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What do Engineers Want from Corporate vs Technology Press websites?

This post is a follow on to my earlier question: “Do Readers Care Who Pays the Editor?” I was curious to see if our readers (engineers and technical professionals) really care who sponsors the content that they read. The comments to this post have been great and contain responses from both corporate communication experts and the traditional technology press editors.

Predictably, the one critical participant missing from this discussion is the reader, i.e., the engineer and technical professional. In the absence of this critical input, I will venture to speak for them – at least, for a significant portion of this very diverse group. [I believe (hope) that my 20+ years experience as an engineer/program manager qualifies me for this role.]

Here’s how most engineers/managers solve problems in today’s world of high-tech systems: [Caveat: Regardless of the source, content must be well written, technically accurate and relevant to the audience.]

1) Real World – They talk to colleagues at work and at other companies and universities.

2) Online – They perform a keyword search on Google and post questions on very niche forums.
– Google searches will typically lead them to one of two places: corporate websites and trade journal-professional organizational websites.

a) Corporate website content can be extremely useful, but always has the bias of a closed solution space, i.e. content will always reinforce a hardware and/or software product solution that is the specialty of that company.

b) Technology press website content can also be extremely useful and typically cover a broader range of topics. Similarly, the biases are broader than corporate sites, since the range of sponsors tends to dilute the content bias. This can be seen by the fact that good sites cover technology that is beyond the scope of their sponsors.

Both types of technology content coverage are needed – corporate (product focused) and technical press (broader technology focused). One without the other is disastrous. Engineers know this and use both sites accordingly.

Disclaimer: I’m taking off my “engineer” hat and putting back on my “editor” hat: Corporations continue to discover the value of a socially friendly and content rich company website – usually heralded with the announcement of a well-recognized former trade journal editor who will “run” the site (or directing the content generation).  But after the euphoria of launching such a site wears off, many companies begin to realize the importance of participating in the broader discussion offered by technology press websites. One measure of that importance is the capability to drive new customers to the corporate website – both for lead generation and for corporate brand recognition.

Corporate and technical press content sites form a symbiotic relationship. Both must exist for the healthy flow of information. If one is missing, the other won’t last for long.

2 Responses to “What do Engineers Want from Corporate vs Technology Press websites?”

  1. Jeff Muscatine Says:

    We can certainly smell the hot breath of the self-serving in parts of this thread. Gimme a break!

    Mike S is perfectly right: forthright disclosure is the only logical and proper choice. We can all deal with people and outlets quite well when we understand their affiliations and priorities. As Brian points out, readers value transparency and quality; the failures will ultimately sift out where either one is lacking

  2. Sean Murphy Says:

    I think the dynamic is larger than corporate websites vs. technology press websites. For technical content I think engineers want insights from peers. This is the value in EDA of sites like http://www.verificationguild.org that discuss practical issues in verification. None of the technology press websites I am aware of have been able to encourage engineering technical contribution in the way that Janick Bergeron has done with Verification Guild or John Cooley (at least until recently) did with ESNUG. This doesn’t make them better or worse than corporate or technology press, just another perspective that engineers value.

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