How to build a tech brand with earned media Steph MacLeod and Marc Chacksfield

How to build a tech brand with earned media

Kaizo director Steph MacLeod and Marc Chacksfield, TechRadar’s interim global editor-in-chief, outlined how to build a tech brand with earned media in this week’s Cision webinar.

MacLeod said the most successful brands excel in six core areas – original thinking, entertaining ideas, multiplatform content, data insights, ambitious personalities and workforce engagement.

“At the end of the day, business performance counts,” she added. “Make sure you’ve got that halo effect. Without that, to be honest it doesn’t matter what you do.”

“A brand is always built on its content,” agreed Chacksfield. “That’s exactly what we tried to do, even when we were just a start-up.”

Communicators need to make technology real

Over the course of her career, MacLeod has run tech PR campaigns for clients including Apple, Samsung and Facebook. She said the most successful brands are the ones that make a technology real for their audience.

“Nobody cares about ‘massive processing power’ and petabytes of data that sit in a storage box,” she said. “But maybe they do care that it’s helping Mercedes win Formula 1. Maybe they do care that it’s helping to cure previously incurable diseases.”

Ronan Cloud, a Weber Shandwick associate director who watched the webinar, agreed: “No matter how mind-blowing the tech, it’s the impact on people that truly matters. So, cut the science – and the acronyms – and keep it real.”

When it comes to SEO – you can’t cheat the system

Chacksfield pointed out that great headline writing and SEO best practice are the modern equivalent of when he used to move his magazines to the front of the pile in WHSmith. But if you want people to engage with your content, it also needs substance.

“The biggest thing to remember is that you can’t cheat the system,” he said. “Once people click through and you’ve just got clickbait or nothing compelling to read then they will get put off your site.”

“Thought leadership is probably the most overused phrase in B2B tech PR,” added MacLeod. “To be effective it needs to be properly insightful and visionary or controversial and ballsy. And to be honest, the best kind of thought leadership is all of these.”

Exclusives got TechRadar ahead of the game

TechRadar pulls in an awe-inspiring 30 million unique users each month and has established itself as one of the UK’s go-to sites for exclusive tech news, in-depth reviews and the latest tech rumours.

Chacksfield said PRs should always bear this in mind when pitching in a story – and offer the title something no one else will have access to.

“Try and make it feel like the pitch is just for me, or try and get something that’s a little bit more that will grab my eye,” he said. “That doesn’t mean an entirely exclusive story. It could just be an exclusive line for that story, or a quote from somebody.”

He added: “It’s pretty easy to see a cut and paste email now. And unless it’s a really enticing press release, we won’t reply to it.”

Pitch to yourself before contacting the press

Chacksfield said the secret to crafting the perfect tech PR pitch is putting yourself in the journalist’s shoes and understanding what they’re looking for.

“Ask yourself the following,” he recommended. “What value am I offering? Would this be something a TechRadar reader would be interested in? What’s the benefit of having this pitch on TechRadar?”

Ronan Cloud agreed: “Engaging your friends – who can be a tough crowd when talking about work – is a great litmus test. Doing the same with one’s own work is an essential stage of every pitch. If you can’t get excited by your own storyline, you’re not doing it right.”

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