rising consumer skepticism, it’s crucial to prioritize transparency and authenticity. Be honest and transparent in your communications with customers, stakeholders, and the media. Honesty and transparency are the top priorities in all your communications, whether with customers, stakeholders, or the media. Acknowledge mistakes openly, take accountability for your actions, and promptly address any issues with transparency and sincerity.

By nurturing a culture of openness and authenticity, you build trust with your audience and fortify your brand’s reputation over time. Consistently demonstrating integrity and transparency in your operations and communications fosters long-term loyalty and goodwill, laying a solid foundation for sustained success and positive relationships with your stakeholders.

20. Measure and Adjust

Effective PR is an ongoing journey of refinement and optimization. Define clear objectives and KPIs for your campaigns, regularly measuring and analyzing results against these benchmarks. Identify successes and areas for improvement, using insights to shape future strategies.

Here, adaptability is key; stay responsive to evolving trends and audience preferences, continuously refining tactics to resonate with your target audience. Through iterative learning and adaptation, your PR efforts can consistently deliver tangible results and reinforce your brand’s reputation and influence in the competitive landscape.

Wrapping Up

Mastering digital PR is essential for tech companies looking to thrive in today’s competitive landscape. By implementing these 20 important tips, you can elevate your PR game, amplify your brand’s visibility, and foster true connections with your target audience.

Whether you seek to establish thought leadership, build media relationships, or engage with your community, these strategies will equip you to confidently navigate the digital PR landscape and drive success for your tech company.

I have a friend who once described PR as the “dark arts,” and while I completely disagree with that assessment, what he was getting at is he really didn’t understand how PR works. Reputable PR firms are the opposite of “dark arts”; they’re very transparent. There are some tools of the trade that PR agencies keep close to themselves, but really, there isn’t anything magical about HOW PR works; it’s just a specific combination of relationships, hard work, strategy, and culture. And that specific combination takes a long time to acquire, requiring commitment to the craft. But why PR is expensive isn’t because of human hours worked. Ultimately, there is a price to the human capital, but that’s not really why PR is expensive.

So, Why Is PR Expensive?

PR is expensive because the outcomes are so important and relevant. PR’s lasting value is in improving a brand’s reputation like no other marketing lever can. For companies wanting to be acquired or IPO, your PR investment ROI could be hundreds of millions of dollars.  PR outcomes range from high valuations at IPO or during capital raises to making advertising more efficient and reducing time to sale for both B2B and B2C customers. In short, it’s not unusual for PR outcomes to be more than 10X the investment. To 10X investment, the most impactful PR aligns with trust and loyalty, which requires consistency.

For many ambitious companies, the long-term benefits of PR are sometimes forgotten, and yet that can be considerable. Due in part to high marketing budgets during the pandemic, brand valuations increased dramatically in 2023 – from 6.3% growth to 9.7% growth.

Your reputation is your most valuable asset.

Why is PR so expensive research

Data from USC Anneberg Communications Report 2023

What is a Good PR Budget?

When considering your PR agency budget, your budget should match your goals. If you’re trying to grow your business, your overall marketing budget and PR should increase.

As of the fall of 2023, according to The CMO Survey, the average marketing budget was 10.6% of budget and 9.2% of revenues. For companies with $10-$25 million in revenue, the average spend was 15.5% of revenues. So, if you’re looking to be above average, your overall marketing budget should be higher than that. For companies under $10 million in revenue, the number was 19% of revenue. And consumer packaged goods reported spending 25% of their budget on marketing and PR.

If you’re an ambitious brand or fast-growing company, your budget could be 25% of revenue – is that aggressive? Yes. It is. Again, that’s a budget to grow considerably. A good rule of thumb for your budget might break down like this: 20% content, 20% advertising, 20% PR, 20% SEO, 20% activations.

While your distribution might vary depending on your goals – for example, if you’re raising money or looking for a M/A event, you might skip advertising all altogether and move that to PR and content. Alternatively, if you’re a consumer brand,  you might increase the content and advertising portions and focus your PR budget on certain campaigns. Emerging industries may need larger PR budgets because they need to create public and investor trust.

Based on the rates of PR agencies your budget may be higher or lower based on the experience level of your agency team. Naturally, less seasoned agency teams will be less expensive. But it’s probably more important for you to budget based on your goals.

If you’re ambitious or seeking investment or pre-IPO, your marketing budget should match those very important objectives and allocate 12%-17% of revenues or target valuations to marketing, with a third of that, at least, going to PR. Depending on whether you’re a B2B or B2C company.

How Does PR Make a Company More Competitive?

68% of CMOs reported expecting more intense customer rivalry in the coming year. In B2B segments, that number increased to 73%, with 61% expecting more innovation. By themselves, even new products don’t excite people without a story. If your company is new, you need to define a compelling story, and you need to tell it over and over. Whether you’re a tech company, or a consumer product company, PR is a key part of how people discover new products.

