Delighted by divas? Touched by torch songs? Allured by Andrews (Julie)? Then you’ll have a lot in common with the subject of today’s Focus, freelancer and blogger Piers Ford…
About your journalism:
What do you write about?
People in the arts, particularly popular music, musical theatre and fine art; business and technology; travel and tennis.
Where are we likely to see your work?
In The Independent, The Financial Times, The Singer, Sweet magazine, Gramophone, Arabian Computer News, Network Middle East. And my blog – www.cry-me-a-torch-song.com – which is about women singers, my greatest passion.
What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
I’ve interviewed Stephen Sondheim a couple of times by telephone (http://www.piersford.co.uk/resources/Sondheim+Explorations.PDF). And for two forum-style features – one about performing his work (http://www.piersford.co.uk/resources/singingforumlowres.pdf), the other about Kander and Ebb (http://www.piersford.co.uk/resources/lowresKander+and+Ebb.pdf) – I managed to get interviews with a host of A-list Broadway musical stars. My most memorable interview was with Elaine Stritch (http://www.piersford.co.uk/resources/SweetMagazineElaineStritch.pdf). We spent a Sunday afternoon together, running errands around Covent Garden that included terrorising the poor pharmacist in Boots about her inability to provide prescription eye drops for Miss Stritch. What stories. What a woman.
What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?
I’m holding out for a face-to-face interview with Sondheim. And I’d really like the chance to ask Julie Andrews about the adverse reaction to her recent London concert.
About you and PRs:
Where do you source ideas for articles?
News stories and events, conversations with artists and singers, new album releases, private views, gigs and concerts, press releases.
How can PRs be useful to you?
Keeping me informed about new albums and interview opportunities – the earlier the better.
How and when do you like them to get in touch?
Any time. Like most journalists I prefer an email to the interruption of a phone call for initial approaches.
Do you find press conferences, trips, parties and other events useful or an interruption?
Useful but attending them is always subject to time constraints.
If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?
It’s a generalisation because there are some really good PRs out there, but reading what I actually need when I send out a Response Source alert would be great.
How would you pay the bills if you weren’t a journalist?
I have a bit of a portfolio career these days, so it would probably be training – journalists, business writers, people who need to top up their grammar and communications skills.
If we gave you £1000, how would you spend it?
I’d schedule a week out of my diary, rent a remote cottage with a fully stocked larder and drinks cabinet, and retreat alone to make a start on the novel that’s been hanging around in my head for the last three years.
What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?
The Assassin (a novel by Ronald Blythe), Darling Ma (Joyce Grenfell’s letters to her mother), the Rough Guide to Denmark (I’m about to go to Bornholm for a week; all travel editors’ requests for scintillating copy will be treated seriously!); Word magazine and Vanity Fair.