My internet column for PA
I've been writing a regular internet column for the Press Association since I began working there in 1997. When I left in 1999, I offered to keep writing it, and have done ever since.
The format has changed a few times over the years. At the moment, it comprises a lead article (250 words), three snippets (another 250 words), a list of six themed links, and a final "Thing of the week" link, usually mentioning a funny video or a particularly cool web toy.
A one-par summary for editors goes out on Thursdays. My copy is filed on Thursday or Friday, and sent out by PA on Monday.
I'm often asked who uses the column. In all honesty, I can't say, because I don't know. It could be used by any organisation that subscribes to the PA feeds, and that's a very long list.
I can tell you that I know the column has been used by the following titles. Some of them carry it every week. Others might have just used it occasionally. This list isn't exhaustive, either.
- Aberdeen Evening Express
- Birmingham Post
- Cambridge News
- Cyprus Weekly (Mediapoint)
- Department of Education
- Dundee Courier
- Evening Chronicle (Newcastle)
- Grimsby and Scunthorpe Newspapers
- Halifax Evening Courier
- Irish Independent
- Irish News
- Jersey Evening Post
- Lancashire Evening Post
- Lancashire Evening Telegraph
- Liverpool Daily Post and Echo
- Middlesborough Evening Gazette
- Northern Echo
- Norwich Evening News
- Oldham Evening Chronicle
- Oxford Mail
- Peterborough Evening Telegraph
- Plymouth Sunday Independent
- Shropshire Star
- South Wales Evening Post
- Southern Daily Echo
- Sunderland Echo
- The Gazette (Blackpool)
- Western Mail
- Wolverhampton Express & Star
- Yorkshire Evening Post
Another question I'm often asked (usually by PR people) is whether the column is published online. The answer to that is "Sometimes, and maybe."
It's up to each PA customer to use the text they get from the wire in any way they see fit. Sometimes, a PA customer decides to publish my column on its website as well as in its newspaper. When that happens, that particular column appears online and I can link to it. But I only know it's happened if my egocentric "Giles Turnbull" Google alert tells me so.
I have archives of the column going back to August 2000. Not bad, but not as complete as I'd like. One day, I might put them online; but that would be a big project involving a great deal of link-checking and text wrangling, which explains why I've never got round to doing it before.
Tips for PRs
On the whole, I'm looking for good consumer-oriented internet stories. Just having a website isn't a story anymore, though. It has to be something cool, useful, innovative, clever, or funny. Something different.
Visuals are a big help. If you can provide arresting high-res (print quality) images (not just screenshots) to accompany the story, I'm much more likely to take an interest. Please don't send the visuals as attachments, though - put them on the web somewhere, and send me a link. So much easier that way.
I don't do surveys, please don't send them.
The column is mainly about the internet, but it does cover wider technology topics at my discretion. So I'll review gadgets and consumer electronics, if they can connect to the net and do interesting things with it.
If you've sent me a release and I intend to follow it up, I'll let you know, I promise. There's no need to call or email me to ask me if I got the thing you sent.
If you've got any questions about the column, just ask: email to giles at gilest dot org will do the trick, or I'm @gilest on Twitter.