Technology is one of PR people’s biggest loves. From the phone and fax to today’s mobile devices and email clients, it does make our lives a lot easier, constantly giving us quicker and broader access to the global markets. Getting in touch with virtually anybody is a matter of minutes. Sure, you still have to do your research and think of the most effective approach, but there’s nothing you can’t get your hands on: data, contact details, ideas and inspiration, something faster and more powerful, pretty much everything you’ve ever dreamed of.
Part of being a good PR professional involves being open to new tech developments. We need to take it all in, software, gadgets, communication channels, and they all keep rushing in, getting better and more effective, more often than not more complicated or difficult to measure.
Yet the massive amount of new data we need to ingest and all the new tricks we need to learn are not the only reasons for the touch of hate in our relationship with technology. As brilliant as it is, all technology fails. You’ve all had a computer fall apart in the middle of something important, emails that just never got to their recipients, phones running out of juice and websites failing in the middle of your big launch. The helping hand of technology can quickly turn into a big crisis.
The fun part is that PR pros don’t only need to know about the technology they use every day. You pretty much need to be at least aware of everything that goes into making a company work, from the Internet provider and hosting solution, to the mail server and payroll services software or customer care interface. Add email marketing software, phone systems, video conference infrastructure, mobile services provider and online sales software to that!
Sounds scary? It’s not. It can become a nightmare though, and you can either face a bunch of frustrated and angry employees or an embarrassing situation involving potential and existing clients. Both internal and external crises are PR peoples’ problems. And to have love be the defining attribute of your relationship with technology, all you have to do is have a contingency plan. Make sure you’re among the first people to know when a potentially damaging malfunction happens, tell yourself repeatedly that technology fails and learn to prepare for such crises just as you do for human errors.
Quick response is often your salvation. Or at least what determines how big of a headache you’ll get.
Have you been confronted with crises generated by serious tech meltdowns? What is the most valuable piece of advice you’d share with other PR pros?
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