Step Ahead is a free magazine for parents of children in Essex. It is edited by Kim Kimber, who has worked on the magazine for five years.
This week, FeaturesExec caught up with Kim to discuss the magazine, how PRs can help her, and how she’d spend a relaxing day off.
About the publication:
Tell us a bit about Step Ahead:
Step Ahead is a free issue magazine with circulation circa 40,000 distributed throughout Essex and parts of greater London via schools, supermarkets, libraries, shops and other outlets.
We also run a dedicated parenting website www.mumstop.com
How do you differ from other media outlets in your sector?
We run a number of longer indepth features including several DPS and a number of regular slots on careers for mums, real life, health etc. The magazine is so much more than a collection of ads and snippets and offers quality, well written articles on a broad range of subjects. We also run regular competitions for our readers with some outstanding prizes, trips and short breaks up for grabs.
Describe a typical reader for us:
A typical reader might be a mum with one or more children who is interested in learning about alternative ways of parenting, cares about environmental issues, education, career opportunities and has an interest in what is going on in the wider world.
What stories are you most interested in covering?
At the moment, I am looking for more inspirational real life stories or features about people making positive changes to the world we live in. And, of course, anything relevant to effective parenting.
How do you decide the content and headlines?
Subjects for our regular slots are sourced ahead of time. Ideas for other features often come via press releases and information from PR companies about current campaigns, products and topical issues.
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 generally start working on the larger features and regular slots well in advance and everything else is slotted in around. There is no set pattern but we do try to run a theme throughout an issue and some articles are outsourced to our team of freelancers.
Do you produce a features list?
We do not produce a features list ahead of time as always try to cover stories that are topical at the time.
Do you use freelance contributions, and if so, are they for any particular section/type of work?
Yes. We have a large team of freelancers and there is always scope for new writers but all contributions are on a voluntary basis at present (though I hope this will change in time).
Do you work closely with PRs?
What information/input from PRs is most useful to you?
It really helps if a story comes in complete with press release/product details and suitable images. It is also handy to have full contact details of the PR company (can you believe this doesn’t always happen?).
What’s the best starting point for a PR who wants to tell you about their client?
Always by email – I don’t have time to talk to PRs about possible leads/products over the phone.
Do you have a PR pet hate?
Phoning to follow up an email. If I am interested I will contact them. I allocate time each day to email and I do see them all.
When is the best time for PRs to contact you & when is your deadline for contributions?
Contact me by email and I will get back to you. Deadline tends to vary as we run 7/8 issues per year with one bumper issue to cover the summer and Christmas holidays.
Describe a typical day at work:
I like to read email, open post and deal with any pressing issues arising in the first hour of the day. I will then work on current features, conduct interviews and liaise with freelancers during the morning. I usually grab a sandwich at my desk and either answer email or check proofs.
After lunch, I might spend time editing and liaise with my sub and the design team. Late afternoon I tend to go back to researching/writing, and this might continue until late in the evening.
What do you love about your work?
I enjoy the challenge of starting with nothing and ending up with a polished publication. I like finding out about other people, particularly our real life stories. No two days are ever alike – and variety is key to a happy working life. But above all, I love to write.
Where have you worked previously, and how did you end up in your current position?
I have worked as subeditor for a motoring magazine, a book editor and as a freelance journalist. I have worked for Step Ahead for five years, starting out writing features, then as subeditor and finally taking over as Editor in January 2009.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Never give up.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you do?
I would be a bestselling novelist so when I get time to pen that book…
What’s your idea of a relaxing day off?
Spending time with my husband and three children.