Posted on | January 26, 2009 | 3 Comments
This is how much the media landscape in B:B publishing has changed in recent months: Iâ€™m being pitched to cover company announcements in the electronics space. On this blog. Flattering? Yes. Sign of the times? Absolutely.
It shows the lengths companies will go to find a willing ear to listen to their stories. For all the interest in social media and vendor-as-publisher strategies and tactics, companies still value a vetted story.
The opportunity is in the fact there are valid all-digital channels emerging, and the best ones are, in the grand old traditional of old-line media, building community. In most cases, theyâ€™re doing it better than the entrenched market players.
A Funny Thing on the Way From the Forum
Forums have always been huge in engineering, going back to the old BBS days. (EETNet).
Take John Blyler at ChipDesign. Heâ€™s teamed up with former Electronic News Editor Ed Sperling to create System-Level Design Community. (Check out John’s post on engineers and social media). In addition, there are a number of semiconductor-oriented groups on Ning. Theyâ€™re there, big and small.
A client, Achronix, posted a small release today on extending a tools agreement it has with Mentor Graphics. Do a blog search and all kinds of pick-ups pop up. Like EDA Geek. They picked it up. Theyâ€™re a part of an organization called Online Destiny, which runs sites like Embedded Star, EDA Blog, FPGA blog, and two others soon to be launch, UML and RTOS. Online Destiny is simple, straightforward and filled with traffic stats.
Hereâ€™s a chart tracking three of those sites:
System-Level Design Community, EDA Geek and many others didnâ€™t exist three years ago. They have small but consistent audiences and theyâ€™re delivering reliable information.
Then thereâ€™s semitrends.com. Look whoâ€™s running that: Bruce LeBoss, who was an editor at Electronic News in the 1970s and went into the PR game. Bruce, some think, was around the industry before sand was invented, which obviously makes him predate silicon. Thereâ€™s veteran John Miklosz at Soccentral.com. Theyâ€™re all doing things that the entrenched publications and their sites arenâ€™t nimble enough to do (or do passionately). And one can argue that the entrenched guys are trying to satisfy advertisers while the upstarts are trying to satisfy (i.e. lure) readers. That’s where things get interesting.
Making Things Happen
Last but certainly not least is Lou Covey at NewTech Press, who occasionally is accused of tilting at windmills. But Louâ€™s been beating the social media drum for years now. Heâ€™s not just flapping his gums; heâ€™s doing something about it. Just last week he finished a successful, grassroots event, the VComm Venture Faire, with companies and VCs. Companies are listening to his new media pitch. Maybe those windmills arenâ€™t windmills at all.
All of these sites have their positives and negatives, and itâ€™s worth a post later to detail them. The point is, theyâ€™re there and theyâ€™re making things happen. Oh, and their IT department is made up of some people you may have heard before that work for free, Blogger, YouTube, Twitter, WordPress, Google AdSense, Google Analytics.
That brings me around to Bob Beachler, my old friend and colleague from the semiconductor industry. Bob is VP marketing at Stretch, which makes software-configurable processors. Bob is the Benjamin Button of the semiconductor industry: He appears to get younger while the rest of us age. We and Susan Cain had dinner before the holidays to talk about the changing nature of the media business. Bob, who is a savvy RSS reader, is frustrated that the old media is falling apart before his eyes and heâ€™s having to chase an ever more elusive audience into nooks and crannies he canâ€™t see right away. Heâ€™s also not convinced of digital-media ROI yet.
So he wanted me to write about his investment. Why not? Thatâ€™s a great story. Stretch got $15 million at a time when many people are questioning the very health of venture capitalism. What does this say? Itâ€™s a great validation of their technology (reduce system costs, drive performance) and their track record so far. Thatâ€™s the same thing we said last fall when we announced FPGA vendor Achronix took in $52 million, a huge amount considering the times. These and other, smaller investments, are votes of confidence in the semiconductor industry. The innovation is there. Weâ€™re not ceding it to any other region, particularly now when every other region is struggling more than North America.
What’s a Company to Do?
Intel can blow off the trade press and go straight to the world, but smaller companies need organ
izations to write, analyze and vet their stories. But they also need to get in the flow, take some risks, be adventurous.
If youâ€™re a vendor and your monthly Web traffic is less than some of the communities mentioned above, dive into that conversation and get yourself heard. Participate. If your Web traffic is greater, start acting as a publisher. Youâ€™ve got an audience! Presumably you have great content too. The company is the medium is the message.
Thereâ€™s a lot of angst and teeth-gnashing in electronics today over the state of the media and the larger electronics design conversation. But evolution is afoot. I think itâ€™s going to work itself out just fine.