High-Lights: Our Tech PR POV

Tech Storytellers Gather to Discuss the “Evolution of the Story” in NYC

Highwire has been exploring “the story” throughout 2018 as we celebrate our 10th anniversary. While headlines, platforms and trends have changed significantly over the past 10 years, the unified goal of PR and the media has remained the same: to tell a compelling story. However, the ever-changing media, political and technology landscapes all have a large impact on what that story is and how best to tell it.

To dig into this concept further, Highwire invited some of the sharpest tech storytellers to discuss how the story has evolved and what the next 10 years will bring for PR and journalism. The media panel took place on June 27 at Work-Bench and was moderated by Highwire Account Director Ken Bruno. Panelists included Kerry Flynn, Marketing Reporter at Digiday; Polina Marinova, Associate Editor at Fortune; Anthony Ha, Senior Writer at TechCrunch; and Sean Ludwig, Communications and Marketing Director at Tech:NYC.

Over the course of the panel, these storytellers shared their insights into what trends are having the biggest impact on journalism and how PR pros can work successfully with the media.

The State of Journalism

We’re seeing the disruption of traditional media, with business model changes and restructuring at many of the largest media organizations. Meanwhile, smaller online outlets are delivering high-caliber reporting that is capturing the attention of many young readers.

The move toward subscription-based content and paywalls is really having an impact, noted Marinova. What these outlets are after is more quality journalism, but she expressed doubt that people will pay for more than just The New York Times and The Washington Post. Despite these concerns, Marinova was optimistic that quality journalism will still have value for readers.

“We’re all trying to figure out how we’re going to make money in the next five years,” said Anthony Ha of TechCrunch. The industry is still finding this path, and it will be a bumpy one, but Ha said there are still great opportunities for high-quality work. “Clickbait still exists, but most publications who want to be respected are interested in more than just chasing traffic.”

The Changing Reader/Reporter Relationship

In the era of social media, fake news and citizen journalism, the relationship between a reporter and their readers is increasingly complex.

“Social media has knocked all of those barriers down — and maybe that’s okay,” said Ludwig. Instead of receiving an angry email a few days after you publish a story, now journalists are called out instantly on social media when they make a mistake. This has created a very public and instant accountability for the media.

“Journalists have become more accessible than ever, which means that sometimes we are going to put our foot in our mouth,” said Flynn. She has been especially interested in seeing how major news personalities are responding to criticism online in real-time.

The Impact of Diminishing Trust in Social Media

Some industry pundits believe that social media is at an all-time low, which is impacting both the tech and publishing world in tandem. The publishing market will have to navigate the lasting impacts of social media backlash and we may see media organizations adjusting their publishing strategies.

“I hope publishers have learned their lesson about relying too much on social media for content distribution,” said Flynn. “Hindsight is 20/20, but I have faith that the younger generation gets it and will do their research when getting news from social media sites.”

Ludwig said that educators have a responsibility to teach the younger generation how to use social media in a healthy way and how to separate real news vs fake news online.

Tips for PR Pros

Panelists agreed that while new mediums continue to change how journalists and PR professionals communicate, the most important thing will remain the same: it’s up to PR pros to know what is the right fit for a publication and its audience. Do your research and know exactly what a reporter covers before pitching them.

“Journalists are humans, and every one of us is different,” said Flynn. Don’t be afraid to stalk reporters online to get to know their coverage and what will be most valuable to them.

“Keep your emails short and to the point,” said Marinova. “A quick ‘hey do you cover this’ is fine, and then we can have a longer conversation if it’s a good fit.”

Stay Tuned for More 10th Anniversary Updates

Keep an eye out on the blog as we continue to delve into what the next 10 years may hold for tech sectors like security, enterprise and AI. We’ll be publishing a series of blogs from Highwire’s subject matter experts as we continue to celebrate our 10th year.