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Meet the media – Christine Horton, Channel Pro


Written by Paul Stallard
Source: Christine Horton

Source: Christine Horton

Dennis Publishing has recently added to its online portfolio with its latest launch – Channel Pro. Christine Horton has been charged with launching and steering this new title so I was keen to contact her and see if she would be interested in taking part in my Meet the Media series.

Thankfully Christine agreed and I think you will enjoy the results. Christine talks candidly about having to change her writing style with SEO in mind and how they look to use words in headlines that will attract visitors to the site.

Name: Christine Horton
Title I  work for: Channel Pro – a new website from Dennis Publishing focusing on the UK ICT channel. It is targeted at distributors, resellers and everyone involved in the channel. http://www.channelpro.co.uk/

Paul Stallard: What is your pet hate of PR?
Christine Horton: Phoning me to check that I received a press release! If you emailed it to me, then yes I’m sure I received it! And you included your contact details on it, so I will contact you if I need any more information… It’s just a bit of a distraction getting those types of calls, really.

PS: What is the best way to contact you?
CH: Email please. I am producing most of the content for Channel Pro at the moment, and I’m rather busy, so I would rather respond to my email when I get a chance!

PS: Do you think that most PR professionals read the titles you write for before contacting you?
CH: Hmmm… A good question. I often feel I’m part of a sweeping operation to get a client some exposure rather than any kind of tailored approach to what we write about. For instance I get a lot of ‘new product feature’-based calls that really don’t affect the channel that much, and although it’s rare, some PRs aren’t even sure if their client even sells through the channel!

PS: Have you ever done any PR work and what was the experience like?
CH: I have, and still do a bit in my freelance capacity: Mostly writing press releases, case studies and some media training. I have absolutely no complaints, as I work with some really good people – it makes a big difference. It’s predominantly technology based, though I recently did some PR for The Cleaning Show – the UK’s biggest cleaning industry event!

PS: How has the increase of social media affected traditional journalism?
CH: From personal experience it really has. We soft launched Channel Pro a few weeks ago and I have had to find out about marketing via Facebook, Twitter as well as lots of other social networking communities I had never previously heard of. Oh and blogging: far too many people blogging, with not too many interesting thoughts. But that’s just my opinion.

PS: Have you had to change your writing style for online copy to incorporate SEO?
CH: Yes, I have had to learn all about SEO, and how to write the words that are going to attract visitors to Channel Pro. In addition I have had to learn about the back end stuff like Google Analytics. I feel a bit like the slow child in the class.

PS: Is there a future long term for hard copy publications or will online rule?
CH: I don’t know, really. But again from personal experience, the current economic situation has caused a lot of titles in the IT sector to shrink considerably – or stop having a printed version altogether. While everybody likes to hold a tangible newspaper or magazine in their hands, I think a lot more emphasis is being placed on having a strong digital presence, and I only see that growing more important with time.

PS: Bar your own, which news titles do you read?
CH: Various other IT and channel titles, www.bbc.co.uk, the free papers and The Sun online… I can’t help but visit The Sun readers’ forums – you find the most outrageous opinions to all manner of events!

PS: What is your favourite restaurant/coffee house for briefings?
CH: The best place I was ever taken to lunch was Hakkasan. Oh, and a trendy hotel for afternoon tea sticks in my memory! Other than that, I’m really not that fussy – I’d be happy to do meet in a pub…

PS: Do you believe journalists are rude to PR professionals?
CH: Yes I’ve heard a few horror stories from friends in PR who have suffered verbally at the hands of various journos and editors! (Or more likely it’s the graduate has whose job it is to phone round to check we’ve received their latest press release!) I’ve also witnessed some pretty arrogant journalists at press conferences, and that’s been reflected in their unnecessarily aggressive questioning of the person presenting. However, I think they are in the minority (I hope) and although I understand the pressure deadlines can bring, I think it’s mostly ego-driven!

Next in the meet the media series are as follows:
Jon Gripton, Sky News Online (interview live on 21 April)
Dan Oliver, .Net (interview live on 28 April)

Previous interviews in the meet the media series:
Sally Whittle (17 March)
Peter Whitehead, FT Digital (24 March)
Alan Burkitt-Gray, Global Telecoms Business (31 March)
Alex Blyth, (7 April)