Tag Archives: Journalism

Cocktails, Careers & Cosmopolitan

image-64“I hope I have convinced you — the only thing that separates successful people from the ones who aren’t is the willingness to work very, very hard.” – Helen Gurley Brown

Last night Gorkana US held their first consumer brand event by hosting a media-briefing with the magazine that inspires all women to be “fun and fearless” – Cosmopolitan. The event panel featured Louise Court, editor of Cosmopolitan UK, Sara Austin, deputy editor of Cosmopolitan US, as well as Jeni-Lee Chapman, US Managing Director of Gorkana. Held at the gorgeous Hearst Tower, the media event focused on how Cosmopolitan reaches out to their main audience and maintains a consistent brand image.

With 64 international editions, Cosmopolitan has discussed the topics every girl wants to know, but might not always ask. Sara Austin spoke on the brand’s image by saying that Cosmo desires to have an “intimate relationship with its readers.” She elaborated by saying, “We want our readership to be like an intoxicating cocktail of what every woman wants in life — it should be about having fun, friends, a career… and fabulous shoes.”  Austin went on to say that the Cosmo brand places itself at the forefront of providing women with relevant, trendy news, as well as topics that might not get discussed otherwise. Austin states, “We’re Cosmo, modesty is not what we do.” The overall brand message led into a discussion about who the editors believed to be Cosmo’s biggest competition in the market.

In order to attract readership, Cosmo UK editor Court says their biggest competition is fighting for a share of voice in the lives of young women. Court states, “Young women are busy. It can’t just be a nice feature, it has to be fit for purpose.” Both editors agreed that Cosmo takes the approach that content has to be tailored to “what she wants out of life.”



How is Cosmo adapting to the age of technology and digital?
Discussing the traditional versus digital approaches to content, Court suggests that twitter gives readers the chance to react to the content, and perhaps amplify the messages. Austin agreed by suggesting that digital offers Cosmo the opportunity to expand across multiple platforms and gain more exposure. The discussion narrowed in on the different ways that content can be presented online. Austin stated that online media can be displayed “more visually, viral and with more attitude.” However, both editors mentioned the importance of maintaining the essence and niche of the in-store magazine. “We don’t want our magazine to look like a website – we want to keep the beauty of the magazine. It also enables longer stories.” Both Austin and Court seemed to agree that there was a prominent audience for both traditional and digital media, the importance being to keep those audiences, as well as the beauty of both outlets.

How do you successfully pitch to Cosmo?
When asked about making pitches to Cosmo, both editors stressed the importance of due diligence, and making connections. Court and Austin contended that part of making a successful pitch is to build a relevant strategy of how to connect, while having an interesting topic to discuss. This includes doing research on recent Cosmo topics, and what the magazine covers.

Quick tips from the editors included:

  • Avoid Monday morning and Friday afternoon pitches. Companies tend to hold office meetings to discuss weekly events early morning on Mondays, while Friday afternoon pitches tend to get lost in weekend emails.
  • Know your deadlines. When you’re reaching out for digital content, understand that there is always a longer lead-time.
  • Be Timely. The editors stressed the importance of understanding timeliness, and knowing the best time frames for getting your content to the right person.
  • Research. Avoid pitching a topic that might have been covered in last month’s issue. Make sure you do your research before you pitch.

Building the Cosmo Community
The Cosmo brand is also built on bridging the gap between its international editions. Cosmo offers consumers the chance to participate in global surveys in order to create a sense of community among women. Court states, “It’s about the community of women who have something in common with you. Cosmo wants to encourage being fun and fearless, for all people, in all aspects of life.” She also went on to say that you must “always believe in yourself, and don’t listen to the naysayers.” The continuity of these messages across all the Cosmo editions is what ultimately unites the readership. This discussion provided valuable insight into developing a brand identity.

Thanks to Gorkana US for hosting this incredible event! As well, a large thank you to the panelists Louise Court of Cosmopolitan UK, and Sara Austin from Cosmopolitan US, for their terrific insight into the Cosmo brand and the future of media.

- S.

image-62Gorgeous waterfall inside Hearst Tower


Going Global Interview: Edward James Herath talks PR in London


Edward James is a London-based Account Executive at McCluskey International specializing in Travel & Lifestyle PR, with a background in journalism. In this interview, he dishes on life in Public Relations from a UK perspective, and shares his thoughts on working in the industry.

1. Introduce yourself! (current job, schooling etc.) How did you decide on a career in Public Relations?

This is so difficult to do! I’m notoriously rubbish at talking about myself…especially questions like the above, but I’ll give it a go. I’m 27, London bred…if not London born! I went to school in London but went to University outside this great city…and absolutely loved it! I currently work as an Account Executive for a PR agency called McCluskey International. We handle a variety of clients ranging from the Jamaican Tourist Board to Kimpton Hotels, who are very well known in the USA!

