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Too many technology companies are "marketing blind" - they don't know for sure what content, channel or message works for their audience Through "Catalyst" - our audience insight initiative - we know better than anyone
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CCgroup has worked with dozens of technology companies since 1989, to help them create awareness, drive lead generation, build perceived value and position for exit. These have included major brands and innovative challengers.
In particular, CCgroup has been at the heart of the mobile technology industry for more than 20 years. We’ve worked with the GSM Association for the last 17 years, helping to turn a technical standards body into one of the most successful and influential campaigning trade associations in the world.
We’ve worked with mobile operators, major network equipment providers, OSS/BSS companies, device manufacturers, app developers, mobile advertising outfits, industry consultants and more.
We’ve worked extensively in fintech. Initially with innovative organisations like Fundamo, using mobile to bank millions of unbanked people in emerging markets and dramatically improving quality of life. One of the proudest moments in CCgroup’s history was when our PR campaign was singled out as a major contributing factor to their $110 million exit to Visa.
In addition, we’ve worked with the very first developed markets mobile payments efforts, card manufacturers, card processing outfits, next-generation payments companies, core retail and corporate banking platforms, mobile business apps, PoS manufacturers and much, much more.
Our mobile and telecoms experience has enabled us to develop very successful campaigns for companies targeting the enterprise audience. One of the most memorable was for a company called Visto – nowadays branded as Good Technology. Our award-winning campaign pitted Visto against the then mighty BlackBerry in the mobile email wars. Visto won market share against a whole host of competitors and dominated the market with its thought leadership.
Besides that, we’ve worked extensively with organisations in the enterprise telephony, enterprise mobility, hosting, data centre connectivity, productivity, call centre technology and VPN arenas.
The MediaTech industry is characterised by a wide range of influence channels. As well as traditional editorial and analyst influence channels, clients also engage customers with campaigns around TV technology trade events such as IBC and NAB, and through increasingly powerful digital communications. CCgroup ensures all client PR programmes are unique and customised to the business objectives, providing a quantifiable and positive return on investment.
Our analyst relations team works with both start-ups and established tech companies to build credible and meaningful relationships with industry analysts who track key technology developments. Our team has a proven track record of success, running analyst relations programmes on a global scale as well as in local markets, and across all of our specialist sectors.
B2B tech brands do not know enough about their customers and prospects. The net result is that the marketing and sales programmes and messages they put out don’t resonate with audiences as much as they should. In the consumer world, brands invest millions of pounds a year on customer insight. But it’s not about the money, it’s the seeming lack of ambition amongst B2B tech firms to do more than just ‘optimise’ campaigns. B2B tech brands seem ‘content’ with category level insight from industry analysts that’s available to all their competitors.
In the future, things will change. B2B tech sales and marketing leaders are beginning to know what they don’t know. Due to recent advances in business psychology and data collection, and the gradual emergence of planners who can turn this data into insight, technology PR professionals can play a leading role in the collation and application of customer insight. I wrote about it for Gorkana late in 2016.
In response to this, we created Aperture – a specialist consultancy employing psychology, data and technology to drive customer insights into the B2B market. And if we, a tech PR agency, can do it then others with greater resources than ours can too. It’s a critical step on a journey that will evolve dramatically in 2017.
2. Technology PR leads on PR automation
I don’t think it has ever been more difficult to hire good technology PR people. So why do they end up spending so much time on low-value tasks – the type that could be automated? Take some big data, integrate machine learning and add a dash of AI and you have an incredible opportunity for the whole PR industry. But it’s likely that technology PR folks that are more familiar and comfortable with technology will lead the way – and make the requisite mistakes – for the whole industry.
What does it mean in practice? Well, ‘goodbye’ to the dull but necessary tasks of daily PR, the challenge of hiring huge numbers of talented technology PR people and the wastage on admin and reporting. ‘Hello’ to strategy training earlier in careers, scaling brilliant people across tasks and, the main aim, more time spent doing ‘PR’.
CCgroup is making a big bet on the automation of PR in 2017, starting with a thorough examination of the possibilities and the tasks that waste time and deliver little value. It’s going to be a long, hard, expensive road. But the potential is really quite amazing.
3. We all love media relations, again
Over the past few years, media relations has become a ‘dirty word’ in PR circles. We’re meeting a worrying number of junior to mid-level job candidates who don’t seem to value media relations or make much of their influencer contacts. And these are PR people.
Insight and strategy, content marketing, customer reference programmes et al are critical to contemporary sales, marketing and PR programmes. But first and foremost, clients hire tech PR agencies to win them targeted media coverage, which helps to activate marketing programmes and reach a wide range of audiences. I’ve seen a couple of examples where SEO and advertising agencies have attempted to engage with journalists – it’s truly awful. Media relations must remain the domain of PR professionals because we’re good at it and should be proud of it.
Obviously, PR is not just media relations – that’s far too limiting today. But media relations is an essential component of contemporary technology PR. As an industry, PR has devalued one of its greatest assets. In 2017, we’ll learn to love, respect and value media relations once again in technology PR.
4. Integrated marketing programmes: PR takes centre stage
Over the past seven or so years, CCgroup has learned how to participate in integrated tech marketing programmes. Now we’re finally realising that, of all the marketing disciplines, PR is the best function to lead integrated efforts.
In five years, PR will have secured its rightful place at the centre of integrated marketing programmes across all markets and sectors. We have a superior market and customer insight, we excel at inventive storytelling, we understand multi-channel communications and we can handle measurement tied to business outcomes. Trust me, PR will be the most important marcomms game in town. Nothing made me more sure of this than my trip to SXSW last year.
But in 2017, and especially in tech, PR will start to take the lead more formally, demonstrating the benefits the function can bring as the fulcrum of integrated marketing. Just consider this: if we’ve grown up learning to successfully engage with the world’s most cynical audience (the media), then working through owned channels and going direct should be a piece of cake (it’s not a piece of cake – but knowing how to tell a compelling story that drives a response is more useful than knowing how to buy ad space).
5. Buckle up: technology PR growth outstrips the rest of the PR industry
In PRCA research published in 2016, the two areas are tipped for most significant growth in the next few years were healthcare PR and technology PR. There was an emphasis on the latter.
Many areas of PR – corporate, financial, consumer and industrial – are suffering from intense price and competitive pressure. This became apparent at the PRCA’s final PR & Communications Council meeting of 2016. In stark contrast, technology PR is flourishing.
CEOs and MDs of specialist tech agencies have reported growth levels of above 30% in 2016. That’s decent growth, but some of us are daring to dream of 50% in 2017 (I’m not quite sure anyone has thought about staffing this growth yet, but let’s not spoil the optimism). As the tech market grows and grows, and the opportunities to play more strategic, more integrated and more successful roles in campaigns evolves, the potential for incredible growth is there. 2018 promises to be a vintage year for technology PR professionals.
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