Getting Naked With Blogger Maja Malnar
Slovenian born Maja Malnar is breath of fresh air as she is always happy, smiling and oozing confidence. I met Maja through her partner in Instagram crime, LornaLuxe who simply says that Maja represents genuine ‘goals’ with her mix of wanderlust, fashion and a touch of mystery. Maja is also a total denim babe, so she was the perfect choice to be snapped in the height of summer for DONNA IDA’s Style Insider (which you can see and read here). Shortly after that, I chatted to her about blogging and more importantly, her approach to life, so as we go into a fresh New Year, it is the perfect time to share Maja’s interview with you. Her ethos is simply one of positivity, of going with the flow and enjoying life yet that’s not to say she’s not hardworking, or ambitious. So how has she mixed the two sides together to become a successful influencer working with top designer brands with over 300k Instagram followers? Let’s dive into Maja’s world.
NakedPRGirl: I saw on your About Us thing that you had had some difficult times growing up. How has that influenced you?
Maja Malnar: I had some really bad times when I was really depressed so at that time, I started reading a lot. It was probably the hardest two years of my life but now I see it as a positive thing as it completely changed me. I became a different person in the way I see life so that I value what is truly important. I’m using my Instagram and blog as a way share what I have learnt with how I have changed my perception towards life. I want to help other people to be aware that the way they approach life is important.
NakedPRGirl: You’re the queen of inspirational quotes on Instagram and is it a USP?
Maja Malnar: Thank you, a lot of people like the quotes actually and I’m pleased because I want them to be inspirational. In this industry, you have to be different so it is good to give a little more than just fashion. I try to combine beautiful places with fashion and positivity so that people feel good when they look at my pictures. I translate this onto my website with my ‘Inspire’ section where I share positive quotes and stories because life is much more beautiful when you see it this way. The way you see the world reflects in the way we think, act and the way we are, it always reflects with what is going on in your life.
NakedPRGirl: Your other USP is your Wanderlust – you go amazing places and you share amazing photos?
Maja Malnar: Travel is definitely part of me and is my passion in life. I don’t just go for the pictures, I love exploring, meeting new people and seeing new cultures. I have lived in a lot of different countries to get the feeling of life and learn as much as I can. I especially love Europe, I love the fact that every single country is so close to each other, but they are so different. Each of them have a different language, culture, food and style – everything changes. Look at Spain, France, Italy, Germany – they are all next to each other and so different. I find this fascinating and I find we can always learn something from each culture.
NakedPRGirl: Do you go home a lot?
Maja Malnar: I try. This year was really hard as I was just always so busy and there was always something going on. I feel like I need a proper holiday back home.
NakedPRGirl: Do you plan your trips far in advance?
Maja Malnar: I am very spontaneous and always go with the flow. As soon as I started living my life like this, I felt totally free and I can do what I feel like. So whenever I take a trip, I just buy a one way ticket. That way, if I don’t like it, I can go somewhere else the next day, or if I like it I might want to stay. For example, in Mykonos I was supposed to stay a few days and I ended up staying for nearly two weeks. In Ibiza I was going to stay longer but I didn’t really feel it so I came back earlier.
NakedPRGirl: You are hard working and ambitious, is there any time when you do have to plan?
Maja Malnar: When I have work to do, for example with New York or London Fashion Week, I know I have to plan. In those instances I will be on a tight timetable with return tickets so I would be crazy to waste money.
NakedPRGirl: Tell me about your Instagram images. Do you use the same photographers all the time?
Maja Malnar: No I mix it around and work with different photographers. I really like Rebecca Botin and travel a lot with her but since she moved I am looking at replacing her. The last shoot that I did I was really happy with who was with a young guy called Charlie who has was a really similar style to Rebecca.
NakedPRGirl: Do you shoot a few outfits at once? Where do you like to shoot?
Maja Malnar: I schedule and shoot 3 outfits at once? It doesn’t’ really matter. It depends where I am. When I was living around Knightsbridge I shot a lot there. The other day I shot around Mayfair. The other day I met in London Hill and shot around there. It all depends. I don’t have a preference.
NakedPRGirl: But you do have a little bit of scheduling with your Instagram?
