Interview with Dawn-Maria France, editor of Yorkshire Women’s Life
Yorkshire Women's Life aims to cover topics of interest to women, but with a distinctive "yorkshire flavour", according to editor Dawn-Maria France. Rather than making a hackneyed joke about the flavour of Yorkshire puddings (oops, too late), let's instead explore what the magazine's team have been up to since the last time we spoke back in 2011.
Hi there, Dawn-Maria! We last caught up with you back in 2011; what big things have been happening at the magazine since then?
Dawn-Maria France: The title has seen an increase in readership in New Zealand, the US and Australia, which has been very rewarding and shows that the diversity of topics we cover as a title has a far and wide-ranging appeal. We are looking at building on the growth we have achieved so far and making the title even more accessible for purchase in those countries and beyond.
The magazine is sponsoring this year’s Charity Advent Christmas Carol Celebrations to support The Haven Breast Cancer Support Centre. Tell us a bit about why the magazine is working with the centre?
At Yorkshire Women’s Life magazine, we have a mandate to keep our fingers on the pulse of issues affecting women on a regional, national and international level. The Haven continues to support people with breast cancer by working with experts to create individual and personalised programmes of care for each person who walks through their doors. The programmes are tailored to help people cope with the challenges of breast cancer and, as a women’s title, we are happy to support such vital work with our media tie-in with The Haven Cancer Care Centre.
The readership for the magazine extends beyond the women of Yorkshire; what makes the magazine accessible to women around the UK and beyond? Alternatively, are there issues/topics that are specific to Yorkshire women?
As an award-winning news-led title, we have always tackled the big issues faced by modern women. Of course, we cover subjects such as lifestyle, shopping and travel, but combined with intelligent thinking and news-led issues that affect women globally such as body image, work/life balance and dealing with debt. We also cover stories with a Yorkshire flavour – most recently an article about a Yorkshire business owner who was made redundant in her forties after 35 years with a firm who then decided to start her own business – which a lot of women both in the county and beyond are able to relate to.
What makes Yorkshire such a great place to write from/about (for those of us who are unfortunate enough not to live there)?
I have always found Yorkshire to be a great source of human interest stories. It is a beautiful county with a lovely landscape, filled with interesting people, and a great source of news stories. Although some of my work is based in London (which I also like), it is great to come back to Yorkshire, grab my kit and go on an assignment to news gather, and of course go back to the office for a latte before filing my copy.
In our previous interview, you mentioned that Yorkshire Women’s Life tries to feature writing by its readers; is this interaction with your readers the secret to building and keeping a loyal readership?
We have always believed in publishing new writing by our subscribers where possible and this interaction has certainly fostered loyalty among our readership.
What big changes have you noticed in what your readership wants from the magazine in your time on the title? How have women’s lives changed?
The magazine has changed from being just focused on Yorkshire with Yorkshire-based articles to developing a more global perspective. The title, as it currently stands, is reflective of years of readers’ surveys which have helped guide its content and development. We now cover more national and international news stories which are of interest to women. The travel section has also been shaped by our readers’ surveys to incorporate more travel ideas for time-short professional female readers.
What parts of your job should we be most jealous of? What do you love most about it?
The job is hard work but interesting and no two days are the same. Recently I went to visit Yorkshire’s first polar bear (Victor) for an article I’m running, and in the same week I attended a celebrity VIP red carpet event. I thought, 'welcome to my world': two contrasting events in one week. The variety in my work appeals to me. I don’t think there is anything to be jealous of really, but the celebrity events are usually a little special.
What sections of the magazine would you commission freelancers for? Are there particular topics you would like to hear from writers about?
We would usually look at a freelancer for general news or lifestyle news. It is helpful if the person is familiar with our title and what we do, is able to write good copy and meet deadlines, and is reliable.
We haven’t been able to find you on Twitter; are you hiding very effectively, or is social media not something you find useful?
The website platform ensures people are updated on what is coming up in forthcoming issues. You can never say never to using a Twitter platform and one day, who knows? As a title we would want to get the most out of a Twitter account to ensure it served our readers well and we are looking into this.
What is the weirdest or most random press release you have ever received from a PR?
We received a press release about a rabbit hutch; why?