Media Talk Tech Panel Recap

As PR professionals, it’s imperative to periodically check in with the media to gain a better understanding of the stories they’re looking for and how we can work together to tell those stories.

That’s why last week we, along with the Silicon Valley and San Francisco chapters of PRSA, hosted Jason Wilson of VentureBeat, David Pierce of Wired and Sean Captain of Fast Company at our office to share their thoughts on topics ranging from the state of media to how publications are handling the convergence of technology and politics.

On Audience

Panelists also touched on what they’re looking for from a source. The number one thing? They have to understand the publication’s audience, said Jason Wilson.

On Story Characters

David Pierce added that he has become good at knowing when people are giving him a speech and he’s more interested in finding the character of the story and hearing their experience firsthand.

On Politics

When asked how politics have impacted the newsroom over the past year, the panelists agreed it varies for each publication.

“You think about the role Facebook played in the election, and you realize this is just our world now, and we have to deal with it,” said Pierce. “But we have to ask ourselves where it makes sense for us to get involved and why our readers would care about it.”

On Angles

For Sean Captain, it’s all about how you approach the story. “Everyone wants to jump into the conversation, but you have to find the angle that works for your readership,” he said.

Check out the highlight video below, and take a look at the Highwire and PRSA social channels for videos, quotes and more from the panel!

Tech Reporters Talk ‘Off-the-Record’ about Securing Media Coverage

Pitch Advice from Fortune, Forbes, Recode and more

Ever wonder why your company or client’s big announcement didn’t make the news? Highwire NYC is hosting a media panel, Off the Record: Media Talk Tech” in partnership with Norwest Venture Partners and Button next Tuesday, June 20, at Interface NYC — putting some of tech’s most sought after journalists in the hot seat with this and other burning questions. While it’s been anecdotally known that coverage priorities have shifted, you will leave this event with the data and insights on how to best approach the media.

Come join fellow PR, marketing and startup executives to learn what you need to know to compose a compelling pitch. The New York journalists will also be talking about the city’s growing startup scene and which areas of tech are most established and on the rise.

Our panel lineup will include:

  • Forbes / Alex Konrad, Technology Reporter
  • Fortune / Polina Marinova, Associate Editor
  • Recode / Jason Del Rey, Senior Editor
  • Fast Company / Ruth Reader, Reporter
  • Button / Mike Dudas, Co-founder and CRO (moderator)

Tickets cost $10 and all proceeds for the event will be donated to New York on Tech, which works with local schools, students and parents to create pathways for underrepresented students in technology. There is still time to register, just check out the event page here.

In the meantime, follow us on Twitter @HighwirePR and send us your burning questions for the panel!

From Internet Porn to Online Shopping: What Top Journalists are Saying About VR

The future of virtual reality looks bright, but it’s still unclear

Imagine being front row at New York  Fashion Week as Tom Ford  debuts its latest spring line without worrying about the hassles associated with travel, cost or crowds. In fact, you’re sitting front row to the catwalk with the runway spanning the length of your living room.

But how?

Virtual reality is slowly entering the world, connecting people  in ways that we thought were only possible in movies — and it’s much more than gaming. Interestingly, it has been leveraged to tackle (and sometimes spur) dialogue on issues like racial and sexual discrimination. 

For example, Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab is using virtual reality for diversity training scenarios. The research has caught the attention of companies including the NFL, who is looking to the technology as way to train the league on understanding bias through custom-built diversity sessions.

But Stanford is just one example of how VR is slowing becoming adopted outside of gaming. The technology is  trickling into our everyday lives as the future of music videos, sporting events and even “vacations.”

In order to uncover what the future really holds for this seemingly fledgling technology, Highwire spoke with reporters Daniel Terdiman at Fast Company, Kurt Wagner at Recode and Marco della Cava at USA Today. What follows are insights from these insiders on where virtual reality is headed and the potential hotbed verticals emerging VR companies should avoid.

Q: What VR companies are on your radar?

Wagner: Beyond the obvious big players, like Oculus, HTC Vive and Google VR — Felix & Paul Studios, Penrose Studios, Lucid Sight, Inc., Vivid Vision.

della Cava: I’ve done a few stories about content companies like Penrose Studios, Jaunt — just keeping tabs on where the content’s going because the tech is sophisticated and will continue to get more sophisticated, more streamlined and less expensive.

Q: Are there any trends in virtual reality you expect to be big by 2017? In the next five years?

Wagner: I think shopping in VR could be relevant in the next five years—taking a tour of a home or a car from your living room. Also, I imagine VR porn will be big.

della Cava: I would say mobile is the thing to keep an eye on. Who can figure out just how good VR and AR can be on the smartphone? That’s something we all own right now, and if someone can find a way to give even a halfway-decent VR experience through the smartphone, that’s going to be powerful because we already own it. It really promises the short burst of a VR experience.

Q: What problems lie ahead for virtual reality companies?

Terdiman: The biggest problem is consumer adoption. Consumers must understand that not only is VR cool, but that there is a lot for them to do with it. Right now, there’s a big wow factor, but then people often wonder, “What’s next?” Until people get past that hang-up, there will not be mass adoption of hardware that is necessary for mass consumption of software.

