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Technology companies are super-charged to push forward with new and dynamic ways to innovate and connect with customers. Passive organizations need not apply. If they did, they wouldn’t survive.
Given this reality, our high tech PR agency frequently meets with clients who typically express the need to play up an aggressive approach. “That’s the way we are, and we want a communications/PR firm that matches this description,” is a common sentiment expressed.
We certainly meet that criteria. But we also know that, within the context of PR/communications messaging, “aggressive” translates to different interpretations for different organizations. For some, it means getting out in front of stories and trends with contrarian, sometimes controversial statements. For others, it’s about constantly pushing out messaging about the customer-benefiting impact of their IT products and/or services, in every conceivable platform and format.
At the very beginning, we like to sit down with clients and help them figure out what they want to be. Initially, they may say they want to go the controversial route. But do they really? Many companies – because of their growth history and/or size and/or overall cultural factors – can’t go down this path regardless of the personal preferences. Large enterprises usually employ formidable legal teams, for example, and those teams often nix any notions of executives “stirring up the pot” as a media strategy.
Another consideration relates to pure logistics. For us, the willingness of a business to leap out in front of a rapid-response opportunity remains a valid litmus test. Some organizations want to take advantage of breaking-news incidents whenever possible and prudent – for an IT security company, these would involve major breaches or attacks, for others it could be notable competitor news – and position their executives for expert commentary.
Then, there are companies that would rather wait out the first wave of news reports, to come up with perspectives which are more thoughtfully crafted. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this. Yes, it will limit your news-cycle window – more appropriate for retrospective executive industry-press bylines and white papers than real-time news reporting sites. But that’s perfectly fine.
We want company leaders to understand that, if they stake claim to an aggressive posture, then rapid response comes with the package. We’ll explain to them in detail what exactly this involves, so there will be no surprises once the plan is put into play. After all, there’s nothing worse than setting aside a part of a communications budget to ramp up a rapid-response team and strategy, and then stay on the sidelines when news breaks.
Even if an organization is committed to a proactive, real-time approach, we’ll still steer leadership away fromgoing “gung ho” and chasing every headline that pops into a news reader. No matter how aggressive you like to think you are, it does no favors to be associated with ubiquitous “shoot from the hip” commentary on everysingle industry development. It’s better to pick and choose your spots, to provide information within breaking news cycles which no one else is offering.
But you can’t reach this level of messaging impact until you know who you are. We’re happy to help here, as well as at every other stage of PR/communications strategic planning. If you’re interested in finding out more, contact us.
Tony Welz is Principal and Co-Founder of W2 Communications.