According to Nielson, global CMOs said brand recall was the #1 most important goal in media. Advertising is ubiquitous, and advertising is an important part of any marketing budget. After a while, ads blend in a social feed or even on TV. But if your product or CEO is in a magazine, people remember that. They might not even remember WHAT was said, they’ll remember that they saw it there. Brand recall is critical to the sales funnel. If people can’t remember your company, how will they purchase from it?

PR’s lasting impact is its value, including the fact that earned media lives forever. Less than 1% of companies ever get PR for their company, so by being in that top 1%, you’ve already differentiated yourself. Can you start a company without PR? Absolutely. Can your company thrive without PR? No. There are no household names without PR at the table, period. There are no industry leaders without PR.

What’s happening in PR that you need to know about today? PR is a dynamic and powerful tool that can be leveraged for almost any audience, whether they be buyers, investors, or consumers; every one of them is influenced by the media. It’s important to know PR trends’ emerging techniques and tactics, but it’s also important to know whether those trends apply to you. Our clients are ambitious, incredibly so. Businesses that are in hyper-growth are often growing so fast they can’t hire fast enough, and that may be a reason why they’re hiring an agency. So, while understanding trends is important, it’s more important to understand where and how PR trends apply to them.

 

Content Platforms

Expect lots of new content launches attempting to fill the vacuum left by media layoffs and newsroom cuts; there are already many new and different ways to use content today. There are native and sponsored content options in some extremely prestigious outlets, and Substack has taken on a new life. Influencers are using the platform with affiliate links and journalists are using it to source ideas, data, and contacts, and companies are using it to reach the early adopter crowd. Is Substack the new Medium? Possibly. Medium, while not the darling it was a decade ago, still (as of this writing) has a place in the content ecosystem, especially for Silicon Valley – the Substack reader is a little harder to nail down right now and swings dramatically depending on the author.

Stay open to new ideas and places, but think through the ROI of investing in a content strategy on a new outlet too early. There are reasons to be an early adopter and disadvantages as well; be conscious of the pros/cons and include mitigations in your plan for the cons.

Data-Driven PR

This is one PR trend you can’t ignore. Newsrooms at even the largest titles are dangerously understaffed due to massive media layoffs. Setting aside the existential nature of this fact, this presents an opportunity for prepared, well-informed companies to support journalists with information and data the journalist might not have access to or hasn’t been approved to purchase from an expensive research firm. This is especially critical if you’re advocating for a point of view, an idea, or a trend. Data creates validity and context to your claims. It’s simply not enough to make a statement and assume people will believe you. Your press releases, media pitches, and social media need relevant data to back up your claims; anything without third-party validation is just an ephemeral idea.

Spend time considering what data you need to support your claims and ideas, and then put that data into an easy-to-understand context. And find conflicting data or other data to support yours so you can open the door to a deeper conversation about why the data matches or doesn’t. Data points don’t have to be statistics; they can be before/after photos or videos and be reviews and case studies. Think about all the ways your ideal buyer would like to see data articulated.

But press releases aren’t the only place where data is essential. Your PR strategy needs to be data-informed, too. You’re already behind if you’re not using all the technological tools at your disposal, including AI, for key messaging and media opportunities. Revaluate the data every six months to ensure your strategy keeps pace with the data and shifts as needed.

A data-driven approach has other advantages as well:

  1. Competitive Intelligence: Data-driven PR extends beyond internal metrics. It includes monitoring competitors, industry trends, and market sentiment. This competitive intelligence enables us to position our clients strategically, capitalize on market gaps, and stay ahead of evolving industry landscapes.
  2. Budget Optimization: PR budgets are valuable resources, and data helps us allocate them efficiently. We can optimize budget allocation for maximum impact by identifying high-performing channels and tactics. This ensures that every dollar spent contributes to overall campaign success.

Brand Authenticity

This isn’t as much a PR trend as it is an expectation. What do you stand for? What do you stand behind? What are you willing to stake your reputation on? Today’s media is suspicious of big claims. From sustainability to authority, if you’re staking your ground on a big claim, it’s best to ensure your business practices can defend these claims. It’s increasingly OK to say “we’re trying,” that’s the point of many annual ESG reports – to document the process. Audacious claims take time, and the world will give you space to accomplish those huge goals if you are simply transparent about the process.

This PR trend, to some degree, replaces “purpose-driven PR” as a trend. Why? Because it’s still expected that businesses will be good actors, but simply being a purpose-driven company isn’t enough anymore. Companies are expected to have built-in from the inside out and to implement this purpose beyond the PR advantages.

Your press releases and website are key areas where you need to create trust most because they are the two most prominent ways people new to your brand will find you. Every item that comes up in the first five results during a brand search is critical to your reputation; it should feel consistent and reinforce your brand authenticity.