Maja Malnar: Yes I do, I used to be very instant but it has to be important how everything looks together so I try and plan how it fits. I use an app called Uno where you put a lot of pictures in and you can move them around and see how it is going to look.
NakedPRGirl: How do you manage all the admin associated with having a business and blog?
Maja Malnar: Recently I’ve hired an an assistant who is a friend of mine who is amazing at organising and always on top of things. For her she is great at keeping on top of admin, replying to emails to brands or negotiating for collaborations. We are a good fit as we are both really passionate and it allows me to focus on what I am good at instead of the organisational elements. I still do all the image uploading and admin all myself although it takes a lot of time because I am very picky and I know how I want it to look. I’ve got four different sections on the blog so I have to update them all and I like to do it properly. For example with the travel blogs, you want to make sure all your trips are descriptive and it all is nicely packaged up so it is informative and easy to read.
NakedPRGirl: For London when you are here, what are your favourite restaurants, hotels and bars? Where do you hang out?
Maja Malnar: I really like Chiltern Firehouse, I like the bar so it’s my most common spot. For restaurants – I like the food at Scott’s, I love Japanese so Nobu, Zuma and Roka is really nice. Sexy Fish has good vibes. I also love all my healthy places too so for breakfast I go to the Good Life and healthy coffee shops, like the Organic Kitchen. I am a bit of a health freak.
NakedPRGirl: You obviously have a lot of friends in the industry. How important is networking and your girl gang?
Maja Malnar: Yes in London I’m closest with LornaLuxe and Tatiania. It is important, for example, it’s good when we do projects together because we can exchange pointers. Also we all know what content we need so it isn’t awkward when it comes to taking pictures and taking ten photos instead of one! Normal people are always like – oh you and your pictures. They don’t get it’s a job and we have to do it.That is why we like to hang around because we all do the same thing and we all get it.
NakedPRGirl:: What advice would you give to a younger you?
Maja Malnar: Just work hard and never lose hope. Believe in it and make it happen.
NakedPRGirl: What is next for you?
Maja Malnar: More travel! St Tropez, New York, London, Milan, Paris, home and maybe Mexico.
Getting Naked With Interview – Kelly Eastwood The London Chatter
“I like a Hendricks with some cucumber, and any other gin I’ll take with a helluva’lotta lime!”
Meeting Kelly Eastwood, a.k.a ‘The London Chatter,’ at Mr Foggs Gin Parlour for her DONNA IDA Style Insider, you can tell instantly why she has been so successful in creating her blog and business. She oozes humour and charisma which an easy breezy, down to earth nature which makes you instantly warm to her. Kelly’s personality has perfectly translated into digital, with her witty captions, and bright and colourful images gaining her a loyal fan-base with over 100k followers across her social media platforms, and she also has her own monthly style column in Hello! Fashion Monthly. After our DONNA IDA shoot, where Kelly discusses denim and her favourite London hotspots (which you can read about here), we caught up on all things blogging, business and how to take a good photo!
NakedPRGirl: Where are you from & how did you come to be in London?
LC: I’m originally from Kenya, and was raised just outside Nairobi. I attended LAMDA after boarding school, and returned to live in London full time after Edinburgh University. With friends from all the above living in London, and wanting to act full time, it was a natural move to be based here.
DI: Do you still tread the boards?
Kelly Eastwood: No, although I’m still pretty dramatic! The London Chatter took off and I became so wonderfully busy with my blog that I suddenly couldn’t make the auditions and castings I’d have cut my right arm off to attend a few years before.
DI: How long ago did you start your blog?
Kelly Eastwood: I started over 7 years ago now. I’d been banging on numerous doors for a while before blogging exploded in the U.K., so when brands did realise ourvalue, I luckily popped into a few of their heads.
DI: Why did you start blogging?
Kelly Eastwood: I had worked in a boutique in Notting Hill between acting roles, and I soon started to really love fashion, leading me to find extra part time work at various magazines, and in personal styling and shopping. People would ask me where to find certain things and so starting a blog was initially a forum for me to share where I got my clothes from, and what inspired me.
