Tech challenges grow as Red Herring finally sinks

SAN FRANCISCO: The demise of Red Herring last week marked the end of an era of independent coverage of the tech boom and bust, leaving PR execs with a host of new publicity challenges.

SAN FRANCISCO: The demise of Red Herring last week marked the end of an era of independent coverage of the tech boom and bust, leaving PR execs with a host of new publicity challenges.

The monthly magazine followed The Industry Standard and Upside in succumbing to a tattered advertising environment. But the closing is also a lesson in how dramatically technology firms have changed their branding strategies.

"The world has gone back to the basics," said Stephen Jones, MD of Ogilvy PR's global technology practice. "The reality is that more and more companies were less and less inclined to portray themselves as bleeding-edge companies."

The loss of Red Herring means that tech websites, trades, and the stalwart Business 2.0 (which last week announced the hire of two high-profile columnists) will be doing some heavy lifting as they watch the tech sector attempt a recovery. For the PR community, it means finding new means of exposure.

Judy Wilks, US president of Bite Communications, said that she will turn her attention to business sections of newspapers and magazines. "It's a case of taking your story and wrapping it up for a different audience," she explained.

Jean Armstrong of Armstrong Kendall said her firm plans to adapt by seeking trade-show exposure for her clients, as well as coverage on websites.

"I think that clients are starting to look more at online sources," she said. "They used to balk at that."

Ogilvy's Jones insisted that despite the domino-like fall of the magazines, enough media outlets still exist because tech firms are biting the dust at a similar rate. "The balance is still there," he said. "The media is a reflection of the market.

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