Tech Media Has Changed. Tech PR Needs to Change With It.

By Sarah Barsch

The technology landscape has significantly shifted over the past few years and the media’s approach to covering this sector has shifted alongside it. Though “stagnant” is not a word that ever applied to media, the pandemic, an unpredictable global economy, and the impact of AI and rapid digitalization have accelerated the industry’s evolution, leading to sweeping changes that were once beyond our imagination. For PR and communications professionals, understanding and adapting to these changes is not just helpful—it’s crucial to hit your clients’ media coverage goals.

Let’s dissect some of the changes that are reshaping the narrative:

Mastheads are shrinking.

The media is struggling – in some cases, mightily – to keep up with digitalization and diminishing revenue streams. Readers are fatigued and those who follow the news increasingly turn to social media, leading to a decline in online readership of established news sources. As a result, media outlets are restructuring their businesses. Since the start of the year, TechCrunch announced the end of TC+, Red Ventures indicated an interest in selling CNET, and many talented and experienced tech reporters were laid off.

Amid shrinking newsrooms, reporters are stretching their interests far and wide to engage with audiences in new formats, and the freelance economy is exploding. We anticipate this continuing over the next year—and beyond. If the trend continues, free-agent reporters could very well be the future of the industry.

The medium is changing.

The internet provides an ease of publication which traditional print media lacked. As many media outlets struggle to find their footing in the current digital landscape, alternative news mediums are flourishing. Online platforms and digital media outlets, fueled by an insatiable appetite for tech-related information, have helped alternative formats—like email newsletters, social media news platforms, video-first content, and podcasts—find widespread popularity.

For example, former Protocol journalist Tom Krazit founded Runtime –a new publication covering enterprise tech products – and over one million individuals receive TL;DR, an email newsletter summarizing the latest stories in tech, startups, and programming. Additionally, Substack newsletters are growing in popularity, allowing journalists to expand their reach through its network of over three million paid subscribers. The rise of technology podcasts across media outlets, like Bloomberg or The Verge, also showcase the hunger for diverse tech-related content beyond the confines of traditional newspapers and magazines.

Further, we’re seeing reporters kickstart their own newsletters, LinkedIn blogs and publications to shake the confines of legacy publications. Social media has furthered this pursuit, as today’s journalists are more than writers; they’re influencers, hosts, and bloggers as well.

As tech evolves, so does its media.

Despite ever-shrinking mastheads, advancements in technology have spawned new beats, covering AI, tech policy, digital transformation, and more. This poses a challenge to the remaining staff reporters, as they must expand their existing focus areas and cover a wider array of topics. While arguably fatigued by this change of pace and broadening coverage, their dedication and determination to share the stories that matter are admirable.

The rules of engagement with tech media have transformed, and the strategies that once guaranteed a spot in the limelight are now as outdated as last year’s best selling or most popular tech product. To succeed in tech media’s new landscape, PR pros need to continuously adjust their strategies.

  • Do your research: To stand out, you’ll need to do your homework. Developing a strong understanding of a reporter’s beat and areas of interest will make a big difference and help you get a story across.Beyond identifying the right target, creativity and brevity are critical. With fewer reporters writing technology stories, and so many tech vendors vying for coverage, it’s about having a crafty headline to grab attention, a hyper-personalized pitch, keeping things short and sweet, and thinking like the journalist you are approaching. The right note takes both time and creative muscle. 
  • Be innovative: PR professionals in B2B tech need to get inventive when pitching angles around client’s services. Toeing the line of vendor neutrality in our media efforts is critical to landing earned placements and nurturing lasting media relationships. Reporters don’t want a sales pitch; they’re looking for a narrative that their readers will care about.
  • Have a back-up plan: Furthermore, with reporters stretched thin and covering multiple beats, product news rarely gets the attention it once did. To compete with other timelier news, it’s valuable to have a backup plan. Counseling clients around expanded campaigns including integrated options like sponsored contributed content and owned/social media can help bolster product announcements beyond earned efforts.
  • Diversify platform outreach: With new podcasts, video news shows, newsletters and other digital mediums joining the tech media fray, expanding outreach beyond traditional media is paramount to success. This wide variety of forums is transitioning PR to an era of visibility over strictly earned media relations; it’s about generating impactful brand awareness across myriad channels.

No one is more aware of the shifts in tech media than reporters themselves and being sensitive to the fact that they are more than gatekeepers to our client’s next feature is essential. A friendly note can be a breath of fresh air, especially when their inboxes are overflowing with requests and pitches.

Navigating the tech media landscape demands a strategic recalibration for PR professionals. Adapting to these shifts is a prerequisite for success when working within tech media in 2024 and beyond. Staying relevant means doing the homework, embracing diversity in outreach and understanding that the only constant is change.