This week we catch up with Francesca Watson, editor of The Cat magazine, the quarterly magazine for supporters of Cats Protection.
About The Cat magazine:
How do you differ from other publications in your sector?
We are more similar to a consumer magazine title rather than the usual charity supporter magazine. We wouldn’t look out of place on the shelves of WH Smith or on your coffee table.
Describe a typical reader for us:
We have a broad spectrum of readers of all ages, backgrounds and interests which allows us to address a wider range of topics within the magazine.
What stories are you most interested in covering in the publication?
We enjoy being able to write about anything unusual or different about cats as well as the important cat care topics.
How does the editorial process run? Do you have specific days when you focus on different aspects of the magazine, or is the planning on a much more ad-hoc basis?
Although The Cat magazine is one of our main duties, it is just one of the editorial team’s responsibilities. We also write other external and internal newsletters as well as providing copy for advertising campaigns and the charity’s website. We also run Cat Protection’s social media presences on Facebook and Twitter. As such we work on what’s needed first and foremost.
How do you decide the content, front covers and headlines?
A week after the last edition goes out to readers the editorial team gathers to discuss possible features and topics for the next. We then brief our design team. The front cover is usually one of the last things we decide on as we have to search a vast amount of photographic archives to get the right one. The headlines are often decided on as a team, we try to be pithy and not too cheesy.
Do you produce a features list? (If not, why not)
We used to for advertising purposes but we found it difficult to commit to features and topics covered over a year in advance. It did not allow us to be reactive to differing situations and include new suggestions and thoughts.
Do you use freelance contributions, and if so, are they for any particular section/type of work?
We use freelance contributions for features within The Cat magazine and have regular freelancers for the humorous pages and cat behaviour.
What information/input from PRs is most useful to you?
We use PRs to provide information on products that would be of interest to our readers. It’s always helpful when they offer a few giveaways, our readers love them! The more information the better as we always do our own investigations of the products before agreeing to them. When it comes to veterinary products we always pass these on to our veterinary team for approval first.
When is the best time for PRs to contact you & when is your deadline for contributions?
PRs can contact us at any time, we’re always interested to hear about new feline themed or dedicated products or services and will fit them into the next available edition.
What do you love about your work?
I am lucky to be part of a wonderful communications team consisting of journalists and media professionals and we are proud to be able to produce such a high quality publication on behalf of Cats Protection. It’s also good to know that we’re making a difference as well.
Where have you worked previously, and how did you end up in your current position?
I spent nine years as the communications officer and jack of all trades for Sussex County Cricket Club. My duties primarily involved media liaison, running the website and editing and writing for the club’s publications but the opportunity to bowl flippers in the nets also happened occasionally. When I saw the job advertised at Cats Protection I was interested in focusing more on the journalist and publications role and was pleasantly surprised to find The Cat magazine was intelligently written on topics that would interest a broad spectrum of readers not just the die hard cat aficionado.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
‘If in doubt, say nowt’ but ‘don’t cough in the face of a leopard’ comes a close second.
I’d love to have a go at…
Being a travel reporter around Australia, that would be the ultimate dream!
About you and freelance journalists:
Do you like freelance journalists to get in touch with you directly to pitch ideas? And if so, how?
We prefer receiving enquires via email at firstname.lastname@example.org As a quarterly, and given the fact we already have an in-house team of journalists, we’re not able to use freelancers that frequently but we do try to have one in each issue – we feel it gives a new voice and fresh ideas. There are only so many things you can write about cats so any new interpretation or suggestions are always welcome.
Name the three most important attributes that make a freelance journalist stand out for you and would make you use them again?
We look for interesting and unusual feature ideas, a warm and humorous approach and the obvious, a proven ability to write.
If you can, tell us about the best approach you’ve seen from a freelance…and the worst…
The best approach is always a tentative enquiry suggesting an interesting angle backed up with examples of previous work. The worst is when the email is brief, badly spelt, they call us the Cats Protection League (we dropped the League 12 years ago!), suggest writing from the perspective of a cat and immediately ask how much we pay!
[lnk|http://www.featuresexec.com/publications/info_outlet.php?pubid=15358|_self|The Cat magazine]