Interview with Gordon Kelly – Tech Freelance Journalist

March 14, 2011 by  
Filed under Features & Editorials

Believe it or not occasionally I sit on the other side of the interview table. Last week I spoke with Cision about the trends witnessed at Mobile World Congress, how journalists can be more productive, the rise of social media and the best way for PRs to contact journalists. Basically we put the world to rites. The interview is kindly reprinted below with permission from Cision and the original article can be found here.

Interview with Gordon Kelly – Tech Freelance Journalist

Author: Matt Boxall & Mital Patel
Categories: Q&ATechnology Week

Gordon Kelly is a London based writer and journalist specialising in technology, music and film. He previously worked for as News Editor. He has experience working in both B2B and B2C titles as well as production marketing copy. He has wide range of knowledge across the technology, music and film industries with a focus on producing reviews, news and features.

Gordon also works as a freelance journalist after beginning his career at VNU (now Incisive Media) where he started as a Reporter on industry title Computer Reseller News (CRN).

Cision: You attended the Mobile World Congress 2011 in Barcelona, what do you feel were the highlights of the event?

This year’s show was interesting because the biggest highlight – Nokia moving to Windows Phone – was announced beforehand. This meant much of the show was spent trying to work out its consequences. Like the Nokia deal, much of the hardware highlights such as dual core smartphones and NFC will likely not be fully exploited until MWC 2012.

Following their launch of the “tablet”, Apple are now having to compete with various other competitor versions. Do you feel they can sustain the market lead or will another brand take over?

I think Android’s business model means it will take over long term, but I don’t see anyone catching Apple for at least a year. Unlike Android handsets, Android tablets also have yet to match the iPad’s price point and the platform lacks widespread app support. It will be a struggle.

Which three apps do you feel are the most useful for journalists to use?

This varies greatly from platform to platform, but I use an iPhone 4 and find RRS app Reeder to be invaluable for quickly keeping myself up to date. I greatly miss reMail, an app bought by Google which downloads your entire inbox and makes it instantly searchable, but OneMail+ performs the same job and I’d recommend it to anyone. After that it is hard to look past the iOS native Voice Memo app for recording interviews, but SnapDat – a virtual business card app – is vital when you run out of cards and CamCard is useful for quickly scanning all the business cards you pick-up before they are misplaced!

What do you predict to be the ’must have’ gadget in 2011? What gadgets do you use in your work?

The general rule of thumb is whatever Apple announces will end up being the must have gadget(s) of 2011 – so, despite not being announced yet, expect the iPhone 5 and iPad 2 to be near the top of many Christmas lists. I do think there will be a backlash against tablets, much as there was towards netbooks – I don’t see enough people finding uses for them. Talk to people and they want one, they just don’t know why! For work I use an iPhone 4, a Sony Vaio F series laptop at home and a Lenovo ThinkPad X300 on the move. I’m eyeing up the new Samsung 9 Series ultraportable laptop. I think that’ll be a glorious machine, but probably too expensive for many.

Will you be attending any more events in 2011? If so, which ones and why?

I’ve already been to CES in January and after Mobile World Congress I may attend SXSW in March. CeBIT feels largely irrelevant these days and while I prefer IFA I think I’ll be giving it a miss this year. The problem with shows is companies no longer want to share the limelight. Just like MWC this year they want to announce their products ahead of time then use the shows as a chance for journalists to get a hands-on. This can be useful, but it takes away the excitement and journalists, particularly freelance journalists, need to very carefully pick and choose which events will have real value. I can often get more out of attending a few local London events than packing my bags for the international trade shows.

What is going to be bigger in 2011: Mobile Journalism or Social Journalism?

I think they have no choice but to coexist. Where they differ is the value of mobile journalism cannot be denied in an industry which is increasingly split between being first and delivering thoughtful analysis. For the former mobile journalism is vital. Social is harder to quantify. For freelancers it is now a necessity to have a strong social presence, both on sites like Twitter and LinkedIn (I still see Facebook as more personal), but for websites there is a great deal of investment in social strategies though I have yet to see much return. Mashable is probably the major exception, but no-one will be giving up trying to emulate it any time soon.

Who are the top technology writers/journalist that inspire you and why?

It’s hard to call names out of a hat, because my decision to go freelance last year was based on the conclusion that I didn’t want to be locked into a specific position at a specific title. For me variety (on high quality publications) is the spice of life. With that in mind I’m most impressed with those journalists who are respected regardless of what comes after the @ in their email addresses. I think Harry Wallop at the Telegraph and Charles Arthur at The Guardian do tremendous jobs and each goes about it in completely different ways. Rory Cellan-Jones at the BBC is fantastic at bridging different journalist mediums and it is impossible not to admire the job Mike Butcher does at TechCrunch. In the US I think we can all learn from the marketing prowess of Veronica Belmont – 1.6 million twitter followers can’t all be wrong.

What are your tips for PR agencies looking to contacting you?

Some oldies but goldies I’d say: know what you’re talking about and why you are talking to me. News isn’t bespoke, but it makes a huge difference to a journalist’s day to be contacted about things that are relevant. If you can justify why by referencing it to a journalist’s previous work it is impossible not to be impressed. Give me time to see the press release! If it was just sent, don’t call five minutes later and if you sent it two weeks ago and I didn’t reply then chances are it wasn’t of interest. It will be of even less interest now it is two weeks old. I’m always interested in suggestions for features and editorials, interviews with prominent industry figures and chances for an early look at new technology or devices. Be creative, I won’t bite – just try to do some research first.

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