You know what they say – “variety is the spice of life.” I can attest to the mantra, having spent my public relations career thus far engaged with a variety of great clients and industries. From health care and consumer fitness brands to B2B manufacturing and financial clients, my career has been many things – “boring” not among them.
For many public relations professionals, working in multiple industries is an exciting facet of the career. So, consider my enthusiasm when I decided to accept an Account Executive position working for some of the best tech firms in Nashville – a booming city of tech start-ups.
Knowledge Is Power
Fast forward a bit, and I’m well into my work with tech. I’ve since had two revelatory realizations:
- Media coverage of technology categories is vast, endless and overwhelmingly saturated.
- The most important factor for properly acclimating to a new industry – and knowing how to get your client to stand out – is knowledge.
How much knowledge do you have already? How much do you need to gain?
The answer, and most important takeaway I’ve found for budding PR pros, is this: along with a client’s knowledge, your expertise is the most important thing you have to offer to media, so make sure it’s there in spades.
your expertise is the most important thing you have to offer to media, so make sure it’s there in spades.
You want to test that theory? Whether consumer or B2B, tech is expanding wildly, with new trends and topics being birthed every day. As it grows, so must your expertise.
Below are 5 steps PR pros should follow to surmount the tech industry’s learning curve:
Step #1: Check your status.
When jumping into a new role, it’s important to do a quick self-assessment on your strengths and how to apply them. This really is relevant to every industry – not just tech. Know thyself.
After your skill assessment, do a check on your starting knowledge level. You could be well versed in the technology industry, or a relative newcomer (I was somewhere in between) – no matter your position, own up to it. Honesty is the best policy when it comes to learning a new industry, especially within the tech world, and your realistic self-efficacy will be a good launching pad.
Step #2: Start the initial download.
A new industry can be fast-paced and overwhelming. It’s also a new client, meaning that you’re going to have questions. You’re even going to have fresh ideas. This is all fantastic – in fact, jot them down. But first – commit to learning.
Before you do anything else, dive into the news – online, print and more. Absorb everything you can about the latest trending conversations and news stories, while asking yourself questions like, “what developments are dominating conversations?” The more effort you make to gain a fundamental understanding of media coverage in the tech industry, the more you will be able to see how your client fits into the space.
Next, learn about the client. Analyze who they are, what their core values reflect about their brand and how they exist in the industry. Think of it like dating – you wouldn’t feel comfortable starting a relationship without doing a little bit of digging first, right? Build a foundation of knowledge to help support you along the way and don’t be so bold as to think you’ll pick it up as you go. Proper research can make all the difference for learning an industry.
Step #3: Get comfortable in beta mode.
Learning is doing; doing is learning. So now that you have the background, go and practice your knowledge, step by step.
The steepest part of the learning curve can occur in this phase when you try writing about a topic in which your experience is limited. Take a stab at content development whenever possible, whether it’s drafting up a press release about the latest iteration of software or a blog article about data security. It will help to hone your skills, uncover the areas in which you’re still a bit weak, and allow you the opportunity to offer thoughts and opinions both to the client and to your firm.
Over time, you will watch as your experience grows and your knowledge of tech widens.
Step #4: Become a regular user.
Once you grasp the machinations of your client in terms of value, services or offerings, begin to offer up ways that they can influence the media outside of their purview. Showcase your expertise and get creative. Tech coverage is competitive, so examine what’s making headlines and think about out-of-the-box ways that your client can impact the space.
In the course of working with your client and tech media, you will realize when you’ve reached the crest of the learning curve. And oh – does it feel accomplished!
Step #5: Hit the refresh key.
There will never be a moment in technology PR where you will stop learning, so begin each day with a refresh on the industry. A new product, a new trend, a pivot in your client’s business – you will always be on the uphill climb.
But that’s the best aspect of a career in public relations. There’s rarely a dull moment or a stagnant trend. For the technology industry, this is especially true, but it also applies to other industries as well. Stay on top of the news daily and watch your skills grow.
Becoming the best PR partner for your client means being a knowledge ambassador. You’re taking their message to the public, and to do so responsibly and efficiently means being at the top of your game.
What are your tips for learning a new industry? Give us the scoop below.