Earning a Place in the Tech Journalist’s Rolodex

“Delta Operations Resume After Systems Outage Left Travelers Stranded,” “AWS Outage: Implications for Internet, Enterprise Cloud Customers,” and “How to Invest in Drone Technology” are three recent stories featuring insights from technology experts. These experts also happen to be our clients.

Experts and insights drive much of today’s tech coverage, more so than I’ve ever seen in my 20 years working in tech PR. The days of specific beats, frequent product round-ups and constant product features seem as far away as the number of pages in a circa 2000 print issue of Computerworld.

Today, tech coverage is much more application-focused, and beat reporters are few. The reporting landscape is harder to manage and challenging for journalists. Here lies the opportunity – journalists need knowledgeable third-party resources “at the ready” to win their first-to-write battle. And it’s not just for breaking news; expert resources are key to shaping features and ongoing news stories as well.

So, do you have experts “at the ready?” Perhaps you do, but they haven’t been groomed as such. If you’re eager to jump into this new media landscape where willingness to comment on trends and news must come before your company’s turn to talk about itself, below are some tips to started. 

  • Constantly monitor the news and trending topics. For the Delta outage story, we secured interviews with journalist within hours of the initial news. We rely heavily on newsjacking, and this involves getting to journalists first with something meaningful to say. 
     
  • Have a smooth process first. Does your expert know what’s being asked of them? Are they in a position to respond rapidly with talking points? This isn’t like launching new versions of software decades ago, when everything was lined up weeks before you placed the first call to a journalist. You’ll need to be agile, and your experts need to embrace the process before you get started.
     
  • Start with real expertise – don’t manufacture it. One of our tech clients leans heavily on one spokesperson, and now we’re working to deepen their bench. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Our primary expert is a true thought leader – his insights help journalist shape their articles. When we share one of his blogs, you can see his ideas reflected throughout the piece. Getting other experts to this point means we must build their expert personas – it doesn’t just happen.
     
  • Provide constant coaching. Few experts can become overnight sensations; it takes work and coaching. For the drone story mentioned above, there was significant back and forth – between us and the reporter and between us and the expert to develop compelling talking points. Of course, the journalist doesn’t see all this back and forth. They just know they’re getting an expert source to anchor their piece.

Technology journalists face tight deadlines and an increasing need to be more versatile. This means they need experts in their virtual Rolodexes. You want to be the name they recognize. Yes, you may need to give them insights in a piece that doesn’t have an obvious connection to their product. But this means they’re more likely to listen to you when it’s time to talk about your business. Want to learn more about how to make this happen? Send me an email and we can set up some time to talk.