The Wall Street Journal recently published an opinion piece by Marc Andreessen titled “Why software is eating the world.”
In it, the co-author of Mosaic, co-founder of Netscape, and now co-owner of VC firm Andreessen Horowitz rejects the idea that we are bobbing around in another tech bubble. Instead, Andreessen positions today's innovators as being at the center of “a dramatic and broad technological and economic shift in which software companies are poised to take over large swathes of the economy.”
This has implications for tech PR pros. Once viewed by many as just a cog in the marketing machine, PR has now rightfully earned its seat at the C-suite table. And just as the technology industry has changed and is experiencing a heightened period of innovation, so has the discipline of PR. The question we should ask is whether the PR profession can convey the value that today's technology companies deliver.
In this new period of innovation and software domination, our opportunity as technology communicators runs deep. We can help clients navigate the pitfalls of market skepticism previously established through transparency, collaboration, and personalization.
Transparency is now a public demand, played out on blogs and via Facebook and Twitter: and the public is asking some tough questions. Who are you, what do you stand for, and how are you doing it? Communicators must be adept at not only sharing facts, but doing so in a manner that engages and inspires. Transparent storytelling is essential to building market awareness, defining goals, and ensuring target audience understanding.
Collaboration is also essential. As real-time communication grows more affordable and efficient, one-way company-driven communication has been rendered virtually obsolete. Savvy companies are turning to their PR partners to find strategic ways to leverage the new social paradigm, harnessing feedback from customers, employees, industry organizations, and market influencers to turn insights into actionable innovation.
Making it personal is the hardest job for a PR professional. Andreessen referenced some great examples of consumer brands that are largely B2B software companies in disguise, such as Walmart, FedEx, and Amazon. These companies create content that makes their story personal and relevant to their respective audiences.
Not many people care about the speeds and feeds of Walmart's supply chain management. Wall Street wants to know the company's bottom line will meet market guidance. Main Street just wants to get a box of Wheaties at a good price. Demystifying the messages and keeping them simple is key to market education.
Andreessen emphasizes a call to action: “Instead of constantly questioning their valuations, let's seek to understand how the new generation of technology companies are doing what they do, what the broader consequences are for business and the economy, and what we can collectively do to expand the number of innovative new software companies created in the US and around the world.”
This presents a huge opportunity to shape and tell client stories utilizing transparency, collaboration, and personalization to give the new generation of technology companies a strong, real voice that market naysayers can hear and understand loudly and clearly.
Carol Edwards is a senior leader in the technology practice of Finn Partners, a Ruder Finn Group company launching this fall.