It’s that time of year when companies indulge in the ritual of releasing their annual ‘momentum’ press release. This seasonal practise is designed to fend off the January blues and help us all reflect on the achievements of the previous year. It’s also commonly timed to coincide with the annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas for the Annual Sales Kick-off and deliver a message of optimism and joy to employees, stakeholders, clients and prospects. Yet how successful will it be in gaining coverage in the media? Typically, the answer to this is ‘not very successful’.
As with every generalisation of this sort, there are bound to be exceptions, most notably publicly quoted organisations that have achieved extraordinary growth. Yet, in general such releases fail to pass the ‘so what’ test that most journalists apply to press releases.
What’s important to remember here of course are the objectives and expectations in communicating the news in the first place. If it’s to simply keep a drum beat of positive news on the company website and have something that sales people can send to their prospects to show that the company is a credible, thriving business, then no problem. The issue comes when the board has expectations that this information – which is of course extremely interesting to those within the business – expects to see swathes of coverage in the media. This, in my experience, is unlikely to materialise.
So, what do we suggest that companies do instead to spread positive news and demonstrate a successful year, if they want to gain real traction in the business, security and trade press? We’d strongly recommend focusing energies instead on developing a strategy to encourage third party endorsements of your company. The most obvious and compelling way to do this is with a customer reference programme that incentivises sales and marketing people to develop a quota of new business customer wins or even to identify a small number of customer ambassadors that will talk to press, analysts and other influencers about the issues that your technology has addressed in their businesses. Getting customers to agree to a video testimonial that you can post online, sell into media and push through social media is another great validation of your technology and your company.
The media love to speak to CISOs, so if you can get a quorum of them around a table for a breakfast or dinner briefing with journalists to discuss a topical issue, that too will generate a lot more media attention than any momentum release. It also has the added value of reinforcing their commitment to your brand and doesn’t require them to reveal anything sensitive about how they are deploying your technology within their company.
So, next time you’re faced with the age-old request to draft the latest self-congratulatory momentum release, think instead of other strategies that are likely to be more successful in grabbing journalist’s attention and ask your PR agency to help you think of more original ways to spread positive tidings!