Written by: Michelle Hill
Last Tuesday, Spiceworks’ Public and Analyst Relations Manager Adam Schaeffer spoke to UT PRSSA about life after graduation, including the personality differences among startups, midsize and large companies, the effect of the changing media environment on PR, and advice for contacting reporters.
After graduating with a corporate communications degree from UT Austin, Schaeffer moved to New York City to work as an account executive for global firm Ruder Finn. Moving to New York was one of the best decisions he could have made, Schaeffer said, although he originally wanted to stay in Austin.
A few years and jobs later, Schaeffer moved back to Austin to work for Dell and, eventually, Spiceworks. He described Spiceworks as “a professional network for the technology industry,” comparing it to both LinkedIn and Facebook. He also noted that the emerging tech hub connects roughly 5 million IT professionals.
Schaeffer also covered which personalities and personal interests match startups, midsize and large companies. With startups, employees may be super creative, have the liberty to try new things, and know that the decisions they make have an immediate impact on the company. And with large companies, one may be shy and prefer control with less risk. Midsize companies are a balance between the two.
Technology is always changing and “constantly reinventing itself,” said Schaeffer. In the changing media environment, the tech industry is fortunate because although there is tough competition among news stories, it indicates that tech is still a driving force with the help of many dedicated reporters.
PR professionals also need to consider articles from the reporter’s point of view. When thinking about what a reporter needs to write the story, Schaeffer advises to “ace the basics” with these four elements: industry trends, credible sources, news hook, and attracting eyeballs. Industry trends that are credible, timely and have a competitive or controversial angle are more likely to seem interesting and be covered by a reporter.
As PR people, we also must understand how and when to pitch to reporters. Schaeffer suggests that e-mails must be concise. In addition, calling after 3 p.m. is ideal, and coffee breaks are a reporter’s perfect excuse to get out of their office.
Ultimately, “PR is a relationship business,” Shaeffer said