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Computer Assisted: Communicating the Benefits and Barriers of Technology

June 3, 2019

[yagi studio]
[yagi studio]

I used a desktop printer/copier until I couldn’t stand it anymore. Right when I’d send a final client presentation to the printer, its cartridges, like clockwork, would run out of ink. And when I needed copies, they would crawl out at a snail’s pace. I decided that duplicating leave-behinds at an office-supply store would be more efficient, but then I wound up paying $100 for copies that were faded and unprofessional looking.

It was time for me to buy an office-grade copier, an experience that reminded me of how technology should be communicated. When I talked to the salesperson, I didn’t give her technical specifications such as, “I want a two-tray, duplex printer with a 100-sheet bypass tray, 50-sheet automatic reversing-document feeder with a finisher and punch kit that outputs 35 pages a minute.”

Instead, I simply said, “I want to go into client meetings with beautiful, professional documents that look on-brand.”

People buy technology to make their lives and work easier, and whether for business or personal use, they want to know what technology will do for them. But all too often, communication about technology is bogged down with esoteric details like speeds and feeds. The goal should be to communicate the results the technology will provide.

Every piece of technology has a life-improving or business-changing outcome. PR professionals can be product cheerleaders and assuage buyers’ fears, making communications a crucial part of marketing new technologies.

Focus on results

As communicators, we must resist the temptation to be too technical when writing about technology. The marketing team will create data sheets with all the product’s numbers and stats. As client counselors, our job is to evoke the value of technology for readers.

Start by writing a list of questions to ask subject-matter experts. Focus on “how” questions, such as “How will this new technology improve the customer’s business?” Or, “How will the product save time for consumers?”

Overcome barriers

Many people love technology, but others fear it. Even customers who want to buy new tech often have reservations.

Everyone knows the pain of transferring data from an old computer to a new one, for example. And with enterprise technology used in organizations, costs are always a concern. PR professionals can help break down those barriers by clarifying setup times and the technology’s short- and long-term costs, as well as its benefits.

Share data visually

Data can be vital for communicating the results that new technology provides, so try to present that information visually through appealing infographics, charts or tables. Such presentations make data easier to understand and more enjoyable to read. Journalists also appreciate visuals that will make their stories more dynamic.

To make the right decisions, technology buyers rely on information that PR professionals make available through media reviews, product placements and application stories. In our media hits, we should always strive to clearly communicate the outcomes of new technology and make persuasive points that overcome outdated opinions.

Carla Vallone

Carla Vallone is president of Portavoce PR in Carlsbad, Calif. She is a member of the Counselors Academy at PRSA.

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