LinkedIn turned twenty years old in 2023 and has undergone much transformation within its two decades. Once purely a place to find and list jobs, as well as connect with peers, the platform has morphed into something more akin to Instagram, or Facebook. It’s no longer just a professional networking site, but a social media platform in its own right.
With 60% of LinkedIn users being between the ages of 25-34 years old, it’s quite possible that the growing presence of millennials and Gen Zs in the job market has driven this transformation. These age groups have grown up alongside the ‘like’ button and understand quantifying the value of something (or someone) in reactions, likes and shares. So, just as Instagram has had influencers for years now, we’re seeing a growing rise of “LinkedInfluencers” today. And leaders in tech are tapping into this trend in a big way.
This has meant that company reputations have begun to blur with the personal reputations of their employees and (crucially) their leaders. Just as many of us take to Instagram and Facebook to showcase who we are and, perhaps unconsciously, to build our own personal brands, CEOs and business leaders are using LinkedIn for the same thing.
Leaders in tech, in particular, have taken to this “LinkedInfluencer” role – and there a few reasons for this. One major one is the crowded nature of the tech space – it’s a constant spinning wheel of opinions, breakthroughs and company news. There’s limited space in magazines and papers to capture everything being said, not to mention limited time with journalists. However, joining the conversation is still crucial and LinkedIn provides this megaphone.
With the tech sector being plagued by skills shortages, LinkedIn has also become a platform for leaders and experts at tech firms to use their presence to entice talent. Many job seekers are looking to be inspired, not only by a company’s work, but by the words and vision of those at the helm. Being viewed as a leader, a fountain of knowledge, and an aspirational figure can be key in both attracting and retaining talent – helping to cultivate the next up and coming generation of leaders.
And of course, remember to work with comms and your PR agency – these partners can help achieve all of the above, as well as create the content to complement the wider communication strategy of your organisation.
Now, usually, over-dramatised docu-series about global superstars telling the world of how tough their lives actually are behind the scenes is not usually my bag. However, as a football fan and as someone who grew up in the 90s, curiosity got the better of me and I watched the recent Beckham documentary in its entirety.
Much of the series is based around the Beckhams, both individually and collectively, and their efforts to shape their reputations – both at the time and in the present day. When you think of 90s British culture it is inescapable to not think of David Beckham, Victoria Adams, and then Posh and Becks. They rose to the absolute pinnacle of British cultural life, meaning their reputations were under unrelenting scrutiny for the best part of two decades.
So, what lessons can Beckham Inc. teach us from a business reputational standpoint?
There are a few other images that are more representative of the 90s than a swarm of paparazzi hounding prominent people in the public eye as they go about their daily business. In this pre-social media age, newspapers ruled the roost. People went down to the local shop to get their daily newspaper, complete with some clever (and many not so clever) headline puns slapped on the front page. However, social media platforms are now the town square. This means that it is not just the journalist and editor of a story that can throw in their two cents, or the photographer who can capture a moment – but the whole world.
To be fair to the Beckhams, being under intense media scrutiny in the 90s, didn’t look that fun. However in today’s age, where anyone you pass in the street has a high-res camera and ability to speak to the world, this could be argued to be worse. Even more of their trips to the shops, drive to school, or dinner at a restaurant would have been broadcast to the world almost constantly.
From a business point of view, this additional scrutiny has put a much great emphasis on the managing of a positive reputation. In the past, all manner of reputational issues that were public may not have made it into mainstream public discourse, whereas now the game has changed. This means that businesses must be aware and cognizant of their every action, always keeping reputation management at the forefront of their minds.
Reputations can be made up of lots of different factors. For example, if David Beckham wasn’t exactly a looker, then perhaps his rise to the top would not have been achievable, but none of this works without substance behind it. Fundamentally, David Beckham was a great footballer. The documentary covers his explosion on to the scene when he scores from the halfway line in a match early in his career – an almost unprecedented feat. His continued rise through the Man United ranks turned him into one of the best midfielders of his generation.
