30 Influential Tech Journalists You Need to Watch [Data-Backed]
Technology moves at a dizzying speed. Tech journalism has seen incredible changes over the past decade, but one thing is certain: there will always be a need for those who connect users, tech companies, and industry professionals with breaking news and new technologies.
The truth is, while there has been debate — sometimes fierce — over what these professionals should be called, at the heart of it all, they are tech journalists.
These writers forge important bridges across the industry. They can wield an incredible amount of influence. They can shape opinions and purchasing patterns.
Tech journalists are a powerful force and key industry players. To best understand the value of these professionals, it helps to understand how to identify the best tech journalists — and why they’re so successful.
All data for this article was provided by EpicBeat.
The Role of Tech Journalists
So what does a tech journalist do? Tech journalists play a variety of roles. They become important to audiences and marketers alike for many reasons. They serve as sources of information for cutting-edge technology.
They review and compare gadgets. They give sneak peeks to users. But they also follow trends, voice commentary, and offer outlets for humor, frustration, and everything in between in the tech world. The very best tech journalists establish healthy readerships and connections with fellow journalists, technology manufacturers, marketers, and of course, their readers.
In other words, tech journalists need to have their fingers on the pulse of the industry.
They need to cover breaking news and watch how users are reacting to new tech.
Windows of opportunity in this business are only open for a fleeting moment, and those who don’t act fast are left behind. The best journalists know how to capture split-second opportunities to respond to new innovations and technologies before the next big event occurs.
By now, most writers cringe to reopen the debate over tech journalists vs. independent bloggers. For more than a decade, writers from both sides of the argument have been pulling their hair out over justifying and defending their respective camps. The debate is so old at this point that many consider the matter over, case closed.
Think about it.
When it comes down to it, not only do tech bloggers and journalists operate within the same industry in many similar ways, and function with many of the same protections, but their ultimate goals are very similar: produce great content that is accessible and exciting to their readers.
What’s more, the lines between tech journalism and blogging are so blurred at this point that many consider it aimless to continue the debate. But no matter what name these writers prefer, the intentions and goals should be to support a growing readership and develop authority through publishing valuable, consistent content, and to build productive, beneficial relationships within the industry.
Journalism and Social Media
Think of the ways journalists communicate with their readers. Tech journalists use myriad venues of publication to reach their audiences. Of course, social media plays a critical role, and it’s an important tool to connect with readers and other industry professionals.
For journalists, social media is no longer an option.
Not only can stories reach larger audiences through social media, especially across multiple platforms, but writers can use this presence to help shape their identities. The International Center for Journalists emphasizes the importance of social media presence as a way to build a personal brand for journalists as independents.
These accounts can help readers connect with a writer in a more personal way, and provide snapshot exposures to content snippets outside of formal publications or long-form pieces.
What’s more, social media outlets also empower journalists to dive into public discussions at any time. This ability is particularly important during breaking news events. Discussions can pop up between journalists, other industry professionals, and users in the blink of an eye. Even large media outlets such as the BBC recognize the value of the two-way interactions that social media presents journalists.
These interactions let writers see what their readers are thinking and how they are reacting.
So why is it important for journalists to listen to their readers? User responses can be incredibly valuable for a couple of reasons. One, they enable journalists to establish relationships with their readers, and two, comments and reactions can give writers a better idea of how users are responding to events, technologies, and gadgets.
The more info writers have on how their readers are using technology, the better. Industry professionals, who understand trends in populations and how those groups are responding to new technologies, will find it much easier to become thought leaders in those industries.
What Is a Thought Leader?
This is the part where influence comes in.
The most powerful tech journalists are the ones who wield influence through strong readership, connections, and support. Establishing this level of leadership takes time, it takes guts, and it takes luck.
It’s not always easy.
Over the past few years, there have been umpteen examples of journalistic gaffes from a common and (sometimes) avoidable act: a wrong prediction.
A lot of incorrect predictions were made about the alleged rise to fame and anticipated success of the app by tech journalists. And after its rapid plunge, a lot of journalists were faced with a lot of raised eyebrows over the hype.
Of course, nobody can see into the future.
There will always be those predictions that we look back on in embarrassment — Newsweek‘s publication from February 1995 on how the internet won’t take off is a shining example. But the best journalists can do their homework. They can (and do) tap into the actual on-the-ground use of technology and its reception, instead of focusing only on what the last tech writer published.
They understand what users are actually doing, not what they think they’re doing. There is no guesswork here.
