PR Tactics To Differentiate Your Brand

Good public relations can be an essential way for a brand to stand out from the pack, especially in the B2B/ technology sector. The tech space is a crowded category with more startups entering every day, so in order to compete, companies must differentiate their product or service. There are some PR tactics that can help.

6 PR tactics to differentiate your brand

Have a distinct voice

A company can set itself apart by speaking in a distinct brand voice. A consistent but idiosyncratic tone through branded content like blog posts, social updates, and a company’s own website and sales materials can convey an impression of its personality. Is it humorous? Down-to-earth? Aspirational or emotional? But the company shouldn’t just start experimenting with different tones in hopes of finding the one that resonates. Instead, the PR agency or team should work with leadership to commit to a strict definition of the brand voice — and it should come from a place of authenticity. Being outspoken or controversial is a common method of differentiation, but if it’s contrived, it will probably fall flat. MailChimp is admired for its pithy and wryly humorous communications – all of which helps it stand out from bland competitors.

Tell a story

Entrepreneurs tend to be driven to create something the world wants or needs – and most of them have a story of how the light bulb went off or what drove them to take the leap. The origin stories don’t always make for great PR, but if a founder’s journey is fascinating, it’s a differentiator. We have a client here at Crenshaw whose business idea was borne from his brush with death in a terrorist attack. His experience is unusual and must be handled with sensitivity, but almost any senior executive does have a story to tell. Check out these “wacky entrepreneur stories to inspire you” from Inc. Magazine. In addition to origin tales, PR teams should embrace narratives about adversity, unconventional paths to success, small setbacks, or even personal quirks and interests. Who would have thought that a rift between friends could be a big story in Inc. Magazine?  Last month, Inc. told the story of the troubled relationship between the founders of Reddit, their departure from the company and eventual triumphant return. It’s a riveting story, and is part of a recently published book about Reddit – that itself being another tactic for differentiation.

Write the book on it

One of our clients, CEO Robert Glazer, published the first in-depth book on affiliate marketing. His accomplishment has helped cement a reputation as an authority in a poorly understood sector. A book, like a research study or other knowledge project, separates a thought leader from other business executives, and even in the digital age it remains a solid platform for earning media coverage, speaking opportunities, and other executive visibility within an industry. The small B2B software provider Basecamp set out to be different from the moment is began in 1999. Part of the founders’ strategy was to publish business books under the company’s name, culminating in co-founder Jason Fried’s 2010 best seller ReWork. Basecamp is still a small, privately-owned company, but its culture, branding, and ethos help it stand out from the crowd, and the books were a part of that.

Put on a conference or panel event

It’s always beneficial to speak at industry conferences, but a bigger and more lasting step for a company can be to start its own conference where feasible. Because it’s an ambitious undertaking, however, few companies take this step. We’ve found success in mini-conferences we call thought leadership panels. A company that regularly holds its own entertaining and relevant panel events can quite literally earn the label, because it’s taking the lead in an industry discussion on a trending topic to benefit customers. A business that takes the initiative to assemble influencers, colleagues, and key media has found one more way to differentiate itself. See this earlier post for best practices in putting on a successful PR event.

Do some (real) good

We are now in an era of burgeoning corporate social responsibility, in which many in the millennial generation expect companies to take a stand on issue(s) or initiatives designed to contribute to the social good. Last week for World Dyslexia Day, McDonald’s created digital signage in Sweden which simulated what dyslexics see when they read. This type of creative, highly effective activity makes a splash. SalesForce, well known as a differentiated SaaS brand, launched its employee giving program “philanthropy cloud” in early 2018 – not only a dynamic idea, but also in line with its brand voice and stated purpose as a “self-sustaining social enterprise.”

Convey a point of view

Another way for B2B companies to distinguish themselves is to offer expert commentary on trending news — but not just neutral commentary. SaaS company Box Inc.’s CEO Aaron Levie has been speaking out on issues of trust in tech and privacy regulations in the last few months, taking a strong point of view in reaction to the reputation struggles of big tech. Levie is calling for more digital privacy regulations – something not always expected from a software provider. Reactive executive commentary in the brand voice is an excellent tactic to differentiate the firm from the competition.
The PR tactics like the ones listed here can work together to create positive differentiation in a hyper-competitive atmosphere in which every enterprise scrambles for an advantage. While skillful branding and solid performance can set the stage for success, PR-driven storytelling, third-party recognition, social values, and a compelling brand voice can make a brand distinct. Isn’t that what all companies strive for?