For Victoria it is similar, especially nowadays. Clearly, being part of one of the most successful groups of our time played a big role in the early days. However, she was never considered a world-leading singer – I think of Ali G’s joke when interviewing the pair, ‘Does Brooklyn want to grow up to be a footballer like his dad, or a singer…Like Mariah Carey’. But what has truly propelled Victoria’s reputation since her Spice Girl days is her move into the fashion world. Now the owner of a hugely successful brand, and a leading figure in the fashion world, Victoria has by many metrics surpassed David’s success from a business and monetary point of view.
This is the same in business. Although branding, marketing, communications, image and every other facet of a business’ perception are incredibly important, fundamentally no business can succeed without a great product or offering. It is important that our reputations are built on solid foundations, otherwise when the going gets tough, a reputation may not be able to survive.
Take Beckham’s infamous kick at the 1998 World Cup – getting him sent off, before England went on to be knocked out on penalties by arch-rivals Argentina. Headlines the next day included, ’10 brave lions, and 1 stupid boy’ – a headline that might belong in the ‘not so clever’ camp mentioned earlier. The media attacks were vicious and went on for weeks. He was booed at every stadium he went to, hounded in the street and it was hard to see how he could come out from underneath. His response was to rely on his famed right foot. By focusing on football, and continuing to show his immense talent, he eventually got redemption; not by some clever PR stunt, or grovelling apology, but by scoring the freekick in the dying stages of a match against Greece, allowing England to qualify for the World Cup.
And this for me is where there is a key learning. In the business world, if a reputation takes a hit, of course there will need to be a communications strategy to begin healing the damage. However, one of the best things that can be done is to focus on the core business that got them there in the first place – ensuring that it focuses on its key people, customers and stakeholders. By focusing on rebuilding trust with these people, businesses can rebuild wider trust and move forward.
Oh and finally, David Beckham is a beekeeper. Who would have thought?
This summer, there have been two instances where I have been in a privileged position that has hammered home how impactful PR can be. I am a judge for the PR Week awards this year and read many entries of our industry’s finest work. And I was also at this year’s PRCA International Summit, moderating a panel and hearing from our peers at a global level.
Something came up in both these situations that was an important reminder for me – strategic thinking combined with a good dose of creativity has tremendous impact!
It’s an easy thing to forget when ploughing through the day-to-day task list, but as communicators, we are in a unique position to have a significant impact on our clients’ reputation.
As communications professionals, we are supporting an organisation’s goals and objectives through our work, and that requires us to be strategic in how we do this. If we don’t create impact, we’re just making noise, and so what’s the point!
We are constantly absorbing the news, tracking trending topics and have a good feel for public appetite for certain stories. Having this contextual awareness enables us to get the timing and positioning of our communication right. We know what the conversations are, when it is right to wade in or when it is right to add a new perspective.
At the same time, we’re creatives. We may not get the same recognition as those working in advertising, but our work requires creativity in a world where so many have something to say.
We know and are regularly reminded that facts are boring, and people seek entertainment. You only have to see how far and wide misinformation goes when it feels scandalous, or extreme, versus how far something goes when it’s sensible and correct. Internet bots fuel misinformation, with generative AI not helping matters, meaning creative cut-through couldn’t be more important these days.
Strategy needs creativity and creativity needs strategy
You can have a very strategic communication campaign and you can also have a very creative campaign, but for true success you need to marry both.
During the PR Week award deliberations, there was much discussion amongst the judges on commending very creative work especially when it felt original and fresh. However, the judges and I would often track back to the organisation’s objectives and whether this very creative and fun campaign actually achieved the desired outcome. If it didn’t, it was hard to justify giving it a higher score than an entry that did hit the objectives.
Likewise, creativity came up in many sessions during the PRCA International Summit. Diversity leads to more creativity, generative AI still needs human creativity, young talent bring huge amounts of creativity and keeps them inspired. Creativity, however, is something that is cultivated and has widespread impact on our work, our people and our industry. But for us to have creativity that inspires, it must tie to a strategy that hits a bigger objective than just ‘standing out’.
