Declassified client story: The PR “Backdoor”

Reconsidering How to Approach Your Target Audience with PR

Today more than ever, C-level executives and entrepreneurs are using a combination of technology platforms and traditional sales and marketing teams to help drive new business. The goal, as it always has been, is to get in front of the target audience in order to drive sales. While this process has always worked, little thought has been put into how businesses (both startups and established brands) can enhance this sales model through non-traditional means such as PR. But why PR? PR practitioners and PR programs are capable of reaching target audiences in different ways than sales and marketing teams, primarily as a result of PR’s capacity to help produce non-biased media coverage. When you consider how advertising and marketing efforts are aimed at direct audiences (customers), strategically planned PR efforts can aim for “backdoor” customers via media coverage.

What do you define as a backdoor?

Jim Stickley, CTO of TraceSecurity

Going directly to the individual responsible for making decisions has always produced results, but the high cost of making that happen and the amount of competition vying for that individuals attention can often lead to unsatisfactory results. Several years ago I learned an important lesson when my client, Baton Rouge-based TraceSecurity, gave us a green light to go “elephant hunting.” TraceSecurity is a security compliance firm targeting financial institutions and so when we secured a segment with the NBC Today Show on the company’s young co-founder and CTO, many employees began to question why dollars were being spent hunting down a segment with a pure consumer media outlet. And the fact of the matter was they were right, but also wrong. 99% of the time the TODAY Show is the wrong media outlet for an enterprise B2B company, but that remaining 1% is pure gold if played correctly.

In TraceSecurity’s eyes the target customer is a manager to C-Level executive in the financial services industry; someone of stature, experience, and decision making authority. So naturally a PR program focuses on these user groups, but what if there was another group that had just as much sway as those employees did? Have I got you thinking about who this group could be? Good!

These managers and C-level executives could have spouses and family members that may watch the NBC TODAY show even if they don’t themselves. See where I’m going with this? As it turns out, the 5 minute and 48 second segment (on Jim Stickley and TraceSecurity) that appeared on the most watched NBC TODAY Show broadcast of the year (turns out is the day after New Year’s) was being watched by the wife of the CEO of one of the largest banks on the East Coast. She recorded the segment for her husband and when he came home he watched the entire piece. The story on Jim and his company would later compel the bank CEO and his board to approve one of TraceSecurity’s largest business deals, all because of a TODAY Show segment geared towards consumers, not the decision makers running a B2B operation.

Don’t Copy; Create!

Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

While most of my peers are busy working on designing and implementing plans aimed squarely at their target audience, pause should be given on other “backdoor” strategies to pursue the same goal. As is often is the case in PR, there are too many copycats and too few “artists” who truly look at PR as an art form. I like to think of PR as a painting; always looking for creative ways to enhance my clients’ PR “picture” based on original ideas and concepts rather than borrowed from some blog written by one of my peers.

To watch the segment that led to the deal, please click on the following URL:

– David Splivalo, President


About Freestyle PR

Pushing boundaries.
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