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.
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.