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Technology Public Relations Strategies: How to Do Application Stories

Application stories are a powerful medium to tell your story.  It’s one thing to tout your product, platform, technology, solution, and it’s a whole other when your customers or partners can share its real world applications and benefits.

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Application stories open new avenues to share and tell your story.

Photo shot somewhere in Iceland by me (c) 2007

 It’s Not About You 

Make your customer / partner the hero of your story, not you.  There’s tons and tons of great and way cool technology out in the world.  In fact, there’s way too much of it.  The way to best approach an application story strategy is to focus on how the customer applied and benefited from the application.   

Find Your Internal Champion

This is generally your direct customer – the person who is in charge of a team who is deploying your technology.  Best way to start is to ask.  Explain that you are trying to share their story in hopes that others can benefit from your solution as they have.  

Some customers won’t want to do this, as they may see your technology as a competitive weapon or having a leg up on their competition.  If this is the case, find a champion customer who this won’t be an issue with.

Get Permission

Getting your champion to approve this initiative is gets you half the way there.  

Publicly traded or heavily regulated companies will more than likely require approval from a legal department.  Some companies require a media relations person involved.  

In other cases, such as education, your mileage may vary depending on a school’s policy.  Security application stories can get sticky, since it involves, well – security.  You may have the best to way to keep the bad guys out of your network, but it may turn out to be an uphill battle to get your candidate story teller to share their story about how they used, and applied your solution.

Explain Your Intent

There are many applications for application stories.  These could be profiles of your customers on your site, for use in the reseller channel, and of course, for possible media coverage.

Particularly when it’s for potential media coverage, get the customer involved.  “We think your story belongs in ________, how about you?”  Even if you think you know where they story would be a great fit, ask your customer what they read, and in ranking order, where they think the story would be a great fit.  I am always amazed to see how insightful the end user’s point of view is vs. the mindset of a PR person like me. 

Empower Your Customer in the Process

When you approach your customer about doing an application story, explain to them that nothing goes live, nothing gets pitched, nothing sees the day of light, unless they approve it.  And even if you go through the entire process and there is a change of heart, assure them that they have a way out, and that the story simply goes away and never happened.

Shaping Your Story

Start off with the basics…. who are you, what do you do, what does your company do, what markets do you serve, where are you located, etc.  Then, get into the story.  What were you doing before, how did you pilot the program, who was involved, how long did the process take, what have your learned in the process, what’s made you more productive, more profitable?  

Beyond the Printed Word

Grab some video.  Take some photos.  Think like a Life Magazine or National Geographic story teller.  While your focus is on written content, support it with other media.  You don’t need a videographer or professional photographer to do this.  Hone in on your skills, or find someone inside the company who can help you produce the media.  Even if you don’t use the content today, you might find it useful for a user conference, investor pitch, or for great feedback to your R&D team.

Disruptive Is Good

In some cases, your offering may be a positive disruptor.  Maybe it helps companies transition from one way of thinking to another.  Perhaps you’ve helped disrupt, reinvent and even discover new ways to do things.   

Above and beyond any type of ROI or cost savings, maybe what you have to offer has helped a company enter new markets, kill off  a dying market space and reinvent it as something new.

Application stories keep you honest and on track to help you tell your story from the mind’s eye of others.

 

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