3 Ways to Go Upstream With PR


Three When used in combination with the term marketing, upstream means that you gather information from the market to drive product direction and strategies. Some correlate the term with "inbound".

However, there is a lot more to going upstream than pull.

Upstream marketing is the early stage investment you make in understanding the customer segments you wish to focus on, analyzing how people use your product or service and what triggers preference.

All the stuff that happens before you launch will make your go-to-market activities even more successful.

When people think about PR, they think buzz, getting the word out, press release, and mostly the promotional or publicity end of the spectrum. Another unexplored opportunity with PR and communications is at the opposite end — with getting people to care.

Which means your message speaks to them as an answered call, making it easy for them to pay attention and say yes. If the money for PR is in immedicacy for downstream communications, to succeed upstream, you will:

(1.) Work with the product development team to assist in matching what the product does with what the product says it does — in some cases, a bit more understanding and clarity up front can really help at the cash register

(2.) Identify any hot buttons or issues in the community or group the service is being designed to serve

(3.) Bake the communication right into the product — so it speaks directly to the people you want to connect with and the feedback loop will allow you to be aware of additional product uses, any issues that come up, and so on

I talk to many communicators who have made strides in this direction and are contributing to the success of the business they support in more ways felt at the bottom line level.

One of the challenges I have found, is that often the product or service launch becomes imminent suddenly, while the PR group had not been brought in the loop. What are the challenges you have encountered in going upstream?

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0 responses to “3 Ways to Go Upstream With PR”

  1. I almost missed this one! You know me; more interested in the conversations than the marketing piece, but those first two thoughts you emphasized up there were like a speed bump – “Slow down, Brian. You’re actively working on this process right now.” 🙂
    A few months back, we changed our mission to one that made more sense to our “customers” – and to us. As Kathy Sierra might say, everything we do should help our customers build kick ass cars and lives.
    What I’m finding is tricky is getting those early bits of feedback which will allow us to prove ourselves to people, earn their trust, and encourage them to open up to us.
    And this post just gave me a couple GREAT ideas. Thank you, Valeria!

  2. Once again, another timely and spot-on post! Thanks for addressing how the PR element can be engaged to match the product’s intended service offering to what it really does.
    We are often engaged for this specific role in early stages of development, and have contributed to bridging conversations to unify and maximize potential for product release/introduction.
    Great points, Valeria!

  3. We work exclusively with B2B technology companies, Valeria, and have become quite enamoured of the Agile (capitalised because it is a formal methodology) approach to product development. We like it because it demands what you call “upstream marketing”, or the imperative to engage with your customers from the very outset of the product-development process. The outcome is messaging that moves in lockstep with what the market wants and what the product-development team is building.

  4. Great points & often overlooked. I’ve seen where it can be a challenge to get the right people involved at the right stage, which means that critical insights or details are missing. It can also be tempting to quickly go to market without the due diligence of having packaging, pricing, or positioning in place – in which case, the product doesn’t stand a chance beyond luck.
    There’s incredible value in a strong strategic plan.

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