Reverse engineering of a successful PR trend pitch
At the start of my PR career, a Businessweek reporter gave me some words of advice. He said:
“One company with a new technology isn’t news; two companies with the technology is a coincidence; three companies represents a trend.”
The reporter’s words came back to me a few weeks ago when I spotted an article featuring a former client in a well-respected trade publication. I decided to do some reverse engineering to determine what elements the story had in it that made it a success.
This article, “SD-WAN: What is it and why you’ll use it one day; An SDN for your branch office,” by Brandon Butler, ran in Network World recently. For my former client’s sake, I was happy to see them so prominently featured in the story. It had been one of their most coveted “press targets” back when I represented the client in 2014-15.
The placement, I’m sure, made their competitors envious.
The article tells a story about a company that had a problem and solved it with a new technology — that just so happens to be provided by my former client.
The reporter boosts the example of that one company through his use of statistics — from a well-known market research firm — about the astonishing rate at which other businesses are expected to adopt this emerging technology to solve their own problems. An analyst from that same research firm is quoted extensively for his expert opinion, of course.
The end of the article rounds up the also-mentioned companies, which sell similar solutions, thereby proving the “trend.” As a sort of bonus, the reporter mentions survey results (from a competing vendor) that support the research firm’s findings. #PR advice from Businessweek reporter: 3 companies represents a trend. Click To Tweet
Voila! In this one everyday tech trade article are the three keys to a successful media trend pitch. They are:
- A relatable story featuring a “poster child” that illustrates the trend
- Validation by an expert, preferably with credible statistics
- Names of other companies doing the same or similar things as the poster child
Can you use these ingredients more than once to get similar results with other trade publications? Absolutely! Here’s an example of a story my firm placed with a different high-domain-authority trade outlet, when the client’s “emerging technology” was still in its infancy.
This SearchDataCenter article, Early days for WAN virtualization vendors, adoption, by Margie Semilof, contains the same three elements of all tech trend pieces, in slightly different order. Read it and see if you can identify:
- Validation by an expert, with statistics
- Stories (about two companies in this article) that illustrate the trend
- Names of others doing the same or similar things
Using these examples, you can create trend story pitches for your clients or your company, no matter what market they’re in. So the next time you read an article and wonder how a particular company got covered and your company or client didn’t, do a bit of reverse engineering to determine what the story had included in it to make it a success.
(Note: This blog post originally appeared on Spin Sucks and has been modified slightly.)