What Product Managers Need To Know About The Art Of PR

by drjim on February 10, 2014

Getting your product in the news is what PR is all about

Getting your product in the news is what PR is all about
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When you are the product manager who is responsible for a product, then you wear many different hats. One of these hats has to do with public relations (PR) for your product. Just exactly how is product manager supposed to get the word out about how great your product is?

The World Of PR Has Changed

I’m not sure if you are going to take this news as being good or bad, but the world of public relations as far as products are concerned has undergone a massive transformation in the past few years. In the past, product managers would focus on perhaps 10-12 influential members of the press who covered their product’s segment. However, times have changed. A lot of the old publications have gone away and there are fewer professional reporters in the world today. Looks like it’s going to be time to update your product manager resume.

What’s happened is that social media arrived with a vengeance. The old forms of media have not gone away, but the new form has shown up and is demanding to be taken seriously. Creating an effective PR strategy has to be a part of every product manager’s product development definition. Product managers now need to find a way to split their PR time, perhaps as much as 50 / 50 between formal publications and the new world of social media.

What product managers are saying also has to change. In the old days, you could bend the ear of a reporter and tell them what features made your product the best. They’d take notes, and then that is what you’d see show up in the article that they wrote. That is no longer the case. Now you need to get good at telling the kind of stories that reporters and social media writers want to hear.

It’s All About Managing Your Message

The world in which anyone wanted to hear you drone on about your product’s features is, perhaps thankfully, gone. Instead, it’s been replaced with a world in which the big picture is what really counts. What reporters and the world of social media really wants to hear from you is just exactly how your product can change the lives of the customers who buy it. What’s the big picture?

This big picture is by necessity bigger than just your product. Your product plays in a segment that has trends and changes going on all the time. What your PR story has to address is how your product fits into its segment, how will buying your product allow your customers to ride the latest industry trend?

The good news in this modern age is that a product manager’s PR efforts are not just driven by them. Because so many other members of your company can participate in social media, you need to harness and direct their efforts in support of your product. Write down your PR message (what makes your product great, how it stacks up against the competition, etc.) and get it into the hands of everyone in your company. Tell them what not to do (badmouth the competition and make claims that can’t be backed up) and then turn them loose. Your PR efforts just expanded from a one man / one woman show to now including a much larger team.

What All Of This Means For You

Product managers get to control just about every aspect of their product – this is part of the product manager job description. This responsibility includes how the world both hears about the product and what they hear about it. In the end, this comes down to how you manage the public relations side of being a product manager.

The world of PR has changed dramatically in just the last few years. Where as once upon a time a product manager would spend his or her time trying to develop a close relationship with a handful of key industry journalists, now things have changed. Social media plays a key part in any product’s PR strategy and instead of a few professional journalists, there may be many different amateur journalists whose favor you are going to have to court.

Product managers need to look at the new PR playing field as a boon to them. They can win this game. As long as you have a good understanding of what you are going to have to do both externally and internally, then you can be on top of your PR game.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: What do you think is the best way to get your PR message out to your internal teams?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Being a product manager is a hard job – creating a product development definition is not a simple thing to do. In order to do it well, we all need a little bit of guidance in order to figure out what we both should and should not be doing, There are many different ways to get this kind of guidance, but the best way is to get yourself a mentor.

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