Kate Whiting, Assistant Features Editor for the Press Association
In an interview with Kate Whiting, the Assistant Features Editor for the Press Association, she provides insight into how and why PRs should build relationships with features departments and how timing and the right approach can make a difference to your story’s coverage.
1. Hi Kate, Thanks for joining us. Let’s start with what you think our readers need to know about the Press Association Features department
Essentially Press Association Features is split into two departments. Firstly, the Features wire which puts out about 50 features and columns every week to over 70 regional publications across the UK. The second, less familiar, department is Customer Publishing, where the team writes bespoke features for IPC Magazines, which include various titles such as Chat and Pick Me Up, The Players Club for the Professional Footballers’ Association as well as several types of glossies. We also write supplements for various Johnson Press titles. Everyone works across both departments so there is plenty of interplay and opportunity for features to be used within the two.
- 2. What is your role within features?
I am one of two Assistant Features Editors for the Press Association. My role is to edit the copy that goes out on the wire, as well as the copy across Customer Publishing. Currently I am editing a supplement for the Evening Standard and I also coordinate the two film features we put out each week on the wire.
- 3. What is your favourite aspect of your role?
The celebrities! Especially the older, more experienced celebrities who are comfortable to chat openly and have a genuine conversation not just an interview. Now and again, I do get to go on trips abroad, which are always nice but they don’t happen too often.
- 4. What opportunities are there for PRs to interact with Press Association Features?
PRs can phone us up with any feature ideas but I would suggest they choose the timing wisely and only call between 10am – 3am where we have the most opportunity to talk to them. Another way would be to sign up to the Gorkana Media Request emails which alert you to new posts on the site from journalists looking for specific interviews or features. Response Source does a similar thing. Of course, the most helpful responses from PRs are those which genuinely match what I’m looking for because I can often be inundated with emails that don’t fit the brief and which take a lot of time to sift through. However, if I post that I’m looking for something it means I really want that content so if a PR is in a position to give it to me quickly and efficiently, that’s always great.
- 5. Are you happy to receive images? And if so, how many images are preferable to supply and in what format?
If an image is really great, sometimes it can be that which persuades us to use the story. I wouldn’t recommend sending images with every story though because it clogs up our emails. Ideally try to keep the email size as small as possible and we’ll usually request an image if we decide we need one. If the image really is a winner though, we won’t mind too much!
- 6. Does any of the content you produce appear online? And if so, where?
Yes, most regional online editorials take our content from the wire. We also have contracts with various clients like Yell.com, for whom we write bespoke content.
- 7. What is the best way for a PR to get in touch with you and the team?
I would recommend that if you are new to Press Association Features, contact one of the Assistant Features Editors initially and we can direct you to the most suitable journalist. If you already have a contact within PA then you can call them directly with any feature opportunities.
- 8. Do you get the chance to attend many networking events?
Not really, as I do need to attend film screenings and various events in the evenings, so this can take up most of my time.
- 9. What about meeting PRs?
We do go out for lunch and coffee with agencies, especially those we have strong relationships with. If we have recently worked on something with them quite closely, it is always nice to meet up afterwards and build stronger relationships for future projects.
- 10. Finally, is there anything that you would change about your relationship with PRs?
When I’m on a tight deadline or swamped with work it can get irritating when a PR will not take no for an answer. I understand their persistence to try and get coverage but we will always explain why we’re not interested in taking the story this time which hopefully gives them some food for thought the next time they approach us.
Thanks very much for your time