We are living in a time of innovation. The sheer volume and diversity of disruptive businesses being started, invested in or sold is testament to this.
At Whiteoaks we have had the fortune of meeting – and discussing growth strategies with – firms across the globe – from Russia and India, to the US and Australia. It makes tech PR and communications a hugely dynamic and exciting place to work in 2020. It’s true we’ve all been impacted by the pandemic, but moving forward, the focus on growth and success will remain.
With that in mind, it’s important for businesses of all sizes and stages to consider whether communications consultancy is the right strategic support service for their brand – but it’s a particularly important question for businesses undergoing some form of step change or transformation – be it corporate growth, a re-brand, entering new markets, or refocusing and looking at a future post-COVID-19.
The first question any such tech company should ask themselves is “what do I want PR to achieve?”. This may sound a fundamental question, but too often it is ignored by businesses that embark on a PR campaign because they feel they should, or they have been told to by people outside of the company to do so. Worse, it often results in sending out a press release every once in a while to journalists who, with the best will in the world, have never heard of said company, receive (honestly) hundreds of similar news releases, and are therefore are far less likely to report on the announcement.
This creates a vicious cycle.
With no coverage generated, leading to no inbound phone calls, PR can be viewed as a waste of spend, and effectively kill any debate around ramping up budget for some time. For any marketing professional joining these firms, it can be a frustrating experience.
We believe there is a better way, as our credentials explain.
The starting point for all our campaigns is to define business objectives – and this is where it gets interesting for fast-growth businesses, as we believe PR should be fundamental to achieving that growth.
We have worked with clients looking for very specific outcomes; building towards a funding round, creating a pathway towards an IPO, entering the US market for the first time or increasing the number of channel partners on their books – and sometimes, all of these goals at once. Each of these objectives would require a very different set of tactical recommendations, using a number of different channels – not just PR. Importantly, by being far more targeted, the ability to measure outputs attributable to PR increases exponentially.
What’s more, the robust, reader-centred content needed to generate results in traditional PR, including media relations, should drive the content chosen across the marketing mix, including web content, social media and sales materials. This adds value to the business and increases overall return on investment in PR and marketing communications.
Businesses undergoing a step change need PR to actually deliver for them, but the perceived lack of transparency around what they are getting for their investment can be a huge stumbling block. How does a set number of hours every month help them achieve their strategic goals? Frankly, it doesn’t.
This is why our deliberately different approach of set fees for set deliverables, linked to clear performance commitments underpinned by a formal service level agreement, continues to resonate so well with tech firms.
Working on the business development side of our business, organisations we speak to tend to have had one of two experiences regarding PR:
- They have never invested before – and therefore like the certainty that we can offer in terms of transparency and commitment to results. Oh, and if we fail to deliver what we said we would, they get their money back;
- Or they have invested in PR before and had a negative experience with the retainer-based approach, for all the reasons outlined above.
I would encourage any company considering PR investment to first ask themselves how it can aid their growth plans, not accepting any set of recommendations until the agency can directly prove a link between what they are doing and the company’s goals. It sounds simple, but PR justified through filling out a timesheet simply doesn’t cut it anymore.
To hear more about the fast-growth tech firms Whiteoaks represents and discuss how we could help your organisation, click this button tell me a bit more about you.
Bekki Bushnell, Head of Business Development