Have you ever wonder how your competitors get those great article opportunities? Or why they are always mentioned in the press about their product/ service? It’s because somewhere they discovered the use of public relations.
Are you your industry’s best-kept secret? Or are you trying to break into a new market? Do you want to share your company’s expertise with industry journals?
What is PR?
Wikipedia defines public relations as:
pub·lic re·la·tions ˈpəblik rəˈlāSHənz/
Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization (such as a business, government agency, or a nonprofit organization) and the public. Public relations may include an organization or individual gaining exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment. This differentiates it from advertising as a form of marketing communications. Public relations is the idea of creating coverage for clients for free, rather than marketing or advertising. An example of good public relations would be generating an article featuring a client, rather than paying for the client to be advertised next to the article.
There are a few important threads in this definition:
- Managing the spread of information
- Exposure to audiences
- Different from paid advertising
Public relations comes in two main formats – press releases and article opportunities. There is an art to press releases and we have discussed them in these three previous blog posts:
- Why Editors Don’t Read Your Press Releases
- 4 Key Essentials of a Press Release That Gets You Noticed
- Why You Shouldn’t Talk About Your Product or Service
Why Use Public Relations
The purpose of public relations is to inform your audience that you do something. The goal is to develop a PR strategy that keeps your news flow consistent and provides information on what your customers need to know (which would be how your product or service solves their challenges.)
What Should Your PR Program Contain?
Your public relations platform should include press releases and articles- thought leadership articles. Most importantly, it should also have articles from your customers about how your product or service enabled them to do their job or solved a task they couldn’t solve without you.
Press releases need to inform publication editors not only about your company but how your company enables their readership. It can’t just be about your latest new widget – it has to tell them why this widget helps their readers. They can’t translate information to their audience if you don’t help them.
Thought leadership articles prove to readers that you understand what they do and how they do it. Articles like these show potential customers that you have experience in their industry and can help them get their job done. A great example of a valuable article is one that features a client. By having your customer tell their story you validate your understanding of your customers’ needs.
Public relations is the second stop on your journey to mastering the MarCom wheel. Learn to raise your profile as a thought leader here.
Marketing Collateral, Brochures, White papers, Case studies, Sell Sheets, FAQs
I’m often asked- are brochures still a thing to do? Or are they passé?
My answer to my marketing clients is this:
Customers are on a journey. Your marketing needs to provide signposts along the way, steering prospects down the path to your products and solutions. Collateral, like brochures, is the beginning step in telling a story about your product or service. In marketing collateral like brochures you don’t just want to tell your feature/benefit story, you want show the value that your product or service will bring to your customers.
Types of Marketing Collateral
Marketing collateral should be your platform to tell your story. This platform can come in many different forms:
- White Papers
- Case Studies
- Sell Sheets
- FAQs (which are very helpful for a disruptive technology)
- Tailored pieces for a specific application- letting customers know you know what their challenges are.
See Your Collateral through Your Customers’ Eyes
We are often so focused on our newest feature or benefit we forget to look at collateral from our customers’ point of view. Try looking at your latest brochure with these questions in mind.
- Have you left enough white space so their eye gets a rest?
- Did you deliver the “What Is In It For Me” in the first paragraph?
- Did you forget to use great graphics that enable them to understand what you’re explaining?
- Are you telling them why they want to look at your product/ service?
- Have you mentioned what your product or service will add to their daily routine or how will it make their job/ task easier?
- Did you tell them what the net return will be for their company?
How to Use Marketing Collateral
The next question I hear a lot is: “How do I use these tools?” Here are some ideas:
- As follow-up to conferences/tradeshows or sales calls – use not just a piece of literature but a white paper and or case study as well.
- Use public relations to let the press and community know that you have a unique application note or white paper.
- Use eMarketing to develop a longer conversation with customers through a lead nurturing program.
- Use your collateral assets in both print and digital advertising
- Use it to update your website.
- Incorporate it into your social media
Collateral should always be used as part of an integrated approach. We often tend to get siloed on a specific task and we forget to integrate into our overall marketing what we develop for that task. Using marketing materials will help your customers understand what your value is. They’ll see it in different formats that fit your brand and remind them why they should consider your product or service. And they’ll be reminded what value you bring to them.
