Man using multiple technologies at work

Simplifying Your Tech Message

WE Communications Blog: Technology

— Carmen Vasilatos, Sr Account Executive 

Most people know who Al Roker is, but did you know that he’s also a technology geek? He was recently invited for a behind-the-scenes look at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) upgraded weather satellite, bringing the well-known weatherman back to his roots, and bringing some important comms tips up for discussion.

With the rise of extreme weather, there is a need for more accurate weather-tracking technology — the focus of this segment. Effectively communicating technology stories to a mainstream audience like the “Today” show’s audience can be hard. The challenge is to take a complex subject and make it informative, entertaining and easy to understand. As an agency that has been telling transformative stories for more than 30 years, we know what makes something impactful (and dare we say, shine — pardon our weather pun). That’s what makes Roker’s segment our spotlight for September.

Roker toured the Lockheed Martin space where NOAA is building its latest weather-tracking satellite (which, if we may say, is pretty cool by itself).Through unique visuals like a time-lapse video, he showed how the satellite was built and demonstrated the tedious decontamination process workers go through when entering the facility. In an interview with Dr. Stephen Volz, NOAA Satellite and Info Service researcher, Roker asked what this innovation means for the average person. Dr. Volz equated this upgrade to the transformation we saw from dial-up internet to high-speed broadband, which is something that most viewers understand. And as any comms professional can appreciate, attention spans of audiences are short (especially on TV). So how did this NOAA researcher do it?

Using Dr. Volz as our launch pad for discussion, here’s how to make your segment a success: 

  • Make the technology relatable: Dr. Volz takes complex technology and makes it easy for viewers to follow. In our work with technology brands, we encourage spokespeople to speak in the most relatable way possible.
  • Involve your influencer in the story: This is a good example of how to use reporters’ expertise to peak their interest and lend their voice to the story for greater credibility. Roker’s firsthand experience as a weatherman helps the story’s authenticity and allowed NOAA and Lockheed Martin to showcase their innovations in a natural way.
  • Behind the scenes access: By providing exclusive access to something people have not seen before or often, you create strong visual references that communicate your message as effectively as the words you speak.

Weaving together strong visuals, spokespeople and complex subject matters isn’t always possible depending on your story’s substance, but when your brand has the opportunity to incorporate all three of these techniques into a story, you’ll find yourself in the perfect storm for success.