NakedPRGirl: How important has the brand name and London in particular been to your blog?
Kelly Eastwood: I think that The London Chatter really associates me with the city and I’m very lucky, as a consequence, to be one of the first people to hear about the new and exciting things happening around town to share with my followers and readers. People from all over the world get in touch with me about upcoming trips to the UK for recommendations of where to go and where to stay, so I think I’m now seen as a source of all things London, which is funny considering I’m not even from here!
NakedPRGirl: I imagine social media has been hugely important in your business and how you convey your messages. How do you approach social media?
Kelly Eastwood: Social media, and Instagram in particular, has been a real game changer. Instagram is now so popular, with many using it if as a microblog itself, and Instastories has been great, especially for travelling as people can now get a far better sense of where you are. I think Instastories has also humanised a lot of the people you follow, by showing a far less curated and filtered insight into their lives, which I suppose has either been a good thing or a bad thing, content and charisma dependent.
NakedPRGirl: What is your advice for taking a good photo?
Kelly Eastwood: I suspect many would say the lightning, or the angle…In all honesty, in my opinion, it’s about quantity!! Take loads, and the odds are, 1 out of 100 might be OK – It’s quantity over quality in this case!!
NakedPRGirl: What advice would you give to someone just starting out blogging now?
Kelly Eastwood: Now that there’s money to be made, blogging is really over subscribed, but like any so called ‘glamourous’ industry, there is always room for a new voice or face, if that person has something new and interesting to say, and willing to show commitment to their content. Read the full interview on DONNA IDA’s blog HERE.
HOW TO THROW A HALLOWEEN PARTY
When I was growing up, Halloween was one night a year, you’d carve a pumpkin or a turnip and wear a makeshift witches outfit and off you trotted trick or treating. Now we’ve gone ALL American about it and it practically lasts a whole month with decorations and fancy dress taking more preparation than the BREXIT negotiations. I am ecstatic at the change, mainly because Bette Midler and Sarah Jessica Parker had shown how me how Halloween SHOULD BE DONE as the Sanderson sisters in the Oscar Award Winning *not really* Hocus Pocus – with amazing witchy costumes (SJP: I am beautiful! Boys will love me!) and overindulgence in this spooky time of the year.
BUT kids, it ain’t just fun, it is also about cash, in 2015 Halloween overtook Valentines Day to become the third biggest ‘event’ after Christmas and Easter with Briton’s spending a staggering £400 million on Halloween related products – and that’s just ME! http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-3286170/Halloween-overtakes-Valentine-s-Day-biggest-retail-event.html Anyway, in a SJP way, I got to thinking about how to throw the perfect Halloween party in a marketing sense? So here I am with my tips for a running a spooky party as if it were a PR event.
Max: But everyone here knows that Halloween was invented by the candy companies it’s a conspiracy!
Allison: It just so happens that Halloween is based on the ancient feast called ‘All Hallows Eve’ It’s the one night of they year where the spirits of the dead can return to Earth.
SET THE DATE
Duh like we all know it is 31st October right? Wrong! Like all good celebrations, this guy now stretches out over a week period. Every year will differ so it is super important to plan accordingly. For example a Friday night might mean more people can come, Saturday is a great time but you’ll face heavy competition from others, and you can always consider mid-week if that is when the 31st falls. Word to the wise though – DO NOT attempt to dress up on 1st November – me and a friend tried to go out once and in the words of Craig Revel Horwood, it was a DISASTER darling. No one wants to be the only one dressed as a runaway dead bride in the middle of Dalston.
Decide nice and early and get the event listed on Facebook so it reminds/annoys everyone and you can start to work who is in or out. It is always good to take your costumes out for a spin so my favourite is a house party/local pub hybrid. As with Christmas, you want LOW expectations and HIGH fun factor. So keep your plans simple with minimal travel required.
“The only two choices for women; witch and sexy kitten.” Miranda, Sex & The City
Who will you be? Forget the supermarket outfits and get creative, especially with celebrities like Heidi Klum pushing the boundaries with her epic creations enabled by a team of makeup artists! Pinterest and t’internet is a great place to browse and let your imagination run wild! I recommend planning in advance so that you can order wigs and accessories from Amazon if you can. I rustled up Jessica Rabbit this year and am going to see if I can channel the Mother of Dragons this year.
