Why This Pitch Worked, In Six Steps

best practices case studyHaving recently complained about four sins to avoid while pitching stories, it’s only fair to highlight this recent press release that got it right in six important areas.

Here’s the release, along with (in italics) my take on what they did right. (FWIW, neither Sabrina Sanchez of The Ventana Group (who sent this on) or their client, Condusiv Technologies, are or have been clients of mine.

  1. “Hi Bob. As organizations virtualize, they face performance bottlenecks—finding themselves in an expensive business model of reactively buying more flash or spindles to satisfy application performance challenges.” (The pitch quickly gets to the new pain point they’re describing, and makes clear they’re talking specifically about storage so I can tell if it fits in my beat.)
  2. “However, there is another way to address this problem. With software intelligence tailored for virtual environments, organizations can now drive more performance out of the infrastructure they already have—increasing the productivity of applications and people at a fraction of the cost of additional hardware.” (The pitch quickly and clearly describes what they are offering that is new, as well as its technical and business advantages. Makes it easier for me to decide whether to keep reading and follow up.)
  3. “Most organizations already have 3-4 GB of available DRAM per VM. That may not sound like a lot of capacity for caching purposes, but when you’re talking about the fastest storage media possible that is exponentially faster than SSDs and sits closer to the processor than anything else, it’s the perfect place and size to satisfy problematic I/O that dampens overall performance the most – small, random I/O.” (Having set up the problem, they keep me on the hook with a progressively deeper technical set-up for their solution. Seems like they have a story to tell – I’ll keep reading.)
  4. “Condusiv is tackling this problem today with a software only approach leveraging the infrastructure enterprises already have in place.” (Badda-bing, badda-boom – in eleven words, they describe what they offer and why it’s good. I got, and they didn’t force me to read too far to get it.)
  5. “More than 2000 customers are seeing dramatically improved performance in their Tier I applications such as SQL, Oracle, Exchange, VDI, backup, EHR/EMR (like MEDITECH), CRM (Salesforce), web servers, Business Intelligence (BI), backup applications, file servers, and more.” (Ah, my next question answered – “Do you have customers?” Not only is the answer “yes,” but they describe the use cases so I understand the broad impact of their offering, and pick up any fits with other areas (such as CRM or health care) I cover.)
  6. “Would you be available this week or early next week to get an update from Condusiv and their upcoming June 30th I/O Optimization software announcement along with customers that are able to validate the results?” (This isn’t an offer for a vague “company update” but a product announcement whose importance they have explained – along with, again, an offer of customer names.)

If I were covering the virtualization or storage space and needed a good, forward-looking story with a news hook, this would be a great candidate. Looking forward to seeing more great pitches from you all

Author: Bob Scheier
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I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

Five Phrases Could Have Saved This Pitch

How to write a PR pitchEvery day PR pros ask me to hear their clients describe how they’re unique in the marketplace. But their emails are often full of such meaningless, vague jargon that I can’t tell what, if anything, their client has to say.

So I delete their pitches, probably missing some good insights. That’s bad for me, bad for the PR pro, bad for the client.

Here are some recent yawners I’ve received, with suggested proof points and news hooks that might have made me sit down and take a phone call with the client:   

Yawners Proof points and hooks
“global” “Our 5,000 professionals work from 16 offices in North America, Europe and China and development centers in India and Mexico.”
“solutions integrator” “We provide everything from data center design to server racking to software configuration and training.”
“ transformation” “We reduce the cost of ERP/CRM cloud migration by an average of 35%, and the time to value by 40%.”
“…We blend best of breed and emerging technologies…” We find, test, implement and integrate the latest specialized testing tools so you can focus on application development and fast turnaround. ”
“….innovative accelerators…” “Our `pre-flight checklists’ for SaaS integration reduce migration time by an average of 20%, while our proprietary License Checker assures you’re getting the best deal.”

In each case, the added detail proves why the client is worth talking to and the specific areas they could comment on. Knowing they have offices in three continents proves they’re really global and not just hoping to be. Knowing they focus on ERP/CRM or cloud testing lets me know which future stories I should tap them for. Describing a tool like a “License Checker” makes me wonder how much a thing works and whether it might be worth a fun blog post.

P.S. Yes, all my suggestions are longer than the original text – but not horribly long. And the extra length is worth it if it keeps the reader engaged.

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

Are We Scrubbing the LIfe Out of Press Releases?

When drafting a press release for a client recently, I highlighted a lot of the themes that would have made it a great newspaper feature. These included dramatic government budget cutbacks, a scramble for funds among richer and poorer regions, and how the vendor’s solution helped bring affordable IT services to all.

My client, as is their perfect right, told me to lay off the negative tone, which I did. But remember this is a press release, designed to get the attention of editors and readers who like drama and conflict. In these days when every vendor is a publisher, can we can really afford to keep press releases and case studies free of anything that smacks of bad news or negativity?

I know the job of a PR person or lawyer is to protect their client's image, and to ensure they don't look as if they’re taking sides in political (or any other) fight. But this isn’t the old days when a vendor could leave it up to a trade publication to use their press release as a starting point, and give the “real” (messy) story all the drama and ink it deserves. Trade pubs don’t have the staff or time to do that follow-up reporting these days.

So if you’re a vendor and you have a story that legitimately addresses a real controversy, are you hiding your light under the proverbial basket if you eliminate all the conflict? And when competing against bloggers who won't hesitate to tell the full story, where do you draw the line? Am curious to hear how you PR pros out there are handling this eternal conflict these days.

Author: Bob Scheier
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I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

Let’s say – let’s just say – you were a huge oil company, or a government agency, desperately trying to recover from a major blunder.  You’re not sure how bad things are or when you can fix the situation. But do you do know you messed up real bad, didn’t move quickly enough to fix the problem and are desperately trying to calm everyone down while you scramble to undo the damage you’ve caused.

 

Yes, I’m talking about the oil slick the size of Puerto Rico now drifting towards the Gulf Coast. Federal and oil industry officials keep repeating nonsense like “utilizing every available resource” and “mitigating impacts” and wondering why the public doesn’t trust them.

 

What I’m not hearing enough of, in either official briefings or press reports, are details like:

 

75 skimmers, tugs, barges, and recovery vessels, as well as dozens of aircraft, remotely operated vehicles, and offshore drilling platforms are spreading chemicals and booms to keep the oil from reaching sensitive shoreline.

 

They have already put in place more than 275,000 feet of booms l—an increase of nearly 60,000 feet since yesterday – and are preparing to deploy another 316,470 feet.

 

Nearly 2,000 people are working to protect the shoreline and wildlife.

 

Those numbers are real (as of May 1) but I had to read past acres of blather in the transcript of a government briefing to find them. The same is true in a lot of business to business marketing materials. Sellers hide behind the jargon they feel comfortable with, the marketing “buzzwords” they feel they must include and the platitudes they think people want to hear rather than using plain English.

 

Easily understood specifics help the reader or listener understand what you’re doing, and to weigh it against what should be done. The reader (or customer) will eventually learn what a government agency did and didn’t do, and what your product can and can’t do. Why not say it clearly, up-front, so everyone can get on with solving the problem of the day, whether it’s an oil spill or a stalled ERP implementation.

 

Speak English, not platitudes, to me and I’m much more likely to let you keep drilling for oil offshore, or for money in my wallet.

 

Author: Bob Scheier
Visit Bob's Website - Email Bob
I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.