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Focus interview on ecoforyou with Shaun Milne

ecoforyou is an online monthly magazine which launched on 21 October. The magazine aims to promote greener living by providing eco news, tips, tricks and reviews for those interested in making their lives greener.

This week, FeaturesExec caught up with Shaun Milne, founding director of publisher Planet Ink for a chat about the launch, PR bribery, Facebook and cake.

About your publication:

Ecoforyou has just launched today – tell us a bit about it:
It’s a new monthly lifestyle magazine aimed at people interested in ‘greening’ their day to day lives without feeling they are being lectured or scolded. We’ll be rounding up eco news people may have missed each month, offering interviews from some of the nation’s most environmentally interesting people and offering tips, tricks and reviews on all sorts of things people interested in going greener might want to consider. It really is about helping people make their own informed choices for the lives they lead.

What was your driving force behind starting the magazine?
Having spent several years publishing digital page turn documents for our various contract clients we’ve been very aware of both the financial and environmental benefits of not having to print for some time, and as former national newspaper journalists we thought, hell, why not do it for ourselves.
We spent several months investigating the market and found there was nothing like ecoforyou out there for either individuals, businesses or environmental groups, so we hope to fill that void with a light, entertaining read we hope will have mass appeal, and educate people about the sustainable merits of digital over print at the same time.

How do you differ from other magazines?
For a start we’re ensuring ecoforyou is entirely carbon neutral and we’re making it available online only to avoid using up any natural resources or the kind of energy and distribution chains used for traditional print magazines.
But more than that, being digital, we’ve designed ecoforyou to be as interactive as possible, allowing readers to choose their own cover, scroll through articles using buttons, clicking for hidden pop ups, play videos and have packed it with Flash animated headlines, set bookmarks, write notes or download offline versions.

It’s also available for free. That’s because we want individuals to send it to their friends, environmental groups to send it to people they think might be interested, and for businesses to adopt if as part of their corporate social responsibility and forward it to staff, colleagues and clients to help raise eco awareness.

We’re banking on growing its popularity through people sending it onto others and by being shameless in using social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to spread the word. After all, 2009 is almost upon us, we don’t need to be tied to dead trees and ink anymore. Web 3.0 is knocking.

Describe a typical reader for us:
There is no such thing as a ‘typical’ reader. Everyone is as different and valued as the next. We hope the magazine will appeal to anyone be they a CEO, house-wife/husband, teacher, environmentalist, student, blogger, politician, because the subject matter affects us all, young, old, fat, thin; black, white or green.

What stories are you most interested in covering in the publication?
We’ll be looking at what’s setting the green agenda, but most of all, we want to hear about the unusual and the brave as well as the stories that are sometimes just not able to break into mainstream media, be they initiatives, gadgets, individual stories or something much bigger. The door is open to all, home and abroad, because it’s a global issue, not just one affecting our G1 postcode.

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?
What do you think? We’re all former daily national newspaper journalists running a monthly magazine – we rip the virtual book up every day!

We hope to ensure a good balance of the light and the serious, the fun and the fact. The rule of thumb is if we find it interesting in the office, hopefully the readers will too. And we’re always happy to hear from people with ideas or feedback on how ecoforyou can evolve in the coming months.

How do you decide the content, front covers and headlines?
Although it’s good fun to work on, we adopt the same kind of professional approach and standards we would to any publication we are involved in. Stories are ordered on merit, headlines written to be appropriate but the cover is an altogether different issue. Being digital we’re letting our readers choose their cover – Issue One has four to pick from!

Do you produce a features list?
No. That’s way too organised. We’ve got cake to eat and Facebook to update. Plus, we’re always open to ideas from anyone.

About PRs:

Do you work closely with PRs?
We have lots of contact with PRs already about all manner of things and since announcing the launch if ecoforyou we’re suddenly finding we’ve got dozens of new PR friends too.

We’re just very lucky that the environment opens up all sorts of opportunities for placing ads – especially interactive ads – and editorials in a magazine like ours, especially given its potential to go viral very, very quickly.

What information/input from PRs is most useful to you?
How much their client wants to spend on an ad! What eco product they want to give-a-way to readers for free; a succinct pitch as to why we might want to feature their client as a story for free and just how many lovely email addresses they might be firing ecoforyou out to and which website they might want to link our magazine to for free.

It’s been a great start – we’re being offered info on everything from electric cars to rose plants in biodegradable pots before the official launch which is ideal. PRs will see in issue one the green marketplace spread we plan to carry every month. Bite size chunks of green goodness for the discerning reader.

What’s the best starting point for a PR who wants to tell you about their client?
Cake. Good wine. Or a pleasant email.

Do you have a PR pet hate?
Arrogance. It doesn’t suit anyone. But a good PR knows that already.

When is the best time for PRs to contact you & when is your deadline for contributions?
We can access emails any time. For a chat, any time between dawn and dusk. Our deadlines are a lot more flexible than print so if we know it’s coming, we can do our best for them and their client. If they look good then hopefully that reflects well in ecoforyou too.

About you:

What are your editorial duties/responsibilities at the magazine?
We have a small but perfectly formed team in myself, co-owner Gerry, creative director Derek, multi-media artist Mari and office manager Kim. Everybody gets stuck in to whatever is needed, be it subbing, writing or whatever, although I now excel in the tea-making department since Kim’s apparent retirement from such duties.

What do you love about your work?
The people you meet, the places you see, the fun you can have and pride you can take in knowing that there is a job well done that you’ve helped make possible.

Where have you worked previously, and how did you end up in your current position?
Sunday Mail (sub); Scottish Daily Record (reporter); Sunday People (reporter); Daily Mirror (reporter); Scottish Daily Mirror (News Editor/Assistant Editor); Scottish Daily Record (Associate News Editor).

Accepted a redundancy deal from Trinity Mirror and, along with Gerry Cassidy, former Scottish Daily Record assistant features editor, pooled our resources and set up Planet Ink Ltd in January 2006 winning a PPA Award for best Staff Magazine in 2007 and now hoping to celebrate similar success with ecoforyou.

What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Don’t get caught…

I’d love to have a go at…
Learning Arabic……then we can pen our Dubai office.

A phrase I use far too often is…
Okay, just the one…..

What’s your idea of a relaxing day off?
Norah Jones, red wine, good book.

[img|jpg|Shaun Milne & ecoforyou]