With this video that portrays my good friend and colleague Michael Law, MD of Ogilvy PR California, I am inaugurating a vlog about tech PR and beyond. They are just video nibbles that I hope you find fun and interesting.
In the past few years I saw a lot of PR agencies launching a Clean Tech Practice. In the interest of full disclosure, I was very tempted to do the same. I am passionate about tech and a big fan of everything green (and I am not even Irish!)
It was during a conversation with a major clean tech company that I understood that Clean Tech is just a label, not where “clean” tech companies should play nor should position themselves. It’s about Energy, or better yet about Renewable Energies and how new technologies can find new solutions to old problems (urgently).
At that point a light bulb went on (and it was a fluorescent bulb!) — As Ogilvy PR, we have a lot of expertise in green IT (from data centers to semiconductors), and we do have a lot of expertise in traditional energy and renewable energies — so the easy part was to combine our existing strengths in both public affairs and technology PR. Et voila! Suddenly we had something the market was craving for. An agency with deep knowledge of who influences and decides public policy and how to reach them with politically effective communications, while offering a broader perspective into technology and business-to-business PR that looks beyond product public relations.
It’s not a new practice, it’s not a new group, it’s just the combination of expertise we already have within our firm. Now available to our clients. Don’t just call it Clean Tech.
I have seen so many posts and buzz these last few days about PR becoming obsolete, everywhere from TechCrunch to ZDNet. In some cases I felt compelled to post comments. Now I finally have a bit of time to log into my WordPress account and write a proper post about it.
Let me address the issue at its core: PR is not synonymous with “publicist”.
PR is much more than media relations or pitching bloggers. It’s much more than being the conduit between a company and the media (be it traditional or social.) It’s about been strategic on what you want to communicate, how, when and to whom. A good PR campaign can (and should) reach all the stakeholders and the influencers beyond media and blogs, such as financial analysts, industry analysts, academia, legislators, partners, employees, consumers, customers, local communities, online communities, Wall Street, etc. It depends on the company business and its business goals.
If the point of these posts is that the media landscape is changing and therefore PR people need to understand it in order to provide sound counsel to their clients (regardless of whether you are in-house or on the agency side) then I agree with you. However, good PR people are much more than publicists. They know that blasting a pitch email hoping that it sticks will not work. And most importantly, it never worked (not with media in the past, not with bloggers today.)
Knowing your audiences, building relationships, crafting stories, managing a crisis, engaging your stakeholders, and providing them with what they need is what PR is all about. Nothing new. What is changing is the complexity and the environment, which is richer, and, in my opinion, a lot more fun.
Good PR is here to stay. Good PR practitioners will always find a seat at the table if they continue to do what they have been doing for years: listening and adapting to an ever-changing landscape.
Here is an important post on TechCrunch about the decision of the SEC to recognize corporate blogs as public disclosure. This is just a natural step towards more visual communication, something we have been talking about on this blog for some time and something we are pushing our clients to embrace more and more. I predict we will see companies (probably mid-size technology companies) to embrace this more rapidly than others. One thing is to have the SEC making this decision, the other is to change the corporate culture overnight. It will require time and as PR consultants we will need to sit down with our clients and help them go through this process. It seems easy. But it’s not. Game on.
For the past couple of years I haven’t been in a client meeting or industry event where “social media” isn’t mentioned. Forget “mention”: it has been at the core of the discussion. But in all these conversations, what hasn’t been covered is how traditional media, in particular tech press, is evolving, changing, adapting; and what this means for “traditional” tech PR professionals. Publishers like CMP (or better the former CMP) and IDG are changing. They have been “socialized”.
From now on, when I talk to a client or colleague, I’d like to make a distinction between social media and socialized media.
Of course I believe they are both very important, but they are critically different. And since all the attention has been focused on the first one, in this post I want to share some initial thoughts on the latter:
So what’s the net-net? As PR practitioners we are in front a very complex ecosystem, with a lot of moving parts. I think knowing and understanding the different motivations of all the players (the blogger, the journalist, the publisher, the editor) will make us better counselors and strategists.
I am personally extremely excited to start this blog not only because it will be a platform to share our thinking and engage in conversations with a broader community but because it will be really broad. In fact we have contributors from our Tech Practice from all around the world: from San Francisco to Singapore, from London to Sydney, we have people coming together with a common, global passion. Not, it’s not soccer. OK. It is soccer. But it is, mainly, Hi-Tech PR.
In this venue we will share what we see in the world of technology PR and beyond. We will talk about trends, ideas, things we stumbled upon, questions we might not have an answer for (and maybe you can help us.). Experiences of working with colleagues from other practices and disciplines. What’s changing and happening in the different markets: locally, regionally or globally.
We didn’t want to have the point of view of just a few senior PR professionals. So I am particularly thrilled to have members at every level be contributors. Fresh air. A different perspective. Young. Old. Experienced. Opinionated. Thoughtful.
We want to make it easy to have conversations with our clients, competitors, industry leaders, students, fellow bloggers and not just among ourselves. We would love to see a lot of content, ideas and participation.
Join the conversation. Throw us a Tech PR Nibble!
The State of Cleantech and Sustainability Communications