How to become an expert in tech public relations
Wondering what a tech PR career is like? Or planning to run some tech PR for your startup? Time to buckle up: the technology and media landscapes are changing fast. Our senior PR account manager, Alexandra North, shares her tips on how to become an expert in tech PR.
Is becoming an expert in tech PR difficult?
If you’re feeling hesitant about working in tech PR, let’s kick the first myth into touch: you’re not alone. Many of us have watched from the sidelines, deeply curious, secretly excited, but too embarrassed to admit that our tech know-how stretches pitifully from Alexa to Battery packs. It’s normal, folks. And it shouldn’t stop you from making what could be one of the most important career decisions of your life.
If you’re a PR, comms, or media professional, you have an advantage as you probably already possess many of the skillsets required. Communicating, storytelling, researching, problem-solving – they’re all transferable skills. And take it from someone who knows, they’ll keep you afloat while you’re splashing around trying to adapt to new waters.
When I took the plunge, I had armed myself with very little insider knowledge. Consequently, I learned a few hard and fast lessons. To make your own leap a little less scary, here’s a few things you can do to prepare yourself!
How to become an expert in tech public relations:
Learn tech terminology
There’s a whole new lingo you need to wrap your head and teeth round, but as with all languages, it takes time – so don’t fret. It will happen.
When I first joined Luminous PR, my tech capabilities maxed out at CRM systems and project management apps – oh, and I could save my docs to some sort of cloud. But a couple of years on, the full scope of my naivety became clear. Big data. UX design. Mobile super-apps. NFC. AI. VR/AR/MR (yes, Mixed Reality got me too). Friction. Friction. And more friction.
These terms might be baby talk for a tech pro, but when you don’t know your Silicon Valley from your Diagon Alley, they can knock your confidence off the scale.
And listen to your peers. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – it’s not a weakness to ask for help, it could be your greatest ally.
Understand your clients’ solutions
A little like the terminology, trying to understand the point of a client’s solution can, quite frankly, feel like you’re wading through a big pond of the brown stuff. Be patient. And don’t think you can run before you can walk. You’ll never pitch and convert a thought leadership article on how tech can improve the retail experience if you don’t know the difference between NFC and RFID.
Don’t sit back once you’ve conquered the concept.
Do keep yourself up to date with the latest news and innovations, every day!
Why? Because things change super-fast in the tech (and public relations) world.
Be flexible with your project management
‘Tech’ – it’s a real behemoth of an umbrella term. There’s a myriad of subsectors that fit beneath it, which is why many tech PR agencies will specialise in one or two key areas. But you can still find yourself juggling a diverse set of clients during the course of one day, so you need to be adaptable.
What your project allocation might look like at the beginning of the day:
09:00-12:00 Work on an article about a mobile solution that removes friction from a customer’s experience.
13:00-14:00 Switch into VR mode, write an article brief on how VR is disrupting education in the third world.
14:00-16:00 Pitch fintech trades with a client’s cashless payment technology.
16:00-17:00 Feed in to a social media content strategy to raise awareness of the next big startup that’s changing the way we pee.
What your actual day might look like:
Understand the tech media
Here is where I found the biggest difference. The tech media landscape is actually not as big as you think: it’s relatively small, and it’s tight. The nationals may have only one or two tech-specific journalists – so the net you cast is much narrower than the net you had in the corporate world. If one says no, there’s no other avenue to approach. So you have to work twice as hard to get yourself pitch-perfect.
The tech trades, however, have been a breath of fresh air. I hadn’t heard of, well, 90 percent of them, prior to joining the tech scene. But each and every one of them brings super value to the tech landscape. Sure, there are still some idiosyncratic characters – some abrupt, some uber-friendly, some impossible to reach – but most importantly, these guys know their niche. There’s no chance of pulling the wool over any eyes. So don’t even try.
You have got to be able to hold your own with these guys, so…
KNOW. YOUR. STUFF.
Because they each have a speciality area, be sure you’re pitching the right person too or risk damaging the relationship altogether. And the best way to help you is some good old-fashioned networking.
- Get to know them.
- See things from their side and get straight to the point – do you know how many pitches they receive?
- Be respectful of their policies and decisions – don’t brown nose or get petty if things don’t go your way
- There’s no excuse for rudeness in any industry, but don’t take it personally when they don’t answer. Move on.
Focus on your pitch
Once you’ve found the right person for your story, you’ve got to frame the pitch ‘just so’ for them. The term ‘bespoke’ is massively overused across every industry sector, but to increase your chances of conversion, particularly in the tech media landscape, you need to be sure it’s tailored just for them.
Moreover, it’s one thing to know your client’s solution inside out, but if you don’t have a context, if you can’t see how that solution is transforming lives and making a difference, then what’s your story? Who will care?
“XYZ Company launches an AI-powered tech solution”
Wow. Front page headline.
Said no editor ever.
But if XYZ Company has launched an AI-powered solution that will transform the way businesses buy energy, streamline their efficiencies, reduce costs and help save a rainforest by doing so – now you’re talking!
Perfect your writing skills
You’ll still need your scribbling superpower that helps you tell a strong story and transform jargon-filled concepts into accessible narratives. Many things are changing across the PR world, but writing will always be at the heart of it – even in tech PR.
Keep a commercial head
TechPR can be a fiercely competitive arena, and if your campaigns are going to survive, you need to be a gladiator.
- Understand your client’s business objectives and align your strategies
- Understand your client’s markets and what makes them tick
- Keep your campaigns fluid to match their needs
- Respond quickly
Know how to measure PR success
Prove your worth, show your value. You work in tech, so use it to your advantage. There’s a number of great platforms out there that can sharpen your efficiencies and help you demonstrate those all-important metrics, while also reaffirming how techno-liciously savvy you really are.
Know your channels
Keep up to date with all the latest media communication platforms. This is vital to ensure you reach the right audience via the right medium. The digital media landscape is changing – and your clients will be expecting their tech PR to be right on the pulse of it.
Just do it
It will take time to get your head round client solutions, but with grit and determination, you’ll soon get under the skin of things. Likewise, it’ll get under your skin too! Never did I think that tech would have me so impassioned, but it creeps into just about every aspect of your personal and professional life. Tech is changing our world, shaping our future and impacting positively on our lives – what’s not to love?
Being in tech PR not only puts you in a somewhat privileged position of seeing transformation before it happens, but it makes you a game-changer too.
Go on, dive in, and make some waves!