My Career Path: Vigorous PR
How I Got From Corporate Tech Writing to Freelance Content Writing Part 3
I have been working as a writer in the IT industry for the last 5 years. Tech writing, marketing, SMM, PR — I’ve done it all. And now that I’m a freelance content writer, I want to share the story of how I got here in a series of posts “My Career Path”: Strict Technical Writing, Lovely Marketing, Vigorous PR and Liberating Freelance Writing.
This is the third installment of the series, and it’s going to be about a blog, a conference, an experiment and my experience working in the PR department of a big IT company.
Five months into my working in marketing, a new head of PR was hired. I didn’t even know we had a PR department, and as it turned out, we didn’t, but this new lady was about to start it. Obviously, she needed a PR team, so the first thing she did was gather marketing-related employees from other divisions. Since I was the only marketing specialist not responsible for marketing a certain product, I was transferred to PR. I was the first employee of the new division, not including the head. This gave me plenty of one-on-one time with her, so I took in every piece of the public relationship wisdom she shared.
My new coworkers were lovely, the tasks were new and exciting: brochures, countless press releases and even a video game text. It was the first year that our company applied for the NOA Awards, a professional award that shortlists the best outsourcing companies worldwide. I was in charge of the application process, which was a lot of work. And we won! The feeling was amazing.
The ELEKS Labs Blog
But the best part was the blog. Our R&D team had a blog they were maintaining on a third-party resource and they wanted to transfer it to a corporate website. It also needed a redesign and post categorizing. Plus, all authors had to have a small bio and a decent picture. And I was doing it all. I managed the transition to the WordPress platform, blog redesign (two redesigns, as it turned out later), categorized all the blog post they had and added appropriate tags thanks to some friendly R&D guys, edited photos and wrote bios for more than 30 authors. It was a lot of work, and I loved every bit of it. When the blog was finally up and running, I felt like it was my own. I edited all the upcoming posts to make them readable — yes, the guys who wrote them were geniuses, but only some of them had decent English and even less could write an engaging piece of text. I always thought of it as a helpful resource for developers, testers, architects and other computer geeks. That’s why I was pretty mean and harsh when someone wanted to make a commercial product out of it with banners and popups.
I’ve also been working on a program that promoted being a published author for our blog. The idea was great: it was like a game designed in “The Big Bang Theory” style with points and incentives for each article. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to finish it and see if how it turned out.
The Tesla Apple Watch App
One day I got an email, saying that someone had written an article for our blog and that it had great potential. The topic did sound very cool: “An Apple Watch App for Tesla Model S.” The lengthy article was about an experiment a couple of our R&D employees did that involved two of the hottest things on the market: a smart watch that wasn’t even out yet and an amazing electric car too expensive for anyone to afford. I was excited up till the moment when I heard that the draft article was in Russian, not English. And my God, it took me 5 days to translate it and then another couple of days to edit, add graphics and publish it to ELEKS Labs. Was it worth it?
The next morning we woke up famous. Or what’s that called when Mashable covers your story? The article was a hit! Giants like Reuters, The Verge, USA Today Money, Business Insider, Mashable and countless smaller media wrote about the killer Apple Watch app that our guys had developed. It was an overnight success, and it felt so good. Later, we tried to reproduce this instant rise to fame with other products but failed. It’s almost impossible to plan virality.
The Lviv IT Arena Conference
Our company was one of the organizers of a big IT conference Lviv IT Arena. Now, it’s one of the biggest tech events in Eastern Europe, but back then we were just getting started. The wonderful girls from internal PR were busy organizing the event, while my humble role was to meet a speaker at the airport, drive him to the hotel and then to the conference. It was an amazing task for many reasons.
For the first time in my life, I got to attend a great (and pricey) event like this and listen to fantastic presentations by speakers from around the globe. Sure, I had no idea what they were about — unfortunately, living with a software developer didn’t make me one of them. But the feeling of being a part of the IT crowd was awesome. The best part, however, was meeting people, especially the speaker I had to meet. He was a giant, hilarious and highly proficient tech guy from Sweden — a country I’ve been fascinated by for a long time. I had a wonderful time at the conference I’ll never forget.
This was probably the funniest and at the same time the most stressful month of my life. The product manager of mobile development offered to shoot a funny video about wearables. It was supposed to be a video parody demonstrating the flaws of wearable devices and the solution for them — the Invisibles. As the name suggests, the Invisibles were supposed to be invisible wearable devices that offered the same functionality as regular wearables without the daily inconveniences of wearable tech. Of course, I was in!
Somehow, I was responsible for the whole production: directing, editing the script, looking for “actors” among our employees, renting the equipment, bringing props, offering locations, booking business rooms, etc. I was present during every video shoot and even got to play an extra. It was exhausting and nerve-wracking, but it was also one of the best experiences I’ve had. Check it out.
What I liked about it: Working on the blog from start to finish. Fun projects. The fact that I had a lot of different types of content to write. Learning different content distribution channels and how to use them.
What I hated about it: The pressure of everything to be ready “for yesterday.” The fact that they wanted to make the blog (my blog!) a commercial medium. Too many press releases.
The year 2015 was stressful, so we went on a vacation. I returned home impressed, relaxed and, well, pregnant. This was a big leap forward in my personal life and a step back in my career. Or so I thought. Find out how maternity helped me discover what I actually wanna do and be good in it. Stay tuned for the last article in the series!