Google trends and manufactured news

We've been doing some research at Footwasher Media (that includes VC Comm, VitalCom and New Tech Press) to find what industries are doing well in their communications efforts and where the real technology interest is.  We've discovered the wonder and surprise of Google Trends.

One of the things we've discovered is the steady decline of interest, at least in the form of searches and in the form of both REAL and MANUFACTURED news for semiconductor and design automation industries and niches.  We haven't looked into embedded systems closely but will soon.

Let me define the difference between real and manufactured news.  Real news are articles or podcasts created by third parties, either bloggers or traditional journalists.  Manufactured news is contributed articles and news releases.  The latter is always written with a blatant bias and is seen as such.

Now what I've been hearing for several years is that technology companies are relying more and more on manufactured news production because, firstly, it's easier to control.  Secondly, it's supposed t be cheaper than doing press relations and getting the ever shrinking media to write something about you.

But what the trends are showing in at least the Google searches and news coverage is that the production of manufactured news has been steadily dropping for the past three years, although not as fast as real news coverage.  It's understandable that real news is dropping considering we've lost more than 90 per cent of the press covering electronics in the past 8 years, but the drop in news releases and contributed articles was surprising.  Supposedly, DIY news was more cost efficient.

At first I thought that the drop could be attributed to consolidation, but the industries as a whole have been flat -- no growth, no shrinkage -- for about five years.  So that can't be it.  Then I thought that there might be a reduction in the amount of manufactured copy.  But just look at the amount of money Business Wire is making and you know that's not true.

But here is a corollary that might work:  The electronics industry, as a whole, has reduced investments in the people that actually know something about communication, relying instead on automated forms of information distribution, like wire services, Yahoo, Google, websites, etc.  All the investment has been put into the car, but no one knows how to put the gas in.

The decline in interest/searches/real news matches directly with declining investment in marketing personnel.  The result has been cookie-cutter manufactured news that looks and sounds like everyone else.  There is no differentiation in messages or image.  And as the consuming public sees no differentiation, they have no need to look for anything else.