Ed Sperling will be walking the floor and taking meetings on behalf of New Tech Press during DAC on Monday and coming back Tuesday. We are setting up appointments for him, so if you have any burning news that isn't getting covered by the primary news organs in the electronics industry... and you would like to see it happen ... give us a call at 650-366-8212 and let's see what we can schedule.
For those of you who have had to find workarounds or have been absolutely flummoxed by style issues on the site, my apologies. Typepad instituted some new formatting bugs .... I mean features, that made my former format unusable, and required I use formatting that screwed up certain aggregators, including Firefox and my own favorite Newsfire.
I've redesigned the site so it HOPEFULLY works again. Let me know if you're having any problems.
I've had several meetings with people in the media industry the past few weeks. One was just last night.. Something is happening. I can't really say what right now because I've promised I won't. But the media world is about to do something I really never expected it would do. It's going to change the way it does business. It's going back to the roots of the democratic process of information gathering and it is going to stop relying on the traditional forms of financial support that have caused our current situation.
The problem is that most of the technology industry still thinks that going to trade shows and putting out press releases on the web is the be all and end all of communication strategy; that five to 10 customers is all they have to be concerned about. When the media makes the transformation, a lot of companies are going to drown, and not just little startups. This is going to swamp some Fortune 1000 companies.
Interesting AP Story today about the Belgian press suing Goggle over publishing and storing the publications content. They're asking for more than $70 million in reparations.
Without taking a position on this issue it is interesting to note that it is a definite trend. Google has already lost suits with American newspapers on this issue. If this trend continues, the only think Google will be good for is finding where your news release ends up, maybe. The free information on the web may end up being worth its cost.
The Washington Post had a story over the holiday weekend that
reinforced the philosophy of New Tech Press and this blog and opened up quite a
conversation with a daily newspaper publisher I was advising.
The story was about Joshua Bell, a world-renowned violinist
who participated in a Washington Post experiment on the nature of beauty.The question posed was: What would
happen if you put a well-known musician in a Washington DC metro station and
had him play for quarters.The
hypothesis assumed that the music would be so compelling that the commuters
would stop dead in their tracks and toss handfuls of money into the violin
case.Didn't happen.Only one person stopped for a few
seconds and there wasn't enough money in the case at the end of the day to pay
for Bell's cab fare.The finding
of the experiment was that when you place an outstanding message of beauty and
truth in the context of a busy commuter station, the context overtakes the
The publisher one of the last privately owned daily
newspaper in the US and, until recently has been thriving in the midst of the
implosion of the media industry. The
cost of gasoline and the sub-prime meltdown, however, has hit the paper hard
and dried up a lot of real estate and auto advertising that was the foundation
of the publication's revenue.
This weekend we talked at length about the launch of New Tech
Press two weeks ago and its outstanding success in promoting news and messages
of the first sponsor, Microemissive Displays.Our discussion was around how to apply this model to a daily
newspaper and the discussion was around the very issue of connecting the
context of news with the message of the advertiser and it wasn't until he
showed me the Post article that some things started becoming clearer for both
The basic problem of advertising in the media is that it has
no place in the context of the news.For example, the online article on Bell was accompanied by an ad for an
investment company.I had to
consciously decide to look at the ad while reading the article.Considering the message of the ad in
reading the content was not a natural act.
In the same way, we talked about an example that could occur
in jis publiction.An auto
insurance agency could be a local advertiser in an issue that includes a story about
a serious local auto accident.The
article could appear on page one, but the advertisement could show up on an
inside page that has no connection to the article.The readers would not connect the two.
But what if that same article concluded with a simple
phrase: "Sponsored by AAA Auto Insurance," accompanied by a web
address?A very brief mention of
an insurance agency placed in context of an article about an auto accident
would have more value than a display ad without of that context, not only to
the sponsor, but to the reader who might be considering changing insurance
It took a while for the idea to sink in for the publisher,
but eventually he started to see the light.His next step is to convince his traditional newsroom
staff.I hope he's
successful and not just for his business's sake. If we don't change the paradigm, we're going to lose the free press.
On my long list of things to do has been to call Bill Barron, vice
president and publishing director at Hearst Business Communications and have a
chat about New Tech Press.Bill,
ever the go-getter, beat me to the punch last week right after the Microemissive Displays story broke on New Tech Press and the media network.He wanted to arrange a meeting with his
team about how Hearst could work with us.
So Wednesday, my "homeboy" of business development and I
were on the phone with Bill,Electronic ProductsEditorial Director Murray
Slovick, and EP's Managing Editor Bryan DeLuca.It wasn't a long call because these guys get what New Tech
Press is doing. The bottom line:
Electronic Products and it's sister publications at Hearst are now a part of
the New Tech Press media network.
