Freelance Journalist Interview with Mike Souter
About your journalism
What do you write about?
I have been a travel specialist for more than thirty years. You will regularly hear me commenting about travel related issues on broadcast media.
Where are we likely to see your work?
For many years, I wrote mainly for the regional press. But as the media has changed, I increasingly undertake assignments for airline magazines and online feature material. My travel blogs: http://mdsouter.blogspot.com and http://mikesouter.blogspot.com get over 1000 hits a month.
What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
Probably writing the lead feature for the Lillehammer Winter Olympic official magazine.
But I have recently done a couple of round-the-world trips, which were both very special.
What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?
I'd love to have a one to one with Barack and Michelle Obama. They fascinate me.
About you and PRs
Where do you source ideas for articles?
Generally, my own initiative. I find too many PR people now do not have a journalistic background, nor a nose for a story. A lot push out endless stories which are either far too long or simply promote a product or a service which should be adverts, not press releases.
How can PRs be useful to you?
By having a nose for a real story and properly targetting it.
How and when do you like them to get in touch?
Email as first contact. And not the day before an event!
Do you find press conferences, trips, parties and other events useful or an interruption?
Familiarisation trips are best if tailored for an individual needs. Too often you go on a trip which is trying to be all things to everyone, which never works. Parties are, more often than not, a complete waste of time.
If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?
Don't just send out press releases to everyone on your list. Tailor them to the people who really might want to use the story.
How would you pay the bills if you weren’t a journalist?
Interesting question! I think I might go and work as a cruise director or some other customer-facing job in the travel industry.
If we gave you £1000, how would you spend it?
I am planning my 60th birthday party for next year on Norfolk Island between Australia and New Zealand. It would buy a lot of food and drink for my friends there!
Do you tweet?
Yes, @MikeSouter. It is amazing how many people take note of my thoughts and comment upon them.
What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?
Having visited Colditz recently, I am re-reading the Colditz Story. I have The Week, Private Eye and Conde Nast Traveller in my bag.