Strategic thinking and creative ideas are not mutually exclusive and aren’t we lucky as PR experts to bring both together. It’s a powerful combination.
Recently, I was drawn to a story about Google’s antitrust lawsuit. Earlier this month, a trial began that accused Google of monopolising internet search engines, eliminating the ability of rivals to compete. To put it simply, the US Justice Department has accused Google of abusing its power as the most popular search engine – this was done by making deals with wireless carriers to ensure its search engine is the exclusive or dominant option on the devices of millions of consumers.
With search engine optimisation (SEO) serving as a key method for marketing and communications professionals to reach their audiences, this news made me wonder – how much power do search engines actually wield to control how we think about certain organisations and products? And, are there any other ways that communications professionals can hope to compete with companies that simply have deeper pockets?
Are search engines controlling how we think?
There is evidence from as far back as 2015 indicating that search engines have the power to subtly control thinking and behaviour – this is known as the search engine manipulation effect. Internet search rankings have a significant impact on choices, not only on the products we buy but also the decisions we make. This is because users tend to trust products and organisations that are ranked higher on Google than those that they need to scroll further down on the results page to view. Therefore, companies that have larger budgets to dedicate towards boosting their ranking naturally come out on top in the race for website traffic, and therefore the attention of consumers.
The state of SEO for comms professionals
SEO has become the bread and butter for comms professionals as they seek to boost the reputation of their brand, creating a larger target audience by positioning their company’s website at the top of search engine rankings through a variety of methods. In recent years, it has become one of the most important tools for brand awareness, as it ensures that the right people are being driven towards the products and services that are being offered.
In light of the Google antitrust lawsuit, communications professionals might begin to wonder if this will impact them in the coming years. The good news is, many of the techniques involved in SEO actually contribute to building a strong reputation over time – and this will hold true no matter what the future holds for search engines like Google or Bing.
SEO actually has a critical role to play in reputation management. In order to boost rankings, organisations need to ensure the content on their website is optimised so that it reflects key themes that their target audience is looking for – incorporating SEO keywords into the content of the website itself. This could be in written blogs, headers, internal links and URLS. This is common practice for SEO professionals – tailoring your content more closely to what your target audience is searching for can help ensure that those who come across your organisation’s website trust that they will find what they are looking for, and quickly.
The practice of fine-tuning your website’s on-page SEO will not only improve search engine rankings, it also builds confidence in your brand at little cost – and this is only skimming the surface.
Even though it is clear that search engines like Google do hold a vast amount of power in controlling how we perceive certain brands, this does not necessarily mean organisations with the deepest pockets always come out on top. The process of tailoring your website, social media channels and digital footprint to what your audience is searching for will over time have a critical role to play in building and boosting the reputation of your organisation for the long haul.
Interested in hearing more on this topic? Take a look at Firefly’s PR meets SEO: Digital Reputation Management Guide.
In a time when brands are facing reputational challenges over greenwashing accusations, Patagonia has remained authentic to its environmental responsibilities through a simple, but definitive statement – that it is not a sustainable brand.
Last year, Patagonia’s founder Yvon Chouinard announced the radical move to give the company away to a trust, with all future profits going towards climate crisis initiatives. While consumers are rightfully sceptical when it comes to trusting brands’ environmental claims, Patagonia demonstrates how brands can be active participants in the battle against climate change.
Sustainability from the start
Sustainability has been at the forefront of Patagonia since the beginning. Even when the company only existed as an equipment catalogue, it encouraged customers to ditch its pitons, after noticing rock-faces were being damaged with its use. Since 1985, it has been donating 1% of its annual sales to fight climate change and went one step further by establishing ‘1% for the Planet’, encouraging other companies to adopt similar policies.
