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PR Predicaments

Phil Harvey
2/19/2008
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2:15 PM -- PR people take note: Telecommunications Magazine is as mad as hell and they're not going to take it anymore.

This screed by one of the magazine's editors, if I'm reading it right, is making the argument that telecom companies shouldn't all try to attempt to get press coverage during the days leading up to a major industry tradeshow.

"There are 52 week news cycles in today's electronic world," the article states. "The days of announcing every new widget, every enhanced corporate position and every new management change during a three-day show and dumping all that information into an e-mail bundle are over. There's just no time to read through all this stuff and no space to cover it."

So if you're a PR practitioner, you've got a choice to make.

On the one hand, companies of all sizes -- your clients -- want to make as big a noise as possible leading up to a big show. All their peers, customers, and competitors will be there, after all.

On the other hand, a editorial figure in the trade press says you should keep your powder dry until some other time of year, perhaps when there's not as much going on.

What should you do?

— Phil Harvey, The Editor, Light Reading

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paolo.franzoi
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paolo.franzoi,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 3:47:30 PM
re: PR Predicaments

The basic problem is that nobody cares about trade shows except the analysts (financial and industry) and the press. They have virtually no relevance to customer relations - except as a convenient place to meet. This is not marketing Coke to the world, we are marketing highly technical products to highly technical consumers. Glitz will not really get you anywhere. Solid products, with attractive price points, and proper functionality will beat good Marcom everyday and twice on Sunday.

Again, the only reason to show up is to market the company to the financial and trade audience.

seven
paolo.franzoi
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paolo.franzoi,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/5/2012 | 3:47:28 PM
re: PR Predicaments

Other way around. I think they are best served trying to market their booth in the lead-in to the show.

seven
DCITDave
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DCITDave,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:47:28 PM
re: PR Predicaments
Sounds reasonable. And makes that Telecommunications piece seem way off the mark.

Can't imagine any company, especially one with stockholders, would pass up a chance to make a big noise at any show meant to shine a light on the industry's accomplishments, etc.
DCITDave
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DCITDave,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:47:28 PM
re: PR Predicaments
If trade shows really are just press events, then are companies best served by keeping quiet in the weeks leading up to the show?
Lite Rock
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Lite Rock,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:47:27 PM
re: PR Predicaments
The Trade Show Press Releases serve Four (4) purposes that I have seen.

1. They keep the Vendor Marcom folks employed and overworked.

2. They provide the Sales folks with talking points for their presentations to tier 2 and 3 Customers.

3. They frustrate the less savy press/media.

And most importantly...

4.They serve as a sharp stick in the eye of their competition. (not unlike This Blog :P )

Cheers,
rahat.hussain
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rahat.hussain,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:47:20 PM
re: PR Predicaments
There is clearly a balance.

We have to agree that announcements about every little widget, every new exec appointment, or even announcements that say "Xportos goes to OFC" (meaning we are attending the show, we have an exhibit, will you please come see us?), need to be ignored.

OTOH, there are certain announcements that are best timed with a show since they provide the biggest bang for the marketing buck and allow existing and new customers to get excited about new developments.

It IS the editors'/reporters' job to filter out what's newsworthy and what's not - if they cannot do that because 150 emails hit the inbox, I would recommend they find other jobs where there are no spikes in work-load and where there are no deadlines. (And where nobody cares what you do).

odo
douggreen
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douggreen,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:47:18 PM
re: PR Predicaments
LR editors.. since I kissed up on my last post, could you go back and correct all my typos :)
douggreen
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douggreen,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:47:18 PM
re: PR Predicaments
OK...I know that the following is going to sound patronizing, but I no longer work in the industry and don't really benefit from kissing butt... unless someone at LR wants to write an article promoting higher salaries for High School physics and logic teachers.

Marketing people just don't get it.

It is not a writers job to sort through crap to find the pony. It is their job to write interesting and informative stories for their readers. Marketing/PR people can do one of two things: make it easier for them to do their job, or make it harder.

Guess what? If you make it easier, you will get good coverage. Press people are, well, PEOPLE. Treat them like crap because you think it is their job to take it, and their natural tendency will be... well, the same as yours.

On the other hand, if you conciously think and act in a way that makes their job easier, you will get good coverage in general. Here are a few specifics:

1.Don't bring them a press release talking about how you believe your widget is the best widget in all of widgetdom. Bring them an interesting story, preferably with as much specifics as possible on how specific customers are using your product to solve specific problems. The product is not a story, the application is. If you think this is doing their job for them, great, now your starting to get it.
2.Help them out, even when there is nothing immediately in it for you. Yes, it is your job to promote your conmpany and products, but contributing to or even writing an article that doesn't promote your company once in a while as a favor to the press buys you a lot of goodwill. Most of my CEOs never go this one and complained that I was wasting my time, but they never complained when the press treated us well in return.
3.While you do have to push your agenda, you don't have to cram it down their throats. You may also want to LISTEN to them if they tell you it is a bad time to announce your product the week of the show. THey might know something that you don't that they can't tell you, like maybe the fact that Microsoft and Cisco have announcements that will dwarf yours and drown it out. THey might just keep you from wasting a big announcement.
4.In summary, follow the golden rule: treat them like you would want to be treated, and you may find your company and products getting better coverage.

LR writers and editors, please feel free to correct me if I have it all wrong.

P.S. I understand that marketing people all believe, rightly or wrongly, that a big announcement at a show is neccesary to drive traffic to a booth. THis is only partly true. An earlier announcemenbt followed by personal contact with customers closer to the show is much more effective, it just takes more work.

Doug

whyiswhy
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whyiswhy,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:47:11 PM
re: PR Predicaments
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