In the crowded, competitive online advertising market, companies must communicate with laser precision in order to thrive. Whether it’s growing the customer base, establishing thought leadership, differentiating from competitors or making a lucrative exit, strategic communications and execution matters in this fast-paced, crowded industry. While the technology is of course critical, engineering-lead digital ad companies often dismiss the value of PR. And those same companies wonder why a less-elegant technology is winning mind-share and dollars. But companies that win in this space combine a great solution with smart marketing and PR to help build their profile within the industry.
Traditional marketing can be used for lead generation, but PR is still one of the best ways to differentiate and establish thought leadership. Drawing from our experience working with Right Media, Adify, Associated Content, PointRoll, Coremetrics and dozens of others, we’ve established a few best practices that use few of the tenants of online advertising – targeting, killer creative, and optimization – as analogies for smart PR execution. Alongside your own product innovation, these tactics can noticeably impact the bottom-line for marketers.
The days of grabbing a list of reporters and firing off a press release with no attention to detail as to why each one should care about what you're sending are over. Relationships matter. Retweeting a reporter's story does not mean you have a relationship. Have you identified the top 10 reporters that should be writing about your company? Who is writing consistently about your competition?
The analogy here refers to developing your own original content. Branded content published on multiple platforms can simplify and differentiate your message and help you establish thought leadership. There are lots of ways to create killer PR content beyond the classic press release and here are some suggestions.
- Thought leadership means being an expert on industry trends and issues and can be approached in several ways: speaking at industry events, writing a well read blog discussing relevant issues vs. solely touting your products and services, curating industry content, and bylined articles in industry media.
- Data-driven PR – Reporters thrive on data. Most media covering the digital advertising industry don’t have the resources to conduct independent research studies. They rely on industry data, surveys, and reports to augment their reporting. And this kind of materials can be conveyed as infographics that have great media and audience appeal.
- Social media – Don’t make social media a separate bullet in your strategy. Social media should be baked into everything you do to publicize and market your company.
PR is a frequency medium. If a company announces a new digital advertising service and then waits months to follow up with more news, they will get very little attention. But I’m not advocating weekly press releases to create the rolling thunder effect. News and content need to be optimized for each format and thoughtfully timed to create a consistent and credible presence.
In today's 24/7 news cycle, product and company announcements have a shelf-life of just days. At the same time, ad tech companies are constantly iterating on their products and services. It's hard to roll up those constant changes into the “2.0 release” typical of shrink-wrapped software, but you need to benchmark progress and communicate product-level details to media. Stagger your news with engaging content for more traction with the media. (And yes, by “media” I mean everything –“traditional” newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, but also blogs, podcasts, video Q&As, and more).
PR in all its forms can be key in establishing your brand and unique value within the digital advertising ecosystem. How is PR currently working for your digital advertising company?