High-Tech PR Doesn’t Always Require Highly Technical Storytelling

Posted on November 15, 2012

High-Tech PR Doesn’t Always Require Highly Technical Storytelling

By Paul Fulton, Jr., Vice President

I facilitated an interview several years ago between a client who had just launched a new high-tech product and the technology reporter at the client’s top-tier trade magazine. We worked with the spokesperson to develop media messages around the product and prepared him to deliver them during interviews. A written product overview provided technical detail in relatively layperson terms.

During the interview, the reporter wanted the spokesperson to elaborate on product benefits in layman terms that would be easy for her and her readers to grasp. The spokesperson, however, decided to elevate the conversation from layperson to expert, evolving his responses to sweeping statements that sounded nice – but didn’t answer the reporter’s simple questions about functionality and value.

The reporter kept trying to bring the interview back to the product – how it worked, what it did, how the industry could benefit from it. But despite preparation the message never came down to a layperson level.

Afterward, the spokesperson expressed surprise that the reporter “didn’t get it” – he expected a dedicated technology reporter could translate his responses to her audience.

Not true.

The key takeaway is that high-tech PR does not always require highly technical storytelling – especially when a new technology is being introduced to a purchasing audience of non-experts.

Instead of sweeping statements, talk about product specifics – the three to five features that set your product apart from competitors. Boil down messages so anyone can understand them – from layperson to expert. Prepare supporting materials – written and graphic – that give further detail about the product and help reporters easily fact check positioning during the story-development process.

And finally, rehearse – rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. Role-play media interviews through Q&A scenarios with an objective outsider who can help turn high-tech, jargon-laden messages into usable quotes that media audiences will understand and appreciate.

Most importantly, this situation was eye-opening to the client and has been a non-issue since. They’ve enjoyed ever-increasing industry coverage as their high-tech capabilities have expanded – along with their abilities to speak plainly and tell their story.

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