PR-Speak And The New Media Press: Your Lips Are Moving But I'm Not Hearing You
Yesterday I had a demo of a technology I had heard about but had never really tested.
The PR agency, taking care of the company in question, had very gently setup a meeting time, and a conferencing space online (powered by Live Meeting) where this showcase had to take place.
Generally these sessions allow me to get to know some new Web conferencing company I don't know and, when tings go well, to truly appreciate the talent, skills and unique strenghts the company provides and the unique features that their technology integrates.
Unfortunately, many companies still entertain the idea of these "press-meetings" as some kind of lecturing opportunity in which they monopolize the communication space by downloading these pretty boring PowerPoint presentations in which everything about the company and its glory is listed, but you don't see one screen shot of their actual product.
It seems, and it may well be the case, that many of the companies, in their effort to become viable money-making enterprises, in which investors and financial companies bet their funds, have gradually forgotten their role and mandate in the market while attending to the expectations and desires of
business analysts and financial investors.
And so, you get bombarded with so much self-glorification data, stats that show only one-side of the story, and self-serving compliments that, even if you were to like their tool, you are now nauseated by who is behind it and who you would be financing.
I thought that web conferencing, online collaboration and presentation companies had a mission of popularizing new media technologies that facilitated online tele-work, true at-a-distance teamwork and many learning/training applications.
Of course these companies need to make a business at doing this, and there is nothing wrong with that. The issue comes up only when such companies:
a) get to be driven first and foremost by financial interests,
b) forget that "the press" has been rapidly changing,
c) have no real story to tell, and
d) have whatsoever no clue about the fact that their killer advantage is to start listening.
These are invariably the same companies that do not have a blog, a forum or any kind of ongoing open communication with their audiences.
Other characterizing traits: unavailable pricing, stuffy web sites with lots of stock library images, hard to pin down products and features.
They keep dreaming of potential new customers spending hours on their sites learning about the greatness of their tool and then dovitiously filling a request for contact so that a sales representative will contact them.
The story has changed:
a) You have only less than 5 minutes of our attention (in a phone call). On the Web about two at the most.
b) The key traits that make your tool so great and the pricing tags you are using with your customers should come up within those times.
c) If they don't, we get suspicious. If you have great features and a fantastic pricing why are you not telling us right away?
d) We ask questions and want rapid replies. Is that part of your script on the phone or on your site?
e) We want to see who is behind your company down the end. If you don't show it upfront we will find out anyhow. Get transparent if you want to be credible.
f) If we can't try your tool for free, even for a relative short amount of time, there is no way we are going to buy from you.
g) We like to hear your voice, your ideas and your plans.
h) We think we are (customers, and independent reviewers) the best ones set to give you advice on all your critical items: pricing, features, usability, marketing.
Do you have time to listen or do you have another PR meeting coming up in 5 minutes?
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