Employee moral benefits from brand authenticity as well. Your corporate communications should reinforce your brand authenticity as well. 2023 was the year of “return to work demands from CEOs.” Businesses have lots of reasons to demand employees return to the office, and employees have lots of reasons to hate it. This automatically makes this communication divisive. While there were hundreds of thousands of “return to office” initiatives, only a visible few made news. Why? They typically made news because the tone was antithetical to the brand or there was a threat attached to the change in policy.

If your brand is divisive and threatening and the culture is anti-employee, then this is on brand, and you may proceed accordingly. If that’s NOT your brand, then communications like this need to be handled consistent with your company’s values, authentically.  It’s not that a company can’t change policies – they do it all the time, but when those policies don’t match the brand promise, internally or externally, expect backlash.

Laser Focus vs. Bucket Outreach

Today’s PR firms have access to thousands and thousands of journalists at their fingertips. We all pretty much have the same access – it’s not whether you know the journalist; it’s WHAT you send them that differentiates the pitch and determines its success. Not that they were ever appreciated, but gone are the days where you could blanket the press with a pitch and expect any premium outcomes. That’s why we advise our clients to look at press releases differently than in the past.

Today’s media relations experts know that every single outreach is a reflection on themselves, their agency, and the brand, and they take the time to treat journalists like humans rather than a transaction. Does media coverage get broken down into stats like reach, views, and authority? Yes. But the “relations” part of media is what makes it happen. A journalist never looked kindly upon a brand (or agency) that spammed them with irrelevant updates. Never has it been more off-trend to send mass emails to journalists. If your PR firm does this, they’re damaging your reputation along with theirs. But it’s not just the negative consequences of an impersonal pitch; the advantages of a personalized one are really valuable.

  1. Stand out from the crowd: A personalized pitch stands out amidst the sea of generic emails. It shows effort, thoughtfulness, and a genuine desire to collaborate. This distinctiveness increases the likelihood of the pitch being noticed and considered for coverage.
  2. Respect is always good PR. Journalists have tight schedules and limited time for sifting through pitches. A personalized pitch respects their time by presenting information concisely and directly relevant to their needs. This efficiency is appreciated and increases the chances of your pitch being read and acted upon.
  3. Human Connection: In the world of media, establishing a human connection is paramount. Personalized pitches enable a genuine connection between the pitch sender and the journalist. It transforms a pitch from a mere business transaction to a conversation between individuals, fostering trust and engagement.
  4. Relevance and Customization: Personalized pitches allow for tailoring content to align with the journalist’s interests, beat, and previous work. This customization ensures that the pitch is not only relevant to the journalist but also demonstrates a clear understanding of their preferences and areas of expertise.

AI is a Fairweather Friend

Unpopular PR trend opinion. Guess what? ChatGPT and any generative AI are excellent tools for many things; your brand content and press releases are not among them. Sure, you can use ChatGPT to give you ideas, but anything that ChatGPT gives you has already been written because ChatGPT is just a giant internet scraper. So if you’re looking to differentiate, create a memorable connection or a news-breaking idea – use ChatGPT as an idea starter, not a complete solution. While we’re at it – remember that not all information on ChatGPT is accurate anymore, and it doesn’t do a good job of contextualizing the source or timing of information. So ChatGPT for content is a valuable tool, but you must understand its limitations.

AI is a fairweather friend not only for content but also for research. Unless you’re paying handsomely for AI research, it’s probably outdated and possibly inaccurate. Free AI simply isn’t good enough yet to be used in business planning or PR research.

  1. Lack of Human Touch: PR is inherently about relationships, and a crucial element of successful relationship-building is the human touch. AI, by its nature, lacks the emotional intelligence and nuanced understanding that human interactions require. The personal connection, empathy, and intuition essential in PR can’t be replicated by algorithms.
  2. Understanding Complex Narratives: PR often involves conveying complex narratives, brand stories, and nuanced messages. AI may struggle to fully comprehend the intricacies of these narratives and might simplify or misinterpret key elements. Executive-level PR professionals can navigate the subtleties and adapt messaging to resonate effectively with diverse audiences.
  3. Adaptability to Dynamic Situations: PR is dynamic, and strategies often need to be adapted on the fly based on real-time events and changing circumstances.  PR professionals excel in their ability to think on their feet, pivot strategies swiftly, and make decisions considering the broader context—an agility AI currently lacks.
  4. Creativity and Innovation: Crafting compelling stories and innovative campaigns requires a level of creativity that AI hasn’t fully mastered. The ability to think outside the box, generate fresh ideas, and adapt creative strategies to suit specific clients or situations is a uniquely human strength.
  5. Ethical Considerations: PR involves ethical decision-making, and judgment calls that go beyond data analysis. PR professionals are equipped to navigate ethical challenges, make value-based decisions, and uphold the integrity-and authenticity- of their clients. AI lacks the ethical compass that humans possess.
  6. Unpredictable Stakeholder Interactions: Stakeholder interactions in PR are highly unpredictable and can vary widely. Human PR professionals excel in building relationships with diverse stakeholders, adapting communication styles to different personalities, and navigating the complexities of human interactions, which can’t be replaced by AI.
  7. Contextual Understanding: AI may struggle with understanding the contextual nuances that are crucial in PR. Humans excel in interpreting cultural, social, and industry-specific contexts, tailoring communication accordingly. This contextual understanding is vital for effective PR campaigns.

