I recently had lunch with Paul Gillin as part of our InkHouse interviews with journalists program to discuss industry trends and PR tips. Paul describes his business model as “hybrid,” since he spends part of his day as a journalist and other half as a marketer. He is currently enterprise editor at SiliconANGLE, and a partner at Gillin and Laberis where he is a speaker, writer and B2B content marketing strategist.Paul has covered IT since 1982. He was editor-in-chief and executive editor of Computerworld and later founding editor of TechTarget. In addition, he’s written five books including The New Influencers: A Marketer’s Guide to the New Social Media, Secrets of Social Media Marketing, Social Marketing to the Business Customer (co-authored with Eric Schwartzman). His latest book is Attack of the Customers.
Q: How do you think tech news is being influenced by the new White House Administration?
For most of my career, information technology has been seen as a good thing, but now I am hearing more discussions around federal policies and the potential negative impact of technology on society. For example, if the ISP data restrictions on privacy are rolled back, giving those companies the opportunity to sell web data, it will have far-reaching consequences. This policy is driving discussions about how to protect yourself online because of the potential for misuse of data for profiling or ways the government could meddle in our affairs by monitoring us. This is fueling anxiety about privacy and the misuse of private data. As people have become more familiar with information technology, they’ve also become more suspicious of it.
Q: What are your biggest predictions for 2017/2018 for enterprise tech?
- Machines are getting smarter, quicker. The way we interact with machines will continue to evolve, and it will be interesting to see which jobs machines supplant most quickly. AI and robotics are beginning to take over knowledge worker jobs.
- The way humans interface with computers will change, making technology a more seamless part of our lives. Google Glass got a bad rep, but the idea of a constantly available, conveniently accessible digital assistant is powerful. In the future, we will be able to use Google Glass or a similar technology to access information at our fingertips, replacing today’s rather awkward phone metaphor.
- Fake news, trolling and the way tech is being co-opted in negative ways will continue. I expect a backlash against technology. It could be an event like Chernobyl where a major miscarriage of technology invades people’s privacy. Privacy will be a bigger issue as computers become more pervasive and invasive.
Q: What types of stories are you most interested in doing?
I like to speak with people who are passionate about what they do and about how they are changing the world. I also like offbeat stories that combine human interest with a technology dimension. For example in April (National Autism month) I wrote a piece about how autistic people can make great software testers because of their often remarkable ability to focus on details and process.
I am always interested in hearing how a product works but if you want coverage, give me a referenceable customer. Few public relations people do that. They tend to be very focused on just the product.
Q: What are your worst PR pet peeves?
- Badgering: PR people frequently follow up to be sure I saw their email. Rest assured that I did. You can license cheap services to tell you that automatically. I get 30-40 pitches a day. No response is a response.
- Disrespect: When they don’t respect my time and send a 1,000-word pitch letter. Sometimes they will send multiple copies of the same pitch.
- Not providing an image: Less than five percent of press releases Paul receives include images, despite the fact that every news story needs an image associated with it. Posts with images get more views. Not sending illustrative material to complement your press release is missing a simple opportunity.
- Under-delivering on expectations: PR people often pitch me on topical conversations, but when the call begins it quickly becomes evident that the executive has no idea what the pitch was. So they talk about their product. This wastes my time and engenders no goodwill.
- Phone calls: Email is a great form of communication. It enables me to think through a response and send it on my own time. A phone call is an intrusion. Unless it’s a full-on emergency, send email.
- Fluff: Pitches that are full of gobbeldy gook, or meaningless language. I teach language classes. Words and phrases that insinuate themselves – like “best of breed,” “user-friendly,” “intuitive” and “industry-leading” mean nothing without evidence.
- Lack of third-party validation: It’s important to support claims with facts. Don’t tell me you’re great. Quote a Gartner analyst saying you’re great.
To learn more check out his "Best & Worst PR Practices" a webinar to help public relations professionals better represent their clients and build lasting relationships with journalists.