The State of Crowdfunding in the Media

It was not that long ago that a term like “social media” required a hefty explanation in mainstream media. Similarly, up until very recently, the use of a term like “cloud computing” would be followed by qualifiers, examples and clarification. Today, these tech buzzwords need no such introduction; your average newspaper reader is Facebook facile and Twitter conversant; anyone picking up the New York Times will have heard of the cloud.

Of course, rates of adoption of tech terms are not consistent across media outlets. Readers can expect that VentureBeat and Wired will be ahead of the curve covering (and presupposing your understanding of) tech trends. Good Housekeeping? You might need to give it a few months.

Such is the nature of media coverage of innovation in the tech space. Just as there are early adopters and late bloomers for consumer technology products, so too do media outlets have varying expectations of their readerhip’s tech-savvyness. Crowdfunding, as a relatively recent phenomenon in the tech space, is subject to a similar lifecycle of media coverage. In this post, we’ll survey the state of crowdfunding in the media.

The three major angles:

As Launcht Marketing Strategy Intern, I spend considerable time reading crowdfunding news. After looking at enough articles, a number of trends emerge in the content of what news outlets discuss. Moreover, these trends are dynamic—crowdfunding is being discussed differently by respective outlets now compared to several months ago.

There are three main content themes running through crowdfunding coverage: 1) new technology overview, 2) notable campaigns and 3) industry and regulation. Naturally, there is considerable overlap between categories, but each has been a mainstay of crowdfunding coverage.

The first category, new technology overview, is also the fastest fading. These articles typically describe crowdfunding as  “new” technology with exciting “potential.” They were most commonly published as major crowdfunding platforms gained traction and started moving serious dollars. Of course, these pieces have long since cycled through tech-oriented and even mainstream news outlets like VentureBeat and the New York Times. Still they persist in local news outlets, where there is not yet an expectation for crowdfuding competence.

Notable campaign stories are the most common type of crowdfunding article. Since crowdfunding is still a young industry, there are no shortage of records to be broken, and many interesting use cases to be discussed. Over the last half year, many large outlets have slowed their coverage of single campaigns. But this slack has been more than compensated by local and niche market editorial, which have highlighted countless campaigns, and continue to do so.

The final category of crowdfunding coverage can best be described as industry and regulation news. This is still a mainstay of major news outlets covering crowdfunding. With equity crowdfunding being acknowledged and marked for regulation in federal legislation, the nation’s largest news sources are paying attention. Still, there has been a notable lull as the SEC drags its feet over regulations. Ultimately, however, we expect a big spike in attention when the SEC does finally get around to the task.

Key takeaways:

Crowdfunding is moving into the mainstream lexicon. As the quantity of crowdfunding coverage increases, fewer and fewer articles feel the need to expain the concept from scratch. This is surely a sign of maturity. Furthermore, a baseline understanding of crowdfunding is a good thing, since the conversation is likely to get more complicated soon as equity crowdfunding legislation rolls out.

Finally, campaigns are still using PR to drive funding. The continued presence of notable crowdfunding initiatives in local media means that campaign owners are aware of how much a little editorial can lend to an upstart idea. As long as local media continues to bite, there remains an excellent way to get campaigns off the ground.

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