Numerous tech companies sell products, services, and solutions in vertical industries. PR should play a big role in helping to do so.
But what are some of the specific PR strategies a tech company can deploy to target their efforts by industry?
1. Press Releases. The press release is still a good tool. Many vertical pubs will run releases covering new products, customer wins, new hires, and buyers’ guides. The document is also a platform for recognition, education, and relationship building.
2. Bylined Feature Stories. Vertical press are always looking for stories to help their audience. Features can be written as trend stories, how to’s, or best practices. Magazines want contributed features to be educational, vendor and product neutral, timely. The PR payoff for the tech executive who authors the story is in the byline (author’s name, title, company), and biography, contact information, and photo. And it’s always good to try and include one or two links back to helpful content on the company blog.
3. Customer Case Studies. Case studies that discuss a successful product implementation at a customer site are often well received. One of the best ways to have your story told to potential buyers in a vertical industry is through the perspective of a previous buyer. If the story has an interesting broad-based appeal, it can also be placed with horizontal press such as television, newspapers, and business press. The case study can also be repurposed for slides, video, or a podcast.
4. Pitch Story Ideas. By developing creative story themes and working with reporters on these ideas, you can garner additional coverage. For instance, tying a story into a current news event, also known as “newsjacking,” or relating it to the time of year, season, or holiday make it appealing to press.
5. Editorial Calendars. Magazines publish their annual editorial calendar in the fall for the coming year. The PR professional can then offer their spokesperson to a vertical pub or a tech editor working on a story with a vertical focus for expert commentary, feature story, or a sidebar to a story in the works.
6. Industry Awards. Industry awards exist for companies to nominate for their industry leadership, growth status, and successful vertical customer implementation. These awards might be held by an IT analyst firm, publication, trade show, association, or publication. Any third-party, independent award is an asset in helping a company gain credibility and awareness.
7. Speaking Slots. Trade show companies announce call for papers for many different types of speaking slots. Some of these might be from vertical tech shows, or a tech show with lots of end-users in the audience. Your topic might include a best practice talk or a customer case study presentation. The competition to get a slot can be fierce, but if accepted the opportunity can be an excellent tool. These presentations can be repurposed into a white paper, feature story, case study, or social media content. The PR payoff for speaking is in the marketing and social media on behalf of the presentation, the speech itself, and event networking. And of course exhibiting at a show is always an option as well.
8. Social Media. Once business connections are made, the key is to strengthen and nurture them into a long-term business relationship. This also allows you to extend your reach to new audiences. Each channel requires its own plan, but the key is to get engaged and be involved without being promotional. Successful executives create and share content and expertise without expecting a payback. They comment on posts, share other’s posts, and guest blog. They build a presence so when the time comes for someone looking for their particular product they are “top of mind.”
9. Industry Analysts. While many are tech specific, some also cover vertical tech applications. By making connections with analysts, you might get included in a report, mentioned during a speech, included in an article, or introduced to one of their clients.
10. Leveraging Media Coverage. Once your story is published the company should share and distribute the PR success across its social media channels and marketing avenues. Moreover, the PR person can ask the publication (and a participating customer if relevant) if they could share via their social media channels. Sometimes it’s beneficial to purchase reprints, use pull quotes and testimonials for marketing, and include stories online and in sales kits.
All of these efforts lead to more visitors coming to a company’s Website and social media channels and reaching buyer pools. It should be an ongoing effort, and by adding regular updates and fresh content about your vertical expertise, you can help your company achieve stronger search engine optimization and greater leadership in your vertical markets.