From Adversity to Innovation: Three Technology PR Trends to Watch for 2021
December 21, 2020
When I considered writing this post, I wanted to start with a famous quote. Maybe it would be from Ben Franklin, who stated, “Out of adversity comes opportunity.” Perhaps I should reference the renowned management consultant Peter Drucker, who said, “The enterprise that does not innovate inevitably ages and declines. And in a period of rapid change, such as the present, an entrepreneur period, the decline will be fast.”
While these quotes were spoken before — sometimes well before — the challenges of 2020, they point to how humanity has always managed through adversity. This year will be no different. Business leaders manage current challenges, but they’re also looking beyond this moment in time in order to emerge stronger than before.
We’ve observed how the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated innovation for enterprises worldwide by reinforcing the value (and frailties) of technology. Connecting and collaborating with colleagues, customers, partners, and suppliers has never been more critical. Access to high-speed networks has become a business imperative, and leveraging machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze and interpret the volumes of data we track will continue to grow in importance. Look no further than the healthcare sector, which has leveraged supercomputers and AI to develop vaccines in record time. Adversity also has driven our need for other technologies, including cybersecurity; cloud-based, on-demand services; and extended reality.
The way technology brands communicate has also had to adapt, and will continue to evolve well into 2021.
Tech Communications in 2021
Our current realities are elevating nice-to-have initiatives to must-have imperatives. This year required a lot of triage to manage uncertainty, and 2021 now requires us to look at communications differently. Helping technology brands deal with and adapt to change will be at the forefront. Besides coming up with tactical ideas like designing virtual event strategies when in-person conferences aren’t viable, we’re helping clients evolve the way they communicate, the channels and tools they use, and the relationships they pursue, in three key areas:
1) During the last few months, we’ve seen how technology brands can become stewards of social justice and diversity initiatives, but to do so, they require multiple voices to tell their story. While C-suite and product spokespeople will always be essential, communicators need to look at a broader mix that represents an enterprise’s diversity and complexity. Developing employee advocates is crucial, as is an increased focus on designing initiatives around multiple voices.
2) The media landscape continues to be in flux. While building relationships is essential, leveraging data and insights to assess the “authority” of a reporter or outlet has become even more critical to ensure maximum impact and keep earned media programs focused. Today’s efforts need to be even more targeted to help companies reach the right audience with the right message at the right time.
3) To drive thought leadership initiatives and help inform compelling story angles, communicators are also leveraging AI/ML tools to spot trends and manage news cycles to their advantage. Data and insights serve as the backbone of strategic media campaigns and provide value for integrated campaigns across multiple channels. As it becomes more challenging to reach unique tech audiences, having the right intelligence will be a significant differentiator.
While adversity may have been the catalyst for this year’s invention, our current reality has shown that innovation can and must extend across the ecosystem, including partners, suppliers, and communications consultants. It’s integral to maintaining a company’s brand reputation, competitive advantage and future direction.
After all, as the Yogi Berra quote goes, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up someplace else.”