For Patagonia, it’s been essential that its messaging strategy should not just promote the brand’s products, but also actively encourage environmentally positive actions. This philosophy is evident across campaigns such as ‘Don’t Buy This Jacket’. However, there is a contradictory nature in wanting to be sustainable, but also having revenue growth as a business imperative. Authenticity is felt when a brand, like Patagonia, tells its customers that its product shouldn’t come at the expense of the environment. It communicates a message that the company is willing to sacrifice profits for a greater purpose, and reassures its consumers that product is built with quality in mind.
In March, Patagonia launched a campaign establishing the principal messaging defining its future aims with “What’s next?”. Companies that rest on their laurels, despite how successful they have been previously, eventually face backlash for lack of action. Effectively communicating that the business has clear future environmental plans assures consumers that your company is in it for the long haul.
The Patagonia paradox
“Never being done” is the ethos that guides Patagonia. It’s the idea that to truly have a positive effect, you not only need to continuously invest resources, but need to reflect on your company’s negative impact on the planet. [SJ1] No business-for-profit is perfectly sustainable, but Patagonia understands that this does not negate the fact that the private-sector can have a positive environmental impact.
This all starts with an open and transparent communication strategy. Patagonia understands that accountability is the first step in winning consumer trust. After revealing that 95% of its carbon emissions come from its supply chain, it’s looking for ways to offset this by increasing second-hand materials and restricting product-line output.
Patagonia also set-up a “joint funding mechanism” where smaller brands can partner up. Notably, the company states it only has an inclination this will work, with no guarantee of results. In a time when many marketers are concerned with projects being accused of ‘greenwashing’, Patagonia presents an alternative through transparent communication.
Patagonia’s driving narrative resonates with so many because it remains ethically consistent, and this can be felt across every aspect of the business. If a brand truly wants to be sustainable, it will need to integrate planet-first policies widely into every part of its organisation. This includes being transparent about sustainability issues. Reputational risk that comes with hiding environmental issues far outweighs the backlash of being transparent with where improvements are needed.
Being perfectly sustainable is impossible, but communicating where the company plans to improve and invest, shows your organisation is serious about tackling climate challenges.
As we know, AI has been all the buzz and communicators have been scrambling to figure out which tools are best to use to integrate into their workflows as well as the rules of engagement. There is a flood of information on the various tools at our disposal and rapid advancements have placed governments in a race to regulate AI.
The debate also rages on about whether AI will indeed contribute towards productivity, replace jobs and so forth. But have we stopped to think about the impact AI could have on our curiosity – a key characteristic of any communicator worth their salt.
A few months back, I attended a PRCA conference and one keynote address by Paul Spiers, Founder of The New P&L – Principles & Leadership in Business®’ Podcast Series & The New P&L® Institute, really put this into perspective for me. In his talk, titled ‘Are we outsourcing our curiosity to an algorithm’, Paul outlined a powerful paradox – we have access to more information than ever before, but because of our search history, the algorithms feed us a narrow view of the world, compromising our curiosity. The concern? Entertainment over inspiration, information over knowledge.
As communicators, we have to dig deeper into a story to unpack the key essence of our client’s brand or offering in order to capture imaginations, make it relevant for our client’s audiences and in the process shape our client’s reputation. By relying on an algorithm to deliver our inspiration we run the risk of narrowing our scope of inspiration, turning us inwards and not outwards. We need to ensure that we use AI and any other technology to drive our natural sense of curiosity instead of diminishing it.
Did you know that three of the top five skills needed in business are based on curiosity? Analytical thinking, creative thinking, curiosity and lifelong learning.
Curiosity is ultimately the basis of our expansion of knowledge and empathy of others; it drives creativity which in turn drives innovation. As Paul notes, seismic challenges in society offer tremendous opportunities to rethink the way we live and do business and all of this relies on curiosity. “The ability to determine the future of business relies on the levels of curiosity needed to imagine it,” says Paul Spiers.
An interesting insight from research by The P&L Institute is that many people in the creative and comms industries feel that they’re losing their creative courage. Clearly, we need more diversity to open it up, to grow and to do this we need to become more intentional about our curiosity.
