Few would argue technology remains a male dominated field, but when it comes to tech PR, women tend to buck that trend. When Business Insider compiled its list of the best public relations people working in the tech industry in 2014, 31 out of 50 were women. And women publicists are behind some of the greatest tech PR successes out there, from the launch of Tinder to the indomitable public narrative of Steve Jobs’ Apple.
Granted, women tend to dominate the field of public relations as a whole, but the leading role women have played in technology PR is significant because of the overlap into the technology sector, where men are by far the majority and horror stories from women who work in technology are all too common. Is it a trend? Hard to tell, but these examples are still worth telling, whether as proof, inspiration, or both.
Women Are Far From the Minority When it Comes to Technology PR
The PR master behind Steve Jobs’ Apple. When it comes to brand PR, Apple is probably among the best in the world, and until last spring that PR was managed by Katie Cotton. Cotton served as VP of worldwide corporate communications, joining Apple in the 1990s during its darkest days, when it was close to going out of business. To quote Hubspot’s post about Cotton upon her departure: “She worked alongside Steve Jobs and served as his handler as he led Apple through the most amazing comeback in business history. During Cotton’s tenure, Apple went from being a downright loser to a plucky underdog to the most powerful and influential company in tech, with the biggest market valuation of any company in the world.”
The success of Tinder among women. A few years back, Tinder was entering a crowded market for online matchmaking. Today — among certain circles — it’s considered the go-to app for online dating. In the beginning, though, the company had trouble convincing young women it was safe, and Tinder’s then vice president of marketing, Whitney Wolfe, led the effort to indoctrinate women. She visited college campuses and sororities around the country promoting the app. Soon after, Tinder’s adoption rate skyrocketed at a crucial time.
The charge to IPO for Linkedin. Shannon Stubo, vice president of communications and chief marketing officer at Linkedin, played a crucial role in leading Linkedin to its initial public offering. She was heavily courted for the job in a story well know among PR circles, having earned her IPO chops at Open Table prior to joining Linkedin. Today, Linkedin is a $25 billion company.
The very latest in social media. Caroline Penner, who led product communications for Twitter, recently made a big move to head up communications for Vine, the 6-second sharing app that has been all the rage.
While there’s much work to be done to reach parity for women in the technology industry, the prominent roles women have played in communicating tech stories is promising — and that’s something PR folks should salute.