HAIR & MAKEUP
For makeup – more places and more freelancers than ever are offering professional makeup for Halloween so you can indulge if you want to spend the cash which creates a super professional look, perfect for Instagram. If you’d rather freestyle, YouTube is the place to be – makeup tutorials are addictive and you can watch people transform step-by-step and then pop to Boots to get cheap and cheerful products to replicate on a budget.
Oohhhhhhh my favourite!!!!!! Working in London and especially near Chelsea, you get to see amazing decorations on pure beautiful white houses. I stumbled across this beauty last year near DONNA IDA in Belgravia and Chrissabella took this snap near Selfridges. Oversize decorations are great but be careful spending stacks of cash because where are you going to store your oversized spider all year? I love the simplicity of the pumpkins (usually around £2 per pumpkin), police caution tape (so fresh and modern) and the webs with spiders (also about £2 per pack). I want to go crazy, and buy tombstones and spider shaped sweets but common sense is telling me to keep it simple. Wilkinson’s has the best selection I’ve seen and is great value for money.
Help me I’m struggling with this one! I’ve so far got Taylor Swift ‘Look what you made me do?’ and Michael Jackson aka the BEST HALLOWEEN SONG EVER ‘Thriller’ and Spotify thankfully has a pretty good selection of playlists to set the mood. I once went to The Phoenix pub in London and they played old horror films on the screen in the background (on silent) to create the Halloween atmosphere.
Lols. Well you could set a hashtag to group together all your Halloween posts from friends…but this may be ever so slightly overkill – mwah ha ha 😉 Ensure you have plenty of drinks (add red liquor to prosecco to make them bloody) and leave out a dressing up box of halloween guises for your guests to play with and snap away wearing. That way, the whole world will know your PARTY is AWESOME.
HAPPY HALLOWEEN GANG!
Getting Naked with Journalist Luke Chilton
I first met Luke Chilton at a party approximately a hundred years ago where there was a free bar (standard) and if memory serves me correctly, an up-and-coming singer called Emeli Sandé was providing the entertainment. At the time Luke was writing for a magazine but little did I know that he would shortly be landing a dream job, at our media equivalent of a national treasure, This Morning presented by the charismatic duo Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby. From there he was part of the team to launch the short-lived but no less successful New Day and these days he is putting all his journalism training into practice searching for un-sung heroes with the wildly successful and inspirational Pride of Britain Awards. What I really like and admire about Luke, is that he is not afraid to speak his mind, or offer his opinion. But, equally, he is not about to start a heated debate for the sake of it. All these qualities make him a thoughtful, versatile, thoroughly interesting guy who has worked in many different fields but at the core, he knows how to tell a bloody good story. Here’s my interview with the captivating and very funny, Luke Chilton.
NakedPRGirl: Where are you from and where did you grow up?
I was born in Edinburgh, but I grew up in a very small, leafy village in the south east of England. We had a big lake and maybe two pubs. I guess it was a bit like a slightly rubbish version of Dawson’s Creek.
NakedPRGirl: When I met you, you were Features Editor at Real People? How did you get your first job as a journalist?
I was very lucky; I did some work experience at Real People magazine while studying for my NCTJ journalism qualification. They asked me to come back after the course, originally as an “office assistant’, and I ended up staying five years. I think being a man helped (as usual), because men working in the weekly magazine market were a bit of a novelty back then.
NakedPRGirl: It must have been a challenging role? Did you learn a lot? Any crazy real life stories to report?
People can be a bit snobby about ‘true life’ titles, but there’s a real skill in writing in that style. The interview process is really in-depth and you have to turn random true events into narratives with a beginning, a middle and an end that resonate emotionally. People say if Shakespeare were alive today, he’d be writing Eastenders – I say he’d be writing for Take A Break.
I remember interviewing a woman who got stuck in her bath. She was there for hours until finally her son came home from work and rescued her. The incident spurred her on to eat more healthily. So just within that simple story you have comedy, tragedy and redemption.
