Focus interview on Parenting Without Tears with editor Anne Coates

Parenting Without Tears is a website aimed at families of all shapes and sizes. By providing easily accessible advice and information to families, the website helps today’s parents get to the heart of their concerns.

This week, FeaturesExec caught up with editor and founder Anne Coates to discuss the site in greater detail. We also discover what Coates wants from PRs and talk to her about Breakfast at Tiffany’s, visualisation and artistic skills as well as her adopted elephant.

About the publication:

Tell us a bit Parenting Without Tears:
The website is totally independent and offers advice and information pertinent to families with babies through to those with children going off to university. There is a review panel of parents who try out products, get their children to play with toys, read books and watch/listen to DVDs and CDs. Plus some families have been on holidays or write up great days out. In addition we have various experts and freelance journalists who contribute from time to time in finance, health, travel, personal development and so on. The site launched in May 2007 and is continually evolving.

How do you differ from other websites in your area?
Unlike some which operate like a monthly magazine PWT posts new content six days a week. Parenting is regarded as a positive experience to be shared and celebrated. We also run competitions and offers (as many other sites do). We have parents writing but many of them are well qualified in their field so provide added value and a professional perspective.

Describe a typical reader for us:
The one thing that obviously is common in our readers is that they are parents (or grandparents). Family structures are so diverse from single parents to gay couples who adopt and we hope to make the content as inclusive as possible. Our visitors are interested in personal development as well as family issues.

What stories are you most interested in covering?
Anything that’s pertinent really but I do like to plug charity appeals in the news section. When Kiwi ran a send shoes to Africa campaign there was a great response from PWT visitors.

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?
As content is posted so frequently the process can be very ad hoc. The only dates that are really sacrosanct are dates for competitions agreed with the PRs. I like the flexibility of being able to add something at the last minute if it’s really interesting or topical.

Do you produce a features list?
I have a monthly features list but for the reasons above, this isn’t set in stone and tends to be fluid.

About PRs:

Do you work closely with PRs?
Yes very much so. I never call in anything that I’ve no intention of reviewing but sometimes the article takes a while to appear! I have a very good relationship with a number of PRs and rely on many for new stories and leads.

What information/input from PRs is most useful to you?
One of the most popular areas on the site is the events calendar and PRs could really help here by following the format they’ll see on the site. We don’t include masses of information so we don’t want to be wading through a long press release for opening times and the like. Some PRs are now really good at providing the info in this way so it can be posted quickly.

What’s the best starting point for a PR who wants to tell you about their client?
An emailed press release.

Do you have a PR pet hate?
People who email/ring asking what I’m working on at that moment!

When is the best time for PRs to contact you & when is your deadline for contributions?
Any time with an email. Follow up calls are usually superfluous as I will get back to someone if I’m interested. As we add content so frequently there’s no real deadline unless it is time sensitive.

About you:

What are your editorial duties?
Anything and everything to do with running the site. Plus I write for other publications including answering parenting problems for The Scotsman. Last year saw the publication of Applying to University The Essential Guide which I’ve just updated and in June University A Survival Guide will be published.

What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
Interviewing a prostitute for the News of the World. Her story was so harrowing that, in the end, they didn’t publish it.

What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?
My daughter adopted an elephant for me. He lives in a refuge in northern Thailand and I’d like to visit and write their story – people just don’t realise how brutally some animals are treated in the name of tourism.

What do you love about your work?
Variety and my review panel who’ve all had the opportunity to try at least one thing that they’d never thought they would and most of them are discovering how good their writing skills are!

What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you?
Try visualisation and drawing a picture of what you want. In part of my picture I drew my dog with a litter of puppies. My artwork skills were clearly deficient as it was the cat who had kittens – and I haven’t received a huge cheque yet!

I’d love to have a go at…
Alexander Technique swimming lessons – my style leaves a lot to be desired.

What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag or blogs on your screen?
On the bedside table Karen Kingston’s Clear Your Clutter – I open a page at random to remind myself of what I should be getting rid of. Breakfast at Tiffany’s – one of my favourite films so thought I’d read the book. And there’s usually a book I’m reviewing for PWT.

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[img|jpg|Anne Coates]

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