The Brand vs. Product Paradox: New Research from Allison+Partners Shows that In-House Tech PR Pros Struggle with Storytelling Priorities

Allison+Partners released a new global research study of more than 1,000 tech marketing and PR decision-makers across the U.S., Germany, U.K., Singapore and China, providing guidance on the latest tech PR debate – when it comes to storytelling, which comes first…the brand or the product? “Technology PR’s Tug of War: The Battle of Brand vs. Product” details the ongoing challenges in-house teams face when it comes to balancing product PR with the desire to showcase their company’s value, mission and purpose and helps brands find a path to drop the rope and move forward.

“In the last two years, the world has changed in ways we can’t yet predict. We’re more reliant on technology for a sense of connection than we’ve ever been. It underpins our daily life and people are ever more aware of it,” said Jordan Fischler, Partner at Allison+Partners. “That awareness comes with a responsibility to make sure people understand the larger impact that a technology brand is making in their lives and globally.”

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Added Karyn Barr, Partner at Allison+Partners: “Now more than ever, technology brands are in the global spotlight – one that requires them to amplify not just their latest gadgets or services, but also to showcase how they are holding true to greater brand missions and purposes. Customers, employees, investors and partners expect, if not demand, an evolution in how technology brands tell their stories. But despite the shared desire, tech PR and marketing professionals globally are grappling with how to best approach this new era in tech storytelling because, truth is, internal stakeholders don’t have the same priorities in mind.”

The study reveals that while customers are making more purchasing decisions based on brand strength, mission and values, there’s still a disconnect between perception and reality.

Key research takeaways include:

  1. Tech marcom pros crave brand-led stories. 77% of tech marketing, branding and communications decision-makers worldwide – and across industries – believe in the power of authentic, brand-first storytelling to showcase a company’s value, purpose and mission. Even more (88%) believe their C-suite understands the value. But here’s the kicker: Only 58% of respondents say their company truly prioritizes brand-focused campaigns, admitting to internal challenges standing in the way.
  2. Is the belief in brand one-size-fits-all? No. B2B decision-makers are more likely than their consumer tech counterparts to believe focusing on the values, ethics and mission of the company beyond the product lines is important when telling authentic stories about a brand.
  3. Is the customer always right? That’s up for debate. 72% say their customers make more purchasing decisions based on the overall strength of the brand, its mission and its values than they did three years ago. And yet, brand-led storylines fall to the back burner when sales get involved
  4. Globally, communicators are – pun intended – all over the map when it comes to PR priorities. Only 13% of marketing decision-makers at international tech companies strongly believe their employer tells a consistent, brand-first story across all relevant markets. In fact, lack of alignment, exposure to unnecessary risk, channel inconsistency and more challenge 97% of tech marcom pros, who’d otherwise double down on a more authentic storytelling approach.
  5. Although CMOs (27%) are most likely to agree consistency was lacking across their local markets, 61% of director and manager-level marketers felt otherwise, pointing to major disparities between the orchestrators and creators of the message and those on the frontlines.

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