If your product is easily understood, like shoes or a video game, explaining your company to media can be pretty straightforward. In the B2B world, however, where products can be technically complex (a medical device for example) products are not always so easy to understand. Explaining why the product is useful can be difficult and possibly confusing to those outside your industry in particular.
Capturing media attention for products with complex technologies is even more difficult, considering that reporters are crunched for time and often have to quickly decide whether to pursue a story or not. If you take a long time to explain your product and use overly technical language, media can quickly lose interest. In the worse possible scenario, they could cover your product negatively.
If you want to reach out to media to pitch a product that’s hard to explain, here are three tips to get a reporter or editor’s attention and obtain great media coverage.
- Answer the question “What does your product do?” in one sentence.
It might sound simple but describing what your product does in one sentence can be a real challenge. Take some time and think about the key benefit your product offers and then use this line when you first contact media by email or phone. Keep in mind that reporters are used to thinking in terms of headlines with the most important information first. Once you use this first sentence, your next messages can contain more detailed information. A short simple answer will get reporters’ attention and make them more receptive to hearing more. If you offer a number of products, emphasize your flagship product or the product that you want to get covered.
Take this line from Facebook’s company description which is found at the bottom of all of its news releases:
“People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.”
Note how this sentence contains no description of how Facebook works, or details about what you can do on Facebook. It just gets right to the point, namely Facebook helps you stay connected with friends and family.
- Use language that anyone could understand.
When working on your product, it’s natural to use industry lingo and shorthand with employees or with others in your industry. Remember that reporters might be complete strangers to your world. To be sure you connect, it’s better to assume that media know next to nothing about your industry rather than using language that they can’t follow.
This depends on the nature of the outlet as well. If you are reaching out to a trade magazine, you have a bit more leeway to use more industry-speak compared to a daily newspaper for example. Even reporters that work at trade outlets, however, usually don’t have educational backgrounds in science, technology or engineering. A good rule of thumb is if a 14 year-old couldn’t understand what you’re saying, a producer or editor wouldn’t understand it either.
One of my clients had a technology than involved microscopic scanning and could replace the work done by technicians using microscropes. The technical term for this job is “microscopist” and the field of study is “microscopy.” These terms are used all the time in the company but it’s unlikely that mainstream media would know these terms or recognize them easily. Beyond that, “microscopist” is not so easy to say for recorded or live interviews (try saying it three times fast).
Instead, I advised using the longer but easier to say “technicians using microscopes,” a phrasing more likely to be understood by more people. That said, if this client was doing an interview with a trade magazine for laboratory technicians, then using microscopy would be more appropriate. It depends who you are talking to, who is the audience of the media outlet, and the language they are used to using and hearing.
- Give perspective on your product’s capabilities
You may have developed a technological breakthrough with your product but without context, it becomes meaningless to an audience. Look to explain the significance of your product and talk in terms of the big picture, and leave more technological features for later. What difference does your product make or how does it make your customers lives easier or better?
Take the example of a diagnostic tool that diagnoses a deadly disease faster and more accurately than what is currently available. You could talk in terms of the precision of the technology but more importantly, you can mention how patients get treated sooner and lives are saved. This context of your product is crucial and gives your product more meaning and even emotional resonance.
Pitching complicated B2B products to media can be challenging. If you can simply describe what your product does, use language that is easily understood and give context for your product capabilities, you will be well on your way to getting the attention of reporters, editors and producers, and gaining great coverage for your product.