Highwire’s Media Panel – The Evolution of “The Story”
This year, Highwire is celebrating 10 years as an agency. Tapping into our inquisitive nature as communications professionals, we took this opportunity to invite esteemed journalists and PR peers through our doors to discuss the evolution of “The Story.” The tech and media world has changed tremendously, from the rise of the gig economy to the decline of print, but one thing has remained the same — a good story is a good story. While publication and readership may change what the core of that story contains, one goal remains: create and amplify a powerful narrative.
We sat down with Associated Press’ Michael Liedtke, Fast Company’s Harry McCracken, Reuters’ Stephen Nellis, and The Information’s Sarah Kuranda to hear what intrigues them about the technology industry today, and to get their thoughts on the evolving PR/media relationship.
Trends of Interest:
- Technology’s Influence on Society and Culture
This seemed to be the hottest topic on the minds of these journalists. Michael Liedtke noted how they are “creepily interested in the surveillance society that we seem to be complacently creating for ourselves whether we know it or not.” As our world advances, journalists will be watching to see how society adapts to its dependence on an imperfect system.
- AI and the Future of Work
Liedtke also noted his interest in the future of work as it relates to AI. While AI is enhancing life in so many ways, creating efficiencies and increasing productivity, it’s also establishing tensions among workers. For those of us living in a Silicon-Valley bubble, it’s also critical to share illustrative examples with the general public so they can grasp the true impacts of AI from real-life accounts.
- Beyond the Valley
Reaching beyond Silicon Valley was another point made by Stephen Nellis. He discussed his desire to tap into Reuters’ global network and work with international correspondents to develop a worldwide view for his pieces.
Cultivating Relationships to Separate the Experts from the Phonies
Sources are the glue that holds PR professionals and journalists together. PR professionals serve an important role as gatekeepers to the experts and thought leaders that journalists engage with for compelling stories. It’s essential that we treat that responsibility with care. As Sarah Kuranda emphasized, journalists have to weed through an abundance of “experts,” and therefore establishing relationships with genuine sources is a gift. A great source has first-hand experience, and fun stories to tell. If you have a great source, encourage them to build those relationships with media. Offer journalists a coffee or drink meeting and you’ll stay off the “B.S. list.”
The Under-Appreciated Element
Harry McCracken urged PR professionals to recognize the previous context in our pitches. It may seem like technology companies are entering a brand new world, but if you do your research, you’ll find essential historical context that is invaluable for stories. Silicon Valley is evolving rapidly, but nearly everything that is “new” has been tried before. Showing that your company or client has learned from others is a testament to the company’s product and end goal.
Working Together As Storytellers
The relationship between journalists and PR professionals is a delicate one. Each one represents a different side of the same narrative, but both seek to peak the interest of the audience. While we are always walking that thin line, discussions like these bring us a little bit closer to our ultimate goal – telling the story.