UK Tech PR » Media The blogging home of Hill & Knowlton's UK Technology practice. We write about technology and how to shape conversations about technology in the market. Fri, 12 Mar 2010 12:41:17 +0000 en hourly 1 How to PR the point release (1.0) Wed, 17 Feb 2010 19:14:55 +0000 James Farquharson Most software companies were founded by a small group of young, talented programmers with an idea to do something great with what they knew how to do. Regardless of the recruitment of accountants and marketers, at heart, almost all software companies retain the founder’s engineering culture. Which is why, when a development team completes a minor modification to the company’s software (fixing a few known bugs and refining some features) a directive will often float down to PR instructing, it to, ‘get coverage for our point release’. If you’re on the receiving end, you might be interested in our five tips for point release PR success.

1. Do they know something you don’t?

As soon as you find out about the impending point release launch, arrange a meeting with product engineering and have them explain its benefits. There is always a chance that your understanding of the release is not complete. After your conversation you may find that what you thought were tweaks will actually, ‘transform the user experience’ and develop, ‘a new paradigm in software functionality’, which makes much more sense in PR terms than, ‘Has a new drop down menu.’

2. Unlock its ‘infotainment’ value

Next, consider how far the benefits of the point release will take you in terms of coverage. Is the point release so revolutionary, of itself, that the national press will be interested? Will the bug fixes and upgraded features guarantee in-depth coverage in all your key trades and verticals? The chances are that if you just list the features and fixes, even your fans in the trade press will struggle to cover your news.

Before setting out to secure coverage, it’s important to recognise that we, as well as journalists, are in the entertainment business. Your point release launch needs to be customised to ‘entertain’ the audience of the publications you’re targeting, at the same time as delivering its key messages.

3. Provide feedback

If you understand the product and have thrown everything at creating an angle that will work for the readers of the publications your management expects to see coverage in, and still don’t think you’ll get coverage, tell them and tell them why. They know JavaScript. You’re the PR expert: be strong.

4. Write the best release you’ve ever written

If ever there’s a time to write a brilliant press release, it’s when the news definitely won’t sell itself. Writing a release helps to refine the presentation and test the value of news before taking it to the media. However, a release is just one tool that a PR uses to secure coverage.

Knowing your key publications and the journalists, as well as ensuring that they are aware of you and your company’s relevance before you go to them with your news, is key to explaining why your point release launch should be of interest to the title’s readers. Securing coverage does not start and end with the approval of a press release.

5. The lure of free press release posting sites

If stage three, ‘provide feedback’, didn’t go so well and you really have to produce coverage, you may be tempted to post the release onto some of these sites. If you only do this, you will save journalists from having to delete your ‘not quite right’ news, be able to report hundreds of pieces of syndicated ‘coverage’, and at the same time assist your company’s SEO strategy. However, the ‘coverage’ is unlikely to be read by any of the potential customers or market influencers your management wants to reach. If your story isn’t a story, better to avoid these sites altogether and focus your attention on stages 1-4.

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Digital…traditional…which way to go? Mon, 08 Feb 2010 16:02:13 +0000 Sara Jurkowsky There’s no right way to go.

Within the marketing industry, with perhaps the tiiiiny exception of the recession and the economy, digital has been the buzz word for the past few years.

It’s got its advantages.  But it’s not the only way to go.  Or even the right way to go.  You need to choose the right channel for your business…regardless of whether you work in retail or e-tail.

If you’re reading a blog about tech PR (a wildly entertaining one, no less), I’m going to venture a guess that you’re probably on, or at least have heard of, LinkedIn.  Since June 2008, they’ve grown here in the UK from under 800,000 members to more than 3 million.  They don’t do above the line marketing. They do some events.  They don’t do much online marketing.  But they do do PR; and most of that is basic media relations, to “traditional” media.

