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August 17, 2007

Comments

Daljit B

I don't think this arguement has any legs and takes a rather dated US-centric view of the world. If I have understood correctly, few of us will want to wait until the hacks awake at 5pm on the west coast to get that day's tech news. If hacks are left behind in the UK to report 'European' news the best place for them to be pitched to will remain the UK so you will still need PR people in the UK. However, any agency/client whose media list doesn't extend beyond the likes of ZDnet et al, is indeed in trouble.

Andrew Smith

Thanks for the input - I thought posting here was best way to flush out opinions and reactions - any more for any more??

Ben Roome

This is such a peculiar view of the situation, that I can only imagine it was written to provoke. The basic premise that only new tech is coming out of the US is obviously flawed. After that, the whole argument collapses.

Andrew Smith

Ben - I suspect there is an element of provocation in there - though I don't doubt the person concerned does sincerely believe there is some veracity to the argument stated. I agreed to post it on the basis that it would get people talking about it. Which is happening. And is nice.

However, I think we all know that budgets aren't getting any bigger - and yes, there is clearly going to be less demand for pure tech journalism and tech media relations - but it doesn't necessarily follow that it is the end for tech PR - I just think the nature of the work we do is changing ie less emphasis on traditional media relations but expanding into other areas - we've certainly seen that here eg big uptake of video testimonial work, digital, etc.

And given recent annoucements of US tech PR agencies setting up UK/EMEA operations, I don't think they'd be doing that if they felt the UK/EMEA tech PR market was contracting.

Anyway - more than happy for more people to throw their hat into the ring on this one!!

Mary Branscombe

Is this 'Felix doesn't want as many magazines and is selling Maxim to the US so obviously all the other mags will go too?'.

US titles and attitudes don't match UK interests - writing for both I find obvious differences. Switching to US based coverage will end up with unhappy readers. Of course that wouldn't necessarily stop it happening!

BTW, this captcha thing for every comment is becoming a tad burdensome... if I'm in a hurry it can stop me commenting. Totally appreciate the spam issue but I thought I'd mention.

Andrew Smith

Mary - I've turned captcha off - hopefully I won't have a return of the comment spam that caused me to put on in the first place - but I'd hate to think you were being deterred from commenting.

Nick Booth

Andrew,

This is depressing reading, so it's probably true.

What's missing is an Orwellian analysis of the situation. Surely you're the man to give us this.

What would the great man have thought of our journalism being centralised in America?

Also, what's with the beard?

I'm amazed you can get away with that in PR.

regards

Nick

Andrew Smith

I'm sure he's turning in his grave.

Given he likened advertising to the rattling of a stick in a swill bucket, I dread to think how he might describe modern day tech PR - or US tech journalism.

As for my Bee Gees impersonation, it was a short lived experiment - shorter hair and trimmed goatee now restored ;-)


Charles

Loads of tech stuff comes out of the US. The big tech spend comes out of the US. A lot of UK tech PR I see is trying to drum up interest for companies that have done well in the US; the UK is almost always just the sales side for software etc developed in the US.

Honourable exceptions: satnav; various disparate UK tech startups (last.fm, anyone? Did you know it was British?).

If you really analysed the money, I'm sure you'd find most has US parentage. Or Far Eastern, of course.

This doesn't though mean that there's any less need for UK tech journalism - we use this stuff here, so need to know the issues here. Such as price disparities, which US companies are oddly reluctant to talk about.. or language compatibility.. or access to finance..

There's still a need for the journalism. Quite how strong the need for the PR is, well, I leave that to those who know.

Andrew Smith

Charles - thanks for stopping by. I'd say most UK tech PR is about representing the UK sales arm of a US outfit - and that's always been the case. I've worked in tech PR for 20 years and represented probably in the region of over 100 firms - out of that I can only think of 3 genuinely UK tech operations - they were all US (as well as a smattering of Israeli firms).

I agree there is still a need for tech journalism - but the outlets for that journalism are clearly in decline - The Guardian stand s out like a sore thumb in terms of its tech coverage. Tech PR as pure media relations is definitely going to change - as you yourself know, the general standard of tech PR in terms of dealing with the nationals is pretty poor - not just because it appears to be greenhorns that are thrown at it, but that client's expectations as to what can be achieved is routinely exagerrated - how many clients are sold on the idea that they are going to get regular and sustained national coverage - it just doesn't happen - far better to pitch your one good story once every 6 or 12 months than keep plugging away every week in the vain hope that something might just get through. And pissing you and your peers off at the same time. Trouble is, you can't build a (traditional) PR business on that approach (at least if that is all you do).

So tech PR is going to have to change - with media relations occupying a valuable (but niche) role. Or perhaps the emergence of much smaller, specialist outfits for who this approach could be sustainable.

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