Guy Cocker, global editor-in-chief at Stuff Magazine, discusses why his childhood dream was to become Stuff editor, how the magazine is changing its editorial structure to keep up with tech and why PRs should meet the team during trade shows such as Electronic Entertainment Expo.
What makes Stuff unique?
Stuff‘s mission is simple: to find the very best products for our readers to lust after, buy and use. There are so many other places out there that focus on industry news, or tech that isn’t worth your time or money, or that will never be released or affordable.
Stuff disregards all that and focuses on the very best things to spend your time and money on right now. I think that’s what’s made us the world’s biggest technology media brand, with over 62,000 readers of the magazine and 2.9m UK unique users per month.
The tech industry also moves at such a pace that it’s important Stuff continually evolves its coverage. This month, we’re changing our structure so that we have editors assigned to manage the products that are important to our readers. So we now have a Phones, Tablets and Computing editor, a Smarthome, Cameras and Wearables editor, and a Home Entertainment editor.
What reader do you have in mind when creating content? Do you have any rules or guidelines that you try to bear in mind when thinking about whether a story is right or not?
We have three rules: find the best products, write about them entertainingly and present them beautifully.
Everyone is into technology these days, but that doesn’t mean they’re nerds. Our Hot Stuff editor (who edits the new products shown in Stuff) recently told me that he wants to tell people the two most important things about a product as quickly as possible, without them needing any background or history about it beforehand.
How do you prefer to be contacted by PRs?
Personally, I prefer the personal touch, so phone, text/IM or face-to-face meetings. I look forward to the deluge of calls now!
But, honestly, I get so many emails that if I see something that’s clearly a circular, I don’t even open it. Conversely, if someone makes the effort to get in touch with something bespoke for Stuff, even if it is via email, I’ll respond or forward it to a relevant member of the team.
There are a few other key ways to get on Stuff’s radar. I’d advise PRs to attend the big events of the year where possible — the Consumer Electronics Show, Electronic Entertainment Expo and the upcoming Mobile World Congress, and book an appointment with us.
We’re always happy to look at things under embargo, but it’s getting to use the products that’s important to us.
Or come and see us at our office in Twickenham – we recently raced Star Wars drones around our basement and created content to go in print, online, social and video off the back of it as they were such good fun!
How do you manage content on a global basis, with such a widespread and presumably varied audience?
We have over 20 International editions of Stuff in territories as diverse as South Africa, Malaysia and France. A lot of content travels around the globe, especially on major products from Apple and Samsung, whereas other products and events are more localised. However, that’s also changing, as manufacturers that were recently limited to China, such as Xiaomi and Huawei, are now releasing their products in the UK.
On Stuff, we depend on a network of journalists and contacts to secure the products we cover. If something is happening in Asia, such as Samsung’s recent Note 7 battery report, we’ll send someone from that continent.
We have editors in the US for events that happen during that time period. And we share everything, from web content to social posts to magazine pages, with every territory in the world, and have an international team to look after that. Ultimately though, it’s down to each territory to decide what works for their local audience.
How do you find the time to enjoy, and remain an authority on, the games and gadgets that you cover in the magazine?
We all genuinely love our jobs, so we’re always trying out new things in our free time. This week alone, I’ve been cycling with the superb wire-free Jabra Elite Sport headphones, and I’m driving the Jaguar F-PACE R-Sport on the weekend.
It can be a challenge staying on top of absolutely everything, which is why I encourage PRs to send or bring in as much as they can for us to try. Even short term loans mean we might be able to put that product into a roundup or include it in our awards.
What has been the highlight of your career to date?
I’m a huge video game fan, so consulting on the BBC’s Make It Digital series was a great privilege. Horizon: Are Video Games Really That Bad? explored the positive impact of playing games and worked out really well.
I also worked on The Gamechangers, the story of the making of GTA starring Daniel Radcliffe, which was rather less well-received by critics, but gave me a valuable experience of being on the receiving end of bad reviews!
What did you want to be when you were younger?
Aside from wanting to be a train driver when I was very young, I genuinely wanted to be the editor of Stuff. I know that sounds trite, but I vividly remember picking up my first copy of Stuff when I was out shopping with my mum, and not being able to believe that there was a magazine filled with cool stuff. So getting to work on Stuff now is a genuine dream come true.
- In 2016, Gorkana held an exclusive media briefing with Will Dunn, editor of Stuff who talked about how he maintains the publication’s quirky tone of voice and how PRs can get get themselves noticed by the editorial team there.
- Read the interview with Will Dunn.