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How to Make Your IT Communications Shine – Top Tips from a PR Pro

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Writing about information technology can be complex and confusing. Keep these four simple steps in mind to make your communications creative and engaging.

I spent the first eleven years of my career in public relations. During that time, I had to get good at taking the sometimes mundane, complex or not-newsworthy news and making it interesting. How do you make the same wheel of cheese interesting month after month? How do you get the New York Times to care about an HVAC system? Creativity. Storytelling.

So when I started doing information technology communications, I was pleasantly surprised to find that many of the skills I developed pitching media were helping me transform highly detailed, complicated IT topics into creative and engaging campaigns. This Office 365 case study is an example of how we do it at Pivot Strategies.

IT communications essentials

Here are my tips as a former PR professional’s to finding success as an IT communicator:

  • Say it Simply: When your mind is swirling around a complex topic or convoluted narrative, put pen to paper. When you start the process of writing it down, you get the information out of your head. If you’re getting caught up in details and minutia, try asking yourself, “How would I explain this to my grandma?” You’ll find that once you have something started, it’s easier to refine.
  • Share your Whys: This is going to seem obvious, but it can be easy to gloss over this step if you’re in GSD (get stuff done) mode. Understand your audience. Why do they care? Now ask yourself again. And again, and again, and again. The 5 Whys can help uncover the full scope of your project and dial in the what’s in it for me (WIIFM) messaging. 
Understanding The Why
    Here’s an example taken from an SAP deployment:
    1. Why? The old system is outdated and no longer meets our needs
    2. Why? This system will help us remain competitive in an increasingly digital world 
    3. Why? We will have real-time access to data to help us make faster, better informed decisions
    4. Why? The new system will help us build the foundation to continue to meet the future needs of our customers
    5. Why? We may want to integrate additional technologies (customer relationship management, etc.) that we are unable to do with the current system. This will put many forms of data into one integrated system

    And a change management bonus: When people understand the why behind what’s happening, they’re more likely to get on board with that change.

  • Be Consistent and Persistent: Don’t be afraid of the follow-up! It often took me a few follow-up emails, calls, and texts to hook the journalist with my story idea. You’ve probably heard the age-old marketing adage that it takes people seven times to see/hear something before they ACTUALLY understand it. The same applies to internal communications. 
  • Get Creative: Sometimes this one is easier said than done. To combat my bouts of feeling uninspired, I keep an “ideas I wish were mine” folder. When I need to find a spark, I look to the folder for an idea I can apply to my specific project and transform it from boring to bright. I recommend starting your own folder. That way, when you need a creative idea, you have a place to go. 

IT communication doesn’t need to be rocket science (even though the technology may be). With a few simple tips to keep your writing simple yet engaging, you’ll find that communicating the complex can become a rewarding challenge. And if you need help, Pivot Strategies has a team of experts with experience in IT transformations ready to activate. Learn more and connect with us

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