Electronic Products and the Hearst organization is one of the few bright
spots in BtoB media right now. They understand which way the wind is blowing and
they are setting their sails accordingly. Their business is growing, not only
here but in the Asian market with theIDG partnership.Unlike almost everyone else, they have
been investing in building content and editors, but that editorial staff is
still stretched and they have been looking for ways to cost effectively expand
"It's really pretty obvious that New Tech Press is a good
idea and and excellent source of content.We'll take as much as we can get," Murray said during the
And we're going to give them as much as possible, specifically
video.EP has put a standing video
section on the home page and wants to populate it with real information, not
canned marketing crap.Bill and I
had a brief discussion about the EP news section that is populated primarily by
rehashed news releases and the possibility of replacing it all with New Tech
Press content.All we have to do
is get it.
So it's up to you guys out there in the electronics world.You gonna get with the program?
In June, the Design Automation Conference is going on in Anaheim. There
are going to be the remaining editors covering the DAC program, but they won't
have much time for meetings. I know Murray and his crew want to meet with
everyone they can, but there will only be a handful of them at the show so
don't get your hopes up. There will, however, be New Tech Press editors walking
the floor and offering a chance to get into our new video program among other
opportunities.It's becoming the
only game in town for the EDA industry now and it's going to become a pretty
exclusive club fairly soon.
The damage that the drop in advertising has caused in the B2B media is spilling over into the daily business press as well. Just heard that Katie Hafner is no longer reporting for the New York Times after 10 years covering technology. She's also been at Newsweek, BusinessWeek (where I first met her) and several other publications.
Yeah, I know there have been lots of layoffs in the daily press. The point is that lots of clients over the years have wanted to get into "business press" publications about their wonderful technology and, until recently, that was a very remote, outside possibility but not completely out of line. If the business press is laying of technology reporters like Katie, well, let's just call it an impossibility now.
The problem with marketing in most technology companies is that it isn't marketing. It's sales support. And most marketing VPs are, in reality, sales engineers. Real marketing is a conversation. A marketer doesn't just listen to the customers, but to the customer's customers, and to the the people that influences those people. After he's done listening, he then starts thinking and formulating responses and directions that he believes will open paths for the sales people. Before he responds, he tests his hypotheses with this audience he's developed to establish a reality basepoint and only then hands off to the sales team.
And if he doesn't see any paths open for the sales people at least three years down the line, he arranges for an exit for the company that provides value for everyone involved -- his company, the company's customers, and the acquiring entity.
I've been thinking about all this with the news that another small technology company went away in a "fire sale" of the assets. The good news is everyone kept their jobs and got raises. The bad news is they left a bunch of money on the table a couple of years ago that could have given the investors something back, kept everyone's jobs and given the company an opportunity to make a real difference in the industry and economy. All this came about because they ignored the advice and insight of the marketing team two years ago. They believed their own sales hype. Always a bad idea.
While sales is a crucial element of any company, it isn't the real driving factor of success. Sales is short term, marketing is long term. Sales is reactive, marketing is proactive. Our focus on sales is what drives the irrational swings of the stock market, creates corporate failure, hampers investment in and development of new technology, and puts us in the situation we are now: faltering economies and pessimistic expectations for the future.
Market-driven companies succeed without solid products. Market-driven industries grow year after year. But market-driven corporate philosophies are like eagles. We don't seem to have many left.
I hear lots of questions about the state of the media and how companies can communicate their messages in our current situation. Most of them are not to good. Here's a few to consider:
What's your circulation? (Asked in reference to New Tech Press)
That's a really bad question, at least if you're honest about what you want to accomplish. Most companies have stopped advertising and supporting B2B media because they claim the circulation doesn't reach their target market and they don't want to advertise to a bunch of people they don't care about. That's why I said "if you're honest." The real reason companies don't support mass media is because they think the can get it for free through PR.
Can you get us into EE Times/Information Week/BusinessWeek? (asked in reference to Pr services)
Again this is both bad and dishonest Companies that ask this question don't spend anything to support the media because they claim it doesn't "reach" their target market, but they still push their PR companies to get the broadest possible coverage in as many magazines as possible. Why? Because the see that as "free" advertising. After all they pay the PR reps very little now adays so it's a good deal for them. the problem is that the media has figured that out and is no longer supporting that model. So the answer to the question is, probably not unless you have a technology that is so stupendous that they can't help but see the value. As Patrick Mannion pointed out yesterday the semiconductor industry hasn't yet figured out why they aren't getting the coverage they used to get. What Patrick didn't say is that there are few companies in technology who have figure that out.
What experience do you have in this technology?
What job seeker hasn't heard this before? It happens to PR agencies, Ad agencies, and even publications when they are talking about reporters. How's this for an answer: Well, you've just said you have no competition, therefore you are either doing something so new that no one has experience in it or it is so useless that no one else wants to do it. At least, that's an answer I heard a VC give a company that told the investor that the company had no competitors.
Let's be very clear about what our situation is. What you remember being the case 10 years ago no longer applies; there are no guaranteed results anymore because everything has to be done different than you've ever done before; and there are customers for your products and services out there that you don't know about and, more importantly, don't know about you. The mass media is the only way to reach them and you better figure out how to work with them and support them if you want to succeed.