#TechTalk: Reflections from the PR Reboot Regional Conference

One of the hottest industries right now is undeniably the technology industry. When I think of tech, I think of things ranging from SpaceX rockets expanding our horizons to Artificial Intelligence changing our quality of life, to 5G, a technology that will interconnect our world more than ever before. There’s so much more to tech and it is one of the reasons that I started my very own gaming and technology blog to try and keep up with some of the latest developments in this ever-innovating industry. So when I heard that there was a PRSSA Regional Conference dedicated to all things tech, I had to go. I rounded up some fellow Capital PRSSA members, we huddled into my car and we hit the road. Here are my thoughts and reflections after attending PR Reboot, a technology-focused Regional Conference hosted by the Lawrence G. Foster Chapter of PRSSA in State College, Pennsylvania.

Day One: Welcome and Pitch Competition

After our five hours on the road, we pulled up to the Days Inn Penn State hotel, our home for the next few nights. We checked in, got settled and then headed to the conference. After a little bit of networking, our first session started: a pitch competition for a new artificial intelligence mirror by L’Oréal. All six of the groups had awesome ideas with many taking advantage of influencer relations and industry events, such as New York Fashion Week. However, the winning group decided to change the mirror’s name from SalonAI to Lori by L’Oréal. Inspired by other AI’s such as Amazon’s Alexa, Lori would be a more personable and friendlier mirror than SalonAI. This move wowed our judges and lead that group to victory. This competition was a great way to get us thinking in the right direction and kick off the conference.

Day Two: Opening Keynote with Brandi Boatner, IBM

Day two began with our special keynote, presented by Matter Communications, a Brand Elevation agency that recently expanded to Pittsburgh, PA. The keynote speaker was Brandi Boatner, a social and influencer communications lead for Global Markets in the corporate communications division of IBM’s New York office. As an avid tech geek, hearing what she had to say about the industry made me even more inspired and psyched about how PR can play a vital role in the future of the tech industry. Below are some of my key takeaways from her keynote:

  1. Data, Data, Data. According to Brandi, data should be the driving force of everything you do. With the amount of information we have as communications professionals, why wouldn’t we want to back our decisions by data? It makes sense and should always be something on our mind as we put together communications plans.
  2. Learn the lingo and be able to break it down. Being a communicator in the tech world means being able to break down infinitely complex subjects such as blockchain, lattice cryptography and quantum computing, down to simple English.
  3. Let’s make  #PRTech a thing. You may have heard of FinTech or HealthTech so why can’t we have PRTech? Think of how much more efficient our jobs as communicators could be if we had an AI that could help us match products and campaigns with the perfect target audiences.
  4. Tech is evolving at a rapid pace. This means that you must be able to keep up. Staying up to date on the latest tech news is an essential part of your job. Brandi uses a lot of news sources, including WIREDand The Verge (a personal favorite of mine).
  5. Goodbye Micro influencers, hello Nano influencers. A few years ago, micro influencers were a huge trend making waves in the communications industry. While still relevant, Brandi is already looking to the future. Nano influencers are not your Instagram models but everyday people like, “Zach’s mom the schoolteacher,” a person whom people trust more and more because unlike micro influencers who may seem above the ordinary person, “Zach’s mom” is just like all of us.

Morning Sessions: Duolingo and Health PR

Next was a special session with Sam Dalsimer, head of PR for Duolingo. Sam has had an interesting career starting in Video Games PR, my industry of choice, and then joining Duolingo in their Pittsburgh, PA office. What I loved about Sam’s session is that he walked us through the process of a story, from inception to pitch to a published article. Just this past week I adopted some of the elements from Sam’s presentation into a press release aimed at a local newspaper that I was working on for my Chapter’s Student-run Firm.

After Sam’s session, I decided to attend a presentation by Leslie Amorós of Imprado. Coming from Columbus, Ohio, a city with a considerable healthcare scene already, I thought that learning from Leslie about healthcare PR would be a great idea. Leslie simply gets healthcare and PR. There is a surprising amount of technology in the healthcare world and it is saving lives. As a PR professional in the healthcare space, you have the opportunity to be part of sharing that story.

Afternoon Session: Geo-Fencing with Melanie Querry, Founder of Beyond Spots and Dots

You may have heard about geo-targeting but what about geo-fencing? Speaking on how fast the tech world moves, we are now able to use technology to target neighborhoods, even individual houses or people within their homes. This ability is completely reshaping how we think about targeting and will allow for the most personalized digital communications and advertising ever. The presenter, Melanie Querry, is the founder and CEO of Beyond Spots and Dots, a full-service advertising agency based in Pittsburgh, PA with a Columbus, OH office as well.

Closing Thoughts

That pretty much concludes my recent trip to PR Reboot Regional Conference. I am pleased and grateful to have gone and am excited to see where the tech PR industry goes. This rapidly-changing industry will need excellent communicators and storytellers to keep the world up to speed on all of the amazing ways technology is building a better tomorrow. I will conclude this post by reminding the tech storytellers of tomorrow to remember to use data to tell your stories, embrace change/innovation and believe in the work that you are doing because I firmly believe that technology will change and touch every aspect of our lives moving forward.

Zach Ferenchak is a current sophomore studying Emerging Media at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. He serves as Chapter president for Capital University PRSSA. His dream is to one day use his communications skills to support creators in the Games or Technology industries. Feel free to follow his Twitter, or connect with him on LinkedIn.


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