This month, UK’s top community for tech journalists and PRs, TechJPR, celebrates its 10th birthday. I caught up with Daryl Willcox to find out more about group’s mission and its history.
In order to find out more about the community, I spoke with Daryl Willcox, Founder and Chairman of ResponseSource, a media relations software. Daryl took over the group in 2013 and ResponseSource helps support it.
MK: What is TechJPR and what’s the story behind it?
DW: TechJPR is an informal networking group of technology journalists and PR professionals founded by Andy Lim and a group of likeminded volunteers ten years ago. The objective was to create a social forum to help foster better working relationships between those working in tech journalism and PR. I took over responsibility for the group in 2013. The objective of the group and the volunteer-led ethos remain to this day.
Who can join and how can people benefit from the group?
What’s your personal highlight from running TechJPR?
While I am responsible for TechJPR, my role is really one of oversight and the group is largely run by volunteers. I think the highlight for me is working with the volunteers, a wonderful band of people. They rarely get acknowledged but the regular members of TechJPR owe a great deal to them for keeping the group running and organising events.
In your opinion, how does the relationship between journalists and PR professionals look like?
I don’t think you can define the relationship between journalists and PR professionals without over-simplifying and I am not sure there is much use in that. Things have certainly changed in the last 10 years or so due to the changing media environment – journalists are increasingly outnumbered by PRs, the shift to digital has reduced editorial budgets while shortening deadlines, digital marketers trying their hand at PR and many other factors. On an individual level the fact is there are different styles and personalities on both sides so the relationship between the two is complex. Ultimately the objectives of a journalist are normally different to that of the PR professional and that can sometimes lead to tension, but I believe an understanding of those differences helps to forge a more productive relationship and that is what TechJPR is all about.
How could these two professions benefit from each other and work better together?
Understanding the difference in objectives between a journalist and a PR professional is key in enabling the two to work better together. This does not mean journalists should relinquish any control (heaven forbid, an independent media is critical to a properly functioning democracy), but if you understand that PRs are motivated primarily to deliver on the needs of their client and journalists are motivated to inform their audience then we will all be better at working out how to make the relationship work. When it works well, journalists get what they need so they can write informative articles faster and PRs get fair coverage for their clients and build relationships that may lead to further coverage.
TechJPR is a great place for anyone in the industry — from the most junior to the most senior folk — to chat about current issues in the industry. I especially value it as a junior practitioner. I found a lot of great advice there that helps me do my job better. TechJPR also helps me in building network amongst journalists.
I first found out about the group shortly after the event I attended and got involved as a volunteer. I currently help moderating the Facebook group.
Make sure to visit TechJPR’s website and join the community: techjpr.com
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