Media Interview with Richard Milton, editor of Windows Phone News
About Window Phone News
Hello Richard! Your website Windows Phone News has recently gone live; can you tell us a bit about it? What have we got to look forward to from the site? What do you hope to achieve with it?
Windows Phone News does what it says on the tin. It carries news, reviews, and interviews about the Windows Phone market and the big players in it: Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung, HTC and – intriguingly – Huawei, who are very much an unknown quantity outside of China, but are now the biggest telecoms manufacturer in the world.
What was your inspiration for creating the site?
I spotted that Windows Phone was becoming a significant player in the mobile market but there was no independent site devoted to the subject, but literally millions enquiring about it on the search engines. I felt there was a gap in the market for information.
I was also struck by how quickly Windows Phones had made inroads into the smartphone market. Windows 8 was launched by Microsoft in October 2012, but – only six months later – by March of this year, the market share of Windows Phone had gone from 2.9% to almost 7%. This was at the expense of all three competitors, Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android and especially Blackberry, which is losing share rapidly.
Whatever the outcome, it’s going to be a fascinating contest between some of the giants of the telecommunications and information technology industries – quite possibly with their long term survival at stake. I wanted a ringside seat at this heavyweight match, and I believe there are many thousands of others who’d like to join me. This new magazine is for them.
How do you plan to use social media to help develop the site?
Social media is very much the core of the site. Like so many websites these days it’s actually a WordPress blog – in fact it’s a series of three blogs glued together with static pages. It’s linked directly into a Facebook page, and a Twitter feed. You can’t post directly onto a LinkedIn page just yet, but when you can I’ll link there too. In the meantime I post in LinkedIn Groups by hand and I’m finding both readers and contributors there – lots of software developers on LI.
How do you decide the content, front covers and headlines?
I sometimes wonder how I used to do my job before the internet and before Google – I must have worn out an awful lot of shoes and had a very big phone bill! It’s all down to the net. I subscribe to influential blogs, I have Google alerts set up and I have a lot of mates who send me tips. And of course the big companies are a great source.
About freelance journalists
Do you pay for contributions from freelance journalists?
I’m not using outside material at the moment as it’s early days, but I plan to as soon as the site takes off.
Do you like freelance journalists to get in touch with you directly to pitch ideas? And if so, how?
As a freelance myself I ought to say "Yes, of course" but the truth is I’m up to my neck in editing right now.
Name the three most important attributes that make a freelance journalist stand out for you and would make you use them again?
When I was a young journalist an old hand once said to me, “You don’t take your job seriously enough.” It really stung at the time and still makes me cringe years later. I knew exactly what he meant and ever since I’ve vowed to take everything I do as seriously as possible, and try to be as professional as possible. It’s also what I look for in others. It means doing everything possible, and going the extra mile to get everything as right as you can.
What types of PR agencies do you want to work with and what is the best way for them to get in touch?
Like most journos (and most PRs) it’s a love-hate relationship. The PR people who are good are very, very, very good and the ones who are bad are horrid.
The good ones are conscientious, reliable and honest. They are also very professional, they understand how hard it can be to bring out a paper or magazine and they make themselves part of the team. The bad ones…well, don’t get me started.
I find that smaller agencies, especially the one-woman or one-man band, can be diamonds who will get you really great stories or access and as a journo, I cultivate them as much as possible.
Do you find that your idea of what makes a story and a PR's tends to differ? How?
It’s not essential for a good PR to have been a journalist, but it is essential for them to have news sense and to know what makes a journalist do a particular story. The ironic thing about social media is that many PRs will tell you how important it is to engage in the conversation, and how content is king, and how all the old ways are dead and buried, and the minute they take on a client who makes ball bearings they turn into PRzillas who try to shove meaningless marketing garbage down your throat like the characters in 'Mad Men'.
How do you think the PR/journo dynamic will change in the future?
The net has made us all publishers and all journalists, so PR agencies are compelled to come over to our side of the fence whether they like it or not. The days of broadcasting your corporate media messages are over. You have to talk to people now. And the speed of the internet, the speed of publishing, will determine whether PRs stay in business.
In the past, I used to put a print magazine to bed on Friday and it would be printed over the weekend, be mailed on Monday and arrive on doormats on Tuesday or Wednesday. Just today, I received an email from a PR about a new App for Windows Phone. It was an interesting one, so I opened a 'new Post' wrote a quick story, cut and pasted a picture from the client’s website, and the story was online within 15 minutes of me receiving the PR’s email. He emailed me with one word, saying "amazing". But it’s not amazing any more – it’s normal.
Where have you worked previously?
I’ve been a journo for more years than I care to admit (clue: I covered Concorde’s maiden flight in a magazine set in hot metal). I’ve edited weekly and monthly magazines and tabloid newspapers, all in the business field, so I’ve seen a lot of changes. The net is by far the most exciting environment yet.
How will your previous professional experiences help you in the development of Windows Phone News?
Experience in the trenches is very useful in knowing how and when to take short cuts when it comes to finding, writing and publishing good stories.
What interests you most about your job?
If you could time travel what time would you go to?
For relaxation, I run a website called The Museum of The Stone Age (it’s at www.stoneagetools.co.uk).
I’m fascinated by stone age lithic technology and the part it played in humans dominating the planet and providing the forerunner of all other industries and technologies. So – it sounds a bit dicey – but I’d like to take my time machine back to Mesolithic times and see what life was really like in the stone age.
That does sound dicey…digital pursuits are safer – you can find Richard Milton tweeting @WindowsPhoneEd.