Keynote Speaker and Author, Geoffrey Moore, discusses the future of PR
At last week’s The New PR Conference hosted by AirPR Software in San Francisco, discussion swirled around ‘New PR’ and an evolution of public relations, including PR’s place in the greater marketing mix. Keynote speaker Geoffrey Moore, author of ‘Crossing the Chasm’, ‘Escape Velocity’ and other bestsellers, highlighted the catalysts for these radical changes and provided a roadmap for the future of the industry.
“The notion of the ‘New PR’ is actually that it’s got to be a collaborative effort,” Moore began. “What is required right now is for us to rethink the marketing equation based on a bunch of changes that have happened over the past decade. The marketing discipline will need to be recentered around communications, which is not where it has been in the past.”
“Pragmatists make or break your success”
To begin exploring the catalysts for the change in communications, Moore uses the high tech sector to highlight how companies self-organize in a technology adoption lifecycle as a case study of how marketing has changed. “What high tech marketing was about was enterprises having to make high-risk, low-data buying decisions. [Not only is technology expensive, but] it’s an organizational commitment, it’s still a career commitment, it’s still reorganizing the processes inside your companies and there’s a whole adoption life-cycle process that you have to take people through. It’s not a trivial thing to ask a customer to make a commitment to a digitally-enabled product or service.”
At the beginning of the high tech boom, there were early adopters who were unafraid of entering into a new category. “However, most people are pragmatists or conservatives. [When it comes to investing in the adoption of technology in a new category, they say,] ‘I think this will be right to do at some point, but I don’t know when. I will do this when I see other people like me doing it,’” explained Moore.
“This created this really peculiar dynamic in high tech market development where companies would stall, stall, stall and then take off. That stalling period is because pragmatists will hesitate, then that will create a lull in market development, and that has to be built into your plan. You can’t assume that your early successes will transition straight to market success. On the positive side, though, when they started to go, they stampeded. Pragmatists came into the market and have come in with a whole new budget. An enormous amount of money hits the market all at once.”
Communications and marketing for companies started by early adopters (the first companies to market) typically have a narrative about highlighting innovation and a brand’s story. However, with companies run by pragmatists, “they care about the problems they can’t solve. In a pragmatist’s world, ‘If you’re not solving one of my top three problems, we should not be talking,’” Moore shared. This requires a very different communications narrative.
This narrative starts with the problem, and not the solution. Marketing criticism today is “way too much about you, way too little about the problem, way too soon to go to the solution,” said Moore. “Those are things that a communications professional gets. But the communications profession needs to become a more powerful voice in the marketing mix. It is frequently overridden.”
Moore then discussed how communications worked back in at the beginning of the high tech boom. Communications pros would go to the trade press, the high tech press and to the analysts like Gartner and Forrester. That cycle has now changed and a demand for ‘New PR’ is on the rise.
Four radical shifts in PR
“There are four things I want to call out that I think are making categorial, existential changes in our world,” said Moore. These four radical shifts are:
- Shift of balance of power from vendor to customer. “Previously, demand exceeded supply. Everywhere you went, the vendor had more power than the consumer,” said Moore. “As a result of digitally-powered improvements to the supply chain, somewhere around the beginning of this century, the power shifted from the vendor to the consumer. Now the customer is king, which raises the importance of communications, which is an audience-driven discipline.”
- Service-oriented architecture demands a focus on customer success. “We need to draw the circle around a communications center point. We currently draw the center point around the product and that doesn’t work in customer-centric environment,” highlighted Moore.
- Digital changes all the rules about getting and sharing information. “The triangle of trade press and analysts has changed. We have democratized information. Just Google it. This actually makes communications harder: the good news is, digital amplifies our messages, the bad news is, it’s much noisier,” explained Moore.
- Viral communications require real-time responses. “We now have real-time problems,” shared Moore. “It’s a different game. What’s important is to be timely. The critical thing in New PR is ‘how fast did you get a message out there?’”
In sum, in a new world of high-risk, low-data buying decisions where the customer is king, communications has become more important than ever. Moore said, “‘New PR’ requires communications to have a greater voice in the marketing mix.”
Find out more about the New PR in a future blog post featuring AirPR Software’s CEO talking about the Science of New PR.
About Geoffrey Moore
Geoffrey Moore is an author, speaker, and advisor who splits his consulting time between start-up companies in the Mohr Davidow portfolio and established high-tech enterprises, most recently including Salesforce, Microsoft, Intel, Box, Aruba, Cognizant, and Rackspace.
Moore’s life’s work has focused on the market dynamics surrounding disruptive innovations. His first book, ‘Crossing the Chasm’, focuses on the challenges start-up companies face transitioning from early adoption to mainstream customers. It has sold more than a million copies, and its third edition has been revised such that the majority of its examples and case studies reference companies come to prominence from the past decade. Moore’s most recent work, ‘Escape Velocity’, addresses the challenge large enterprises face when they seek to add a new line of business to their established portfolio. It has been the basis of much of his recent consulting.