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Press tour tips for the U.K.

"Editors in the U.K. are just like their counterparts in the U.S.," says Stephan Debruyn, editor of MediaMap's newly-published Computer Trade Press Handbook for the U.K. "They remember companies and products a lot better after a face-to-face meeting with top management."

Even though the U.K. market is only about one-sixth the size of the U.S., Debruyn points out, "the British are voracious readers and support at least 200 computer magazines--including such exotic publications as Cabling World, Amstrad Action, and the Scottish Computer Users Guide."

We asked Debruyn for his advice on how to get the most value out of personal visits to U.K. publications:

Which are the "must see" magazines?

"In terms of circulation, the top five general interest trade magazines are Computer Shopper, Computing, Computer Weekly, PC Plus, and Personal Computer Magazine. You'll reach over 560,000 corporate buyers and PC networking customers from just these titles alone."

How much technical expertise do British journalists have?

"Editorial staffers tend to be younger and less experienced than in the U.S., and they usually work as part of smaller editorial staffs. So you'll probably find yourself talking to a generalist who's trying to cover several different beats.

"However, editorial standards are rising. Ziff-Davis recently set up its own testing labs in the U.K., and the rest of the trade press will probably respond by developing greater technical competence."

What makes a visit really click?

"Be prepared to be more formal than in the U.S. We've spoken to British editors who were horrified by Americans who addressed them by their Christian names before they even met them. Also, there's more of an adversarial relationship between the computer press and an often-inadequate high-tech PR community. If you show up on time, present a professional product demo with plenty of technical data, you're already way ahead of the game."

Realistically, how many appointments can be scheduled for one day? "Three or four appointments are probably the most you can squeeze into a day. Americans are often perceived as being too business-oriented and not taking enough time to cultivate personal relationships. In the U.K., editors are more likely to spend several hours talking with company representatives. And a British editor may prefer to meet off-site at lunch since editorial meeting space is often very limited."

Stephan Debruyn, senior analyst, MediaMap, 215 First St., Cambridge, Mass. 02142; 617/374-9300.
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Title Annotation:recommendations for US software executives in dealing with UK computer publications
Date:Apr 30, 1993
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