CES: Five PR Rules for B2B Companies
My colleague, Andi Narvaez , wrote a recent post about CES and the changing media landscape. The fact that journalists are looking outside the show tells a lot. They are interested in the big consumer products, the newest TVs and phones, but they are also interested in what’s next.
However, breaking through the CES noise with technology or prototypes that consumers won’t see for months can be very difficult. We deal with these types of clients on a daily basis. Most recently, we worked with a chip supplier for the 2014 CES that wanted to announce a reference design for the wearable market. With news so obviously targeted at other businesses at such a noisy and consumer-focused show, we knew it would require careful preparation to be successful. We were all surprised by the results and learned that B2B companies can still break through the noise of even the Consumer Electronics Show if they abide by these five rules:
1. Track Trends: Tie the news to major trends expected at the show: While this might sound like a no brainer, it really does take some thought. Ask yourself, what are the technology trends reporters are talking about? Because news releases are often planned out weeks or even months in advance, it’s important to understand not only what reporters are talking about now, but also what they’ll be talking about in the future and how that conversation will change over time. This year, it was all about the Internet of Things, the self-driving car and – of course – wearables. Though a reference design isn’t the most exciting news, by giving reporters a hook that tied to a major show trend, we were able to secure initial interest.
Hey professionals, watch for these four mega-trends at CES 2014 http://t.co/G4Egc8XaBu— Jason Hiner (@jasonhiner) January 3, 2014
2. Appeal to the Inner Geek: Technology journalists care about what’s inside: Technology journalists are – for the most part – geeks. While consumers may care about longer battery life and faster speeds, technology journalists are interested in the "why" behind those end benefits. Many of them also have a bit of a tinkering streak. CES may be a consumer-focused show, but many of the media who attend care about the technical details. The key with this is to not let the pitch or the journalist get so bogged down in those technical details that the story gets lost. Give them just enough of the technical information to interest them without letting the high-level story slip away – and journalists’ interest with it!
3. Root for the Underdogs: Everyone loves the underdog. We as a society want someone to come along and push the big dogs off their pedestal. That’s why things like Kickstarter are popular; it lets us be an active part of rooting for the underdog. Through the Internet of Things hype, we’ve noticed a real uptick of innovations in the maker community and on platforms like Kickstarter. One and two-man shops are taking a go and developing devices that offer a service or benefit that can connect to other things. We were fortunately able to tie our news to this trend, strengthening the overall story. If you’re competing for press time at a noisy show, it may help to find an underdog story that people – and your news – can connect with.
Tip to CES journalists: find the smallest booth in the cheapest floor space. There's probably something around there worth attention.— Quentin Hardy (@qhardy) January 7, 2014
4. Keep it Real: Compare it to something that people already are familiar with: Tech PR pros are all familiar with the term “up-level.” Sometimes it means backing away from a news release in favor of discussing larger trends. Other times, it means taking a technical story and putting it into terms people are familiar and comfortable with. After all, automobile was once a technical term, too. Compare your news with something that’s already well understood, but be sure you also differentiate it. If it’s exactly like what’s come before, it’s not newsworthy or interesting. Find a point of comparison and then expand with differences to make it interesting: An automobile is like a horse and buggy – but without the horse!
5. Show Me, Don’t Tell Me: If you’re announcing your news at a show, you need to be able to show it off. Have a demonstration available that showcases unique features, advantages over a competitor or simply shows off the “cool factor.” This puts your news into concrete terms that can help convince even the most skeptical of technology journalists.
Consumer-driven shows like CES can be difficult. There’s a lot of news competing for attention and journalists have packed schedules. A B2B announcement for a technology that the average consumer won’t ever use can be tough. But a compelling story will break through no matter what. With careful preparation and crafting of the story, even the most technical news has a chance to shine.