The Curve of Media Attention: the Example of Demaclenko’s Snow Cannons
In the course of my activities in the launch of technological products, I have repeatedly encountered parallels between Gartner’s hype cycle and media reality. The hype cycle is a curve that represents the phases of public attention that a new technology goes through. It is one of the foundations of any company involved in the communication of hi-tech companies, whether they are international corporations or start-ups. The visibility of innovative approaches or products first experiences an immediate high – the “Peak of Inflated Expectations” – before entering a phase called “Trough of Disillusionment”. This is followed by another slow rise, usually as soon as the product is actually launched on the market: from this very moment, the communication strategy must be supported by a medium-term editorial plan in which the product itself becomes the medium.
Therefore, the period between the “Technology Trigger” – the first phase of the hype cycle – and market entry must be kept as short as possible – which is particularly difficult for start-ups seeking capital. Otherwise, you run the risk of saturating media attention before the innovation has even entered the market. A kind of eternal expectation forms which inevitably leads to disappointment.
A best-practice example in this sense was the launch of the road disinfection system with snow cannons from Demaclenko, a snow-making systems company from Vipiteno/South Tyrol belonging to the Leitner Group. The news was picked up by all important national and numerous international media, including “The Guardian”, “The Indipendent”, “ABC News, “Die Welt”. The communication strategy, in which Blum was particularly involved with media relation, ran parallel to the implementation of the project, whereby the whole process was characterized by constant exchange. The first press release and the first video were produced in the course of testing the disinfection system that the company provided free of charge to the communities of South Tyrol. The second step was initiated with the commissioning of the system in Val Gardena. Demaclenko gained international attention with an internally produced, emotional video, which was distributed through various channels. The sensation that was caused at international level led to the third step and made national headlines, in which the millions of video views around the world were the core of the coverage. This extended the visibility peak of the curve, which otherwise tends to fall relatively quickly. This “plateau” is carried by the reporting that an already operational system brings with it.
Three prerequisites were necessary for a successful operation: a competent partner where communication and strategic management closely work together; an understanding of the dynamics of the media system and the right approach to it; and the correct assessment of the prevailing mood in the media at the very moment. Prerequisites that were necessary, but are not sufficient on their own to achieve a good communication result.