Wagner: VR is a pretty individual activity. You put on the headset and really have to keep to yourself. I imagine it will be tough to get people on board with the idea when it truly requires total separation from the real world in order to enjoy VR. At least when you use your phone, you can still pay attention (kind of) to the people and things going on around you.

della Cava: It’s going to be a timing thing. There’s tremendous potential but I’m just not sure where it’s going to go now. There may an experimental period for the next five years, but it’s exciting especially in the enterprise space where you can see a lot more practical applications, especially with AR. Imagine getting instructions remotely on fixing an engine. That’s more real right now.

Q: In what sectors do you see virtual reality serving the most purpose?

Terdiman: I think it will be great for social experiences and for entertainment. People will be able to use VR to preview travel they might want to do. They’ll be able to learn things they wouldn’t be able to otherwise. Ultimately, though, I see it as a major entertainment medium, both for games and for music, sports and scripted stories.

Wagner: I think it’ll be important for mental health reasons—folks who have depression or anxiety or a fear. I could see it really making an impact there.

della Cava: It’s got strong potential—if it’s rolled out the right way—for sports and entertainment. That’s the way VR could trump AR, because you really want to commit fully to that experience.

Want to keep up with the latest trends in virtual reality? Follow us on Twitter @HighwirePR.

Daniel Terdiman is a senior writer at Fast Company covering emerging technology. Follow him on Twitter @GreeterDan.

Kurt Wagner is a social media reporter at Recode. Follow him on Twitter @KurtWagner8.

Marco della Cava is a technology and culture reporter at USA Today. Follow him on Twitter @MarcodellaCava.

 

Highwire Talks Security with Black Hat Communications Director

Blackhat 2016 event logo

 

One of the biggest global security events in the world, Black Hat has been providing attendees with the latest in research for over 18 years. Participants can enjoy learning from information security luminaries about various developments and trends in the industry. As you think about how to present new or interesting perspective this year, take a look at our survey findings from last year’s Black Hat, particularly the part about overused buzzwords, as you may want to eliminate some of the most commonly used jargon from your content.

With the event fast approaching on July 30, Highwire took the opportunity to speak with Meredith Corley, director of PR & communications for UBM—the company that puts on Black Hat every year—to gain some insider knowledge that will prove useful for PR professionals and security companies.

Q: What is the number one strategy you can offer companies as they prepare to pitch media at Black Hat?

A: Remember that these members of the media and analyst community are the crème de la crème of the InfoSec reporting world—so do your research! And I don’t just mean on their specific beat, that’s a given. My research advice is the following:

1) Pitch the Goods: With so much dynamic content on stage, running alongside big research report releases and innovative product launches from the show floor (all vying for their attention & time slots), now is not the time to do a generic email blast. Before you work to set up that briefing or meetup, ask yourself: How does this news break the mold, challenge the status quo or take our industry in a new direction? With a product launch, how specifically will your new product or service solve an existing problem or void? Any cool demos to share? Alternatively how will your perspective help dig into an existing industry hot button issue or theme with a fresh (or challenging) perspective? Are you offering up special access to key thought leaders or research? Is there a new finding that will change the course of the current dialogue?

If you can’t answer these with an elevator pitch before pressing ‘send’ on that email, hold off. Media get a ton of email leading up to the show, so make it count.

2) Expand Your International Contacts: Does your company have international roots or hope to take their products and services global? Don’t forget to research the many international members of the media that join us onsite every year. We have massive news agencies, trade journals and analysts join us from as far as Australia,  many parts of Asia, Europe, S. America and everywhere in between. Now is your chance to build those valuable relationships with key international stakeholders for your brand all in one place. Don’t miss out.

Q: How do you select which companies get their own mini press conferences in the Black Hat press room?

A: We work closely with the Black Hat Review Board and journalist community to get a sense of what is really going to be “hot” onsite—big themes, impactful vulnerability disclosures, big name speakers or government officials, and controversial topics discussed by distinguished resources.

Press conferences are highly selective and are typically reserved for Black Hat speakers that will be presenting during the show. Sometimes we will group them by theme (e.g. “mobile vulnerabilities”) while other times it will be a solo session (e.g. keynote presentation or completely unique topic that stands apart from the rest).

If your company or client is speaking at Black Hat this year and you think the topic fits the bill, drop us a note: BlackHatPR@ubm.com.

Q: What do you think the top trends will be at this year’s show based on what you’re seeing across the top sessions and/or media requests?

A: Aside from the headline-making and completely unique vulnerabilities and research (a lá car hacks, new ways to take over ATMs, and medical device weaknesses and defense), I would say that one of the top trends this year is what we collectively call “Platform Security.” We also saw more submissions than ever around vulnerabilities (and defenses) in top operating systems and virtual machines.

Unsurprisingly, Internet of Things (IoT) is also a big theme again this year as everything we know becomes increasingly “smart.”

Also, talks this year really run the gamut—and they should, since we received more submissions this year than any year prior. The Review Board really had their work cut out for them to pick the best of the best. There are quite a few great enterprise system-related briefings, some really smart research across all things mobile, and even a whole track of talks in the “human factors” category, which covers everything from phishing to the actual success rates of malicious actors dropping USBs in parking lots to name a few.

