Consumer PR for tech – difficult but doable!

Consumer PR success for Psonar
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Consumer PR success for PsonarSay the term ‘Consumer PR’ and most people think of shampoo, cars, or food brands reaching vast groups of potential customers across various different demographics. Tech PR, meanwhile, operates in a completely different ecosystem, courting the opinions of influencers and early adopters (or ‘geeks’ as they are sometimes known).

But what happens when a tech product is aimed at consumers (as many are)? Is it possible to get to the magic 1 million user figure with TechCrunch-reading geeks alone? What if your target user is a teenage girl who doesn’t read the Register or the Guardian Digital Content Hub? How do you reach them?

This was exactly the issue that faced Imp Communication’s very first client, the pay-as-you-go music streaming service Psonar. As a new entrant into the crowded music-streaming market, coverage in the tech and mobile press for Psonar was challenging but not impossible. When their focus switched from established credibility in the technology press to gaining traction among users, and therefore to consumer PR, new bigger challenges arose.

Defining the challenge

The transition from tech PR to consumer PR is one entrepreneurs often find difficult. After investing their life, soul, and savings into an app for a year or two it becomes the centre of your world and it’s hard to understand why jaded consumer journalists don’t immediately sing the praises for your creation you think it deserves.

And then there’s this pesky habit British journalists in particular have about insisting any coverage for a product be based on ‘news.’ It’s rare that a new app or website will be considered ‘news’ by consumer journalists any more. Not unless its proposition is extremely controversial or unexpected.

Think promotion!

Our client Psonar faced this exact conundrum when it launched in late 2013. Psonar provides music-streaming using a revolutionary pay-as-you-go model, but revolutionary payment models don’t get the juices of many consumer journalists flowing. It became evident very quickly that traditional consumer PR wasn’t going to deliver the results we needed. That’s why we turned to reader offer promotions.

‘Reader offers’ are a way for brands and publications to make a swap that suits both parties. Contrary to most people’s expectations, money rarely changes hands. The trick is to find a magazine that wants to give something away (music streaming via the Psonar app, in this case) and swap it for something Psonar wants (downloads and brand awareness). Psonar music streaming is, in effect, a digital form of the ‘cover mount’ give-away format that was a staple of publishing in the early 2000s, and it didn’t take too long to find media partners who saw the benefit.

Over two years Psonar benefited from two promotions in BBC Top of the Pops Magazine (with a full-page for the reader offer on each occasion, plus appearances on the cover, poly bag, and at key points inside the magazine), five promotions in the Daily Star (with their logo on the cover each time and a third of a page for the offer inside) and even once in New Look’s customer magazine (which displayed the Psonar logo on nine separate pages). Each appearance drove downloads and gave the new brand great credibility. Plus the Daily Star included Psonar in it’s Channel 5 television ads each time (see an example below).

Promotions are just one way to crack the consumer PR challenge. They may be free and provide great publicity and brand awareness, but they’re not right for every situation. Every tech brand hoping to make the jump to consumer PR needs a different solution. If that’s a challenge your brand is facing, get in touch!

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