Five free tech PR tools you need to know about
Public relations can make or break a tech company. These five free resources can help you get a leg up on the competition.
Getting great publicity in the tech industry isn't as simple as following the right breadcrumbs. Based on feedback from some tech PR folks who I deal with at companies of varying sizes--publicly traded, VC-funded start-ups, and bootstrapped DIYers--here are five free tech industry PR resources that I would recommend. (If any tech PR folks out there have additional free resources they'd recommend, please comment.)
It can be incredibly painful to keep track of the thousands of tech events and speaking submission due dates each year. (Some--like RSA, Interop, CES, etc.--have lead times up to seven months in advance).
Keeping tabs on all the tech awards (like Webware 100, the Webbies, the Crunchies, etc.) and submission deadlines is no picnic either. And it's also dreadful to manually track "editorial calendars" (where tech publications often tip their hands on upcoming stories they are writing).
ITMemos is a free new e-mail alert from the team at IT Database that simply nudges subscribers about important upcoming opportunities in these areas. If you're not subscribed to this free alert, hundreds of tech PR people are finding out about/acting on these opportunities before you are, so GL.
(Disclosure: I am an advisor to IT Database.)
Many tech PR folks are familiar with the journalist/source-matching service called Profnet that used to charge an annual subscription fee leading a guy named Peter Shankman to do the end-around and start giving away the same service for free, while increasing the number of opportunities.
Sign up for the HARO newsletter and receive three daily digest e-mails that list out opportunities where reporters are searching for sources/comments for stories they are writing.
While "Tech" is just one section in the e-mail, and often you will open it without finding a relevant opportunity--it's totally worth it to subscribe for the times where you do come across a journalists' story that matches your company's tech category.
Twitter and Facebook participation is already pretty obvious (as are the plethora of tools like Twellow that allow for detection of folks Tweeting about specific topics). But I'm finding that a lot of tech PR people still aren't fully aware of LinkedIn Groups as an important listening board, and who often think that the extent of LinkedIn's value is simply getting connected to all of one's acquaintances.
For just about any tech category now, one or more LinkedIn groups exist. You have to tread carefully when posting and make sure your "insights" are topical (and not just blatant company advertisements), but I've heard anecdotally of a number of tech vendors who have posted to groups in their tech category and were ultimately led to a new customer or new journalist relationship. At the very least, LinkedIn Groups are proving to be a free additional way to monitor what the competitors are saying.
Vator describes itself as "the place for emerging companies to showcase and market themselves." While I hadn't heard too much over the last year, the traffic numbers on Vator seem to have exploded, and a few tech companies told me that have gotten great value/visibility from listing their company and providing updates.
As with any community, the value you get is going to be proportionate to the amount of effort that you put into it--but it does seem like Vator is a directory where a lot of tech companies are participants, and that there are legitimate opportunities for visibility via this channel.
Venture Capital Dispatch
Dow Jones' VentureWire--for years--has been a closed circulation (and pricey) source covering venture capital news. But now they've started to run a lot of the content for free on The Wall Street Journal, on the Venture Capital Dispatch blog.
I don't think that tech vendors (especially start-ups) can overestimate the value of staying on top of where venture trends are going (regardless of whether they themselves are pursuing more funding). Where the tech money is flowing is generally where the tech news is flowing.