We’re surrounded by innumerable articles telling us that tech is a job growth area, and they’re right. But what opportunities are there for the non-technically minded?
When you read or hear about careers in tech, the focus is usually on programmers and developers. The tech careers sector is much more than those few roles.
Sebastian Boppert, a senior PR manager at Eventbrite, doesn’t have a background in tech – he’s a journalist by trade – so how did he find himself working for one of the sector’s most recognisable names? And what does an average day look like for a non-techy in a tech company?
What is your role within Eventbrite?
As senior PR manager, Europe, I lead public relations activities across Europe for Eventbrite, the leading global ticketing and event technology platform.
Tell us about your background.
I studied mass media studies, english and law in Mainz (Germany) and Edinburgh. When I finished university, my dream to become a radio journalist was quickly smashed by an ongoing economic depression. It hit advertising budgets of most media companies, who let journalists go in the hundreds. People I studied with did internship after internship – all unpaid, some for years – just to get the work experience to eventually get a ‘proper’ job. That wasn’t for me.
I worked in media analysis for a while after university, evaluating the PR efforts of several German car manufacturers, and then joined a PR agency in Frankfurt to work for a variety of clients from all walks of life. I left there to become the press officer for an open and extremely energy-efficient building standard, the Passivhaus.
In 2008, my Irish wife and I took up sticks and moved to Dublin, where I joined an international PR agency to work for mostly global companies in German and English-speaking markets. I ended up leading a pan-European team of PR consultants before I decided to go out on my own, working as a PR and localisation consultant for several clients, among them Eventbrite.
It didn’t take long before my colleagues at Eventbrite asked me to join full-time. I really liked their open, meritocratic company culture, and I love working for a San Francisco-based technology company, so I said yes, and I’ve been there ever since.
What steps led you to this role?
I helped launch Eventbrite in Germany and the Netherlands when I was still with the agency in Dublin, and then freelanced for Eventbrite when I went out on my own, eventually becoming a full-time Eventbrite employee.
Initially, I only covered Germany, but gradually also gained responsibility for all European markets we opened offices in – Ireland, the UK and, most recently, the Netherlands.
If there is such a thing, can you describe a typical day in the job?
When I’m not traveling, visiting one of our European offices or [attending] an industry event, it usually starts with checking Eventbrite’s social media coverage in Europe, and reading the emails that came in overnight from the US and from colleagues on the continent who start their day an hour ahead of me.
There’s little routine in my day, but it usually involves creating storylines and messaging, managing and reviewing the work of our PR agencies in Europe, and aligning PR activities with the goals of my international marketing and business development colleagues.
There normally are some media requests that need to be answered quickly and a speaking opportunity or an interview that I need to provide an in-depth briefing for.
What types of project do you work on?
Primarily awareness-driving projects. This involves a lot of media relations: arranging interviews and placing opinion pieces and features, placing speakers at key events, setting up an industry event of our own, or conducting a survey.
And then averting the odd crisis – thankfully, we have very few of those!
What skills do you use on a daily basis?
The ability to write concise, well-structured copy is essential to my line of work.
An equally important skill is sorting interesting story angles from company navel-gazing.
In a nutshell, it’s mainly communication skills – which probably isn’t a complete shocker – combined with a drive to work as efficiently as possible to get results that really support the business goals of Eventbrite.
Do you have any productivity tips that help you through the working day?
When you work with multiple people across time zones, use cloud-based solutions like G Suite, Zoho or Office 365, which allow you to collaborate on documents in real time. Please don’t send Word docs as an attachment – it opens the door to a world of pain in the form of multiple copies of the same document.
When setting up or joining a meeting, tot up all the salaries of those involved and think twice about whether the likely outcome is a good use of time and resources.
Learn and use keyboard shortcuts.
Delegate where you can.
Messengers like Hangouts are great for quick requests, but the second a conversation evolves, it’s usually quicker – and avoids misunderstandings – to jump on a short video call.
If you happen to organise an event – free or paid – use Eventbrite. I’d say that even if I didn’t work for them.
Need to set up a schedule with multiple parties involved (let’s say for a media tour with many moving parts)? Create a separate Google calendar for it and give admin rights to all stakeholders. [It] makes coordination so much quicker.
How has this role changed as the tech sector has grown and evolved?
When I started in PR, mass fax distributions and printed media directories were still a thing. Needless to say, everything has moved towards digital and online in the meantime.
The number of channels available to communications professionals has multiplied with the advent of social media. The challenge today is to decide the role of each channel in the communication spectrum, who in the organisation has ownership over it, and whether the investment justifies the outcome.
There is a general understanding that the in-your-face advertising style simply doesn’t justify the expense – you need to offer interesting, unique stories and helpful advice that you can use across channels to attract customers to your brand. This has led to an increasing overlap between the media relations side of PR and content marketing, and I work a lot closer with my marketing peers than I used to.
From a technological point of view, PR professionals finally see the type of tools that have been available to marketing professionals for a while. Apart from the obligatory online media database, TrendKite and Prowly are worth a second look.
What do you enjoy most about the job?
Meeting, talking and listening. Connecting dots and people to foster communication, collaboration and to uncover great stories. And I really enjoy writing copy. With increasing management responsibilities, that tends to happen less and less, unfortunately.
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