For PR agencies, the technology industry is ripe with opportunity. New companies are being started every day, and the overall revenue trajectory of this segment is strong. But there are challenges to generating meaningful publicity in this industry.
Tech content is often dry and difficult to understand. Journalists understand smartphones and the fun aspects of technology, but start dropping words like telematics or technology-assisted review, and some eyes begin to glaze over—especially for those not on the tech beat. Plus, it seems that a day doesn’t go by without a report of a new cyberattack. The risk of losing all of your company’s and your clients’ sensitive information has media telling clients to fear the risks of technology.
There’s a growing distrust and unease with technology. It’s been changing so fast, and the general public doesn’t seem equipped to keep up with it.
So, how’s a PR pro to overcome these obstacles and best serve a technology client?
Here are five ways to get some positive buzz:
- Leverage current trends.
Technology is inherently trendy, and it’s easy to find an article or a story surrounding a new iPhone release or an email security scandal. Use this to your advantage. Journalists are much more willing to respond to a pitch that aligns with current news. It’s called newsjacking, the process of injecting your ideas into breaking news, in real time, in order to generate media coverage for yourself or for your business.
One account manager suggests looking not only at narrow, industry-specific trends to keep current. Widen a story’s scope by looking at larger trends as well. You have even better odds of success if your pitch can relate to a larger audience.
Your pitch doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Tie it in with timely trends.
- Target media in clients’ industry verticals.
Get your client in front of the right people. The internet has made identifying specific market sectors, trades and influencers simpler than ever. Don’t ignore a technology client’s verticals. Compile a media list of strong, relevant and even smaller publications and reporters whose readers will appreciate the insider technology information you have to give. If necessary, re-angle a story or a pitch to speak to the specifics points and needs of an industry vertical. It’s also a good idea to include a tech company’s clients, and other experts connected to the company, in those verticals, too. This will add depth and credibility to a story.
- Avoid jargon.
You want to make technology sound approachable, relatable, comfortable. Stay away from acronyms and slang that only a Silicon Valley insider would understand. Words like Wi-Fi, smartphone, tablet and bandwidth all pass the universality test. If you’re ever unsure about your vocabulary, have a friend without tech-savviness look it over.
- Solve relevant problems in the industry.
The problems facing technology aren’t a secret. Most often, people complain about being technologically illiterate, being unable to keep up with the rapidly changing tech environment or being afraid of getting hacked—a very real concern, with half of American adults’ personal information exposed to hackers in 2014 alone. As a PR professional, how can you turn these lemons into lemonade?
Pitch a story granting an interview with your clients’ CEO about improving digital security. Suggest an article focusing on how your client has decreased instances of hacking and cyber criminal vulnerability. Offer for an industry leader to comment on the current fear in the tech climate and how to overcome it.
Problems are actually opportunities for PR workers who know how to use them. If there’s an industry problem, your client can provide an answer.
- Put smart voices forward.
PR pros often represent clients across several industries, especially at smaller firms. When you’re choosing who should lead the account of your technology client, make sure you choose the employee most literate in the industry. Reporters are good at sniffing out falseness or ignorance, and one uninformed interaction could ruin a media relationship. The best way to become an expert is through research and training. Learn the industry, talk to your client and follow industry insiders to keep abreast of current tech issues.
You’ve got to put your strongest, smartest voices on the front lines.
Jeff Bradford is CEO of the Bradford Group.