The channel is a mysterious beast and its associated press even more so. It takes a specialist to get a channel PR strategy right. If you're thinking of having a go then our top steps for making it a success will help.
1. Have a vision.
There is absolutely no point in picking up the phone to a journalist if you don't know what you want to get out of it. You must have a clear idea about the sort of stories you want to be included in. This means you need to have a clear company strategy and align everything you do both in terms of marketing and PR to it.
2. Ditch the product.
Your strategy might determine that you want to be famous for your amazing widget but the press won't be interested one iota, not unless it is radical and groundbreaking. Instead you need to focus on the elements of your strategy that your widget fixes and the role the channel plays in solving the problem.
3. Tell a story. Have an opinion.
That means you need to tell a story. Your story might be that channel partners stand to increase revenue by 30% when they switch to your widget and provide a value added service over the top. But that's still too self indulgent for the press. You'll need to think about the issues the channel faces in trying to sell widgets and what the value added service needs to look like and provide opinion on how to make it happen. If you don't have an opinion then work with a channel PR agency that can help you create a credible one.
4. Invest in assets.
Your opinion will go a long way to help get coverage but sometimes you'll want to give things a boost. Research-lead PR can really help here, so can in-depth reports and non-product launches. For instance, researching the skills gap in the channel to find out why a certain technology is lagging behind, launching a new channel partner programme that competes head to head or surpasses a competitor's, as well as announcing a new partnership deal all help to position you as an expert and a partner to work with.
3. Get the basics in place.
It sounds obvious but it's not always put on the to do list. Make sure you have a media pack to hand with images the press might want - high quality headshots (not photos of spokespeople at weddings) and biographies, images of your HQ, your logo, product spec and info for those times you are launching something groundbreaking. Plus with every story you offer have a unique photo that brings it to life - photos from events, or stock images that illustrate the skills shortage your research highlights will go a long way to help you get coverage.
4. Prep the spokespeople.
All too often the senior team comes up with a great plan for PR and then hands it to someone else to be the spokesperson. They may be the right person for the job, but it doesn't mean they are media-ready. It's essential you get them media trained and used to distilling everything they know into bitesize comments and quotes. They also need to know when they are about to fall into a journalist trap and comment on something they shouldn't like financial figures.
5. Be prepared for gossip.
Occasionally there can be a bit of tit for tat in the trade and channel press and things can leak out before you are ready to go public - things like changes to personnel. Make sure you are in control of the message as soon as news breaks within the company and are ready to answer any questions that may come your way.
6. Invest and commit.
PR is one of the most economical ways to market your business and get your point across. But it's not a quick fix. You need to work at it and sustain activity to get results. We advise putting a calendar together that pin points the things you will do month to month to drive your PR programme.
7. Find a specialist.
PR is a specialist art and needs a specialist involved either in-house, with an agency or both. Whatever route you go down make sure they understand the channel and the channel press you won't succeed otherwise.