The stories in these magazines are about the most dramatic and extreme things that can happen to people – and they really do happen! You’d be surprised how much work goes into making sure these stories are 100% true. I interviewed everyone from terminally ill teenagers to swingers to parents of murder victims. I once wrote a piece told from the point of view of a pig.
So that’s was a good training ground for a journalist, especially when I would be sent all round the country to interview people in their homes. That really expands your world-view that you wouldn’t get from say, re-writing press releases in an office.
NakedPRGirl: From there you went to This Morning as News Producer, was this your dream job? Did you have a favourite presenting duo? How did you handle the early starts?
The early starts were okay – luckily there was a never-ending supply of toast to keep you going.
I don’t think there’s another show on TV quite like This Morning. Whatever you think of it, the mix of current affairs and often truly bizarre human-interest interviews is unique to British television. That’s what I liked about the job – you never quite knew what was going to happen next. One day you’d be writing questions for the Prime Minister, the next you’d be trying to get a cat to give Rylan a high-five.
I had run-ins with Scientologists, David Icke nearly throttled me and once I spent a night in the studio trying to catch the This Morning ghost with a psychic and his spirit guide. They made me dress up as a gorilla a couple of times.
Another time we had to find someone to agree to get a vasectomy live on air. After a lot of rejections, I eventually found a guy willing to do it, and we arranged everything. At the last minute I asked the man his surname, and it turned out to be “Balls”. No way would the viewers buy that co-incidence! It was too late to find anyone else so in the end we just had to never say his surname on air! But things like that were genuinely quite ground-breaking for morning television, and informative too.
Actually This Morning has an important role in delivering content to an audience that isn’t served well by other news outlets. Daytime TV viewers don’t necessarily watch Newsnight or Panorama, but they will watch an item on This Morning about, say, Islamophobia. I think This Morning does a good job of covering subjects that matter to their audience in a balanced and straightforward way.
As for presenters, I would say Eamonn Holmes is one of the most genuine presenters on TV. He’s exactly the same on-set as off screen and always showed a real compassion for the guests before and after the show.
NakedPRGirl: You were Deputy Features Editor at The New Day which got off to such a cracking start that everyone was surprised by its sudden closure. What do you think the future of news looks like?
I’m no expert but I can’t envision a world where people don’t want to read the news. So it’s just about working out how to monetize the way we read it.
The current trend in TV seems to be monthly subscription fees, a la Netflix, but that hasn’t seemed to work for newspaper websites. I think the bravest step a newspaper could take now would be to completely shut down their print version and go all-out online. That would force its loyal readers onto their website / app. But that’s risky strategy!
The New Day was great fun and a really good opportunity for me to work on the launch of a national paper. While I was there I was lucky enough to be sent to India with Save The Children to report on child labour in Delhi. That’s a world away from dressing up as a gorilla.
Sadly I doubt they’ll ever be another national newspaper launch like The New Day. But I could be wrong – look at the recent rise in sales of physical books. I do think any new newspaper would have to be a free sheet like the Metro / Standard to survive.
It’s a scary time for print journalists because it seems like the world is ending. But digital journalism is really still in its infancy and changing all the time. Already you can see the public becoming frustrated with ‘click-bait’ headlines. We’ve seen the rise and fall of the ‘listicle’ style of article. So I’m sure that we’re still in the middle of this latest evolution of journalism, and eventually someone will figure out how to make it work for readers and publishers. “Life will find a way” as they say in Jurassic Park.
NakedPRGirl: You’re working on Pride of Britain at the moment which has become such an iconic event, what’s your role there? How is it to work on such a high profile and inspiring event?
I am part of a big team that scours the country for super-impressive people. We come up with a short-list of amazing nominees for the judging panel to choose from. Once the winners are decided, it’s all about turning their stories into an entertaining, inspirational TV show. With the amount of negative news around at the moment, it’s refreshing to work on something that is over-whelming positive. We try to recognise the good in people, especially those who are over-coming extreme obstacles to help others. Please watch it. I guarantee you will cry (In a good way.)
NakedPRGirl: How does TV differ from print?
