Black Tech Festival: Key takeaways from the inclusive tech event of the year

After two years of virtual sessions, Black Tech Festival ’22 returned for its third edition and first ever in-person event. Europe’s premier inclusive tech festival hosted a dazzling array of headline speakers from Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child to Dragon Den’s Steve Bartlett. With over 3,500 attendees spread across three days, the event brought together leaders, creators, and change-makers to discuss access, diversity and opportunity across the tech space.

Mary Lee and Cally Salter from Grayling’s London office attended the festival – and here are their key takeaways.

Why professionals should anticipate the early adoption of emerging tech

The keynote speaker of Black Tech Fest was self-made tech entrepreneur, investor and BBC dragon Steven Bartlett. Founder of social media marketing agency Social Chain, Bartlett is known as one of the early champions of social media platforms as a veritable marketing strategy. When asked by the audience what his next venture will be, Bartlett discussed why he’s jumping on the latest technology trends – web3 and NFTs.

However, do people really know about what the future holds for this technology? Or is it just an educated guess?

While we don’t claim to have an in-depth technical knowledge of web3 or NFTs, as the digital landscape continues to evolve, even the experts are struggling to keep pace. We attended a session hosted by Dr. Elizabeth Milovidov, Digital Child Safety Senior Manager at the Lego Group, who stated anyone who says they know what the metaverse is, is in fact lying. Whether you agree it’s the next big thing or a total myth, it’s clear that audiences are engaging. New findings from the 2022 PRCA Digital report found that digital comms professionals are increasingly seeking to work on projects linked to the metaverse (49%), web3 (45%) and NFTs (43%). It’s important now that comms professionals receive training and build expertise on these emerging technologies to remain one step ahead.

Communicating technology as a tool for justice

Once inside Magazine London’s spacious venue, we were surrounded by innovative technologies from Meta’s virtual reality headsets to Xbox consoles. But the majority of speakers were there to highlight the responsibilities of the tech industry. On Day 2, the founder of the Dair Institute spoke on the ethics of big tech and AI. Tidal’s Jason Kpana explored how the music industry can support rising talent. Meanwhile, Greenpeace’s Digital Transformation Strategist Priscilla Chomba Kinywa discussed how green tech can make the world a better place.

From arts and culture to sustainability, the speakers at Black Tech Festival were united by the belief that technology can be a driving force for social justice and transformation. Black Tech Festival reaffirmed the enormous amount of good through emerging start-ups to global brands. More than ever, PR firms are key partners to guide their clients so that their communications reflect that vision. Through strategic and creative storytelling, we play a key role in helping brands reach new audiences and set the agenda for the future.

This provides a point of reflection for PR professionals. The PR industry has long suffered from a lack of ethnic diversity – the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) 2021 State of the Profession Survey report revealed that more than 9 in 10 PR professionals classify themselves as white. With the rapid development of web3 and metaverse, we are now presented with opportunities and space to communicate brand new ideas. This is the time to break moulds and set a standard of communications that is both creative and inclusive to tell stories for businesses in a sector that is bringing forward a new era of the internet and technology. If you are interested in a career in PR, we encourage you to show up, take a seat at the table and make your voice heard in this new world.

If you are looking to start a career in PR and would like to learn more about our experiences working at Grayling, then please do get in touch at mary.lee@grayling.com or cally.salter@grayling.com