When Innovation Meets Government: PR for Tech and Public Affairs

Ginger Li

March 23rd, 2021

tech public affairs

Let’s talk about communications when tech meets public affairs. From COVID-19 response and recovery to tackling historic, systemic social issues, the challenges of the past year have underscored what we all know: the public sector is at the frontline of tackling society’s most pressing and complex challenges. With local, state and federal agencies ramping up their tech to meet the demands of 2021, we’ll see the intersection between the innovation economy and public sector only continue to grow moving forward. 

For companies that are navigating how to engage with the public sector, whether they work exclusively as government contractors or are partnering with a local government or agency for a one-off initiative, it’s critical to be armed with an effective communications strategy. This strategy should feature a sharp voice that stands out in the ever-growing public sector innovation space, highlighting a story that showcases and drives impact. When developing public sector-oriented communications strategies, here are some things to keep in mind. 

Tech Public Affairs: Tip #1

Actively Look to Broaden Media Reach 

For public sector news, securing coverage in publications that typically follow the ins and outs of a particular agency or city government is essential to promoting transparency and keeping key stakeholders up to date. However, it’s also important, and immensely beneficial, to expand this reach by looking outside of the go-to reporters and outlets and working with a diverse mix of media sectors, from technology and business to policy and markets-oriented media. By taking a high-level view of the issues and solutions that are being announced or brought to market, a communications strategy can help expand public perception of what a company or government entity is and does.  

Looping in industry-specific reporters to companies or public agencies they may not regularly cover can mean the difference between a partnership announcement that’s covered by local newspapers, but doesn’t reach outside of the immediate community, and a feature in a national outlet highlighting innovative collaboration on a broad scale. This has helped maximize coverage for clients both big and small—from well-known companies, like Samsung, to up-and-coming startups, like Coord.

Tech Public Affairs: Tip #2

Know Your Audience and Engage Validators

While a corporate announcement can aim to address specific audiences, like potential investors, prospective customers or other corporate stakeholders, government news impacts a wider audience. By its very nature, the public sector’s “customers,” “investors” and “stakeholders” are all of us—the constituents and communities. This means that those working with the government need to think through considerations like the political dynamics or issues within the community, what questions to expect from different interest groups or demographic groups and how to proactively address any potential concerns or objections from the community.

Your communications strategy should proactively take into account any community questions that may potentially emerge. One of the most effective and inclusive ways to ensure that the community is informed and on board is to engage validators who represent local interests prior to making public announcements. After all, the government serves the people, so an effective public sector-oriented communications strategy prioritizes the community, making sure local feedback is received and truly reflected throughout your strategy, not as an afterthought. As we’ve seen in Chicago while the police department launched its public sentiment dashboard with our client, Elucd—when you recognize and include the perspective of impacted communities, the story and mission can truly resonate.  

Tech Public Affairs: Tip #3

Never Lose the Big Picture

Doing work with and for the government has the potential to impact peoples’ lives and over the course of this past year, the crucial role the public sector played has been undeniable. The critical and wide-reaching nature of that impact is what should fuel the narratives you create and share. 

Impact should underscore and inform all things communications—from your messaging and strategies to the media tactics and stories you tell. 

  • It’s not just a new data tool, it’s a way to help firefighters and first responders more efficiently and effectively tackle wildland fires
  • It’s not just an acquisition, it’s setting a new standard for how local governments can connect to and build trust with their communities. 

It’s only with this impact-first perspective truly guiding the intentions of your communications that you’re able to tap into and tell authentic and relevant stories.

For over a decade, BerlinRosen has supported CEOs, companies and organizations across public affairs and technology PR. And with the confluence of the pandemic, the elections and the evolving innovation landscape, we’ve doubled down on this work.

Send us a message and let’s talk about how we can help your communications strategy.