So, you’re looking at tech PR agencies. Maybe to hire. Perhaps to join. But you’d like a firm located in the San Francisco Bay Area. That understands Silicon Valley. That tackles tough communication challenges. Breaks down barriers. Sweats details. Avoids office politics. Focuses. And delivers (ahem) sterling results.
We’re Sterling Communications, Silicon Valley’s storytellers. We don’t lean on any single style or fancy process. But what we do have is a very particular set of skills acquired over very long and diverse careers centered around the SF Bay Area and focused in the technology community. Since 1989, Sterling has worked exclusively with tech clients. These days, many of them are in big data analytics, healthcare, and the internet of things (IoT).
Silicon Valley’s most ambitious and disruptive tech firms seek Sterling’s PR expertise to build bold brands and make a difference. But how, exactly, does tech PR work? And, more importantly, how can you make public relations work better for your technology-based enterprise?
Let us answer some of these important questions:
- How does tech PR differ from public relations for other companies?
- Why does storytelling matter so much in PR for B2B and B2C companies?
- What size PR agency is best to help reach your tech firm’s marketing goals?
- Are there tech PR best practices for companies in the San Francisco Bay Area?
- How should you craft a social media program to support tech PR?
- Does your PR agency’s team need deep industry expertise?
- Now what?
Public relations for technology firms requires many of same basic skills as PR for other companies: communications strategy, media relations, press release writing, community management, and discovering opportunities to win awards or speak at events, and so on. And, obviously, tech PR assumes the agency is going to have at least a working familiarity with the main industry and niche markets you aim to serve. But there’s more.
Tech PR also demands the ability to amplify traditional public relations with visual media, such as websites, videos, infographics, and other branded collateral. Tech PR’s writing requirements encompass domain expertise for white papers, blog posts, web copy, or social media. Further, innovation within the tech industry moves with much greater speed, with far more industry jargon, than any other market. And the pace of obsolescence means that the strategies or tactics that worked yesterday have little leverage on moving the needle tomorrow.
For an agency to have any longevity in the tech market, you need a culture of curiosity. That’s Sterling.
For many of us who live in the San Francisco Bay Area or work in Silicon Valley, technology is integral to our culture. We care about processor speeds and wireless feeds. We delight in digital details. We swim happily in a sea of tech buzzwords and memes, secure in the knowledge that the work we do ripples far beyond our shores with the potential to change the world. For billions of other people, however, technology is merely a tool, the details of development are irrelevant in their everyday lives, and specs come off sounding like gibberish. To make it meaningful, communication about technology has to resonate at a deeper, more personal level.
It requires storytelling.
Good stories seduce and enthrall. They play with our emotions, lodge in our memories, guide our perceptions, help us understand. Good stories change us. Numerous studies prove that humans are hardwired for narrative thinking.
Our brains are greedy for stories. A tale told well is always more memorable and compelling and delicious than any bar chart or cold hard list of facts. Storytelling is how we best communicate the essence of who we are to each other. More than ever, and particularly in the realm of technology, companies need opportunities to humanize their positions, connect with their communities, and differentiate themselves in a noisy and erratic environment. Storytelling makes the difference.
Good stories, in other words, are good for business.
There are, of course, monster conglomerates with offices around the world, each of which has layers of departments staffed with well-qualified people. And they’re probably perfectly suited to the world’s largest tech companies, who also have myriad layers of executives in charge of various results.
And there are also savvy freelancers or mom-and-pop shops that do one thing, and do it well.
Most likely, you’re looking for something in between: An agency that’s large enough to matter, but small enough to care. The trick, of course, is knowing what’s too large as well as too small. Sterling Communications is what most people would call a boutique agency. And though that may sound a bit dear, it simply means that we can fit everyone under one roof.
The best tech PR agencies, we believe, include executives on every account. Senior-level attention helps ensure hard work is guided by smart strategy. Passion gets channeled by experience. And results can be measured in outcomes, not inputs.
What makes tech public relations tick? While Sterling tailors each communications program specifically to each client, there are certain universal truths we’ve discovered that work for everyone. Here are six recommendations we happily share with all companies that want to make their mark in Silicon Valley:
- Personality — Have one. Know who you are (and who you aren’t) and stay true to your brand. We’ll help you be real and stay on message.
- Topics — Own some. Thought leadership is key for your tech public relations program to be effective. When it comes to the technology space, reporters (and potential customers and investors) look for the topic mavens. We’ll help you track trends and stay engaged.
- Friends — Nurture them. Silicon Valley is really a small and fairly tight-knit community, and maintaining good friendships is beneficial in both work and in life. We’ll work to build your network of supporters.
