And it seems that I’m not alone, with a circulation of almost 300,000 the Tele is still a go-to news source for most Sydney siders.
I sat down with Jeni O’Dowd, the editor of the Saturday Telegraph, and founding editor of one of its most loved magazine’s Kidspot to find out how she decides which stories make the cut, PR no-nos, and the best (and worst) ways to pitch. Her best advice? Take the time to read the publication you’re pitching to!
Tell us about your role. I’m the editor of the Saturday Daily Telegraph and also edit Kidspot Magazine, which is inserted into the paper.
Why did you decide to begin Kidspot? I’ve edited newspapers for many years and always believed there is a need for an intelligent parenting magazine – something that goes beyond telling you the best nappies to buy. So Kidspot Magazine evolved a year ago to fill that gap, appealing to mums from 20 to 40. It is part of our essential Saturday offering (which includes Best Weekend Magazine, Saturday Extra; Cars Guide, Homes Magazine, Real Estate and Sport). I try very hard every week to feature a story which will get mums and dads talking – like how to you talk to your teenage son about sex? What to do if your five year old is being bullied? It also has news, parenting advice, great recipes and crafts. I decided to edit Kidspot myself as I felt so passionately about it. It is the ideal companion to the very popular Kidspot.com.au website.
What are some of the most annoying things PRs have done in pitching a story? Many PRs don’t read the product they are pitching to. Often they will pitch a story about a subject we have run a few weeks before. It is annoying when they pitch the same story to different people at the same organisation as it causes doubles ups. Finally, asking for a PDF of a published article is a no no — if a PR’s product is featured they can at least buy the paper. We simply don’t have time to do this (remember how big the papers are, especially when you include all the liftouts!)
How do you decide to run a story? It has to be compelling, of interest to our target audience and visually appealing.
What are some things PRs can do to successfully pitch a story to the Saturday Telegraph? Read the paper and understand the audience.
How much has the rise of online media affected your role, and in what way? It hasn’t; the stories in the Saturday Telegraph appear on our website and on the Kidspot website. It is one continuous 24-hour news cycle nowadays. Most times we break stories first online.
What’s your best advice to budding media and communications graduates? Read as many newspapers and online websites as you can; continually. Do not give up your dreams – having passion is half the battle.