Let your gadgets loose on the web

Despite the number of websites, pages and blogs dedicated to gadgets, they may offer little cut-through for technology PROs promoting their clients' latest bit of kit. David Quainton picks some of the best portals

The internet is the natural medium for reaching consumers with a hunger for technology. It is also, of course, a minefield in terms of reputation management. So which are the best channels for  targeting the hi-tech market?

'Everyone wants to get on Google,' says Pleon UK consumer director Eva Keogan. 'Many people will access products through finding out about them on Google News or a Google search, so you have to think strategically around it.'

Such is the power of the world's favourite search engine, it makes sense to target the websites to which it most regularly links. A quick glance at the technology section of Google News shows that VNUNet.com, Guardian Unlimited and The Sun Online's Gizmo feature highly. But the prime online target, according to the majority of technology PROs, is the BBC's online network. With 650 million page impressions a month, a successfully pitched story promises worldwide coverage. PROs should be aware, however, that the BBC is not product-driven.

Product-friendly web
For more product-oriented stories there are plenty of options. The online portals of Stuff, T3 and Boys Toys are well respected, and for the increasing female market, PROs should consider Gadget Candy, Gadget Diva and Shiny Shiny (see Tech Digest panel). The main benefit of these blog-style sites is the wider coverage that often results from getting on their pages.

To track just how far your stories have spread, Harvard director Antony Mayfield suggests using the plethora of blog-trackers available. In particular, blogpulse.com allows a PRO, or anyone else who is interested, to track a story across the blogging universe and assess its popularity relative to a rival product. 'It enables you to track which websites are getting you the most coverage elsewhere [on the internet],' says Mayfield. 'And then you can choose which sites to focus on in the future.'

As with traditional media, the websites you pitch to will in large part be dictated by the demographic you want to target. But while it is easy to pick websites that will guarantee a particular audience, it is harder to ascertain which of these websites attract dedicated technology followers.

Nevertheless, the general feeling among many PROs is that if a product gets a high enough ranking on Google, then the customers will find it themselves.

THE SUN - Gizmo

Host www.thesun.co.uk
Users 250,000 (and 6.8m across Sun Online network)
Updated Weekly
Editor Jonathan Weinburg
Contact gizmo@the-sun.co.uk

What makes a good story for Gizmo?
It has to be about gadgets but content is picture-led. If there's a good picture of a model with a gadget then it is more likely to get in. But we get a lot of submissions, so something has to make it stand out.

Such as?
New or useful gadgets stand out. We won't run anything old, however interesting it is - Gizmo is still part of a newspaper. But we do run quirky stories. We have one or two of these each week so it is worth trying to find an angle that our readers will enjoy.

Are your readers all men?
No, we have plenty of female interest in the Gizmo page. But our core readership is male, which is represented by the pictures we run - they are obviously  bloke-oriented.

When is the best time to pitch?
The site goes up on a Saturday so the start of the week is best, ready for when we put it together on Thursday and Friday. We run six or seven different products but never two from the same company.

What else should PROs know?
Gizmo is updated weekly. But the advantage is that we have a loyal fan base who will often email in for more info on products featured.


Host www.techdigest.tv
Users One million (over the Shiny Media network)
Updated Daily
Editor Ashley Norris 
Contact ashleyn@lineone.net

What is the Shiny Media network?
It comprises five sites (accessible from tech-digest.com). The major ones are Shiny Shiny - a gadget site for girls - and techdigest.tv, for which content has to be newsworthy and we have to have it first.

Any recent good stories?
Sega allowed our readers to pose questions to its CEO. It worked because our readers like to interact with the industry and it allowed the CEO to promote what he is doing. Instead of just telling us about the next Sega release, which would have got less coverage, the 90-question interview was picked up by lots of other sites and blogs.

You publish in a blog format. Why?
People like us because our sites feel like a link to the blog community, so you get a lot of extra coverage. Sometimes PROs and their clients don't understand that and think of blogs as places for negative publicity. But the network offers amazing cut-through.

When is the best time to pitch?
In the morning, and the earlier the better. Editorial decisions are made fairly early in the day so it is important to get hold of us while we are scouring for stories.

BBC NEWS - Technology

Host news.bbc.co.uk/technology
Users 30 million (across BBC online)
Updated Daily
Editor Alfred Hermida 
Contact alfred.hermida-internet@bbc.co.uk

What makes a good story?
Our tech section is not the same as other sites. It looks at how technology affects people's lives, rather than reviewing products. Your story has to be interesting to a wider audience who may have an Xbox 360 and a laptop but have no interest in version 2.0 of some office software.

What are you looking for exactly?
When EA launched the latest Harry Potter game, we spoke to the game's art director, who told us he had tried to make the game look like it was from the Hudson River School (a 19th-century group of landscape painters). This provided real insight.

How do you fit in with the BBC?
If we don't cover a story ourselves, but we find it interesting, we will often pass it on to Radio Five Live or the World Service. We act as a kind of hub for technology stories, so if you've got something interesting that we can't cover, it may end up somewhere else.

When is the best time to pitch?
I prefer email, and don't call before 9am, because we're busy getting ready for the 9.15 editorial meeting. The best time is  from 11am to 1pm, or later in the afternoon if it can wait for the next day.

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