PR for tech scale-ups: what’s best, thought leadership or comment?
What’s the best type of media engagement for your tech scale-up: comment or thought leadership?
Tech scale-ups with limited resources need to spend their time and money efficiently, so when it comes to positioning your business and establishing and nurturing your reputation as an expert, what is the best PR tactic for business – comment or thought leadership?
Defining the difference between contribution and thought leadership
Before we think about which approach is best for increasing your business’ awareness and enhancing your reputation, it’s essential to understand the difference between contribution and thought leadership. Article contribution or comment is where a business leader or subject matter expert provides short, sharp comments which may be used as a quote article that a journalist is writing. The final article will most probably include several quotes from various industry experts, including your competitors, allowing the journalist to explore and showcase the topic from several different viewpoints.
Thought leadership is where businesses harness the expertise and knowledge of their subject matter experts in insightful articles. These authoritative articles explore the issues that are important to their customers and may offer unique insights into how these challenges can be overcome. Ideally, these by-lined articles will appear in a respected media outlet and link back to the company website.
What are the pros and cons of distinct types of media engagement?
There are key advantages that a comment has over thought leadership. The biggest one is ‘time’. Journalists are constantly working to a deadline that is often imminent, so they will want to speak to experts quickly to source useable soundbites, particularly if they plan to speak to several different companies. This means that the time you need to invest in these opportunities will be less than what you would have to dedicate to a robust thought leadership strategy.
The other key benefit is frequency. What I mean by this is – that if journalists know that you can follow their brief and give them interesting, engaging, and thought-provoking soundbites, they are more likely to come to you again in the future. It’s these types of opportunities that help us to form meaningful, long-term relationships with your key target media.
What businesses may struggle with is the lack of content control that comes with ad hoc comment opportunities. Your experts will not have the opportunity to review their contribution before it’s published. This can lead to occasional misquotes but in our experience, this very rarely happens. Let’s not forget that journalists have a reputation to maintain – it’s unlikely they will want to do anything to jeopardise this.
Dominating share of voice
Thought leadership, however, if executed effectively, can provide businesses with a far greater opportunity to dominate their share of voice in their chosen industry topics. This is because a thorough thought leadership strategy is underpinned by regular articles that are authored by subject matter experts and placed in top tier media. Strong thought leadership articles will vary in length but will tend to be more in-depth than blogs, but not as detailed as a Whitepaper – between 1200 and 1500 words. This means that someone from your business can dominate a double-page spread in a top industry publication which holds far greater editorial weight than simply a small mention or quote as part of a wider article. It also means that your competition doesn’t get a look in and the opinions and insight are completely focused on an area/issue central to your business.
Businesses also have much greater control of the content. Providing pre-written thought leadership for an Editor means you can articulate your message the way you want to – within reason of course. If you’re blatantly trying to add in a sales plug, journalists will see through it and could refuse to run the article, which will not only cost you the opportunity you’ve worked hard to secure but will also jeopardise your future relationship with the media outlet. This type of approach is not authentic thought leadership. Of course, we have clear thoughts on what a successful thought leadership strategy looks like.
Why tech sale-up firms should be doing both
Although both comment and thought leadership do have their pros and cons, the bottom line is, if you want to lead the debate on specific subjects and be regarded as a credible and authoritative industry voice, your business should be investing in both. Signing up to the Response Source Enquiry Service or following hashtags such as #journorequest on Twitter are a great way to ensure you keep on top of the possible quick win contribution opportunities.
Given the significant benefits it can deliver to businesses, executing a thought leadership strategy does take time and effort, but it’s a must for any tech scale-up business that wants to avoid becoming a ‘me too’ in their space.
Do you need B2B tech scale-up PR experts on your team?
When it comes to creating authentic thought leadership and generating top-tier media engagement for tech scale-ups we have a proven approach. For example, for renewable energy firm ITPEnergised we worked in partnership with their time-poor subject matter experts to write original thought leadership articles, and secured 100% placement of ideas in key industry media.
To start developing a thought leadership strategy for your business, download our guide today: How to become an industry throught leader.
Serious about investing in B2B PR for your tech scale-up? Drop us a line today.
How to Become an Industry Thought Leader
Tech PR guide
Essential advice and tactics on how to do B2B Tech PR thought leadership. Revised for 2022.