Media Interview with Gaynor Wetherall, editor of Sussex Style
Who reads Sussex Style and how many of them are there?
People who live in Sussex and the surrounding areas. Estimated 85,000 readers.
What subjects do you cover? What stories are you most interested in covering?
Sussex Style is a regional lifestyle magazine, so subject matter includes fashion, beauty, interiors, motoring, columns, interviews and general topical features. We like to cover everything you would expect from an established national magazine.
What makes you different from the other outlets in your sector and in Sussex?
We have the readability factor and are proud that many of our contributors and guest writers have a great journalist CV having worked for newspapers and magazines across the country. I‘m also keen to nurture young writers who want to learn and have a passion for writing – we all have to start somewhere. We have found a gap in the regional market and instead of filling the magazine with advertising, we ensure we have strong editorial content that appeals to our readers.
How do you decide the content, front covers and headlines?
The magazine is predominantly aimed at females, ages 35-55+, but we are not alienating younger readers or the male audience. Once you have a clear idea of your reader it’s easy to come up with content, cover and headlines. My role as editor is to come up with a strong content plan and then discuss my reasoning with the publisher. Moving forward we are starting to look at changing the cover concept as to date it’s been fashion-led.
Do you produce a features list? Why?
We do produce a features list as it helps to bring the editorial and advertising together so the magazine becomes more cohesive. In the current climate particularly it’s becoming increasingly important for editorial and advertising to work together.
Do you like freelance journalists to get in touch with you directly to pitch ideas?
Freelance journalists should email me directly with ideas (firstname.lastname@example.org) keeping it crisp and concise.
Name the three most important attributes that make a freelance journalist stand out for you and would make you use them again?
Passion, enthusiasm and great communication skills.
What types of PR agencies do you work with?
We work with every type of PR agency depending on the story we are working on. We receive press releases from a wide range of sources.
Do you have a PR pet hate?
Do you find that your idea of what makes a story and a PR's tends to differ? How?
Of course it will differ. An editor is there to feature an unbiased story that’s of interest to their readers and in fairness to a PR they are there to promote a client who is paying them to get positive coverage.
How do you think the PR/journo dynamic will change in the future?
I spent a year working with a restaurant PR and I experienced what it was like on the other side of the fence. Journalists can be harsh and rude when you’re trying to come up with different angles to promote your client. I have to say if you were offering a ‘freebie’ then many journalists had a change of attitude.
With so much competition in the magazine and digital world, I think journalists are coming round to the idea that working with PRs is actually not a bad thing nowadays.
Describe a typical day at work: What are your editorial duties/responsibilities at the outlet?
Editing a monthly 92pp magazine is all about being organised and taking ownership. I come up with the content plan, flatplan and commission. I also write features and interview somebody for our main profile story. I work closely alongside the art director, deputy editor and publisher to make sure the the magazine meets all our expectations.
What is the best or worst thing about your job?
The best part is having complete creative license with the publisher. I am in a fortunate position of being able to push boundaries that I wouldn’t be able to do on a national magazine or newspaper. As long as the publisher has bought into my concept for the month, I’m pretty much ready to go.
Where have you worked previously, and how did you end up in your current position?
I have worked at The Sunday Times Magazine and spent over 15 years at the London Evening Standard and ES Magazine. For the past ten years I have worked in the world of contract publishing editing magazines for numerous shopping centres including Bluewater. I also write freelance features and columns for a variety of publications. In this digital world it’s now easy to work virtually and allows me to juggle the home/work balance. If I want to start work at 7am or write and edit copy at midnight I can without spending the week commuting to an office.
Do you tweet?
A bit but trying to tweet more. Please tweet @SussexStyleMag.
Tea or Coffee?
Has to be coffee – and Pinot…
And to finish with, what would you like for Christmas?
An extended deadline for January!