The Register: We are on the side of our readers, we’re not flag wavers

Drew Cullen, The Register’s editor-in-chief, talked about the title’s unique positioning, why it values integrity and how it works with PRs at today’s Cision media briefing.

Joined by senior reporter Kathleen Hall, he outlined how its teams in London, San Francisco and Sydney collaborate to provide rolling coverage to an audience of 9 million unique monthly users.

With a readership consisting primarily of IT professionals, The Register has earned cult status for its dry, irreverent take on the latest tech news.

In conversation with Philip Smith, Cision’s head of content marketing and comms, Cullen and Hall outlined what this means for PRs looking to work with the brand.

The Register values its journalistic integrity

Cullen said The Register values its integrity above all else. It’s great for everyone when you can cover a breaking tech story early. But he believes his reporters owe it to their readers to cut through the marketing jargon and investigate things properly.

“We are on the side of the readers,” he explained. “If you just take the tech and say, ‘isn’t that wonderful’ you are doing a disservice to your readers. And if you do a disservice to your readers then you lose them.”

Hall added: “If you write informed, critical things, then you don’t necessarily get the access that other people do. But I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.”

You need to know who covers your beat

When pitching to the publication, it’s important to know who covers your beat – whether the story is about AI, the Internet of Things or anything else. Cullen recommended using the Gorkana media database to find the best journalist to contact.

Cullen added: “We try and cover emergent technologies. It’s very easy to sneer at this. But we try and cover everything with a critical eye, without sneering.”

“Our country editors select the stories of the day. We inoculate them from marketing pressures,” he continued. “The stories they choose are selected on the basis of what they think are the most interesting or what’s the most important. And that’s the way it should be.”

Good stories aren’t necessarily exclusives

Hall said being in a position to break exclusives is one of the best things about the job, but the title isn’t just looking for exclusivity. It’s also interested in announcements under embargo and interview opportunities.

“It doesn’t have to be an exclusive, but don’t send someone to a conference and then come to us the next morning and tell us you have a story,” Cullen explained. “If you have got something to announce, let us know. Don’t come to us the next day.”

He added that if you call with a last minute interview opportunity, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to travel far to meet you. If you want the coverage, you should make things as easy as possible for their reporters.

Give the team access as early as possible

As with any media outlet, getting great coverage requires building great relationships. Cullen said the team respects embargoes but wants to be told about news in advance so they can cover it quickly.

Hall added that meeting PRs for coffee can be great for building relationship, even without the expectation of breaking a story.

“It’s always nice to get out of the office if it’s good content,” she explained. “It depends on the relevance. We get so many pitches where you can see that this person have never read The Register before.”

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