As the political season gets underway in yet another election year, James Carville's words from 1992 could certainly apply to the world we live in today. For most PR professionals, a slight modification of this quote could apply to the world we operate in - it's the message, stupid! Now, there are very few of us who would actually come out and say that to a client, but I'm sure we've all thought it once or twice.
Most media relations scenarios play out like this - PR team pitches a new product or company announcement, secures the briefings and then hosts the briefings with the company spokesperson and the reporter. The onus for media coverage becomes squarely placed on the PR team's shoulders. However, there is an important piece of the puzzle missing here - the message. If the message is not clearly communicated during these face-to-face opportunities with the press, then all these wonderful meetings that have been secured quickly become opportunities lost.
We have counseled clients time and time again that too often technology companies get caught up in the speeds and feeds and faster/better/cheaper aspects of their technology and forget why they created the technology in the first place. More often than not it wasn't with a specific purpose to be faster or cheaper, but to solve a problem that their customers were facing and along the way happened to do it better than the competition. Sure, the press wants to hear about the newest features, and yes, they will ask how it compares to the competition, but the story doesn't end there. What turns this from an OK story to a positive one is when the spokesperson is able to talk to the benefits the product brings to the market - how is this important to the customers, how is this important to the industry and how is this important to the company's business overall. Answering those three questions changes the nature of your conversation with the press.
Don't underestimate the impact that this type of conversation has with the press. They sit in briefings all day long and if all they are hearing is numbers and technical specifications, it's all got to run together at some point in time. If, on the other hand, they can sit on a call with a marketing spokesperson who clearly explains why this announcement is important and how it impacts the market, their job has just gotten a lot easier. And, when their job is easier, you are much more likely to get your story covered.