From an early age, I’ve been passionately curious about the world and I always knew that I wanted to be a journalist. My inspiration was Tintin – pronounced ‘Tan-Tan’ – the young Belgian reporter created by Herge in the 1930’s. He had a profound influence on me as a child and I would avidly read about his adventures with Snowy, Captain Haddock and Professor Calculus. He always came up with the goods and he was just a young journalist!

That was inspiration enough for me. Travelling the world and seeking stories like the fictional Tintin, is what I always wanted to do. Now, I work on the ‘flip-side’ of journalism, which is to provide the information to the journalist for that particular story. I will go back to journalism one day, as it’s always been my first love and PR is a stepping stone for me in terms of building media contacts and relationships. The moment I fall out of love with PR is the moment I go back to being a journalist. I don’t know when that will be, but for the moment, I’m enjoying my PR career immensely.

Aside from that, I have an avid interest in fashion – I’ve worked at London Fashion Week for a top British shoe designer – and I love music – I’m a DJ! And I love to dance! I’m proof that you can be nerdy but still cool!

2. What’s a typical day like in the life of Edward James Herath?

In PR, you never have a ‘typical’ day. I’m firmly of the belief that no two days are the same, because every day the client will have different needs and something else that needs reactive measures, from a PR perspective. The essentials still stay the same however. The e-mails, the endless reports and the social media management.

The social media management is probably the most interesting aspect alongside the events management and networking. I manage some of our clients’ corporate social media platforms, which is a lot of fun. Getting paid to manage content on Facebook and Twitter is a dream come true!

I do a lot of networking which is always fun and is an essential part of being successful in PR. If you can build and maintain successful professional relationships with your media and trade contacts, then half your job is already done!

3. How does your Journalism background help you as a PR professional?

PR and journalism go hand-in-hand these days. Without PR’s, journalists especially in the travel trade industry, wouldn’t have any stories to write. Having a journalism background helps because I know how a journalist thinks. I am one! I know how to pitch a story to them and not be “PR” about it. The journalist generally wants you to get straight to the point and not include any unnecessary fluff! The key point to remember is that if you are able to convey your message to the journalist quickly and succinctly, then your story will be out sooner rather than later. Most importantly, journalists can write well and our written skills are highly valued in PR.

4. What opportunities are available for PR Professionals interested in making the move overseas? (e.g. London!)

PR is an ultra-competitive industry – no doubt about that – so wherever you go, opportunities are going to be limited. London agencies are always on the look-out for interns and American interns have a reputation for being harder working than their British counterparts. Don’t ask me why, but they just do! If you network with the right people and put yourself in the right place at the right time, then you may get the opportunity to work in London. The best way to do that is to try and secure a secondment to the UK. You’ll basically be paid by your agency to work and travel around London. Not bad at all is it?

5. What do you find to be the most difficult aspect about PR? Most rewarding?

The most difficult aspect is undoubtedly the paperwork! We have so much of it and I don’t know anyone that likes compiling reports, because it is the dullest and most time consuming aspect of PR. The networking is for me, the most rewarding aspect. You have the opportunity to meet some very interesting and quirky characters who you would never get the chance to meet normally. Embrace it and enjoy it, because it doesn’t last forever!

Recently, I was involved in the Clipper Round The World Yacht Race and as our client is the Jamaica Tourist Board, we were involved in launching Jamaica’s entry in the competition. I had the pleasure of meeting some incredibly talented individuals such as Sir Robin Knox Johnston, the first man to circumnavigate the globe solo and Levi Roots, a famous Jamaican chef in the UK. It really made all my hard work rewarding. Find out more here: www.clipperroundtheworld.com.

6. What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in PR?

You have to be really sure that you want to pursue a career in PR. It’s a tough industry to be successful in, as a lot of it depends on being a skilled multi-tasker, hence the reason why women do very well in it. I’m the exception to the rule I guess.

The key thing I would say is to be dedicated, passionate and enthusiastic. Obviously, you have to have the necessary set of skills – writing, communication, flair – but aside from that you need to be remorselessly determined. If that hasn’t put you off, then what I can say, is that it can be very rewarding.

7. What motto/personal mantra do you live by when it comes to your career?  

No matter how much I love PR, just remember that it’s your job, not your life. It’s PR. Not E.R.

When you leave the office for the day, just switch off. It’s so easy for PR to invade and take-over your life, to the point that you find yourself responding to a client’s email at 10 at night! No matter how urgent it is, the email can wait. You’re the client’s PR, not their concierge. We have a life to live and we should make the most of it, when the opportunity arises!

My last word would be to work smart – not hard – and play harder. Working in PR can be very stressful and demanding so make sure you enjoy those Friday nights and the weekends!

Thank you to Edward James for sharing his insight on journalism and the PR industry from a UK perspective!

To read more of Edward James’ work visit http://intellectualmasculinity.tumblr.com/ or follow him on twitter @EdwardJamesH!

- S.