Part One: Connectivity Communications
Maximizing publicity around announcements in the technology industry, requires more than just regurgitating to editors why a company thinks their announcement is important, and then leveraging media relationships to schedule some interviews in the hope of an ensuing wave of coverage. To positively shape perceptions, to the greatest degree possible with a savvy customer base, requires some strategic thinking and tactical creativity. In the recent third quarter of 2015, I helped Synopsys, the leading semiconductor design and IP company, to blitz the trade media with more stories from a single company than they probably wanted to hear. But by creatively tailoring our announcements to topics of interest to their readership, we achieved extensive coverage. And first up for some creative thinking in Q3, was connectivity.
A USB connectivity announcement was only one of several slated for the quarter, and the company was going to also want coverage on topics ranging from the Internet of Things (IoT) to embedded software development and microprocessor architectures and IP. So, we would have to be smart about who we contacted where, regarding which announcement. First off, I needed to understand what I had to work with around the USB announcement. The PR manager smartly summed up the challenge in our initial planning meeting, “Most of the editors have already covered the introduction of Type-C USB. I’m worried they might not be that interested in covering our announcement.”
She was right. Introducing the industry’s first USB Type-C IP products wasn’t by itself going to get a lot of editors rushing to take briefings and write stories. I’m not one for just telling clients what they want to hear, in this case that they can easily get coverage for their announcement. Besides, the PR manager already understood that wasn’t going to happen. On the other hand, they didn’t hire an outside consultant to explain why something could not be done. So, I relayed that I was confident we could get solid coverage if they were willing to pursue story angles and coverage opportunities that went beyond simply pitching our product announcement. To their credit the product team stepped up.
I suggested that as the largest connectivity IP and second largest semiconductor IP company in the world, we were uniquely well positioned to talk to adoption trends and industry challenges around the new USB Type -C standard. We were interacting with critical players in the space and from those engagements were uniquely positioned to speak to the market as a whole. Instead, of pitching a new product announcement, we would focus on trends involving a new product—the news of this becoming the fastest adoption of a new connectivity standard ever, what was driving this trend, regions impacted, as well as how we were of course introducing a new product to allow product differentiation around type-C and even faster adoption of the standard.
Now, I had a story angle, but with other announcements coming up, I couldn’t use all of our proverbial bullets on this announcement. Generally editors want to spread their coverage among multiple companies and not cover the same company over and over again. In terms of strategic planning, the first chore was to develop a calendar with committed availability for spokespeople and company authors, prioritize the announcements to each publication and then match individual editor and analyst topical interest to the announcement and our resources. Of course that plan would get rewritten countless times, but since the announcements bumped into each other we would need a starting place and a tool for coordinating all outreach. With my targets set, I began reaching out.
I pitched and secured an audio podcast interview with EE Journal on USB trends. We also provided trend briefings, resulting in editor articles at Semiconductor Engineering and Extension Media’s EE Catalog. I was also able to get Embedded Computing Design to cover our announcement. Furthermore, we were able to get a limited amount of product-centric coverage from Desktop Engineering, and sponsor-based outlets, SemiWiki and Tech Design Forum. The product group was happy with the coverage of their product announcement, oftentimes in the context of them being trend and industry experts. But I also met with an editor at Electronic Design to develop some Q&A opportunities, including around USB Type-C, and offered to reach out to some of my contacts at EE Times if we wanted to develop a trends focused guest blog. And then I moved on to the next announcement, involving a completely different challenge, on the hot topic of the Internet of Things.
Lesson: Leverage corporate position to speak to new and newsworthy trends with editors, in order to get product coverage when the announcement by itself is not especially compelling.