Tech Reset: Recalibrating PR tactics


The news headlines warn us of an impending global recession, spearheaded by technology companies that are cutting costs and doing mass layoffs. Is there a silver lining and opportunities as the industry recalibrates in 2023? To hear from the industry insiders, PRCA APAC Technology Group organised a panel talk with Grace Chng from Deeptech Times, Upali Dasgupta from Meltwater, and Yanina Blaclard from Horizon Quantum Computing, moderated by Scott Lai from Ant Group. 

The event hosted by Rice Communications on 16 March 2023 brought together communications professionals across agencies, in-house and media to explore the current state of the tech industry, emerging tools and opportunities in tech despite the downturn. We wrapped up the key takeaways from this discussion. 

The good, the bad and the ugly of new technologies: the key is to put things into perspective

For Upali Dasgupta, we’re not seeing a decline in tech. We’re seeing a normalisation after the few years of the pandemic when Tech has grown at unprecedented rates. Some businesses expected that growth would continue, which wasn’t realistic. We are in a phase of normalisation where tech is still growing, but not at the same rates. The negative news that you’re seeing is linked to that normalisation. “Before coming to this event, I ran a search on our platform for the technology industry to see what kind of sentiment we were seeing,” explains Upali. “Interestingly, in the last month, we’re seeing an equal, almost 50/50 split of negative and positive. The negative is obviously layoffs and the Silicon Valley Bank bankruptcy, but the positive is innovation and ChatGPT. So I think as PR and comms professionals, it’s our job to focus on the positives and tell those stories.”

Grace Chng shared the same sentiment: “We need to look at issues with perspective: although there are headcount losses in tech companies, you have to find out how many they employed prior to letting go ten or twenty thousand people. It behooves all of us as communicators to have perspective in what we communicate.”

The key role of PR in educating about new technologies 

“The biggest takeaway of the Edelman Barometer this year is that trust in governments and other institutions has been dropping, and corporates are being seen as the most trustworthy sources of information,” shared Upali Dasgupta. “So working in the tech industry, we have a responsibility to educate our audience on what is fake news and what is not and continue to build that trust for corporates amongst our audience.” 

For Yanina Blaclard, communicating on an emerging technology such as quantum computing, the educational effort is particularly important: “From easy-to-grasp analogies for the general public to technical content for your peers, you need to build different messaging about your emerging technology.” When it comes to communicating to the general public where corporates are seen as experts, “we have a very big responsibility of not overhyping quantum computing and being transparent on the current state of the technology,” says Yanina.

How do you think we could have done better in 2022 from a PR perspective?

Chat GPT: a clumsy intern, a welcome colleague, or a successor

While confident about not being ousted from their role by ChatGPT today, Grace, Upali and Yanina shared their recipes to stay relevant: evolving our existing PR skill of putting a message into the right words into prompt engineering; in a world where a robot repackages existing knowledge being able to create something new and unique; professional integrity and due diligence. 

Scott Lai also invited another guest to share some insights on how ChatGPT could help us in PR, in our everyday work. They proposed three ways it could contribute. The first one is to generate content and help to kickstart some ideas, especially when you have writer’s block. The second is to answer simple FAQs. Lastly, to monitor brand reputation. 

This special guest was ChatGPT themselves and given the number of times panellists mentioned this new tool in the discussion, whether it’s an intern or a colleague, it seems to have already its seat in the PR teams.

Watch the full recording of the talk on YouTube:

The event Tech Reset is over but the conversation continues on LinkedIn. Join PRCA APAC Technology Group to discuss latest developments in PR on new technologies, share best practices and connect with peers.