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Q&A with George Malim, Freelance Journalist and Editor of Vanilla Plus

January 20, 2011

Q.  Tell us a bit about yourself:

I’ve covered the telecoms market since 1999 working as a reporter on CommunicationsWeek International and features editor of Telecommunications International before going freelance (by choice!) in 2001. Since then I’ve contributed to many telecoms media outlets reporting on the mobile internet explosion from its inception. In 1997, along with my business partner, Mark Dye, I established White Label Media, which provides copywriting, media training, contract publishing, social media and event moderation services. See www.whitelabel.uk.com for further information.

Q. Tell us a little bit about the titles you write for and their interest in mobile and telecoms:
I serve as editor of VanillaPlus, a bi-monthly magazine that focuses on the enabling technologies that support carrier operations. Key issues at the moment centre on the monetisation of mobile data.

I’m also associate editor of Global Telecoms Business magazine, a title that distributes to CEOs and CFOs of telecoms carriers. The title has a focus, as the title suggests, on the business of telecoms so, from a mobile perspective, a lot of the focus is on understanding the extent to which over the top service providers are an opportunity and a threat.

I also contribute to Wireless magazine as well as a variety of other technology titles.

Q. What’s hot in mobiles this year?

4G, tablet devices, M2M and apps – much like last year.

Q. How many mobile industry events do you attend each year?

Four or five.

Q. How many MWCs have you been to? Any top tips for PRs or Companies planning to engage with you there?

I’ve been to at least six. Top tips to engage with me are to get in early – I receive several hundred requests and only have capacity to meet 25 companies. I keep an open attitude to filling those slots but don’t often do meet and greets. I’m freelance so my time has to be spent on meetings that I can write something about and get paid for.

Q. Which one are you most looking forward to?

I don’t have a particular interview that I’m looking forward to. Forrest Gump-like, you never know what you’re going to get and experience tells me that it’s often the unexpected opportunities that have the greatest impact.

Q. What types of stories or companies are likely to attract your attention this year?

Typically ones that other people haven’t got. For a freelance, unless you’re on a standard news contract, press conference announcements are saleable enough to make them worthwhile so I’m looking for esoteric or leftfield interviews that I can either stitch a new angle together from or fit into the remit of my regular jobs.

Q. How many interviews do you do per week?

At the show I can do as many as 12 per day, my record is 45 in three and half days.

Q. What’s the best way to pitch a story to you? Email? Phone? Twitter? By mail?

Email

Q. Who is worth listening to?

I don’t really look for a single person to speak to although there are a series of professionals that I know who ‘give good quote’ that I try and speak to because I’ll know they’ll have an interesting take on things. That said, I’m really out for as wide a cross section of voices as possible.

Q. What’s your favourite blog?

Distorted Loop

Q. What is your favourite piece of technology?

The car.

Q. What do you think is the most important development in mobiles to date?

I should say something about apps but really it is the fact that you can take a small device out of your pocket, dial 14 digits and speak with normally excellent clarity to a vast percentage of the world’s population.

Q. What is the best piece of advice for companies pitching stories?

Know exactly what you’re pitching, make sure I’m the right person for the story before you call, and be succinct.

Q. What was the best press trip you’ve ever been on? Worst? Why?

Three days on Lake Como with a free bar and just 45 minutes of PowerPoint immediately springs to mind. Another great one was having the opportunity to enter the occupied West Bank to report on a technology incubator project. I got smuggled in in the back of a van with someone from the Israeli Ministry of Technology, courtesy of a nameless technology vendor. The worst trip probably involves being snowed in for several days on the eastern seaboard of the US – and Delta airlines losing my luggage.

Q.  What’s your favourite restaurant?

The Shed at the Te Motu Vineyard on Waiheke Island, New Zealand.

Q. Are you a social media lover? Which ones are you on? FB? LinkedIn? Twitter?

I am fully engaged with social media and use it as great channel for gaining work and keeping up with friends and colleagues. I use both Twitter and LinkedIn extensively but keep Facebook purely for non-work activity.

Q. Tell us something no-one knows about you? Do you have any unusual or unexpected hobbies/interests? Do you have a claim to fame?

I have absolutely no claim to fame and nothing unusual or interesting has ever happened to me. My dog Pugwash, however, was recently attacked by three greyhounds. He is fully recovered, you’ll be relieved to hear.

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