CES 2016: The PR Challenges to Come

As a member of the Global Technology Practice at Burson-Marsteller, I have had the opportunity to represent clients at many events, including CES in Las Vegas. In January, I attended my sixth CES. However, there was something noticeably missing this year: There were only a few products to excite, an observation many journalists I spoke with also noted. In fact, some reporters were even coming up empty-handed when trying to uncover relevant, intriguing stories to share with audiences back home. So, what happened?

Some claim this sudden deficiency of the show’s usual, exciting innovation announcements may be the result of a slowdown in the industry’s growth. According to Accenture, the consumer technology industry’s growth has stalled in response to reduced continuous demand for new smartphones, tablets and laptops. Additionally, new technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT) haven’t created enough impact to reinforce industry expectations. Nonetheless, I believe the industry is finally starting to adjust the pace of innovation to meet to the slower demands of the market.

CES 2016 and innovation

In the past, the industry was noted for its “thirst for innovation.” When I attended my first CES in 2009, it seemed like companies were competing to see who could produce the largest TV, the brightest digital camera images, the most Internet interactions in their devices — simply because it was all so exciting. It didn’t matter whether audiences could afford these innovations.

However, some years later, behavior has shifted as fewer consumers are willing to pay the hefty price tag for these innovations. According to Statista, the market’s intention to purchase a new smartphone or laptop in 2016 was down six percent compared to 2015, down eight percent for televisions and down nine percent for tablets. Echoing this change in consumer behavior, companies at CES this year introduced few new LED screens, only a handful of additions to audio systems and devices, and less-than-notable additions to home appliances.

Our challenge is to create new stories

Now that the product innovation pace is slowing, the major challenge for the PR industry is to create new stories that will help companies continue to benefit their stakeholders. We need content and stories that support our clients’ business objectives. These stories are evolving, just as CES has. Once the world’s largest technology showcase, CES now has a networking arena, a content development platform and an entertainment stage to present breaking news. There were a few remarkable stories that generated good media coverage: Netflix becoming a worldwide entertainment provider, sharing its plans to keep on pace as the industry-leader in every market (except China); our client Ford wowing audiences with real-time demonstrations of the Smart Mobility Plan, which included features such as impressive radars that identify and map movement around a Ford Fusion; and even the overwhelming resurgence of turntables, as audio companies are bringing back classic vinyl records and pay tribute to romance music-lovers (my father included!).

Although industry expectations have changed from five years ago, the stories are still there. However, a company’s ability to identify these stories and make them relevant for the CES audience and their stakeholders will be the key to successful investments at CES in years to come.

This post was published by Rodrigo Castro, a Manager in the Global Technology Practice. The original post can be found on the global Burson-Marsteller blog.

Inside Burson-Marsteller: Get to Know Us – Rodrigo Castro

Meet Rodrigo Castro, our Technology & Innovation Practice Manager: A passionate individual whose love for technology and dedication to bringing our clients the best in communications services is the only thing bigger than his beard.

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Rodrigo Castro, Tech & Innovation Manager

Rodrigo always seems to ask for more on his plate, although it could be because of his unbridled enthusiasm for juice cleanses. Although more tech inclined, Rodrigo is Burson-Marsteller’s jack-of-all-trades. As a manager, he supervises LATAM regional accounts, overseeing operations for Burson-Marsteller network offices in Latin America, as well as the US.

Born in Mexico City, Rodrigo is the oldest of two siblings. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications at Tecnológico de Monterrey. During his time there, he ventured into exchange programs  at the University of North Carolina and MGIMO University in Moscow, Russia… where we can only assume his penchant for lumberjack beards began. His love for his home culture drew him back to Mexico, where he began working at Burson-Marsteller. He became a manager, overseeing accounts including Sony Electronics, Intel, SAP and Motorola.

In 2012, Rodrigo decided to test new waters and make a move to Burson Miami.  His professional attitude, willingness to work with many, varied projects at once and natural leadership capacity is shown through his impeccable work with clients such as Intel, VISA, SONY, Sony Latin America, Alcatel Onetouch, Zebra Technologies and Electrolux.

Throughout his career, Rodrigo has lead client projects from communication strategies for product launches, editorial development, crisis programs and more- all with an emphasis on brand and consumer technology communication.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Rodrigo consistently takes his passion for tech to the next level; so much so that he has relayed this expertise into an uncanny ability to lose cellphones.

Rodrigo’s fast-paced work life has carried over into his free time- although we’re still amazed how he manages to fit it all in! When he’s not working with his tech geek-squad at Burson Miami, mastering the art of time-sheets, or holding the record for most cellphones lost in a period of six months, he spends his time traveling, leading the EXATEC alumni association as President and training for triathlons. His hardworking and competitive nature can be seen both in his work and on the dance floor- what more could we expect from a Freddy Mercury fan?

Rodrigo and his wide range of interests and talents exemplify how we strive to “Be More” at Burson-Marsteller. We’re lucky to have him, and encourage anyone to reach out to him to tap into his years of technology communications expertise.

Spotlight On: Technology & Innovation Practice

The Technology & Innovation practice at Burson-Marsteller Miami is one of the office’s largest practices, dedicated to serving clients in an array of industries, including technology, telecommunications and media. The practice is led by Rodrigo Castro, who has over a decade of experience at Burson-Marsteller working with tech clients in the Latin American and U.S. Hispanic markets.

Our expertise runs the communications spectrum: obtaining the best editorial content, coordinating regional communications, preparing media kits, organizing press trips for conferences such as CES, IFA and MWC, presenting crisis trainings and managing internal communications for a world-renowned roster of clients. We communicate on a daily basis with customers, investors, partners, employees and regulators around the world.

More importantly, we are storytellers. We strive to work hand-in-hand with technology clients to understand their needs and translate their communications objectives in a way for the world to fully understand. We create stories that aim to captivate audiences and demonstrate how clients’ products will change and improve the world.

Above all, we are dedicated professionals and always give 100% to every client. But, don’t just take our word for it; here’s what our clients have to say about us:

“We worked with Burson… and the experience was quite positive. As they have been working with us for a long time, they understood Visa and what was missing to create a structured communications process. Burson was a key component because they understood our vision and helped us translate it into understandable language.  They worked well as both an internal partner (for Visa) as well as delivering external communications results,” said Valerie Jaimes, former Visa Corporate Relations Manager.

We are pleased to include the following companies on our list of our dedicated clients…

Burson Marsteller Miami Clients