Tech Trends Media Didn’t Care About In 2018

In tech PR, the only constant is change. Every year, we see new trends in technology emerge that can inform our programs, content, or even real-time newsjacking. To make way for the new trends, others that have had their time in the spotlight may fall out of favor. As tech PR pros, we often have an inside track on what those are. Why? Because our job is to stay up-to-date on what media cover and care about. This intel guides our pitch angles, plans, bylines, conference submissions — basically everything.
With that in mind, here are a few of the most notable tech trends that went away or simply became less important in 2018, based on story volume or media interest.

Internet of Things

IoT didn’t go away in 2018. However, the category’s “newness” has worn off, and media are less likely to be interested in a story simply because it’s tied to IoT. Just a couple of years ago when IoT was still a relatively new concept, you would see flash-in-a-pan startups that were offering IoT-enabled curtains or toothbrushes drive legitimate story volume. Media thought they were intriguing IoT applications and often had great visuals for a story, even if not very practical. That alone made them coverable. That’s no longer the case. Also, as the IoT category has matured, security and privacy have become key concerns. The coverage has fundamentally shifted from “look at this cool tech” to “look at this dumb IoT device that may have security flaws — is the risk worth it?”


Crowdfunding in tech is here to stay, but as a publicity angle, it’s long over. The rise of Kickstarter and Indiegogo created a new era in tech PR, with pre-revenue businesses tapping PR to pitch crowdfunding campaigns so that they could get coverage and raise money. Rinse and repeat. Let’s be honest — media don’t want to cover startups that have no capital and no scalable product. Every tech journalist was pitched thousands of crowdfunding campaigns in the last five years — many of which were terrible and raised nothing. Others raised money but never delivered a product. So, media aren’t inclined to cover these campaigns anymore. There’s too much risk and uncertainty. Oculus Rift, which famously launched on Kickstarter in 2012 and broke records, was an anomaly, not the norm.


If you’re a cryptocurrency startup, I will happily take your money for PR. But note this — crypto as a tech trend, like Bitcoin’s value, is cratering. Like IoT and crowdfunding, these are innovations that have had and will continue to have a massive impact on the technology space over the long term. But media are less likely to care about your crypto exchange or your Ethereum-based chat platform in 2019 as the category’s shine has worn off. A higher bar is required to drive any positive coverage around a crypto startup or storyline, since months of bad news have shut off opportunities. This is also why you’ve seen the rise of crypto-focused media outlets. As general tech media have narrowed overall coverage of the category, these trades are stepping in to take on the stories like new company announcements that might not otherwise find a home. Here, if you got in early, you may have captured some great coverage about the technology’s promise. Now? It’s an uphill climb to generate a positive story.

These are some of the tech trends I think went away or were minimized in 2018. Am I wrong? Right? What else am I missing? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter at @chrisharihar.

Trends That Will Shape PR in 2018

What can PR  professionals expect in 2018? Despite the acceleration of change, new directions don’t always announce themselves. Yet in 2017 we’ve seen specific trends that might reasonably be expected to continue through next year. Here are some we’ve noticed.

Brand advocacy will grow

Shortly before the inauguration of the new president, some brands  went against convention and waded into political territory. We saw the Coca-Cola company air a Super Bowl ad featuring a stream of attractive, multiethnic people set against “America the Beautiful,” sung in various languages. Anheuser Busch seemed to take on immigration policy in another Super Bowl spot. Corporate CEOs rallied to aid those affected by the administration’s suddenly announced travel ban.
Nearly a year later, those moves seem almost like baby steps. Mainstream marketers are gradually losing their reluctance to advocate for politically and socially charged issues in their paid content and corporate social responsibility positions. Get ready for more of the same in 2018.

Visual storytelling will be better and easier

If you’ve any doubt about the power of visual storytelling, check out these superb examples by brands large and small. In 2018 we’re likely to experience more technology-assisted visual storytelling and experimentation by brands. A study of 1478 professionals by Wibbitz shows that 80 percent use automation tools for visual content creation, and that more than three quarters say they will expand visual content creation in the coming year. PR and marketing pros will  increasingly look to automation and data technology tools to ramp up efficiency and output of compelling and highly searchable content.

Paid and earned media will come together

Earned media has kept its value as a public relations outcome. In an era plagued by charges of “fake news,” the influence of trusted brand domains and recognizable journalism is more important than ever. However, earned media alone may not be enough in today’s competitive social content landscape. PR professionals will need to understand how to use content tools and paid techniques to amplify the earned and shared content that results from their efforts. In 2018 we’ll see a continuation of the branded content trend as major companies adopt traditional journalistic techniques, along with technology-assisted storytelling, to create engaging content.

Ad dollars will move to influencer marketing

The competition for consumer mindshare has meant that marketers realize the value of engagement created by influencer relationships. We’ve also seen an expansion of those we call influencers, from academic experts, authors, and analysts, to political pundits, creators, and youthful YouTubers. Marketers have been shifting budgets into influencer marketing for the past few years, as paid advertising has declined and the definition of influence has broadened and changed. Over the past few years, so-called micro-influencers have been popular as a cost-effective and relatively automated tool as well. But 2018 will likely see a move to deeper, more long-term, more organic influencer partnerships. It may also set up a tussle between PR and marketing for ownership of the influencer budget and relationship.

Public relations will emerge as a strategic management function

Many would say that public relations has already fulfilled its potential as a management discipline, but this is true largely within multinational corporations, and even there, the corporate communications function does not always report into the CEO. Nor has PR embedded itself into academic community and its thought leadership and alumni networks. But the commitment of professional organizations like The PR Council and CIPR, which is working toward greater academic involvement by PR leadership, is changing the equation. So is the work of individual mega-agencies who support the inclusion of a robust PR curriculum at business schools. And the decades-long effort to create a true methodology for evaluating outcomes has placed PR on a track to come into its own.