Crisis Planning is Essential

Never has it been more important for companies to clearly define what a crisis IS (and isn’t), and what will happen in the essential minutes if there is a crisis. In a world where millions of messages can spread around the world in an instant, crisis communication planning is required for any company looking to grow.  It isn’t just enterprise companies that have crisis communication risks. When Silicon Valley Bank crashed, thousands of startups were caught in the crosshairs of a heavily covered media crisis, and very few of them had any plans or resources to react. What about crisis planning for an influencer meltdown, or a product recall? What will you do if a competitor goes on national TV and slams your brand or if a TV personality publicly slams your brand?

Crisis communication planning isn’t just a precaution—it’s a strategic imperative. Here’s why we emphasize the vital role of crisis communication planning:

  1. Proactive Reputation Management: Crisis communication planning is a proactive approach to safeguarding your brand’s reputation. By anticipating potential crises, developing response strategies, and establishing communication protocols, you are better positioned to manage and mitigate the impact on your brand’s image.
  2. Timely and Coordinated Response: Time is of the essence during a crisis. Having a well-thought-out communication plan ensures a swift and coordinated response. This agility is crucial for addressing issues promptly, minimizing misinformation, and maintaining control of the narrative.
  3. Building Stakeholder Trust: Trust is the bedrock of any brand. In times of crisis, stakeholders—including customers, employees, and partners—seek transparency and authenticity. A carefully crafted crisis communication plan helps you communicate openly, demonstrating accountability and a commitment to resolving issues.
  4. Navigating Media Scrutiny: Media scrutiny can intensify during a crisis, and having a predefined communication strategy enables you to engage with the media effectively. Whether providing accurate information, managing media inquiries, or disseminating updates, a well-planned approach helps you navigate media challenges confidently.
  5. Protecting Employee Morale: Employees are a crucial asset, and their morale can be deeply affected during a crisis. A clear communication plan ensures that employees are kept informed, reducing uncertainty and anxiety. This, in turn, contributes to maintaining a cohesive and resilient workforce.
  6. Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Crises often bring legal and regulatory implications. A comprehensive crisis communication plan considers these factors, ensuring that your communication aligns with legal requirements and regulatory standards. This safeguards your organization from legal ramifications.
  7. Learning from Past Incidents: Effective crisis communication planning involves analyzing and learning from past incidents. This iterative process allows organizations to refine their strategies, update protocols, and continuously improve their ability to handle crises.
  8. Preserving Customer Relationships: Customers are quick to react during a crisis, and their loyalty can be tested. A well-executed crisis communication plan helps you reassure customers, address their concerns transparently, and maintain a positive relationship even in challenging times.
  9. Preserving Market Value: A poorly managed crisis can have lasting effects on market value. Crisis communication planning is an investment in preserving and, in some cases, even enhancing the market value of your brand by demonstrating resilience and a commitment to responsible management.

Buyers are Craving Certainty

All B2B and B2C buyers crave certainty, stability, and trust. It’s been a wild and wooly five years, and this being an election year, there is a lot of uncertainty in the air. While inflation is starting to improve, buyers are still getting used to the “new prices” on items that have essentially stayed mostly flat for a decade or more. In exchange for their hard-earned dollars, buyers want to feel their purchase has been valued and that it’s with a company or product they can trust. Your company needs to be firing on all cylinders to secure new revenues, and buyers simply won’t tolerate actions that create instability or a disconnect between themselves and the brand.  This is another reason thought leadership still plays a crucial role in today’s PR.

This goes for actions big and small. This is why crisis planning is essential, but it’s not just a highly visible PR crisis that brands must stay alert to. If your CEO reschedules meetings regularly, that’s a red flag for potential business partners and media; it makes any and all PR more difficult to get lifted.

With 2023 in the rearview mirror, the collective attention of B2B tech companies turns to 2024. While the Fed is looking to drop rates in 2024, and that may help out startups looking for venture capital, there are still many strategies that companies need to consider to thrive in 2024. As businesses embrace what may well be the first “normal” year of business since the pandemic, companies are reckoning with a rapidly changing regulatory, trade, and infrastructure atmosphere. But hyper-growth CEOs know the key to staying the course during high growth periods is controlling what you can. One of the most valuable assets a B2B tech company can control is reputation. From our perspective, there are several growth strategies for B2B tech that improve reputation.

