3 PR Tips From Facebook’s Tech Communications Leader

Facebook's Jonny Thaw at the PRSA
International Conference in San Francisco.

Jonny Thaw has been on both sides of the communications fence. In a former life, Thaw was a well-respected tech reporter for publications like Business 2.0, Red Herring and later Bloomberg News before he moved over to the messaging side as manager of corporate communications at Facebook two years ago. He now is manager of technology and engineering communications at Facebook.

Thaw admits it’s never a dull moment at the now public company. “There have been many ups and downs,” he told a packed room of PRSA International Conference attendees in San Francisco on Oct. 15. But you can tell from his enthusiasm for the Facebook brand that he wouldn’t have it any other way. Here are some quick “PR tips from tech” from Thaw:

Tip 1: Take the time to segment your audiences. “There was a time when we just had one Facebook page, with every announcement up there,” says Thaw. “We realized that we weren't serving each audience particularly well.

Tip 2: Don’t ignore traditional PR methods: While Facebook uses social media for much of its engagement and messaging, Thaw strongly believes in pitching stories to publications like The New York Times, Bloomberg Businessweek and The Wall Street Journal. “Those pitches are time-consuming—they take hours of prep work—but the results really can’t be duplicated online,” says Thaw.

Tip 3: Communicate from within: Facebook has a page with 700,000+ fans on which it encourages its engineers to post. At the same time, says Thaw, they’re pitching story ideas from those posts to the media. “Recruitment of engineers in the Valley is cutthroat, and this page really helps," says Thaw.

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