Q: Anything new or different taking place at the show this year that we should know about?

A: Glad you asked—Yes!

New to Black Hat? If you, your team members or your client(s) are newbies to Black Hat, we’ve got you covered. ALL pass types are invited to join us for Black Hat Day Zero —a first-timer’s guide to making the most of Black Hat. Here, new attendees can come a day early (Tuesday, Aug. 2) to learn what to expect on site, how to make the most of their time and even how to keep their devices safe on the show network. (Don’t forget your tinfoil hat…) There will be a welcome reception for some good mingling after the sessions.

Closing the Gap: Despite more attention to the issue, the needle just hasn’t moved all that much on the dramatic underrepresentation of women and minorities in the security industry, even as the talent gap deepens. I would encourage you and your colleagues to check out this fantastic panel, “Removing Roadblocks to Diversity,” on Thursday, Aug. 4, with a pretty stellar lineup. It includes moderator Kelly Jackson Higgins, executive editor of Dark Reading, with Jamesha Fisher, security operations engineer at GitHub; Elena Kvochko, head of global cyber security strategy and implementation at Barclays; Angie Leifson, security operations center (SOC) analyst at Insight Enterprises; and Chenxi Wang, chief strategy officer of Twistlock.

**Tip: this is first-come, first-served—so get there a little early to reserve a seat.

Other neat new and exciting things on site include a hands-on Kali Linux Lab for ALL pass types on Thursday, Aug. 4. And I’d highly recommend checking out the Black Hat Arsenal if you’re looking for real-time demos—this year marks the largest tool lineup yet with 80 to be presented on site.

Meredith Corley is the director, PR and communications, at UBM Americas. Find her on Twitter @MeredithCorley or LinkedIn.

Live From Internet Retailer 2015

This year marked the 10th annual Internet Retailer Conference held in Chicago and, with more than 600 companies exhibiting and nearly 90 percent of the e-commerce solutions on the market in attendance, there is no better place to get a pulse on the industry.

Yesterday, we decided to forgo a day in the office in favor of roaming the exhibitor floor to engage with some of the most recognizable and innovative brands in the space. We sat down with a select few to get their take on the show.

First, we spoke with Weebly’s Director of Business Development Chris Sheridan, whose passion for his company’s product was truly inspiring. Weebly is providing an intuitive e-commerce solution that allows entrepreneurs and businesses to build a website on their own simply and without coding. Here’s what Chris had to say:

Weebly WeeblyImage
Powerful and Robust E-commerce Solution That’s Ready When You Are

What is the big buzz at the show this year?
A big message for visitors to our booth this year is that people don’t want to outsource their websites; they want to maintain control and own every aspect of their site and, with Weebly, that’s possible. Consumers are not given enough credit and, in fact, they are way more sophisticated. There is always this analogy; “I want it to be easy enough for my mom or my grandpa.” That’s the wrong analogy. People understand online services and they can build a strong and powerful site on their own given the proper tools.

What can we expect from Weebly in the next 6 months?
Our direction is going to mobile; 30 percent of our traffic is coming from mobile devices, so being easily accessible on mobile is a big deal to us. When we started in 2007, we thought of ourselves as a single product. Now, we think of ourselves as a two-product company.

Is there anything else you want people to know about Weebly?
First, the free plan is something we encourage people to start out on, it’s a plan for people to come in and kick the tires with no risk. Judge for yourself how intuitive the tools are.

Second, whatever is involved in your business, we can help you. There is a powerful robust e-commerce solution that is ready when you are.

What will you make time for while in Chicago this week?
Game 1 of the Stanley Playoffs!

Next, we spoke with Brody Ehrlich, General Manager of Vift, an online video gift service. If you are ever looking to add a little extra spunk to your gift giving, this service is for you.

Vift
More Of You In Every Gift

VIFTImageTell us about Vift  and what makes you unique?
We are the only company that does video gift services that arrive digitally at the same time as a gift. Our competitors are a hassle for retailers and consumers that involve QR codes. We take the hassle away from retail companies and away from the consumer and automate everything.

Why would someone want to send a video message?
It’s a lot more personal and you can customize exactly what you want to say exactly how you want to say it. Our core business, Keeptree, is a private video sharing service. We give people the option with Vift to save their videos in our Keeptree vault, so you can access them whenever, wherever.

Who would get really excited about these things?
Keeptree has a special branded version for the military called Trooptree that we offer for free to all military families so they can communicate across the world.

What are you most excited about doing in Chicago outside the show?
I want to explore the city as it’s my first time here. I also want to watch the Blackhawks game!

Outside of everyone’s enthusiasm for the Blackhawks, we made sure to direct exhibitors to the hottest deep dish and Chicago style hot dog joints in the city.

Keep your eye out on Highwire’s blog next week for the results of our “State of the E-commerce Industry Survey,” straight from the show floor of Internet Retailer.

Written by:
Nicole Plati, an Account Manager in Chicago
Carolyn Adams, a Vice President in Chicago