Focus on Chopsy Baby with editor Jen Smith
Chopsy Baby is an online baby and parenting magazine, edited by Jen Smith. It regularly covers parenting news, reviews, features, products, gadgets, funky baby gear, and consumer information.
This week, FeaturesExec caught up with Jen to discuss the site in more detail, and to find out why she likes her job, and how she works with PRs.
About the publication:
Tell us a bit about Chopsy Baby:
Chopsy Baby is an online parenting and baby magazine for the south west. It is about lifestyle, humour and satire. Chopsy parents will be torn between the natural and the practical aspects of parenting and trying to strike a balance between them.
What was your motivation behind starting Chopsy Baby, and how do you see it developing?
My motivation behind starting Chopsy Baby came from being pregnant with my first baby. I couldn’t quite find any magazines in publication that reflected my needs or interests as a soon-to-be parent. I generally turned to the internet to find out everything I needed to know. As a consumer myself, this was a better option as there is so much free to access information online and the most helpful content was written by non-journalist parents on baby forums.
Nearing the end of our first twelve months, the slower summer pace has given me a chance to reflect and plan for the future. The site has taken on a snowball effect and is growing like a monster. The next few months will be about developing more structure and regular features.
How do you differ from other media outlets in your sector?
Lots of parenting magazines have an ‘upbeat’ philosophy, but I don’t think that necessarily reflects our readers. When it comes to looking at content we have a ‘that’s just bloody typical’ philosophy because for lots of parents life is more like that.
I think our readers will relate more to ‘The six best toys to fiddle with whilst on the phone to the Tax Credit people’ rather than ‘The three best baby changing bags to buy for £100 plus’.
Describe a typical reader for us:
A typical reader would; understand the frustration behind trying to speak to their gas supplier over the phone whilst supervising toddlers; worry about being framed on the front page of the Metro when they are fined for their child dropping a bakery sausage roll; be determined their child will get into an ‘excellent’ Ofsted rated infant school, and be attracted by a quirky yet unnecessary item of baby paraphernalia.
How does the editorial process run? Do you have specific days when you focus on different aspects or is the planning on a much more ad-hoc basis?
We are still really new having only launched at the end of November last year so we are still adapting our editorial process. Until now, it has been quite ad-hoc as keeping an element of freedom about what we cover and when we cover it has been brilliant. Now, we are starting to plan more and are even pencilling together a rough features list. I don’t want to lose our ‘as it happens’ approach though as I think that is part of what makes us different.
ABout you and PRs
Do you work closely with PRs?
We do work closely with PRs and quite a lot of them. We are always interested in hearing about all the latest baby and parenting gadgets, gizmos and especially news. Some baby products can make a real difference to parents’ lives by providing solutions to problems.
What’s the best starting point for a PR who wants to tell you about their client?
An email and press release is the best way to contact us. That way I get a chance to give my full attention to emails and work through them methodically. A lot of the work we do is out of the office and I could be stood in the middle of a farm yard feeding chickens when the phone goes.
When is the best time for PRs to contact you & when is your deadline for contributions?
We don’t have a deadline for contributions at the moment. The internet is pretty flexible. Some items we may feature online in as little as twenty minutes, whereas, other things get filed away for something planned for a fortnight’s time.
Do you have a PR pet hate?
The majority of PRs are really helpful. If a PR promises to send further information, images or samples and then doesn’t, that can be annoying as there isn’t time to chase them up. Emails that are formatted with the text as a JPEG or Gif image aren’t helpful either. The last gripe would be sending press releases by post without putting the correct postage on the right sized envelope.
I know we aren’t perfect either though. When it’s really busy I sometimes promise to email a PR to let them know we used their product and totally forget, so sorry about that. Sometimes I can take a while to reply to an email too. If I blink, another twenty emails have turned up!
What do you love about your work?
I love that my work fits in around my family and that the internet is flexible enough to be able to work away from the office. When I was employed, if my child was ill, quite rightly a nursery wouldn’t take him. Some employers are still not awfully understanding when it comes to this. Being the boss means that I don’t have an employer to answer to. I can work from home if needed and I get to actively involve my child in the work I do.