Agility in Goliath’s Game: The Independent Data Center's PR Playbook (Part 2)

Jeannette Bitz
May 2, 2024

Our previous blog discussed independent data centers' unique benefits, including agility, personalized solutions, and customer focus. We also discussed why a robust communications and PR plan is more important than ever to communicate these unique benefits to your target audience. This second blog will provide specific tips to position your independent data center for growth through a well-crafted communication plan that amplifies these strengths.

Messaging Refresh: To begin, review your corporate messaging and test it with your key stakeholders. Identify the top 3-4 key advantages that make your services unique, competitive, and impactful. Your existing and potential customers are your most valuable assets, so it's essential to understand their needs and challenges while crafting compelling corporate messaging that addresses their top concerns. If you don't already have a messaging playbook, create one to ensure that your advantages are clearly articulated across all of your marketing and sales collateral. Your business messaging is the backbone of all other PR and communications content, so it’s the perfect starting point to nail down your key differentiators.  

A savvy and experienced marketing and communications team can facilitate this process and ensure these differentiators are accurately articulated. The messaging playbook should be broken into sections, including scope and purpose, your key products, who these products help, how they help your target customers, core value propositions, product features, and more. By gaining leadership buy-in on this playbook, you can guide future content efforts and maximize agility while minimizing discrepancies. You should update your messaging playbook at least once per year.

Content: After creating your updated messaging, use it as a guiding framework across all PR and communication materials, including your website, press releases, email outreach, and multi-channel content. Developing clear messaging is crucial as it will be the common thread that echoes your value proposition and ties these materials together. Create a content calendar to organize your content strategy, then leverage various mediums to reach and influence your audience, including corporate blogs, customer case studies, email campaigns, and contributed articles. It’s vital to develop insightful content that captures your executives’ perspectives while still meeting editorial guidelines and preferences, as it greatly enhances your chances of securing valuable thought leadership coverage.

Earned Media: Media outreach is an integral aspect of any company's PR program. While press releases are useful tools for communicating company news, they must be written concisely, enabling any target reporter to extract relevant information. It's best to write press releases as if the reporter will copy the information nearly word for word for their own stories. However, relying solely on press releases to tell your story is not enough. Earned media opportunities offer a powerful way to position your company as a trusted source of information, but overreliance on press releases prevents your company from staying top-of-mind in the press outside of your news cycles.

To maximize earned media’s impact outside of news cycles, you should invest in thought leadership programs that go behind press releases with content that addresses your customers’ business needs, challenges, and market drivers. Consider how to align your expertise with trending topics. For example, if one of your target publications consistently posts articles related to sustainable server cooling, can your executive offer insights into the future of sustainable water cooling? Or can they offer a contrarian viewpoint that elucidates the utility of waterless cooling in reducing the data center industry’s environmental impact?  

This strategy showcases your company's thought leadership and awareness of relevant industry trends while building trust with potential customers. A communications and PR team that deeply understands how your market, your target outlets’ focus areas, and your customers' needs map to your company’s value proposition can pitch relevant byline articles to publications that align with that publication’s most pressing interests. This helps you extract stories from your insights that resonate with the press and amplify brand awareness.

Social Media Engagement: In our digital-first business world, social media channels are table stakes for sharing updates on your company’s news, partnerships, and latest services. However, you must also ensure this content is well-crafted and maximizes online engagement with your brand. These platforms provide a direct, cost-effective channel to potential customers, allowing you to showcase your facility's security, reliability, and technological advancements. They also provide an opportunity to comment on larger industry trends you can also pitch to reporters, including:  

  • What AI’s rise means for data centers
  • How cloud computing strains data center resources
  • Automation’s role in data center operations

By fostering conversations and responding to inquiries, independent operators can leverage social media to build thought leadership authority with target audiences to differentiate themselves from larger competitors. A targeted social media strategy also enhances engagement with industry influencers and cultivates a strong reputation within the tech community. Aside from writing, staging, and publishing social media posts, a strategic PR and communications agency can also conduct a social media audit, providing a full scope of your social media platform’s engagement metrics, your competitor’s tactics, your industry’s top influencers, and much more  

Crisis Management: Be Prepared, Respond Decisively: As with any business, independent data center operators must prepare for unexpected situations that cause PR crises, such as power outages or security breaches. A well-crafted crisis communication plan is crucial to handle such crises effectively without damaging your brand’s reputation. It's advisable to seek the help of an outside PR agency to develop such a plan, as ineffective crisis communications can derail your overall PR and communications strategy by negatively impacting your company’s long-term image. An effective crisis communications plan ensures that clients and the public receive a swift and unified message that minimizes reputational damage, fosters customer trust, and demonstrates professionalism. If you already have a plan in place, it's good to refresh it periodically to ensure relevance and efficacy.

Continuous Learning and Adaptability: The media landscape mirrors the data center industry’s constant evolution and rapid change. As a result, it's important to stay current on industry trends, best practices, and media concerns. While vital to your long-term business growth, this deep understanding of the media landscape requires constant vigilance and research that can overtax your internal resources, meaning that third-party expertise can be especially beneficial. Whether you opt for third-party expertise or keep this function internal, you should regularly review and analyze your past campaigns’ successes and failures, then use these insights to refine your approach and improve future outcomes.

The Winning Formula: While PR and communications aren’t quite as challenging as chemistry, it’s vital to integrate a winning formula with proven impact into your initiatives. Engage PR has extensive experience ensuring communications success for our clients, and we aren’t afraid to share our recipe. A successful PR strategy for independent data centers revolves around three core principles:

  1. Customer Focus: Tailor your messaging and content to align with your target audience’s needs and everyday challenges. Ensure all PR and communications efforts are relatable and targeted to the customers you wish to influence.
  1. Authenticity: Build trust with your target audience by utilizing genuine and transparent communication.
  1. Adaptability: Continuously learn, evolve, and adapt your strategies based on data, market research, and customer feedback.

A PR agency with proven success implementing these ingredients can help you craft a thorough, thoughtful communications plan that showcases an understanding of your target audience’s challenges and how your unique value proposition solves them, ultimately influencing their buying decisions. By partnering with an agency that helps you craft and execute this plan, you can stay competitive against hyperscaler goliaths and capitalize on the data center market’s tremendous growth opportunities by maximizing brand awareness.


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