I’m not saying this is from PR alone.  LinkedIn is blessed with a very charismatic and wonderful founder (and sometimes-CEO) in Reid Hoffman.  But what I hope this highlights is that despite the fact that LinkedIn is very much an online, social media, Web 2.0 company, offline communications has had a clear impact on their business objectives – to increase brand profile and grow their membership in the UK.

But that’s not to say traditional media is the be all and end all, either.  Digital plays an important role in helping LinkedIn engage, both with its membership but also its critics.

Some of you may have heard of WeCanDoBiz, a local start-up launched as an alternative to LinkedIn.  Ian uses social media and online news coverage to provide “the other side of the story” (this same tactic is used on his blog and Twitter feed…).  In doing this, he engages with LinkedIn, but also creates a platform for LinkedIn to counter the points and share these directly with its stakeholders – be they members, investors or advertisers.  And that’s where social media and digital PR excels – at facilitating a direct conversation.

So, there’s not necessarily one right way to go when it comes to comms.  You just need to know where you’re going…

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Social media beats super-injunction, again Wed, 03 Feb 2010 19:39:23 +0000 James Farquharson It’s not for us to judge England and Chelsea footballer, John Terry, or that French lady or anyone else involved. We’re more concerned, here, with what the latest failed super-injunction means for communications teams and corporate reputations.

We don’t know what we don’t know, so it may be that super-injunctions are very successful in preventing the publication of a story, at the same time as preventing a story being published about the aforementioned story that is being prevented from being published – if you follow. However, first Trafigura and now John Terry have found they did not work and perhaps regret spending the money on one.

Two things have come together to foil these two super-injunctions. Firstly, people love to share information. If it’s secret and bad (Trafigura) or has gossip value (John Terry), well, that’s even better. Secondly, in the past it would have been all but impossible to insert information into the national consciousness without involving the media. Now it’s the work of seconds for anyone to write 140 characters on Twitter, press go and have the news trending within the hour. Social media was the reason behind our two super-injunctions failing so spectacularly.

With that in mind, corporations (and footballers on which England’s World Cup hopes hang) need to consider well all their actions and not do something they would be uncomfortable defending sometime in the future. Refreshed that CSR policy recently? The moment you feel the need to call in the lawyers to defend your reputation in relation to something that you almost certainly did, in light of these events, you might consider yourself skating on thin ice.

]]> 0 The iPad, The Guardian and the “legacy print business” Wed, 03 Feb 2010 14:47:38 +0000 James Farquharson Brand Republic recently published an article in which the Guardian’s editor  referred to his paper product as, “…the legacy print business.” This comment, published in the same week as the launch of the iPad, throws out a clear signal on the future of the media in the UK. Given ongoing financial losses within their print divisions, it is almost inevitable that one or more of our national newspapers will follow a host of trade magazines to go fully digital in the next year or two. When that happens, what will be the impact on communication teams?

If you’re really determined, the iPad could be used as a traditional computer. However, its underlying design purpose is to enable consumption of media. We’re going to watch TV and movies, play games, read magazines and news, as well as interact with Facebook friends on the iPad and other slate devices arriving soon.

Like the iPod and the music industry before it, the technology is going to wag the media house dog so hard it will have to change, a change made more acceptable to it by the financial state of the paper-based news industry. Providers will design their content specifically for these devices. The merger of categories such as TV, magazines and social media will accelerate. We won’t even be asked ‘turn the page’ of eZines, as a nod to history.

Throughout this, the fundamentals of media relations will stay the same; know your client, know the media and put the two together.

However, in the all digital era, communications teams will have to greatly expand the number of information resources and individuals they know well and be able to deliver near instant insight, in variety of digital formats, to communicate their business’s point of view.

To do this well, communications professionals will have to be indivisable from the businesses they represent and able to provide images (no longer required at 300dpi, thank goodness), video, soundbites and written commentary at the click of a mouse. If not, the mechanics of digital media means they will be left behind.

These are all changes that have been developing since digitisation began. However, with the digital future of our media all but upon us and the launch of these new consumer technologies, communications practices will need to fully modernise, very quickly to be effective.

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