Focus interview on Love Food Love Drink with editor Jamie Gandhi

Love Food Love Drink is a weekly newsletter and website providing a digest of the foodie world, with brief reviews of food and drink.

It was launched in May 2008 by editor Jamie Gandhi, “as a bit of fun” but now has over 19,000 registered newsletter subscribers.

This week, FeaturesExec caught up with Gandhi to discuss the site, how he’s sees it developing and how PRs can be helpful to him.

About the publication:

Tell us a bit about Love Food Love Drink:
Love Food Love Drink is a free weekly e-newsletter and website providing a fun and unpretentious digest of the foodie world.

How do you differ from other media outlets in your sector?
We have a fun and friendly approach, with short snippets of easily digestible information. Even our restaurant reviews are much shorter than the norm. Being weekly and online, we have very short lead-times and can react quickly to new stories.

Describe a typical reader for us:
21-40, 75% are London & South-East based, 60% female, 40% male, with an eye for fun and cool trends, products, events and venues.

What stories are you most interested in covering?
– Foodie events (London & occasional national)
– Restaurant and bar news and reviews. Everything from country pubs and local restaurants to high profile West End venues (London & occasional national)
– With more of us looking towards the UK for breaks, we are also increasingly looking to review hotels with a good food offering.
– Food & drink product news and reviews. We cover everything from boutique, high-end products to every day supermarket brands
– Competitions, special offers and promotions.
Our competitions regularly receive over 1000 entries and we can also offer data capture. A recent competition with to win a bottle of Beefeater 24 Gin lead to over 500 entrants opting-in for more information from Gintime.

How does the editorial process run? Do you have specific days when you focus on different aspects of the magazine, or is the planning on a much more ad-hoc basis?
We try to plan a couple of weeks in advance, with occasional themes around major calendar events, such as Pancake Day, Valentine’s Day etc., but we’re fairly ad hoc.

How do you see it developing in the months to come?
We now have over 19,000 subscribers and we are growing by 100-200 subscribers every week. Our key development areas are:
– Video content: we are working with a number of brands and personalities to create video content for them, which we then publicise through the newsletter. The USP of this service is that we have a ready made and interested audience to publicise the videos to.
– Promotions and advertising – we are working with various brands to develop promotions through the site and we are also now offering advertising space.
We also recently ran a massively successful promotion with where every reader would receive a free box of fruit & healthy snacks leading to 1000’s of hits to their site and over 600 new subscribers to their service in the first day!

Do you produce a features list? (If not, why not)
No, because we often find ourselves changing plans at the last minute!

Do you use freelance contributions, and if so, are they for any particular section/type of work?
Occasionally, mostly for restaurant reviews.

About PRs:

Do you work closely with PRs?
Yes, we do depend on PRs for information but I am increasingly using my Twitter network as a source of info too.

What information/input from PRs is most useful to you?
Anything relevant to us.

What’s the best starting point for a PR who wants to tell you about their client?

Do you have a PR pet hate?
When they don’t know anything about us and our style. Still occasionally happens. It’s not difficult, seeing as you only have to go on our website to find out everything you need to know.

When is the best time for PRs to contact you & when is your deadline for contributions?
At the very latest, the Friday before issue publication.

About you:

Describe a typical day at work:
There is no typical day, although I generally do the writing during the day and evenings are usually reviews and events. Also spending far too much time on Twitter!

What do you love about your work?
Food is my passion so what could be better than spending your days eating really great food.

Where have you worked previously, and how did you end up in your current position?
I don’t actually have any previous journalist experience. I set up Love Food Love Drink as a bit of fun and it’s grown far beyond my expectations, leading me to where I am now.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
You should call it ‘Love Food Love Drink’ by my girlfriend.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you do?

What media do you seek out first thing in the morning?
Fun aside, I think Twitter is becoming a very valuable source of information

What’s your idea of a relaxing day off?
My other two passions are football and cars so either going to watch Spurs win or going for a ‘spirited’ drive in the country. Love a good session at the gym too, as it allows me to eat more!

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