Channelstar Media
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Do we need the channel press anymore?

12 May 2016

Who exactly reads channel media and what impact does it really have? We must presume it has some or it could not survive; advertisers would not place ads in the print editions or on the web pages; companies would not sponsor and attend their events.

What kind of the impact does spending money on having a presence in the channel media in the UK and Ireland have? It’s hard to define and in terms of measurable or tangible benefits, you probably won’t find any really strong evidence of ROI.

Look at it another way, from the perspective of a company that is completely unknown in the UK, for example, and it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that channel press activity has to be a part of the mix at least. If you are new to the UK channel, finding and signing-up resellers, dealers or retailers won’t be easy. You can put some feet on the ground, sign up a distributor or two, partner with a dealer group, and buy in lists and run email blasts and telemarketing.

But there is no silver bullet and none of that will deliver instant success. Having some kind of presence in the media will help. It will inform and encourage, raise awareness and soften up the market to a degree. Here is therefore, a strong argument for companies that are new to the UK running a ‘head above the parapet’ campaign and at the very least introducing themselves to key media.

It will still take time to get established, of course it will. But getting some press coverage won’t do any harm at all. It will help to get your name known amongst journalists, analysts and trade businesses; amongst potential partners and employees of the future.

For companies that are already well-known in the channel, media coverage is less important, and they will communicate with their known audience directly. But the channel is fluid – businesses come and go, so it’s important to keep your profile up to a decent level.

These companies will also not wish to lay dormant while their names of their rivals are appearing in the channel press with an alarming regularity. Even the biggest players can become conspicuous by their absence and vendors and distributors that hold less sway can soon become a distant or fading memory amongst the trade community.

All this of course, assumes that resellers, retailers, dealers, VARs, integrators and so on, do look at the channel press. And of course, they do; it’s just that it’s impossible to tell which sites they are looking at and in how much depth and degree of sincerity or belief. Many will flit in and out of different news sites, or not pay attention to channel news for days or weeks at a time. They may rely to a greater or lesser extent on vendor and distributor websites and communications, or on social media.

The reality is that they will use a mix of all these mediums to keep their finger on the pulse, channel media will be just one. And while it might not always seem to be the most authoritative source of information, it is independent and won’t simply spin out the usual marketing spiel.

Many of the channel news websites and companies behind them are struggling to adjust their business model to a market in which there are only a handful of dominant player in each sector or category and where they all have a list of potential customers and very direct and low-cost ways of communicating with them. But the trade media continues to be an important conductor of information to the tech trade community and it should not be ignored by any business that wants to have a strong presence in the UK channel.