These are just some of the ways businesses can commit to more conscious curiosity:
Some may argue that ‘Curiosity killed the cat” but as bold communicators and reputation shapers we’re tossing that old proverb out the window. We need to continue to think more consciously about how and why we engage with technology and pick out the best bits to support our skills and imagination.
So, let’s draw a line in the sand today and commit to our curiosity first!
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you wanted to explain something, but the right words just wouldn’t come out? It can be difficult articulating something technical for many reasons. It also depends on who you’re speaking to and their understanding of the technology and terminology.
It’s our job as communicators in technology to find ways to tell stories, with the right words, with the right people. But it’s always a balance. Sometimes we need to use clever analogies to help explain something more complex, and other times we must be mindful not to oversimplify the content as our audience may have a clear understanding of the basics.
Beginning my journey in tech PR, I was flooded with jargon that I had to decipher. There were words and phrases I had never come across, yet the technology itself was part and parcel of my life. But I just don’t refer to it in this way. Take cloud computing, for instance. Some people are familiar with the technical term, while others aren’t, yet everyone uses cloud computing technology. Cloud computing involves delivering computing services, such as servers, software, and storage over the web. If you use Google Drive, that’s an example of cloud computing, if you share files via Dropbox, that’s another example. It wasn’t a term I used before, but it’s certainly one I use and am familiar with now!
Multi-level messaging is an effective way for organisations to communicate complex technical information. By providing three versions of the same message, those with no technical background, some technical background and a lot of technical background can all gain something from it. This approach ensures that everyone is communicated to taking into account their level of understanding. However, organisations must be careful not to assume someone’s comprehension of technology – some CEOs have great technical understanding, some rely on their great team to break it down for them. It’s common to start at mid-level messaging and gauging understanding then taking it from there after reading the room.
When I began my career in PR, a go to source to level-up my understanding for the companies we work with was their case studies. Reading how a company has implemented and used a certain technology really helped me connect the dots, as well as understand the impact of that specific technology on the wider industry. Customer storytelling or case studies form an integral part of any PR programme, there’s huge power in how it helps in articulating the use and benefits of a specific technology.
The world of tech comms may bring its share of communication challenges, like causing us to become tangled in the jargon. However, once you’re able to crack what I like to call the ‘communication code,’ you’re able to grasp how rich language is. Nowadays, progression is rooted in communication and it’s up to us to ensure that we’re adopting the right approach in delivering strong, relatable and easily digestible content.
This summer has been plastic fantastic as Barbie-mania swept the world. The self-titled film has grossed over $1bn, cementing director Greta Gerwig as the only woman in history to have directed a billion-dollar film and inspiring the portmanteau ‘Barbillion’. Of course, this iconic doll has never needed an introduction – her reputation has always preceded her.
Barbie is a cultural phenomenon, but her public image hasn’t always been favourable – historically, she has been criticised for promoting unrealistic beauty standards. With her legacy spanning over sixty years, reshaping Barbie’s reputation was no easy or small feat. Yet, the film didn’t just manage to achieve this; it completely upended the public’s perception of what she represents. By boldly acknowledging the past, and renewing her powerhouse brand with new messaging, Barbie’s reputation as we knew it was transformed.
Strong brand imagery speaks for itself, and as the film’s promotion began, Barbie’s image seemed to be as bubblegum pink as ever. Plastering her brand everywhere – and generating those associated feelings of childhood nostalgia – was the hook to begin reshaping her reputation; nothing was pink without purpose. A real-life Malibu Dreamhouse and a Pink Burger were two of the endless collaborations that sparked Barbie fever. It was even reported that the amount of pink paint used in the film’s set designs caused a worldwide shortage.
With the public’s attention captured, trailers and clips were phased in teasing surprisingly feminist messaging as Barbie journeyed from the matriarchal Barbieland to the patriarchal “real world”. In interviews, cast members highlighted how Barbie was originally made to inspire girls into pursuing careers and financial independence, making her a feminist role model.
