Continuing our series of conversations with journalists, I caught up with TechTarget’s Colin Steele on why he loves breaking a scoop before his competitors, his predictions for the enterprise IT industry and how journalism has changed in the past year.Colin is the editorial director of TechTarget's End-User Computing Media Group, where he covers Windows, mobile computing and desktop virtualization. He joined TechTarget in 2007 as a news writer on the channel beat, and he also spent five years covering the server virtualization market.
Q: What do you think makes for a good story?
In terms of enterprise IT, hearing the IT professional’s voice makes a difference. Too often, journalists have to cut through vendor’s marketing jargon to find out what the important information is for our enterprise IT audience -- how the vendor’s words apply to their challenges.
Q: How has your job changed the most in the past year?
There has been a lot of consolidation in the IT industry and enterprise mobility management space. There used to be so many independent mobility vendors. Now there are only a few left. We’re starting to see new independent companies fill this void and look at new ways to develop mobile apps. New companies are emerging using AI and machine learning to inform mobile application analytics. The biggest change I’ve seen is my expanded coverage area -- moving past traditional software vendors to covering new startups.
Q: Over the past year, what have been your favorite stories to cover?
In general, I love enterprise reporting. I love coming out with a scoop, or exposing a trend or problem that IT pros are facing and no one else is writing about. Getting ahead of the market and using your sources to get news out to the audiences before they hear it elsewhere. It’s too easy to fall into the day to day of being a tech journalist and only writing about vendor news.
Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge being a journalist today?
Right now, the political climate is one of the biggest challenges impacting my job as a journalist. It’s so easy for people to dismiss articles as “fake news” - but the good journalists are the ones who continue to focus on telling the truth to stay credible.
Q: What types of stories are you most interested in writing?
I really enjoy learning about new companies and technologies that are doing innovative work. I recently went to ET6 Exchange in Arizona, where it was very interesting to learn more about tech companies that I wasn’t familiar with. I didn’t do much writing at that event, like I normally do when I attend shows, but I gained insight into longer lead stories and trends for the enterprise.
Q: What role do PR professionals have in your reporting? How many pitches per month/year (roughly) do you end up saying yes to?
PR plays an important role -- a lot of the information TechTarget gets is from PR professionals. We rely on PR to help us get in touch with vendor’s customer contacts. A lot of times we can reach out to vendors ourselves but it’s helpful and valuable to get in touch with customers when writing a story.
I run three websites in TechTarget’s TechTarget's End-User Computing group (comprised of SearchMobileComputing.com, SearchEnterpriseDesktop.com and SearchVirtualDesktop.com). We probably publish 10 news stories per month and about half of those stories come from PR pitches. We receive dozens or hundreds of PR pitches per month.
Q: Whom do you consider your primary audience?
Traditionally IT administrators who work with mobile and desktop administration and virtualization. That audience is expanding because mobility is becoming integrated across the entire industry. The roles of developers and IT administrators is merging and we’re expanding to the app developer audience.
Q: Do you have any tech predictions or PR pet peeves you’d like to share?
I predict that as the market continues consolidating, we are going to continue to see new, innovative companies pop up to try to fill that gap over the next year.
As for PR pet peeves, the volume of emails is the worst. So many pitches are spam. A lot of the pitches I receive have nothing to do with what I currently cover. Another pet peeve is all the marketing speak in pitches. If it takes me too long to figure out what you’re trying to say then I’m just going to stop reading.
Q: Do you expect TechTarget to launch any new sites?
I can’t speak to the company overall because I’m only involved in three sites currently. TechTarget just launched a new site on devops and we’re always trying to make sure we are ahead of the audience and covering all aspects of tech.