How did you get where you are now?
I hustled, hard. I left college at 17 after a disastrous performance in my AS levels and subsequently went on to work in retail, where I was an assistant shop manager at the age of 18. However, after two years of working tirelessly on the shop floor, I realised that being front-facing in retail wasn’t my true calling in life - I was more interested in the brand processes that lead to the product being sold. And so, I returned to college two years later to fast track my A-levels. From here I went on to study BA (Hons) Fashion Marketing and Promotion at the University of Arts London.
My first job was an editorial assistant at Glam Media; it was here that I cut my digital teeth. I achieved two promotions in the same number of years (I was instrumental in the growth of their editorial platform and publisher network). From here, I moved to a fashion social network before joining Hearst in 2015 as digital editor of Women’s Health. You might ask, why health when my background was in fashion but I grew up with a mother who taught aerobics to 300+ people in Swindon (yes, she was the female Joe Wicks of the 90s) and so, I have always been interested in health and fitness. My nan is also still a yoga teacher at 76.
Since February 2015, I have increased traffic by 375 per cent (from 2015-2019) and grown the brand’s social media followers by 2,520 per cent; launched Women’s Health Running Club project and been a driving force on Women’s Health Live, our inaugural wellness event for 8,000 attendees.
Describe your typical day
6am: Wake up.
6.15am - 7am: Emails and admin for personal projects, such as my forthcoming book I Can Run (March 2020) and podcast Well Far: the running podcast.
7am: Get ready for the office.
8.45am: Arrive in Victoria. I try to walk from here to the office as much as possible to have a moment of calm in St James Park before the chaos of the day truly begins. I also try to hit my daily step count and this 30-minute walk helps.
9.30am: Catch up on digital KPIs and plan content for the day.
10.30am - 12.30pm: Editing features and a mix of meetings related to brand extensions e.g. Women’s Health Live or a collaborative digital fitness plan that’s in production right now.
Lunch: I try to go to the gym around three times a week on lunch. I’m lucky that my gym is only a seven-minute walk away. This break from my inbox and job list in invaluable for my productivity levels. Plus, I often find the best fitness feature ideas are generated in workouts.
3-6pm: My afternoons vary. Often I’ll meet with wellness PRs or talent agencies to plan and secure features.
6pm: Leave the office and leave WH. In the past year, I have enforced strict ‘no work at home’ rule unless it is urgent. I spend my evenings cooking with my husband and relaxing on the sofa. My daily grind is busy and chaotic so I ensure my evenings aren’t.
9.45pm: Bedtime to read. I try to be asleep around 10 pm and stick to this routine as much as possible at the weekend too. If I spent my twenties being tired, I’ve tried to make my thirties about feeling rested - it’s essential to being able to juggle my work and extra side hustles.
What makes a great PR?
With more brands entering the wellness sphere there is fierce competition to be featured by Women’s Health. Therefore, it’s imperative that PRs read and engage with the brand across our platforms and pitch accordingly. For example, a new gym launch would be better suited to our ‘First Look Franchise’ on IG Story. Our community doesn’t want to read about a gym, they want to see it. It’s why this feature regularly has an IG story exit rate of two per cent while the industry standard is four to five per cent.
To survive in a challenging market we need to ensure our content is optimised for reader behaviour. It’s why you’ll find long reads published on a weekend when the WH reader has time to sink her teeth into a meaty feature while in the week our content is shorter and snappier - it’s designed to be consumed on the go. The best PRs know this as they’ve spent time with the team getting to know our publishing formats and velocity and pitch ideas to suit our editorial calendar.
Which individual or organisation is best at handling PR, in your view?
This is a hard one and is too tough to single out once agency or individual.
What are the biggest mistakes some PRs make?
Sending round-robin mailers and not realising that you are on multiple lists and therefore send you the same email multiple times. Plus, a personalised approach to pitching always wins - these subject lines help emails stand out from the hundreds that I receive every day.
Hearst [Women’s Health publisher] launched the Heart Showroom earlier this year to give brands access to editorial staff by letting them present their products and services. How's that going so far?
The Hearst PR team launched the Showroom in May and it’s been really helpful from an editorial perspective. It provides us with a designated space to meet with brands who are relevant to our titles and find out more about what they’re launching. I’ve been most interested in the recent vegan food brand and Neom, and have taken away quite a few ideas for product features and stories.
It makes a lot of sense for us to work with brands this way as they have more scope to set things up and bring a lot more products along, than when just carrying out a traditional desk visit. Plus, it saves time in my day as the commute to the showroom is all of one floor!
Are you optimistic about the future of journalism?
There’s no denying that the UK market is challenging with the number of content creators increasing by the day. However, WH has always had a USP which ensures that our award-winning content cuts through the noise. I believe that as long as we are techy-savvy - embracing new platforms and ways to consume content - and can pivot our content plans accordingly then the future is still healthy. The written word isn’t going to disappear but is no longer always supreme to audio or video.
Which social-media channel or channels are the most important in your job?
The WH Instagram account is a key platform for the brand. This is where our half a million followers share feedback on their health concerns (we regularly use the ‘questions function’); our health writers can then use this information to inform content plans. I’m sure this conversation with the community is why Instagram story outpaced Facebook as our top referral platform.
Would you like to work in PR?
My mission has always been to help women better understand their bodies by creating accessible, well-informed health and wellness content. If that opportunity arose on a brand which had values that spoke to me, then perhaps. But with big plans for WH in 2020, I won’t be making the switch anytime soon.