Survey Finds a Skills Gap for B2B Tech Communicators

Writers struggle to create b2b tech PR content

One of the greatest opportunities for PR pros is providing content and consulting to a seemingly endless string of technology companies. However, new research shows that 62 percent of B2B tech organizations struggle to find writers and communicators who can deliver thought leadership content.

Sonus Public Relations' report, Deep Thinking: B2B Tech Marketers Share Insights Into What Works – And Doesn’t – For Thought Leadership, highlights data from the new Tech Marketing Council. The Council is a group of B2B tech marketers who share insights into challenges and issues. More than 60 global marketers were interviewed for this report. 

While 92 percent of B2B tech marketers believe thought leadership content is a priority, two-thirds admit that their biggest challenge is finding writers who understand and communicate tech well.

“There’s no question that B2B tech marketers face unique challenges...creating thought leadership, largely because there’s often a disconnect between subject-matter experts who really understand the tech and the writers who are trying to produce the content,” said Denise Culver, director of research and author of the report.

“This becomes even more of a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts when you consider that respondents say ideas for thought leadership most often originate from product marketing teams and the C-Suite.” 

The top two styles of content that drive lead generation for B2B tech marketers are case studies (61 percent) and technical thought leadership (41 percent), the study says.

A major challenge for communicators includes translating tech-speak into a universally-understandable language. 

"I think the major challenge and the major opportunity for tech PR is to do what we call 'geek-to-human,' translation, meaning you take somewhat dense and technical content and translate that into language that the target audience will understand,” said Martin Smith, the Sonus CEO. 

And Smith believes this does not have to be a daunting task. Communicators, he said, have the tools to generate this content.  

“You can actually have a lot of fun with this, because you need to call upon storytelling techniques and metaphor to communicate a concept,” he said. “It is easy to be blinded by the tech and take it at face value that the target audience will actually understand. As tech PR and marketing practitioners we need to have the confidence to push the virtues of simplicity to engineering-minded people at tech firms so that the messages can travel further and reach more people."

In addition, 51 percent said finding company stakeholders who can communicate well with non-technical writers is a challenge. And 44 percent find it difficult to move content quickly through the development and approval process. 

Smith said while there may be a finite pool of people who understand technology and can write about it fluidly, it’s an opportunity for PR pros to tackle a new challenge.  

“The PR industry is bursting with good writers. And as an industry we're perfectly positioned to support more content creation,” he said. “Content is content, whether it's 350 words or 5,000 words. We've taken on a lot of long-form content like eBooks and the results have been excellent. There's some re-skilling to be done, and there's certainly a case for having dedicated writers on staff that would have the focus and bandwidth to take on bigger projects, but it can absolutely be done, because we've been there and done that."

Nicole Schuman is senior editor for PRNEWS. Follow her @buffalogal