To Issue or Not Issue – The Momentum Release Edition

Image: Bank Phrom

 

The phrase “momentum release” is one used by PR and marketing professionals to describe a specific news announcement focused on depicting a company’s growth. The purpose of this type of announcement is to recap a successful year (or quarter) with the goal of leveraging the content as an asset for sales lead generation, social media content and often as a strategic tool to support a potential merger and acquisition, venture capital or exit discussions. For example, a typical momentum release includes business metrics such as the number of new customers and partners, growth in revenue (or market share), growth in specific industries, strategic hires, global expansions or new offices, prestigious award and analyst recognition, as well as new positioning and messaging. 

On the surface, a momentum release should serve as a great media asset. The problem is that this kind of announcement is not considered news and will be largely ignored by the media.

So, why bother? Is there ever a time when a momentum press release is worth the effort? The answer is yes AND no. 

 

When Does a Momentum Press Release Make Sense? 

The reason why this answer is so difficult is that the question PR professionals, as advisors, should ask their clients is not, “why do you want to issue a momentum press release?” but, “what is the business objective you are hoping to accomplish by issuing this press release?” If the answer is to simply create press interest, that will require a larger conversation about the definition of news. If the latter, and there are specific business goals in mind, a momentum press release can be a helpful tool. 

A few potential scenarios: 

  • Your client is a publicly traded company think Apple, Google, Amazon or Microsoft. Here is a recent example, detailing corporate earnings, operations metrics and customer gains. In this scenario, your client has beat reporters (reporters who are responsible for paying attention to your every move) who are interested in company growth metrics because of the impact this growth will have on industries, investors and ultimately consumers. 
  • Your client is an established challenger (as in this example) in a market that is being redefined by technology. As an established brand, your client is going up against companies who are covered by beat reporters. In this scenario, the beat reporters might be interested in your company’s growth metrics, especially if they showcase trends that could potentially impact the company they follow. Note that in this scenario, the information is mostly used as a reference but can, in some cases, result in introductory conversations with influential reporters and put your client on the radar of financial analysts. 

What if your client doesn’t fit nicely into either scenario? A momentum press release could still serve as a valuable assetbut its worth considering other options and tactics. 

 

Issuing a Momentum Release – The Grey Options 

For many startups, especially those in new and emerging technologies, a momentum press release would have little impact since established challengers or publically traded giants might not exist as a comparison. There are also instances where while the growth of your organization might be worth celebrating, the figures are not enough to go up against an established market leader. Best practices in these situations include:

  • Turn the momentum press release into a blog post, as in this example. This can live on your website or on a third party platform such as Medium. This option gives your organization the ability to highlight overall growth but in a less formal manner that can be amplified through social media. For example, leveraging the growth stats could be part of a paid, targeted LinkedIn campaign that focuses on lead generation and overall awareness.  
  • Turn your momentum press release into a story that focuses on the problems your company is trying to solve and leverage the stats, particularly market and customer growth as proof points that support your narrative. This option will still require pulling together all the most recent growth metrics, but will result in a narrative that journalists will likely perceive as less self-serving and possibly allow for thought leadership conversations to take place, as the focus is more people and problem centric vs company focused. 

As you can see there are many options, each with its own benefits. What’s important for businesses to ask themselves is, “What are we hoping to accomplish by issuing a momentum press release?” If that question is difficult to answer, then it’s likely not the best approach to take. Instead, a discussion with your PR team to discuss your overall strategy should be the next priority on your list.   

How PR Can Best Support Sales

Image: Adeolu Eletu

 

There’s a lot that goes into creating a successful PR program, and one important element for consideration is how PR can support sales. This is an important aspect that can make or break a program because it can help prove the value of PR to stakeholders across the business.

Given that many companies recently held their SKO – and sales teams across the world are amped up to meet their quota for the quarter – now is a good time to revisit how PR can help sales teams meet their goals.

We’ll take a look at just a few of the ways PR teams can best support sales teams and help drive increased revenues for the business.

 

  1. Understand the sales organization’s goals for the quarter – and fiscal year 

What’s the goal? 

Sure, sales teams obviously want to increase sales, but is their overarching goal to penetrate a new market? Do they want to uplevel their approach or increase technical acumen to target (and succeed with) new buyer personas? Do they need to increase pipeline to establish steadily increasing revenues to eventually go public?

Understanding sales goals matters – because it directly impacts the direction and urgency of PR activity. 

If the business is shifting to an enterprise CIO buyer, it raises the importance of showcasing customer stories with CIO advocates or landing top-tier business coverage. 

On the other hand, targeting the enterprise architect means pursuing more “how-to” focused coverage in technical trade publications and providing that audience with the technical intel they need to thrive in their roles.

You want to be able to create campaigns and secure coverage that maps to the right buyer persona, otherwise, sales reps won’t benefit.

 

  1. Align on specific topics of interest that help sales teams close deals

So you learn sales goals and know the right enterprise persona to target, now what? You need to align on the right topics that support sales reps in conversations with customers and prospects.

It’s great that you earned coverage with a dream publication, but will it help sales reps close deals? 

Different types of articles in different publications will have different benefits, but if sales teams are drilling down and increasing quotas, you want to be able to provide the air cover they need to validate value drivers with customers and prospects. 

Driving campaigns and securing coverage isn’t enough – it needs to result in meaningful coverage that maps to the right business campaigns to ensure your PR program is driving tangible business impact.

For example, while it’s great to get your spokesperson on a morning TV show, a customer case study placement in a technology outlet may better aid sales conversations than a top-tier broadcast placement.

