Dana Gardner Talks About Search Engines, Twitter & Media 6

Dana Gardner keeps very busy. He is the president and principal analyst of Interarbor Solutions, a blogger for ZDnet, and a leading identifier of software productivity trends and new IT business growth opportunities. On Monday evening Dana moderated a technology panel discussion for the Publicity Club of New England, and was kind enough to answer a few questions for us following the event. (Dana is also on Twitter, so be sure to follow him!)

RaceTalk: What did you think of the PubClub even on Monday? Was there anything said by the panel that surprised you?

Dana Gardner: I was impressed that the panelists, despite their divergent roles, we all into the need to bow to the almighty search engine. All seemed to appreciate that traffic is now generated online one story at a time, and that audiences are pushed to stories, not the other way around. Another way to say that is that search engines end up pushing stories for a long time if that story or blog becomes a high-ranking return on particular and powerful key words.

As the media shifts and online dominates (today PC Magazine folded as a print pub!), getting good search engine results becomes a top circulation priority for the media. This should be a new consideration for companies that are seeking to do the same, and for PR folks as they consider what makes for the best stories and news.

RaceTalk: What do you think about reporters using Twitter as a tool to find sources and share their stories with a broad reader base? Is it effective and appropriate in that manner?

DG: Twitter is a fantastic resource that can be used in many ways, and we’re only just beginning. Twitter can create wildfire in the ideas department, as well as put reporters in touch with primary sources in a whole new way. And, as your question suggests, it becomes a two-way street. If you have a following of influential people to your Twitter stream, you can toot your own horn from time to time. There are no rules on how to use these tools, other than don’t waste people’s time.

RaceTalk: What do you think should be the underlying factor when a reporter is writing a story: Newsworthiness, general interest, or potential to be a highly read article (via Digg, etc.)?

DG: All of the above. That was another saying that came out of Monday’s discussion. If you want to be impactful online, you need to do as much as possible to get the story read, get it in the best shape, and to get to the best information. The fact is that being “always on” and leveraging all the great Web 2.0 tools and tricks gives a media company like Time Warner or a lowly independent analyst blogger an almost level playing field. You can play the long tail or the short head — matching up those with a need to know with good and useful information is the game. It’s never been easier or cheaper to become a micro media company.

RaceTalk: As a ZDnet blogger, what aspects of a topic (newsworthiness, general interest, Digg potential) do you consider before you write about it?  What types of topics are you most interested in hearing about?

DG: I’m often torn because I think I know the kind of inflammatory, buttons-pushing blogs that would generate a lot of hits. But that doesn’t suit my goals or those of my sponsors and clients. I’m focused on a fairly stodgy IT niche — enterprise IT infrastructure software and best practices. I’d rather appeal to those seeking information they can use to make better decisions in their jobs than to either buttress or offend some other agenda. I prefer to write blogs and generate podcasts that inform in such a way that the information is deeper than a news story, more accessible than an analyst report and that can be accessed and vetted by all the great web tools — so that a match can be found between seekers of information and quality information. This is the new age of trade information and analysis, to give the web what it needs to match up the seekers with the providers.

RaceTalk: In 2009, what do you think will be the biggest adjustment that reporters and PR people will have to make?

DG: Doing more with less for those who need to find more ways of doing more with less themselves. Any news, however, that shows value in helping people be more productive will be highly sough and therefore highly rewarded. We’re entering a period (we hope in quarters and not years) where supply and demand are entirely new variables. Online, in fact, may be instrumental in shortening the recession by making so much information available to so many people for something like $40 a month. The right information on the right topic at the right time is no longer just useful, it could mean make or break in a tough economy.

If traditional media can’t fill the need, other means will arise. The demand will be that great. I’d also say that the recession will hasten the effects and impacts of the Internet, perhaps bringing back what we used to call “Internet time.”

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