Helping PR pros make smarter decisions

Do you link to your competitors? We do.

Do you link to your competitors? We do.

In the age of content marketing, everyone seems to be racing to post good material to their websites, blogs, and social networkig accounts. Some of it is even that — good.

At CustomScoop, we post what we think is good original content, but we also share interesting bits from others. To do this, we scour the web for relevant posts and articles. When we come across something we like, we Tweet it, email it, or post it to our blog. It’s part of the sharing ethos that drives the modern web.

Of course, sometimes we come across good stuff that has been published by competitors. Many people would argue that you shouldn’t promote this material because it draws attention to those who would happily take business from you. Including a link with the mention only compounds the problem, some would say, by making it easier for visitors to navigate away from you and over to the competition.

Frankly, I have never subscribed to that school of thought. If there’s another media monitoring and measurement company out there that’s doing something interesting, I want to link to it. I want to talk about it.

Here are a few reasons why we link to the competition here on the CustomScoop Media Bullseye blog:

  • We’re confident in our own products and services. Frankly, I’m happy when I learn that prospective customers are trying out our service side-by-side with a competitor. It’s not that I think that we’re vastly superior every time, but I do believe that there’s a considerable segment of the public relations market for which we are objectively the best fit.
  • We want to be a true information resource, not a marketing shill. If you look at our site, there’s no doubt that we want to sell our product. We link to our main marketing site in a few different places, with a pitch to take a free trial. Ultimately, however, I want to attract an audience that appreciates our resources here regardless of whether they are in immediate need of our services. That means I need to deliver value at least as well as all of the other PR resources available.
  • We believe an educated consumer is the best customer. With apologies to Sy Syms, we do believe that the smarter our customers are, the better it is for us. Part of that is consuming good content from others, regardless of where it originates. Part of it is knowing what other options out there exist. And that means sharing links wherever they may lead.
  • We don’t have a monopoly on good ideas. If one of our competitors has some useful advice or conducted some original research that may be of value to our audience, why wouldn’t we want to share it? I suppose we could just rip off the idea and write it as if it were our own, but what does that say about us if we do?
  • We believe in that whole “rising tide” thing. Competitors aren’t a bad thing. When we started CustomScoop back in 2000, we had to explain the concept of online media monitoring to prospective customers who were used to getting paper clips mailed to them. That was a lot of work. As competitors have grown up in this industry, we’re able to communicate our unique value to prospects, rather than having to spend a lot of time just doing education. Today, those same competitors work with us — quite indirectly — to make prospective customers smarter about what’s possible.
  • We believe that how you go up is how you come down. When I worked in politics 20+ years ago, I witnessed many politicians and staffers who followed a scorched earth strategy to get ahead. Unfortunately, when trouble came their way — and it always does for all of us at some point — they found themselves without any friends. Who knows when we may need friendly relations with a competitor down the road? Why not show that we respect them today when we don’t need something?
  • We’re never going to have 100% market share anyway. Nobody will achieve a monopoly in media monitoring and measurement. Not even close. So there’s plenty of business to go around to make lots of people happy.

Now, don’t get the wrong idea. I still want to beat the competition. I want to sell more — which necessarily means our competitors will sell less than they might otherwise. So we’re not going to run ads for the competition. Or tout their new product releases.

But when our competitors have good research or useful tips, we’re going to link to them.

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About The Author

Chip Griffin is the Founder of CustomScoop. He writes and speaks frequently about data-driven public relations. You can follow him on Twitter at @ChipGriffin.

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