On live TV, an interviewee is pretty much completely unedited. You are reliant on them ‘performing’ on-screen to get a great interview. In print, the journalist has the power to control the narrative a little.
There are pros and cons to both methods! When I wrote for ‘real life’ titles like Real People, I was able to help people tell their stories in the most dramatic and readable way possible, in a way that perhaps they wouldn’t have been able to on their own. But there’s an immediacy in live television, where you can have instant reaction and unpredictable moments, that you can’t recreate in print.
NakedPRGirl: How has digital impacted and changed your job?
The Internet has enabled anyone with a computer to become a journalist. Anyone can have a blog or a Youtube account or even just a Twitter handle and plonk his or her view onto the world. That’s great in a way, because it means everyone has a voice, not just old men in Fleet Street. But it also means there will inevitably be a drop in quality of the journalism.
The biggest change in television has been on-demand and catch-up viewing, but I think they’ll always be a place for live news and magazine programmes. I think people enjoy watching something knowing that millions of others are watching it at the same time too. And now with a show like This Morning you can have live interaction with viewers that can actually change the direction of the show while it’s on air. That’s a good way to build a connection with an audience that you couldn’t do 10 years ago.
NakedPRGirl: Who’s your favourite person that you’ve interviewed or worked with over the years?
I wouldn’t say favourite, but one I remember vividly is going to meet the parents of an 11-year-old girl who died of cancer. Coincidently they lived in the little village I’m from, so I went back there to interview them in their home. They lived just round the corner from the house where I grew up. It was incredibly sad and had completely shattered the lives of her family, who were shell-shocked but desperate to pay tribute to their daughter. It’s easy to become blasé & cynical when you’re a journalist, working day in, day out on sad stories. But every so often you work on something that can circumvent that.
NakedPRGirl: What’s your favourite social media channel? Do you use social media for work?
Actually one of the first things I do when I wake up is look at Twitter. Twitter Trends and Moments are a good barometer of what the world is talking about. I mostly use social media for getting in contact with potential interviewees. Recently I had to track down a biker gang in the US and I was able to get in touch very quickly with their leader via Facebook. I guess even Hells Angels use Facebook now! Linkedin, despite its deriders, is also a helpful tool for finding experts and spokespeople. And I do like to see how people on social media react to a story I’ve written or a TV interview I helped set up. It’s interesting to be able to get live feedback on your work (even it’s not always positive)!
NakedPRGirl: Do you have any advice for aspiring journalists?
Pick a niche, something you’re interested in, and focus on becoming to ‘go to’ journalist in that field. Be nice to PRs.
NakedPRGirl: Do you have a motto or mantra that you live by?
I remember when I first worked at This Morning, if things every got really stressful (which they did, often), one of the producers would remind us “It’s only a TV show”. Ultimately in my field of journalism, the aim is to entertain people – whether that’s making them cry or laugh or shout at the telly. So sometimes you just have to roll the cameras and see what happens.
And whether I’m writing or tweeting or even saying something out loud, I try to ask myself two things: ‘Is this helpful?’.
By that I mean: Am I actually adding something useful to the debate, or do I just want my opinion heard? I might have a perfectly valid opinion about something but is it of value to anyone else? Am I saying anything new?
And the second one is ‘Is this boring?’ If something is both helpful and not boring, it probably has a good reason to exist.
NakedPRGirl: Where would you like to be in ten years time?
Like all journalists, I’ve got a good idea for a novel, so if any publishers are reading this, please get in touch!
Getting Naked With Rachel Tompkins
When I first met Rachel Tompkins, it was in the dusty office of the The Ripple Student Newspaper at Leicester University and I was so in awe of her I was completely mute (not the best first impression huh?). She was the Deputy Editor, I was the new Features Editor, she was totally ice cool and I was not really sure how I’d landed the job. Fast forward to a (few) boozy nights out and we bonded over a love of double denim, writing, and l was extremely lucky to join her friendship circle. A lifetime has passed since then, double denim has actually gone full circle and become cool again (THAT’S HOW OLD WE ARE!), and she has excelled in her career going from strength to strength starting out in magazines and recently using her vast experience and little black book to go it alone in the freelance world. She is the hardest working person I know, she’s precise, she’s thorough and she will always help a friend in need. Rachel has also seen first hand the moves and changes in the industry from pre-print-loving Facebook to post-apocalyptic-digital Snapchat generation. She’s also been busy producing two millennials of her own, and also shares her experience of motherhood with regular articles over on MushMums. Rachel has spent a lifetime interviewing people, so imagine how excited I was to finally turn the tables and put her in the hot seat!
