By Alex Sweeney, Account Director
For fast-growth, challenger brands, one of the main priorities is to separate themselves from the competition. If you work for one of them, how can PR make your business stand out from the crowd?
We work with a number of B2B technology companies that operate in busy, and often crowded market places, so the challenge you face is one that we relish. There are multiple opportunities each and every year to get your voice heard, through seasonal events such as National Customer Service Week and Black Friday, which most companies leave untapped and underutilised.
In order to ‘hijack’ these seasonal events and shoulder in on the news agenda, you must be well prepared. We start speaking with clients about these events months in advance. We work with them to create seasonal campaigns that speak to the right audiences, in the right way and most importantly at the right time.
There’s no point in issuing a news release about Black Friday, on Black Friday. Journalists want your story ahead of time, and often they will want it exclusively.
We believe there is a better way to gain share of voice, and it’s through creativity. Most companies we work with are focused on innovation in order to gain market share, and it is no different in PR. Coming up shortly, Black Friday and Christmas are prime examples where the media are inundated with content and requests, so in order to turn their heads your idea has to offer something unique. One of the best tactics we have found with our clients is to flip the popular agenda of a news story on its head; if everyone is talking about consumer spend online at peak sales periods, why not talk about how the high-street can catch up, for example.
Research projects are a tried and tested method at achieving PR results, and we typically find that you can get more media value from a single research project than you might first think. Whether it is consumers or businesses that you’re surveying, adding one or two questions related to a seasonal event will give you longevity and ammunition for content later on in the year. Spread the momentum across a longer period of time, add your take on the findings and you have a newsworthy story, months in advance of a seasonal calendar event occurring.
Each year these events present brands with different opportunities to add their say because the technology landscape changes so rapidly. Take customer experience, and in particular customer loyalty. Around high-profile sporting events retailers of all kinds compete for the consumer pound. In the past, brand recognition and offering the lowest cost may have been the most dominant factors in influencing consumers’ decision making. But now you could turn a customer away simply through poor convenience or providing a non-personalised service, even with low prices and/or brand equity.
Education and adding something new is critical and this is where you and your spokespeople come in. Journalists need credible sources. If you’re able to offer a concise, and different message that speaks directly to a publication’s readership during a chaotic time like Easter, you’re more likely to be featured in a story.
Capitalising on seasonal stories requires good preparation, creativity, and unique insight. Standing out from the crowd is always a challenge, and the best PR results are achieved when you offer educational insight that solves the target markets common problem.