Emerging Technologies: a Reputational Growth Opportunity

Emerging technologies, harnessed appropriately, can improve customer acquisition, customer satisfaction, and customer loyalty. The world is embracing a dizzying array of technologies right now, including AI. And while AI promises next-generation productivity, the world is also collectively suspicious; this is often the case for emerging industries, but Ai faces unique PR challenges. Embracing emerging technologies presents many growth and reputation advantages as well. Of course, simply using new technologies like AI isn’t a PR story; what could be a PR story is industry leadership around the use of AI, defining parameters that are brand-consistent as they apply to AI. Taking the lead on trust-based initiatives is a reputational win.

Transparency is another reputation-building asset that companies can use technology to improve. Imagine if all your suppliers used blockchain to authenticate where the products you buy originate from. You could then help your clients ensure their own purpose-driven supply chain was sound and create a solution that has historically been a huge challenge for businesses. Some executives will shy away from this, knowing that their supply chain isn’t completely “clean.” But there, too, is an opportunity to increase transparency and create a conversation. Believe it or not, companies that proactively discuss their imperfections are more credible than those that only showcase their strengths.

Cyber Threats: A Reputational Threat

It seems hardly a day goes by without hearing about some data breach or another. Technologies for securing data are improving every day, but they aren’t perfect yet.

Companies examining their own cyber security internally may wonder what they would do if there was a data breach within their own technologies. Today, most cyber insurance companies will require you to have a business plan in place, but that isn’t enough because saving a business isn’t important. If its reputation is so damaged, no one will do business with it again. The best time to plan for a crisis is when there isn’t one. While cyber insurance programs sometimes include reputation-building services like PR in them, the limits are very low on all but the most expensive policies.

IPO Preparedness

The IPOs of 2024 will be from established and “safe” companies. However, for many businesses, 2024 may be the tip of the spear towards IPO. Preparing for an IPO is a cross-functional process, but one of the most important things a company can do, at least 24 months before an IPO is shore up its reputation and awareness. Yes, this is a financial commitment, but brand capital is a considerable contribution to most private company’s value. In a constantly shifting stock market, smart investors want resilient brands and brand equity is resilient. Investors want to know that the brand is trusted, but they also want to know that brand strength can be the foundation for exponential growth. No company grows exponentially without brand confidence.

Growth strategies for B2B tech pre-IPO include media coverage; if the company has never had much media coverage, there is much work to be done. The CEO must be heavily engaged in the PR process, and that is very often a shocking shift for founder CEOs, especially since it can be time-consuming. Not only that but making the news isn’t as easy as starting a business, believe it or not. Less than 1% of businesses ever receive media coverage – but those that do are well positioned to be at the top of their vertical.

Another key aspect of IPO preparedness is crisis planning for cyber threats and other considerations – they could be anything from a recall to a regulatory threat. Planning for a crisis means everyone at the C-level understands when there is a crisis and who leads it. Having a solid relationship with a PR firm before your crisis occurs is paramount to a quick, strategic, and effective response.

Sustainable and Responsible Business Practices

Even B2B companies will be called to understand their social impact. For growing B2B tech companies, this could include electrical footprint and processing power, as well as the international supply chain and even employee relations. But how is this part of the Growth strategies for B2B tech? Companies that are in hypergrowth must have a clear line of growth – and doing so includes considering cultural and business changes that are likely to impact growth over the next five years. A company’s reputation will be driven by how much it embraces these future valuation implications. ESG may have been a political hot potato, but the fact is that social impact isn’t going away. Businesses may go quietly about their own sustainable and responsible business practices, but they will still need to do these things because to NOT do them will become a reputational liability during critical moments like IPO or acquisition.

 

Reputational improvement and maintenance will be as important as any other growth strategies for B2B tech in 2024. Reputations will be simultaneously more expensive to acquire and more valuable. Investing in reputation today will drive the growth of tomorrow.

Startup founders often need to juggle more tasks, which can hinder growth. While understanding all aspects of their business is essential, savvy VC-backed founders know that hiring a reputable PR firm is a wise investment. These PR Strategies for VC-Backed Startups are the difference between surviving and thriving.

Why Hire a PR Company?

Venture capital is a whirlwind environment where the pace is breakneck, the pressure is unrelenting, and adaptability is paramount. It’s a magnet for spirited public relations and communication enthusiasts, but breaking into this exclusive arena is no cakewalk. PR strategies for VC-backed startups could not be higher stakes.

With few openings and rare opportunities, securing a coveted position is a Herculean feat. For those determined to thrive in this sector, a unique constellation of personality traits and skill sets is the key to success.

Founding a startup, while a remarkable feat, doesn’t automatically grant you expertise in your field. In the eyes of investors, you may remain an enigmatic outsider if your name isn’t ringing through the corridors of recognition. This is where investing in B2B tech PR becomes an invaluable asset, helping you craft a portfolio that showcases your public opinions, mentions, and influential columns in the pivotal outlets of the startup landscape.

