Standing out from the crowd
a view from
Chief operating officer, Nitro PDF
In the US we have access to some of the most advanced media platforms in the world, we have some of the very best public relations professionals, and we are lucky to have all the resources we need to produce outstanding PR campaigns.
That does not mean that PR in the US is easy. Far from it. Because everyone has access to those resources, to stand out from the crowd you need to do something special, to add value to the process in a way that no one else does. This forces us to be ever more innovative and creative.
So, while five years ago it might have been enough to send out press releases and wait for journalists to pick them up, now this is simply not enough. In the past couple of years we at Nitro have been on a steep learning curve with our PR. We have learnt just what it takes to stand out in the US market, and we are now beginning to reap the benefits.
Giving time back
Earlier this year Nitro rebranded. This was more than just a refresh of our logo; it was a detailed look at who we are and what we stand for. We are now 15 years old, and we have always been a challenger to Adobe in the PDF market. The underdog story is a good one to tell, but after 15 years it was time to look more closely at what else we are.
We concluded that fundamentally we are about making people’s lives easier. PDFs have always been associated with the headache of not being able to do anything with them, and our products – PDF Professional and PDF Reader – are designed so that people can use them exactly how they want. They make people’s lives easier.
So, this generated the tagline ‘Run on Instinct’ and we developed that through into media messaging about giving time back to people. Crucially, this needed to be more than just a message we told to the media; it needed to be who we are in our dealings with the media. We must ensure we are a fun and personable company at every single touchpoint with the media.
Extension of the newsroom
Much of our PR work since then has been about providing thought leadership on issues such as PDF security. We have invested significant amounts of time in getting to know the key journalists in our area. We aim to be friendly and personable, to speak with a voice that is real, credible and likeable, not just the usual corporate-speak.
Here in the US, geography makes it difficult to have an informal chat over lunch with a journalist so we rely on social media
We want to be seen as a friend of the press. We want journalists to think of us as more than a company that sends them the occasional press release; we want them to think of us almost as an extension of their team.
As an Australian company that has operations there as well as in the US and EU, it has been interesting to note the different way the media works in different parts of the world. While in Australia and Europe journalists are keen to have an informal chat over lunch or a drink, here in the US geography makes this difficult and so we rely much more heavily on social media.
Indeed, this PR work has been aimed at the traditional media as well as bloggers and even those with an extensive Twitter following. We firmly believe in the need to embrace social content.
We are already beginning to see the results of this thought leadership work. In the past six months we have had coverage in target media including Business News Daily, Smart Computing, IT World, BestStuff.com, Gizmodo, LifeHacker, Examiner.com and CNET.
Along the way we have learnt a great deal from our mistakes, but I believe we are now improving rapidly. We are becoming a trusted partner to many of our key media, and in the months and years ahead this will play a key role in communicating our brand.
Using our comms instincts
a view from
Founder and CEO, Grayling Connecting Point
PR has changed a lot during my career. But the highest compliment of our profession remains the same – “you have great PR instinct!”
On the surface, instinct sounds like something a person is either born with or not. But of course, nothing could be further from the truth.
Gina O’Reilly, COO of Nitro PDF, says their products help people let their instincts flow through. As a company with Australian roots, “The Nitro Way” is to cut through the bull and let good work – and good instinct - shine through. Their products do so superbly. I’d say that even if they weren’t our client.
Since a brand is ultimately the way a company behaves, PR can do the best job of helping to bring brands to life. As part of helping Nitro PDF give legs to its “run on instinct” positioning, we’ve spent considerable time trying to understand what instinct is and how it works. There’s intriguing insight in the book: Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain. Author David Eagleman essentially says that great preparation and practice turns the brain into a collection of subconscious expert engines that do a job brilliantly – if we can learn to let our conscious step back and let our subconscious do the job. Then, things become so instinctive that they become – well – “no brainers.”
Great athletes have this process down pat. So do great PR people. But for us PR professionals, the path that leads the brain to unerring great instinct every time is less understood than for what it takes to break athletic records. And in today’s PR world of information overload and client turnaround demands that outpace a fast food restaurant, there’s little time to think about process.
Here are a few guiding principles around instinct that I believe help us be “right on” more often than not.
Google has been the single most important enabler of great PR instinct over the last decade – and the greatest equalizer of PR professionals – by putting the information of the world instantly at everyone’s fingertips. Those who live within it do far better than those who don’t.
Partly it’s about being instantly informed – an essential in today’s Internet-driven environment. But far more than that – it’s about pulling the threads that take you from information to knowledge and a wealth of important contacts in a single bound.
Since a brand is ultimately the way a company behaves, PR can do the best job of helping to bring brands to life
Google has been the single most important detractor to great PR instinct over the last decade -- because it has helped destroy the active listening skills of today’s generation of Internet junkies. Who of us has not sat on conference calls where we can actually “hear the sound of silence.” We are talking, and we can tell that no one is listening. This is quickly confirmed when someone interrupts you to say, “I’m sending you this link to an article I just found.”
Just like you can’t have good conversations without knowledge – you can’t have knowledge without the context that comes from good conversations.
Winston Churchill said, “If you want me to speak for an hour, give me a moment’s notice. If you want me to speak for five minutes, give me a week.” Today, clients want communications that are one screenful of an iPhone or one minute of a voicemail. They want it short – but they want it to have the same context, strategy, brilliant creative and expected results that have always been the core tenets of seasoned client communications.
Never has “the 20% of effort that equals the 80% of results” been as relevant as it is today. At the end of the day, great instinct is about having the skills to cut through the bull - and cut right to the chase with a command of content that causes people to sit up and take notice.