Government Express eNews:
Actionable Information for Companies Targeting Federal Government Business
Volume 1, #6, August, 2007
This monthly newsletter is sent free to companies doing business with the Federal government. Sign up for your free subscription at www.GovernmentExpress.com and if you like this newsletter, please pass it along to your colleagues. To unsubscribe, see directions below. Government Express eNews back issues will be posted at www.GovernmentExpress.com .
August 2007 Contents
ITEMS and LINKS
ITEM: Ever wonder how some companies get lots of PR? Alice Marshall explains the mechanics of do-it-yourself PR below. Getting written about and creating some buzz about your company, your products or services is critical to growth. Alice is an established PR professional in DC and her blog, Technoflak, is very popular.
ITEM: Attention desk jockeys and other junk food eaters my friend Alice Baland, a registered dietician, will host a free teleseminar called End Emotional Eating Forever on September 19 from 7-8 PM Central time. Go to www.AliceBaland.com for updates. This may not have anything to do with government, but it has everything to do with staying healthy.
ITEM: New CD Programs Novices and Pros in the Government Market. Government Market Press has announced the pending release of two new programs by early June, 2007: The Ultimate Government Sales Program, a 4-CD, three and one-half hour interview with government sales executive Max Peterson, and The Ultimate Government Business Development Program a 3-CD, three hour interview with business development professional Bob Davis. Max Peterson is a 20 year veteran of selling technology to the government as a front line sales person, team leader and senior sales executive. Until last summer Max was the VP of Federal sales for CDW-G, and he was recently hired by Dell as VP of Civilian sales. Bob Davis is a 30 year veteran of selling to the government and one of the true students of the business development process. Until December of 2006, Bob was at CACI in a senior business development role. He recently accepted a senior position at Accenture.
More information for these programs is available at http://www.governmentexpress.com/govmarketpress.html If you decide to order, type “GovEx” into the “Order Code” box for an automatic $50 discount.
THE NEW PUBLIC RELATIONS for GOVERNMENT CONTRACTORS: DO IT YOURSELF
By Alice Marshall, President, Presto Vivace, Inc.
In a world of taking care of customers, developing prospects, and keeping up with business, public relations can easily get pushed aside. Marketing includes public relations. Your PR effort need not be elaborate or expensive, but it must be consistent.
Contemporary public relations include traditional media relations (newspapers, magazines, etc.) and new media (blogs, online discussion lists, etc.).
Before you approach the press, you need to craft your company’s message. This is so obvious that it is easy to overlook. Your message should be a succinct description of your business that a reporter can use. Reporters cannot use descriptions such as “leading provider of professional services,” or “provider of advanced IT solutions to the federal government.” Be specific.
Look around your business for stories that exemplify your message. There are all sorts of formulas I could offer, but the best is to simply ask, “If I were not personally connected to this company, what is it that would interest me?” If you can answer that question, you have a news story.
Put the news in the first sentence of the press release. This may or may not include your company’s name. For example, you might start off with something like:
"After Splendiferous Corp. acquired Mighty Fine, Inc., it realized that it had an integration problem. Both companies had a collection of systems that were not even internally compatible, much less compatible between the two companies. Splendiferous needed a way for the accounting systems of both companies to work together and then work with the sales and inventory systems of both companies. Furthermore, it needed a GIS system to track its shipping operations.
Splendiferous Corp. decided to use Web services technology to link their legacy systems together. They needed a systems integrator with experience with both Web services and GIS. After reviewing competing proposals, they selected TheLittleEngineThatCould Systems Corp., because of the simplicity of their design and the quality of their referrals.”
Note that the company sending out the release, TheLittleEngineThatCould Systems Corp., did not mention itself until the second paragraph. Making your customers look good is the best publicity. From the reader’s point, of view the name of the company isn’t news; the nature of the problem and how it was solved constitutes the news. By concentrating on the news, TheLittleEngineThatCould has dramatically increased the possibility that their press release will actually be published.
Making your customers look good should be the foundation of your publicity efforts. When you see a publication putting out a call for nominations for “the year’s best,” nominate your customer or partner. If they don’t win they will appreciate the nomination; if they do win, your company will be mentioned in the context of playing a crucial role in their success. The same applies to industry conferences. Encourage your customers and partners to submit abstracts for presentations. Your customer explaining your role in their success will be far more credible than you could ever hope to be.
