Less than a decade ago, high-speed Internet access for homes and businesses was a tech revolution, and coverage was seemingly everywhere. However, despite many in the technology consistently writing about the latest iPhone or the promise of 3G and 4G wireless networks, wired broadband networks are not relegated to yesterday's news.
“It is a bit harder to reach the traditional tech press because there is a kind of love affair with wireless, so [PR pros] have to be creative in pitching the story and the product's benefits,” says Susan Huberman, VP of marketing and communications at Entropic Communications, which makes chipsets that enable connected home entertainment.
Broadband is also no longer strictly a technology story focused on Internet speed going into a home, says John Walker, global telecommunication sector lead at Edelman.
“Reporters now want you to make it relevant to the consumer because content is expected now anytime, anywhere, on any device,” he says.
And as the technology has become more common within businesses, financial and entertainment reporters are also writing stories about how broadband technologies affect their beats, says Lisa Wilson, president of VisiTech PR.
“In the wired world, it's all about packaging of services into something that that's interesting to the consumer,” she says. “But there's also growing interest in the convergence of the entertainment industry into telecom, so the broadband story also becomes one you can pitch to the entertainment reporter.”
Nicholas Sweers, VP of corporate communications at Qwest, agrees, noting that consumers want to know how the technology benefits them.
“[My] conversations with reporters are definitely a lot more focused on broadband as the enabler of convergence,” he says. “It used to be broadband was focused on faster accessing of the Internet and e-mail. Now you're looking at broadband as the enabler of applications like video on demand.”
Because broadband Internet access is no longer just a wired phenomenon, many telecom stories now include both wireless and fiber-optic components, says Phil Harvey, editor-in-chief of tech Web site Light Reading. He adds that he talks with the editors at his outlet's wireless-themed sister outlet, Unstrung, up to 10 times a day about stories.
Light Reading, a unique outlet in that it has its own analyst division, is now running more stories than in
the past on the simplification of broadband technologies, Harvey adds.
“We're interested in solutions that can simplify broadband,” he says.
And since broadband is now a key component of the communications industry and mass media, even events like this year's presidential election provide PR pros with opportunities to talk to reporters about the technology and its real-world application, Sweers says.
“A lot of reporters are interested in the how to manage broadband on the networks for events like the political conventions,” he adds.
Focus on the consumer benefits of applications like video on demand, rather than the technology itself, when pitching wired broadband stories
Most reporters assume that broadband technology works, so you probably won't need in-person, hands-on demonstrations to showcase your client and its servicesLook for angles that showcase how wired and wireless broadband can be integrated to leverage all the current excitement surrounding connected cell phones and PDAs