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.

3 Tech Trends PR Should Care About

Public relations is always changing, and technology trends are a big influence on how PR evolves. Whether your world is strictly B2B or your target audience straddles business and consumer audiences, there are some technology trends that can — and should — influence your PR and communications campaigns.

New in content-sharing: audio. New apps for sharing content always interest communications professionals. Visual and video content have been most shareable, but this year, we’re starting to see new ways of developing audio content, too. Anchor, which generated buzz at SXSW this year, calls itself “radio by the people,” and lets you respond to social media posts in your own voice. KnowMe, an app that lets you share voice and video messages and also record voice-overs for your existing photos, was founded by filmmaker JJ Abrams and Moviefone founder Andrew Jarecki, which doesn’t hurt. The trend is a continuation of self-publishing, providing another medium on which people can broadcast in – literally – their own voice. It’s only a matter of time before brands, influencers, and publishers develop a presence and practice for using audio-sharing platforms, giving PR professionals something new to work with.

Tools for streamlining the work of PR. It seems we’ve fallen out of love with email in favor of tools that help streamline digital communications and workflow. Slack quickly became a media darling and is rumored to have raised another $200 million in funding to continue expanding its empire. But it’s more than just a way to declutter: media companies are using it as a content publishing tool also. That has major implications for PR, broadening the scope of where to pitch stories and share messages with their audiences.

Virtual Reality. Virtual or augmented reality is perhaps more prevalent as a marketing tool, as brands in travel, outdoor gear, and retail experiment with new ways to let customers experience their products or services. But there are bound to be implications for PR. Media relations is often about relationship building, and we’re already seeing companies build relationships with key media contacts covering their space by offering VR reality experiences as a cool new way to get to know the company. One of our clients recently hosted a successful VR fair to showcase different aspects of its work. Were media interested in a VR experience to learn more about the company’s initiatives? The answer was a resounding “yes.”

5 Trends That Impact Tech PR Today

As a New York PR agency with a robust technology group, we work with companies who are redefining the leading edge in tech developments. Tech trend stories are everywhere, whether the work involves art or digital advertising, cooking or construction, professional services or sales. Technology is woven throughout everything we do, and from a public relations perspective, certain themes are clear, while others are emerging. Here’s what we see as top trends of the moment.

Ad blocking — it’s not going away soon. Ad blockers have been around for some time, but the ad blocking story hit the media with gusto this year, on the heels of Apple’s entry into the ad blocking game this fall. (It should come as no surprise that Apple still can make news and set trends like few other companies.) While some downplay the legitimacy of ad blockers as a real story, there’s no denying the debate -and the threat. Look for more developments to create acceptable standards for ads, more debate over fees for white-listing, and the bigger issue of how the advertising industry will meet the challenge of creating digital ads consumers actually want to see. Incidentally, the pushback against ads only serves to reinforce the importance of earned media content, which has important implications for media and public relations in the technology space.

Virtual reality. Once a distant prospect, virtual reality enters mainstream viability and is poised to become a big story when it comes to technology PR. The New York Times launched its virtual reality reader last week in conjunction with Google, and Microsoft unveiled its long awaited HoloLens, the virtual reality headset. The implications of VR are widespread, and, as it’s still early in the game, it will only gain traction as a trend in the months ahead.

Predictive analytics — the future of data. If 2014-2015 was the year of Big Data, the newest development in data is predictive analytics, the process of analyzing data to search for patterns from which one can make predictions about the future. What we hear from our clients over and over again is that it’s not just about data, it’s about data insights. 

Data security and privacy. Speaking of data, the story of data privacy never went away, and today it only continues to pick up steam. Most recently, Facebook is in the news again, this time defending itself against grievances in a Belgian court over its data collection practices.  Microsoft, Google, and other top players in the cloud technology world have come under similar scrutiny, often driven by clashing rules over data security in the European Union versus the U.S. From our experience working with tech companies, being able to ensure data security — ie. the assurance that services are not collecting and selling customer data — is a differentiator that has real value in the marketplace.

Connectivity — coming soon, to the next 4 billion. Internet connectivity is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity and is almost assumed as a right in developed countries. But the estimated 3.2 billion people who are connected to the Internet is still less than half the world’s population, and more and more companies and investors are forging new ways to bring the wired world to the 4 billion inhabitants for whom the web is not a daily norm. The Elon Musks and Mark Zuckerbergs of the world have announced intentions to help on this front, while third world countries themselves are laying their own infrastructures.