Do you have questions about what marketing collateral you need and how to use it? Visit us here and learn more about how we can help you.
This year’s AACC Meeting July 31st to August 4th in Philadelphia was by all accounts a great success.
The AACC does an excellent job in bringing together leaders from laboratories, manufacturers, regulatory bodies, and academia, not just to impart their knowledge, but also to develop relationships and gain well-rounded perspectives on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in the diagnostics industry. Headliners this year included CEO Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos who introduced to a standing-room-only crowd preliminary validation data for MiniLab, a cartridge‐based testing system. (Have you seen the Vanity Fair article on the post-presentation takeaways of Dr. Stephen Master, co-moderator of the AACC presentation with Ms. Holmes? It’s worth a read here)
Brandwidth Solutions was a proud AACC exhibitor this year, sharing booth space together with Kaon Interactive, to discuss how holistic brand communications– along with interactive sales applications– can simplify complex technologies in powerful ways.
As a strategic communications services provider to the diagnostics community, the Brandwidth Solutions team had many, many visitors at the booth who wanted to discuss how the marketing strategies and solutions that we’ve developed over the years delivered results. We were happy to share the ways we have broken down internal and external barriers and helped our clients implement better ways to globally communicate across all forms of media.
As we heard at AACC, reducing testing costs while ensuring better patient outcomes are universal challenges for those marketing diagnostic tests— no matter the type of instrument nor type of test. Laboratorians and administrators what to know how these testing solutions deliver on their pressing operational and clinical challenges in a simple, engaging, and informative way.
With that, now more than ever, it’s essential to work with a strategic partner who can help you get the most from your communications investment with high-impact campaigns that deliver real results.
We hope to see you in San Diego for AACC 2016. If you’d like to talk sooner, please let me know!
Are you always talking about your product or service in your marketing materials and PR? You do have a great product (or service) and of course, you need to market it. In fact, we just wrote about how to get an editor’s attention in these two posts, here and here, to improve the usefulness of your press releases.
That being said, I must point out that you may not be the best person to be speaking to your product or service.
Should You or Your Customer Speak?
The short answer? Your customer, whenever possible.
The press really has heard it all before. But nothing gets an editor’s attention faster than the ability to speak to an actual customer using that great new product of yours. Your customers can make the press understand the value of your product better than you can.
Customers provide perspective for editors. They show:
- Who buys your products or services
- How well your product performed compared to your competitors
- The current and future applications for the product
- The value it has given them
Keep in mind that it isn’t just editors that find a customer testimonial about a new product valuable.
One of the true strengths of a customer’s story is in the value it gives your prospective customers.
When you release a new product and you also provide a success story of how a customer has used the same product, that customer has just validated everything you’ve said in your marketing materials about the product. These stories provide your prospects a way to appreciate how that product is used in the lab. They present a way for potential new customers to understand how the product will work in their own labs.
A BWS Customer Story
A great example of a company that does this well is Bruker Daltonics. Each year at ASMS they hold a press event to speak about their products and how they work. And each year, they have their customers speak to how their products work.
This gives the press the chance to ask questions and understand how these new products work in an actual lab environment. Bruker’s customers are right there, and can talk about how the product fits into their research or lab. They can also provide the press with a perspective on where they see the future of the technology. (If you happen to be a publically-traded company, this is important because the information reaches investors who also attend the press events.)
These press events go well beyond the print journals you might be envisioning. Most publications have moved into digital channels in addition to print – or they may be web only. The flexibility of channels means that your information may reach further than you imagine, as publications can now provide video as well as editor’s content and press release coverage.
For instance, Select Science, a digital-only publication, covered the Bruker press event and found Bruker’s new timsTOF™ of particular interest all because of the fact that they had a customer on-site talking about how it works, what they see as they value of the equipment and where they see using it in the future.
So while Select Science covered the press event and published the press release, they also had an editor interview Bruker’s customer which they published as an online video. See the video here.
What was the overall value of a customer story to the company? The leads it generated.
Once the video was published on the Select Science website, it was viewed 176 times, with 28 click-throughs and 17 leads between the show in June and August.
The real trick is developing your relationship with industry editors so that when their reporters are writing about topics, they immediately think about your company (your brand), and your product or service.
If you’re wondering how to develop those relationships, give us a call. We’re happy to point you in the right direction.
