Appetite for Industry Expertise Unsatiated: Role of Trade Reporters, and Their Sources, Increasingly Vital

Despite all the talk of a digital world, physical industry trade events remain a main vehicle for networking because all the thought leaders in a given industry are in one place. Reporters rely on these events to check in with their sources or to find new ones, according to a recent Highwire hosted video chat with two key reporters covering vital industries: cybersecurity and healthcare.

Of course, with physical events currently not happening, reporters are now looking to other ways to maintain relationships with key industry experts and to hear about what’s driving innovation and business. This is just one example of how the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted how reporters do their jobs, and the role they serve given the changes we are all working and living through.

In this video chat, featuring Dark Reading’s executive editor Kelly Jackson Higgins and Rajiv Leventhal, managing editor of Healthcare Innovation, we talked about the role and lives of industry media in recent weeks, since the spread of coronavirus completely changed our world. 

The editors also discussed best practices for PR professionals whose roles have also forever changed. The roughly 15-minute chat is available in this post as well as on Highwire PR’s YouTube channel.

This is the first episode in a series, “PR: Forever Changed,” that investigates how PR for innovative companies, including those in healthcare, security, enterprise software, financial services, and consumer markets, has dramatically shifted in 2020. 

What is the role of PR as we all recognize a new normal? These five episodes will attempt to answer the question or at least initiate a worthwhile discussion. You can subscribe to the Highwire PR YouTube channel to be alerted to upcoming episodes.

How Do We Scale Communications For High-Growth Companies?

Last month, Peter McCormack shared his thoughts on how to Scale Your PR Team from Startup to IPO  in a recent Highwire blog. But when you are a growth-stage company, everything must scale, including communications. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to host a webinar with Insight Partners and share my knowledge of how growth-stage companies can do just that.

Following are Five Key Takeaways:

Don’t Just Say You are a Leader, Be a Leader

Don’t just say you are a leader, be a leader. You need to take the long-term view and build relationships with the right influencers, including media. That means a give and take, and not every interaction will always have a direct outcome for you. Make sure to have a perspective on the industry, not just your company. Having executives contribute content on industry topics, point of views and external research will establish your company as a thought leader, strengthening trust and credibility with audiences including the media. 

Think big. Think Integrated.

Making sure all team members and executives understand the goal of each interaction will allow your organization to meet your long term marketing goals. PR requires an integrated approach; combining paid, earned, shared, and owned media will allow your organization to gain the most value from your investment.

Funding Just the Foundation

Funding is becoming more and more competitive. Think strategically about your announcement. What is the bigger story about the market and your company you are trying to tell? Consider an exclusive to give a reporter an opportunity to tell that story.

Finding the Right Agency 

Once you’ve developed an established internal PR team an agency can help bring your company to new heights. Onboarding an agency provides expertise, strong media relations, prestige, scalability, and transparency. When searching for an agency it’s important to research industry experience. Not every agency will understand the industry and media landscape necessary to help advance your goals. Before on boarding, make sure you meet the team that will be working on your account. This will allow you to see if there is a connection and if the agency is a good fit for your business. 

Making the Most of It

Choosing the right agency will create a strong partnership setting you up for a path to success. As you continue to build your relationship, it’s important to be transparent and communicate all information both positive and negative. Having clear communication will help ensure you get the most value out of the relationship.

What All High-Growth Companies Have in Common

A question we often get  is, “I saw what you did for [this phenomenal, high-growth, high-profile company], how do we do that for our brand?” 

There are a myriad of factors that contribute to a company’s accelerated growth, including: stellar leadership team, superb hires, slam dunk timing, and of course, a little bit of luck. 

While a few of these items may be out of your control, below are the foundational communications elements these powerhouse brands have in common: 

A clear why  

Why does your company exist? What is the fundamental problem your product is solving? How has market and customer research supported your vision? What is your unfair advantage? High-growth companies not only have these answers, but are also able to demonstrate why their team – and their team alone – is best poised to win the market. 

Conviction 

The advice “fake it till you make it” is the worst possible advice for high-growth companies. There is no faking it if you want to convince the market of your awesome potential. Our partners within this space share a deep drive and conviction that their leadership, team, product, *and* vision can change – or even create – a category. Tapping into and understanding what makes your company unique is the core of your external and internal communications and sets high-growth companies apart from the pack.  

Locked-in messaging 

A solid messaging framework is how you communicate your why and conviction to the world. A strong messaging framework clearly outlines the company’s descriptor, verbalizes the mission, identifies target audiences, and is specific about the brand’s value propositions. This framework is your business’ communications blueprint – it sets the tone and positioning for all external and internal communications and ensures every touch point with your internal and external audiences is consistent, concise, and powerful. 

Commitment to marketing and communications 

Our high-growth partners share the belief that marketing and communications are business critical. They understand these roles need to be a part of the company in its early stages and are instrumental to the direction and success of the brand. Every once in awhile we hear companies “took a break from PR” or “stopped PR entirely.” We understand there are a variety of business and resource factors at play, but if being a high-growth company is in your vision, fully “turning off” or “pausing” marketing or communications will hobble your chances. These are important business functions that deserve dedicated and consistent commitment. 

Surround sound 

You have a marketing and comms team – yay! What sets high-growth teams apart from the rest is a commitment to reaching their key audiences in a variety of ways. From earned and social media, content marketing, influencer relations, and interactive experiences, high-growth companies are fearless and willing to engage their audiences in new ways.  

Defined success 

Clearly communicated KPIs are the cornerstone of a high-growth company’s success and enable them to tackle new challenges. These KPIs are not kept in silos, but shared across functions, so everyone understands what success is and their role in helping the business achieve these goals.