Getting invested: harnessing PR to accelerate growth in the dynamic adtech space
Sustained investment is one of the surest indicators of a flourishing industry. As we have previously explored, a recent flurry of mergers and acquisitions, funding rounds and initial public offerings (IPOs) point to booming times for adtech.
In Q1 2021 alone there were seven adtech transactions worth over $1billion – including SpotX’s acquisition by Magnite – while leading players such as Taboola announced plans to go public via a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) merger. If investors were to put stock in a sector based only on its financial buoyancy, adtech would be their prime candidate.
What’s more, there is also no sign of this trend slowing down. Almost half of global technology executives surveyed in the latest EY Global Capital Confidence Barometer expect continued growth across 2021 and a return to profitability, with (51%) recognising that mergers and acquisitions will be essential to power further growth in the next year. With such a wealth of activity, and stiff competition among brands looking for investment, standing out from the crowd and attracting interest requires smarter communications.
The journey of a business – its formation, its growth, its future ambitions – is a story; by using PR and communications strategies to effectively convey this narrative, brands can attract the right audience, helping them progress to the next chapter.
Funding announcements: As easy as A, B, C?
For many companies, the early chapters of their stories are a series of funding rounds; running from seed funding (including from angel investors), through to series A, B, C funding and beyond. Each funding round represents a success and securing coverage of these successes builds brand awareness among target customers and investors, centring a brand as ‘one to watch’ and flagging it as a potential secure investment – a ‘sure thing’.
The bedrock of effective storytelling and communications strategy around funding is the press release: it offers an efficient means of conveying details about the company and its latest round to multiple relevant media outlets, while also covering the problem the business is solving and how the funding will be used to drive growth.
Looking beyond press releases, however, to achieve high-quality coverage that will reach the desired audience necessitates a multi-step approach.
Offering financial news to a carefully selected top-tier publication as an exclusive can make it much more appealing. With many adtech industry outlets occupying a similar space and competing for readers, some will only run a funding announcement if they know they are the first outlet to cover it and are able to develop their own story around it. Leveraging a PR firm’s close relationship with top-tier publications allows journalists to ask questions or set up interviews with key stakeholders, resulting in a more informed piece.
Additionally, the intensive 24-hour news cycle frequently has time-poor journalists stretched to capacity, so building in a longer timeline around an exclusive release gives them space to consider the story and whether it fits their editorial agenda.
Keeping it tailored
With the internet providing communications on a global scale, there is a temptation to cast a wide net with business and financial news to reap the benefits of broader distribution. But this isn’t always the most effective approach. To ensure optimal relevance and impact, keeping things targeted and localised can often be a better communications strategy.
After the embargo on an exclusive has elapsed, the news can be circulated to a wider media list to secure further coverage, but it is important to consider the most relevant audience. Target publications can sometimes be both market-specific and location based, for example: the second funding round of a company that has a solely US client base might not be entirely relevant to an APAC readership.
The more laser-focused and localised a story, the stronger its media appeal across different markets. In geographical terms, the most effective PR agencies and communications strategies can personalise releases to different localised audiences, drilling down into the points of the funding story that will be most relevant to each location. At a trade publication level, approaches may involve targeting publications that have the highest chance of reaching relevant readers, such as start-up focused titles like Sifted.eu, or dedicated SME outlets such as FinSMEs.
Mixing it up
Telling positive stories, such as client wins, C-suite appointments, product launches, and secured funding helps keep media contacts informed of progress and can ensure consistent coverage that builds an enticing image of a company for potential stakeholders. A key element in setting a business apart in a crowded industry, however, is also a strong and dynamic communications mix that goes beyond purely internal progress updates to build a reputation as an industry voice.
This includes establishing the company’s profile as a knowledgeable frontrunner, with a C-suite of experienced subject matter experts (the other kind of SMEs) who are qualified to comment on industry changes and breaking news. Or in other words: to consistently capture the attention of media and potential investors, a strong communications and PR strategy must include thought leadership.
(Thought) Leading the way
Quality thought leadership — including opinion pieces, bylines, or interviews with top-tier industry publications — is crucial in cementing company spokespeople as experts in their field. Leading the industry conversation, differentiating the business from competitors, and engaging target audiences can be achieved by building primary spokespeople a reputation for being at the cutting edge of industry news and trends. The additional advantage being that all this goes towards presenting the business as an appealing prospect for investors, or larger companies looking at acquisitions.
A considerable part of this profile building is being seen in the right trade publications and engaging in discussions where companies can add real value to the conversation. A tech specialist PR agency with deep industry knowledge will be able to pinpoint both the best focus areas and the right outlets and opportunities for thought leadership pieces to feature in.
As with the wider story of a brand’s success – built on achievements and designed to attract interest by potential investors – it’s important to think about how a thought leadership story can be told in a compelling way. This can be considered as a two-step process: refining the backstory and considering value
Refining your backstory
Journalists, like readers, are looking to be challenged and inspired by unique stories. These can be centred around how companies are currently disrupting the market, but also their origin or founding story, and the challenges faced along the way. Telling stories of lessons learned can be particularly intriguing and inspiring for readers; humanising the company, as well as proving to investors or buyers that the brand has the capability to effectively grow, pivot, and adapt.
Proving not just value, but values
For investors and customers, value isn’t just about what companies deliver, but also what they stand for: especially as regards values and principles. With the growth of wider conversations around societal and environmental issues and corporate responsibility, investors may now want to know that the adtech providers they buy a stake in are dedicated to responsible business practices, including sustainability initiatives.
PR messaging and communications are an important way to convey company views and practices around these topics, highlighting ethical commitments and insights around key trends – not only helping businesses stand out to investors, but also potential clients and employees too.
To find out more about how GingerMay helps adtech businesses build effective PR campaigns that deliver results, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.