Focus on MothersWhoWork.co.uk with editor Joycellyn Akuffo
MothersWhoWork.co.uk is a lifestyle website for UK working mums – everyday working mums, stay-at-home mums who are looking at ways to get back to work or start a business to millionaire ‘mumpreneurs’!
This week, FeaturesExec caught up with mum-of-two and editor Joycellyn Akuffo to discover a bit more about the site, how she works and the editor-PR relationship. We also find out what she’d do if she had a day off to relax.
About the publication:
Tell us a bit about motherswhowork.co.uk:
motherswhowork.co.uk is a lifestyle website for working mums. It covers everything from flexible working rights to celebrity births and information on how to start a business. The website has evolved in the two years since I founded it – back in 2007, I had just been made redundant from a management role at a top b2b publisher. I knew some of the issues that a lot of mums were experiencing, through conversations with other mums at my son’s nursery, and I couldn’t find something that provided all the relevant information under one roof.
These days motherswhowork.co.uk meets that need and a little more – it’s much more glamorous than it was two years ago because it needed to reflect that part of working mothers.
How do you differ from other media outlets in your sector?
Motherswhowork.co.uk is very different from other media outlets – even our ‘competitors’. It differs because of its content and presentation. I am a journalist by profession, and I have worked on titles like Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Mother & Baby and Practical Parenting…to name a few, so I know how to put that content together that my readers like to see. I am also very experienced in SEO and know a lot about getting websites the exposure they need to thrive, so it has helped get motherswhowork.co.uk get out there in a way that others in this niche have not managed.
Today, the site gets 40,000-plus unique visitors a month and 200,000-plus page views and all done organically – no advertising!
Describe a typical reader for us:
Up until three months ago, I would have said mums, but I know there are some closet readers who are dads – some have even entered our competitions! Our demographic is predominantly mums, though – working and not working but looking to start their own business, or looking for work. The age group is quite broad, too, so from the 20s up to grandparents.
What stories are you most interested in covering?
I like stories with a hook. I do try to work with PR agencies as much as possible, as I understand that a lot of them are one-woman bands, often mums, and they are just trying to get their clients some exposure. I am happy to work with PR agencies as long as the product or service they are trying to promote is of genuine interest to my readers – these are astute people!
How do you decide the content and headlines?
I use my journalistic experience and nose for a good story! That is one of the benefits of running your own website – you can make the rules! Generally, profiles of mums and competitions get a headline slot. If there is an important news story then that will get a headline slot – for example the government’s £190 Health in Pregnancy Grant; this may not have seemed like the most glamorous of news stories, but I got hundreds of emails about it when the link to the website did not have the form which mums were looking for!
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?
Every week there is a skeleton rota of stories that will be going live. If something more urgent or interesting comes up then that can change, but that’s what keeps the site fresh.
Do you produce a features list?
I don’t product features lists because they are too limiting. Because the site’s content can be ad hoc sometimes, it would defeat the purpose. Also, I often get emails from PR agencies chasing up press releases going live etc, and a features list would just make this worse, I think!
Do you use freelance contributions, and if so, are they for any particular section/type of work?
Yes, I use freelance writers all the time. They cover all sections of the site – If it’s a good, well-written story, then I’ll use it!
Do you work closely with PRs?
Yes, I try to work closely with them because I understand what they are trying to achieve. I sometimes get ‘help!’ type emails where someone really needs to get a client some exposure, and I try to be of use as much as possible.
What information/input from PRs is most useful to you?
I like initial contact to be via email – this gives me a chance to read and digest what the product/service offering is and see how that could benefit my readers. So well-written press releases are a good starting point, with the image if possible.
What I am working on more at the moment is the celebrity content, so it helps if the agency not only send the press release saying ’celebrity uses x product’ but has a quote and an image that I can use, rather than having no real proof.
What’s the best starting point for a PR who wants to tell you about their client?
Email, email, email! I get some calls to my mobile about press releases before they’ve even been sent, and it can be a bit frustrating because I would get nothing done if I did this for every single press release. I have a Blackberry, so I do get all emails and will generally reply. If you haven’t heard anything after a week, then feel free to chase up!
Do you have a PR pet hate?
Phone calls about press releases! And they are often for press releases that really have no real relevance to my readers. Some people think that just because it’s a website I’ll put anything on there – I respect my readers too much to do that!
When is the best time for PRs to contact you & when is your deadline for contributions?
Any time is fine, I check emails day, night and during the weekend! There are no deadlines as such, unless I am working on a theme, e,g, the National Breastfeeding Week theme, where I needed information during that week!
Describe a typical day at work:
I work about three hours during the day, and from about 9pm to midnight! I have two young children – a four-year old and a four-month old, so I work around them these days!
What do you love about your work?
I like working flexibly, and love motherswhowork.co.uk because I know that my readers trust the content. I also like helping mumpreneurs profile their business – they’ll usually email when they are the headline story and you can feel them beaming through the email.
Where have you worked previously, and how did you end up in your current position?
I set up motherswhowork.co.uk when I was made redundant in 2007. I knew I would be freelancing for some time, so it made sense to start the website and have some sense of ‘ownership’ of the work, and have a creative output.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Life is what you make it!
A phrase I use too often is…
No-one got rich working for someone else.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you do?
Working crazy hours on a magazine for a top publisher.
What’s your idea of a relaxing day off?
A day off would mean not working on the site and being free of my husband and my children – I don’t usually get all of those at the same time, unless I’m at the salon or something like that, so that would be it – getting pampered is my idea of a blissful relaxing day!