Cisco Systems has launched The Network, a technology news website. Like Intel’s Free Press – covered in the Splash Media blog here – the company is covering any and all developments in its particular arena of the tech industry, whether or not it has anything to do with Cisco. The focus is on an editorial style that wouldn’t be out of place in a newspaper or on a journalistic tech news site.
As expected, the networking giant is featuring its resident geniuses and highlighting new products and services, while also providing lots of videos on general trends and themes that impact its business (video, data storage, etc.). But when warranted, it’s also isn’t shying away from mentions of competing products and companies in its coverage.
Unlike Intel Free Press, The Network is using contributions from tech journalists who used to write for outlets like the Associated Press, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and the Industry Standard. A recent story by former BusinessWeek columnist Steve Wildstrom that examines trends in data analytics doesn’t mention Cisco at all.
Yes, the mainstream media has abdicated serious technology coverage to a growing host of bloggers and specialty websites, and used all that as an excuse to jettison experienced journalists. But Cisco director of social media John Earnhardt told me that’s not the reason Cisco started The Network.
“It isn’t a reaction to traditional media, but the recognition that there are a lot of technology stories that we can tell that we think can be additive to the conversations we want to start and participate in on the topics we care most about,” Earnhardt said in an email. “Our focus is squarely on data center, core networking (including mobility and security), collaboration and video. We want to use The Network to share stories about the impact of these technologies on business and everyday life.”
Splash Media quizzed Earnhardt for a SplashCast earlier this year – you can view that here – so we’re not surprised that the company’s Facebook, Twitter and Flickr feeds and comment streams are integrated well in the Network offering.
“Social media is critical to the success of The Network,” Earnhardt said. “We track how many times a piece has been viewed, but also how many times it has been shared. Social media is about sharing. We find sharing (or commenting) is the ultimate measure of success. As I said in my introductory blog post, a piece of content that is shared with a friend or friends or followers or the world is the ultimate measurement of its success. That person is validating that the piece of content they are sharing was valuable enough, interesting enough or topical enough to share with one or with many.”
This news just in: companies don’t have to be tech giants like Cisco to position themselves as information resources and thought-leaders in their specific industries. Give them compelling content, be transparent about those times when they do include their own company’s offerings in their coverage, and listen to their audiences, and like any good news outlet, small and mid-size businesses can scoop the competition and earn their customers’ trust.