- Enemies — Fight them. It’s natural to have enemies when you stand for something. We’ll pick strategic battles that best position your brand.
- Media — Create it. Tech PR demands all types of media, from thought leadership essays to interactive visual presentations, and that’s just the start to a solid content marketing plan. We’ll help design, shoot, and craft all manner of content to feed the beast.
- Results — Demand them. Public relations requires (or at least should) the same metrics-driven rigor applied to advertising, sales, and marketing. We’ll deliver on the metrics that matter most.
Let’s say you’ve sharpened your message, assembled your team, prepped your plans, and are ready to start sharing. Given how fast you probably need to move and how far you intend to travel, we believe these points would be good to keep in mind as you work with a tech PR agency to manage your social media program
- Trust saves money. If a partnership requires every tweet to be drafted by committee, then it will take a lot of time and impart little reward. Your PR agency needs to build that trust. Sterling strives to work with honesty, transparency, and a focus not just on your goals, but those of the people you intend to influence.
- Boring doesn’t sell. Earnest is nice, and on-message is important, but dull doesn’t cut it. People don’t want to be marketed to; they crave authenticity. We’ll surface the real stories your best prospective customers care to read, watch, and share.
- Traction takes time. Not years, thankfully, but at least months to start. You can see it early, but establishing a trusted brand takes commitment — not just from your agency, but from your team as well.
Sort of. Usually, deep expertise helps. You, the client, don’t have to spend weeks or months training junior agency personnel on the finer points of your products. You don’t have to explain SaaS platforms or IoT protocols, encryption standards or agile development methodologies.
However, seeking out PR pros with in-depth, industry-specific knowledge is not the same as finding people who can articulate the finer points of your enterprise software, wireless router, security platform, or hover technology. That requires working with people who are insatiably curious not only about technology, but also about what it means to other people. It demands the ability to embrace potential. It demands empathy. Clear thinking and imagination combined. Sharp verbal, written, and visual communications skills.
In other words, you want a team that can geek out over the tech, but wax rhapsodic about its meaning.
Like what you’ve read? Ready to learn more? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (408) 395-5500. We’re ready to listen and we love a good story. Or, if you need more convincing, let a few of our B2B and B2C tech clients do if for us:
“Thank you for the awesome job on the Kickstarter launch of our Helix Cuff. We are very impressed by your efficiency. Your comments and training definitely helped improve my interview skills. We wouldn’t be here without you! You guys are wonderful!”— Angela Pan, Ashley Chloe Founder & CEO
“Sterling’s content creation team is fantastic. They understood our market and developed compelling content quickly that rarely had to be edited. This resulted in impactful bylined contributions from some of our top technical experts and executives in InformationWeek, DarkReading, eWEEK, and Fast Company.”— Mitch Bishop, CloudPassage CMO
“Last week was a great week for all of us. It started out with a bang at the launch of Health2047 and continued with great momentum in the press and face-to-face meetings throughout the week. Ensuring that we were the talk of the town, the Sterling team was excellent and masterful in their driving the entire press process towards a successful end. And it’s just the beginning.” — Dr. Jack Stockert, Health2047 Business Strategy Executive
“I really can’t thank Sterling enough. I don’t know what I would do without you. You keep our press release machine humming.” — Judy Hoffman, Netgear Senior Director of Worldwide Marketing Communications
“Investors are showing our new videos to teachers for feedback and hearing back, ‘I’ve got to get one.’ They’re replacing most of our marketing collateral. They’re pitch perfect.” — Mike Foody, Global Imagination CEO
“Sterling not only nailed the look and feel aspects of the new website, they also created great content that strikes just the right balance of expertise and personality.” — Doug Given, MD, PhD, MBA, Douggiven.com Owner
“We truly appreciated the whole team’s patience and speed through this process. This morning, I couldn’t help but notice the empty wine bottle that helped with a couple of toasts last night.” — Drew Wright, TCP COO
“Professional. Exacting. Dependable. Great to work with. I’d use Sterling again in a heartbeat.” — Peter Mullen, PowerCloud Systems CEO
“After we began working with Sterling, we saw a huge increase in our media coverage and substantially more website traffic. We’re impressed with the measurable ROI.” — Marcelo Gomez, Unirac Director of Marketing
“Everyone who has seen our new video is extremely impressed. [It] wows our customers, internal and external. I can’t wait to see what your team does for our next video.” — Shelly Paiva, C.H. Reynolds Electric CEO
“You have done an amazing job at helping us create [our foundation]. Your time and effort has tremendously helped voice who we really are and aspire to be.”— Joanie Kriens, 1440 Foundation Co-Founder & Director