Technology has changed massively in recent years, from being predominantly the domain of the enterprise IT department to being something that is in every corner of our lives. It has opened up opportunities for brands, whether they’re traditional tech players or not, to tell their stories to a much wider audience, and create complex layers of influence.
The role that media plays in influencing people to buy and use technology has gone through huge change too. This week we hosted a panel of progressive journalists to discuss how the technology media landscape has shifted in the past few years. Arjun Kharpal, tech reporter at CNBC; Jason Karaian, global economics editor at Quartz; Oliver Smith, senior reporter at The Memo; and Ian Betteridge, editor at Alphr, all revealed key insights into how tech brands can elevate their stories and command influence in a new media landscape.
Although each of the publications report on business and technology stories frequently, not one of them cited IT decision makers as their primary audience. Smith talked about “making the future more human”, Karaian talked about targeting “business people in the new global economy”, and despite Alphr being a B2B publication its business readers “now think like consumers”, according to Betteridge.
Today, people outside the confines of the IT department hold enormous sway over purchasing decisions. This means brands must work hard to mine stories that explain the human impact of their technology, connecting with readers on an emotional as well as rational level.
As media competition increases, publishers are reinventing themselves as agile tech companies. “You've got to stop thinking about monetising things, you just have to do it or you become stagnant,” said Betteridge. Karaian even talked about Quartz being like an API in itself, with the publication starting its own bot studio to experiment further with conversational interaction.
With technology having a massive impact on the way news is reported, brands need to think about content and stories that work across more channels than before. Kharpal experiments with Snapchat to deliver news for CNBC, The Memo successfully trialled a WhatsApp newsletter and Quartz launched a compelling chatbot app that delivers news conversationally. As publications experiment with new formats, so too should brands to ensure their storytelling has impact across many different forms of media.
Search has changed the face of journalism over the last decade. At Alphr, no story is ever final, with updates being made frequently to reflect new developments and keep stories high in the search rankings. Now that reporting is much more fluid, brands have the opportunity to add to the discussion even once an article has gone live.
Data-based stories are also huge - but we aren’t talking about your run-of-the-mill survey. Karaian commented: “Charts are like our cat videos in that they’re very shareable and very social.” For technology businesses, which often sit on a trove of interesting data, this provides another opportunity to bring a story to life - whether through anonymised customer data or industry statistics.
Forward-thinking organisations are adopting a much more open and collaborative approach to media relations, giving journalists access to dashboards helping them to craft stories that pay off for both the writers and the brands involved.
In today’s competitive media landscape, it’s no longer just about what you say but how you behave as a brand. Experiment with how you package up stories, open up a little and have a sense of humility, but above all - keep it human. People buy people - so it’s the stories that illustrate the human impact of the technology in engaging and novel ways that will create the most influence.