Take the time to understand what core differentiators solve critical pain points for customers and you’ll find your north star to map to.

 

  1. Leverage digital best practices to extend reach and garner traffic to your best stories

Once you place earned or paid coverage, it’s time to make it effective for sales teams.

There are digital best practices that can extend the reach and shelf life of coverage to drive stronger traffic – and support sales reps before they even step into their meetings or pick up the phone to call prospects.

For example, on LinkedIn, you can create paid campaigns with very narrow targeting to boost exposure to the earned coverage you just placed. If you have a sales team with a webinar in three weeks looking to boost attendance, LinkedIn offers a channel to leverage your coverage and target not only specific companies, titles and seniority, but member interests and skills. 

If the webinar is based on a certain kind of technology, like Salesforce, you can serve those ads to people who have “Salesforce” listed under their skills. That level of specificity can help your sales teams use your earned media wins to drive high-quality leads.    

That’s just the targeting. To take advantage of great targeting you need the right message and a clear call to action. Clear, concise language, coupled with equally clear and eye-catching graphics, make it more likely that your target audience will click on the ads in front of them. 

Good targeting means nothing without good coverage – and good coverage can go a long way to support sales teams. 

 

Think long-term success

The goal of PR isn’t just to place articles – but to drive meaningful stories that support the sales organization in an impactful way and benefit the business. 

Effective strategies and campaigns require a deep understanding of what makes the sales organization successful, so you can replicate valuable coverage over and over again.

If you don’t know what the sales team needs, now is the time to find out and get conversations rolling to drive a successful PR program. We’re here to help – email us at hi@highwirepr.com to learn more.

A Non-technical Guide to Breaking into Tech PR

Tech PR is a bustling, innovative and ever-changing field – but it’s not one I ever foresaw myself going into. As a journalism and Spanish double major whose most relevant workplace experience was working for a lifestyle magazine conglomerate, I didn’t really know what I’d be getting myself into at a tech PR agency. Luckily, it’s been one of the most wonderful experiences I could imagine, and I’ve grown and learned every day at Highwire. Now, a year into my tech PR career, I have a few tips to share for anyone entering the space who thought they never would:

Read all day long

Read as much as you can. Obviously not all day because there’s also work to be done, but take the time at the beginning of your career to get familiar with the industry. Read everything from breaking news to industry term definitions. It’s okay not to know what a cloud data warehouse off the bat – chances are you’ve never had to think about it before – so just look it up! You’re not expected to be an expert from day one, and that’s an advantage. Knowing what you don’t know allows you to prioritize learning while you get your feet wet before you’re expected to dive into the deep end. 

To narrow down your reading list, consider what specific news will be most relevant to you. There are numerous credible and interesting tech publications to use as resources including TechCrunch, WIRED, Fast Company and ZDNet. It’s worth considering what publications your client is most interested in getting featured in to understand the components of a story in that outlet. If your clients are focused on leadership in the industry, add Entrepreneur and Business Insider to your reading list. Alternatively, if they’re more focused on a technical audience, try TechTarget or InformationWeek.

Additionally, reading regularly will make you better at creating informed pitches, knowing where your client can contribute to news trends and holding stimulating conversation at dinner parties (joking, mostly). But don’t limit your reading extravaganza to the beginning of your career. The 24-hour news cycle means not only is news happening every day, but it’s happening every minute, so spend time every day dedicated to digging in – even if you think you know everything there is to know.

Ask anything

Your brain will be buzzing with a million questions. Don’t be scared to ask! At any good agency, there will be people who know the answers and are happy to help teach you. It can be nerve-racking to ask questions because you might think you should already know the answer, but no one is expected to know everything. Asking informed questions shows that you’re interested, invested and taking the time to think critically. And trust me, it’s better to ask a question about a project before you take it on than to get in too deep and realize you should have come prepared with more intel.

As far as best practices for asking questions, if you’re genuinely lost and it’s time-sensitive, fire away! If you have some time to look into the topic, do a bit of research and see what you can find. Anyone you ask will be grateful that you were considerate and thoughtful enough to give it a shot on your own. Additionally, figure out the right person to ask. If you’re confused about a client’s product, ask one of the experienced members of your team. If you’re not sure about a specific assignment, ask the reviewer. 

The best part about asking questions is that the answers you get give you an arsenal of knowledge that you can implement the next time around – and even use to answer questions for the people following in your footsteps. 

Understand goals

As you break into tech PR, you’ll realize that all of these general guidelines and best practices are great, but they only go so far. In client relations, team dynamics and personal career growth, there are a bevy of contributing factors that make each situation unique. 

For your career, ask your manager what goals you’re tracking toward at your level. You can’t prove your success if you don’t know what you’re measuring against. Once you understand your personal career goals, make a plan for how to achieve them. Discuss them with your teams and ask what you can contribute to that will put you on the right track.

For each team, you will have a separate set of goals. Internally, your managers will set expectations and that will often track to the goals of the client. You might be wondering why you get a certain request, and it’s fair to ask! Often, you’ll find that a project you’re working on is essential to a certain business or measurement goal that the client needs. Remembering that everyone you’re working with – inside and out of the agency – is working toward a North Star will help you understand their motivation.

Take it one day at a time

If you’re considering a career in tech PR, but have only ever written articles about engagement announcements and restaurant openings like me, don’t be scared off. There are a few key practices that can help you get started, and while the industry may seem overwhelming, you’ll learn day-by-day and the experience will be invaluable.