3 rules to crush PR partnership announcements

Working together is better — but comes with challenges. 

Partnership PR

David Murphy is account supervisor at Method Communications

Executive thought leadership, speaking and award submissions, and pitching product announcements are a PR professional’s bread and butter. The odds are pretty high you’re working on one of these right now! But as many businesses find themselves embracing collaborations and partnerships, PR professionals can find themselves in uncharted waters: navigating the joint company announcement. In fact, just within the past year, we’ve seen several high-profile corporate partnership announcements, many of them involving NVIDIA, OpenAI or a number of the other Big Tech players. As companies cautiously approach new technologies, during these uncertain economic times, partnership announcements have become an effective and increasingly common way to communicate business momentum.  

So, what can you do to make sure your team is set up for success? While there are no hard rules because each situation has its own unique factors and moving parts, I have learned a few things during my career that will hopefully save you from feeling like pulling your hair out. 



Rule #1: Figure out the other company’s level of PR participation

This may seem obvious, but we’re so used to working in our own silos that the instinct is often to get to work and start drafting pitches and media lists once we receive the details from our client. It’s critical, however, to take a step back and figure out the key players and who’s leading the announcement. For example, if one company is buying another, chances are the acquirer is going to drive the news. Once you’ve determined it’s a true partnership announcement, align with the other company’s PR team to get a sense of whether or not they’ll be involved, and if so, how involved. Every decision you make from that point will be influenced by their response. 

If they would like to participate — first off, congratulations, more PR support is almost always a positive — you’ll want to consider the following:  

  • Are you both aligned on messaging? For example, let’s say the partnership is a way for your company to communicate its commitment to sustainable, eco-friendly manufacturing, while your partner might want to emphasize their corporate growth. These differences might not be as big of a deal when pitching media or drafting interview talking points, since each team will lead their own efforts and can exercise mostly-free reign, but it’s critical to understand the differences before drafting a joint press release.
  • How involved will they be in media outreach? Be clear on who will pitch which targets. Create a shared media list for each team to add the publications and reporters they plan to pitch, so you’ll easily see any overlap or missing targets. You’ll also want to discuss whether to pitch an exclusive or embargo—and, if it’s the latter, how much availability each company’s spokesperson has.

Rule #2: Create a strategy brief

Few things are as divisive in PR as the “strategy brief.” 

But organization is the key to a successful joint partnership announcement. A truly effective strategy brief allows both PR teams to agree from the start on the objectives, goals, messaging, media strategy and, one of the most important aspects, the workback plan, which details a week-by-week timeline with actions and owners. 

You’ll want to be as detailed as you can in the workback plan. Under normal circumstances, where you may have allotted yourself one week for internal reviews of the press release and other assets, you’ll want to factor in another week or two to accommodate the other organization’s review timeline. 

Remember, their team will need to review the press release, the messaging and any quotes that may discuss their business (even if the quotes come from your execs). It’s always better to start the process early and find yourself ahead of schedule than be strapped for time and potentially need to move back an announcement because of review cycles — especially if you’ve already started embargoed outreach. 

Rule #3: Communicate expectations for your spokesperson early on

The old adage goes, “time is money,” and that goes double for a senior executive’s time. 

A good rule of thumb before beginning outreach is to have a clear understanding of how much availability each executive from the respective companies has to offer up for interviews. Work with the executives’ EAs to block time on their calendars, and then, similar to the shared media list, create a scheduling spreadsheet for both PR teams to add the executives’ calendar holds. This will ensure everyone has visibility into the process to streamline real-time scheduling, and support briefing documents and media prep sessions as well.  

Rule #4: And, one more rule: Breathe… 

It’s all going to work out. And, even if there are bumps along the way, if you follow these recommendations, you’ll know you did everything you could to set yourself up for success. Just remember, at one point in time, supporting thought leadership, speaking/award submissions and product announcements were all new and scary as well, and now you’re the pro! 

Topics: PR


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