Breadcrumbing this messaging was a reminder that Barbie was created as a force for good; maybe the public had been too harsh on her. But a reputation cannot be reshaped by simply sweeping criticism under the carpet. For Barbie’s reputational revamp to be a success, the brand needed to acknowledge its less-than-perfect past.
The Barbie trailer featured a surprising message: “If you love Barbie, this film is for you. If you hate Barbie, this film is for you”. When the film finally released, the public flocked to the cinema in their pinkest finery – I, of course, was one of them. The anticipation had reached a fever high, and audiences sat with bated breath.
The trailer’s trace of self-awareness at Barbie’s past reputation unfolded into a full-blown acknowledgement tinged with shock tactics. As she ventures into the “real world”, she believes she has made a positive impact on women’s lives. Instead, she harshly learns of her poor reputation, with teenage character Sasha even calling her a “fascist”.
To spotlight Barbie’s past in such a direct manner was shockingly bold, but like everything else, it wasn’t without purpose. Yes, public perception vilified Barbie – but it wasn’t unjustified. Barbie was created to inspire girls, but she’d missed the mark and her reputation had paid the price. As audiences were wondering how on earth maker Mattel allowed this scene to play out, the film moved into its final phase of her reputational overhaul.
When reshaping a reputation as infamous as Barbie’s, authenticity is non-negotiable. It implies honesty and integrity, and a determination to not have her future impact replicate her past.
Barbie’s emotionally charged pièce de resistance came at the very end: the doll holds creator Ruth Handler’s hands and takes her first breaths, interspersed with a montage of real women and girls. In this moment, Barbie – a plastic and inherently inauthentic doll – is humanised. Suddenly, she is no longer an unreachable idea of perfection; she is just like every other girl and woman. And she is for everyone.
To highlight Barbie’s past reputation without actually doing anything about it would’ve been in poor taste – audiences would’ve been left with the shock factor, but no substance. Instead, the blend of heritage brand imagery and powerful message reverberated through cinemagoers. Barbie had entered a new era.
There’s no doubt that Barbie, and its promotional rollout, were engineered to reshape the doll’s image. The film was somehow everything and nothing like I expected it to be, but it’s no surprise that this gargantuan reputational overhaul was a success. Whilst its long-term impact is yet to be determined, this summer affirmed that, love her or hate her, it really is Barbie’s world – we’re all just living in it.
Every day, I see headlines filled with stories on AI regulation. This fast-paced conversation has left government bodies unsure about the rules they should implement. The UK has proposed decentralised models, while the US has engaged tech leaders in discussions on AI safety and security. Meanwhile, the EU has introduced the AI Act.
The discussion on AI regulation is far from over—it’s just getting started. If you work in tech comms, it’s crucial that you have a voice in this conversation. If you haven’t been involved yet, now is the time to join in.
Innovation speed like no other
The UK Prime Minister opened London Tech Week stating it’s “time to act – and act fast.” This want for speed is with a view to have the UK lead on growth and investment in technology. But for this to happen in a way that’s good for the world, the discussion around the guardrails for AI must be just as fast and just as continual as the development of the technology itself.
Also, at London Tech Week, Microsoft UK’s CEO, Clare Barclay, touched on speed. She took to the stage and opened with ‘by the time I finish with this keynote, much of what I’ve said will be outdated. That’s how fast innovation is in this space’. She pulled up a slide that really hammered home the impact and speed of generative AI disruption, showing adoption of new technology and its speed. It took Spotify 4.5 years to get to 100 million users, it took Instagram 2.5 years to reach the same milestone, and for TikTok it was nine months. Chat GPT? It took only two months to achieve 100 million users. That level of uptake illustrates how prevalent this technology is, and how no industry is untouched.
Clare also referenced Microsoft’s responsible AI principles – fairness, reliability and safety, privacy and security, inclusiveness, transparency, and accountability – making the particularly significant point that these are continually reviewed and updated.
