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Interview with a journalist - iProspect meets Sophie Hannam

Senior staff writer at Immediate Media’s Homes and Antiques magazine, Sophie Hannam’s work spans stunning interiors, culinary delights and historical curiosities.

When she’s not writing articles, she’s looking after her beautiful British Shorthair cat, Olive, baking and practising ballet.

Here she speaks to Olivia Lott, Outreach Manager at iProspect London, about life as a journalist in the homes and interiors sector.

OL: What makes a pitch irresistible?

SH: I’m pitched stories and products all the time, so it’s important that each pitch is really tailored towards the Homes & Antiques brand. Heritage and antiques are our USP, so stories with similar themes at its core will always catch my eye. Beautiful images are equally paramount in the interiors world, so a Dropbox or WeTransfer link of gorgeous lifestyle or cut-out shots is important.

OL: Is there such a thing as the ‘perfect time to pitch’? If so, when is it?

SH: We work two to three months in advance (and start thinking about Christmas from July onward!), so it’s always good to get seasonal pitches in early. On a day-to-day basis, I tend to go through my inbox first thing in the morning, but I’m happy to receive a pitch at any time…as long as we’re not on press week!

OL: Roughly how many PR pitches do you receive each week? And of those, how many go on to get published?

SH: Literally hundreds! I usually arrive in the office to around 200 unread emails, and only a handful of those go on to be published. I try to respond to as many emails as I can but, as we’re a very small editorial team, we’re often pressed for time. I compile the news pages for Homes & Antiques, so for each issue I scour through my emails for a selection of beautiful homeware to be featured – usually a mixture of furniture, paint, wallpaper and decorative accessories. The pitches targeted specifically at the H&A brand, with our readership in mind, are always the most successful.

OL: Whether it’s overall topics, high-profile interviews, exclusive opportunities or multimedia assets, what do you think journalists in your sector are looking for?

SH: As we’re such a small team, I look after both editorial features and manage the website. So, I look for a range of things. Most notably, I’m on the hunt for product releases or seasonal trends for the print magazine, but also news stories and multimedia assets that could work on the H&A website. I also keep a long list of ideas for future features, such as potential houses to shoot, travel features or auction news. I’m open to pitches of any nature, really! Just so long as they fit with the H&A brand.

OL: What are your favourite publications to read and why, and where do you look to for inspiration?

SH: Alongside interiors, I love reading and writing about food. I grew up reading magazines such as BBC Good Food, Delicious and Good Housekeeping – and they’re still some of my favourites now. I also love American food lifestyle website, Food52. For interiors trends, Instagram is probably the biggest source of inspiration for me. That and getting out and about to visit other press shows and events. A quick wander around Liberty London never goes amiss, either.

OL: What do you want out of a PR and journalist meeting? Is a simple catch up ever enough or is it a necessity to get a story out of the meeting?  

SH: I love meeting the PRs I work with every day face to face – it’s so important to build and nurture relationships in our industry. Homes & Antiques is based in Bristol, which can sometimes make catch-up meetings difficult, but I come to London as often as I can. I love getting to learn more about interiors clients which I might not be as familiar with, and exploring the different ways in which Homes & Antiques could work with them. My favourite meetings are those which are more like informal brainstorms.

Want to know what journalists in other sectors have to say? Take a look at our interview with technology journalist, Holly Brockwell.