The Microsoft tablet price with be cut by as much as 30 percent as the device struggles to lure customers amid competition from machines such as Apple’s iPad.

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s Chief Executive Officer, unveiled a sweeping revamp last week which is intended to streamline management and rev up growth in areas like tablets and mobile computing. Tablets, a market where 3.7 percent of machines run Microsoft’s Windows, are poised to outsell PCs by 2015, according to IDC.

“The company [Microsoft], despite being one of the richest, most powerful tech companies of all time, is generally underestimated and seen as a second-class citizen to companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, and even Facebook, by the tech elite.” (July 14, 2013)

When this is the perception of business leaders, bloggers and technology junkies, you have just missed the boat in your marketing. Public Relations secures the beach head, marketing wins the battle. Mircrosoft never addressed these perception issues beforehand. By never winning over the emotions and opinions of the tech KOL’s, their marketing fell flat for lack of market insider buzz.

Public Relations Before Marketing

While Mircrosoft spent untold millions on ads to tell us why we should not have an iPad, the proper use of PR was never leveraged before their big marketing campaign unfolded.

Taken from an interview with Al Ries, positioning icon and PR guru, Mr. Ries clearly articulates in this interview with Marsha Friedman (Feb 2011), what Microsoft did to fall flat in their marketing efforts.

Al Ries: “The issues here have to do with credibility. In other words, the average ad has little credibility. And there are lots of reasons for that. One of which is there is too much advertising. As a result, the average person doesn’t necessarily believe much of what he or she reads in the ads. That’s no problem if you have a strong brand. In other words, Rolex can run ads and people will believe it because they know Rolex, they know it’s famous and they know it’s one of the most powerful brands in the world. Their friends and neighbors brag when they buy one. But when they see an ad for a brand they’ve never heard of, their tendency is not to believe a single thing they read. As a matter of fact, there’s a lot of research that says most people won’t even look at an ad for a brand that they’ve never heard of on the basis that, ‘If I’ve never heard of it, it can’t be any good.’

“So advertising, more and more, is not good for the new brands. What’s good for new brands? PR. You see, in PR you’re not speaking for the brand, it’s the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, or CBS, NBC or ABC who says it’s terrific. So the third-party endorsement through PR is the way to launch a new brand. Now that goes exactly against the thinking of management in America. Anytime anybody says, “Let’s launch a new brand,” management says, “We can’t afford to spend $20 or $30 million on an advertising campaign.” And we will say, “You’re right. You shouldn’t be doing that anyhow. You should be launching with PR.” Our philosophy is PR first and advertising second. You only use advertising after the brand has become established.

“I’m not saying that established brands shouldn’t do PR; sure they should. But believe me, there is such an opportunity in the PR business to launch brands. As you probably know from your own experience, in meetings to launch a brand—and I’ve been in many of those and looked around—there are no PR people. The ad agency is there, the marketing manager is there, the sales manager is there and I ask, “Where are the PR people?”

“So the PR business has a long way to go. First, they’ve got to get in the room. They’ve got to find a way to break down the door to get in the room before the brand is launched. That’s an issue too, but the philosophy I recommend is very powerful: PR first, advertising second.

“And the other implication of this is the PR people need to get involved in the strategy of the brand. That’s the biggest single hang up, because traditionally it’s the advertising agency that works with the client to develop the marketing strategy—the “ultimate driving machine” words—and not the PR agency. But, the PR agency should, in a sense, take over the brand launching part of it and work on how to verbalize and visualize the brand. I think more PR people should be interested in reading our books than advertising or marketing people because some very major companies could buy into the concept of PR first and advertising second.

“It would create enormous business for PRs, but more importantly it would make the function more important for the company. And nothing is as powerful in a company today, as a successful launch of a new brand. A new brand can double their business. The opportunity for a company’s expansion in many ways lies in the development of new brands.” – Al Ries

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