Imagine yourself as a podcast guest, engaging in profound discussions about the future of your industry or wielding the quill to craft opinion pieces that resonate with your peers. Offering expert insights on product innovation through quotes is another way to bolster your credibility. Reputable publications do not feature articles by authors who bring nothing of substance to their readers, and journalists don’t solicit quotes from random individuals.

PR for the VC-Backed Startup

Public relations programs and public relations campaigns are frequently used interchangeably. However, they are two different sides of the same coin. A PR program is long-term and continuing, but a PR campaign is focused on a single piece of news over a specified duration and needs more organization and attention.

Many businesses want to employ a public relations firm for a single campaign when they should be seeking to hire them for a public relations program. Why? VC-backed startups wish for a firm that understands their industry and can communicate their “story” better. Since that cannot happen overnight, taking the time to develop a PR strategy is critical.

Every utterance in the media serves as your platform to catch the discerning eye of investors and customers. To be viewed as an expert is your opportunity, an explorer of audacious innovations, armed with the wisdom and audacity to sculpt a rapid-growth, triumphant enterprise. So, here are the top PR tips to manage the comms nuances of VC-backed startups.

Tip No #1: Pre-IPO

Regarding tech PR management for VC-backed startups, there are three main areas where PR firms focus. Pre-IPO, IPO, and post-IPO, it can be devastating for a VC-backed startup to drop the ball at any stage, so startups need to get it right the first time.

Buzz Building

In the pre-IPO phase, many startups operate in “stealth mode” to keep their innovations confidential. However, when you’re ready to step into the limelight, transition strategically by orchestrating a controlled information release. Use this moment to create buzz and anticipation around your upcoming IPO.

Engage PR experts to craft a compelling narrative about your journey, innovation, and market disruption. Leverage teaser campaigns, selective media interviews, and industry events to pique interest without revealing too much. The goal is to establish yourself as an industry game-changer before your IPO.

Thought Leadership

Elevate your startup’s credibility and visibility by positioning key executives as thought leaders in your industry. Encourage them to speak at industry conferences, contribute insightful articles to prominent publications, and participate in relevant panel discussions.

By sharing industry insights, you enhance your brand’s reputation and pave the way for your startup to be seen as a trusted authority in the field. This factor can significantly influence investor interest in the lead-up to an IPO.

Investor Relations

Develop a comprehensive investor relations strategy that communicates financial data and tells a compelling story about your startup’s journey, milestones, and vision.

Crafting a persuasive narrative helps potential investors connect with your company emotionally, making them more likely to invest. This narrative can be disseminated through press releases, webinars, and investor presentations. Moreover, engaging with financial media outlets can ensure your IPO story reaches a broader audience.

Tip No #2: IPO:

With the initial public offering all set up and ready to go, you need a rock-solid PR strategy to help get your VC-backed startup across the finish line.

Transparency

During the IPO process, transparency is paramount. Keep investors, stakeholders, and the public well-informed about your company’s performance, financial health, and prospects. Implement a rigorous and timely communication strategy that includes regular financial reporting, earnings calls, and press releases. Be prepared to address any challenges openly, demonstrating your commitment to maintaining trust in the public markets.

Media Roadshows

Launch a strategic media campaign to coincide with your IPO, including hosting roadshows to attract institutional investors, securing media coverage in respected financial publications, and leveraging social media platforms to amplify your IPO messaging. Engage a PR team experienced in handling IPOs to manage the media frenzy and ensure they tell your startup’s story accurately and positively.

Employee / Stakeholder Engagement

IPOs can create excitement and introduce uncertainty for employees and stakeholders. Maintain open lines of communication with your team and key stakeholders throughout the process. Ensure they understand the implications of the IPO on their equity and their role in the company’s future. Engage PR specialists to craft internal communications that inspire confidence and commitment from your team.

Tip No #3: Post-IPO

This stage involves the execution of whatever promises during the IPO are given, including commitments and business strategies that need to be met and exceeded to gain the favor of investors and loyal customers.

Sustained Visibility

Post-IPO, it’s crucial to maintain visibility and momentum. Continue to engage with financial media, participate in industry events, and share updates about your company’s achievements and strategic direction. A consistent PR presence reinforces your company’s stability and long-term growth potential, attracting and retaining investors.

Crisis Management

Anticipate potential crises and establish a crisis communication plan. PR is vital in managing and mitigating adverse events that may impact your stock price or reputation. Swift and transparent communication is critical to maintaining investor and public trust.

Long-Term Storytelling

Investor relations remain pivotal post-IPO. Cultivate ongoing relationships with your investor base through regular updates, annual reports, and investor meetings. Additionally, continue to tell your company’s long-term narrative, highlighting milestones, innovations, and your vision for the future to sustain investor interest and attract new investors as your company evolves beyond its IPO stage.

