Katy Cowan has been running and editing online magazine Creative Boom for two years. In today’s interview she explains her inspiration in starting a site which supports, celebrates and inspires creative industries, how she wants PRs to help, her love for Jimi Hendrix, and more.
About Creative Boom:
Who reads it and how many of them are there?
Creative Boom is read by freelancers, small businesses, brands and agencies related to the creative industries. It gets 50,000 unique web visitors per month. It’s an online magazine purely to support, celebrate and inspire the creative industries. I launched the site in July 2009 with husband Tom and run the entire thing in my spare time on a voluntary basis. I’m passionate about helping others, to raise profiles and share support, particularly to people just starting out in their careers or to those who have just gone freelance.
What subjects do you cover? What stories are you most interested in covering?
I have a main news section where I cover all sorts of stories from the creative industries – music, fashion, animation, digital, journalism, PR, marketing, etc. That’s whether they’re new appointments, launches of new products and services, account wins or just general news about a company. As long as it’s newsworthy and of interest to our readers, I’ll publish it.
I also have a Features section where we’re happy to do interviews, review products, etc. We also have an Events section where we shout about any creative events relevant to our community.
What makes you different from the other outlets in your sector?
We’re a friendly, approachable e-zine that’s run voluntarily by me – Katy Cowan, its founder and editor. Any money that is generated through the magazine is pumped back into Creative Boom and improving its design and features.
How do you decide the content, front covers and headlines?
As editor and ‘person in charge’, I’m responsible for all content and as long as stories are relevant and interesting, they will get published.
Do you produce a features list? Why? Why not?
I don’t have a features list – I simply publish stories as and when I receive them via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you work closely with PRs or do you keep them at arm’s length?
I love helping people to make headlines for their clients and I’m always glad to help. I prefer PR agencies to simply email me their press releases or ideas to the main Creative Boom address. As I’ve said, I only run the e-zine in my spare time. I do not provide a telephone contact number and am only contactable via email.
If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?
Nothing. Everyone is great and really understands that Creative Boom is a voluntary effort. As long as everyone keeps emailing me and sending me everything I need, making my job as simple as possible, I’m happy.
How should a PR approach you about their client?
If they could email, that would be perfect. That is the only way to contact me. Or I’m around on Twitter @Creative_Boom. Always happy to help whenever I’ve got time. Please note, I don’t offer competitions through Creative Boom and all advertising is carried out via Adpacks.com.
What information/input from PRs is most useful to you?
If PR agencies want to send me some news, it’d be great if they could make my life as easy as possible – given that I run the site in my spare time. All press releases should be copied and pasted into the body of emails with Jpegs attached. Jpegs should be web-ready and at least 400 pixels wide please. Creative Boom always needs images to go with stories, so bear that in mind. Please, pretty please – no PDFs, and no huge image files.
When is the best time for PRs to contact you & what is your deadline for contributions?
There is no deadline. If you email everything I need first time and your story is relevant and good – I’ll publish it. Simple as that! Everything else gets deleted as I’ve got to be quite ruthless with my time.
Describe a typical day at work: What are you editorial duties/responsibilities at the outlet?
During office hours, I run my own PR agency Boomerang alongside husband Tom. I get up early, get to work and spend an hour or two updating Creative Boom before my working day at Boomerang begins. I’ll often do this whilst eating breakfast and putting on my makeup, going through hundreds of emails and picking out the best stories for the site! Sometimes I’ll spend a Sunday scheduling articles to run automatically throughout the week, especially if I’ve got a busy week ahead. I’ll check Creative Boom emails first thing in the morning, sometimes at lunch and then last thing at night. But I’ve always got Twitter running in the background.
What interests you most about your job?
I’m passionate about the creative industries. I went freelance in 2007 and found it difficult, particularly when the recession hit. That’s when I had the idea to launch Creative Boom and help others struggling out there. I love talking to other people on Twitter. And it’s fantastic helping them to build their businesses by giving them free publicity. The job satisfaction I get from Creative Boom is what keeps me going.
Where have you worked previously, and how did you end up in your current position?
I started my career at Signal One in Stoke-on-Trent as a Broadcast Journalist, having graduated from the University of Central Lancashire with a degree in Journalism. I went on to Saga Radio in Birmingham – now known as Smooth 105.7FM and jumped into the world of PR in 2004 to work at Citypress in Manchester. After three years there, I went freelance and started my own business – Boomerang PR. Around July 2009 I launched Creative Boom and have never looked back.
Do you Twitter? Why, why not?
Yes I love Twitter. I’m forever on there and have got over 18,000 followers now, which is helpful to others as anything that gets featured on Creative Boom is tweeted about. And that’s another tick in the box for people wanting the extra publicity. You can find me @Creative_Boom offering a mixture of tweets. I aim to entertain and help out, so hopefully you’ll want to see what I’m up to.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
Best advice? Aim high, work hard and you can achieve anything. Plus never stop doing what you love for a living. If work begins to feel like work, it’s time to move on and try something else.
What media do you seek out 1st thing in the morning?
First thing in the morning I go on Hacker News – it’s a community news site for developers but there’s always some decent articles on there, voted up by its own community. I also love Mashable, The Guardian and the BBC news site. But to be honest, I don’t get nearly enough spare time, as I’d like. Creative Boom tends to be the focus first thing.
If you could time travel what time would you go to?
Now I know many people would say something quite poignant here but I’d only really time travel to go and see someone like Jimi Hendrix in concert. I’m easily pleased really. Other than that, it would be great to travel back 20 years and see my grandparents again, give them a big hug and OBVIOUSLY give them the winning numbers to a National Lottery Jackpot result…