Tech Journalists Should Use This Story Idea GoldmineBy Spenser Davis October 31st, 2014
For journalists, getting a scoop has always been a rat race, but for tech reporters, staying on top of every new product has never been tougher with so many writers out there trying to scrape together an audience by being first to the party.
Enter Ryan Hoover, who launched Product Hunt in late 2013 with the sole purpose of helping people find new apps, product, and services. Since then, Silicon Valley has been buzzing as investors and entrepreneurs watch the site obsessively. But Product Hunt isn’t just for consumers and investors; it has quietly become an excellent resource for journalists hoping to be the first to break the story on the next big tech sensation.
Journalists in the tech industry often report on products based off press releases, but as Casey Newton writes on The Verge, Product Hunt is an important resource since “product coverage in the press is often driven by public relations, which is available only to the already rich and well connected.”
However, with a more level playing field, not only does every startup have a chance to get discovered, but every journalist has a chance to make an important discovery.
In May, for example, TechCrunch’s Romain Dillet described his experience with iOS-to-Mac notification app Notifyr and told the audience exactly how the story came to be: “When I first discovered this new app on Product Hunt yesterday, I immediately installed it.” Dillet seems to have scored the story first—scooping the likes of Mashable and Gigaom.
Product Hunt is an extremely simple resource, set up very similarly to Reddit and Hacker News in a way that lets the community dictate what’s popular. Products are submitted by users, and anyone can upvote. The leaderboards take into account upvotes and time posted in order to give every entry a chance to be seen. Where Product Hunt differs is only invited members can comment. These commenters are often industry influencers, journalists, and business owners, which is a bit elitist, but it removes the need for constant moderation and limits the amount of dumb commentary that can infect a discussion whenever the Internet mob gets involved.
The easiest way to search for scoops is to monitor the site’s charts for trending or extremely popular stories. The less-than-easy part is sifting through the chart toppers for products that could potentially be superstars. Product Hunt’s first big hit was the profoundly useless, yet wildly popular app Yo, which became popular after a number of tech bloggers spotted the app on the site’s rankings. Spotting the next Yo also takes some luck, but Product Hunt also provides daily email blasts that cover noteworthy products as well as curated lists from editors or special guests like rapper and investor Nas.
Since anyone can submit a new item, there is still a certain level of clutter among the site’s rankings. A story worth telling could be somewhere in the middle of the charts, a genius product that simply didn’t get the most upvotes that day but clearly has potential to become popular. But this is where hidden ideas could help an ambitious journalist find the scoop before someone who works for a publication with more cache.
The ideas are there; now you just have to go find them.