If mass spectrometry is your analytical technology of choice, then you could surround yourself in new instruments with innovative features at the recent ASMS meeting in San Antonio, TX. Researchers seeking higher resolution accurate mass systems or novel ion mobility techniques that add an additional dimension of separation based on structure had to look no farther than the new offerings from Bruker or Waters. MS limits of detection are dropping and mass ranges are expanding as MS technology continues to advance. That was clearly evident in new instruments launched by Thermo Fisher Scientific and Agilent.
Yet even as MS hardware becomes increasingly more powerful and complex, the need is increasing for more user-friendly, easy to operate MS tools, especially in analytical laboratories that process large numbers of samples. This need is not going unanswered, as the major MS vendors introduced new automated workflows, system and data control software, ion sources, and sample preparation devices all designed to enhance ease of use and to expand MS access to less skilled operators.
PR is important, but it’s even more important that it’s done correctly. When your press release doesn’t include these five key elements you won’t get that key editor to take notice of your company, and your public relations’ efforts will fail. The next time you’re called on to produce a press release, keep these five things in mind.
Is There Industry Interest?
Like it or not, a press release needs to interest an editor in the first paragraph or it won’t make the cut. It’s the same advice given to job applicants about their resume attracting the attention of time-crunched human resources managers.
Editors often see 50 or more press releases each day. That means you have only a couple of minutes to make an impression and pique their interest in your story. And your story needs to be important and of interest to your industry – it can’t be simply a marketing message or company celebration. (You may want to read my prior post about what makes an editor take notice of your story.)
How Strong Is Your Headline & Lede?
Every good press release starts with a strong headline. In many cases there is also a subhead that provides a bit more information. These two key items are followed by a compelling opening lead paragraph. That means clear, concise language without errors – and a message that gets right to the point.
For instance, if your company is launching a new product – with a breakthrough technology that has significant performance advantages over other competing technologies – the editors should know that by the time they have read the first sentence of your press release. It’s even better if they know this from just reading the headline and subheading.
Yes, it does seem elementary, but you’d be surprised how many press releases “bury the lede” – the main reason for the story. Instead of getting right to the point, they begin with a rose-colored recap of the 20 years of innovation at the company, followed by a pointless quote from the CEO about how proud they are of their storied history.
Editors won’t spend time searching for a story in your press release. Spending time on what amounts to fluff from the beginning is a sure-fire way to prevent an editor from learning about your big news.
Good Writing Counts
If your press release gets straight to the point, that’s a good first step. But you need to make sure the release itself is well written and devoid of grammatical and spelling errors. Like it or not, the people you are presenting your story to write and edit similar content every day. Most have very high standards when it comes to the written word, so be sure you don’t distract them from your story with poor writing and typos.
While you might make the first cut by putting the important stuff first, your news still needs to compete with other press releases to make the final cut. Make sure the writing throughout is clear, factual and devoid of careless little mistakes. Details matter to editors. They want to know when they call to request an interview that details matter to you, as well. Industry editors want to know you will get them the information they need for their story.
Help the Editor Serve Their Readership
To interest an editor in your story, it’s vital you understand what good editors consider the most important part of their job – serving their readers. In the trade publishing world, good editors are keenly attuned to their readers.
Editors know exactly who their readers are and what their jobs are. They talk to readers regularly to get feedback and to better understand their business challenges. Using this information, editors select which stories to cover based on how interested their readers will be in the topic, and whether it affects them in ways that may have an impact on their job or business.
As an editor for more than 20 years, I’ve often fielded calls from companies who have sent me a press release and acted like it was my job to serve them. The implication was that the best way for me to do that would be to publish whatever information they happen to send me. While it is true you can find so-called news outlets out there who will publish anything (often for a price), the best coverage you can get for your company’s news is in the pages of publications that people in your industry read regularly. Trade publication information is presented clearly, objectively and is of real importance to the industry.
Getting the Editorial Green Light
Trade and industry publications and their editors should be your prize. Peppering their inboxes with trivial press releases or poorly-written press releases that don’t get to the point quickly almost always ensures they will eventually treat all your press releases like email spam. Delete!
However, if you consistently provide industry editors with good, solid press releases that are well-written – even if only a few times each year – you will gain their trust and significantly increase your chances of getting regular coverage for your company.