I’ve seen this movie before: An economic boom helps limited partners become flush with cash. They invest with venture capitalists, who pump that money into start-ups promising to “disrupt everything.” This too was the storyline when I cracked into technology PR back in 1998.
Back then, it was the Internet that was disrupting things. Today, it’s smartphones and cloud; the ubiquity of wireless Internet access and cheap Web infrastructure combined with a computer in every pocket.
In 1998, there were packs of what seemed to be wild horses—newly minted billion-dollar Internet companies that were running rampant over traditional industry—with no signs of being corralled. In truth, it was a few thoroughbreds (Amazon, eBay, Google) and steady mounts (Yahoo!, Red Hat) mixed in among a herd of confused donkeys that would soon run off of a cliff. Today, it’s unicorns that are flying high, with wings extended.
Will they fall to earth? I’ll let the “bubble or no bubble” pundits debate, but there are some undeniable truths about how business PR is changing. Some of these truths are derivative of the late 1990s. Here are a few: