While most everyone uses Google or Twitter to keep track of news, it takes some finesse to get the most out of both tools—especially when doing research on tech news and startups. As tMa's media/content coordinator, it’s part of my job to keep our team updated on the latest, breaking news relevant to our clients’ industries. I also do this to help our clients understand what’s happening in the space around them, not just with their competitors, but with news on broader trends likely to impact them. Here's some tips I've learned along the way:
Google Alerts: Not Always Very Alert
Google Alerts have become completely unreliable if you want news “as it happens.” It’s happened to the best of us: an Alert appears in your email inbox and you get super excited, thinking it’s something your client can respond to… only to discover the story was actually posted a week ago. Timely opportunity missed. So instead of just relying on Google Alerts, I also like to actively Google the same terms I set in my alerts. And yes, by this, I mean I manually type my terms into the search bar and hit Enter. That can be time-consuming, but I have some tricks to make this process easier and quicker:
Don’t Just Google — Google Deeply
When searching on Google, I always make sure to click the “News” button:
Then set the time parameters to “Past 24 hours":
Unless, of course, it’s Monday morning. Then I set it for a custom range of dates (the previous Friday through Monday morning):
…just in case I missed something on Friday afternoon or over the weekend. However, keep in mind that the smaller the time window, the less junk to sift through when looking for worthwhile news to send to the client.
On Twitter, Save Tech Hashtags & Follow Tech Reporters
Twitter has become my first stop every morning when looking for tech news. It can be a bit tedious sifting through the irrelevant Tweets, but it really is the best way I’ve found to pick up breaking news. The easiest way to avoid being lost in the vast Twitterverse is using and saving hashtags. I have hashtags like #tech #technology and #mobile saved on my Twitter account.
To do that, once you’ve searched a particular hashtag, just click on the Save button in the top right hand corner of the screen...
Then every single tweet that includes those hashtags are automatically saved and archived in order of posting.
If you're in communications/PR, do yourself another big favor: Follow every single reporter you’ve pitched. You never know who or what you might discover on Twitter. Reporters jump around to different outlets, and it’s often hard to keep track of them. But on Twitter, you can make sure they’re still where you think they are! You might also find out what kinds of stories they are currently working on, or personal tidbits that will help you pitch them in the future. For instance, sometimes a reporter will even say when they’re looking for new material! (See below.)
Staying on top of the latest technology news may seem daunting, but it’s really necessary to help keep your clients ahead of their competition and relevant in an ever-changing tech industry. Fortunately, learning to use the tech industry’s best search tools can help you do just that.