Taming The Beast That Is Tech PR
Let’s start by busting a myth – “Tech PR is not for me.” I have often heard this from multiple professionals over the last two years. As technology continues to become all pervasive, the Tech PR fraternity has also grown. Today, globally there are specialised deep tech PR firms, let alone firms which specialise in technology as a whole. Whether you work for a healthcare client or an agriculture client, disruption caused by technology and its benefits is a common conversation in all sectors. For example, stories around how Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Limited conducts robotic surgeries and the use of AI to enable medical practitioners to provide more personalized recommendations to patients is a story we have all heard. The use of IBM’s Watson in the healthcare industry has also been talked about extensively in the media.
Hence as a PR practitioner, you have to understand the basics of technology irrespective of which sector you are working in, in most cases. Technology PR like PR for any other industry is all about de-jargonizing and consumerizing your client’s products and services. Not many consumers want to understand the technology behind driverless cars but want to know the benefits of it and if it’s going to be a practical alternative for the cars we drive today.
Saying that, let’s understand tech PR a bit more in detail:
Talking specifically about Tech PR, it is a myth that B2B and B2C tech PR is different. Unlike earlier days when conversations around machine learning, deep learning and smartphones needed separate teams in most consultancies, today that is changing rapidly. Technologies such as AI, ML, Cybersecurity & Digital Business Risk Quantification which were once termed B2B, now have direct consumer applications and implications.
You do not need to be a geek and nerd to be able to understand technology. Like I mentioned before, you have to know enough to be able to consult. For example, the smartphone industry today is banking on innovation around camera technology to appeal to consumers. The use of Artificial Intelligence & Deep Learning for better image processing is a common USP for multiple smartphone manufacturers. Or the use of AI in Google Photos to be able to predict better processing of images is one that you’ll read quite often.
So, technology PR professionals need to invest time in understanding these technologies and keeping the interest to always keep learning. Technology is one of those rare industries where your learning will never be stagnant.
Often PR practitioners, only speak with business teams and senior spokespeople to get perspectives and understanding about a product or service. Often, the best people to help you understand technology/product are the ones who are building it. For example, if you work for a SaaS company, you will learn more from the person who deploys the solutions on-site rather than a marketing professional. Similarly, when a smartphone is launched, it is crucial for you to speak to designers, the product team to understand about the performance capabilities and other USPs.
Similarly, the product teams will also be able to help you give more insights and technology related opinions which is usually immensely valued by the media too. Not only are sales figures important, but why your technology is superior is a key story in this crowded technology market. This helps businesses stand out and create a niche as thought leaders.
While all of this is crucial for you to succeed in Tech PR, one of the most important things to understand early on in your career is your role. Youngsters who usually start their careers with reports and often are responsible for daily conversations with media and clients need to be able to consult all stakeholders. Whether you are talking to the media, or your client, you need to think like a consultant rather than a bridge between the brand and the media.
To conclude, PR is not about your media relationships, your ability to write good content or being an excellent manager. First and foremost you need to be able to consult and to be able to do that you need to understand the media landscape, the business, vision and strategy of the brand and then couple that with the awareness of what’s happening around the world.
Director – Communications, Lucideus. Guest Speaker for PRPOI Live Session