What is Tech Public Relations?
Public relations for technology companies, in its essence, is the art of creating awareness, demand generation and brand enthusiasm among the audiences that have an impact on a tech company’s success or failure — whether those be investors, customers, B2B partners, intermediary consultants, social media influencers, industry media outlets and leading publications such as Wired, TechCrunch and ZDNet. The channel for this engagement varies with a company’s goals: press releases, social media campaigns, speaking opportunities, thought leadership pieces, earned media features and testimonials, and influencer outreach can all fall under the umbrella of a technology PR strategy.
For those in marketing and PR, including us here at Communications Strategy Group (CSG®), tech public relations presents a unique challenge: in other forms of PR the fundamental terms of a communications campaign are often understood by laypeople before the campaign ever begins. In technology contexts this is often not the case. If your business has a highly technical application or product, distilling its benefits from a mass of esoteric information, without making people’s eyes glaze over or giving them too little to work with on the other, can be difficult.
Moreover, if your business is mounting a multi-pronged PR endeavor that will target both people who know nothing about your product or service as well as people inside your industry who know a great deal and want to weigh your company’s offerings against competitors’, the difficulty increases. To succeed with such a strategy you’ll need a creative, well-researched, well-planned, and well-executed campaign.
Why Do Technology Companies Need Public Relations?
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s start with the obvious question: is public relations for technology companies even worth it? Aren’t PR campaigns just for startup execs who get caught speaking a little too candidly on someone’s podcast?
If you’ve been telling yourself that PR for tech companies or for IT companies is a dead end, we have bad (or maybe good?) news for you: your company would absolutely benefit from some kind of PR presence. The gains from even a limited approach can be manifold — you can shape a positive image for your business, get ahead of setbacks or negative events, create buzz on social media or in traditional media outlets about your company’s specialized work, generate leads, and create demand for new technology solutions that prospective customers would not be aware of otherwise.
Let’s go over some of these in more detail.
The importance of reputation management in a technology PR strategy is often more obvious than in other sectors. If your business makes candy bars, people probably just want to know that your product tastes good. If your business makes driverless car sensors, however, you’re going to have to do more legwork to establish trust with investors and the people who will ultimately be sent hurtling down the road by the grace of your invention.
A PR partner for your technology company should have the expertise to highlight your own expertise, in the clearest, most striking way possible, and get that message to the people you most want to hear it. Your credentials may speak for themselves, but that won’t do you any good if you aren’t invited into the conversation.
Media relations feed into reputation management; it’s a key component of tech PR. Persuading media entities of your business’s status as a thought leader can trigger a positive feedback loop: when you or your company receives attention as an expert in a specialty, your reputation solidifies, which makes it more likely you’ll be treated as an expert in future articles or broadcasts, which further solidifies your reputation, and so on. Technology is inextricably intertwined with our everyday lives, and thus with our everyday news, so media figures need sources they can rely on for trustworthy, pithy supplements to the tech stories they put out. With a winning technology PR strategy, your business can position itself to supply this need.
When’s the last time you tweeted from your company account? Do you have a company account? Tech PR may not lend itself to the free-wheeling social media banter businesses can get away with in other industries, but it still leaves lots of room for testimonials, word-of-mouth excitement, and influencer plugs on Twitter, Facebook, and the like. A well rounded approach to public relations for technology companies takes advantage of these benefits. With the rising importance of earned media in marketing, you should at least consider incorporating more social media activity in your business’ PR strategy.
Steps to Enhance the PR Strategy for Your Tech Company
So, now that the why of tech PR is a little clearer, we need to talk about the how. Principles to keep in mind as you undertake your PR project are:
- Keeping your message timely and relevant to the news cycle, i.e., newsjacking.
- Keeping your message customer-centric and relatable.
- Using data to back up your PR story pitches to secure media coverage.
Let’s break those down a little:
Newsjacking is the practice of inserting your company’s solutions, innovations, etc. into the news that is circulating quickest among the public on a given day. The virality of information in the digital age creates an opportunity, or perhaps imposes a requirement, for companies to jump on stories that are likely or have already begun to spread at exponential rates. Is there a way to include a trending hashtag in your company’s latest Tweet? How can you catch some of the news coverage bound to accompany a major upcoming technology summit? Thinking in terms of these short term news bursts can help you harness the modern flood of digital information in your tech public relations campaigns.
Make Your Message Simple, and Humanize the Story
It can be tempting, when you’ve created a solution you’re proud of, to share all the details. However, in the context of PR for technology companies this can be overwhelming for people unfamiliar with the concepts underlying your work. Focus on taking out extraneous information, no matter how interesting you find that information, to keep your message accessible to as wide an audience as possible and also to the journalists who may act as intermediaries in your PR plan.
Also, try to connect your tech PR to human themes, ideas with emotional weight, whenever possible. If you can show that your technology holds promise to remove hardship from people’s lives or help them in an area they care deeply about, they will absorb your message much more deeply.
Use Data to Strengthen Your Pitch
Finally, with over a million tech startups emerging each year, all of them hoping to garner attention from press and consumers, you want to set yourself apart somehow. The succinct use of data can bolster your tech PR strategy in this regard. Pitching stories to journalists with hard numbers attached to them tends to be more persuasive, and consumers like data as a show of authority and rigor.
Public relations for your technology company can take your business to new heights.
If you want expert help with your next PR project, we’re only a click away.