Boston has had quite the 2016, so far. Over the past six months, the city has experienced incredible milestones, further raising its notoriety as “The Hub” of innovation. Not only has Boston been ranked No. 1 among the top 25 startup hubs in the U.S. (over Silicon Valley, ask Sergey), it was named the future home of GE, witnessed Salesforce’s high-value acquisition of Demandware, and will welcome both AmazonFresh and Google Fiber—just to name a few highlights.
Boston is clearly a top spot for anyone in tech, PR pros included, and the No. 1 ranking is just the beginning. When this was announced, I promptly toasted a frothy UFO Hefeweizen to my adopted city and set out on a tour of Boston tech events to discover the people, organizations and trends that contribute to Boston’s innovation economy. As a member of Matter’s Precision group, designed for companies with focused budgets, we are all about collaboration with our clients and with each other. What I found on my tech tour is that collaboration is key to Boston’s success as well.
Here are a few ways collaboration benefits both Boston’s innovation economy and PR.
1. Collaboration between organizations
“You create two great research institutions, wait 200 years and see what grows up around it.” – Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker on Boston’s original economic policy at BostInno’s 2016 State of Innovation (BOSSOI).
Today, Harvard and MIT are collaborating with promising local startups in medical devices, wearables and big data; the nation’s best hospitals; leading venture capital firms, incubators and accelerators; and government entities to make digital health Boston next, pioneering endeavor. Even Fiona Murray, associate dean of innovation at the MIT Sloan School of Management, called “inclusion, collaboration and contribution” the “blueprint” of Boston’s innovation ecosystem at Xconomy’s INFLUX Boston (shout out to my colleagues Emily and Diala for attending the event). Likewise, collaboration between PR, media and community organizations is vital for generating awareness of great companies, doing great things.
2. Collaboration between big and small companies
“If we fail to innovate, we almost certainly will not exist.” – Rob Biederman, co-founder and CEO of HourlyNerd at BOSSOI.
“We” means everyone, big companies and small. And (surprise), collaboration is key. From small companies, big companies can learn to stay lean and adopt an experimental mindset, while throwing fear of failure out the window. From big companies, small companies can learn to create and maintain a company culture as they scale. Collaboration between big and small client teams is just as important for good PR, and we do it well at Matter. Knowledge sharing between Precision and larger agency accounts allows everyone to maintain a culture of innovation, with stunning results for clients.
3. Collaboration between companies and their customers
“Sounds like you’re in our target demographic. What would you think of…” – A local startup founder at Boston TechJam 2016.
This was a fashion tech founder’s response to my introduction as a tech and Ann Taylor LOFT-loving, 20-something transplant to Boston. Spoiler alert: I thought the product was great. I also loved the way the founder paused his routine (handing out swag and drink tickets) to ask my opinion as a potential customer. But this only scratches the surface of collaboration between companies and their (potential) customers in Boston. Microsoft just hosted a public HoloLens Hackathon. Local entrepreneurs are using crowdfunding and crowdsourcing to generate capital and ideas. Likewise, PR collaborates with clients and customers of clients to generate customer profiles, case studies and third-party quotes for effective media relations. The talented Vanessa Boynton discussed why building a customer profile is essential to creating a “collaborative” brand in a recent Matter Chatter blog post. Read it if you haven’t.
Collaborate to innovate is the name of the game in Boston and in PR. Put me in, coach.