David Court, editor of Dennis Publishing’s new tech title, Alphr, on how tech isn’t just for IT managers, why he thinks in-car tech is so exciting, and how PRs should “walk-the-walk” and find creative ways to pitch in.
What is Alphr attempting to do in the tech space that other outlets haven’t done before?
Our tagline is “A fresh take on technology”. We think that technology sites in the UK aren’t offering much more than reportage. We want to offer context for stories, rather than just rewording a press release and adding a bit of colour. When a story breaks, we try and explain where it’s come from, what they’re trying to do, the end goal and what it means to the rest of the industry.
Tell us about your readership
Our readership is broad but there has to be an interest in tech. We try and explain technology to everyone and make it entertaining and interesting as well, but we won’t dumb it down. We also don’t just cater to social media traffic; we have a number of ways people arrive on the site, so we want to have six or seven stories on the homepage that people want to read immediately.
Who are your competitors in the space?
Anyone who is writing about tech, really. People will draw comparisons with WIRED, Verge and TechRadar, which is covering everything in more volume. We see ourselves offering things in more depth and context rather than just “here’s what’s happening”. We want to get opinion into articles. Part of my job is to ensure we’ve got writers doing just that and giving them the confidence to call something out when they feel they should.
What are the site’s main channels?
We’ve gone away from traditional breadcrumb URL taxonomy. As we’re a news site, we’re aware that people want to know what we’re about. So our channels are business, science, life and culture, wearable tech and cars – which is going to be a really interesting area going forward. Ford, for example, doesn’t describe itself as a car company, it call itself a technology company. Auto Express gave its Car of the Year to the Volvo NC90 based on the in-car tech as much as anything else. We’re making good in-roads with our car news.
What makes the perfect business tech story?
We love a British start-up success story. Similarly if Google launches something, we’d dedicate a lot of editorial to talking about that.
Do you have a good relationship with PRs?
Any PR who has seen us and what we do has liked the site. They like what we’re doing because there is a lot of thought behind it, and we’re offering something new, engaging and high-end. We want to become a household name and getting our name out there is about doing things right from the word go. We want to continue this process with quality journalism and coverage.
Are there any areas of the site PRs can really help with?
We want to hear things from start-ups. We’re a science website as well, so we want to take a view on science stuff. We want to do more on cars, and so want more from manufacturers. We want to hear about anything interesting – everyone will probably say their tech is interesting, but if a new server is coming out, that’s likely not for us.
So what is the best way to get in touch?
If it’s an interesting story, then a call is appreciated. Sometimes you get a phone call that lasts two minutes before you can get a word in because they are reading from a press release. That’s not appreciated! Email is the best way. Or be creative – walk the walk and get in touch by a different method. Twitter is good.
Tech journalism has come under fire in the past for being too close to the companies it’s covering; how do you avoid that?
We are balanced, and whereas some people do gush over certain brands, we try not to be like that. We want to champion things for its merits – at the same time, Apple is a quality company and most of what we write about on them will be favourable because they take the time to research their products. When we’ve got an opinion piece, we will make it clear that it’s from a certain journalist. We want a bit of personality in there, but it’s my job to make sure something is balanced.
And finally, what piece of tech are you most excited about?
I find connected homes the most interesting. Google Nest is great because it’s connecting the home. I also think Apple TV is going that way. Connected homes technology connects your smartphone to your heating, to your fire alarm… They have webcams which you can control from your smartphone.
This nicely wraps up what Alphr is all about – tech isn’t an IT managers thing. It’s now linking you to your home, or your office. People who aren’t in IT have an Apple Iphone or Apple TV and within a couple of years will be able to control their heating. Whatever industry you’re in, you’re be using these devices to control everything. If you want to read about that and learn more about it, come to Alphr.
David was speaking to Gorkana’s David Keevill