By Ford Kanzler, Partner, Marketing/PR Savvy
When big and small fish swim together, it can benefit both. Cooperating on public relations efforts often gains greater media attention and increased credibility. It’s not only about smaller companies benefiting from larger partners. Cooperating in a PR environment can boost communications effectiveness for both brands because two aligned companies can often generate greater market credibility. Some of the best examples are trade consortiums. But those can be tough to create and manage. Here are examples from my career the high-tech sector.
Hitching to a Customer’s Innovation
Giant Hitachi Semiconductor was perennially seeking innovative users of their chips to demonstrate the company’s advanced process technology, particularly in industrial product applications. Along came a clever customer in the form of Win Systems, Arlington, Texas. Win had designed a compact, single-board computer for use in harsh environments using Hitachi’s chips almost exclusively. It was an industry first with particular appeal among industrial control systems designers. Hitachi’s sales and marketing team dedicated funds and some of their PR agency’s time to help Win Systems promote its new, Hitachi-based industrial computer. Both companies benefited from the substantial trade media coverage. Sales surged for both players.
Partying with the Big Kids
Microtec Research, Santa Clara, CA was a small engineering software firm. With their agency’s help, the company planned an informal gathering of executives from two other firms with whom it cooperatively markets. The event was scheduled during the Embedded Systems Conference, a major engineering trade show in Silicon Valley, drawing trade editors important to Microtec from around the world. Working weeks in advance of the conference, Microtec lined up a key Intel executive and a vice president from their distributor. The agency offered media pros visiting the conference an opportunity to meet in a relaxed historic environment, the Tony Bennett room of the Fior D’Italia in San Francisco’s North Beach, the city’s oldest Italian restaurant. Editors were picked up by limos outside the convention center and whisked by a scenic route to the restaurant where they were met by the three companies’ execs. After three hours of old San Francisco ambiance, wonderful food and easy-going business conversation, but no sales pitches, the editors were chauffeured to their hotels. The outcome was Microtec Research gained substantial share-of-mind with key media people. Articles in important publications resulted. By hosting the event the company demonstrated its strong relationships with industry leaders.
Creating Coattails Opportunities
Is your company or client associated with or licensing its technology to major industry heavyweights? If so, try getting the sales and marketing people to see the publicity advantage of jointly announcing and demonstrating the values of that relationship. There’s mileage and likely media coverage to be gained. The licensee gets to tell the world about how smart it is by applying new technology to its future products. It drives industry attention and sends a clear signal to the market that it will soon be making new products with distinct advantages. This approach shouldn’t be confused with a product announcement. The licensee may not want to reveal its product plans. But it can still work for both players. The agreement alludes to next-generation products without giving away the specific unique benefits or blowing future news value.
Having trouble getting media attention? Have your company co-author a story with another firm that’s using your products. The merged reputations will likely push the idea over the top with editors. The merged budgets may also give you more tactical mileage in demonstrating your company’s expertise and enhancing its reputation.
Is your client planning trade show or industry event attendance but lacking substantive news? Try teaming up with another company, not a competitor, but one in the same or related market.
Nearly any tactical idea may incorporate a coop approach. When the budget is thin, when awareness or credibility for your client or company is low, joining with another organization can make the idea fly. Sports marketing and co-op consumer promotions have employed this strategy for decades. Co-op advertising and co-promotions are a huge part of many corporate communications programs. Make your public relations dollars go further and even more effectively by employing the coattails effect.