Why Tech Companies Need a Broad Media Strategy

This is a guest post by Curtis Sparrer, principal at Bospar.

This is a guest post by Curtis Sparrer, principal at Bospar.

When it comes to establishing a tech company’s cred, who is more important? Anderson Cooper? Kara Swisher? Or Anna Wintour? The answer is surprising.

Bospar, a boutique technology PR agency, commissioned the Harris Poll to survey 2,178 American adults – representative of the entire country. When asked to rank which type of media was most important in establishing technology leadership, Americans prioritized online technology media outlets first – just barely ahead of national TV news. Even more remarkable was that Americans gave preference to a TV station’s website over a print news outlet’s website.

Americans said the most important outlets for technology leadership are those that cater to consumers, such as BuzzFeed, CNET and Mashable (40 percent). National TV news programs or their websites (ABC, CBS, CNN and Fox) came in second place (39 percent), followed by this surprise: local TV news came in third at 37 percent. The technology industry media (eWeek, NetworkWorld and TechTarget) ranked at fourth place at 30 percent.

Consumers said there was no difference between local daily newspapers like the Dallas Morning News or national dailies like The New York Times, ranking both categories fifth place at 29 percent when it came to establishing a tech company’s leadership. The same was true with national daily business newspapers or websites (like The Wall Street Journal) and technology business journals (like TechCrunch and Re/code). Those outlets both tied at sixth place at 28 percent.

Rounding out the media landscape were pop culture publications or websites (People, Vogue) with more than one in four Americans (26 percent) saying those sites mattered when it came to proving a company’s tech leadership. That means Anna Wintour’s status as a tastemaker can extend from diamonds to datasets.

For PR and marketing professionals tasked with building a company’s tech brand, these results are likely surprising and definitely present a challenge. Richard Laven of Apollo Research made a great point that there are a core group of tech writers who all influence each other and, by extension, people who live and work in Silicon Valley. But when it comes to the average American, local TV news is more important than The New York Times or TechCrunch.

This does not mean a PR team for an enterprise company should stop outreach at Re/code—clearly these are media outlets with different charters and a more in-depth understanding of the tech issues of the day. These findings do demonstrate, however, that local TV news outlets should not be overlooked in brand-building outreach and that national TV news outlets and their websites are just as important as consumer tech websites—not to mention the value these placements hold with clients, many of whom consider national news to be the crème de la crème.

“As a tech entrepreneur and former host of Sweden’s version of ‘Shark Tank’ I am probably uniquely qualified to vouch for the importance of TV coverage,” said Ebba Blitz, CEO of Alertsec, a company providing laptop encryption as a service. “We find that the right mix of placements in technology and industry media is important, while TV coverage both nationally and locally provides the sizzle necessary to becoming a household name, which build’s your company’s leadership.”

Becoming a household name obviously requires more than one placement. It requires regular, monthly effort and earned placements across outlets – big and small, national and local—as the findings show. So what challenges do PR professionals face in achieving this goal?

Elinor Mills, a former senior writer for CNET who is now the vice president of content and media strategy at the Bateman Group, said her pitch load was “100s of pitches per week, dozens of phone calls.” Chris Matyszczyk, also of CNET, who MediaPost named “the most powerful blogger on Madison Avenue,” said he gets 10 to 30 pitches per day.

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