A few years ago, I was talking about careers with a friend when she said, “Tawanda, tech jobs are really on the rise right now, you should look into the industry.”
The comment threw me completely off guard. I have a liberal arts degree and my experience was primarily in broadcast and internal communications. I’d dodged math and science courses like the plague throughout school and assumed that my creativity and writing skills were limited to certain fields. The tech industry was never anywhere close to my radar.
Little did I know, my friend would plant a seed that would grow into me pursuing, and landing, a job with Media Frenzy Global, an agency dedicated to working with innovative and disruptive companies across the globe. The agency also happens to be located in one of the fastest growing tech hubs in the U.S., Atlanta, Ga.
Whether you’re an aspiring, or veteran, PR professional, you may wonder how PR for technology organizations differs from other industries. There are two words we’re hearing over and over right now in the technology industry: disruption and innovation. So, if you’re looking to dive into an industry that is, literally, on the cutting edge, then tech is the way to go.
Regardless of what industry you work in, PR professionals must be well-versed in its language. Technology is a beast: it’s big, it’s complicated, and by its nature it’s constantly evolving. I learn a new acronym every day; in fact, I keep a list of them at my desk in plain sight. Wrapping your mind around the concepts behind acronyms like NLP, SaaS, IoT, SQL and BYOD, to name a few, can at times be overwhelming.
As a technology PR professional, you become a translator– converting technical terms and concepts into layperson-understandable information – so it’s vital to familiarize yourself with the industry and your client’s space and solutions. Tech company team members are so often immersed in their products and services that their communication is over the head of average Jane or Joe. As a PR professional, our role is to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Every day, journalists create hundreds if not thousands of pieces about technology and businesses. Businesses merge and partner, groundbreaking announcements are made, and disruptive technologies are shaking up legacy industries. Despite the abundance of major news, the tech media circle is relatively small. At many of the leading publications, only 2 to 3 reporters cover technology. And on average, reporters receive close to 200 emails from PR professionals daily. Narrowed to the small ecosystem of tech reporters and this number is more than likely triple the amount. So, it takes strategic thinking, ingenuity and charisma to get their attention. For example, do you have an alternative viewpoint of their recent article? Are you in the same circles on social media? Are your email subject headlines compelling? I reached out to a reporter once by including a headline that embraced his Twitter commentary about the Falcons epic 2017 Super Bowl loss. It read: “So about those Falcons…” he responded, and the rest is history. He could have ignored my email, but I took a chance and it worked. As PR professionals, it is our duty to create solid media relationships. How we accomplish this is by treating the media like we treat everyone else…like people.
Business to business technology PR gives you the opportunity to connect with and learn from your clients, who often are leaders and decision makers for global brands and organizations. The ability to help craft PR campaigns and marketing strategies for organizations looking to take their brand positioning to the next level can be simultaneously scary, thrilling and both short- and long-term rewarding.
Expanding Your Skillset
Working with B2B companies has given me the opportunity to work not only with reporters, but also analysts. Industry analysts can be major drivers of a company’s strategic business plan: their reports can help a client generate new business, pique investor interest, and drive leads.
Here’s my advice: take a look at a wide variety of industries. You will find technology and disruption has become the key driver in today’s ecosystem. Technology companies, and companies with technology products need communicators who can explain their offering in ways their current audience and potential customer base can understand.
With chatbots, robots and the Siris and Alexas of the world, the human touch has never been more essential in the workplace than it is today and that is a touch that comes from exploring what makes people tick, not from a purely technical education or background. PR professionals are becoming crucial elements in translating hi-tech to everyday people. The key to thriving and winning in tech PR has nothing to do with code and everything to do with remembering that the best asset anyone can have in this industry is their mind.