Media Interview with Aidan Turnbull, managing editor for Global Media Publishing

Today we speak to the recently promoted Aidan Turnbull of Global Media Publishing. Responsible for a stable of titles covering the independent power, standby power and cogeneration industries, Turnbull will also be launching the quarterly UK Power News in September. Read on to find out why good copy isn’t necessarily good enough for the managing editor of this B2B publisher.

About Global Media Publishing:

My company – Global Media Publishing of Horsham – produces Worldwide Independent Power, the leading complete information source for the independent power, standby power and cogeneration industries. This circulates in 153 countries worldwide and around 10,000+ copies per month are sent out (backed by 10,000 digital versions sent by email). We also produce a number of regional magazine: American Independent Power magazine, Independent Power Asia, and Middle East Power. We publish two ‘industry bibles’: The Worldwide Gen-set and Cogeneration Directory and the AMPS Directory. In September 2011 I am launching a quarterly A3 format industry newspaper, UK Power News.

GMP is also known as the company behind IPEE – The Independent Power Energy & Electricity 2012 exhibition. This is widely regarded as being amongst the top three of Europe’s power & energy shows. This essential biannual event for the Independent European Power & Energy Sector will be held in the UK at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), Birmingham, on April 18th-19th, 2012. The Show provides an ideal platform for players in the standby power & energy industry to showcase the latest cutting-edge technology and for those professionals to meet for a conference on crucial energy matters. The Exhibition is being organised by Global Media Publishing Limited (GMP), publishers of Worldwide Independent Power. I am organising the Conference for 2012.

Who reads GMP’s B2B energy titles?
Our readership is made up of engineers, consultants, buyers & specifiers for industry, executives from the oil, gas & power sectors, transportation, process consultants, technical directors, planners, emergency co-ordinators, UPS consultants, construction managers, and a host of technical & engineering professionals from the independent power and cogeneration industries. We even have readers at NASA centres in the UK and at the CERNE particle accelerator.

What stories are you most interested in covering?
We focus on the independent power and cogeneration sectors – that is everything not connected to the Grid. We look at fossil-fuel (coal, gas, oil) methods of generating power, as well as renewables such as solar, hydropower, biogas, biofuels and marine/tidal power, as well as batteries & fuel cells. We are probably known as a gen-set magazine – we focus on generator sets from small ones you can fit in your garage, right up to huge, power station-sized ones.

What makes you different from the other outlets in the B2B energy sector?
We focus on the independent power sector – airports, hospitals, factories and schools often have their own backup generators, and this is an area which is growing in economic terms as energy gets more expensive. Increasingly, companies want to make their own power and use and store and use it more efficiently. This is where we come in. This is our USP.

About you and freelance journalists:

Do you pay for contributions from freelance journalists?
Occasionally – but the work has to be very good.

Name the three most important attributes that make a freelance journalist stand out for you and would make you use them again?
Reliability = copy in on time and written to a professional/acceptable standard. This is what you need behind succinct and to-the-point editorials.

If you can, tell us about the best approach you’ve seen from a freelance…and the worst…
THE BEST: There is a brilliant lady I use [called Alison Campbell] who not only knows the energy industry inside out, but produced her own book called The Power Protection Guide. She embarrasses me because she knows so much more about the power industry than I do – and I’m the Managing Editor of a stable of energy magazines! Her work is top-class: lively, interesting and informative in true ‘NEW SCIENTIST’ style. She epitomises (for me) the best kind of freelancer. She’s worked for me for 3 years and we’ve never even met face to face.

THE WORST: A nutter called Al from the USA who (because he constantly bombarded me with ‘pitches’) I commissioned him to write me a 2,000 word article on DECONTAMINATION PROCEDURES for my magazine – Industrial Fire Journal. He sent me an essay which failed to use the word ‘decontamination’ even once and contained the phrase ‘Aristotelian verities’ 52 times (I still don’t know what these are). I didn’t pay him or his use his work. It makes me shudder when I recall that near-mistake of mine. His enthusiasm for bombarding me with emails continued unabated (until I listed him in my Spam filter and dropped him like a live handgrenade.

About PRs:

Do you work closely with PRs (e.g. for supplements, round tables, events) or do you keep them at arm’s length?
I love them (mostly). There is a particularly good one called ‘An Agency Called England’ with bright, lively, intelligent professionals running it. They keep me supplied with top copy and really good (and large) images. They also chase stories up in case I lose them in my email database (which I am often doing, working on 6 separate magazines).

If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?
Make them realise one cardinal rule: If you send in copy to an editor attach at least one good illustration (and caption) to accompany it (CMYK, 300 dpi). I keep telling them: “Look, I don’t publish in braille you know – I need illustrations!”

How should a PR approach you about their client?
Email me first. Or phone me.

What information/input from PRs is most useful to you?
Product news, industry news, contract news. Expansions and distributionships. People news. Company mergers. Research and development breakthroughs. I am not really interested in the exotic releases about ‘Cycle Rides round China for Disadvantaged Hedgehogs’ or sports-related announcements – e.g. ‘Fred Stook’s team of swimming engineers’. I want solid industry and financial/technical news instead.

When is the best time for PRs to contact you & what is your deadline for contributions?
Any time. I am available on the phone.

About you:

Describe a typical day at work: What are you editorial duties/responsibilities at the outlet (e.g. commissioning, subbing, features, interviewing)?
I don’t have the luxury of an editorial team so I must do everything: write, interview, layout, sub, illustrate, create PDFs, do the flatplans, write promotional copy, attend shows, presentations and press briefings. I have a pretty limited social life (like most editors) so I put maximum effort into my work. I once had to turn down attending my own father’s funeral because I had a key magazine to produce (I feel bad about that – but I had a print production team and an advertising department depending on me). I had to work instead, with tears dripping down my face. I’d do it again. Well, maybe I‘d try not cry so much – it tends to leave irritating spots on the colour proofs.

I am normally in the office about 7am. I often have a packet of crisps and a cup of tea for breakfast over my desk. I eat lunch from a Tupperware box at my desk (often). Most of my time is spent making decisions about the value of editorial and/or pictures, then undertaking a lot of solid sub-editing. I might have to conduct one or two telephone interviews (it takes less time than turning up somewhere in person) which are focused on new product developments.

What interests you most about your job?
Finding out things no-one else knows about. I love the idea of a ‘scoop’ and do my best to find or generate original stories.

Where have you worked previously, and how did you end up in your current position?
I started out as a junior report and newspaper editor for the PROMOTER NEWSPAPER GROUP writing ‘man-bites-dog’ stories. Then for 5 years I was editor of various security technology magazines. Next, I spent 18 years working on FIRE & RESCUE magazine and INDUSTRIAL FIRE JOURNAL – emergency service and fire engineering magazines – which is a long time to be immersed in any industry. Then I became editor of SECURITY INSTALLER, a specialist magazine dedicated to the home entertainment installation sector, this was followed by a job as editor of CAST METALS & DIECASTING TIMES until 2009 when I joined GMP as editor on 4 magazines.

In my spare time – for fun – I am Siege Commander for a 30-person 15th Century Historical Group called Pelican-In-Her-Piety. We specialise in the ‘extreme sport’ of Medieval Combat Fighting 25 weekends per year at castles and battle sites belonging to English Heritage and other organisations. We fight with various weapons in authentically-styled suit of 15th Century armour. My own personal suit of Milanese armour weighs about 60 pounds (36 kilos) and I specialise in dagger fighting and polearm weapons.

If you want to see image of me being beaten up I suggest you visit our official website: Pelican-in-her-Piety

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[img|jpg|Managing editor Aidan Turnbull]

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