Five Trends in Tech PR for 2014

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Richard Fogg - I'm the guy who runs CCgroup, my heart belongs to B2B Tech PR. I've normally just gotten off a train, am about to get on a train, or am actually on a train
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I was very flattered to be asked by Aarti, the Holmes Report’s In2 editor, for my opinion on one major trend for the tech PR market in 2014.

But how do you stick to just one? Well, I couldn’t. Aarti saw fit to use one of my ideas in her great article. But here are the five things that I think we, our international partners and our competitors are all going to be challenged by this year.


I’d love to know your thoughts – so please feel free to comment below.

1. Taking control of influencer marketing

Tech PR agencies are in a fantastic position to either kick-start or co-opt burgeoning influencer marketing efforts. This follows some successful tech agency efforts in leading content marketing programmes in the last 18 months.  Due to the high barriers to entry – knowledge, expertise, relationships – in many areas of tech PR, ‘specialist’ social or influencer marketing companies will struggle to attract or retain niche tech clients. In-depth client and industry knowledge remains highly valuable.

The jury is really out when it comes to the impact of social media on tech – especially B2B tech – lead generation. That’s partly because many efforts are ‘dumb’ social media campaigns that covet ‘likes’, ‘retweets’ and ‘follows’ instead of tangible business results.

In 2014, if tech PR agencies have the confidence, understanding and tools to add to their existing knowledge, expertise and relationships, influencer marketing becomes an area with strong growth potential.

2. Sell, sell, sell

Whether it be pushing product or positioning companies for exit, 2014 looks set to be all about sales for many tech PR agencies. As the economy improves, budget purse strings are beginning to loosen – but with very clear objectives.

Agencies that can prove, rather than talk about, lead generation campaigns driven by PR are in a strong position. There are more than enough techniques and technologies out there to enable agencies to measure and manage PR-driven lead generation campaigns.

Additionally, agencies that have a strong track record in positioning tech companies for trade sale will find themselves at an advantage as VC and PE firms look for their exit.

Tech PR will have a major impact on sales of products, services and companies in 2014.

3. Buy, buy, buy

Several tech agencies invested serious time and money in research designed to help them, their clients and their prospects better understand the dynamics of their markets in 2013. This was not an accident or a one off.

This investment will continue, with a very clear goal – the addition of science to the ‘art’ of tech PR and the creation of the ‘account planner’ role within consultancies. And that’s not the only thing that savvy tech PR agencies will borrow from their advertising industry counterparts in 2014.

I expect there to be a strong push from tech agencies into paid media (mostly digital and social) as part of sophisticated influencer and content marketing campaigns. Content sponsorship and media buying will rapidly become a ‘must have’ capability that tech PR agencies nurture and acquire.

4. The start of tech agency polarisation

In 2014, the gap between tech PR agencies that deliver traditional PR services and those that focus on more strategic marketing will start to widen more rapidly. Agencies that understand that we’re at a crossroads will choose their own path. Agencies that do not will have their route chosen for them. Both paths have risks and rewards.

Agencies that stick to more traditional PR risk exposing themselves to service commoditization and margin erosion. However, they are competing for established budgets against known competition where clients know what they want.

Agencies that pursue a strategic position face major costs in up-skilling, up-selling and, if they go too far, risk becoming a brain without the ability to properly control delivery. At the same time, with ambitious clients, tech agencies can more effectively help clients achieve serious business objectives.

Many tech PR agencies will try and ride both horses. Many will start to wobble by the end of 2014, but they won’t start falling off until 2015.

5. Grab your partner by the hand

Many tech PR firms are specialists and many are run as independent businesses. It’s that specialism that has enabled them to be successful in supporting companies in niche sectors. But the risk in this specialism – especially deep specialism – is a kind of myopia. As tech marketing evolves, there is a great opportunity for tech PR agencies to stake their claim for greater responsibility and resources – but only if we remove the blinkers.

In 2014, I’d expect some tech PR agencies to really open their eyes. I’m not talking about establishing a handful of loose connections with companies they occasionally work with. I mean a serious, planned set of strategic alliances with a range of complementary marcomms functions, strategy consultants, service providers and the like. With these partnerships in place, the ability of tech PR firms to truly lead, innovate and orchestrate multi-disciplinary marketing campaigns is genuinely exciting.

CCgroup is a PR agency in London and an active member of the GlobalCom PR Network.

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