PR Next

Monthly eZine for PR Professionals

Technology PR – A Different Animal?

Posted by prnext on July 20, 2009


Like their computer programmer and engineer counterparts, Tech PR specialists command big bucks in remuneration. What is there about this segment of our discipline? Is it a whole new ball game? Or do traditional skills still apply? Donica Trivedi gives some insight.

“I can’t take it. It is so damn difficult and confusing”, is a common feeling shared by majority of the newcomers in the technology practice of PR. At times it does become difficult when it’s a jump from lifestyle/celebrity PR or any other specialization to technology PR. Obviously it involves a risk, which clients and journalists confirm it by asking and expecting you to know anything and everything about TECHNOLOGY.
Speaking to these intellectual (pun intended) journalists often sends shivers down the spine. An executive who’s only heard of  desktop, keyboard, Microsoft office, Google etc in technology is left confused and feeling foolish with words like routers, servers, desktop management, search engine marketing etc. This alien language will make one look out for a dictionary to check for the correct spelling followed by meaning of the word and then its applications.
Often the biggest problem newcomers’ face is that the moment they try and understands what cloud computing is there’s a new term everybody’s talking about: cloud management. You take efforts to understand infrastructure management space when suddenly the client starts talking about application management. (phewww! Often remembering these terms are more difficult then their businesses).
As per my conversation with experienced people in the technology industry, earlier majority of IT companies that went for PR agencies or in house PR executives were listed. These companies either spoke about their financials or products which hardly made any sense to the common man’s reading. News about these companies made sense to only techies or people tracing these companies.
Thus IT in its nascent stage was not vastly covered or at least it did not have specialised supplements and pages as it does today.  Also one notable change noticed is that PR executives at junior level today are well informed in terms of the industry and their clients in specific. Earlier PR was more of exchanging information/news with journalists; today it is more of communicating the right and required information not just to the journalists but also to the analysts and business partners/alliances.
The merits of technology PR is that it teaches you a lot about the industry and its functioning as a whole. The only demerit as per my knowledge is that one needs to keep oneself constantly updated on the constant innovations in the industry as with every passing day the existing technology seems to become obsolete.
Technology PR has similar way of functioning like any other sector except for the fact that here one needs to learn the tech terms along with the forthcoming terminologies. The “FUD factor” – fear, uncertainty, and doubt – is very high in the IT world. The reason? While low tech products may witness slowly evolving innovations, high tech minds bring radically new products into the marketplace. As a result, tech products are frequently launched – and launched quickly – in uncharted territory.
PR pros should not write their press releases or media notes, with a technically savvy boss in mind, but to speak to the level of the audience they need to reach. The techsters and public relations people share many common goals. But they also have different approaches. While techies believe in massive information dumps, PR pros strive to communicate with a message in mind.
Most press releases sent out by tech PR pros are always heavy on the jargon, making them perfect for the CEO, but useless to the media. My advice is, if you can’t contribute, don’t distribute. But does that mean, “You have to be a technology expert? No. However, you have to know what you’re talking about.”
Despite the disparities, some things remain constant for public relations practitioners no matter the industry. But remember always “basics come first.” PR pros in tech practice or an agency or working for any technology companies, like their colleagues in other industries, need to be in the room when decisions are made and fulfill their long-held role to “serve as devil’s advocate.”
In a nutshell, performing the public relations function for technology companies is different in the areas of time and words. Still, PR pros must not neglect their basic roots, and apply basic PR skills to whatever industry they represent.

“I can’t take it. It is so damn difficult and confusing”, is a common feeling shared by majority of the newcomers in the technology practice of PR. At times it does become difficult when it’s a jump from lifestyle/celebrity PR or any other specialization to technology PR. Obviously it involves a risk, which clients and journalists confirm it by asking and expecting you to know anything and everything about TECHNOLOGY.

Speaking to these intellectual (pun intended) journalists often sends shivers down the spine. An executive who’s only heard of  desktop, keyboard, Microsoft office, Google etc in technology is left confused and feeling foolish with words like routers, servers, desktop management, search engine marketing etc. This alien language will make one look out for a dictionary to check for the correct spelling followed by meaning of the word and then its applications.

Often the biggest problem newcomers’ face is that the moment they try and understands what cloud computing is there’s a new term everybody’s talking about: cloud management. You take efforts to understand infrastructure management space when suddenly the client starts talking about application management. (phewww! Often remembering these terms are more difficult then their businesses).

As per my conversation with experienced people in the technology industry, earlier majority of IT companies that went for PR agencies or in house PR executives were listed. These companies either spoke about their financials or products which hardly made any sense to the common man’s reading. News about these companies made sense to only techies or people tracing these companies.

Thus IT in its nascent stage was not vastly covered or at least it did not have specialised supplements and pages as it does today.  Also one notable change noticed is that PR executives at junior level today are well informed in terms of the industry and their clients in specific. Earlier PR was more of exchanging information/news with journalists; today it is more of communicating the right and required information not just to the journalists but also to the analysts and business partners/alliances.

The merits of technology PR is that it teaches you a lot about the industry and its functioning as a whole. The only demerit as per my knowledge is that one needs to keep oneself constantly updated on the constant innovations in the industry as with every passing day the existing technology seems to become obsolete.

Technology PR has similar way of functioning like any other sector except for the fact that here one needs to learn the tech terms along with the forthcoming terminologies. The “FUD factor” – fear, uncertainty, and doubt – is very high in the IT world. The reason? While low tech products may witness slowly evolving innovations, high tech minds bring radically new products into the marketplace. As a result, tech products are frequently launched – and launched quickly – in uncharted territory.

PR pros should not write their press releases or media notes, with a technically savvy boss in mind, but to speak to the level of the audience they need to reach. The techsters and public relations people share many common goals. But they also have different approaches. While techies believe in massive information dumps, PR pros strive to communicate with a message in mind.

Most press releases sent out by tech PR pros are always heavy on the jargon, making them perfect for the CEO, but useless to the media. My advice is, if you can’t contribute, don’t distribute. But does that mean, “You have to be a technology expert? No. However, you have to know what you’re talking about.”

Despite the disparities, some things remain constant for public relations practitioners no matter the industry. But remember always “basics come first.” PR pros in tech practice or an agency or working for any technology companies, like their colleagues in other industries, need to be in the room when decisions are made and fulfill their long-held role to “serve as devil’s advocate.”

In a nutshell, performing the public relations function for technology companies is different in the areas of time and words. Still, PR pros must not neglect their basic roots, and apply basic PR skills to whatever industry they represent.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: