With new gadgets and start-ups creating buzz, the tech market is garnering more coverage from outlets and blogs, though most remain cautious.
Don't look now, but technology is back, both as a driver of revenue in the PR industry and as a huge story in the press.
While cool, new gadgets, such as the ubiquitous Apple iPod, are driving much of the current buzz, coverage of business and other types of technology is on the upswing, as well. Even Red Herring, one of a number of business-themed technology publications that went bust when the tech bubble burst, was quietly relaunched a few months back.
"It feels as if we're on the cusp of something, though no one is quite sure where it's going just yet," says Lisa Falcetti, SVP at the Orange County, CA, office of Golin Harris. "We're starting to reconnect with reporters that we worked with a few years back, who are resurfacing at new publications [and] want to visit us and talk with our clients."
But as Joel Dreyfuss, editor-in-chief of Red Herring, notes, this time around, there's a lot more caution. "Reporters want to know, where's the business story here?" he says. "It's not just the latest company, but what are the numbers, and what are the profits, and what is the potential of the market?"
Business sections' coverage
After the late-1990s era of 24-7 media hype, technology coverage is now being done on a slightly smaller scale, in part because the industry isn't the sole driver of the business world or the business pages.
"The money [still] isn't a fraction of what it was in terms of venture money, but I think there is a pretty healthy start-up environment," says Dreyfuss. "A lot of companies are starting up with private money and family money rather than venture money."
Because so many newspapers and other outlets have long since folded their dedicated tech sections, coverage of this new tech revival has been relegated to the business section. That means the latest business software solution now has to compete with every other industry for space.
"If your company isn't exactly web services and not exactly CRM [customer relationship management], then you could fall between the cracks, and that didn't happen five years ago," says Tim Smith, VP with San Francisco-based OutCast Communications. "In fact, they got all the coverage they needed."
However, Smith notes that the media's current overall coverage of the tech world is far more realistic. "I'd say there's a lot more sanity in the market than there was during the bubble," he notes.
There's also been a revival of the CEO-as-visionary story, although, as Michael Young, SVP at Access Communication, points out, "The media wants to hear from CEOs who have big ideas and big vision, but also have the product, people, and funding to deliver on the promise."
Emergence of blogs
When it comes to business technology, Young notes that the bellwether trade outlets, such as InformationWeek and Network World, remain integral players, but adds that blogs have also emerged as a major source of information.
"If you look at the most popular blogs, the vast majority of them are devoted to tech," he says, adding that this reality presents a bit of a problem for the PR world. "They're approachable, but tend not to be pitchable. They have an extremely low threshold for traditional pitching, so the key is to look at where they get their information. You can get on their radar by getting into the particular technology book that they read."
With the tech industry seemingly on the rebound, Smith suggests that the next 12 months could see the launch of some new media outlets.
"I don't have any hard evidence, but things seem to be heading in that direction, especially when you look at print media and advertising," he says.
No one is quite yet suggesting that the sector is headed for another bubble, and this media interest in the latest tech companies could eventually cool.
But Falcetti says that the one thing the past decade has done is firmly establish technology as a permanent part of the national media agenda.
"It's a major business driver," she says. "It's become a major lifestyle driver, too, so it's something that outlets across all lines will continue to be focused on."