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Breaking News: Channel Partners Can Be Critical to Great Public Relations

By Anna Keeve, Public Relations Manager, ESET North America

Channel partner marketing is a lot like public relations.  When done well, you benefit by getting other people – your partners — to tell your story.

Anna Keeve, public relations manager, ESET North America

In the digital age, there are many different types of ‘influencers.’ Historically, there was one main trusted medium to amplify a voice: the press. But we live in a time where there are new avenues – social media, YouTube, etc. — that have given rise to a new generation of voices that have impact, power and influence.  And your partners are among them.

As marketers know well, people are more likely to buy from brands they know and trust. And trust is built not through what you say about yourself, but what other, reputable and trusted parties – including your partners — say about you. And that is really the foundation of PR: getting people with influence to talk positively about you.

Because the media is still a dominant power that yields a tremendous amount of influence, enlisting your partners to help generate “earned media” as opposed to paid media (advertising) is critical.  To ensure that you’re getting covered by as many media organizations as possible – especially those influential local media outlets that may be hard for you to reach – here are some things to keep in mind.

  • Create a channel PR program: A big mistake that many companies make is simply not having a PR program that focuses on the channel. Sure, you might be putting out press releases, reaching out to journalists about your latest product announcements or pitching reporters to feature your spokesperson’s commentary, but what are you doing specifically and strategically to help support your partners? For example, promoting your partners as local experts on a new technology can direct business their way – and yours too. Helping new partners announce their relationship with your company can align your brand with a locally-known and trusted company.
  • Leverage your channel partners as spokespeople: When you are seeking to get your company in the press, people and companies often take that self-serving approach that can lead to your story idea or pitch landing on deaf ears. You need to sometimes make someone else the star of the story, while you take a back seat.  This is where your partners come in.  Help make your channel partner the star of the story. Do they have some interesting insights, trends they have been seeing or news you can help them get out? Identify a list of some of your top five-10 channel partners that you think might be good spokespeople, or that you will keep in touch with and can be a source for you to offer to reporters. (It’s a win-win for everyone that way!)
  • Target the right media: Better yet, help your partners target the right media. Depending on their location, your partners may have access to a wide range of national, regional or local media outlets. Sure, in this everybody-works-remotely age, physical proximity seems less important. But regional media outlets and local media outlets may be more interested in your story if it involves or is being told by a nearby partner. And keep in mind that important national B2B publications aren’t always headquartered in big media centers. Even journalists with national audiences appreciate a good “local” story. If your partners are going to reach out to local media outlets, remind them that journalists hate nothing more than getting a pitch from a PR person or marketer and being told about something that has nothing to do with what they cover. If possible, help them research the type of information that is useful and valuable and then craft a short pitch/story idea that will capture their attention.

Anna Keeve is the public relations manager at ESET North America. ESET is one of the top global cybersecurity companies, developing endpoint security for the B2B and B2C space. Keeve is a contributing author at PRNews.com and a number of other publications.

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