Moore’s Law is the observation that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years. While chipmakers debate whether Moore’s Law is nearing its limit, I would argue that a tech PR practitioner’s mindshare needs to double at least once a year.
Let me back down.
When I started in PR, the technology we used consisted of:
- Desktop computers with MultiMate Advantage or WordPerfect software for word processing.
- Fax machines (for sending press releases).
- Annual subscriptions to Bacon’s for media contact information.
- An account coordinator to count customer clips.
- Desk 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 wherever we want. And I mean anywhere. A hammock on a beach? As long as you have strong internet, you’re fine.
- Social media channels to help us disseminate information, in addition to one of the many media contact databases
- Software that helps us communicate with our teammates and customers, organize our day, keep time and get paid.
|This article is featured in O’Dwyer’s Technology PR Magazine November 22
(see the PDF version)
You get the picture. Our customers have changed too, of course. Twenty years ago, technology PR meant televisions, audio products and other consumer electronics. Ten years 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 to the masses – once only available to the rich and famous in an expensive, custom-programmed system. We can buy smart lights, plugs, appliances, thermostats, video doorbells, and leak detectors to make our homes more convenient, more efficient, and safer. Want to know who’s at the front door watching the game? Click on a window on your TV to connect to the front door camera.
Take it to the next level and vacation mode scenes make your home look and sound lived in when you’re away. Geo-fenced routines put your home into receive mode when your car approaches your home: the lights come on, the garage door opens, the music plays, and the thermostat adjusts to the desired temperature. Go all out and get a heated driveway, and you’ll never shovel snow again.
At first, tech PR was a (slightly) exotic specialty forcing stores to pick a niche. Today, technology plays a role in every part of our lives, so whoever your client is, you’re probably a tech PR specialist, even if you’ve never thought of it from that angle before.
In 2022, tech PR means everything from Big Data to AI to Web3. Because our lives revolve around technology, the tech PR practitioner must be an informed generalist to be successful.
No PR is simple; it’s just that the technology is developing by leaps and bounds. Long-haul flights now take passengers through a series of programmed lighting presets designed to lull them to sleep and get them to their destinations refreshed and recharged instead of jet-lagged. Our watches do everything from activating a chat to recording steps to performing an EKG. It can even connect you to emergency services if you’re involved in a serious car accident.
A short poll at the Feintuch Communications office gives an introduction to everyday technology:
“My water bottle uses the UV-C wavelength from an LED in the cap to clean my water and the bottle itself.”
“I get my glasses online – I select them, send in my prescription and they ship directly to me.”
“My groceries, dinner, music, alcohol, clothes and pet food are all delivered through an app.”
“Even though dinner is sometimes delivered by app, I still enjoy cooking – with my pressure cooker, air fryer, sous vide or chef’s torch, which I can monitor through the app on my phone. “
We’re also following 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 doorstep.”
And on a personal level, I choose which TV programs to watch, at what time I want to watch. Remember the “must see TV” that kept you chained to the couch on Thursday nights? Now, when a coworker of mine mentions a must-watch show she just finished, I come home that night, turn on Roku, and start streaming the pilot on my big-screen TV while I wait for DoorDash to deliver my wings.
Years ago, when I mentioned that I had technical clients, I was expected to program VCRs or help set up computers for friends and family. Now I get asked everything from what type of VPN to access what type of bitcoin I think is the most stable. I may not be an expert on any of these topics, but I have several colleagues who are. The next big thing in technology is always on our radar.
Two current Feintuch clients are using fintech to support underfunded educational institutions.
ClassWallet helps secure funds for teachers and schools, then helps them track them 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 through the Affordable Connectivity Program. More than nice to have, these types of technology are essential tools for students in the digital age.
Tech PR was once a vertical; now these are table stakes. Take a look at the list of companies exhibiting at CES in Las Vegas every January and you’ll see just how far the technology is expanding. Metaverse, Web3, virtual and augmented reality will be featured as cutting-edge technologies at CES 2023, while connected cars, connected health and sustainability will continue to be key themes moving forward. What business might the John Deere tractor company have at a tech event? Using technology to help feed a growing world population.
Here’s a breakthrough that I don’t appreciate as much as others: the AI can write your blog posts for you. This one has the potential to harm the PR industry if it makes your clients’ messages look generic. The technology just isn’t there yet. If you’re in the SEO business, AI-written articles can help, but they’ll be an instant turn off for human eyes and brains, at least until the technology advances. Which will soon be the case. Sip.
Henry Feintuch is president of the public relations firm Feintuch Communications.