The roller-coaster ride of a hot topic

Will ArnoldArticle

Hot topics – this month, think wearable technology – continue to ride high in stories and in press releases (not of course always the same thing). Little wonder: these topics reflect new technologies and new ways of using technology and audiences need information on this.

The challenge for companies in talking about hot topics goes beyond simply taking the opportunity to generate coverage for coverage’s sake. At a time of significant disruption to technology, vendors are having to define the sort of company they are and show they genuinely understand the pressures on users. At the same time, with an increasing volume, variety and velocity of topics in the media the pressure is on to demonstrate they have the capacity to innovate and stay relevant.

Hot topics have the ability to sell a story. Apollo’s analysis of headlines and first paragraphs shows this. For comms managers, however, there are two traps. What looks like a hot topic might not be. Take mobile phones. A simple count of mentions in any country shows mobile phones to be the most written about subject in technology. But because the topic is mature, not hot, the angle has to be very strong.

Apollo analyses hundreds of topics of varying maturity for its clients, including everything from cloud and virtualisation to the internet of things and software-defined networks. Hot topics are characterised by growing momentum in media interest and by expectations the technology will be disruptive. But there is a life-cycle to topics; and where the topic is on this cycle affects the sort of story that might be relevant and its chances of being picked up. Tales of stories about launches and surveys for example that turned out not to be stories are legion.

The following infographic can be distilled of the stages a topic goes through. At each point, the chart shows the dominant type of story, the trend in media coverage and the ways vendors feature within conversations about the topic.

(Click to enlarge image)

Roller-coaster ride of a hot topic

Will ArnoldThe roller-coaster ride of a hot topic