It isn’t very often that we get a chance to take a glimpse into the mind of one of the most talented PR professionals in the country. Fortunately, Caryn Marooney, Head of Technology Communications for Facebook, sat down with First Round Review to share her thoughts on effective PR pitching and messaging. Before joining Facebook, Marooney co-founded OutCast, a PR agency that boasts clients like Amazon, Salesforce.com, Netflix and Sephora. If she’s talking, we’re listening.
The RIBS Test
In order for your brand’s message to succeed, it must be memorable. It needs to stick. (Get it? Stick to your ribs?) For Marooney, RIBS means:
“It’s hard to get attention and it’s hard to be relevant,” Marooney told First Round Review. “Fight for greater relevance. Make it a priority in your positioning.” Relevance means connecting your brand’s story with something of broader interest. Other SaaS CRMs were available during the first days of Salesforce.com, for example, but the company was out front with the idea that the death of customer-managed, client-server software was coming. The company’s, “End of software,” message resonated with buyers and the media.
Journalists, like the rest of us, want to be connected with winners. This means to get their attention you must convince them that the success of the trend or product category you are associated with is all but assured. You should be able to make a compelling, logical case that you are positioned where the market will eventually arrive.
Even if a reporter buys the fact that the success of a product like yours is inevitable, they must also believe that your brand is the one to make it happen. This requires spokespeople with a great deal of credibility and evidence that they have the resources and skill to win.
“Take your messaging and edit it down,” said Marooney. “Get it to its essence. What is the one line you want people to remember? You only get one.” A perfect example comes from car rental company, Avis. “We’re # 2. We try harder.” Easy to understand, clear and completely logical. Attention spans are growing shorter and shorter, your messages need to make great sound bites, not novels.
The RIBS approach is wonderful food for thought. For more PR advice, we highly recommend reading the entire interview with Caryn Marooney at Front Round Review.