Freelance Journalist Focus: Alf Alderson
Freelance journalist Alf Alderson specialises in adventure travel and his work has appeared in The Guardian, The Times and The Telegraph as well as various UK ski magazines.
FeaturesExec caught up with Alf to find out about heliskiing down active volcanoes, press trips and what he’s been reading lately.
About your journalism:
What do you write about?
Adventure travel mainly, with a focus on skiing, surfing, mountaineering and mountain biking – although as I get older and more creaky I’m more than happy to report on my experiences of five star hotels and spas, ideally at the end of a day’s skiing.
Where are we likely to see your work?
I’ve written for most of the broadsheets – The Guardian, Times, Telegraph etc., all of the UK ski mags, in particular Ski & Board and other magazines from Sunday Times Travel and Coast to French Magazine and Easy Jet in flight mag. I’m also the gear reviewer for Outdoor Enthusiast magazine.
What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
A feature on heliskiing down active volcanoes on the spectacularly wild and remote Kamchatka Peninsula in far eastern Russia; although I guess a surf boat charter around the perfect reef breaks of the Maldives wasn’t a bad experience either…
What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?
I’d love to do a ski feature in China – notwithstanding the economy and global warming I can see this becoming a major new market for skiing and most other adventure sports in the future.
As for interviews, nine times world surfing champion Kelly Slater could no doubt provide a few useful tips on how to catch a few more waves, whilst on a more mainstream note it would be nice to ask Peter – sorry Lord – Mandelson how a man can squirm his way through two sackings and come out of it a lord of the realm and deputy prime minister. Accountability? Doesn’t seem to apply to those who govern us.
About you and PRs:
Where do you source ideas for articles?
Usually come up with them myself, often on the back of trips I’ve already made. On other occasions a PR or tourist board may suggest an idea.
How can PRs be useful to you?
By suggesting feature ideas; by providing accurate info when requested (after five years of reviewing gear for OE magazine I still have problems getting many PR companies to provide me with tech specs, images and prices for the products they want me to review).
How and when do you like them to get in touch?
Generally by e-mail and sooner rather than later (it’s no good suggesting winter ideas in December, for instance – as early as August is fine though).
Do you find press conferences, trips, parties and other events useful or an interruption?
I enjoy them – apart from generally being good fun they’re invaluable for networking, particularly since I’m based in Pembrokeshire and thus miles from the action.
If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?
They could try and put themselves in my position as a freelance and ask what they might then require of the services they offer (see gear review example above).
How would you pay the bills if you weren’t a journalist?
I used to work as a geologist in the oil industry so I guess I may still be doing that as long as there’s oil left to drill for. The pay is better too!
If we gave you £1000, how would you spend it?
Why not give it to me and I’ll tell you afterwards?
What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Do a job you enjoy.
What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?
Books – ‘The Blue Moment’ by Richard Williams – the story of Miles Davis’ seminal album ‘Kind of Blue’.
Magazines – Peak Performance Journal (skiing); OE Magazine; Ski & Board Magazine; The Surfer’s Path Magazine.
Blogs – my own (go to www.alfalderson.co.uk).