Recent reports that former GE head Jack Welch is interested in buying The Boston Globe from its parent, The New York Times Co., has triggered fears that Boston may be the next city to go through a serious media upheaval.
Dan Kennedy, former media columnist for The Boston Phoenix and now a journalism professor at Northeastern University, says some concerns are well-founded. "The Boston Herald is hanging on by its fingertips, and the Globe, though its local coverage remains very good, has been going through some downsizing for quite a few months and closed its last three remaining foreign bureaus," he says.
But despite those high-profile issues, Boston's overall media scene seems to be thriving, thanks in large part to the presence of hundreds of vertical publications, many of them tech-focused.
"Greater Boston is home to IDG, which publishes Computerworld, PC World, and about 100 other magazines," says Shawn Whalen, Schwartz Communications SVP. "Also, Ziff Davis Media has publications here, like eWeek, while CMP bases many of its magazines here, as well."
Many of these tech outlets have a national reach, and Waggener Edstrom Worldwide technology practice VP Kelly McFalls says having a Boston-based client will not make them more eager to write about a company. She adds, however, "Where it does help is with relationship-building because it's easy for us to go talk to these folks or run into them at events."
Whalen adds that another element fueling Boston media and PR is the analyst community, noting that IDC, Forrester, the Yankee Group, and others are located in the area. "Boston is a must-stop for media tours because you're able to do a high concentration of magazines and analysts," he says.
Even for non-tech clients, Boston still has plenty of business coverage. In addition to the Globe and the Boston Business Journal, McFalls cites TV, especially the all-news New England Cable Network, adding, "It has really good local shows, and it's a really good opportunity for an area CEO."
Given Boston's tech reputation, what may be surprising is the current dearth of online-only media opportunities. But Peter Mancusi, former Globe Business section editor who's now a Weber Shandwick EVP heading the New England corporate communications practice, says: "The sites that are there... are expanding. There are now a lot of blogs on Boston.com, such as White Coat Notes, dedicated to the city's burgeoning healthcare community, providing a lot of content."
PITCHING... Boston-area outlets
The sheer number of tech trade outlets makes Boston ideal for entry-level journalists. It's also a place with plenty of staff churn, so keep media lists up to date, and work to quickly develop relationships
In WBUR, Boston has one of the US' top public radio stations, so target it for both lifestyle and business stories aimed at the city's educated and affluent populace
Though Boston remains a two-paper town, The Boston Globe is far and away the better target for most business stories