Focus interview with Sean Ramsdale, senior equipment editor of Today’s Golfer

Today’s Golfer is dedicated to helping readers improve their game–from techniques to courses and equipment.

This week, we interview senior equipment editor Sean Ramsdale, who tells us what it’s like to be a ‘gear guru’. But Ramsdale isn’t all about shiny new clubs and great gadgets-he also chips in at busy times with major professional events as well as travel features.

About the publication

How do you differ from other publications in your sector?
We boil it right down to the basics of playing better golf. Just try to be as useful as possible for the average golfer and to be a well paced, entertaining read packed with loads of interesting features. We also sell more copies too!

Describe a typical reader for us:
A 40 year old golfer who enjoys playing with his friends. Wants to get better and is interested in the ways he can do that with new ideas, swing tips and equipment etc. but he doesn’t want to spend too much doing it.

What stories are you most interested in covering in the publication?
Well, I’m the ‘gear guru’ so I write about all the shiny new clubs and equipment on the market and lead our industry-leading product tests. I chip in with other things at times such as major pro events and travel features.

How do you decide the content, front covers and headlines?
Content is generally planned at least three months in advance and then fleshed out in more detail a month ahead. A few different cover options are mocked up to link in with key content and the editor and head of design will select the best and build headlines around it nearer to deadline.

Do you produce a features list? (If not, why not)

Not really, though we do have a strong idea of the main issue theme and larger features quite a few months in advance and can communicate this with clients and PRs.

About PRs:

Do you work closely with PRs?
Very closely. Although in some ways I prefer working directly with clients, a good PR can be a fantastic help, can take responsibility off me and get things done far more quickly.

What information/input from PRs is most useful to you?
Most useful is getting something nobody else is getting e.g. product, information or access. Just knowing I can go to them requesting pretty much anything and they’ll bend over backwards to get it done as quickly as possible is reassuring. I don’t always like to hassle manufacturers directly so the PR company is a great buffer.

What’s the best starting point for a PR who wants to tell you about their client?
An introductory email as I’ll always read it. Calls might be missed and I rarely have the time for long phone conversations. If it’s a PR I know, then regular face to face meetings are always good.

Do you have a PR pet hate?
Long phone calls or overly pushy, salesy types.

When is the best time for PRs to contact you & when is your deadline for contributions?
No good or bad time really. Working with PRs is an important part of the job and we’re always open to ideas and considering news for inclusion even right up to deadline.

About you:

Describe a typical day at work: / What are your editorial duties/responsibilities at the magazine (e.g. commissioning, nibs, subbing, features, interviewing etc)?

Extremely varied. On days in the office, I keep ahead with planning for the section, building relationships with clients, arranging features, photography, writing for the magazine and website and working with the design team so our words and pictures look as good as possible. Out of office it’s a mixture of press trips, client visits and product testing.

What do you love about your work?
I know and love the subject I write about so that’s obviously a big plus and some of the trips are fantastic. No day is the same and although it can get extremely stressful, its generally a buzz.

Where have you worked previously, and how did you end up in your current position?
I’ve worked in golf for over 15 years, initially as a club professional, then a manager and ended up running my own golf equipment business where I began to work more closely in the media. It’s a specialist position and I brought some other skills to the role other than a straight journalism background.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t get too down as there’s always something better around the corner. It’s true!

I’d love to have a go at… / If you weren’t doing this, what would you do?
My dream job would be a top PGA Tour pro. Traveling the world playing golf at amazing resorts in glorious conditions whilst earning a bloody fortune sounds okay to me! Other than that, I’ve always wanted to write a novel.. but who hasn’t?

What media do you seek out 1st thing in the morning?
The Guardian website for news, HolyMoly for entertainment and for golf news. And of course!

What’s your idea of a relaxing day off?
Spending time at home with my wife, just switching off, going for a nice long walk followed by a romantic meal together. Would prefer a week off though, odd days off are usually spent paying bills and going to the dentist!

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[img|jpg|Sean Ramsdale]

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