Learning on the Job: The Challenges of Emerging Technologies

Public relations moves quickly: New clients expect instant results, emergencies arise on a daily basis when they don’t come hourly, and the twenty-four-hour global news cycle mandates lightning-fast responses from communications professionals. These pressures are endemic for every sector of PR: No industry has remained unchanged by the acceleration of the news cycle or the new reputational dynamics of social media. But just as no two clients are identical, no two PR agencies face identical stresses. At Wachsman, we’ve had good reason to think about the special challenges of practicing public relations in emerging technology. To succeed, we need more than speed. We need education as well. 

Many of our public relations clients are blockchain or distributed ledger firms; others are fintech (financial technology) creators or API platforms. When you work in more traditional technologies, there’s little new terminology to learn: If you know “SaaS,” “cloud computing,” and “algorithm,” you’re in good shape. Emerging technologies, by contrast, often demand that practitioners and promoters alike adopt a whole new vocabulary: “distributed ledger,” “blockchain consensus,” “halvening,” “HODLing,” “smart contract, and the inscrutable “zk-SNARK.” 

At Wachsman, we’re proud of the curriculum we’ve devised for new employees. While not every person in the company needs to know every subtlety of the technologies we handle, it’s absolutely essential that everyone is conversant in tech trends. New hires undergo extensive training in blockchain technology and terminology; several employees have also taken outside classes pertaining to client technology.

We’ve successfully instituted a universal frame of reference for the office, so that everyone, from the youngest intern to the managers and directors, can speak the language of our clients. But technology never stops moving, and we’ve instituted measures to make sure that everyone keeps up-to-date. In quiet periods, junior staff might receive research products that culminate in graded quizzes; more senior staff with relevant experience might present their knowledge at office-wide “Lunch-and-Learn” events. There are even daily company-wide emails summarizing news in emerging technology and in the wider world. 

Keeping abreast of news, trends, and topics isn’t always simple or easy, but it’s absolutely vital if we wish to provide our clients the quality service that they expect and deserve. Learning is its own reward, even in the fast-paced world of PR, but it’s also a powerful tool for business.


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