Why isn’t tech PR shovel-ready?

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has generated opportunities for a wide range of business sectors, but it appears that PR practitioners in the...

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has generated opportunities for a wide range of business sectors, but it appears that PR practitioners in the IT arena, along with tech professionals, are failing to take advantage of strategies to deal with the new era of federal activism in the private sector. Working in conjunction, PR and public affairs can benefit each other greatly.

A poll conducted by Airfoil a few months ago, however, found that 62% of IT public relations and tech professionals do not intend to elevate their overall communications efforts in response to the stimulus program.

By employing public affairs strategies, those of us working PR for technology firms and similar emerging sectors can help position our clients to work effectively with the proliferating number of federal entities that are transforming our entire economic landscape. Just look at the DOE’s recent decision to slash funds for hydrogen fuel research in favor of electric vehicles. Could the outcome for the hydrogen fuel sector have been different with an effective public affairs strategy? What public affairs strategy did the electric vehicle sector employ to ensure it was on the winning side of the government’s decision? Government entities prefer to do business with those that are engaged in their industries, so creating an understanding of the role of PR among these influencers will foster more productive discussions.

Similarly, for PR practitioners, the wealth of research-based information gleaned in the public affairs process can help define an organization's place in the public policy conversation, thereby informing their PR strategies and enriching media and community relations activities. Failing to change with changing times is a disastrous formula. We all should be incorporating a public affairs perspective in our work to help tech clients meet - and in some cases profit from - the new demands of an economy that is increasingly influenced by government decision-making.

Janet Tyler, president and cofounder of Airfoil Public Relations

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