This post initially ran five years ago, but since the PR frenzy is back (as a result of the M&A frenzy), this needs a re-post!
Since we’re on the topic of what really grinds the doctor‘s gears, another thing that really grinds the doctor‘s gears is the incessant insistence by public relation companies that they need to be ingrained in all communication activities undertaken by an enterprise software company. To this I say, BullCrap!
Let’s start by defining what public relations is. As can easily be read on Wikipedia, public relations is the practice of managing the spread of information between an organization and the public. Let’s dwell on this. It’s the management of information flow between the organization and the public. Now let’s dwell on what enterprise software companies do. Enterprise software companies sell software made by their organization to their client organizations. Now let’s dwell on this. They move software from one organization to another organization. Not to the public. As a result, the accompanying information flow is between two organizations, not between the organization and the public. So where does public relations enter the mix?
Let’s dive into what modern Public relations organizations do, or at least try to sell perspective clients, to see if we can make any sense of this.
- Audience TargetingWhile it’s important to sell to the right audience, enterprise software companies have a pretty good idea of who their audience is. It is companies with a potential need for their software that is their audience, and not only does marketing have a pretty good idea of what their audience is, it is their job to know what that audience is.
- MessagingMessaging is of the utmost importance, especially with so many other vendors also hawking their wares, and in a world where many customers are looking for partners, or at least software providers who can offer a complete solution (software, services, and training), the messaging often has to be perfect. But this is why you have Marketing — this is their primary job.
- Social Media MarketingSince many of the decision makers at a potential customer are on social media, this is an important channel in which to place your messaging. With so many social media networks (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and so many different individuals in the target organizations to target (employees, directors, C-Suite, etc.), this is a lot to manage, and secondary to the messaging and audience targeting responsibilities of Marketing. So it makes some sense to get some help here — but this help should come in the form of organizations that specialize in social media marketing for B2B organizations, not Public Relations firms that specialize in information flow to the public for B2C organizations.
- Media RelationsThis is important for any organization that does business and needs to get its message out to the world, even if it is just the corporate sector. However, this relationship should be controlled by marketing, not some third party with a watered down message.
Now it’s no secret that the doctor does not like PR, for a host of reasons (chronicled in his Blogger Relations series), but this has nothing to do with his like of PR. This has to do with his dislike of many PR firms telling enterprise software companies that they need to be embedded in all of their communication processes and work with those companies in a collaborative and consultant manner for months and months to define their targeting, messaging, (social) media, and relations strategy and do all of the work that should be done, or at least managed, by Marketing at a very high cost to you. Not only are you shelling out 10’s of thousands of dollars for them to walk you through an exercise where you do all the work (because, let’s face it, they don’t have a clue what you’re selling, what’s unique about it, or how to uniquely position it), but you’re losing two, three, and sometimes even four quarters of momentum while you go through this drawn out exercise to get a message that your marketing team, possibly with the help of some subject matter experts, could figure out in a matter of weeks! It’s the oldest consulting trick in the book after making up a fad you don’t need — take your money to listen to you elicit what you need. (If you need to talk through your strategy to elicit your messaging, the doctor is certain a quack psychologist will be cheaper.)
So Fire That PR Firm and put your money where you need it:
- Subject Matter Expert Consultingto help you figure out what is distinct about your solution and missing in your solution space
- Thought Leadership and Expert Writing Servicesto help you get your message crystallized and down on (white) (e-)paper and in appropriate training materials for your clients
- Social Media Campaign Managementto manage your messaging through social media and on-line channels
Just like you shouldn’t get taken in by companies selling infinite scrolling websites that you don’t need, you shouldn’t get taken in by companies selling your collaborative PR services that you don’t need either.