By: Phoebe Francis, Savy Varyu and Diane Zuniga
1: Fewer Media Means More Paid Opportunities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment Survey, there’s been a 26% decrease in reporters since 2008. PR professionals now outnumber reporters 6 to 1, and the gap is growing every year. With reporters’ increased workload and number of pitches in their inboxes, the bar to earn coverage has never been higher. Many tech-focused publications used to accept a lot of unsponsored contributed content but no longer have the resources to review and publish this type of material.
PR Takeaway: With reporter staffs shrinking and editorial coverage getting harder to come by, consider using sponsored content channels at reputable publications to drive coverage.Sponsored content can be a good channel to build awareness of a newer, less established spokesperson, drive coverage of less compelling content (surveys, etc.) or communicate key messages that are a little too branded for the media to accept.
2: Security is Top of Mind. “How will you keep this data secure?” It’s the first question reporters are going to ask, no matter what space you’re working in – from personal electronics to the tech-powered self-driving cars to healthcare. We see this trend manifesting not just in media, but also legislation. In May 2018, the EU introduced the General Data Protection Regulation, which put personal data protection directly in the public eye. About a month later, the California Consumer Privacy Act passed, which will go into effect in 2020. In the media, high profile data breaches and scandals are making headlines every day. Most of us have probably been impacted by one – whether we know it or not – and cybercriminals are targeting airports, elections, hospitals and other major infrastructures.
PR Takeaway: Looking ahead, data security is only going to become more important. Our technologies are getting smarter and collecting even more information from us, which means there is going to be more and more data to protect. Journalists wouldn’t be doing their job if they didn’t ask about security protocols. Which, again, means we need to be ready to answer that question.
3: The Personality Behind the Tech Matters. The personalities of Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are talked about openly in the media and drive coverage on their own. Consumers want to know who the creators of these mega-companies are and what is going on in their minds and lives. This applies to our tech clients, too. We need to know what makes our people unique – what are the strengths and interesting nuggets that make our spokespeople stand out? Even if your spokesperson isn’t a Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk type, the curiosity about them is still there.
PR Takeaway: Evaluate your experts carefully and do your research to determine who would make the best spokesperson. Ensure that if they have an interesting personal story to tell beyond the product or innovation, you know it and are helping them leverage it.
4: Pay Attention to the Hype Cycle. The hype cycle is a branded graphical presentation developed and used by the American research, advisory and information technology firm Gartner. It represents the maturity, adoption, and social application of specific technologies, and how they are potentially relevant to solving real business problems and exploiting new opportunities. This methodology gives you a view of how a technology or application will evolve over time, providing a sound source of insight to manage its deployment within the context of your specific business goals.
PR Takeaway: Consider where you are in the hype cycle and how that impacts the level of understanding from reporters, the volume of coverage to compete against and the amount of “real world” verification needed.
5: Tech Is Going All In On Ethics. According to The New York Times, 80 companies have been asked by House lawmakers for information about how their businesses may have been harmed by Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. Upwards of 20 of the 2020 presidential candidates have commented on the level of power tech companies exert as the election nears. This is because disruptive technologies are creating new questions of business ethics that did not have to be faced previously. Tech companies need to understand the importance of showing ethical operations, and the public is watching – they will not stand for a half-hearted effort and the media will hold them accountable as well.
PR Takeaway: Press will have their election goggles on in 2020, so we should consider the political implications of news when pitching. The pressure is on to message ethical business practices. The impact of technology will matter as much as how the companies who build it operate.