It's journalist time again - yet another in our line of great interviews with respected and influential members of the media. This week's instalment comes from Simon Kurs, editor and co-publisher of The Traveller, easyJet's inflight magazine. Simon also writes regularly for The Sunday Times and is also the drinks editor for the Hedonist's Guide to London. Sublime PR is very grateful to Simon for some great insight into his world and what he thinks about PR (good and bad). Here's what he had to say...
Sublime PR: What is your professional job title?
Simon: Editor and co-publisher of The Traveller, easyJet’s inflight magazine
Sublime PR: What magazines/blogs do you write for?
Simon: Apart from my own, for the Sunday Times and I’m also the drinks editor for the Hedonist’s Guide to London.
Sublime PR: What is your PR pet peeve?
Simon: There are a few. The worst offenders are receiving pitches that are utterly inappropriate for the mag, often delivered by PRs who’ve never even read it and aren’t at all familiar with the content; continual chasing to see if I’ve received/read a press release (I class this as more than three calls); requests for future features lists – in all my years in publishing, across broadsheets and various newsstand titles, we’ve never handed these out.
Sublime PR:Do you prefer a phone pitch from PRs or an email?
Sublime PR: How many emails and/or phone calls do you receive from PRs per day?
Sublime PR: How do you read the news – via newspapers, TV, Radio or online?
Simon: Combination. TV breakfast news; Guardian app on the way in to work; news aggregators such as Google news at my desk; BBC/news at ten; paper at the weekend
Sublime PR: What newspapers/magazines do you read?
Simon: Most of them in some capacity. My paper of choice is the Guardian, though the quality of actual news reporting (if not the politics) is great in the Telegraph. Mags-wise, I love Intelligent Life, Prospects, New York, Wired, Vanity Fair, Fantastic Man, Esquire (prefer the US version but UK is improving massively); GQ (US version again); Afar is the best travel magazine out there, though Conde Nast Traveller is always a beautifully polished read.
Sublime PR:Are you a regular tweeter and can PRs contact you via Twitter?
Simon: I tweet habitually – mostly about food and travel. Happy to be contacted via Twitter.
Sublime PR: What is your top tip for businesses/PRs wanting to get coverage?
Simon: Have a great story/angle. The best PRs I’ve dealt with are the ones who pitch stories, not clients – even if it means that possible rivals receive coverage too. It shows a strong sense of how editorial works.
Sublime PR: What is really grabbing your attention in the industry at the moment?
Simon: I think everyone’s still coming to terms with exactly how powerful and useful social media can be – not just finding stories, but actually engaging with readers and getting them involved in the creative process – crowdsourcing editorial. That’s the next step, using the likes of Pinterest and other new communities.
I’m also really happy that there also seems to be a renaissance of print. For a while everyone was so worried by new media and fracturing audiences they felt that the only way for their titles to succeed was to ape the look and feel of online. The reality is that there will always be a place for stunning photography, brilliant writing and in depth stories, designed with love and care on luxurious paper stock. There are some beautiful mags out there right now, such as The Gentlewoman and W, which looks better than ever.I may have a vested interest, but I think Inflight mags are in a zone right now. They’re certainly not the poor relation they may have once been – there are some really amazing, innovative products out there, with some of the best talent in publishing involved. It’s no surprise it’s one of the few areas with growing readership figures and thriving ad sales. We’ve just launched a redesign ourselves http://traveller.easyjet.com which, I think, will raise a lot of eyebrows. It includes the world’s first 3D printed cover. That’s not something you view with special glasses. Rather, we printed a model using a 3D printer and then photographed it – it’s a technology we’ll all be hearing about very soon. We’ve got some even more amazing covers planned for the future.Fun-wise, I’m seriously impressed by the number of cool bars and restaurants opening in London at the moment – we’re up there with New York.
Sublime PR:How important is a good image/video for a news story?
Simon: As important as the story itself – if not more so. And I say that as someone who spent the first five, really formative, years of his career on a newspaper where words were cherished above all else. Without something to draw the reader in, the story is lost.
Sublime PR: What are your passions/interests/hobbies?
Simon: I’m obsessed by some American TV shows at the mo, which are really pushing boundaries (Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones). I read whenever I get a moment, mostly on my iPhone in snatched minutes, currently Tom Wolfe’s new one. And I’m most passionate about travel (I’d recommend Iceland to anyone – like nowhere else on earth – and I’m off to Moscow next month) and food – fortunate for my job, really. I love any type of street food, will consume virtually anything, the more offally the better – Beard to Tail in Shoreditch (www.beardtotail.co.uk) is brilliant - and I hate eating the same thing twice.