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Why IT-companies often fail at PR in the Nordics

Through the years our team have worked with most of the big IT-brands. From the 90’s and onwards the communication of IT-companies has typically been executed by a self-centeret, top-managed and clippings-oriented approach. But the world has changed and what do you do then?

Communications for IT-companies has typically been 1) oriented around own product & services 2) top-managed communications with mandatory translation of US-generic press releases 3) quantitative measurements based on numbers of clippings.

In other words; the assumption has been that the IT-company’s products and services are groundbreaking enough to make everyone interested, that one-size fits all and what is of interest to the home-market (most often the US) is as interesting to the rest of the world. And last but not least, that there are enough media in every market, that can both understand and has the interest in technology, in order to generate the desired clip-results.

Well – the world does not look like that anymore. Especially not in the Nordics. First of all there are hardly any tech-media left – today they are all about consumer technology and gadgets. Secondly the nitty-gritty technology is taken for granted these days. As consumerization has risen, we simply want things to work and we don’t care so much how its build. And last, but not least, global news is not as relevant as local news – a universal rule that just grown stronger.

So while technology companies budgets for media relations has decreased, it is harder to get coverage and even harder to achieve a quantitative KPI in terms of number of clippings. Then, what do you do if you are a technology company, which still wants to make an impact in the Nordics?

The easy solutions are:

  1. Evaluate your budgets – decreasing budgets and decreasing media-outlets does not lead to more clippings. Therefore you should determine if you really need to spread your budgets thin, or if it would make sense to prioritize differently?
  2. Give up top-management of news – empower your local people to be spokespersons and create local news.
  3. Evaluate your targets & priorities – perhaps its better to focus your efforts on fewer news pieces that actually has the potential to be picked up in media. A more focused approach will free up time to work harder on the important stuff. As a consequence you will obviously need to switch from a quantitative to a qualitative measurement.

A different solution is to shift gear and redefine your communication. It demands more ressourcers and stronger dedication across the organisation, but is also the more rewarding. There are three steps to this approach.

1. Expand your story – this is a matter of taking a few steps away from your products and services and look at your broader purpose and potential impact. The first step is looking at, what customers can achieve in their business by using your products & services, and how these actions transform businesses. The second step is looking at, how these transformed businesses affect society and the way we live our lives?

This way of thinking is illustrated by this simple model:

Comms circles

Taking this approach will give you the ability to speak to a much larger audience and at the same  time be relevant and trustworthy in your insights and opinions. This is by no means radical thinking – quite many IT-companies has taken this path, with IBM and their Smarter Planet communications concept as the most visible example. But many IT-companies are still stuck in the 90’s products & services approach.

2. Expand your media-definition – As traditional IT-media has almost ceased to exist, and you still need to communicate news about products, services, updates and incremental technology progress, you should start looking at who your target group is and where they are present. It might be a lot more efficient to get in touch with your customers via social media or newsletters, than through editorial media.

Again this is not radical news – and many IT-companies does this already. But one thing is to create a corporate social media strategy. It is a completely different thing to transform your current local media-relations to a targeted localized social media and content program.

Ideally you should concentrate existing media-relations on the news that, according to your local eyes and ears, will actually make headlines. And devote your primary focus on building a local presence in local language on social media. It does not create piles in your media clippings report and you might not get an impressive amount of followers. But as long as you are reaching the right people, your money is a lot better spent. And hopefully your target groups is well defined and motivated to listen to you.

3. Be your own news channel – feeding and engaging your followers on social media, might require a little more than localized press-releases, though it can be a good starting point. As part of expanding your story, you should look into the opportunity of creating your own news-channel. Some would call it content marketing – we care less, which buzz you attach to it. But the simple solution is to create local content of interesting topics that engage and interest your audience – and over time will define you as a thought leader within your field. Creating an epicenter for your news, which drives traffic to your website via digital channels using text, video and graphical content, can be much more powerful than spending all your PR-budget on achieving a clip for you report.

We know that the technology business has so much to offer the world. Now is the time to transform your communications just like your business has transformed the world radical for the past couple of decades.

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