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Focus interview on with editor Mandy Garner is a website, newsletter and blog aimed at working mums. It offers news, features and advice on a range of issues from childcare to employment legislation, alongside jobs and business opportunities.

This week, FeaturesExec caught up with editor Mandy Garner to discuss the site, working with PRs and freelancers and being a workaholic!

About your media outlet:

Tell us a bit about is a website set up by former senior communications executive Gillian Nissim to offer challenging but flexible jobs to professionals, many of whom have over 10 years’ experience in their particular field, but simply want the ability to work in a way that fits with their family life. It puts working parents in touch with employers who offer family friendly jobs. Currently over 41,000 parents are registered on the site and workingmums also works with thousands of employers. The site also offers news, features, blogs and advice on a range of issues from childcare to employment legislation.

How do you differ from other media outlets in your sector?
We offer challenging flexible jobs, not just lower paid part time work. We also offer a range of advice and articles for both employers and employees, including case studies of family friendly organisations, comment by academics researching issues such as gender equality and employment, polls and profiles of working mums which are regularly updated.

Describe a typical reader for us:
A working mum who is looking to go back to work after taking time out for her family or wants to move from an inflexible job to one which works around her family, but without sacrificing the skills she has acquired throughout her career and the additional skills she has acquired through being a mother.

What stories are you most interested in covering?
Profiles of working parents, debates around flexible working, employer profiles, careers advice.

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?
At the moment, the site is mainly updated on a Monday, but the blogs are updated daily and expert questions are updated several times a week. If a big story breaks this is covered as and when. As with a newspaper, content can change according to the news agenda.

How do you decide the content, front covers and headlines?
By making sure we cover issues that are of interest to our readers, ie stories about every aspect of being a working parent.

Do you produce a features list?
No. We only have a few features a week at present and these have to reflect different readership interests, from employers to employees, from women who are self employed to those who are employed.

Do you use freelance contributions, and if so, are they for any particular section/type of work?
We do use freelance contributions, eg for advice, but we cannot pay for them at the moment.

About PRs:

Do you work closely with PRs?
We liaise mainly with PRs of organisations that are most relevant to our readership.

What information/input from PRs is most useful to you?
Press releases about upcoming events/reports relating to working parents.

What’s the best starting point for a PR who wants to tell you about their client?
Email me.

Do you have a PR pet hate?
Being sent irrelevant press material.

When is the best time for PRs to contact you & when is your deadline for contributions?
We have rolling deadlines so any time is fine.

About you:

Describe a typical day at work:
There is no such thing as a typical day. I work from home and check emails first thing. There are often several questions to experts from our readers which I forward or see if we have answered in the past. I then write and put up my blog, interview people for upcoming articles, write up, etc. I am currently involved in a redesign so I may have to attend meetings related to that and to strategise. I put up all the articles through the central management system and plan ahead for polls and articles.

What do you love about your work?
The flexibility to do it from home and at hours which suit me.

Where have you worked previously, and how did you end up in your current position?
I have worked in a variety of organisations, including the BBC, local newspapers and I was features editor of the Times Higher Education Supplement. I heard about Working Mums through a friend and saw the job advert. Flexible work is something I feel very passionately about and also the way parents, particularly mothers, are treated in the workplace. I have had some bad experiences!

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
I can’t think of any! I have always preferred to think things through for myself. As a parent you get overloaded with advice. I listen and then do my own thing. I think the same thing applies to work!

If you weren’t doing this, what would you do?
I have two other jobs!

What media do you seek out 1st thing in the morning?
I’m afraid it’s The Guardian.

What’s your idea of a relaxing day off?
I think “relaxing” may be the wrong word. I have three small children and I am a bit of a workaholic.

About you and freelance journalists:

Do you like freelance journalists to get in touch with you directly to pitch ideas? And if so, how?
They can contact me via email, but bear in mind that we don’t have the resources to pay at the moment.

Name the three most important attributes that make a freelance journalist stand out for you and would make you use them again?
Good writing, intelligent questions and copy delivered on time.

If you can, tell us about the best approach you’ve seen from a freelance…and the worst…
Have had some very good ones, which are timely, well researched and present an interesting fresh angle. There are so many bad ones too – usually ones which are dull, involve jargon and aren’t saying anything new.

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