How PR can help Tech Start-Ups…

Rainier PR in the UK have been busy recently releasing some interesting research.  They have followed up their recent study on the effectiveness of PR (from a media standpoint) with a study on what are the essential ingredients for the success of a start-up.

They surveyed fifty UK start-ups and found that 34% believed PR was essential to successful achieving their business objectives.

The top five issues facing start-ups were:

1. Recruitment of senior management (72%)

2. Solid investment (64%)

3. Clear product/service roadmap (56%)

4. Infrastructure (42%)

5. Public relations (34%)

As a follow up they’ve produced a whitepaper on how PR can help start-ups (PDF).

Some thoughts on Business Blogging…

John Porcaro is a marketing manager at Microsoft who blogs. I’ve mentioned him before here (see my blogroll on the right hand side).  John has an interesting post querying the effect of blogging on business.

“Blogs offer a way to start a conversation. I�m amazed at how much more involved I am in customer issues from the hour or two a day I spend blogging.”

There are also some interesting comments at the end of the post:

“They (blogs) keep our staff, customers and users informed about the latest and greatest developments in our products… they allow developers to quickly highlight specific functionality….they close sales.”

Now I think of blogs as a tool, not a religion but it’s interesting that more businesses are thinking through the potential knowledge management and collaboration applications of blogs which in many ways provide a more flexible means of communication and management inside and outsite a firm.

We already use blogs internally for projects and discussions as well as externally for our customers and partners. It works and we know people read and reference them – because they tell us.

That’s a powerful communications tool at a very competitive cost.

Additional Reading:

 Computerworld looks at Business Blogging.

 Microsoft uber-blogger Robert Scoble gives some insights on how Microsoft’s marketing folks are realizing the potential: “Teams are now calling on me to help them out with marketing. Now that I’m getting a traffic flow, and that blogging is getting more and more visibility, teams are asking me for help in learning the new world. Not to mention that I’m getting invited to speak at industry conferences like Demo.”

PR Agency New Business Development

In my professional capacity I get between five and ten e-mail pitches from PR agencies interested in presenting their credentials in any given week.

Given that I was once that soldier, I deal with such enquiries in an sympathetic manner, the truth is that we may look to outsource some of our PR function in the future so it’s useful to talk.

However, one bugbear I have with some of these pitches is the empty promise syndrome.

With little or no knowledge of my business, many of these pitch e-mails promise business coverage, national coverage etc.

Now working in the business for as long as I have, one of the key tenets is “take nothing for granted” or as the late Fred Hoar remarked “advertising is pay for play, while public relations is pray for play”. 

You can’t promise your employer, client or family coverage in top outlets. That’s not how this business works – I wish it was!

Any type of coverage whether it’s trade, business, radio or television is dependant on a whole range of factors inside and outside your control. Of course a good PR professional can make the difference between coverage and anonymity, but nothing can guarantee those inches.

You can promote your expertise, illustrate your past successes with clients, demonstrate how much you want the business, but promising results?

That’s an empty promise.

Internet Marketing: Then and Now

Dan Gillmor one of the most popular blogging journalists on the web (3.5 million visits during 2003!) points to an interesting article from Doc Searls on Internet Marketing.

“Through the Internet, however, consumers can do more than just consume. They can participate in marketing communications. This can allow marketing communications to evolve from a peripheral activity to a primary function — one with close ties to sales, customer service, marketing, R&D, operations and just about every other activity that stands to benefit from customer participation.”

It’s an interesting view and an interesting piece – particularly given it was written in January 1995! It’s weathered well.

Dan also points to a story in Washington Post on how Wall-Mart is trying to soften its public image by putting the sales messages in the background.

“Wal-Mart’s surveys showed consumers mistrusted the company’s labor practices and its impact on the community. Shortly after the ad began airing in late September, Wal-Mart suffered another blow when federal agents raided its stores around the country and arrested about 200 undocumented immigrants working on cleaning crews.”