Every reporter, even at the most obscure trade publication, has thousands of emails with press releases. Most are deleted without being opened. Therefore, you need to carefully consider your subject line. The reporter must think there is a possibility of a news story. Make sure it has no jargon or buzzwords. The phrase "state of the art" or (even worse) "bleeding edge" is almost certain to get deleted without a second look. Sending an attachment is another way to get your email deleted. It is helpful to make a follow-up call explaining why your press release is news. Do not call just to make sure they received your press release. Be ready with a one-sentence explanation as to why their readers would be interested. Usually you will leave a message on voice mail, but if you happen to catch the reporter, the first thing you should say is, "Are you on deadline?" If they are, tell them you will call another time. There is no crankier creature in God’s creation than a reporter on deadline.
Consider the timing of your call carefully. Newspaper reporters should be called between 10 AM and 3 PM. Weekly publications are best contacted at the beginning or end of the week, depending on whether they come out on Monday or Friday. Monthly publications should be contacted at the beginning of the month. Understand that monthly publications are planned far in advance.
TV reporters like good visuals. For a good example of a visual explanation of software, see “Web 2.0, The Machine is Using Us,” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gmP4nk0EOE . Radio offers more opportunities for software companies. Just remember who their audience is and what is likely to be interesting.
It is NOT a reporter’s or editor’s job to gin up sales for your company; it is their job to produce compelling copy for their readers. If you get an interview, keep in mind why you wanted the interview. Remember that the reporter is not your pal and that you are talking to their readers, not the reporter personally. Keep in mind what you want to communicate to those readers, but don’t become a robot. Respond to the reporter’s questions. Do not introduce unnecessary negatives (“We got the idea to build our own widget after our unsuccessful partnership with DOA Tech Corp.”). Instead say, “we got the idea to build our own widget when our customer’s told us they were unsatisfied with their current equipment.” That way, you focus attention on your company’s commitment to customer satisfaction.
Do not speak off the record. Reporters hate that. Reporters are right. If you cannot go on the record with a comment, that is a clue that it should remain unsaid.
Use Google News Alerts to follow what is being said about your company. On the left side of Google News, there is a column that begins with news categories, below the news categories you will see the words “News Alerts” with an envelope icon beside it. Click on it to set up a News Alert. Set up an alert for your company’s name and any key phrases you want. For type, choose “comprehensive;” that way you will pick up any blog posts concerning your company. Google News Alerts also pick up social tagging sites.
Consider starting a blog, or better yet, blogs. A blog (short for Web log) is a journal with a time stamp for each entry. The current entry is always at the top. Because each entry has its own time stamp, it is possible to link to specific entries. Blogs commonly link to one another. Linking is part of blogging culture and a great way to build community.
Blogs are your company’s store windows; they give prospects a low-pressure way to get to know you. They are a great place for announcements that would interest your employees and customers, but are unlikely to interest editors. Corporate blogs can be used to build relationships with reporters, industry analysts, venture capitalists, and anyone else important to your company’s success.
The best person to blog may not be the CEO; it might be that employee who has been disciplined five times for Internet abuse. Microsoft and Sun Microsystems have had great success with multiple employee blogs.
Encourage your customers to participate in the online discussion forums relevant to your industry, that way you are more likely to get referral business. The easy way to do this is to link to such groups from your corporate website. For example, the Presto Vivace website links to the Netpreneur AdMarketing Community, DCPUBS, Job of the Week, Northern Virginia JAVA User Group, PRSA members and non-members, and SmallPRAgencyPros: http://www.prestovivace.biz/techlinks.html .
Finally, understand that public relations is much more than getting your name in print. It is the sum of how you present yourself to the public. Answer your phone and try not to put callers on hold. Avoid end-user jokes and other forms of techno-hubris. Treat the public, including customers, vendors, and everyone you come into contact with, the way you would want to be treated. That way you won’t have to make a special effort when you deal with the press.
Blog search tools:
Sample Government blogs:
Dave Fletcher's Government and Technology Weblog, v. 2.0
Tech on the Potomac RSS reader
Do-It-Yourself Public Relations for Technology Companies
Alice Marshall on How to Use a Blog to Get Clients
How to Pitch Bloggers
EVENTS WORTH ATTENDING
There are hundreds of events each week around the country for companies that want to do business with the Federal government. Many of these are excellent, many are not. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list,, but does include events I am comfortable endorsing. Just because an event is not listed below does not imply it is not worth attending..
Nov 5-6, 2007 The Sixth Annual Amtower Summit on Selling Products to the Government, BWI Airport Hilton. Save the date details to follow at www.FederalDirect.net/2007summit.html
Government Express eNews is published by Amtower & Company, and is written for companies targeting the government marketplace. The opinions expressed are those of respective authors unless otherwise noted. Contact us at Amtower & Company, PO Box 314, Highland, MD 20777-0314,, or through the www.GovernmentExpress.com . This material is copyrighted and may not be duplicated, reprinted or otherwise replicated without written permission of the publisher. Email subscriptions are free by request: sign up at www.GovernmentExpress.com .