By Dominique Pienaar, Gauteng Regional manager, DUO Marketing + Communications
The proof of the value of public relations is in the experience - and one of our clients, Brian Timperley, MD and co-founder of Turrito Networks has been quoted as saying: “The lesson I have learnt is that small businesses and even startups should not underestimate the value of PR.
“Entrepreneurs are often advised of things you should and shouldn’t spend money on. PR is rarely included here. I would unequivocally disagree with this approach – as long as you have the right partner, with the right skills and experience, PR can be one of the best weapons at your disposal in any business.”
Business-to-business technology companies should view public relations as an investment that enables them to demystify their products and services, build credibility, and emphasise the business value of their offerings.
Strong, authentic, and transparent PR messaging also becomes increasingly valuable as digital media grows, and more businesses will need to build communication resiliency.
Partnering with the right agency also ensures that your PR strategy is agile - achieving omni-channel integration, staying on top of trending topics and responding quickly and being able to test and refine your messaging for maximum exposure. Digital channels provide the agency and client with direct analysis on outputs, allowing both parties the agility to test, modify and evolve the strategy to ensure commercial return on investment.
While there is undoubtedly a place for generalist PR agencies, if the objective is to translate complex or hard to explain technologies to end users, non-technical business decision makers and entrepreneurs, then tech companies would be well placed to consider a specialist B2B tech agency.
The skills requirements for any PR agency are quite similar, but for a B2B tech company, the need to have a grasp of the business, technology, and crossover media is critical.
A key function of a specialist agency is to look beyond the costs or specifications and to rather demonstrate how it can help businesses reduce costs, improve profitability, or gain a competitive advantage.
Purchasing decisions are not always made by technology decision makers, but rather by business decision makers, and an important part of the PR objective is to show how a product or service can help a business become more efficient.
Coverage in mainstream media as well as relevant industry trade publications help establish business executives as thought leaders in the field, while also raising awareness about their company’s products and services - which may otherwise need expensive advertising support.
Clients have told us that some of their new referrals have been made on the back of an interview or editorial placement in on-target media.
But, investing in PR is about more than just having press releases placed - it helps B2B technology companies build trust and create a lasting relationship with both the media and a highly-targeted business audience in an industry characterised by long sales cycles, normally with high sales values.