Before you start any kind of PR activity it’s really important to get clear on your key messages. This is a good exercise and it’s surprising how many businesses haven’t defined these. What do you do? What makes you different? Why are you good at what you do? What is great about your product or service? Why would people choose you?
I work with a company called Fresh Skies, a small, brilliant team of people who have developed an email encryption tool called mkryptor. What are the key messages about mkryptor? Well first of all it’s easy to use – most encryption tools are way beyond the average non-IT user. Secondly, it doesn’t require any software to be installed at the recipient’s end and finally because it comes as server-based or cloud-based it’s at a price point that works for large Enterprises and even the smallest business. Fantastic. So why wasn’t this product selling like hot cakes? Well it’s down to perception – most people didn’t realise that email is inherently insecure and that it’s the equivalent of posting a letter without an envelope and potentially can be read by anyone along its journey. Fact.
So first of all we needed to take a step back from how great the product is in order to educate the potential customer base so that they understand that they have a problem that needs a solution. If they are sending confidential email they really ought to be encrypting it. Key sectors here are legal, finance, health and travel companies – think of all those confirming travel itineraries that are sent ‘in clear’ so that anyone could know your exact travel times and when your home is to be left empty.
Herein lies the beauty of PR and its ability to educate, influence and drive behaviour. We embarked on a campaign to provide educational editorial in magazines such as The Barrister, Lawyer Monthly and travel media to raise awareness of the problem. We also added credibility by winning Security Excellence Awards for best Cyber Security Innovation. Setting the scene and creating the favourable environment to sell into is paramount. I’m delighted to report that Fresh Skies is finding many more doors opening in the legal sector that were previously closed and the fact that we can hardly read any news without some cyber breach being mentioned has certainly helped the cause.
What I would add is that PR is ongoing – it’s important to keep on keeping on and in fact many more of the opportunities you try to develop will not come to fruition than those that do. In that respect it’s rather like sales activity in that it’s a numbers game and all about persistence. This is another area where it’s easy to fall down – your eye gets taken off the ball by what appear to be more urgent business issues. Stephen Covey in his 7 Habit of Highly Effective People says we need to spend more time on the activities that are important but not urgent – PR falls into that camp.
If you’re having difficulty defining your key messages and how best to approach your PR I’d love to hear from you.