On Products, the Press, Analysts and SaaS - InformationWeek

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3/21/2007
12:59 PM
Seth Grimes
Seth Grimes
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On Products, the Press, Analysts and SaaS

"How do companies with such a trivial product get such [extensive] press?" I had written in a recent blog about the claims and the coverage garnered by a BI software as a service (SaaS) company... The person who sent me this question founded a rival company that creates BI solutions using open-source software... Consider the following PR 101 from someone on the receiving end of many press releases.

"How do companies with such a trivial product get such [extensive] press?"

I had written in a recent blog entry about the claims and the coverage garnered by a BI software as a service (SaaS) company. Their products may be quite nice - their architecture and positioning seem sounds - but their grandiose self-depiction overstates their impact on the overall BI market.

The person who sent me this question founded a company that creates BI solutions using open-source software, a rival of the company I wrote about. His question was half serious, half rhethorical - he surely had his own answer in mind - but it's worth a moment's thought. Consider the following as two minutes of PR 101 from someone on the receiving end of many press releases.Companies get the press coverage they do because of a combination of:

1. good PR; 2. lucky or clever timing; 3. authority derived from the experience, visibility and connections of the principals and backers; and, unfortunately, 4. writers and editors who don't have the time, knowledge and/or judgment to ask the right questions about the pitches - which is just about all of us on one occasion or another.

Good PR is a concise press release that quickly gets to salient points: the product, what it's good for, its target market and who's using it, who's behind it. The publicist has to make the case somewhere in there why I and my readers should care.

Timing isn't an issue for most media outlets: they're constantly hungry for content. Myself, I'm a "contributing editor," which means that I write what I want, when I want. I look for announcements that are noteworthy in themselves or as trend indicators.

In last week's case, I got yet another release from a company that is hanging on salesforce.com's coattails. Significantly because of Salesforce's success selling "on demand" CRM, SaaS is getting a lot of attention from analyst and industry organizations such as Gartner. These organizations have a strong incentive to continuously prove their worth by being on the leading edge of trends. Sometimes these Authorities see a forest where there are really only a few trees, don't you think?

Lastly, there's no PR excess that ticks me off more than inflated, unsubstantiated claims. They're worse than releases that bear no relationship to my work, which are easily deleted. Yet many trade journalists - all of us at times - don't sort the "good" PR from the inaccurate especially given deadline pressure and in light of favorable coverage in other outlets. So we contribute to the hype cycle.

Just remember a bit of time-tested wisdom: Don't believe everything you read."How do companies with such a trivial product get such [extensive] press?" I had written in a recent blog about the claims and the coverage garnered by a BI software as a service (SaaS) company... The person who sent me this question founded a rival company that creates BI solutions using open-source software... Consider the following PR 101 from someone on the receiving end of many press releases.

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