Merritt Group Blog

PRSA in San Francisco: Unpacking Emerging Technologies and the Media

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Merritt Group and the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) – San Francisco Bay Area Chapter recently hosted a panel “Meet the Media: Emerging Technologies Unpacked” to connect PR professionals with journalists covering emerging tech, with a particular focus on artificial intelligence and blockchain. 

Our very own Director of the Emerging Technology practice team, Suzanne Block, moderated the panel with featured insights from Khari Johnson of Venturebeat, Doug Dineley of InfoWorld, and Rachel Wolfson, formerly of Forbes. The group discussed emerging tech trends, how they like to work with PR pros, what drives their story ideas and what an effective pitch from PR professionals should entail. Rachel, Khari and Doug gave us an inside look into their thought process when it comes to writing about technology trends, responding to PR pitches and what compels them to share a company’s story.

Journalists often receive a slew of pitches and have different communication styles, so it’s important to tailor your approach to each individual reporter and how they like to engage with storytellers. 

Use SEO To Drive Story Ideas

Journalists often use search engine optimization (SEO) to analyze how well their story is performing, but they also use SEO to spot conversations and technologies that their audience is paying attention to as well as questions being asked around those topics for story ideas. Track SEO trends and incorporate them into your pitches and headlines. A journalist is more likely to take interest in a story about a trending topic that is already optimized for their audience, so pay attention to keywords like "artificial intelligence" or "blockchain."

"Coverage is driven by what people are searching for and our goal is to try to answer the questions people are already asking. The puzzles come with emerging technology." - Doug Dineley

Discuss the Market Problem and Paint the Solution

While funding announcements are necessary, they don’t provide an interesting narrative to the author or the reader. A reporter’s goal is to create content driven by questions their audience is curious about and the puzzles emerging technologies are helping to solve. When writing your pitch, address pain points and challenges and how your company is creating solutions for those challenges. Tie the impact of emerging technologies to audiences through real-world examples of what a company or product is doing to make an impact, such as a customer story. Nothing speaks to a company's credibility like a good testimonial.

I feel a sense of duty to cover certain issues, like privacy or issues that are impacting underrepresented groups– issues that I think my audience needs to know about.” -Khari Johnson 

Use Reliable Data

When it comes to sharing company-sponsored research, be prepared to defend your facts to an inquiring journalist, especially in a new or niche sector of tech. It’s essential for reporters to fact-check their work in order to remain trustworthy, especially in an era of misinformation. With so many emerging technologies and businesses jumping into the space, reporters are picky about their sources to ensure credibility and accuracy in their reporting. They tend to glaze over reports that are vendor-generated and pay more attention when the survey sample of the study quoted is larger than a few hundred participants.

"I focus on big players in the enterprise because I know their research is legitimate and impacts real-world people like myself." - Rachel Wolfson

To get on the same level as the big players, research thoroughly, be curious and find topics that the publication’s audience would find interesting or helpful for solving a problem. 

For more information on public relations and marketing strategies for emerging technologies, contact Suzanne Block at block@merrittgrp.com

Topics: artificial intelligence public relations journalist emerging technologies