GigaOm’s crash and burn this week really hit a nerve. The outpouring on the blogs and social media showed its key place in the hearts and minds of those in the B2B tech space. The speed of the flameout left many of us grasping for answers.
Over the next day, like a slowly developing Polaroid, tweets and articles from watchers and principals started to fill in the picture.
I share more of what I learned, and offer takeaways for B2B tech PR and marketers below.
Houston, we Have a Problem
I first heard the news Tuesday evening, when one of our AEs sent an email with the subject line:”GigaOm is shutting down!” and the following tweets.
This hurts more than I can say: I was just told Gigaom is shutting down — it has run out of money. We tried our best, but it wasn’t enough.
— Mathew Ingram (@mathewi) March 10, 2015
Gigaom is shutting down. The site. And the company. But @om built something amazing and it changed my life. I love him and my colleagues.
— Stacey Higginbotham (@gigastacey) March 10, 2015
I could not believe my eyes.
The next day, there were many tweets and articles that sought to explain what happened, such as these stories on Digiday and TNW. Colleagues and coworkers compared notes and shared info – my good friend Judy Gombita sent this exit interview of Matthew Ingram, from Columbia Journalism Review.
Some blamed GigaOm’s troubles on VC, and the pressures of trying to grow too quickly. Search engine guru Danny Sullivan wrote a great piece on Medium about the benefits of bootstrapping a tech media operation. He described the success of Third Door Media, and lamented the lack of attention they and others get compared to VC-backed high fliers.
A PR Week story, also shared by Judy, tried to gauge the reaction from the PR community. The headline said it all: Tech Media Landscape Unruffled… Says PR Pros. The reason? In essence, there are many other tech blogs where GigaOm came from, and many other places to get your tech news covered.
I disagree. First, GigaOm was not just another tech media operation. They had a unique talent for covering enterprise tech.
Another issue with the PR Week story – it would seem to imply that PR is just about getting media coverage. Aren’t our clients and employers expecting the investment (which increasingly also covers social media and content marketing) to deliver business results?
Houston, we Have a Bigger Problem
Let me try to further explain by sharing the details of a conversation I just had with a good friend Joe, an IT consultant. He is a project manager, and has worked with some of the largest banks in the areas of fraud prevention and anti-money laundering tech.
I was trying to better understand where IT decision-makers get their info on behalf of a client that offers solutions in this area. They were looking for ways to get through to buyers.
Through an email exchange, I asked my questions and Joe shot back “Gartner is what immediately jumps to mind. Financial services firms worship them. Then the 2nd tier analysts… Forrester, etc.”
I pressed him further, and he responded with the trade shows and industry associations.
Of course, I was fishing for the names of blogs and publications that the decision-makers frequent. Not getting this, I responded in frustration: “I guess no one reads any more :(”
Joe replied: “People out of school now only know the word magazine in the context of playing Call of Duty.” Ba dum.
The explosion of tech media choices – and uncertainty about how many people actually go to news sites and blogs to read the full articles – poses existential questions for the fields of tech PR and marketing.
There are no easy answers. I do say more on the topic in my series of posts – see Find and Fill Open Spaces to Connect with Customers, and the follow-up story.
Also, IBM had a post yesterday about their research into how millennials are changing B2B tech marketing and buying.