Hiring a PR Firm

In the high-stakes world of venture capital, the value of a sterling reputation isn’t just symbolic – it’s a potential goldmine, and I mean that quite literally. As the spotlight intensifies on ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) considerations, the heat is on for VCs to transcend the pursuit of profit and showcase their commitment to noble values like diversity and sustainability. PR strategies for VC-backed startups should come from a PR firm with experience in pre-IPO PR.

For those who convey this message, a desirable public image awaits. Who steps onto the stage to orchestrate this symphony of success? The PR company you hire. Now, let’s be clear – networking remains an indispensable cornerstone of fundraising, and no amount of PR wizardry can replace those face-to-face connections. Nevertheless, PR serves as the mighty amplifier of a VC’s reputation.

In a quest for information, investors scour the digital landscape, and if they stumble upon a VC shrouded in silence, a cataclysmic erosion of credibility and trust begins. It’s akin to standing on shaky ground. However, the plot thickens when they notice their rivals bask in the warm glow of media coverage from top-tier publications. In such a scenario, the silence is not just deafening – it’s also damning.

In the grand stage of venture capital, where fortunes are made and dreams are funded, PR is the conductor, orchestrating the symphony of reputation that can transform millions of dollars into a dazzling legacy.

How Much Does a PR Firm Cost for VC-Backed Startups?

In their quest for a sparkling public image, VC-backed startups call upon the knights of the realm known as PR agencies. These knights wield their trusty swords of communication to shape and guard the company’s brand in the eyes of the public. Now, we’re about to embark on an epic journey, a guide that will unravel the secrets of the best PR services, their price tags, and the mystical factors that influence these costs.

An alternative avenue emerges through specialized campaigns for organizations operating within constrained financial parameters. These project-based endeavors, characterized by a one-time financial outlay, typically range from $8,000 to $20,000 for B2B Tech PR. These targeted efforts are ideally suited for announcing funding rounds, product launches, acquisitions, major milestones, and other significant news stories that warrant prominence.

In the realm of PR for VC-backed startups, the fiscal landscape is as diverse as it is dynamic. An engagement with a monthly cost as modest as $5,000 for a freelancer or solo practitioner is attainable for those brands blessed with inherently compelling narratives akin to discovering a hidden gem.

However, should your strategic endeavors necessitate the creation of bespoke content tailored for access to premium media outlets, the PR expenditure may ascend to $15,000 per month or beyond, transforming your campaign into a substantial and high-impact initiative.

It is imperative to recognize that iterative efforts characterize the world of Digital PR. Pursuing newsworthy content can yield varied results akin to the capricious winds at sea. To ensure a robust understanding of your prospects, prudent allocation of resources necessitates a monthly commitment of no less than $10,000 over a span of at least four months. This approach affords the luxury of amassing a statistically significant sample of outcomes.

The cost spectrum for PR services in the United States exhibits considerable variance. Monthly retainer agreements with PR agencies span a broad range, commencing at a modest $2,500 and extending to a substantial $20,000 per month or more, even for top-rated boutique PR agencies, contingent upon the scale and complexity of the project.

Distinguished national and global PR agencies catering to the elite echelons of clientele commence, including VC-backed startups, their consultations at a premium minimum, tier of $15,000 per month, ascending significantly to reach the formidable range of $30,000 to $50,000 per month for PR agency fees.

But wait, there’s more! As you delve into PR costs, you’ll stumble upon the curious pricing structures these noble PR agencies propose. Brace yourself, for these pricing models are as diverse as the knights’ armor in the Round Table:

Retainer Fees

Imagine a monthly or quarterly feast where the company pays a fixed fee to secure the undivided attention of a team of PR professionals. It’s like having your own fellowship of knights dedicated to your cause, ensuring predictability in costs and unwavering support.

Hourly Rates

The hourly pricing model emerges when the need is sudden and the battle brief. Here, the company pays based on the actual time spent by the PR agency, much like hiring mercenaries for a specific quest.

Fixed Rates

Think of this as a quest with a predetermined reward. In the world of PR, it’s known as a project-based pricing model. For instance, if a dragon needs slaying, the PR agency charges a fixed rate for a certain number of press releases or media outreach, no more, no less.

Performance-Based

The performance-based model takes center stage in a land where results reign supreme. PR agencies here earn their keep based on the success of their endeavors – like slaying the dragon and showcasing its head as proof. If they hit the mark, they earn rewards, aligning their fate with the project’s goals.

Ending Note

There should be several preparations for your public relations campaign ahead of impending product releases and announcements, defined dates, etc. However, these strategies should be adaptable enough to accommodate for the unforeseen.

Consider COVID-19 and all the PR and advertising initiatives meant to go live during the first several months. If the plans for these had not been adaptable, they would have gone out as-is, utterly unaware of what was happening around the globe.

