For all fans of Fake News and Alternative Facts, apparently Fleetwood Mac are working on a re-edit of this classic Stevie Nicks track...
So why do tech journalists never take industry "gurus" seriously?
Here's the thing: if you have a real job* and are at the sharp end of technology R&D and innovation, then we want to hear from you. Unfortunately, the majority of "gurus" don't have real jobs – their only vocation is travelling the world being a professional guru.
(*Sorry, to any academics out there but unless you work in a seriously boffin-intensive field – science, engineering etc – then you too also don't qualify as having real jobs.)
If you can walk the walk then we are happy to listen to you talk the talk. But, if you are just talk, talk, talk, then you are not a guru, you are just a consultant flogging your services, latest book, report or whatever.
Incidentally, "gurudom" is not a status you can confer upon yourself. You are only a guru if other people say you are – and those "other people" do not include your mother or your publicist!
If someone were to publicly announce that they were "beautiful" or "charismatic," we'd all laugh at their deluded vanity. The same applies to self-annointed gurus.
As for "social media maverns" and "LinkedIn ninja"... pass the sick-bag Alice, as the great newspaper editor and columnist John Junor would have said.
Those of you who follow my Twitter feeds will know I have a curmudgeonly love/hate relationship with the tech PR industry. At the heart of it lies the fact the press and the PR industry have wildly different agendas.
For the PR, everything their company (if they are in-house) or their clients (if they are with an agency) does is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE WORLD – until of course the next time they do the most important thing in the world.
For the tech journalist, the most important thing is their readers. Journalists (like all writers) want people to read their stuff – and the best way to do that is to inform and entertain their readerships.
Readers, for their part, are not going to be informed or entertained if all they see are endless good news stories about the same bunch of companies. Not least because readers (in their capacity as consumers of tech) may have had distinctly bad experiences with the PRs' clients.
Add in the fact that even in specialist, niche vertical markets there may be dozens, if not hundreds, of players, to focus on just those whose PRs squeak the loudest and most frequently, would result in an unbalanced news coverage that is a disservice to readers.
It's all a question of balance and different agendas.
A commercial cartoonist I follow – Tom Fishburne aka The Marketoonist – recently published a post on the concept of the Creator's Code. (This was devised by Hiut Denim & David Hieatt – here's a link to Tom's post + see graphic)
The aspects that interest me the most are
Point #5: Chase the work, not the money. The money will come in time.
And Point #9: There are no short cuts. Do the work! (If I was being picky I'd also amend #10 to read Great Green Tea Helps.)
But seriously... Points #5 and #9 are the ones most people get wrong – and in the case of #5 usually get the wrong way around and focus entirely on chasing the money.
In both instances the killer factor is short-termism aka instant gratification – unrealistic expectations – looking to make a quick buck.
I've seen this with magazine and website publishers (I've been the launch editor of a number of titles) and software businesses/startups. Let me explain...
With publishing, the way you shouldapproach a new magazine launch is to focus on generating insanely great content – which will then attract readers. And this in turn attract advertisers and their money.
Sadly too many publishers approach the project from the opposite direction: "Oh look, here's an industry niche with an untapped marketing budget, let's get ourselves a slice!"
So they fill the zine or site with advertorial (sponsored copy or whatever else they want to call their pay-to-play model) that keeps the advertisers happy – and they will certainly never dare run stories remotely critical of their advertisers.
But then they are surprised when nobody reads the publication (readers aren't stupid) and they subsequently lose the advertisers. Add in the way many publishers set unrealistic targets for new publications and 12 months later you see the publication being quietly buried.
With software companies the situation arises when they are trying to expand into new market but, once again, they want to do it in a hurry. So, they spend a shedload of money on advertising (usually in the wrong places) and sponsoring events (usually the wrong events) and then are surprised to discover, 12 months later, that they are not market leaders. Like unsuccessful publishers, they then pack their tents and slink away into the desert.
With startups, the problem is usually outside investors who have unrealistic expectations that the business is going to be The Next Big Thing and pull the financial plug before it ever has been given a proper chance to thrive and succeed.
These are all long-term commitments. There are no short-cuts, you have to do the groundwork. You have to get the basics right and then you will reap the financial rewards.
Anything else is folly. Short-termism is the enemy of creative innovation and promise.
A little bit of tech history now: the world's first regular television channel – the BBC – began broadcasting 80 years ago today (2 November 1936) at 3:00pm. The service was described as "high definition" which back then meant 240 lines of definition. Broadcasts were transmitted from the Alexandra Palace (not a real palace) in London.
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