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Focus on Best of Liverpool with editor Michelle Rushton

Michelle Rushton is editor of Best of Liverpool, a monthly lifestyle magazine which is distributed with the Liverpool Echo.

This week, FeaturesExec caught up with Michelle to talk in-depth about the magazine, what’s changed since it’s been re-branded and what her role entails. We also discuss tequila and Sudocreme!

About the Publication:

Tell us a bit about The Best of Liverpool:
Best of Liverpool is a 32-page monthly magazine published within the Liverpool Echo which celebrates all that’s great in the city.

You’ve just relaunched – what’s different?
Best of Liverpool has replaced our old stand alone magazine and has had a bit of a make-over. We still cover arts and entertainment but there’s now more emphasis on news and events, fashion, health and beauty, homes and gardens, homegrown talent and celebrities, food and drink and travel. We’re now a bit more family friendly with ideas of where to take the kids for days out and healthy eating. Plus we can reach a bigger audience now as the magazine is inserted within the Liverpool Echo which is read by over 300,000 people.

Describe a typical reader for us:
A typical reader would be in their early 30s, a young professional working in the city who enjoys working hard and playing hard or they may even have a young family. They would have an interest in fashion, nights out, food and drink and travel.

What stories are you most interested in covering?
I like to interview talented people making a name for themselves in Liverpool – fashion contacts are also useful. We also do reviews of beauty treatments, the latest trends for homes and gardens, and each edition we have a spotlight on a different area of Liverpool. In the food and drink section, we always compile a top 10 list of restaurants (best Italian, for example).

How do you decide the content and headlines?
We keep our eyes and ears to the ground and read other magazines and newspapers. We are constantly gathering ideas and get sent lot of press releases. Myself and the editorial and sales team, have a big brainstorm meeting once a month to come up with ideas. I gather them all in then decided which are the most workable and visually appealing. I have to run this by the editor of the Liverpool Echo as he has final approval. We try to make sure that we’re not repeating features which have already appeared in the main paper.

How does the editorial process run? Do you have specific days when you focus on different aspects or is the planning on a much more ad-hoc basis? Do you produce a features list?
I tend to draw up an editorial synopsis then divide the features between the team, giving them subjects I feel they will be most interested in. We tend to write a few features each week during the run up to the deadline, fitting it in around all our other work as we write commercial features for 25 different newspapers within the Trinity Mirror North West and North Wales group. I quite often get ideas for more features once we have started work, as PR people and press officers will contact us with breaking stories so the features list evolves and changes as we go along. Once the sales team have sold all the adverts, I look at how much space there is for editorial and draw up a flat-plan – deciding where the editorial features should be placed. I try and establish clear sections – such as fashion, food and drink etc. When we have finished writing the editorial we pass it over to our design team to design the pages. They print out the designed pages for us to proof, then it’s a case of sitting with the designers and going through all the amendments before sending the pages off to print.

Do you use freelance contributions, and if so, are they for any particular section/type of work?
We don’t really use them as we have our own team of writers here.

About PRs:

Do you work closely with PRs?
Yes, I deal with a great number of PR companies and press officers in Liverpool and nationally.

What information/input from PRs is most useful to you?
I like to hear about new businesses opening in the city and to receive fashion and beauty shots, as well as contacts for local celebrities. It’s always great if they can provide good quality, hi resolution photos with their press releases and if clients can offer competition prizes, all the better for our readers.

What’s the best starting point for a PR who wants to tell you about their client?
It’s probably best if they email their ideas over so I can read over them in my own time, when I’m not on deadline.

Do you have a PR pet hate?
It annoys me when they send me a press release then hound me every day asking when I am going to use it!

When is the best time for PRs to contact you & when is your deadline for contributions?
Our magazine comes out on the first Thursday of every month – so it would be great if they could contact me a month before.

About you:

Describe a typical day at work:
I usually come into work with Sudocreme smeared all over my trousers and Freddie Boswell hair after getting up early with my baby! I usually break myself in gently by answering a few emails, then write myself a list of actions for the day, in deadline order. I might have to help out with subbing or proof reading some pages of the newspaper. I try and do my interviews in the morning as I prefer to write in the afternoons – so I gather all the information, organise photos and do all the research I need to write my features, then start to write. I may have to go out to visit or interview people too. My phone is usually ringing non stop – usually calls from PR people wishing to get their clients in the magazine!

What do you love about your work?
I love coming up with ideas and crafting features, then finally seeing my work in print. I also get sadistic pleasure out of proof reading and spotting others’ mistakes. I spent hours reading a book on steam trains a few weeks ago! It’s always a bit of a buzz being on deadline, I like to feel a certain amount of pressure!

Where have you worked previously, and how did you end up in your current position?
I tried my hand at all kinds of weird and wonderful jobs before becoming a journalist from bingo calling to stewardessing on the ferry to Ireland. I always fancied myself as a writer and English was my favourite subject at school so I did some work experience on my local paper and the editor remembered me and offered me a job when a position became available. I then went on to work for their rival newspaper, The Holyhead and Anglesey Mail as a trainee reporter. I worked my way up to feature writer then got a job in our Liverpool office working in the Commercial Editorial Unit writing advertising features and niche products such as tourist guides and lifestyle magazines. As well as writing features and being editor of Best of Liverpool, I am also a sub-editor and am required to design pages too.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Take life with a pinch of salt… a wedge of lime, and a shot of tequila.

A phrase I use too often is…
A man on a flying horse will never notice…

If you weren’t doing this, what would you do?
I would be a contemporary dancer, freestyling my way around the world or perhaps a world-famous choreographer, creating amazing routines for music videos.

What’s your idea of a relaxing day off?
Taking my 11-month baby boy to the swimming baths. He just loves splashing around in the water and floating around the pool in his rubber ring. I love to see the enjoyment on his face.

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[img|jpg|Michelle Rushton]