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Meet the media: Paul Fisher, SC Magazine


Written by Paul Stallard

Paul Fisher, SC Magazine

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After a little break my meet the media series returns and the pipeline is looking good with some top names from our industry currently working on responses. We start off this week with Paul Fisher editor of SC Magazine. I think Paul makes an interesting point when he discusses how the rise in popularity of unregulated, self-opinionated blogs have changed the newspapers industry in the past 20 years ago. Enjoy.

Name: Paul Fisher
Title: Editor of SC Magazine

Paul Stallard
: What is your pet hate of PR?
Paul Fisher: The usual. The “Have you read/did you get the press release I sent over”. It amazes me that in 2010 that agencies still get their juniors to do this. Is it some kind of initiation test? I know that they must sometimes get lucky but really it benefits no-one. The journalist will invariably get annoyed, the PR will feel stupid and used and the client will also suffer by association. So why does it still go on?

The other is fighting against the push nature of modern PR. When journalists actually try and pull some information or a contact from PR they don’t come up with the goods — either as required or to deadline – often both!

PS: What is the best way to contact you?
PF: Easily email. I do read it and I will respond to stuff that is useful. Phone is good but please see answer one above. Out of hours calls on mobile not usually appreciated.

PS: How many emails / calls do you get a day?
PF: I get around 100 emails, about 5 calls — I guess that ratio says something.

PS: How has the increase of social media affected traditional journalism?
PF: On the positive you can say that it has democratised the process, it’s no longer just those fortunate enough to have jobs in the traditional media who can drive opinion and get exposure.

On the other hand, is that it is now much harder to separate the wheat from the chaff and a culture has emerged that favours those who shout loudest and angriest.

The rise in popularity of unregulated, self-opinionated blogs has created a consequent rise in zealotry and intolerance in the traditional media. There was much less harsh (often uninformed) opinion and a lot more news in newspapers 20 years ago.

The reader comments that follow most mainstream opinion pieces in The Guardian and elsewhere are mostly dispiriting.

PS: Have you had to change your writing style for online copy to incorporate SEO?
PF: Not so much personally but as a company we have been encouraged to write copy and (specially) headlines for SEO. Like most publishers we have our share of new media chancers who have swapped their lack of journalistic talent for well paid positions as online gurus by telling the rest of us “what works online”. I don’t think anyone really knows what works online. I do think that people will always be drawn to good, audience targeted content – what physical form it takes is irrelevant.

PS: Is there a future long term for hard copy publications or will online rule?
PF: See above.

PS: Bar your own, which news titles do you read?
PF: FT, Economist, Guardian, Times, Computing, Computer Weekly, Engadget, TechCrunch

PS: What is your favourite restaurant/coffee house for briefings?
PF: In Hammersmith we are not spoilt for choice but the coffee lounge at the Novotel is fine for briefings – I’ve lost count of the number of meetings I’ve had there. As for restaurants, not fussed as long as it’s chosen for relative tranquillity (plus fine food and wine) so that you can actually hear what you are being briefed about.

PS: Do you believe journalists are rude to PR professionals?
PF: Some are, yes. I hope I’m not.

PS: Is being London based an advantage for PR professionals?
PF: Perhaps not so much in the internet age but it’s still where most people are.

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