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Talking Tech in NYC

PR Lessons Learned from New York’s Top Media

 

This week Highwire co-hosted a panel with Norwest Venture Partners and Button featuring some of the top tech reporters in New York City. Moderated by Mike Dudas, co-founder of Button, Alex Konrad at Forbes, Ruth Reader at Fast Company, Polina Marinova at Fortune and Jason Del Rey at Recode shared their thoughts on the tech industry as well as tips and tricks for the PR pros pitching them.

From venting about pet peeves (research what they cover before pitching!) to naming tech’s next hot spot (keep your eyes on LA), they shared great insights for those of us in the tech PR business. Read on for some of the top takeaways:

It’s harder to get coverage as a startup.

A decade ago, unicorn tech startups abounded, investment money flowed freely into emerging businesses, and tech reporters could cover these companies in their early growth stages. Flash forward to today — capital is harder to come by, a few companies like Amazon dominate the industry, and many of those early unicorns have since failed. In the words of Alex Konrad, “the tech industry has been a victim of its own success.” As a result, the media covering this space have grown more skeptical of tech startups’ PR pitches on “innovation” and are more likely to trust and write about well-established businesses — who also guarantee more page clicks.  

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Make sure your exclusive is meaningful.

For media, an exclusive offer means that the reporter has the one and only chance to cover a story. The offer of an exclusive interview with an executive or VC firm alone is not enticing. Consider how what you’re offering adds a unique perspective or angle to the story. As a litmus test, ask yourself if the exclusive access you’re offering will change the headline. If not, then it’s unlikely to help you get that story.

Keep the meat for the meeting.

Tech reporters are suckers for an interesting back story about a startup founder or exec, but they’re less interested if every other reporter knows that story too. Rather than mention this background in your pitch, save these details and let reporters discover them in a one-on-one meeting with your exec. They’ll be more inclined to cover the story if they’re the only ones who have it.

Don’t ruin a good relationship.

Whether you’re navigating a client controversy or pitching an embargoed announcement, remember that your relationships with reporters are delicate and important. PR agencies are hired for their ability to counsel clients, and in a crisis situation, it’s integral to give a client guidance on how a course of action can damage, or even destroy, a relationship with a reporter. When it comes to embargoed pitching, be aware of the competition between media outlets and make sure that all parties receiving embargoed news have the same embargo information. When one publication gets a jump on the news, other reporters are forced to have tough conversations with their editors. Don’t be the one to burn those bridges, because those reporters won’t forget.

Tech PR can be challenging, but hopefully, these lessons will make navigating the tech media landscape a smoother ride.

For anyone who was able to join us Tuesday evening, we’d love to hear your thoughts and takeaways. Feel free to share in the comments section below!