Andy West is a PR industry veteran with decades of experience in senior-level roles at Hotwire PR and Text100 in the U.S. and U.K. He is a Senior Advisor to Rally Point.
The tech sector has been beaten up over the past year. What’s your outlook going forward? Is AI going to lead a rebound?
Tech is not going away and the appetite for investment will return as global interest rates drop. There’s too much at stake for economies not to fund innovation and business has gotten too used to pushing tech boundaries to find competitive advantage. AI is a great example. I believe we’ll see a rebound in many sectors of tech associated with AI as it is disrupting so much at present. In short, there’s reason for cautious optimism.
What should marketers do differently given the current environment?
Focus on what matters and spend your dollars wisely. If marketers can’t measure the impact they’re having, then they can expect to see budgets continue to be cut. Show a return on investment and become indispensable and the C-suite will ring-fence resources. This will require careful choices of channels and an integrated mindset, utilizing the most appropriate tools and methods to reach and influence the target customer.
Which stories should communications teams look to highlight this year?
Big question. From a product perspective, the story has always been to explain how a particular tech solution addresses a specific need. This hasn’t changed. Tech stories still need to be led by benefits and not by speeds and feeds. At a corporate level, having a stand-out narrative is essential. Brands must stand for something and must listen to their end customer. It’s more than thought leadership of a specific category. Today’s brands must be unafraid to take a stance and executive advocacy / corporate responsibility must be sensitively managed to embrace the full DEI agenda.
How should agencies best drive value for clients now?
Deliver results that directly influence and impact the client’s business. Whether that’s placing stories in the media that sets the agenda; creating stand-out coverage that can be used for sales enablement; or putting the CEO on the right platforms – agencies must shift from delivering discretionary services to becoming an indispensable part of the marketing mix. As said earlier, this is only achieved if the impact can be measured.
What is your single most important piece of advice for comms professionals?
Be sure to understand the business challenges facing your client fully and that the campaigns you are recommending clearly show how they help to address those issues.