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Can Tech Stop Lying to Itself About Media Coverage?

By Brittany Bevacqua | On January 10, 2018

If you’re in tech, you already know that competition is fierce to get headlines and airtime. In white hot sectors like security and Blockchain, that competition increases tenfold. The media is churning out stories, and everyone wants to join the conversation, even those that aren’t always the most qualified to. Now, your company and executives are among countless other thought leaders, experts, visionaries and evangelists vying to lend perspective on breaking news and trends.

On top of that—and here comes a truth bomb—many companies just aren’t willing to put in the time or effort to develop relationships and bring something compelling to the press. They offer up “mad lib” commentary, talk in anecdotes, won’t mention their customers by name and they color inside the lines. What they’re serving up to the press is often surface-level at best, and the media is on to the watered down content.

Because of this, my personal view on the value of earned media coverage has changed. I’ve worked at B2B tech agencies my entire career. Quantity was drilled into my head very early on. The more coverage, the better. And in some cases, sure, it made sense (and continues to for some).

But for the majority of tech companies, volume ultimately doesn’t move the needle. Sure, it’s great to get 50 mentions, 500K+ UVMs, or hundreds of millions of impressions, but if the right people aren’t reading, sharing or taking action on that material – was it valuable?

Quality and impact is what matters. Companies need to develop and tell quality stories, free of marketing speak and unverified claims. They need to provide quality data that sheds light on industry trends, opportunities and challenges. They need to offer up real-world examples of who’s using their technologies or services, what they can do (and fess up to what they can’t), and be candid about the results. In short, in 2018 tech companies need to move from a “tell” to “show” media strategy in order to remain both relevant and memorable.

Pindrop, a company in the anti-fraud and call center authentication space, is one company who’s getting this right. Check out the creative way the company demonstrated what its technology could do, blowing away Fortune writers in the process: Data Sheet—Catching Crooks With AI.

Here at Affect, we’ve helped our tech, healthcare and professional services clients adopt a similar approach, resulting in high-profile media coverage that not only boosts brand awareness, but impacts their bottom lines as well. Here’s two examples.

Diligent, SaaS-based corporate governance and collaboration solutions for senior leaders, wanted to get the word out about a scary reality: many board members have trouble following basic security 101 procedures, putting companies at risk for leaks, data breaches or worse. But Diligent couldn’t just say the risk was out there – it had to show the extent of the problem. Partnering with NYSE Governance Services, nearly 400 corporate directors at publicly traded companies were surveyed. Findings such as “90% of directors use unsecured personal email accounts to communicate with senior leaders and conduct board business” painted a grim picture of the state of cybersecurity at elite levels of corporations today. The data gave our team the hard evidence to bring a richer story to the press, resulting in coverage in WSJBank DirectorCorporate Compliance Insights and many other top publications read by Diligent’s target market. The coverage drove qualified leads for the company, and greater market awareness about the hidden dangers lurking in corporate boardrooms today.

On the healthcare-side, we took a similar storytelling approach for NJ hospital CentraState, resulting in a feature story MedPage Today. The article detailed CentraState’s lung cancer screening program, which has helped detect lung cancer in patients who are non-smokers and not considered at risk. By pitching the story around ASCO (a top oncology trade show of the year) and putting forth a dynamic (and informed) spokesperson who could speak at length about the hospital’s technology, its lung cancer program and provide a compelling perspective on similar programs discussed at ASCO, the article ultimately highlighted why the hospital’s program was so successful, in the context of a much larger market trend.

The New Year is the perfect time to revisit your PR strategy, as well as the metrics you use to determine impact and ROI. By evolving your approach and focus based on the current media landscape, you’ll be one step ahead of the competition.

Shoot me an email if you want to know more. Brittany Bevacqua, Vice President, Affect: bbevacqua@affect.com.

Brittany Bevacqua

Brittany is a Vice President at Affect, where she brings more than seven years of deep B2B and B2C technology PR experience. In her role, Brittany is responsible for setting program strategy and overseeing execution to ensure that clients achieve their unique business goals. She is particularly passionate about leveraging breaking news headlines and industry trends to raise her clients’ profiles among their target audiences. Prior to joining Affect, Brittany was a senior account representative at Boston-based Lois Paul & Partners (LP&P), where she led public relations programs for a wide-variety of technology clients.