Sometimes it’s hard enough to get everyone inside a single company to agree on the specific wording of a press release but when you have two companies working together on a press release, it can more than double your approval cycles. A clear case of 2+2=5.
Partner press releases are a fact of PR life whether you call them strategic alliances, reseller announcements, channel communication, or joint announcements. In the high tech world, joint press releases are especially important because often your product doesn’t work without someone else’s. It can be your software runs on their hardware or maybe your application runs on their operating system. Getting a clear cut statement of compatibility or preference can be a nice added bonus for your product launch and offer comfort to your customers or prospects.
But clear cut statements can be difficult to get in partner announcements. Think about it. If your Partner X says your product works best with their product, where does that leave every other product that also works with the partner products? Sometimes working on a partner press release feels a little like negotiating the friendship minefields of preteen girls. “Well, am I your best friend or is she?” No disrespect meant to preteen girls but well, we all remember junior high, right? If you are the partner, you need to consider how anything you say will impact your other partners.
I’ve heard some PR people and corporate executives state that partner press releases should contain a “nice” quote from each company about the other company. I tend to avoid this. Partner press releases are generally done at the beginning of a relationship and frankly, how much do you really know about your partner at the beginning of the relationship? (Due diligence aside of course.) I would love to see some reality-based partnership press releases a year into the relationship. “We never really got the two products working together because the other company didn’t invest enough development resources. We found out that their customer service team didn’t understand how our product was supposed to work.” Or, my favorite…”The strategy changed and this was no longer a priority for us.”
And platitudes…”we’re pleased to be working with Mary and her team”? “Pleased?” Ugh. Is that really newsworthy material?
Instead, look at the announcement from the outside. Go back to that 2+2=5 statement. How does combining forces do more for the customer than if the customer simply bought both products separately? What about if the customer bought someone else’s similar product? How does the partnership improve the result for the customer?
Some pieces of advice on partner press releases:
- Don’t let the other side take total control of the PR and press release. You need to be involved to protect your interests.
- Make certain good versioning practices are followed in writing, editing and getting approval on the press releases. This means knowing in advance who needs to sign off on all public statements. All parties should turn on revision tracking. All press releases should have a version number and everyone should add their initials to documents they review. If you are drafting the initial release don’t name it with only the other company’s name. In other words, a press release draft I review would be MyCompanyPartnerCompanyRelationship v2BC.
- Make sure you have final approval in writing before you send out a press release to anyone outside the company. Even embargoed communications with reporter with draft versions should be openly discussed with your partner.