Yesterday evening, I had the opportunity to speak on the Boston University PRSSA tech PR panel along with Melanie Ensign of Fleishman-Hillard and Cheryl Gale of March Communications. While everyone in the audience was interested in some aspect of PR, the concept of specifically tech PR was new to some. By the end of the panel, though, I like to think we made a strong impression with some interesting insight into the field.
Among various topics, we were asked questions about what skills are particularly important to be successful in tech PR, what challenges we face, what kind of clients we deal with, and how tech PR is different from other kinds of PR. Everyone had interesting things to contribute to the discussion and, below, I’ve outlined some of the highlights that the students hopefully walked away with!
- Read, read, read – everyone pretty much iterated this point. It’s extremely important to read up on your field and industries you find interesting. The old adage still holds true – knowledge is power – and the more knowledgeable you are, the more likely you are to be able to see things that others may not. Whether that’s a creative pitch idea or a link to a current trend, setting aside time to read what’s going on is a vital part of the PR field.
- Industries cross over – technology is so prevalent in every industry, so whether your passion is healthcare, finance or the environment, you can still find a fit in tech PR. Many people looking to work in tech PR come in with the misconception that they’re going to work on the latest Apple product or the next smartphone app, however, more often than not, the companies we work with are on the business side and don’t sell to consumers. While this may be a disappointment to some, the opportunities and interest are unlimited and are often directly related to the tech gadgets we all love. For instance, if you’re passionate about smartphones, perhaps you won’t get to do PR for Android or Motorola devices, but you could be working to promote the underlying infrastructure that makes all those cool toys run, which is pretty neat.
- Technology is constantly changing – technology is one of the fastest growing industries today. With the near constant evolution of IT, working in tech PR is never dull. Not only are new products and services cropping up left and right, but current products have to evolve to match demand and new trends. While that may mean there’s a consistently steep learning curve, it also means a business that is always cutting-edge and interesting!
- Working for a firm – there are some stark differences between working in-house, doing PR for a single company, and working for a tech PR firm where you get to work on multiple accounts simultaneously. Most PR pros start working at a firm and move in-house later, if that’s something they’re interested in. By starting at a firm, you get exposed to a variety of things right off the bat and learn so much more in a shorter time frame. Similarly, there are differences between working for a large PR firm and a small PR firm. At larger firms, you may be responsible for a single piece of a campaign – whether that’s content creation, press release distribution, or even graphic design – which is excellent if you know what you want to specialize in. But, at a small firm, you should expect to be thrown into every bit of the business and will be expected to catch on. It’s never dull!
It was clear that everyone on the panel was passionate about tech PR and I’m sure we could’ve gone on and on! But, in our limited time with the students and faculty at BU, we covered a lot of ground and hopefully opened some eyes to the wonderful world of tech PR.
Thanks to everyone who participated on the panel and the members of the BU PRSSA for making it such a wonderful event!