Earning coverage in the top-tier tech press is a mainstay for any technology PR program, whether your brand deals in consumer tech or B2B services. Universal pitching rules apply here, but a few twists are in order when it comes to getting out technology news. In some ways, pitching tech is more straightforward than working with mass media or consumer lifestyle publications, since the parameters for what tech journalists cover are more specific and well defined. Here are our Tech Practice Director Chris Harihar’s best tips for generating better tech PR in day-to-day media pitching.
Learn the coverage and beats. This is a basic PR rule, but it’s particularly important in dealing with specialist press. The impersonal “spray and pray” approach is clearly still a problem, because tech journalists often complain publicly about PR teams who offer irrelevant or inappropriate pitches, or who can’t be bothered to do basic research before they craft a pitch. Technology as an industry isn’t monolithic, so a Virtual Reality startup and an acquisition by Salesforce will be covered by two different people at a given publication.
More importantly, all tech media are not the same. TechCrunch, for example, regularly covers funding announcements for startups, while a consumer tech pub like CNET isn’t as interested in startup funding as it is in product reviews or deals for customers.
Make the most of product updates. Tech products these days evolve quickly. The companies we work with tend to lay out product roadmaps that include iterations and updates on existing products. They may seem insignificant but there’s often a good reason for the change. Even a small update can make news, particularly if it’s indicative of a trend. Combine a smart update with a savvy PR team, and you could earn strong coverage, as our team recently did with a a smart home product that made its service work seamlessly with Dropbox.
Narrate the story. Yes, technology writers want to break news and one-up the competition, but they’re also interested in why the product or service matters. Rather than use superlatives and jargon to describe your tech offering, show why it makes a difference. Sound storytelling techniques, particularly around a product’s origin or a founder’s vision, can go a long way to propel a pitch.
Acknowledge your competition. Occasionally clients don’t want to admit they have competition for fear of being one-upped in the press, or because they want to claim a position as innovator. But competition is a good thing. The chances of generating coverage are far better if there are other companies in the same or similar space, particularly in a new or unproven category. To a journalist, it means there’s investment and business potential in the sector and might even signal the birth of something new.
Consider an exclusive. Tech journalists in particular tend to pay greater attention to a pitch if they are offered the runway to cover it first. It typically results in a larger and more detailed story, which is quicker and more efficient than shopping a story to individual journalists. But because an exclusive may mean that additional publications may not want the story after it’s been covered by a competitor, it’s a strategy that requires thoughtful consideration and, for agencies, client cooperation.
Be available. Nothing frustrates journalists more than being offered an interview or an exclusive, only to learn the top exec or founder isn’t available for questions. We know schedules can be demanding (and journalists sometimes don’t make it easy). The rock star PR professional rolls with these bumps and perseveres, sometimes creatively, to make the connection happen. Sometimes resorting to an email Q & A is one way to get the job done.
Share insights. Beyond startups, funding rounds, and product announcements, evolving trends in technology are of constant interest: no tech journalist wants to be the last to know about an important development on his or her beat. Is this the year personal home robots go mainstream? Is programmatic TV advertising reaching a tipping point? If you can prove you’re shaping trends or have thought-leading ideas for your industry, don’t be shy about letting media know. Just be able to back up your claims with data, examples, and well-articulated comments.