The Evolution of Tech PR
Storytelling for technology clients is a different art form than it was 10 years ago. The days of live press conferences and new product roadshows across major cities are largely gone – now we’re tasked with positioning our clients’ experts as thought leaders, not as much around the bits and bytes of the technology, but more so around the applications of that technology. Today, a tech PR expert isn’t simply one who can demystify complex technology; instead, we must offer context and industry-specific nuance.
Greenough has been agency of record for a Massachusetts-based IT services company for many years and we've lived the evolution of tech PR alongside them, moving from explaining to a technology executive audience “here’s how BI works” to “here’s how BI impacts insurance” to “here’s how BI can digitally transform an organization.” Our work for this client is the PR industry evolution in a microcosm.
Recently, our client asked the team to spearhead a program to reach healthcare and biopharma decision-makers. This effort led to close collaboration with our agency's healthcare and life sciences team leaders to align the client's story with prevailing industry narratives as well as build immediate traction based on existing media relationships. We’ve hit the ground running, and we can share three lessons from that experience below:
Develop a strategy for tracking trending news
Tracking trending news is a team effort and must be part of everyone’s agenda. Our agency functions like a newsroom: We track key topics from early in the morning using various automatic alerts and supplement that with manual scanning and the sharing of physical papers throughout the day. Whatever process you adopt, have a strategy for news capture, synthesis and action. Without a process, you’ll miss too many opportunities. For the client referenced above, Amazon’s acquisition of PillPack provided a prime opportunity. We saw the news early and crafted a statement in less than an hour, enabling us to secure a quote for our executive in a top-tier healthcare trade. If we flagged that news later in the day, or the following day, it would have been too late to capitalize.
Tap internal resources
Our office has an open floor plan with a noticeable buzz, which encourages the sharing of news discoveries and ideas. We also have a weekly media best practices meeting, which is effectively an editorial meeting where pitches are challenged and refined. Between this meeting and the just-in-time collaboration, there is ample opportunity to share and reshape stories to achieve greater impact. When we began the healthcare initiative for our tech client, it was a topic for the best practices meeting that week. The account team left the meeting with a list of new high-impact ideas for the client, including a leading healthcare podcast, which we booked before close of business that day.
Study the landscape
We take the study of our clients’ industries seriously. Yes, we studied industries 10 years ago, but with fewer “slotted” opportunities for technology A or technology B today we must rely more on industry context and play off trends. This speaks to the way PR has changed: How can we deliver creative, breakthrough results for clients if we don’t dedicate the time to understanding how their market and customers are changing as well as their technology offerings? This recent experience confirms this: After 10 years in service to the client we know its technology well, but when we combined that with our agency's deep knowledge of healthcare, we were able to make an impact quickly, and we're continue to build on that momentum.
By: Amy Legere, account director at Greenough