Focus with Sue Hedges, editor of

Today’s Focus interview is with 50 percent of the editorial team Sue Hedges, who tells us about exciting interviews with celebrity giants Stavros Flatley, and explains just what inspired that controversial name…

About the publication:

What was your initial inspiration for starting the website?
A friend of mine celebrated her wedding anniversary every year with a special night out – she decided one year to leave it to her husband – he didn’t arrange anything and they ended up with a supermarket curry and a bottle of wine – when she phoned me up to have a moan about him, the name sprang to mind – most women do it – some don’t have anyone to do it with! I just wanted to create a friendly place for women to get together.

Who reads it and how many of them are there?
All kinds of women I think – we have young women, old women, in between women. Women who are Mums, women who aren’t Mums, women that work, women that don’t. I have chatted to a 60 year old Grandma and an 18 year old single Mum on the chatroom at the same time – there is usually something for everyone.

What subjects do you cover? What stories are you most interested in covering?
We cover everything! We have lots of contributors. We try to follow a theme each week with something new in each of our sections – we have the usual health, lifestyle, TV, celebrity interview, but we do it in our way. Each contributor has spoken to either me or Angie before appearing, they are writing to a theme we have asked and we talk about how we want them to write. I enjoy doing the celebrity interviews – it is very new for me – one of the first ones I did was Stavros Flatley while I was cooking the tea! And when ITV gave me 15 minutes with actor Stephen Tompkinson I was in the wind and rain on the school playground and wittering on about not knowing the protocol etc – but I usually find the interviewees are so lovely there is no need to be nervous. The ones I speak to hold my hand along the way and its usually a very enjoyable experience. I also cover real life experiences – to hear about someone’s experience of their child’s first day at school, or their winter wedding and link it in with our theme is something I enjoy.

What makes you different from other female-focused online outlets?
I think two things – Angie and I are a very big part of it. It isn’t a huge bunch of articles with no face – we are there for everyone to see and people on the website can get hold of us through our profile on the site or through Twitter. We can’t get to to know everyone obviously, but we do like to be around – and between us we know everything that is going on the site every week, so it is a very personal project.

And the other thing is that we like to be about real women. And talk about things that affect real women – because we are real women who juggle lives and work and family, and worry about money and eating too much chocolate just like our readers. And because we understand that, we like to bring that to the site.

Have you faced any criticism for the name of your publication?
Yes – quite a bit in the very beginning. In fact some of it was quite personal and not very pleasant at all. We were criticised for being sexist and after an appearance on GMTV, one man took a particular hatred to us and said that “he wished the two vile founders got breast cancer and died”. We did expect a bit of criticism but that particular comment was very hurtful. The name is what it is – a name. The website isn’t all moaning about men – but it is a website for women. And the name simply makes most women smile and they remember it and come back to it – which is what it is all about.

About you and freelance journalists:

Do you like freelance journalists to get in touch with you directly to pitch ideas? And if so, how?
We are approached regularly by freelance journalists and are more than happy for them to pitch directly. The best way for us is to contact us via the website either on the contact form or directly to the main email address

Name the three most important attributes that make a freelance journalist stand out for you and would make you use them again?
What you have to remember about Angie and me is that we are two working Mums who run the website from our living rooms. I am an Exams Officer and Ang is a Teaching Assistant. Until we started the site we had no experience of the media/publishing/PR, so we perhaps look at things a bit differently. We read each piece that comes through and we can usually tell straightaway whether we like it or not.

We like people to write in a chatty human way, so that the readers get a sense of their personality and as the articles go along, they get to know the writer a little.

So for me:

About PRs:

Do you work closely with PRs (e.g. for supplements, round tables, events) or do you keep them at arm’s length?
We work closely with PRs, but this is something very new to us – and I have to say at the moment I am enjoying the experience – I hope it stays like this.

How should a PR approach you about their client?
Via email or the contact form on the website.

What information/input from PRs is most useful to you?
If a PR thinks something might work well on the site, then send it over and we will look at it. We ask for competition prizes and review products when we need them – but we read every email that comes through, so it is always worth sending through something you think could work.

When is the best time for PRs to contact you & what is your deadline for contributions?
Via email anytime – editorial changes every Wednesday and so our deadline for copy is the Friday before.

About you:

Describe a typical day at work: What are you editorial duties/responsibilities at the outlet (e.g. commissioning, subbing, features, interviewing)?
Hmmm – we are a bit different here! I work in a secondary school six hours a day, so my work is before I go and when I come in – with the odd email reply on my blackberry when I am there! Angie and I have a list of themes to work to and we try to get our contributors or new contributors to commit to this theme. Angie and I try to get all the editorial finalised with a planning meeting on Tuesday evening for the following week and the week after – gather in any missing bits over the next few days, then send it over to the web team on Sunday evening.

What interests you most about your job?
It’s so different to anything else I have ever done. It changes all the time, it enables me to meet so many different people and have so many different experiences. It can be frustrating, quite stressful and challenging but when an issue comes together it is also very satisfying.

Where have you worked previously, and how did you end up in your current position?
I have worked for local councils, an engineering firm and on a cruise ship. Currently I work in a secondary school and I ended up in this position with the website because Angie and I run it together and we are it! We ARE the editorial team – we are the editor, features editor, pictures editor – the lot!

Do you Twitter? Why, why not?
Oh we Twitter! Twitter has enabled us to get as far as we have without a doubt. We joined at a time when it wasn’t quite so busy and formed Twitter friendships with many well known faces who have since appeared on the website. Duncan Bannatyne was one of the first to appear and has been known to give me fashion advice and menu advice! Eamonn Holmes has been a big support and help to us as well as many others. Many of our contributors come through Twitter – it’s a great way to build relationships and get to know people. And I also think its helped people accept us and the name – because they see the real me and Angie on Twitter – and we are actually quite “normal”!

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
If everyone gave up at the first hurdle, there would be no successful corporations in this country – in other words- don’t give up when things get a bit tough.

What media do you seek out 1st thing in the morning?
Twitter – always.

If you could time travel what time would you go to?
I quite like where I am at the minute………………………

[img|jpg|From left to right: Editors Angie Savchenko and Sue Hedges]

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