Policy scrutiny is the new normal in tech and PR teams must adapt

May 11, 2023 Jason Morris

You can’t be the agency for changemakers and not embrace change, and wow, did we ever embrace it this week. You may have seen, heard or read the news - Inkhouse is now the technology strategic communications brand in one of the fastest growing agency networks in our industry. Together with BerlinRosen, Derris, Glen Echo Group and M18, we’re bringing PR, social media, content marketing and public affairs to technology founders and innovative companies across all sectors of the economy.

Needless to say, I am excited for the Inkhouse team, our clients, and the industry, as I believe that you can’t be the strategic communications firm for technology companies in 2023 and not have the ability to shape and influence policy. How can you operate in AI, climate tech, healthcare, fintech or mobility (to name just a few), and not have government audiences right there with customers, investors, partners, employees and new hires as strategic audiences for your communications program?  

The first time I fully understood the impact of policy and public affairs on technology companies was in October of 2008. I was watching the third Obama-McCain debate in a San Diego hotel lobby while attending the Solar Power International conference. Lehman Brothers had collapsed the month before and climate tech was just about the only bright spot in the economy.

President Obama had campaigned on the importance of “green collar jobs” to an economic recovery and was pitching other major investments in healthcare and infrastructure as part of a historic rescue package. After a decade in PR (for me, at the time) helping companies translate cybersecurity, open source and software-as-a-service stories to investor and customer audiences, it was clear to me that public policy was a major growth area in technology communications.

Fast forward to today, and it’s even more critical. If you think about it, there really is no major aspect of the technology industry unimpacted by public policy. Consider:

  • Artificial intelligence innovation is accelerating at a breakneck pace, prompting industry leaders to call for a cooling off of development while we better understand the ramifications of the technology on the economy, society and, well, humanity. These concerns are also prompting calls for government action and oversight.
  • Climate tech is again a focal point as “once-in-a-century” storms, droughts, floods, heatwaves and cold snaps happen every five-to-ten years. Public affairs is critical to shaping the opinions of federal, state and local audiences on the necessity of tax credits, regulatory measures and other tools to drive a more sustainable economy. 
  • Fintech helped to lead the tech boom of 2021, but uncertainty abounds. With FTX, Silicon Valley Bank, First Republic and other flameouts impacting the trust that consumers and policymakers have in traditional banking and crypto, there are new calls for increased oversite and regulations which could impact the startup community as much as the big banks.

Healthcare. Big tech. Autonomous vehicles and electrification. Water and energy efficiency. Consumer privacy and social media. The technology industry is in the crosshairs - in both good and bad ways - of policymakers and regulators no matter where you look.

Anyone who knows me knows I am an optimist and as Kim Stanley Robinson, an author, once said, "Optimism is not naive and it's not innocent. It's a moral and political position. It's a choice made to insist that things could be better if we worked at it."

Inkhouse has spent the past 16 years working with some of the world’s most innovative and change-making companies in the belief that things can be better if we work at it. Being better takes work and it takes change and I, for one, couldn’t be more excited for the change we’re undertaking.

If you want to learn about the amazing capabilities Inkhouse just added to its roster of services for changemaking technology companies - including public affairs, comprehensive crisis PR capabilities and DE&I consulting - hit us up at workwithus@inkhouse.com

Jason Morris

Jason is president of Inkhouse and spearheads agency growth from the San Francisco Bay Area. His singular mission is to debunk the myth that people can't be happy long term on the agency side of PR where he has spent more than 20 years working with companies in venture capital, technology and consumer.

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