Too many Publicity Hounds are much too nice when introducing a new product or service that’s heads above the one offered by the competition.
Afraid of stepping on toes, they issue a bland news release with glowing quotes from the CEO about the wonders of the new offering. But never once do they mention what makes it better than the other guy’s.
PR pro Erin Mitchell says that in some cases, it’s time to put on the boxing gloves and start talking negatively about the competition. She’s not suggesting you bad-mouth them, or bash them.
“Whether your product is a gadget or a health plan, if it’s a lot ‘more’
product than your competitor’s–and you can explain why–there’s no good reason not to say so,” she says. “You cannot be afraid to talk badly about your competition–in a light that makes it acceptable and constructive–and explain why you are purely the option to choose.”
Mitchell, director of business development at RLM, a public relations firm, points to the smart publicity campaign waged by Sony earlier this year when it launched the newest Walkman. The campaign included an all-out attack on Apple’s media darling, the beloved and awestruck iPod.
“Sony said, point blank and in so many words, that the new Walkman is better than the iPod,” she said. “It costs the same and has the same size memory, but the Walkman can hold almost three times as many songs, is significantly lighter, and has four times as much life left in the battery.”
Sales copy like that can lure not only consumers, but journalists who are intrigued by the comparisons.
Erin writes more about this technique known as “negative messaging,” in the November/December 2004 issue of The Publicity Hound subscription newsletter. Order this issue.