What Tech Startups Can Learn From Bono About PR

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Bono. When people hear these two syllables they stop and listen. Not just to the mega rockstar, but also to Bono, the thought leader and PR machine, whose humanitarian efforts have positioned him as a leading authority on global issues.

Bono recently penned an article for the OpEd pages for the New York Times about the global refugee crisis and why the worldwide community needs to pay more attention in its response. Based on his visits to the Middle East and East Africa, he dispelled the myths about the world’s refugee crisis and put forth tangible solutions for improvement and hope.

As someone who regularly works in the tech community to build thought leadership in the media, I thought Bono’s piece was not only insightful about the topic at hand, but provided an instructive blueprint on how to share expertise and insight on a broader discussion in the news.

With an increased number of opportunities to share expertise both through contributed content to news outlets and through owned channels like LinkedIn, now’s the time to figure out how to convey your point of a view in a way that can optimize these opportunities. What were some points that worked really well with Bono’s article?

  1. It’s Timely: Bono was able to use his recent humanitarian trip to turn the attention to the broader discussion that he’s trying to advance, which is reframing how people view the global refugee crisis. The timeliness of the trip makes his first-hand experiences and overall messages more relevant and meaningful. The same element of timeliness exists when you see a relevant headline, news report, data point or regulation pertaining to your industry. Acting quickly to provide your own perspective will increase the likelihood that you will have your voice heard.
  2. He’s Qualified: I am personally skeptical of celebrities making fleeting attempts to adopt causes for the sake of their brand. However, Bono has won countless awards for his humanitarian efforts, does great work with the advocacy group One and the AIDS organization RED, and donates heavily to charitable causes. In other words, he’s qualified to make this statement about what’s going on with the refugee crisis and why he makes the suggestions he does. For those of us (everyone else!) who doesn’t have the same immediate recognition as Bono, some background qualifying information on your expertise is important.
  3. He Offers Actionable Advice: In addition to offering his opinion on what’s going on globally, Bono offers some actionable suggestions on next steps. He lays out a concrete three-step plan, pointing to the need for increased humanitarian support, the need for host countries to reshape how they view refugees (benefit vs. burden) and the need for assistance for those countries on the periphery of chaos. His call for hope is an overarching message, but it is balanced with practical tips for world leaders to consider. Similarly, you may have insightful theories or messages about your field, but it is important to pair them with a clear call to action.
  4. He Focuses On The Topic At Hand: Not once do you see Bono advancing his humanitarian ideals while mentioning that he’s selling tickets to a U2 concert. He doesn’t tell you that by supporting the band, you are supporting his public platform. Of course, there’s a carry-over effect to the brand of U2. But he keeps the focus on the topic of humanitarianism and sharing genuine insights on this topic. There’s no place for direct selling in industry analysis. This is true for creating content, and it’s true when you are positioning yourself as a resource more generally for the media. Editors want to hear your expert perspective, but not if you tie everything back to your product. Keeping this clear division between your point of view on an industry topic and your product-specific news will help maintain credibility among reporters.

In the fast-paced world of tech, sharing industry insight goes a long way in establishing credibility — and visibility. It’s not enough to have something smart to say, but rather it matters where – and how– you do it.

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