This weeks Meet the Media interview is with freelance journalist Tim Anderson who writes for plethora of titles including
One of my favourite answers he gives is about contacting a journalist. Tim points out that it is a journalists job to be interesting so before any PR clicks on the send button or dials a telephone number they should always ask themselves: Is this interesting? Sounds simple but so few actually take note of this.
Name: Tim Anderson
Title I work for: Freelance journalist, see my blog for bio and titles I write for
Paul Stallard: What is your pet hate of PR?
Tim Anderson: Great question. I’ll get back to you on that.
PS: What is the best way to contact you?
TA: Email, generally. I see all emails; if it something instantly compelling I will respond quickly; if it is something to think about, I’ll think about it; if it is something I can’t use I might not have time to reply.
PS: What is your top tip for PR professionals?
TA: It’s a writer’s job to be interesting. So here’s a question for PRs to ask themselves before contacting a journalist or sending out a release: is this interesting?
PS: How has the increase of social media affected traditional journalism?
TA: I started writing professionally in pre-web days. Many things have changed, and it is hard to narrow down the cause to what is thanks to “social media” and what is just another aspect of the Internet. There is more interaction with readers, which is great, and it feels like writing is subject to more scrutiny – mostly a good thing, though the court of public opinion is not always a fair one.
When it comes to specific social media, I mostly use Twitter, which is amazing. It is a source of news and opinion, and a means of spreading the word about something you think is interesting, or which you have written. I’ve gotten excellent case studies from Twitter, and vox pop reactions to hot questions of the day.
I’ve chosen to have my social media presence mostly a professional one. That works for me, but doesn’t imply disregard for others who throw in a bit of everything they are.
PS: Have you had to change your writing style for online copy to incorporate SEO?
TA: I am an SEO sceptic. I regard it as 50% common sense and 50% a waste of time. That said, I do obvious things. You have to write more literally on the web. It is a bit like writing an index at the same time as the copy.
PS: Is there a future long term for hard copy publications or will online rule?
TA: In my particular field (technology) online already dominates. I guess I don’t see much future for hard copy publications long term; but how long is long term? I still buy books, magazines and newspapers.
PS: What is the worst case of PR you have come across?
TA: Recently I was approached by a PR with an offer to interview a CEO. I accepted and planned the trip to London. Shortly before the trip I was asked what I wanted to discuss with the CEO. I mentioned a few topics I thought were interesting. Clearly they were not on-message, because the slot was abruptly cancelled and the PR stopped replying to emails. The PR should have had the guts to tell me what the problem was.
PS: Are there any PR agencies you have black listed because of bad practices?
PS: Do you believe journalists are rude to PR professionals?
TA: It happens. I am generally polite but find it difficult to make time for lots of “no thanks” emails.
PS: Is being London based an advantage for PR professionals?
TA: Less so than it used to be. I am outside London so that is a factor, but most interaction is by email/phone. Still, the vast majority of briefings are in London and that’s something we all have to live with.
Previous meet the media interviews:
Andy Shaw, Web User
Chris Mellor, The Register
David Baker – Wired UK
Michael Brook – T3
Lem Bingley – Incisive Media
Alan Cane – FT
Bryan Glick, Computing
Clive Akass, PCW
Dan Oliver, .Net
John Gripton, SkyNews.com
Christine Horton, Channel Pro
Alan Burkitt Gray, GTB