Tech PR: The Coming Democratization of Media

“I’m like God — I can do and say whatever I want.”  Thus spake the tech columnist for a large print daily. It was the mid-1990s. I’d called to ask why he’d flagrantly quoted someone out of context. Fortunately there are fewer of these byline clowns in operation today. And that’s the real value of the online revolution displacing traditional media. The Gaddafis of media are holding out a bit longer, but ultimately they’re marked men.

‘Twas a time when, merely by accession to the throne of an important print or broadcast media outlet, a journalist exercised God-like powers. Still happens, but less so.

Some continue to do obeisance when a journalist’s name is followed by the imprint of The New York TimesWall Street Journal or USA Today. What burned me most when CodeWeaver cross-dressed its execs in a video pitch to catch a tech reviewer’s attention — the journalist singled them out for that reason. Maybe they have a great product. That was secondary in his mind. Why does this scene put me in mind of jesters and fools in the court of Henry VIII?

Hopefully this level of sucking up to media is on the way out.

Traditional media are in decline for a variety of reasons, but primarily because better choices are on the rise and we can judge their value by more sophisticated measures than were available even a year ago.

What we’re seeing is not really a decline but rather the democratization of media. More and more media will become like what we call “trade” press, independent, specialized and highly niche focused. What that means for clients: explosive growth in the number and type of venues to tell their story to the right people, not merely a mass, i.e., diffuse audience.

What’s coming is journalism’s corollary to OTT content in the video arena: no more channels, pricey subscriptions or bundled packages of stuff you don’t wait — just abundant choice. When and if new kings and created, it will be by popular vote and without tenure.

Jim Crawford is the president of Crawford PR and author of Black Box Blog, an expert perspective on tech PR success.

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