How to find your voice in defence tech PR
The defence sector is not short of subject matter
For defence companies, when it comes to choosing your desired thought leadership topics, you’re never short of opportunities. Autonomous operations, AI and machine learning, cyber security, drone warfare, climate resilience, the future fleet, interoperability, C4ISR – not to mention a geo-political climate that evolves on a daily basis – the list is almost endless. The challenge, though, comes in how you find your voice in any of these issues where the floor is already crowded by the prime contractors, national and international news, and a trade press with its finger firmly on the pulse of international developments.
How then do you avoid becoming one of the thousands of other businesses vying for airtime on these critical issues? How do you take an exceptionally crowded space like the defence media and not only find your voice, but air it in a compelling way?
How to select thought leadership topics in defence
We’ve talked previously about what defence journalists want from those companies pitching them ideas, but there are steps that must be taken before we even think about approaching the media. We can (and will, of course) always come back to how any thought leadership topics must be aligned with your communications strategy – and therefore your customers. Their worries, challenges and opportunities.
This never will be unique to defence companies, indeed we’ve also talked recently about what it means to be a successful thought leader, but there are some other factors we must consider when looking at defence thought leadership topics in particular.
Knowing your ‘muck and bullets’
If you’re the CEO or CMO of a defence company looking to build your brand in the market, the chances are you already have a good idea of some of the subject areas you know you need to be vocal in. You’re likely thinking about some of the biggest technological developments impacting the way in which friendly governments are trying to keep the world safe today, and about how your company, technology or solution can help solve some of their challenges in protecting nations, people and assets.
However, unlike some other B2B technology sectors, defence is one of those topics that hits the headlines around the world, all day, every day. The latest updates are always on everyone’s smartphones, tablets and newspapers, and politicians can and do stake their careers on how they handle situations as they arise day-on-day, sometimes never to recover.
Reflective of this, the trade press is always on the front foot with how technology is evolving to keep pace with global threats, with which countries are investing in technologies, and where the industry will be in the near and medium-term future. This is a very competitive space.
Small fish – big pond
In the context of this, we then need to consider the sheer breadth of some of these big industry issues – for example autonomy – and then understand the share of voice held by a small number of large companies in the sector. Five minutes of Googling on any one of these subjects and you will quickly become inundated with commentary from journalists and industry alike.
The likelihood is this will be from a small, finite number of industry commentators or companies, and trade journalists who are knowledgeable experts on the subject, most of whom will already have good relationships with those industry experts.
So, how do you rise above the noise and find your voice in defence PR?
As the CEO or CMO of a defence company, you know you have a viable solution and you know you can help governments protect their forces whilst they carry out their duties, but how do you cut through the noise and get airtime with those decision-makers you need to influence, especially if your company is in a ‘crowded’ space competing with the big guns on the likes of C4ISR?
Here’s where strategic alignment between a business’ leadership team and PR and comms comes in.
Key to this is first in taking the time to understand your audience, to understand their pain points, and then to understand how your offering will help them. Once you’ve done this, you can take a big topic like C4ISR and understand not only your place within it and what you’ve got to offer, but how you can then articulate a compelling message that is new and journalists want to hear.
Communicating with clarity
If you have a clear view of not only where you’re wanting to take your business, but also a clear understanding of what is keeping your key target customers up at night, you can take a big issue like autonomy and look at it in a far more holistic – and therefore engaging – way.
Realistically, you are never going to ‘own’ this issue in the media, but if you ask yourself, what are we offering? What is the difference? Why is it interesting and why is it relevant? Chances are, you’ll come up with some ideas you can really use.
Do you have a technology that can crack the back of digital overload, for example? Or, can you help deliver mission-critical comms to those who need it, when they need it?
If so, we need to know! Breaking down the connections between business strategy and industry trends isn’t easy, but it is essential, and here’s where a robust communication strategy becomes gold dust. It’ll find that common ground between your business strategy and your market, as well as commentary that will be of interest to the media.
Intelligence in defence PR
Those who take the time to really get under the skin of the challenges their clients are facing are the ones who reap the biggest rewards. These companies will be armed with the intelligence and insights they need to take a broad, crowded topic, and to apply their skills and expertise to educate the market as to why their solution is relevant, interesting and worth investigating further.
It’s easy to be intimidated by the big topics dominated by the big fish, but the effort is 100% worth it so you can find that unique voice in Defence PR.
Get started on a communication strategy for your defence company
Here at EC-PR we have the experience and technical knowledge to help defence CEOs and CMOs develop effective communication strategies, which enable them to find their stand-out voice in defence PR, and succesfully deliver against business goals. Check out how we helped Blu Wireless grow their brand awareness in the defence sector with outstanding thought leadership, and then get in touch or book a discovery call to find out how we can help you.