Four months after publishing its 2020 State of Tech Journalism Report, Muckrack dropped its 2021 State of Journalism Report this week. There are many similarities between reporters in general and tech beat reporters, but the story is in the differences – two in particular: how reporters view the quality and presentation of information we share; and how reporters view the trustworthiness of online influencers.
Each of these differences speak to an internal struggle most B2B marketing professionals face daily (if we’re being honest with ourselves). We geek out. We often over-rotate on the importance of the tech factor when crafting narratives and thus miss opportunities for general and vertical stories – or worse, don’t consider them.
But, elementary as it may sound, that’s a hard battle, one that can only be won if you force yourself to think differently. And now we have more research that proves we must think differently, because your average reporter defines and thinks of tech in very different ways than the guys covering tech.
For instance, Muckrack reported that 39 percent of tech reporters think the way companies share information is outdated. Pretty high – but not as high as journalists overall, who came in at 61 percent. Is that because tech companies are better at creatively sharing information? Or, are journalists on average pickier?
Either way, try different and new things when pitching outside the tech pages. One of our clients, Vidyard, offers an asynchronous video platform that is skyrocketing in use during COVID with both sales and marketing pros. We’ve tried it, too, to pitch journalists – and many find it novel and eye-catching.
What about sources? Who do tech reporters trust? And who do reporters overall trust? No surprise at the top: overall, all reporters trust academic subject matter experts most (86 percent) with CEOs second at 74 percent. Those numbers flip – but remain high – for tech reporters, who trust CEOs most (85 percent) and academic SMEs second (78 percent).
But after the top two, it gets interesting. Tech reporters trust social media influencers third, at 72 percent. But for the general journalist population, social media influencers rank near the bottom of the trust scale – at a mere 12 percent. Sure, the cesspool that is online political discourse and the silly self-importance of celebrity tweets explains some of that 60 percent difference. But it’s a fair bet that the smartest tech influencer on social media won’t hold much weight with most generalist reporters. They just don’t trust social media influencers like tech reporters do.
This isn’t to say social media influencer programs are to be shelved completely. They still work with B2B tech reporters – and, beyond media relations, they are a critical part of any modern B2B company’s marketing mix.
But if you’re not pitching tech reporters, keep the social media influencers on the marketing side. When pitching general media, offer your CEO and academic experts. That’s who they trust and understand.