Q and A with Heather McLean – freelancer mobile journalist and Smart Chimps founder – Only #MWC12 pitches with punch need apply to this martial arts expert

February 17, 2012

By Rose Ross, AKA @Rose_at_O

Busy with preparation for the launch of her new mobile publishing venture, Smart Chimps we grabbed some time with martial arts expert and freelance mobile journalist, Heather McLean.

Q.  Tell us a bit about yourself:

I am a kungfu instructor in my spare time, and one of the styles I teach is tiger. My natural aptitude for tiger makes me a bit of a hunter in work as well as play; I’m attracted to fresh ideas, exciting stories, new technologies that will change the way we live, and anything that makes the world of mobile a more exhilarating, fast moving, great place to be. I avoid anything slow or dull like the plague. Life is too short.

Q. Tell us a little bit about the titles you write for and their interest in mobile technology:

I’m currently in the process of launching a new online mobile publication, Smart Chimps www.smartchimps.com. Smart Chimps is the place where bright people and hot mobile technology evolve together. Smart Chimps focuses on the mobile ecosystem with a particular interest in the content that is driving the evolution of this marketplace: operating systems; gaming; NFC; mobile payment; mobile security; developers; devices; and all that, including how this affects businesses and consumers. The site is B2B and B2C, news-focused, and includes features, case studies, Q&A’s, video, and opinion, all with a strong, fresh style.

Smart Chimps is going to be great, and although it’s very early days right now, it is really exciting to be able to develop and grow it over 2012. Over 2009 to late 2010 I was part of a similar business called Smart Gorillas, with my business partner and friend, Anne Morris. Smart Gorillas allowed me to cut my teeth and find out what direction I really wanted to be heading in with regard to my own publication. So Smart Chimps is my mobile love child and I’m going it alone!

I’m also (and will probably always be) a freelance reporter, editor, and media trainer, so I write and have written for many publications, from The Times, The Guardian and The Independent, to many of the mobile and telecoms titles in the market today. I cover topics from mobile and telecoms, to business, education and electronic foreign exchange trading, plus all the corporate stuff that comes along.

Q. What’s hot in mobiles and telecoms this year?

NFC, mobile payments and how that integrates into mobile security is a very hot area this year. Despite the dodgy economy these areas have continued to grow rapidly, and are leaping ahead now. This is my favourite area for now.

Q. How many events do you attend each year?  Which one are you most looking forward to?

The biggest event I attend for mobile each year is, of course, Mobile World Congress. It fuels my knowledge for the rest of the year and is unmissable as far as I’m concerned. It’s also very good fun, with lots of friends from around the world meeting up, and lots of cava and tapas to be consumed.

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

This year I’m most interested in mobile money, security, NFC and developer stories. This will all tie in with Smart Chimps as I move the site forward.

Q. What’s the best way to pitch a story to you? Email? Phone? Twitter? By mail? And how many interviews do you do per week?

I prefer email pitches, as nine times out of 10, calls consist of: ‘I sent you a press release three weeks ago and wondered if you’d used it?’, so I can be grumpy on the phone.

Q. What is your favourite piece of technology? And what do you think is the most

important development in mobiles and telecoms to date?

My favourite piece of mobile technology is my HTC phone. I’ve got an HTC Desire at the moment, which I like a lot; I love being connected to the internet all the time, and I like the way HTC pulls it all together with HTC Sense. The most important development in this industry to date is definitely the smartphone; all roads lead from the smartphone to the smartphone. It drives consumer desire, and the industry can simply grow itself and all these amazing technologies around that demand.

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

Email me. See note about being grumpy above. And make it interesting! I don’t care if your client is desperate for coverage; don’t waste my time with dull pitches! I can’t get those minutes back!

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

Best press trips: China, Israel and Egypt. Why: Far away, got to see some of those countries while there, and fun!

Worst: Orlando, Disney World. Why: Orlando, Disney World….

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

I am liking social media more and more, for staying in touch with people, networking and finding stories and ideas. I’m on Facebook for close friends, LinkedIn for work, and Twitter for both.

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?

Apart from kungfu at www.southerncranekungfu.com and travelling to China at least once a year to train with my Masters in Fujian Calling White Crane Quan and Yong Tai Tiger Boxing, the rest are secret!

Copyright ©Launchpad Europe 2012. All rights reserved. You may copy and distribute this material as long as  you credit the author where possible; the copies are distributed only for non-commercial purposes and at no charge; and you include this copyright notice and link to Countdown2MWC.com, the original source of the work.

If you have any questions, please contact Launchpad Europe, info@launchpad-europe.com.


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