Moore’s Law is the observation that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit double about every two years. While chip makers debate whether Moore’s Law is approaching its limit, I’d argue that the mindshare of a tech PR practitioner has to double at least once a year.
Let me back up.
When I first started in PR, the technology we used consisted of:
- Desktop computers with MultiMate Advantage or WordPerfect software for word processing.
- Fax machines (to send press releases).
- Yearly subscriptions to Bacon’s for media contact information.
- An account coordinator to count client clips.
- Desktop calendars and planners.
Compare this to today’s office essentials:
- Microsoft Office/Google Docs, plus email, plus laptops and phones. Mobile technology allows us to work anywhere we want to. And I mean anywhere. A hammock on a beach? As long as you have solid Internet, you’re good.
- Social media channels to help us disseminate information, in addition to one of several media contact databases
- Software that helps us communicate with teammates and clients, organize our day, keep time and get paid.
|This article is featured in O'Dwyer's Nov. '22 Technology PR Magazine
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You get the picture. Our clients have changed as well, of course. Twenty years ago, tech PR meant TVs, audio products and other consumer electronics devices. A decade ago, the iPhone put a PC, music player, TV, game player and navigation device in our pocket.
Now the smart home is bringing home control—once only available to the rich and famous in a pricey, custom-programmed system—to the mainstream. We can buy smart lights, plugs, appliances, thermostats, video doorbells and leak detectors to make our homes more convenient, efficient and secure. Want to know who’s at the front door while watching the game? Click a window on your TV to connect to the front door camera.
Take it to the next level, and vacation-mode scenes give your home a lived-in look and sound when you’re away. Geofenced routines put your house in receiving mode when your car nears home: lights go on, the garage door opens, music plays and the thermostat sets to the desired temperature. Go all out and get a heated driveway, and you’ll never shovel snow again.
Early on, tech PR was a (mildly) exotic specialty requiring shops to pick a niche. Today, technology plays a role in every part of our lives, so no matter who your client is, you’re likely a tech PR specialist, even if you never thought about it in that light before.
In 2022, tech PR means everything from Big Data to AI to Web3. Because our lives revolve around technology, the tech PR practitioner has to be an informed generalist in order to succeed.
No PR is simple; it’s just that tech grows in leaps and bounds. Long-haul flights now take passengers through a series of programmed lighting presets designed to lull them to sleep and deliver them to their destinations refreshed and recharged instead of jet-lagged. Our watches do everything from enabling a chat to logging steps to taking an EKG. It can even connect you to emergency services if you’re in a serious car accident.
One short poll at the Feintuch Communications office yields a primer in everyday tech:
“My water bottle uses UV-C wavelength from an LED located in the cap to clean my water and the bottle itself.”
“I get my glasses online—I pick them out, send in my prescription and they get shipped directly to me.”
“My groceries, dinner, music, alcohol, clothes and pet food all get delivered through an app.”
“Even though dinner sometimes gets delivered by an app, I still love to cook—with my pressure cooker, my air fryer, my sous vide device or my chef’s torch, which I can monitor via app on my phone.”
We also track our tech-savvy contacts to learn from their next-gen adventures: “A friend bought a car from a vending machine and had it delivered to his home.”
And on a personal level, I choose which TV programming to watch, at the time I want to watch. Remember “must-see TV” that kept you chained to the couch on Thursday nights? Now, when one of my colleagues mentions a must-see show she just finished binging, I go home that night, turn on Roku and start streaming the pilot on my big-screen TV while waiting for DoorDash to deliver my wings.
Years ago, when I mentioned that I had tech clients, I was expected to program VCRs or help set up computers for friends and family members. Now, I’m asked about everything from what kind of VPN to get to which type of bitcoin I think is most stable. I may not be an expert on either of those topics, but I have several colleagues who are. The next big thing in tech is always on our radar.
Two current Feintuch clients are using financial technology to support underfunded educational institutions.
ClassWallet helps get funding to teachers and schools and then helps them track it so they don’t have to waste time on paperwork and receipts. The company puts needed supplies directly into the hands of students across the country. And SurgePays helps disadvantaged students by making Internet access and tablets available via the Affordable Connectivity Program. More than just nice to have, these types of technology are essential tools for students in the digital age.
Tech PR used to be a vertical; now it’s table stakes. Scan the list of companies exhibiting at CES in Las Vegas every January and it’s evident how far technology’s reach extends. The metaverse, Web3, virtual and augmented reality will be in the spotlight as cutting-edge tech at CES 2023, while connected cars, connected health and sustainability will continue to be key themes for the future. What business could tractor company John Deere have at a tech event? Using tech to help feed a growing global population.
Here’s one advance I don’t appreciate as much as others: AI can write your blog posts for you. This one has the potential to do some harm to the PR industry if it makes your clients’ messaging generic. The technology simply isn’t there yet. If you’re in the SEO business, AI-written posts can help you, but they’ll be an instant turn-off to human eyes and brains, at least until the technology advances. Which it will, soon. Gulp.
Henry Feintuch is President tech PR firm Feintuch Communications.