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Three PR tips if you’re considering taking a risk in your industry

By Jason Mudd

Will Microsoft shine as the “new kid” in open-source market?

Open-source tech people, meet the new addition to the class – Microsoft.

It’s an eyebrow-raising concept. Many are wondering, where does the traditionally fee-based Microsoft fit in with the open-source hardware players who offer the ability to freely tweak code and components without reproach? From a PR standpoint, there’s even more to ponder. If your company has entered a new aspect of your market or industry, or wants to take that risk, read on for some notes on how to make the best of this opportunity.

A quick review: Microsoft recently shared at the Open Compute Summit held in San Jose that its data centers and server management software will now be embracing the Open Compute Project (OCP) specifications it once fought so hard to preclude. According to Microsoft’s Bill Laing, who serves as VP of its Server and Cloud Division, “The benefits compared to traditional servers include a 40 percent reduction in cost around its simplicity, a 15 percent gain in power efficiency, and a 50 percent improvement in deployment and service times.”

In fact, social media giant Facebook has used the OCP model to design its own components to drive down costs and maximize efficiency. The fact that Microsoft has been inspired by Facebook’s example and has decided to make the jump into the open-source hardware movement with its Azure servers shows that it is willing to embrace change – thus placing its brand in a fresh new position that could drive new audiences. Sometimes it pays to embrace a new way of thinking, and while the payoff might not initially be monetary, it could lead to fresh ideas, a broader audience and earned support from a community that once might have viewed Microsoft as too rigid of a sell.

Thinking about taking a risk into a new area? Some important PR points to consider:

1. Look for ways to uniquely build your brand.

If you’re entering a new industry, this could take time, and payoffs might not be overnight. Industry expert and Vice President of Gartner, Jeffrey Hewitt, doesn’t anticipate that Microsoft will see a huge impact to its bottom line anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean that it’s all for nothing. He advises that in the process of sharing its designs used for powering the Azure datacenters, Microsoft might actually be able to reduce its own cost of infrastructure and potentially woo some customers to branch out and integrate designs featuring Windows technology.

2. Be willing to act outside the immediate sphere of expertise.

This presents a unique PR opportunity through earned news coverage and social media to show your audience that you can be a little vulnerable, and that you’re open to some of their suggestions. While Hewitt says that Microsoft’s involvement in OCP might not be game-changing, it does demonstrate the company’s venturesome spirit and willingness to listen to the demands of the market. These undertakings can really pay off with public, especially when placed into a savvy overall PR strategy. For example, clever or down-home video featuring interviews with top Microsoft execs could put this vulnerability into the hands of brand advocates, who can share the messages on behalf of Microsoft across their own peer networks.

3. Is it a fit?

Make sure the risk you’re pondering is right for the messages you’re sending. Don’t go haphazardly into new frontiers just for the sake of risk; instead know the data about who responds to your message, in what platforms, and what they do with your message. In fact, knowing the data associated with PR campaign response is a top trend for 2014 and can make your risk-taking efforts truly impact more audiences.

No matter what business you’re in, it’s important to know about trends and be open to new ways of thinking. At Axia Public Relations, we believe your ideas for growth combined with our smart PR strategies can make 2014 a year to remember. Give us a call today, and let us help you get the right kind of PR attention if you’re considering becoming the “new kid” in a new business area.

Mudd_Jason_Color_hi_res_forward_crop– Jason Mudd, APR, is CEO of Axia Public Relations. He is an Emmy-Award-winning accredited public relations practitioner, speaker, author and entrepreneur. His public relations portfolio includes work for established national and emerging brands such as American Airlines, Budweiser, Dave & Buster’s, Brightway Insurance, Florida Blue, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, It Works! Global, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Ray Charles, Southern Comfort, Verizon and more. Connect with Jason at @jasonmudd9 and Axia Public Relations at @axiapr. Be sure to tweet and share your thoughts below. We’ll read and respond to each of them.

Topics: public relations, PR tips

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