Media Analysis: Can PROs pass IT hacks' muster?

As IT Week relaunches as a smaller 'laptop' sized title, Tom Williams analyses the differences between the main computer trade weeklies and looks at the demands of their highly knowledgeable editorial teams.

PR professionals in the IT sector may have experienced lean pickings in recent years, but in spite of the dotcom meltdown, which bred a certain cynicism towards new technology, the computer industry remains one of the most lucrative places to be.

IT directors or board-level chief information officers (CIOs) often control their company's second biggest budget, after HR. For example, it is estimated that IT departments at larger companies spend £600,000 a year on testing IT equipment alone.

Target titles

The dotcom collapse, as Computer Weekly editor Hooman Bassirian puts it, 'was not a defining issue'. But it has meant that the leading publications for IT directors - VNU's IT Week (launched in May 1998), Computing (1974), and Reed Business Information's Computer Weekly (1966) - conduct an even more forensic examination of whether products are relevant or really improve an organisation's efficiency.

'IT is now a business-critical thing,' says Fujitsu Siemens head of UK marketing Dave Scott. 'So we target the national press with IT issues as well as these influential trade publications.' Pleon account director Adrian Brophy, whose firm handles PR for IBM, says smaller titles such as MIS and Information Age are also worth targeting, as are titles serving industries for which IT has an impact.

But he cautions that approaches to the highly knowledgeable editorial staff of these publications need to be carefully planned. Case studies, he says, 'are essential' in 'demonstrating the effect of a product and whether it really works'. Third-party recommendations from analysts or respected academics can also be very powerful.

Firefly Communications associate director Robin Wilson says that IT journalists and their readers are no longer wide-eyed at new technology and are 'more cynical about applications and whether they deliver'.

The IT industry is fiercely competitive, so selling into these magazines effectively has never been more challenging.


Editor: Lem Bingley

Contact: 020 7316 9000

Circulation: 51, 828 (controlled)

Why have you relaunched in a smaller 'laptop' format?

The Post Office's decision not to take B2B mailings of more than 300mm in height instigated the process. But we also felt we needed to move to tabloid as it is easier for readers to carry around.

Who are your readers?

We have tried go for the top of the pyramid and focus on the most senior IT people at businesses that have at least 50 connected PCs.

What advice do you have for PROs?

Wacky stories about the latest mobile phones are not something that are going to interest an IT director. They are interested in what software can do to make their business more efficient.

Key contacts News editor/management section Madeline Bennett; enterprise section editor Roger Howorth; internet section/ online editor David Neal; client section editor Daniel Robinson; network section editor Dave Bailey.


Editor: Hooman Bassirian

Contact: 020 8652 8450

Circulation: 140,700

Who reads Computer Weekly?

We target everyone who runs IT and controls IT budgets from the project manager right up to the IT director or CIO.

You've been going nearly 40 years. How have your readers' needs changed?

These days no one has to explain why IT is an essential part of business.

But IT directors do have to justify their volume of expenditure and show how IT makes their company more efficient.

Do you have regular features?

We are a campaigning magazine and try to be the voice of users as well as IT buyers. Our NHS IT Watch, for example, tries to articulate the concerns of people at the receiving end of what is probably the world's largest civil IT project.

Key contacts Executive editor Tony Collins; managing editor (technology) Cliff Saran; news editor Mike Simons; deputy editor (features) Myles Hewitt.


Editor: Toby Wolpe

Contact: 020 7316 9000

Circulation: 115,000

What is the difference between Computing and sister VNU title IT Week?

IT Week is more technical and looks at what technology managers are implementing, whereas we are interested in what companies do with it. Our readers have to balance business issues with an awareness of how new technology can help.

What for you would be a great story?

Anything that IT directors or CIOs want to know about - new technology that improves business for public or private sector organisations, or that doesn't work.

Is the public sector a big area for you?

It is, but we look right across the board, covering private sector issues such as compliance with regulated standards and the management of IT systems.

Our readers are IT directors, CIOs and managers at organisations with more than 1,000 staff and IT budgets in excess of £50m.

Key contacts News editor Emma Nash; managing editor Bryan Glick.

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