Thirty years in tech PR taught me a few essential truths. The first is that you CEOs are desperate to get glamorous, expansive coverage in the business press. A big Fortune or Forbes profile is the most magnificent and satisfying reward for years of intense focus on creating products and markets. It’s the ultimate validation of success.
You may even have convinced yourself that business press coverage is essential to sales. Social media, webinars and plain old fashioned direct mail advertising may sell a lot more product (especially to business buyers!), but still, you insist on that business press coverage, don’t you? Yes, you do.
If you want your company to be in the Wall Street Journal, you have to have something the Wall Street Journal wants to put in its pages. So, what do they care about?
They do not care about how your product works. They do not care about the particular problem your product solves for your customers. They don’t really care about your customers either. What they care about is the river of money.
Business press cover business. They cover the flow of good and services and money between creators, suppliers and buyers. Our global economy is a massive, interconnected network of rivers of money. Money flowing from the cell phone buyer to the cell phone manufacturer to parts suppliers. Money flowing from advertisers to a television network to an NFL team.
A brand new tributary in the river of money is business news. When lots of people buy a new tech product, part of the river of money starts to flow to someplace new. The business press covers this not because the product is great, but because the product is demonstrating the power to change the way the river of money flows.
A tributary that overtakes and subsumes another tributary in the river of money is big business news. The New York Times created a whole beat to cover the media industry, because the media used to be one of the most massive rivers of money in any economy, and now that tributary has been drained nearly dry by the Internet.
Twenty years ago the Java technology became a business press darling not because it was great technology (although it certainly was) but because it dropped a bomb into the river of money of software development. Java broke Microsoft’s stranglehold over software developers, who nearly always chose to write software for the most popular platform (Windows). Microsoft has spent most of the last two decades trying to create new tributaries to restore the flow that Java and the Internet sent in hundreds of new directions.
Sometimes a giant river of money just dries up through its own lack of momentum. Forensic coverage exploring why organizations fail is another big staple of the business press.
So, CEO, when you want to get business press coverage, demonstrate how your wonderful product is changing the flow of the river of money. Sometimes just the scent of water is enough to get the attention of a shrewd business press journalist!
Communication is the essential last mile in finding and motivating the right teams, acquiring strong allies, powerfully bonding with customers, and capturing mindshare with compelling stories. Nothing will serve you and your vision better than developing exceptional communication skills.