PR and Positive Publicity in Tech with Brian Jones, Alan Leard and Alex Balazs

By Published On: May 14, 2019Categories: Blog, Podcasts, The CTO Studio

Are PR and positive publicity in tech two different things? Brian Jones will answer that question and more today. Brian is the CEO of Nuts and Bolts of PR and he is the master of all things positive messaging. He also happens to be one of our guests on this episode of CTO Studio.

Our other guests are Alan Leard, the CTO and Co-founder of Limelight Health and Alex Balazs, the Chief Architect at Intuit. The four of us discuss what PR is and isn’t, and if it’s different from positive messaging and positive publicity. We also talk about what makes a good conference good and a bad conference bad. We cover a lot of ground in this episode so get ready to join us on today’s CTO Studio.

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • Does everyone have a story to tell? (4:45)
  • Who you should be crafting your message for and who not. (16:55)
  • Should you tell your employees’ stories? (20:05)
  • What should you do in the event of negative publicity? (37:50)
  • How do you get people to know who you are and what you do? (43:00)
  • And so much more!

We start off with a discussion about what is public relations: Brian breaks it down for us on a basic level. He says PR (or his preferred term positive publicity) is about doing whatever you can to create positiveness, visibility and shine a spotlight on your company.

My next question is how do I do that? I like the concept, but how do I execute it? It comes down to attention and exposure; any positive thing you can do to shine a spotlight on yourself, your business to get positive attention in the media.

It’s about turning positive attention into content that makes you and your company look good so you can bring more people in. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about your company, it can be about things happening in day to day life that are positive and that create attention to boost your brand and what you are selling. This positive attention you turn into content makes people more comfortable with you and helps you gain credibility.

What about the old adage: there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Does that stay true today?

Brian doesn’t think so. He says you want to stay away from the bad publicity if you can.

If you put a positive spin on anything you do and you really help outsiders understand what you do and you always stay positive, it will only create more opportunities. It will also help you bring more people in – but you don’t do that by creating negative publicity and negativity.

Alan brings up the idea of storytelling and PR. Their outgoing CEO at Limelight is a gifted storyteller, so much so he even teaches it. Alan asked Brian what he thinks the role of storytelling is in PR.

Brian believes everyone has a story to tell, even if they think they don’t! Most of the clients he deals with think they have no story to tell and no one will care about what they are doing because there’s nothing to tell.

But that isn’t true! Those people often have the best stories, but his clients get pigeonholed and tunnel vision so all they talk about is their product or service. They don’t realize that the story lies with them and their life experiences – that is what people want to hear.

By telling their stories and their experiences Brian’s clients shine a light on their product or service, and gain a bigger audience and marketshare. It’s all about crafting their stories: don’t always think about a product or service, think about an event in life because those are most compelling.

To me this sounds like there is a mindset shift that happens: rather than tech leaders and companies focusing on what they want from the public, storytelling in PR is about making a positive contribution and talking about it. People respond to the latter, and not the former.

So where does this all go then – to a blog, a tweet, or somewhere else? How do we get the positive content in front of the right eyeballs? There’s no magic bullet and no instant gratification, which is what everyone is looking for today. It takes a lot of work and effort. You have to try to find your niche and what story of yours is most compelling.

Brian tells a lot of his clients unless you’ve come up with a way to cure cancer you’re probably not going to get covered immediately by publications like Forbes and TechCrunch! You have to put in the work to get attention from that level of media.

Which is why Brian asks his clients what they can talk about that isn’t about their product or service? What can they start to do right now to create a conversation? Most of the companies he has had success with was not by talking about what the company does, it was by using any and all positive means necessary to bring people in.

And bringing people in isn’t just the media, it’s also about your local community. You can even create what Brian calls “torch bearers”, people in your local community who believe in you and talk about you to other people.

There’s a lot that you can do at the community level to create attention and awareness, and that is what facilitates new sales and new customers. He’s even witnessed investors being lured in by torchbearers! And if an investor sees you doing positive things and that your story is compelling they become more comfortable with the possibility of investing in your company.

Also on today’s episode, we talk about the power of authenticity and transparency, even during crises. We finish the show by going over how to cultivate your public persona. Hear Brian’s insights and more wisdom from Alan and Alex on today’s CTO Studio.