When PR veteran Matt Humphries gathers a panel to discuss media at MWC, and it is chaired by BBC technology reporter Zoe Kleinman, things can’t but get super-compelling and super-interesting for anyone who’s ever struggled with understanding the media machine surrounding the show.
This November in London, Paul Sandle (technology correspondent, Reuters), Julian Bright (senior analyst, Ovum) and James Pearce (deputy editor, Capacity) took the floor to share their experiences, and discuss what media are likely to focus on at MWC19.
Their considerations can easily serve as a quick PR guide for MWC, and how to best communicate with reporters and analysts covering the show.
Pick your battles
At a huge tech event like MWC, there will always be some friction between the expert and mainstream perspective. Even with media training and practice, there are experts who will still get upset with journalists for simplifying, for not using full terminology, or for “explaining it wrong”. Don’t get caught in this old trap. This will ruin the story and push the audience away.
As Zoe Kleinman put it, there is a vocal group of people who get very upset whenever mainstream media uses the term “hologram”. They insist it’s in fact “Pepper’s ghost illusion”. That may be more precise, but it will never make it to a headline, or take the audience further into the story.
When covering technology, mainstream media translates tech into stories. They use concepts their audiences can understand. Reporters know about attention grabbers, story pace and how to keep the interest high. Technical people do the opposite. They focus on “correcting” omissions, insist on details, throw tech jargon back in. From a reporter’s point of view, they just don’t get it. So, if you want to make it to the news - be wise and choose your battles.
Don't send surveys
Stories should be genuine, new and quirky, to capture media attention. While everyone seems to know that, not everyone tries to approach the media with stuff that meets those criteria. In fact, companies seem to hope that other tactics could work, too. One of them being surveys.
Many of the surveys that the media gets from companies are far from relevant, panelists said. And it will rarely prompt them to look further into the story. If you asked 6 people which product they liked, and 3 of them said yours, that is not statistically relevant, and not very likely to earn media coverage.
Time your efforts
News cycle is another thing to understand when it comes to MWC. Many companies will ask themselves when is best to make their moves, and start calling the media or sending them information. For James Pearce of Capacity Media, early January is a good time to get information related to MWC, however this can be different with mainstream media and industry analysts. November is too early to reach out to journalists and editors. Things sent around Christmas can end up being overlooked.
It does take some experience and exposure to MWC media machine to be able to navigate all that, and some companies will get lost in the process. If you are looking to make a serious media effort, it could be useful to look into professional PR services.
Don’t bark up the wrong tree
Trade media will focus on a specific area, analysts will look to identify trends and recognize the upcoming shifts in the areas they analyse. Reporters will often call analysts for explanation. While media professionals are aware of these dynamics, companies are often not. They may find themselves competing for the attention of the media that will not cover their story, simply because it's not the kind of topic they write about.
It's important to understand what journalists cover, and what is their area of interest. Otherwise invites and potential stories could end up in wrong inboxes, with zero likelihood of being converted into articles.