+ Point of view

The too technical tech turnoff

Written by Elliot Harrison

About ten years ago, before a career in tech PR, while studying at the University of Kent for a Postgraduate Creative Writing student, I realised it was the single best place for me to be because I loved writing. I’d just completed my undergraduate degree in English and American Literature and wanted to see how I measured up against the writers I had studied during the three years prior.

I’ve always told and written stories. I believe it’s an important skill, especially for my chosen profession of PR and content creation. However, the stories I wrote at University were very different from today. They were long, winding and as complex as I could possibly make them.

Fast forward to my first job as a PR. Suddenly I couldn’t write only about the things I wanted to. I had to get excited about my clients and speak knowledgeably to media who didn’t have time to listen and learn very quickly about complex technologies. I had to master the three line pitch.

Today, it’s something I pride myself on. So if, like me, you have struggled with being too technical when speaking to journalists or influencers, here are some tips from a reformed English student.

Learn from the poets

They say brevity is the soul of wit in writing and there’s a lot of truth in that. Poets labour over their work to ensure, in most cases, they are able to be as evocative as possible, using the smallest quanta of language. Some are great at it, most are meh. As tech PRs we need to be excellent at simplifying what our clients do, to be able to articulate it in one simple sentence, while making it sound interesting. There are many ways to do this, but the crucial first step is always to understand the technology. Once you understand it, you can put it into simpler terms for a journalist – a bit like The Register did with our client CAST Software recently.

A beginning, middle, end and a SO WHAT?

So many tech marketers and PRs miss what’s most important when speaking about B2B technology. They take the story straight from the client and start pitching it to the media and then wonder why they’ve generated so little coverage.

The elusive ‘SO WHAT?’ is easily forgotten and hard to catch – but crucial.

The media is looking to contextualise the importance of the story for impact. For its impact. The world of tech can still seem inaccessible for the average Joe – B2B tech even more so, which is all the more reason to explain that impact. Tech PR excellence isn’t about selling solutions and products to the media, it’s about explaining the impact of the issue at hand. We at Positive pride ourselves on this.

Often the ‘So what?’ is not obvious and needs an expert to explain it, as our client EfficientIP did with its research into the super-technical world of DNS vulnerabilities.

Let them see the sequel. Now.

The final tip has to do with going that little bit further for the journalist, providing what we call, ‘the next bounce of the ball’. It’s great to be able to ‘sell a story’ that’s perfect for today or even to comment on an ongoing story from yesterday. But what about tomorrow? Some of the most challenging media relations deals with the future.

It’s easy to ping out your client’s predictions for the next year in mid-December, but what about actually going out on a limb and providing some insight into what’s around the corner? After all, isn’t this what being in the tech space is all about? It’s not as hard as you might think…

Don’t be this guy – overwhelmed by the intricate complexities of technology. It might sound obvious, but to convincingly tell a story you’ve got to keep it simple and valuable to the journalist. Too many tech PRs forget this. If you need some help articulating your technical story to mainstream media, let us know by filling in the contact form below – we’d love to hear from you.