Hi Nicholas, tell us more about Oxford Prospect – who reads it and how many of them are there?
Oxford Prospect is a digital publication founded in 2000 and is available in two parts: the first covers current affairs, news, business and entertainment news from in and around Oxfordshire. The site attracts 3000 hits a week from locals as well as people interested in visiting Oxford. The second part focuses on the energy industry and is reserved for subscribers who are professionals based mainly in the UK and Europe.
What subjects do you cover?
The subjects that we cover are wide-ranging and include notice and reviews of culture and entertainment, aspects of lifestyle trends, property prices, transport issues, and interviews with people making news. On the energy front, we cover UK energy policy and developments. For example, I shall soon be doing a piece on UK shale exploration and development. Other aspects covered include exploration and production of oil and gas as well as trading and energy markets.
What stories are you most interested in covering?
We are most interested in innovation at work.
What makes you different from the other outlets in your sector?
Our unique selling point is that our coverage of energy topics is based on interviews and conversations with professionals in the energy industry, primary and secondary research. Local Oxfordshire news is generated from press releases, conversations on the bus, cafes, radio and other local news sources.
How do you decide the content, front covers and headlines?
We select what is newsworthy and of interest or concern to our two readership audiences: For our general content even a coffee or pub discussion can spark a story. For the front cover, the picture has to illustrate a feature in the current publication. As for headlines, something that summarises the story in a sentence and hooks the reader.
Do you pay for contributions from freelance journalists?
Yes, but only for original energy business stories.
How should freelancers pitch to you?
The pitch should include a brief explanation of the topic and the key issues and potential sources. It should be no more than 200 words and accompanied by a link to examples of previous related publications.
Name the three most important attributes that make a freelance journalist stand out for you and would make you use them again?
The three most important attributes of a freelance journalist are understanding, interpretation and an ability to transform an often-complex topic into one that is understandable to the general reader. In addition, I should mention delivering, where necessary, useful insights and/or questioning the prevailing view.
If you can, tell us about the best approach, you have seen from a freelance…and the worst…
The worst is when a freelance lacks a clear idea and structure in his or her pitch.
What types of PR agencies do you work with?
We work with a whole variety of PR agencies both at home and abroad, who have clients in the energy industry who provide content for corporate publications and Oxford Prospect.
When is the best time for PRs to contact you and when is your deadline for contributions?
The best time to contact us is between 9am and noon and the deadline is the last Friday of the month.
Of all the press releases you receive on a daily basis, what percentage of them make it to publication?
Perhaps one in every 300. A good press release should be clear and to the point. Good examples are those produced by the European Commission and Media Consulta.
How do you think the PR/journo dynamic will change in the future?
I think it is increasingly impossible to have the traditional distinction separating journalists from people working for PR agencies. I think it would be better to describe us as professional writers who work for clients. Since the same skills are needed in both sectors.
Where have you worked previously, and how did you end up in your current position?
After much market research, I decided ten years ago to publish a new energy magazine, based in Oxford where I live, targeted at investors, operators, leaders, regulators and policymakers throughout Europe.
What interests you most about your job?
Meeting people with an equal interest in this fascinating subject.
If you could time travel, what time would you go to?
The first discoveries of North Sea oil.
Nicholas is tweeting @EUjournalist.