There is a huge ecosystem around generative AI – from the firms developing new applications of AI, to companies providing the tools and the means, as well as the range of organisations deploying generative AI technology. With such huge ramifications on jobs as well as the use of people’s data, every application of generative AI spotlights potential ethical issues, so responsible AI must be discussed openly and through a range of viewpoints. Whether you’re from a large organisation at the forefront of the innovation, or a small firm developing a specific use case for generative AI, all voices must be heard.
The rise of ‘AI washing’
You’ve probably heard of ‘green washing’, well, ‘AI washing’ has the same connotations. Essentially, it’s organisations claiming their offering involves AI technology when the use of AI is minimal. There’s been backlash and fatigue around AI product announcements, and the same will happen on this AI regulation conversation if people wade in with something ‘vanilla’.
My advice is to determine a point of view that highlights your (or your company’s) unique perspective. It can also help to point out elements that have yet to be discussed – maybe small in the grand scheme of things, but important for your industry. Of course, communication professionals love for leaders to have controversial opinions, but in the discussions around regulation that may not be appropriate.
So, whilst AI innovation continues at pace, and regulation struggles to keep up, the need to harness the power of AI responsibly and ethically is a priority for us all. Open discussion, where multiple views are taken into consideration, is how we get there faster.
After spending three years studying PR at university, then joining the tech comms world, I thought I knew public relations – parties, events, and meeting journalists every week. The reality, however, was very different.
Of course, in the pre-pandemic world, the communications industry thrived on in-person events – picture a bustling networking event, filled with eager professionals handing out business cards and exchanging their industry knowledge. However, the world has undergone a massive transformation, pushing us into a new era where virtual events have become the norm. Although it could be seen as disappointing, it is a blessing in disguise and us tech PRs should make the most of this shift to virtual events, and NOT just because we can be wearing a pair of pyjama pants where the webcam can’t see.
Adapting to change
The onset of the pandemic forced us to rethink the way we connect and communicate. In-person events and meetings had to take a backseat, making room for virtual alternatives. For comms, these digital formats can be leveraged not only for mere functionality, but also to thrive in the events space. Online events have proven to be a powerful tool for product launches, training sessions, and establishing thought leadership. Online platforms allow companies to reach more people than they ever could have dreamed of, eliminating geographical limitations. This increased accessibility can allow PR professionals to create impactful experiences and engage with a wider demographic – or really, any demographic, as long as they have an online account.
ABBA really weren’t lying when they said, ‘Money must be funny in a rich man’s world’. Ah, yes. Hilarious. For all companies, money really isn’t a joke, and here’s the punchline: events are EXPENSIVE. However, hosting virtual events often requires lower costs, meaning businesses can save on venue prices, travel expenses, and catering, reallocating those resources for better marketing or other PR initiatives.
Furthermore, virtual events have the advantage of incorporating interactive elements like live chats, Q&A sessions, polls, and virtual breakout rooms, which increase participation and ensure attendees get the most out of the experience.
Time saving and accessibility
Have you ever been to an event and thought: ‘Wow, I really could have been doing something better (like watching Below Deck) for the last threehours.’ I certainly have. One of the hidden benefits of virtual events is the time-saving aspect. Unlike traditional events, where attendees have to commit to a fixed schedule or location, virtual events offer flexibility. Participants can engage without travelling anywhere, and have access to recordings of sessions, allowing them to catch up or revisit content at their convenience – reducing FOMO and making everyone happy!
Don’t you forget about in-person events
Whilst it is true that virtual events have become an integral part of the tech communications world, it’s important to note that in-person events will never truly disappear. The energy and personal connections that can be made at physical gatherings remain invaluable, and ultimately the future lies in finding the perfect balance between virtual and in-person experiences.
The expanded reach, as well as the significant savings of both time and money, mean that online events cannot be ignored. By harnessing the power of connections, tech PR professionals can navigate the world of virtual events with confidence, whilst still valuing the importance of in-person interactions. So, let’s embrace the virtual events that are shaping the future of our industry. Oh, and I did mention that you can wear your pyjama bottoms, right? Oh, I did? Perfect.
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