How to Win Over Your IT Department


Image: Enterprise Solutions
Image: Enterprise Solutions

In this digital world, the onus is on PR pros to get outside of your comfort zone and be seen as more complete business people. That said, that technological knowledge doesn't just materialize--most of the time, you need some help. Enter the IT department.

In last week's issue of PR News, Jon Goldberg, chief reputation architect of Reputation Architects emphasized the importance of appreciating your IT team:

Coming from more than 20 years in big agencies, I wish I had more fully appreciated just how much having great people in accounting, IT and other “back office” areas contributes to success, not to mention one’s sanity. There are countless critical decisions to make right out of the blocks—from choosing an accounting system and setting up administrative procedures to picking the right phone system. They all have to be done and done right at the very point when you need to be laser-focused on clients and building business.

In a different setting, it’s all too easy to dismiss them as the people who hound us for spreadsheets on Friday afternoon or always pick the worst possible time to upgrade the network.

When it’s your own show, however, you can’t live without them. They’re the unsung heroes of entrepreneurship.

With that in mind, here are three surefire ways to turn your IT team against you. Avoid them, and reap the benefits of happy coexistence.

Asking for "outside the office" technology advice: Your IT team's job is to help you with in-office tech problems. They're not the Geek Squad. Save them some grief and skip the questions like: "The Wi-Fi in my apartment isn't working. What should I do?" and "My Apple TV won't turn on. Any tips?"

Stopping by their desks for some last minute changes: If you're launching a new event page tomorrow, and at 4:30 you decide that, instead of a static image, you'd like a slider, approach with caution. It may seem like a "quick fix" or easy change, but these things are often much more time consuming and complicated than you imagine. Of course, once in awhile, last minute changes are inevitable, but try and keep these to a minimum. Respect your IT team's time and communicate any necessary alterations with as much advance notice as possible.

The infamous "user error": This is a tricky one, because you don't want to dive blindly into tweaking the HTML code on your website's homepage. However, if you're working on some lower-level tech adjustments that you've been trained on and something is malfunctioning, take a breath and see if you can spot the mistake before calling over the IT guy or gal. Go over your process bible and make sure you didn't miss a simple step before rushing over with a panicked look and exclaiming, "The XYZ is broken!"

Follow Lucia Davis: @LKCDavis