Tech PR and Product Journalism: Give the People What They Want
Yes, tech product PR has been around for a while. No, Steve didn't invent it.
Just saw this interesting take by Tom Foremski of ZDNet on why tech PR is so hot these days. In a nutshell, Foremski writes that companies are putting more money towards PR to promote their products due to public relations’ efficacy over advertising. He argues that this is a recent shift that has been dictated by consumers’ desire to analyze just about every tech product that comes down the pike. This is driven by an insatiable thirst for product specs, benchmarks, and more, driven by the seemingly unending stream of cool technology that seems to make an appearance, on average, once or twice a week.
“Over the past two decades tech companies have been steadily shifting their substantial marketing funds into public relations, with the express goal to have news stories published about them and their products.
The reason is simple: Advertising is only one-third as effective as a news story about a company or product.
PR is much more efficient than advertising, you get far more marketing bang.”
I’m not going to argue with him, of course. I do think you get more “marketing bang” out of a well-planned, strategic PR campaign that can truly educate people, through journalists, about products and services (then again, I guess I am a bit biased!).
I don’t necessarily agree, however, that this is necessarily something new. After all, technology companies have been pitching products – everything from laptops to databases and beyond – for years. And PR firms have offered full-fledged product review programs for years as well.
I do think, though, that in our spec-obsessed world PR has become increasingly important when it comes to product marketing. Think of the latest Android device; it’s awful hard to get across the concept of the (at least perceived) importance of dual-core processors and Tegra 2 chips in an ad. Just doesn’t work. But many people do care about these things. The place to publicize them – perhaps the only really effective place – is through an article or review.
So while I think product PR has certainly accelerated, I don’t think it’s necessarily because tech companies are putting more ammunition behind it. It’s something that has been caused by consumers’ need for detailed information.
In other words, the market is demanding more and more information; product PR is stepping up to the plate to provide it.
- Pete Larmey