NakedPRGirl: Where are you from and where did you grow up?
I was born in Oxford and grew up in a town near there. I lived there until I went to The University of Leicester at 19.
NakedPRGirl: What did you study? I know you were Deputy Editor at the student newspaper, was that important in your career path?
I studied English Literature at The University of Leicester. While I was there I started working on the student newspaper, The Ripple, and loved it. By the time I left I was the Deputy Editor. It was sometimes tricky juggling the workload of the paper (which was all done on a voluntary basis) with my degree work, and social life! But I learnt a lot there, made some mistakes too of course, but had great fun too. It was definitely important on my career path because during my last year of University I applied for a Postgraduate course in magazine journalism at City University in London. During my interview I had to talk the tutors through my work on the newspaper and other work experiences I’d done at the BBC and various other publications.
NakedPRGirl: How did you get your first job at Take A Break?
Towards the end of my postgraduate course at City University we had to do a placement and I got one at Take a Break magazine. After two weeks they offered me a job! I went back to finish my shorthand qualification and accepted the job offer, starting work as a junior writer.
NakedPRGirl: You spent many years at Pick Me Up magazine, how did you find your stories and what has been the most interesting one?
Whilst I was at Take a Break magazine I was headhunted by what was then IPC Media to work on the launch of a new magazine, Pick Me Up. There I had the privilege of working on a huge variety of stories, campaigns and franchises as I worked my way up from a writer to the Features Editor for a hub team that produces Pick Me Up and Chat. One story that sticks in my mind is one which I did fairly early on in my career there. It involved getting the ferry to the Isle of Wight to interview Stephanie Slater, the estate agent who was kidnapped in 1992 and held hostage for 8 days. She had changed her name to Phoenix Rhiannon and was an incredibly kind and genuine lady who welcomed me into her home and talked to me openly. But I spoke to so many interesting people, from Kerry Needham, who’s son Ben has been missing since 1991, to a 15-year-old girl who wanted to talk out to tell people why her dad had killed her uncle – because he’d been abusing her. Together, we managed to get a judge to lift an order prohibiting her identification so that we could publish her story. There were a lot of more light-hearted, sometimes shocking stories that we published too – like the woman who breastfed her dog, and the women who get paid to squash men!
NakedPRGirl: You’re now freelance, how does that differ? What do you like about it?
Now I’m freelance I mainly work from home, which saves the commute. But it also means I miss the banter that came with working in a busy office. On the upside, I like the fact that I can write for a huge range of publications and platforms though, from magazines to newspapers to apps and even copywriting for businesses.
NakedPRGirl: How has digital changed your industry and what do you think the future of journalism will look like?
When I first started working at Take a Break the letters bag was huge every day and I don’t think Facebook even existed then and I doubt the magazine even had a website. Now, of course, pretty much all the correspondence magazines receive is digitally, whether it be email, Facebook messages or texts. It means that you can have a much more immediate interaction with readers and contributors. However, with the rise of digital media it’s inevitable that print sales have declined. The sales figures speak for themselves, but you only have to look around on a train nowadays to see how many people are reading things on their phones compared to how many are actually reading a magazine. It’s a worrying time for journalists but people will always want to read things in some shape of form so I think there will always be a demand for journalists, they might just have to be a bit more flexible about how they work and who for!
NakedPRGirl: You also write for MushMums, how important have mummy bloggers and forums been to becoming a parent?
There are an incredible amount of mum blogs out there; some fantastic, some awful! For me, I felt they were a great way of connecting with other women, and sometimes men, who are, or have been, experiencing what you are. It can provide support, advice, validation about your feelings or some much-needed humour! The danger is of course that, like many types of digital media nowadays, you can compare yourself to them and feel like your life isn’t as glamorous/exciting/perfect, so I think it’s important to try and keep perspective, and remind yourself that lots of them have professional stylists/photographers and so on!
