Inside the Newsroom: Media Talk Tech with VentureBeat, Wired and Fast Company

Organized by PRSA

On July 26, a handful of 10Fold crew members joined the Silicon Valley and San Francisco Chapters of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) for the “Inside the Newsroom: Media Talk Tech” panel event with Fast Company, Wired, and VentureBeat.

Panelists included:

 Jason Wilson, Managing Editor, VentureBeat

 David Pierce, Senior Staff Writer, WIRED

 Sean Captain, Tech Editor, Fast Company

Below is a collection of insights, trends, and other interesting thoughts by 10Fold’s own Drew Smith, Jordan Tewell, Webbo Chen, Katrina Cameron and Kyra Tillmans following the event.

Artificial Intelligence, Digital Transformation, Virtual Reality…What’s Next?

These buzzwords are top-of-mind in today’s technology landscape, and it was no surprise that the first panel question regarded these hot topics. When Jason Wilson of VentureBeat called for a show of hands on how many audience members regularly used voice assistance, the number of hands was noticeably few. Despite all the buzz surrounding AI (i.e. in voice assistants, like Siri or Amazon Alexa) there is still a long way to go. The panelists noted that, for example, voice assistance users tend to use those features for only the things they know work well, showcasing the disparity between where the day-to-day benefits of AI voice assistance currently stand and where they could/should be.

Another salient point that David made was the different growth trajectories of augmented reality versus virtual reality. AR will improve quickly, he noted, while VR is more likely to just chug along. This might come as a surprise, as VR is typically viewed as the more “futuristic” innovation.

Trends of the Media-scape

The panelists agreed the intersection of technology and politics is a big trend on everyone’s mind. It was much easier to separate the two in the past, but now reporters who cover cyber security are often times writing about national security too. The intersection of technology and politics matter now more than ever, and we should address this when talking strategy internally and with our clients.

David made an interesting comment about video journalism. At Conde Nast (parent company of Wired), they want to ensure that video isn’t treated as a bolt-on, and they’ve started to consider video as one of the primary channels when they’re determining what goes where during their editorial meetings. Instead of slapping on video at the end of everything, reporters are putting significant thought into which platform is best – i.e. a 2,000-word feature, a photo essay, or maybe even a Snapchat video. It raises the question for PR pros to determine which avenue is best to take for which story and set expectations accordingly. Not everything will be a full-length feature story these days.

Via the Twitter hashtag #MediaTechTalk, attendees posed a question about non-Silicon Valley tech hotbeds. The panel agreed on Pittsburgh as a favorite, which wasn’t wholly surprising, because the Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Tri-State region is becoming widely known as an area of innovation. However, Fargo came as a surprise. And David made a good point of thinking about the world outside of the U.S., because all too often we have proximity bias – especially when you’re based in Silicon Valley like we are!

Tips by the Media for the Media

Sean from Fast Company continually reiterated the importance of clicks/views in judging how successful an article was. He and his editors clearly pay a lot of attention to this in a rapidly changing media landscape. Ultimately, what readers think is most important for both reporters and PR folks alike. Reporters approach stories they’re pitched by gauging whether their readers will care in order to gain as many eyeballs as possible. In tech PR, companies like to focus on news developments and its impact on the broader landscape rather than the personalities behind the tech. Instead of product launch stories, technology reporters are interested to learn about the human side of the story. As an example, David brought up a feature story on employees who were affected by Dropbox dropping AWS. The topic was very dry, and David didn’t expect it to do as well as it did. Yet, by adding in the human element, the story became one of his most popular reads to date.

As PR professionals, we can help orchestrate these stories by doing background interviews with our clients to develop a narrative that will resonate well with readers. Who is the main character in the story? It’s important to remember that if you have interesting execs, you should flesh out their bios/background and occasionally lead with that when approaching media.

As a final takeaway, all the panelists mentioned that they’d love to have more conversations with both PR folks’ clients – and the PR people themselves – that have no agenda whatsoever. Not many PR people would propose a “no agenda briefing” to a journalist – if only because that’s not likely to hook the journalist – but I’d be interested to see the results from the brave PR pro who does this.

Journalists and PR professionals agree that the media landscape is changing actively and dramatically. Events like the Media Tech Talks are a great way to engage with the media, understand their thinking and likewise share your own. A big “thank you” to PRSA for putting it together! 10Fold is looking forward to the next one.

By Kyra Tillmans

(Contributions from Drew Smith, Jordan Tewell, Webbo Chen, and Katrina Cameron)

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