PR strategies for VC-backed startups must be adaptable, but teams and leadership must also be flexible. While you may want to hang on to a concept because you’ve already put so much effort into it, that doesn’t guarantee it’s appropriate in the present situation.

There are so many ways consumer brands can effectively reach audiences today. Brands have a dizzying array of choices; it’s easy to lose track of the difference between paid content, what is sponsored content vs branded content and how does it work with PR? Even the term “media outlets” is confusing because there are so many. For our purposes today, media outlets refer to traditional publications with online versions rather than social media platforms or blogs. Today’s online and print versions (where they still exist) are radically different. There is usually a lot more content on the web version, and there are no space limitations, meaning sponsored and branded content has been democratized. It used to be that only the most prominent brands could afford to buy space in magazines like Women’s Wear Daily or People Magazine, but today, buying content on those online versions is possible for much smaller consumer brands.

 

Sponsored content vs branded content

What is sponsored content?

Sponsored content is produced in collaboration with the brand; the brand has at least some oversight.

Sometimes sponsored content includes indexed links useful to SEO. This is perhaps one of the most compelling advantages of sponsored content. It creates an inbound link from a reputable online source, and it shows up in Google searches, which enhances reputation.

Like an ad, sponsored content may guarantee a certain number of views or placement over a guaranteed amount of time. Some influencers or publications require complete creative control, especially with product reviews. Depending on the outlet, sponsored content, because it has editorial oversight, very often lasts longer, sometimes indefinitely.  Depending on the publication and the format, it will appear with “sponsored” or “ad” designations per FTC guidelines. Branded content can be an article in a publication or an influencer video.

What is branded content?

Branded content is a hybrid of editorial and paid content produced by the publication; it is native-appearing. The placement and content oversight are paid for, and in this way, it differs from earned media. Like sponsored content, branded content is far less interruption than traditional digital advertising. Sometimes branded content includes indexed and because of the editorial oversight, do-follow links useful to SEO.

How to effectively use sponsored and branded content?

The most successful sponsored content and branded does not read like an advertisement.  Instead, it maximizes the space to create entertainment value or evoke an emotional response with storytelling. Creating content that viewers want to read is why paid content is more effective than banner ads. Very often, paid content isn’t even directly about the brand, and it may be a piece of content that distills critical messages to the audience without directly pushing the company; instead, it moves the consumer’s perception of a product or a lifestyle change.

Over and over, I see paid content that feels like a giant ad, and I know it’s because someone in marketing, or maybe even an overly enthusiastic CEO read the copy and said something like,  “There’s no call to action!” or “We aren’t even talking about our product’s best features!” And so the entire piece reads like the brand website. This is such a sad waste of viewer attention. The intent is to create or reinforce the customer journey. Customers almost never buy on the first interaction with a brand, think about paid content as a first or second meeting.

Is paid content effective for consumer brands?

Branded content drives up to 86% more brand recall than traditional advertising. That’s a considerable uptick. So why does anyone do any other form of traditional advertising? The reason is that branded content works because it doesn’t feel like a strong call to action; rather, it feels informative or entertaining, or even like news.

How are branded content and sponsored content similar?

 

How to choose between brand content vs sponsored content? This might be a matter of budget. Experienced content creators like editors at sought-after publications are not cheap.  Sponsored content is often less expensive, and it isn’t usually as in-depth as branded coverage, nor is it always premium quality. Some outlets do not ever place sponsored content in a front page rotation, where they might for premium branded content.

Paid content is effective because, unlike paid advertising, it doesn’t interrupt the viewer’s experience. Very often, there isn’t even a solid call to action in sponsored content. Because there isn’t a strong call-to-action, many brands run ad campaigns alongside their sponsored content to cement brand recall, improving click rates on traditional advertisements. Like an ad, paid content may not be permanently hosted or appear in search indefinitely.  Paid content, when done well, engages the viewer for a longer period than an ad; as importantly, because the view engages with the content, they will be more likely to remember it.

We love paid content because, unlike a traditional ad, it’s usually stickier and can be leveraged in many of the same ways as earned media.

How does it compare to earned media?

Sponsored content feels more trusted than advertisements but not as trusted as independent coverage or reviews. But, like earned media, it provides a way for brands to reach viewers while they’re in the mindset to consume content or while they’re searching for information related to the brand.

Because it isn’t paid, earned media is more trusted, and therefore, more valuable. Also, earned media is permanent. We see search results for earned content that is several years old but still relevant. So earned media is far stickier.

How does it fit in with PR and content strategy?

From a PR and content strategy perspective, we like to use sponsored or branded content to kick off a campaign; this gives us some control over the message early on and guarantees some visibility and search indexing. We use paid content with many of our thought leadership programs, to help leaders develop their voice, their point of view, and reputation. We also use paid content for product introduction. It is not uncommon to see brands use sponsored content in other forms of promotion and advertising.

In short, we think a lot of paid content makes sense with a digitally savvy PR campaign.