How Good PR Builds Competitive Advantage For Startups

Gaining competitive advantage with PR programs comprised of media relations, reputation management, and content marketing can help a young tech company achieve prominence.

For an early-stage technology business, differentiation can be everything. Many operate in a crowded environment prone to fast changes and quick obsolescence. While solid business strategy and a good marketing plan are fundamental, a young company needs two things: positive visibility and credibility. They are linked but not the same.
Here are some ways PR builds competitive advantage for promising technology companies.

PR lets you play with the big boys

Emerging tech companies are often challenger brands. They need to highlight their differentiators in order to play in their chosen sandbox. Marketing is one piece of that – but there is no better way to do it than PR. A solid public relations strategy can bring all functions together with a single vision in accordance with the mission of the company. A consistent message is much easier to communicate, and it’s far more resonant.

PR means third-party validation

It’s always better to have someone else sing your praises than for you to sing them. The kind of organic visibility and the implied endorsement produced by earned media are fundamental outcomes of public relations best practices. Word of mouth is still king (even though the words now come from keyboards or smartphones). Earned media also produces higher ROI and higher conversion rates – and fortifies reputation.

Its credibility informs sales and marketing collateral

Whether you’re new or established, having a reservoir of sales and marketing content is essential to stay top-of-mind, build brand loyalty, and more. Not only can PR placements help as standalone sales and marketing collateral, they can also be used to populate or flesh out other pieces of collateral like newsletters, blog posts, and social media posts.

Your PR team offers 24/7 support

Good PR agencies/teams don’t just talk about your brand from 9 to 5. They talk about it constantly, during networking events with media and influencers, on Twitter, and more. It’s not enough to just pitch stories anymore. Smart PR means constant hard (story placement) and soft (informal) conversations. This cultivates more brand credibility long-term.

PR builds key relationships

Top PR teams do more than merely pitch media. They build long-term relationships that can pay dividends in many ways. A carefully cultivated journalist relationship will help a team navigate issues that can impact reputation — like poor reviews, customer complaints, or competitive challenges. Additionally, a savvy media relations program goes beyond valuable interactions with journalists and bloggers, but also with colleagues, influencers, clients, and competitors. Nurture a network of strategic allies and associates. Someday, you may need them.

Your story is compelling. The right campaign will tell it right.

A tech company’s origin story is a valuable commodity, so it’s critical to tell it well. Differentiation may not only come from a stellar new product, but also from its creator. Entrepreneurs rarely create groundbreaking new products just for money. They are often passionate advocates for some sort of change, whether it is a tiny life-improving device or a mission to affect society. Quality PR practitioners are expert storytellers. They know how, when, and to whom to tell your story in the most strategic way for building a competitive advantage over the competition.
PR creates brand attachment like Converse

PR creates brand advocates 

Good PR can help turn customers into brand ambassadors. People who wear Converse sneakers adore the brand. Apple’s customers love its products. But more than that, Apple customers love Apple – and everything it represents. This consumer attachment is the envy of all brands. A well-crafted, integrated PR/content marketing plan can create dialogue and engagement with clients and customers. Authentic interactions, entertaining content, and honest storytelling can capture hearts and minds in ways paid advertising cannot. The brand ambassadors will then tell your story, and this bears repeating –  it’s always better to have someone else sing your praises than for you to sing them.

PR keeps a finger on the pulse

Media and issues monitoring help you stay ahead of the proverbial curve. In today’s ever-changing news and cultural environment, it pays for an early-stage tech company to see what’s coming, what competitive factors and industry trends signify, and how to respond. Seasoned PR practices routinely monitor the media conversation in order to anticipate possible obstacles that might hinder a company’s long-term prospects. Technology firms can face crises ranging from regulatory issues to leadership changes. Monitoring the competition can also pay dividends. Being in the know helps a tech startup (or any company) get an edge on the competition.