Following an 18 month stint as Gizmodo US ’ contributing editor, Kat Hannaford returned to Future Publishing in August 2011 to launch Gizmodo UK. “Editorially, there are many differences to working on Gizmodo UK compared to other sites. Having worked on the launch, and now editing the site, I find that there’s not much time to write, but instead I’m working on lots of exciting opportunities for the brand. Commissioning takes up a lot of my time, but I feel privileged to be working with some amazing freelancers and my news editor, Sam Gibbs.”
Gizmodo’s UK launch was facilitated through Gawker’s partnership with Future Publishing, one that Kat felt was a natural choice for Gawker. “Future is the country’s leading tech publisher and is bounding ahead in the digital world, particularly due to its recent investment in app, iOS Newsstand development, and video-producing. It was also a company I felt comfortable working for again, having worked there as T3.com’s News Editor until November 2009. At Future, I have terrific support, particularly from my group publishing director Nial Ferguson, and the title slots in nicely alongside the tech portfolio’s leading lights, TechRadar and T3.com.”
The site has a broad remit covering design, architecture, space, transport and even food. “Our thinking is that Gizmodo is the tech brand for people who are also interested in other things. While we don’t have a tagline per se, the closest we have is that we like to look at mainstream news through a geek lens.” Like its bigger American brother, Gizmodo UK only covers product launches worth the team’s time. “We’re not going to scrape the bottom of the barrel writing about anything and everything; only those gadgets that we’d personally recommend or purchase ourselves. Unless there’s fun to be had with them, as is our oft-cheeky and irreverent tone. And if ever there’s an opportunity to examine the how’s and why’s of a gadget or technology’s existence, and how humans can really intersect with it, then we’ll delve in.”
So, why with Gizmodo US’s strong presence on relatively global topics was a UK launch deemed necessary? “That’s a question that’s been asked many times, but has an answer surprisingly simple: readers want localised content. They don’t miss out on the wider topic areas as we syndicate as much content as we like from the US, and they benefit by reading about the products and news which impact them on these shores.” However, one of Kat’s challenges is differentiating Gizmodo UK as much as possible from their US site, in order to retain UK-based readers so they don’t attempt to override the redirect that’s in place. “The obvious way to do that is in telecoms coverage, but thanks to the brand’s wide remit of content, we also achieve that in our popular culture commentary too. One thing I’m very proud of is that O2 chose Gizmodo UK above all other tech sites to partner with for London’s first-ever 4G trials. Around 30 of our readers will be testing the network exclusively, several years before the high-speed service is rolled out commercially.”
Gizmodo UK’s readership is overwhelmingly British, although they have found a surprisingly large number of readers from the US who prefer their blog format. “We’re lucky to have such terrific reader engagement; a tough thing here in the UK in comparison to US sites. The main incentive for using social media is to get readers interested in the brand and visit the site more, so it’s hugely important to us. We tweet, Facebook and Google Plus around five main stories a day, plus reply to each and every reader who interacts with us. We get a huge number of comments each day (we had over 6,000 comments for the month of October), and try hard to respond to as many as we can.”
Making the Pitch: Tips and Advice for Pitching to Gizmodo UK:
“We’re open to receiving any press release or tip-off, as long as it’s relevant to the site’s nature. I would prefer it if the PRO or contact gives our site a cursory glance first, not just to gauge whether their pitch is relevant, but also to ensure we haven’t already covered it – you’d be surprised how many pitches we receive for stories which are still on the homepage.
“Saying that though, I’d rather receive all press releases than no press releases, and often feel very embarrassed when I see other journalists and bloggers whingeing on Twitter about these so-called “pr fails.” Having several friends in the PR industry, I know that our side of the fence often does far worse.
“If any PROs reading this would like to get in touch with Gizmodo UK, I’d suggest sending your pitch via email, as phone pitches (especially when chasing us up to see if we received an email) tend to be rather intrusive. I’m aware of clients’ demands however, and know it’s not as easy as that!”