Chris Harihar October 1, 2013 | 09:16:01

In Tech PR, The Medium Is (Part of) The Message

I want to be seen as a thought leader,” said the tech company CEO to the PR professional.

We’ve all heard it. And it’s an encouraging sign for PR that CEOs at companies ranging from Fortune 500 businesses to startups are asking about it. They understand the value of building a personal brand and cultivating ownership of relevant issues.  And many technology businesses have a deep reservoir of talent and intellectual assets. They just need help to package and communicate those assets.

First, you need the thought capital. Innovative, differentiated points of view, coupled with insights that can move the conversation forward in your sector. That’s how you become a top voice—by having something interesting to say. Marc Benioff and Fred Wilson are great examples of thought leaders who got there not just by building successful businesses, but by having something to say.

But thoughts don’t translate into leadership unless they are shared and heard by the right people. There’s such a staggering amount of content available –  on the web, at conferences, and through direct sharing – that packaging and marketing those thoughts can feel like putting a message in a bottle.  You send it out and hope that it will find a receptive audience.

Great ideas need virality. They need legs. How to make sure they are shared?

Before you decide on tools to market your insight, consider this — in many technology sectors, the medium is also the message. Particularly in tech, the platform you use should have value beyond functionality. If it’s a cool, emerging medium, that in itself can help differentiate your brand.

That’s why services like Medium, Quora, SlideShare, Svbtle and Tumblr have weight.  Sharing content on platforms like these can infer a knowledge of technology and familiarity with hot platforms. It speaks to your interest in the space itself.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at this Gawker article. If you emailed a reporter with an AOL email address, according to Gawker, you’re “an old person, stuck in the mid-90s.” It’s a “digital AARP card,” they say. So yes, the tools and platforms you use matters.

This is where PR always helps—in creating or advising on content, but also on packaging. It can sound shallow, and there are exceptions that prove the rule, but the bottle that contains the message can say a lot about the sender.

In my next post, I’ll explore some of the newest and most interesting tools for sharing content.

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