Freelance Journalist Focus: Stevie Cooke

Today, we learn an important lesson about “never underselling yourself” from journalist Stevie Cooke, and how PRs should never underestimate the power of a freelancer…

About your journalism:

What do you write about?
I cover all the usual lifestyle journalism stuff, but I specialise in health, fitness and beauty. I also occasionally write for the specialist medical press and regularly write for the Brighton Argus.

Where are we likely to see your work?
Across women’s lifestyle press and websites. I also write regularly for all the Brighton press.

What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
The most memorable work I did was my first paid commission in university and not in a good way! I learnt a valuable lesson about never under selling yourself, the quantity of the work has to reflect the price you charge. In the end I think I was getting paid about £2 per hour!

What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?
I would love to write a piece that could really change the way that women think about themselves. I’m a big campaigner for air-brushing to be labelled and for more images of ‘normal’ people to be featured in women’s lifestyle press.

About you and PRs:

Where do you source ideas for articles?
Anywhere and everywhere. I usually look for things that haven’t been written about or new angles on old stories and then take it from there.

How can PRs be useful to you?
Very! It is always good to be sent through press releases about anything new/current. And beauty PRs will soon be my new best friend when I start up my new beauty website ‘Beautifully Difficult’

How and when do you like them to get in touch?
Email is best then I can review it and contact them if necessary. And being on free sample lists is a great help as it really opens up options for article pitching.

Do you find press conferences, trips, parties and other events useful or an interruption?
Yes. Product launches and parties are great for networking and trips provide you with a solid basis to pitch an article to editors.

If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?
Sometimes PRs can think you are less important as a freelancer than if you were a staff writer. Just because freelancers don’t write for the same publication every month doesn’t make them less useful, if anything, they can help you get your products to a wider audience.

About you:

How would you pay the bills if you weren’t a journalist?
That is a hard question! I probably would have gone on and completed a media studies masters degree and become a lecturer.

If we gave you £1000, how would you spend it?
A new website or on a web design course so I could do it myself!

What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?
I always have a huge pile of lifestyle magazines that I sift through. It’s important to know if you’re thinking about pitching something that has just been done. Other than that, anything non-fiction about history, media or science and I’m quite partial to self-help too…

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