This week we catch up with Ataur Rahman, Publisher & Editor-in-Chief of Urban Life magazine.
About Urban Life magazine:
What subjects do you cover? What stories are you most interested in covering?
Oh, lots! The main areas are fashion, beauty, travel, jewellery, motoring, art & culture, celebrity interviews and profiles etc…
What makes you different from the other outlets in your sector What makes you different from the other outlets in your sector? Well, first of all, we do not actually have any direct competitors. Urban Life is a niche publication, which even after nearly six years, stands alone in its own category. In addition, as mentioned above, we tend to carry original content. Therefore, you will not see anything in the magazine appearing elsewhere with a different header or change of wordings.
What stories are you most interested in covering?
It depends on what’s really current or of interest. We tend to feature only original content, which is exclusive to Urban Life. So once something’s met that criterion, we’re good to go!
How do you decide the content, front covers and headlines?
It depends on what I think is high-profile or relevant enough to go in to that specific edition, and then pick the strongest out of the lot.
Do you produce a features list? Why? Why not?
Usually no. Mainly due to the long shelf life of the mag.
Do you use freelance contributions, and if so, are they for any particular section/type of work?
Yes, although my team has shrunk over the past couple of years to a small group of regulars. However, I am in fact in the process of taking on some new ones for both the magazine and our new lifestyle portal (www.capital-life.co.uk).
About you and freelance journalists:
Do you work closely with PRs (e.g. for supplements, round tables, events) or do you keep them at arm’s length?
Ooooh this is an interesting one! I always say that PRs are like women: you can’t live with them and you can’t live without them! (I can already hear a barrage of projectiles heading my way! lol).
But seriously, I have a great relationship with those that know what they’re doing (you would be surprised, I’m sorry to say). They are a life saver for us, and certainly for a lot of our peers, so we cannot underestimate their value. I keep the good and special ones close to my chest and the (occasional) bad ones at arm’s length! In fact some of those that were juniors when I started with Capital Life back in late ’02, have now gone on to being partners/account directors and in some cases opened their own agencies. I have supported them over the years and vice versa, so there is so much more to it than just the one campaign. It is always a joy to work with fellow crazies(!), who will pick up the phone no matter how ungodly the hour. A few have even given up their weekend time for those rare moments when I needed something very last minute. Naturally their clients have received great coverage in return…
If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?
Not to have their recent intake of interns call up and try and discuss clients/ideas when the poor things don’t have a clue to what they’re trying to pitch. At best it’s a waste of time and at worst the most irritating thing when you have a hundred and one things to do.
How should a PR approach you about their client?
To be honest I don’t mind the direct contact. Email of course works best as I can then revert to it at my leisure. However, if there is a strong idea then a phone call can work wonders too.
What information/input from PRs is most useful to you?
Angles. It’s always about the angles!
When is the best time for PRs to contact you & what is your deadline for contributions?
Mornings tend to be a bit crazy so post lunch is always encouraged. As for deadlines, unless there is time sensitivity, no time is a bad time.
Describe a typical day at work: What are you editorial duties/responsibilities at the outlet (e.g. commissioning, subbing, features, interviewing)?
How long have you got? Lol. It’s a small operation, so I keep a tight ship. This of course means I have to wear many different hats, so I guess you can say all of the above, plus some!
And right now I have the added pleasure of planning the next project which is the online lifestyle portal, so aside from the magazine stuff, there is much to do. I can’t remember the last time I did a 9-5 shift, so it’s a constant effort in keeping ahead of schedule and plans, at all hours.
What interests you most about your job?
Oh, everything about it! I relish the daily challenges, where no two days are the same. I am constantly learning about new things and meeting new people. And as the economy grows, so too will all these other projects that I’m lining up for the future, so that in itself is something I wouldn’t trade for anything else.
Where have you worked previously, and how did you end up in your current position?
I have a colourful CV! I’ve worked in hospitality management, retail, media sales and b2b publishing for the best part of over a decade. On the consumer front I launched a couple of titles for different small publishers, which led me to Capital Life and then Urban Life.
Do you Twitter?
I do, when I have time or think I have anything remotely of interest to say to anyone! You can ‘follow’ me @Ataur.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
My mother always told me that “there is strength in character. If you never lose sight of your character, you will make great friendships in life”. These simple words have served me well in my personal and professional life.
What media do you seek out 1st thing in the morning?
The FT and Evening Standard were my staples for most of my working life. These days, I hardly get time to read, so I tend to avoid all except in phases where I will overload with online, tv and whatever I can pick up on the way home.
If you could time travel what time would you go to?
Early nineteenth century (for the fashion). Don’t ask why…
[img|jpg|Ataur Rahman and Urban Life Magazine]