Bryan Glick, editor in chief at Computer Weekly, an online B2B publisher of IT-related news and jobs, and a TechTarget publication, talks about the publication’s shift from print to digital and describes the ideal working relationship with PRs.
Can you summarise Computer Weekly‘s readership in one sentence?
We write for anyone involved in making technology decisions in businesses, government and other public sector bodies, charities and SMEs. Mostly, that means IT professionals and IT managers, but as digital and technology becomes more pervasive in organisations then increasingly we are read by business executives interested in what IT can do for them.
What are your ambitions for both Computer Weekly and TechTarget?
We are growing Computer Weekly to be TechTarget’s flagship publication for English-speaking audiences in all our core markets outside of the Americas. For example, in the past 18 months, we have launched new digital magazines for readers in the Nordic countries, Benelux, Middle East, South-east Asia and Australia/New Zealand. We aim to complement the 90 plus highly niche websites run by TechTarget out of the US by adding a layer of locally-focused regional content. And of course we want to continue our 50-year history of being the leading business technology publication in the UK.
Computer Weekly has made the move from print to digital. What was the transition like?
Challenging! We dropped our print magazine in 2011 – we’ve grown our business by 20-25% on average every year since then and our audience reach has more than doubled.
The core of what we do hasn’t changed – we still aim to produce quality, in-depth journalism for our target audience – but the way we do that has changed dramatically.
Our workflows and process were adapted to publishing on multiple platforms, using new forms of content and engaging with our readers in new ways. The way my editorial team is organised and run is completely different now, and the roles and responsibilities of journalists have changed – it’s extremely liberating when you are no longer driven by the artificial deadlines imposed by the needs of a printing press.
But the core of the transition has also been a change of business model, and focusing our journalism in support of that. We used to be a traditional, advertising-driven publication, but ads are now a much smaller part of our revenue – commercially, we are a data analytics business, using insights derived from what content our audience is reading to provide market intelligence on IT buyers’ spending priorities and projects to our IT supplier clients. From an editorial perspective, that means a strong focus on long-form, in-depth, analytical articles to attract a quality audience – and our journalists enjoy that. It’s a refreshing change from chasing ad impressions by churning out quick-fire 250-word news stories all day.
How do you ensure that you keep to a digital-first mindset?
All our workflows and processes are oriented to digital-first journalism – it is now just a part of our editorial DNA. You can’t impose a digital mindset onto an operation that still thinks, works, and is organised around a print platform. You need to operate like a digital business – for us, that means we give journalists a lot of autonomy and freedom to determine their own priorities, but with the clear knowledge of editorial strategy and objectives.
For example, one of my team targets a very news-oriented audience and as a result produces a lot of highly topical articles. By contrast, another writer targets a very technical audience, and produces a much smaller volume of extremely technical, very in-depth articles. Those two contrasting topics are our two most-read subjects, but the editorial approach to each is very different.
When are PRs most useful?
When they focus on the needs of our audience. My biggest criticism of PRs has always come when they fail to understand that journalists are focused on the needs of our audience and not their clients. When a PR offers us something that is relevant for our readership and fits with the way we engage those readers, I’d like to think they find us very easy to work with.
What type of story grabs your attention?
The most important source of information for our professional audience is their own peers – they like to know what people like them, and organisations like theirs, are doing with technology and why. So we are very focused on providing that sort of information – acting as a bridge between busy IT professionals and their peers in other organisations. But we love a good government IT cock-up story too!
What made you transition to journalism? What do you like best about the job?
I worked in the IT industry before becoming a journalist, and it is much more fun on this side of the fence. My sister used to be a top music journalist in the 1980s and 1990s, and I always had a desire to give journalism a go myself. When an opportunity arose, I grabbed it. I am very happy to tell anyone who will listen that journalism is the best job in the world. When I was working for a business, I was paid to have their opinion. As a journalist, I’m paid to have my own opinion, and that’s a real privilege.
- Glick has been editor in chief at Computer Weekly for more than six years. Previously, he worked for Incisive Media as editor of Computing, a business tech publication, and had a 10-year career in the IT industry.