NakedPRGirl: What’s your favourite social media channel?
At the moment I’m loving Instagram. I’ve gone a bit off Facebook lately and prefer the fact that there seems to be less spam on Instagram. It feels more immediate somehow too.
NakedPRGirl: Do you think of your role as part marketer?
NakedPRGirl: How important is networking to you? Who inspires you to spend time with?
One of the fantastic things about working as a freelancer is that you’re constantly making new contacts when you’re pitching stories or being approached about work. It’s obviously important to maintain these contacts and I find that meeting people face to face is always best. You can get to know someone so much quicker in a shorter space of time in person. And I feel lucky that some of my best friends, both new and old, have been made through what began as work colleagues or contacts and then developed into trusted friendships. I love spending time with old colleagues who now work elsewhere, as it’s nice to compare notes. But it’s always interesting to have a few drinks with people in different areas of specialism too, as that can often provide a different insight into the industry.
NakedPRGirl: How do you structure your working day?
I work part-time now because I’ve got two young boys. So on the days I’m working I drop them at school and nursery and am online straight away. I try to get interviews done in the evenings as that tends to be when people are available and home from work. Then I can get to work first thing in the morning writing it up. I don’t tend to stop for anything until I’ve got to collect the boys, because now I only work part-time my time is so precious. I know some people can work with children around but I’ve never been able to, so I tend to work most evenings and parts of the weekend too and try to juggle pitching ideas with writing commissioned pieces.
NakedPRGirl: Do you have any advice for aspiring journalists?
Work hard and always try to deliver the absolute best you can. You have to be determined too, develop a thick skin and not take knock-backs personally. When I went for my placement at Take a Break magazine I spoke to someone who already worked there first and she told me to get in early in the morning because that’s what the editor did. It was invaluable advice and showed him that I was serious about the job. And try to be kind to people. It’s a pretty small industry so you never know when your paths will cross again!
NakedPRGirl: What’s your style? Any wardrobe staples?
After having my boys I went through a style crisis. Not working in an office in London any more meant that I was struggling to keep up with trends and find clothes that were practical but looked good too. Now my body’s back to normal and I’ve become a bit of an Instagram addict I love following a few different people on Instagram for ideas; The Frugality and Dress Like a Mum are good. I’ve also got a couple of really stylish friends who I shamelessly get ideas from. Recent purchases have been some boyfriend jeans from Asos and Gap, and I’m a sucker for a tasselled earring lately! I like Uniqlo for Breton tops and plain round-neck jumpers too.
NakedPRGirl: Are there any brands/people or magazines you’d love to work with?
I’m really enjoying the diversity that comes with freelancing so I couldn’t really pick out one brand or magazine in particular.
NakedPRGirl: What’s your strategy for the future? Where would you like to be in ten years time?
If I’m totally honest I’m all about the ‘here and now’ at the moment. I feel grateful to have two wonderful boys and I love having the flexibility to be around for them growing up, whilst also doing a job that I love. I’m keen to grow my freelancing in the future and work with new titles – both in print and digitally, as well as doing more copywriting for brands and businesses.
If you have a story or want to commission Rachel check out her website: http://www.racheltompkins.co.uk
Follow her on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rachtompkins/
Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/rachtompkins
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“Claire was my PR and Marketing Manager for four years at Donna Ida so we worked closely together to build a marketing strategy for the Ultimate Denim Destination. Claire’s PR experience led to an increase in press coverage 30% year-on-year with a focus on luxury titles and targeting key editors"Read The Full Testimonial
Claire was very well liked by the press and they felt very happy and comfortable with her, so much so that they were just as happy going to Claire as they were coming to me. We developed a press strategy of one-to-one appointments and special evening press dinners to encourage exclusivity with exceptional results.
She worked closely with our in-house creative team to build the brand and my personal profile within the fashion and business sectors, managing photo shoots and Look Books. Claire is loyal, entrepreneurial and strategic so when presented with a challenge she sees it as an opportunity.
DONNA IDA THORNTON, www.donnaida.com