As part of the ongoing series of blog posts I’ve written on how to make your marketing more credible, I talked about how to earn awards and endorsements to build credibility. At the time, I explored the award side of this topic in more detail than the endorsement side. In particular, I talked only briefly about how much more credible your marketing would be with a media or analyst endorsement. In this post, I want to return to that topic and explore it further.
It’s easy for everyone to realize how media or analyst endorsements would help your start-up but it’s a lot harder to secure the endorsement. It also takes a lot of time to work towards this endorsement and any attempt to get this done quickly will most likely result in failure or worse permanent damage to your credibility.
You have to remember that editors and analysts have spent years building their brands and reputations in the industry and they need to be careful or all this hard work will be for naught. Any analyst or editor that will provide an endorsement quickly for a favor or money, is not an endorsement you want. It may help in the short term but in the longer term it will have cost you money, your reputation or both.
So that leaves us with how to get a credible endorsement that will provide value to both your product and the analyst or editor. It’s really a process that starts with creating simple messages that clearly differentiates your product so the editor or analyst sees the value you provide and results in a powerful relationship with an industry expert.
I’m sure many PR professionals will cringe when I say this process is not too dissimilar to the sales process and it’s only the goal that’s really different. Now, I’m not talking about the sales process that is all about telling the customer what they want to hear to close the deal and then never hear from them again. I’m talking about the sales process where you build a long-term relationship with your customer and continually help them solve their problems. (Does this sound better you cringing PR professional?)
The reason the process starts with creating the right message is that the editors and analysts are bombarded day in and day out with pitches from all kinds of companies big and small. You need to be able to standout from the crowd with a simple, differentiated message to get their attention. But maybe more important you need to ensure you are sending this message to the right audience.
If you read their blogs and/or talk to the editors and analysts about their pet peeves, it’s the mass email pitches they receive all the times that are about products or services that do not fit within the scope of what they write about. If every company or PR agency would only spend just a little more time to research who the experts are in their industry and only reached out to them. Make sure you do this and I’m sure your editors and analysts will appreciate it, as it makes their life easier.
Obviously, having previous relationships with these editors and analysts helps in the early stages in terms of getting your message read. But these relationships are not as valuable if the story you are pitching does not match what they are working on at that time. And similarly, don’t let a lack of relationships stop you from reaching to the editor or analyst that covers your space.
Their job is to find interesting angles to stories and innovative solutions to problems faced by their readers. Better yet, give them a case study about how someone faced the problem you solve and let it be about your customer not your company. That’s powerful and editors clamor for these types of stories.
Now you may need to be persistent as they do get a lot of pitches that sound similar but if you’ve done your homework in terms of developing the right message for the right audience you can and should get above the clutter of “me too” companies.
Now, I do realize I’m oversimplifying here but at the same time, I don’t believe your PR efforts need to be complicated. You just need to focus your efforts on a short list of relevant editors or analysts and be persistent to get that endorsement or reference to make your marketing credible.