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How can quantum businesses solve their PR challenges?

By Alex Miarli:

Unless you’re already part of it, the world of quantum technology is hard to fathom. The very word “quantum” strikes fear into lots of people – even some journalists. The shutters come down. Glazed expressions appear. The subject gets changed.


Yet, it’s a technology that can – and inevitably will – revolutionise industries like finance, healthcare, cybersecurity and logistics. From cryptography and computing to sensing and communication, the potential of quantum is seemingly limitless.


In fact, countries the world over are investing heavily in the technology. The recent ‘State of Quantum 2024’ report highlights that over 30 governments have committed to more than $40 billion in public funding over the next 10 years, with the likes of South Korea, Finland, the UK and Canada leading the charge.


So, why is this almost limitless technology, that’s drawing such massive investment, still leading to some people switching off whenever it’s brought into conversation?


Laptop with ChatGPT loaded up

Quantum is missing the mark

Unfortunately, this isn’t your typical tech PR hurdle. Quantum mechanics, the foundation of this technology, is notoriously complex, leaving many scratching their heads. People don’t understand it and trying to explain the physics in simple terms only makes matters worse.


Theoretical physicist Richard Feynman once said about the quantum electrodynamics work that won him the Nobel Prize, if it were possible to describe it in a few sentences, it wouldn’t have been worth a Nobel Prize.


Herein lies the problem. Bombarding audiences with technical terms only deepens the confusion and pushes away the average businessperson or journalist instead of engaging them. That’s when they get spooked.


Put simply, quantum technology faces a communication gap.


The promise quantum offers is obscured by the complexity it brings. Journalists who don’t specialise in the topic put it in the ‘too hard’ pile and think their readers won’t be ready for it. They’re interested in readily digestible narratives, not a PhD thesis. Those working in the sector then get distracted trying to explain something and don’t always capture what the technology can achieve.


However, many of these quantum technologies are ready to transition into commercial products, with significant short, medium and long-term opportunities for new businesses and job creation across the whole supply chain. Yet, without proper communication, these applications will fail to break past a niche market.


Focusing solely on the ‘how’ overshadows the ‘why.’ The tangible benefits for businesses. Failing to connect with the audience’s pain points renders any message, no matter how revolutionary it may be, irrelevant.


No other successful technology company in the world struggles like this. Apple doesn’t talk about precision engineering details in its PR materials. And in a B2B context, enterprise software firms don’t begin journalist pitches with a pithy guide to how the code was written.


So, the question then remains. How do you solve the PR problem?

Where to start?

Like all the best plans, you need to start with the goal in mind for PR. After all, how can you hit a target if you don’t know what it looks like and where it is?


As highlighted in our quantum whitepaper, this should be aligned with the commercial aims of the business, such as supporting the sales process or gaining investment. This allows the PR team, agency or wider marketing function to start considering everything that goes into an effective campaign. With a goal set, it’s possible to begin gaining insight that will inform a communications strategy – a framework that will give all activity purpose towards the goal.


In turn, this strategy will help define the stories that should be told and the tactics that can be used. Proper planning and consideration at this stage is vital. Otherwise, activity becomes purely tactical, with a scattergun approach, often reverting to explanations of the technology rather than the commercial value.

Untangling the communications maze

The next step is putting the plan into action. And journalists want more than key messages and facts. They want something dramatic that will make people read or watch.


Start with the ‘why’ and understand your target audience’s pain points. Are manufacturers struggling with inefficient logistics? Are finance companies vulnerable to cyber threats? Then you can frame your message around solving these critical challenges that resonate with business needs.


The sector is increasingly selling to commercial entities: manufacturers, logistics firms, financial institutions and pharmaceutical companies. To effectively reach these people, PR must tap into their needs. And let’s face it, trying to learn quantum theory is not likely to be one of them. Leaders need to approach audiences from a position of empathy.


So, instead of saying, “We sell quantum technology,” say, “We understand your problem and have a way to solve it.” Then tell a story about the ‘how.’ After all, that’s what is interesting to journalists and their readers – a story.


And when explaining how, it’s important to use a real-life case study or an ideal example of how quantum technology can solve a business challenge and create value.


Armed with a great client case study and a compelling storyline, the world’s your oyster. Importantly, it offers you lots to say through reports, media materials, social media content and marketing collateral. And, hopefully, avoids the temptation to simply explain how quantum technologies work.


Solving the problem

The key to unlocking the power of quantum technology lies not in the technology itself, but in how we communicate its potential. The communication gap surrounding quantum can be frustrating, but it also presents a golden opportunity.


By shifting the focus from intricate explanations to relatable solutions and captivating stories, it’s possible to bridge the gap between the complex and the commercial. Through strategic PR, we can transform this revolutionary field from a distant possibility to a real force for business transformation.


However, PR is a marathon, not a sprint. Consistent effort and a commitment to clear, impactful communication is crucial to capturing the attention of any audience and driving results. Together, by demystifying quantum technology, we can turn hesitant glances and glazed expressions into eager anticipation for a future powered by its potential.


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