Success factors in high-tech PR
Nanotech. Life Sciences, ITK, Aerospace… The flood of press releases about technical innovations from the laboratories of science and industry floods the editorial offices every day. In the meantime, the chance of a publication in the context of a daily newspaper is in the best case at the best case about 1:1.000. In order to draw the attention of customers, partners and investors to their own innovations, some special features and potential sources of error should be taken into account when planning and designing the public relations work for high-tech content:
1. Over-engineering instead of customer added value
Anyone who has been working for years to solve a tricky technical problem runs the risk that he or she will lose sight of the original question “where does the customer press the shoe?” completely. Instead, the new product receives a variety of unsolicited features that can only be learned with the help of a comprehensive instruction manual. The engineer’s solution may be awesome. The focus of communication must be on the direct functional, temporal, cost-related or emotionally felt added value for the end customer.
2. Complexity and a penchant for technical perfectionism
Closely connected with the “over-engineering trap” is the lack of ability to describe complex relationships with simple words, analogies or use scenarios. It is not uncommon for designs of flyers, press releases and websites to be enriched with too many technical details. The core messages disappear between endless bullet points. “Less” in high-tech PR usually means “more”. Save yourself the details for the specifications, white papers and publications in trade journals.
3. Text instead of images
The selection of a report for the next issue of a newspaper depends not only on credibility and topicality, but also on its emotionality and visualization. Messages sent as plain text messages without images or original sounds and videos struggle from the start with a 90% reduced chance of publication. The exception is historical events. Assess for yourself whether your message can compete with the discovery of the Higgs boson.
4. Communication at expert level – lack of prior knowledge of the audience
The innovator is in a dilemma. On the one hand, the various stakeholders must be credibly demonstrated who is the right expert. On the other hand, communication must never give the impression of arrogance and know-how. In an interview, it is therefore good to motivate journalists and customers to engage in dialogue and to try out the innovation and corresponding interactive models with the help of their own questions and scenarios.
5th Revolution instead of Evolution
There is a pioneer in every researcher and developer. This spirit allows us to bridge the seemingly endless time until an idea is breakthrough. When the time of market launch is imminent, the announcement of gigantic changes should be used sparingly. Perhaps the concern of man, which is naturally given to new people, requires gradual communication.
6. Lack of corporate design
No matter how important singular information may be. Please refrain from wearing a half-finished sketch from the lab computer to the meeting room at the last minute. Layout and adherence to a company-wide corporate design are critical success factors. Researchers and developers need to realize the importance of packaging a content.
7. Banana strategy and early-stage product recalls
In order to minimize the cost of product testing, innovations with undiscovered bugs have been delivered in the past, especially in the software sector. User error messages then helped the company to focus on the necessary optimizations. Such a strategy is absolutely unacceptable today. Nevertheless, every piece of high-tech also includes the risk of a product recall. Prophylactic planning for crisis communication should be part of any high-tech marketing concept.
8. Missing fan base and reference projects
In order to achieve a critical mass of media response, it is not enough to contact the editorial offices listed in the press distribution list alone. It is important to find innovative pilot customers and let them have their say. Open communication in social networks is also a must. External suggestions for improvement must be considered favourably and, if necessary, also rewarded, as in the Open Innovation approach. In this way, the high-tech PR machine receives additional catalysts.
9. Introduction without respect for competition
High-tech markets usually know only two places: that of the winner and that of the loser. Regular audits enable strategic weaknesses and opportunities to be identified at an early stage. Moreover, in an increasing hyper-competition, management must also be able to deal professionally with unfair methods such as rumours, the recruitment of customers and key persons, ruinous price competition, brand piracy or even hostile takeovers.
10. Lack of credibility by subcontractors
Horsemeat in food, Toyota recalls due to supplier quality problems are the price of globalization. This makes it all the more important to define binding standards along the entire value chain and to communicate them openly.
Public relations of high-tech solutions follows the basic rules of public relations. In addition, as shown above, it also requires individual approaches. Otherwise, there is a very good chance that an overly “advertiser” message will not skip the journalist’s spam filter. And who would like us readers and viewers to find a low-interest message.