Gorkana Meets....René Raaijmakers, Managing Director of Techwatch Publishers (Bits&Chips and Mechatronica&Machinebouw) and The High Tech Institute.
What does a typical working day look like for you?
I have the same ritual every day, including Saturdays and Sundays: After enjoying breakfast whilst reading a good old print newspaper, I start the day at 7am by working on my book about the Dutch high-tech company ASML. Meanwhile, I make breakfast for my children, say goodbye to them at 8:30am and continue writing until 10:30am. After that, every day is different: I spend two days visiting clients, one day at The High Tech Institute, and the remaining two days at the office with my team. I also ensure I have time for a run in the forest or a swim at least three times a week.
Tell us about your different roles as Managing Director of Techwatch Publishers and The High Tech Institute: How do you combine the two?
Both are independent organisations with the same target group: highly skilled engineers and technical managers. Techwatch offers its marketing services to The High Tech Institute. Both teams work independently, whether it is sales, events or editorial. My role is therefore more focused on strategy and market orientation. I am currently part of Techwatch’s sales team, but I am planning to return to my roots at the writers desk once I have completed my ASML-book and work for my Editors-in-Chief again. Furthermore, I am looking forward to working with content and listening to our clients’ ideas and experiences.
Tell us more about the readers of Bits&Chips and Mechatronica&Machinebouw. What is the difference in audience and is there a difference between Belgian and Dutch readers?
Our magazines are both aimed at highly skilled engineers and technical management. There is no difference between Belgian and Dutch readers. Nineteen out of twenty readers are highly skilled professionals. Therefore, we do not only focus on specialised information, but also dedicate a good amount of space to opinions, trends and information about the financial health of High Tech companies, as well as offering news on our website.
Is there an editorial crossover between the two magazines? And how do you select the content?
Bits&Chips covers the engineering disciplines software and electronics in a technical manner, with a focus on information technology. Mechatronica&Machinebouw concentrates more on physics, mechanical design, mechatronics, construction principle and optics. It has a focus on system engineering, the practical side of product creation and automating production.
Do you have a social media strategy?
To be honest, it is quite basic. We have closed our Facebook page, but do make extensive use of Twitter in order to support our news channels and the marketing of our events and trainings.
How can PRs help you and your colleagues with content?
For many PRs it seems difficult to write a good technical and substantial article with the right tone. Our readers are smart; they have a high geek level and are allergic to too much PR. They do appreciate if PRs and authors offer insight on specific technical problems. We are happy to help to find a balance and have noticed that PR professionals are becoming more open to this.
What is the best way for PRs to approach you and the publications?
From my point of view, these rules apply to all magazines: Calling works best, but make sure that you are well informed about the publication and its audience before you pick up the phone. Also, make sure that you have an appealing subject for which you can provide ample support, and explain why your piece needs to be published in the magazine or in a specific issue.
What is your favourite part of the job?
Creating beautiful products, whatever these might be: from small things such as a news report, to a magazine, a book, or an event.
You have been in journalism since 1988. How would you describe the change in journalism over the years?
In the early nineties, I used to fly as a Freelance Journalist to Silicon Valley in order get to know more about the dynamic world of information technology. Travel expenses were easy to claim from clients, and companies such as Intel and Microsoft would let you fly business class to their developers’ conferences. Because of the internet, this world hardly exists nowadays. In the Netherlands, the ratio of journalists to PRs is one to ten. I am an idealist; in my opinion, journalists should not chase the truth because there is no such thing as one truth. You will always encounter unexpected points of view and different interpretations. The main purpose of a journalist should be to educate their readers, and good PR professionals can support them in doing this.
What is your most memorable story?
Interviews with important people in the High Tech Industry are always fun. Personally, the best interviews were those in which I heavily collided with the interviewee. After sending Eric Bongers (the man who brought ICT Automation to the stock market) the final draft of our conversation, he called me up in a rage. But after he had a lawyer friend proofread the interview, he was honest enough to call in order to compliment me on my piece and to let me know that it was actually correct and that he supported it. Actually, this is what I learned from my work in the High Tech Industry: in 95 percent of the cases, after a conflict, your relationship with your former opponent turns out to be better.
René Raaijmakers was talking to Gorkana's Anna Masuku