Customer stories are often seen as the jewel in the crown of any solid PR programme. Decision makers want to learn from the experiences of their peers - the challenges they faced during the deployment of a certain technology, things they would have done differently and the benefits to the business - which is why many media outlets continue to place such a strong focus on customer use cases. The final article can be a great asset for sales teams to use in conversations with prospects and current clients to demonstrate industry best practice and key learnings from previous customer deployments.
There are some enterprise tech firms, including Salesforce, Workday, Dropbox, Splunk and ServiceNow, who do a particularly good job of getting customers to tell their stories to the media. But customers are often time poor and have a have a myriad of tasks to prioritise before it comes to media interviews.
So once a customer has agreed to give up their precious time to an interview, how can we as PRs ensure they are ready for what's to come and that we make the most of the time given to us?
Primarily it comes down to setting expectations. This means sharing examples of previous customer stories in a title so the end result is in mind. It means ensuring they understand the audience, as well as the journalist's remit.
But one of the most important conversations to have with customer spokespeople is about content reviews - an issue that comes up time and again. As Jon Reed at diginomica notes, "those third party stories lose all credibility if they are subject to any kind of external approval from the vendor or the customer."
The rules he lays out in this piece are ones to live by when it comes to customer briefings, and will go a long way in establishing long term relationships with journalists and customers alike.
At diginomica, use cases are at the heart of our editorial because that’s how tech gets a gut check. Customers want to learn from each other. Yes, these journalistic use cases are powerful marketing tools, but that is not why they were written. They reach readers who aren’t (yet) interested in watching slickly produced testimonials or packaged case study PDFs from that vendor. They carry weight because the journalist had editorial control. Our diginomica use cases have a rough edge or two. An unexpected challenge, a partner that was given the boot, a project setback overcome. Results happen amidst problems. No surprise – those are the imperfect stories readers trust.