Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

Dear Trade Press Editors: Get with the Program

Posted on | January 20, 2010 | 5 Comments

This is an open letter to members of my favorite guild, the trade press.

Ladies and gentlemen: Please get with the program. It’s 2010 and it’s time to morph your tremendous skills into the modern age, where social media is keenly important to your medium.

This is not just about creating a Twitter feed and setting up the auto-tweet feature every time you post a story. It’s about getting your adorable selves in the pool and starting to interact with engineers, with the audience that’s online, with other reporters, and build an new audience, a more intimate engagement. Hell, you’ll even get story tips. But, you say:

  • Our sector (electronics) is a lagging adopter of new media;
  • Engineers only a few years ago started commenting on your stories (after you anguished over whether that should even be allowed);
  • The number of engineers on Twitter every day pales in comparison with your audience, which is still robust.

To which I respond: Time doesn’t stand still.

In the saddle

Dan Holden wrote recently on his Siliconcowboy blog (Is journalism in control of its own destiny?):

If you know how to use the tools of the new media environment, you can stay in the saddle.

Dan’s an ex-trade pub editor who’s in the saddle over at Cadence. He knows time doesn’t stand still.

It’s time for the trade press to really get moving and expand its horizons beyond its walled gardens. There is a robust engineering, media, marketing and communications conversation going just outside publishing’s walls that you should be a part of.

(One of the most entertaining to date has been about the very state of media we’re discussing here. John Donovan of was the subject of the latest of Rick Jamison’s great series of interviews (Great Insights From Five Social Media Studs) with new media types. The comment discussion is worth the price of admission.)

Bottom line

The trade press is cranking out good content, but that’s half the equation. You have to dive into the conversation with both feet. Some of the most enthusiastic, by the way are ex-editors: Lou Covey, Loring Wirbel, Holden, Richard, Wallace, Donovan, Jamison.

There was a time when the hot stars of the silent-movie era who never had to speak their lines tried to make a go of it in the talkies. Most washed out unless they took lessons, improved their diction and learned the nuances of the moving picture medium with sound.Those who did became the stars of the new era.

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5 Responses to “Dear Trade Press Editors: Get with the Program”

  1. Loring Wirbel
    January 21st, 2010 @ 9:24 am

    And such participation must be legitimate, in terms of sharing information. Merely posting an article on a Twitter feed or a Facebook link, and then never engaging the reader, seems too much like one-way promotion. The reason PR folks love Twitter so much is it favors one-to-many multicast (which is why I don’t like it as much as FB).

    Editors can whine about not having time, but I work on nine gigs right now, and I just learn to multitask everything. But editors who want to use social networks in a one-way promotional fashion are like Ugly American-style tourists.

  2. Brian
    January 21st, 2010 @ 9:49 am

    I’ve noticed your favoring FB or Twitter and been thinking of focusing at some point. Even with multi-site-posting tools like TweetDeck, there’s clearly a different vibe between the two. Engagement on FB seems a bit more real (as weird as that sounds in the social-media context). On the other hand, it would be hard to dismiss three years of Twitter just like that.
    Anyway, you were born for this age, Loring.
    Keep on truckin’, brother.

  3. Lou Covey
    January 23rd, 2010 @ 8:59 pm

    I’ve come to an interesting point in my career. As a journalist, when people outside the profession asked what it was I did, I would tell them and they would understand, but they would never have access to printing presses or broadcast stations, so there was not further they could go in the conversation. When I became a technical editor, much the same thing would happen. then a PR professional and the same story. Their lack of access to my resources meant they could never really know what I knew or what could be accomplished.
    This week I spent three hours with a group of ministers, taught them the basics of communication and showed them how to use social media to get their message out, and at the same time connect with their congregations and communities. Light bulbs went on throughout the room. The feeling was electric. They now had access.
    But in the moment of elation, I still feel a bit sad, because those who I count as one of my own still can’t see it. We are in a time comparable to the invention for moveable type. Even my 20 year old son is predicting a renaissance.

  4. alextanPR (Alex Tan)
    January 23rd, 2010 @ 10:30 pm

    Twitter Comment

    Are trade press editors behind the SM curve? @bfuller9 think so. Makes the case for them to get in the game [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  5. John Donovan
    April 7th, 2010 @ 7:44 am

    I’m guilty as charged by Loring about using social media more for one-way than two-way communications. OTOH I can no longer multitask nine things at once!

    Just as the Internet made everyone’s lives that much more demanding (and, granted, productive and rewarding), social media are the new interrupt-driven time sink. If you don’t reply in near real time (like this post), you’re likely to be left out of the conversation; if you do, you wind up with the attention span of a gnat, which isn’t conducive to deep thinking or the completion of long articles on deadline.

    Whatever the downsides (an inconvenient truth)–or, if you prefer, the price of admission–being part of the conversation is the whole point, and decidedly valuable.

    So ta, ta, I’m off to start a LinkedIn group.

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