Compared to Europe and the US, the UK media is an odd bunch for three reasons. First, there are so many publications. There are over 100 monthly and weekly trade, business, online and consumer magazines all targeting the technology sector - not to mention the daily newspapers that cover technology on a regular basis.
On top of this is the increasing broadcast coverage on radio and television, and the new opportunities for PR in the online world.
The second thing is the difference between the huge number of topics these publications need to cover and the amount of people they have on staff. Many publications rely on a pool of freelance writers, but it is still difficult for the journalists to specialise on any particular area of technology. This means, of course, that you can be the expert. But don't get too cocky, with the internet and speed of information today there are just too many ways to check facts and find counter claims.
The third and final difference is that UK journalists tend to be quite aggressive compared to their counterparts in Europe and the States. We have often had clients - who deal with the US press regularly - come away from a UK journalist meeting feeling more than a little challenged. Actually bruised and battered might be a better description.
So how do you handle the UK press? There are no hard and fast rules for dealing with IT journalists. Some are easygoing, some aren't. Regardless of their personality, they still have a magazine to fill, so if they are given good, newsworthy information, they'll more than likely use it.
There are, however, five important tips to help you deal with journalists.
Journalists are inundated with information. They get hundreds of press releases, emails and phone calls. Make sure that what you want to say is brief, interesting and worthy of their time. If not, they will have no problem telling you where to get off when you phone.
Read the magazine you are targeting. Know what its focus is, who it targets, who writes for the section you want to reach and when its deadlines are.
If you are unsure of deadlines - and if you've hired a PR professional who is unsure, think about them again - simply ask the person you've reached 'do you have time to speak or are you on a deadline?' They'll be sure to let you know either way.
Know what you are talking about - be it a product, person or service.
Know why it would appeal to that magazine, who the competitors are, what the controversial viewpoint is, how much it costs and when it's available.
The fourth tip is a simple one: never, call to ask if the journalist has received your press release as it annoys them beyond belief.
And finally, always keep your word. If you say you'll call back, say you'll send a product, if you promise to get the managing director to call, do it.
Katie Kemp is UK managing director of Text 100 public relations for small businesses.
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