The Coming New Normal for Tech Innovation Communications

Before COVID-19, the technology industry was facing a new era of scrutiny relating to trust and social permission. Issues like consumer data privacy and security, as well as calls for more transparency and regulations on how technology is omnipresent in our lives, were growing in intensity. How is that changing with the new reality?

Many technologies have become “heroes” of the pandemic. From empowering the ability to work from home to keeping families entertained and in touch to fueling tools and studies to combat the virus, technology is making a difference during a dark time. And many would argue that technology leaders of Silicon Valley deserve credit for being among the first to begin moving their employees to work from home and taking COVID-19 seriously, stopping the spread of the virus in places like California and Washington. But there continue to be concerns, especially about individuals’ control of technology in their lives. And IT budgets, like everything else, are on the budget chopping block.

This is creating both opportunities and new risks for brands as they communicate about technology in people’s lives and try to figure out how to launch and sell products and services over the next year and beyond. In our new report “Technology and Social Permission: How Is COVID-19 Creating a New Normal? And What Should Brands Be Preparing to Do About It?” Ketchum lays out seven key insights for brands and organizations to consider in their business strategies and communication of those strategies.

  1. Brands hyping technologies (from 5G to AI) need to show how they are helping fight COVID-19 or face being ignored (for a while)
  2. Scrutiny over brands that don’t protect consumers from data scams (even when it isn’t their fault) will grow
  3. If data privacy is relinquished to improve COVID-19 health outcomes, results better be apparent and easy for consumers to understand
  4. Big tech providers are becoming the new utilities – and calls for deeper regulation will follow
  5. Employers’ relationship with employees will change forever because of technology, including surveillance and productivity monitoring
  6. Parents’ embracing of technology supersedes concerns for good
  7. The aging will continue to suffer from a technology gap – family members will have to help

Now is the time to think through the impact of these trends on communication and marketing programs over not just the next 90 days but the next 18 months. The full report can be found here, as well as information on Ketchum’s Technology and Social Permission 2019 quantitative study.

Questions or comments? Get in touch with Melissa Kinch and Lisa Sullivan.

Melissa is partner and North America portfolio leader for Technology and Food, Agriculture & Ingredients, specializing in corporate communications, issues management, business-to-business branding, corporate branding and strategic philanthropy/CSR.


With a passion for bringing innovative and disruptive ideas and technologies to market, Lisa is a partner and managing director of Ketchum’s Technology Industry. Based in San Francisco, she’s on a permanent quest for the latest technology innovations, the hottest new restaurants, and the perfect glass of cabernet.