So how is this influence developed? Thought leaders develop their influence through trust. Readers trust the very best tech journalists’ opinions and predictions. A Twitter post could influence an undecided reader to buy a new flagship smartphone (or convince them to hold on to their cash).
Establishing this kind of influence takes time, and it takes a good track record. Journalistic integrity helps writers avoid pitfalls like questions of objectivity, which are increasingly thrown around in the blogosphere.
Thoughtful predictions based on industry expertise and hard data not only launch tech journalists into a place of authority for readers, but also help them to establish a positive record.
This brings up another important point: being a thought leader doesn’t mean users will agree with you.
In fact, expecting influence to translate to user agreement is a common pitfall in tech journalism. A familiar trope is the scenario in which a writer doesn’t like the features of a particular gadget. They can easily fall into the trap of dismissing the device, or worst, making baseless market predictions based on their personal preferences. This blunder is a quick way to lose influence and readers.
Rather than relying on personal inclinations to make sales predictions or to rate the effectiveness of a particular UI, focusing on hard data and which features users enjoy (or dislike) can go a long way in journalism. But this does not mean that a thought leader will always be bereft of personal opinion, it just shouldn’t guide the majority of their writing.
Here are the 6 kinds of influencers from our analysis of the 30 top tech bloggers on EpicBeat that you may or may not encounter in the course of your interaction with them:
Curators live up to their names by finding and then sharing the best content for a particular field. As a result, their followers tend to have enormous faith in them, which makes them the perfect influencers for businesses. Unfortunately, curators have high standards, meaning that they will not recommend your business unless you can meet their expectations. To solve this problem, you should engage them by pointing out potential finds and speaking with them about their topic of interest while scrambling to come up with content that can meet their high standards. By been nothing but your best, you can count on getting a powerful marketing asset that is second to none.
Like their name suggests, original posters are people who are more interested in sharing their own thoughts than the content of others. Fortunately for them, their creativity combined with their efficacy and efficiency in communication make them thought leaders in their communities, meaning that their content is not just simple to read but also packed with insight, inspiration, and other good things. If you are interested in getting an original poster to recommend your products and services, you need an organic approach that consists of retweeting those of their messages with the most relevance to your business while also doing your best to engage them on their level.
Promoters are like original posters in that they are focused on sharing their own content rather than other people’s content. However, they differ in that their social media accounts are used as lead-ins for the rest of their online presence, which can consist of blogs, websites, and other resources containing more of their thoughts in more detail. Said individuals tend to have packed schedules filled with much to do but not much time to do them, meaning that you should engage them on a professional rather than a personal level. For example, you can start by making a reputation for your business in their field, referencing them in your messages when it is appropriate, and seeing if you can collaborate with them on a shared interest.
Retweeter will retweet whatever it is that interests them, meaning that they are the perfect choice if your business can hit a wide range of fields with your products and services. If you want to get them to start retweeting your messages, make sure to retweet some of their messages to make them take notice before starting to share content that appeals to their interests. Some retweeters might even be amenable to paid tweeting, which can be well-worth the cost under the right circumstances.
You can tell that someone is a responder by the long string of replies following their messages. Conveniently, you can often start building up a relationship with them by participating in the conversation, though you might need to do this a few times because you become close enough to start a conversation with them. Although such conversations can be time-consuming, they are also a great way to get your messages heard by your intended audience while they are in their most receptive mood.
What Tech Journalists Look For
There have been volumes written on how to attract the attention of tech journalists.
Indeed, the best tech journalists can seem like an enigma to many within the industry. With an overwhelming number of pitches arriving in their inbox on a daily basis, a tech journalist develops a critical eye for pitches.
Tech editor Olivia Solon admitted to receiving 500 emails per day from hopefuls when she worked at Wired.co.uk. Getting the attention of a tech reporter can be tricky, but there are some helpful tips on how to snag their interest.
When pitching a tech journalist, it’s critical to be respectful of their time. This means keeping the pitch short and sweet — long-winded pitches are more likely to get deleted off the bat.
Efficient use of language and precious little real estate means it’s important to get to the point quickly and in a convincing manner. Let them know why they should be interested, and give them valuable information up front. Crafting a great pitch is an art form in itself, so research is an important step towards writing the most effective pitch possible.
Working with a tech journalist should be mutually beneficial. Leveraging the value of content creation itself, and its dissemination throughout many audiences through sharing is more important than ever. And this requires capturing the true value of content sharing.
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Originally published at blog.startafire.com on June 23, 2016.