What Do Technology Journalists Consider News These Days?
What actually constitutes "news" these days? With publications going online and having small staffs and increasing levels of contributed content, and online media being measured on the clicks their posts receive, what actually prompts them to react to a company's announcement or news?
A few of our intrepid PR people collected some feedback from some of their media contacts to help answer that question. The answers are interesting.
- A wire services reporter (from Reuters) said the emphasis is on breaking corporate news, such as earnings, rather than product news. "Name brand" customers who have interesting stories could potentially be newsworthy.
- Technology beat reporters for two different well-known regional newspapers offered the following criteria, beyond regional relevance: Potential economic impact on their region, such as layoffs, hiring, plant opening or shut-down; stories associated with broader technology trends such as Big Data; real-world application of technology that will particularly affect the people in the region.
- A long-time technology press editor who runs an online site shared his criteria and questions to ask to determine what truly makes the cut as news:
- How many people might care?
- Is it a first or a unique perspective?
- How many past stories does it advance that can be linked to?
- What is the social mean buzz potential?
- How much time will it take to develop?
- Does it have legs as an area that is likely to generate future stories?
- A freelance journalist's perspective was a bit different. This individual noted that the normal rules don’t all apply for freelancers as they follow trends. However, he warned that the fact that something relates to these trends like BYOD, Internet of Things and Big Data doesn't constitute news. This freelancer emphasized having a fresh/new perspective on existing trends, and also noted the importance of the spokesperson.
- An editor from a well-respected online publication, who admitted to receiving 300-400 pitches per day, said good PR people with relationships of trust can help filter and "curate" the information from their companies, helping this editor explore angles that might interest the readers.
Here are other great tidbits from tech writers who served as panelists at a recent #PROverCoffee event in Austin, Texas:
- Press releases are becoming increasingly unnecessary (from a media perspective).
- PR pros who know their products, can translate how the technology works and outline its benefits for the readers, are highly valuable.
- Entrepreneurs can often be the worst pitchers of their products as they are too enamored of their creations and, "see their product as a beautiful baby (think about people who overshare pictures of their babies on Facebook, etc.) while reporters only see it as an ugly, drooly baby."
- Exclusives seem like a ploy to get a bunch of reporters fighting over a story or to cover up the fact that it really isn't actually news.
- Some reporters want to write something new rather than contribute to the echo chamber of everyone covering the same story.
What can PR pros and companies take away from this?
In the long run, the rules have not really changed that much regarding what makes news. It still comes down to truly "getting" the reporter's publication or site and focus area before you even consider pitching news; building a relationship of trust to prove you truly "get it" to make it through the screen; and bringing great new ideas or twists on interesting developments or trends, with excellent spokespeople who can dig deep and tell a story that has plenty of backup proof.
It takes a village to create a really good article, and smart journalists are open to the smart PR people and corporate spokespeople who bring them the fodder to make it happen.