Keep Left’s Tim Lele, Account Director for the corporate and tech PR teams, presented at IABC Victoria’s Talk55 event this week. Here are some of the key insights he presented on how the CIO can be a comms leader’s best asset.
Look at any daily newspaper today, and you will see that technology underpins many of our most important stories. It impacts every business, government or not for profit in some way. This can be seen in the national debates over Australia’s energy future. Old coal fired power plants are out – and Tesla’s new high-tech battery farms are in. In the business pages, almost every article is about Aussie innovation, start-ups and disruption.
We have a fascination with the future and that’s why I believe technology stories are so powerful in the comms landscape. Rather than looking back at what has happened, tech gives us an opportunity to provide a vision for a better tomorrow and puts brands front and centre. This is why communicators need to be in tune with the CIO and technologists in their organisations. But unfortunately, not enough comms people engage with the tech boffins in their business, allowing incredible media opportunities to pass them by as a result.
As comms people, our aim is to eliminate all acronyms and technical jargon. CIOs, CTOs, and IT people on the other hand are often the most engrossed in the language of tech. They’re used to speaking in jargon that can be bamboozle comms pros and is altogether too complex for customers, media and stakeholders.
As with any complex topic, it’s important to ask “how would you explain this to a seven-year-old?” The key from our side is to understand just enough of this jargon that it can be translated into messages that media, consumers and stakeholders will understand. Not only for the sake of proactive media, but also because some of the biggest issues and crisis risks for a business today can come from technology in the form of data breaches or major outages. This is when you need clear and simple language; and where the power of a well-trained spokesperson comes in.
— IABC Victoria (@iabcvic) March 20, 2017
Finding a tech spokesperson that media will love can be a difficult task. They need to know their company, offering and industry back to front; have a strong and informed opinion on current issues; and, most importantly, be able to communicate complexity in a simple way.
If you don’t have a person that meets these criteria, then you need to create one. Even if they are nowhere near media ready, find someone with passion in their voice about technology and the difference it can make for the industry and consumers. Media training can always be taught, but that initial spark is the thing that will make their insights electric.
As a takeaway, I have three pieces of advice for you:
Firstly, embrace technology as a story telling opportunity. Whether you like it or not technology is impacting every organisation – so take advantage of it.
Secondly, educate yourself as best you can in the language of technology.
And finally, if you can’t put your hand on heart say that you know who the CIO and technical experts are in your organisation, then find out. With a little bit of coaching, you might develop a new thought leader or reliable spokesperson in times of crisis.