PRWeek asked senior tech PR figures for their takes on trading and trends in the sector during 2019 – when the importance of being 'bold' and 'human' moved further to the fore.
Giles Fraser, co-founder, Brands2Life
Tech businesses last year became bolder in their aspirations for communications and we, like our industry, were well-placed to respond. Our 'better stories – bigger impact' proposition played well with clients wanting support developing and delivering creative campaigns across multiple channels, platforms and countries. An integrated approach, with earned at the centre, that blends shared, owned and paid is very effective when you get it right in this sector. Much of our tech growth came from clients who chose us as their lead agency to do exactly that.
All last year, and especially now, we’re seeing massive demand for purpose-led campaigns as the brands we work with look to make a bigger contribution to society as well as sell their products and services. Increasingly, social and influencer strategy and content are vying with traditional PR for budget when clients are looking to drive maximum impact.
Laura Tapper, MD, technology and b2b, Weber Shandwick London
Over the past 12 months, we have seen the 'human' brought into technology communications. Cutting-edge innovation or being 'cool' is no longer enough to make an impact – campaigns must connect with audiences beyond just product specifications. Purpose is now infusing client briefs, regardless of whether they are b2c or b2b, and we are increasingly working with clients to help them define their role and, more importantly, their contribution to society, to employees and to economies. Whether that's the fast-tracking of sustainability initiatives or the acceleration of inclusivity, nearly every company we are working with is as focused on its brand's resonance as it is on promoting products.
As a result we’ve seen a shift in traditional product communications, with companies increasingly moving towards 'audience-first' rather than 'product-first' strategies. A trend accelerated by the lengthening of the sales journey, we are experiencing growing demand from clients for audience insights that can help them to connect in an often more emotional or relevant way to their customers. As a result the appetite and willingness from clients, particularly b2b businesses, to launch braver creatives has exponentially grown. Major next-generation technologies such as 5G are really starting to kick in and opening up fertile ground for compelling storytelling that connects with a much broader range of audiences.
Gerry Wisniewski, managing director technology, Edelman UK
2019 was, in terms of the broader tech industry themes, a tale of two halves. While media chatter emphasised the techlash, I went to SWSW, Web Summit, The NextWeb, CognitionX and various Wired events, and at each I was uplifted by the number of companies emerging that are solving really big world problems, both start-ups and scale-ups, and the established firms. Emerging sectors that we saw accelerate were health tech and food tech. Enterprise tech continues to thrive – privacy, security, networks, infrastructure, software and services.
At Edelman we saw an increase in demand for more b2b content marketing, podcasting, b2b digital, and creative – but, as always, earned media and storytelling is at the core and our heartland. Despite the current COVID-19 crisis I'm optimistic that these sectors and disciplines will continue to be resilient even into the recovery. In fact, people's health and planetary health will likely be even more of a focus: in a time of crises we’ll see tech firms have a renewed energy to focus on solving society's big challenges and on what's truly important.
Tara O’Donnell, UK managing director, Hotwire
Last year we noticed clients open to trying new approaches to PR strategies and experimenting more. There was a real peak in interest and demand from clients seeking to access specific targeted audiences through data-driven insights and segmentation, influencer marketing and targeted social-media campaigns to create original and creative content that drives business impact.
At Hotwire, we continue to evolve and offer an insights-led, audience-based approach paired with multichannel execution. The increasing integration between marketing and communications departments led to some fantastic examples of campaign and project work across the agency.
Being a one-stop shop for clients to access marketing and PR – including the likes of paid social-media campaigns, rebranding work, design, crisis communications, analyst relations and more – is something we expect to continue as clients turn to agencies to meet all their marketing and comms needs.
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