Gorkana Insight & Analysis Team
Charlotte Ross, deputy editor of the London Evening Standard, on launching a new iPad app in time for the Olympics, why exclusivity is essential and an autumnal online push.
Firstly, tell us about your role and your team.
As one of two deputy editors on the Standard I work both across the paper and in the features and online areas. The features team is a tight-knit, fast working group of around 10 editors and writers who produce a wide variety of articles in very short time frames and with remarkable good humour. Between them they generate dozens of ideas, news features, interviews, columns and lifestyle articles every day. They are very switched on to what's happening in London.
The online team is tiny, but keeps the website moving at an exciting pace, constantly updating it throughout the day with breaking news, picture galleries and endless ideas for going out in London. They also keep the paper read in social media circles by tweeting all the key stories of the day.
What does a typical week look like for you?
The crucial Evening Standard meeting is morning conference, which takes place at 8.15am. That's when all the main stories are discussed and decisions made about that day's paper, plus ideas are aired for the following day's edition. We discuss the subjects for leaders, comment pieces and any live features arising from the day's news list.
At about 10am, once that day's pages are sent to press, there is a further meeting with the features team, where we plan out the following day's pages, toss around ideas and commission words and pictures for future editions.
Otherwise, there is a big features meeting on a Wednesday at 2.30pm, where writers all pitch ideas for general discussion. We generate a lot of our content here, trying out trends ideas, talking about how to handle big events such as the Olympics or blockbuster films and coming up with original angles on big stories.
The forward planning meeting happens on Thursday at 4pm. All the various feature-led departments from around the paper present their lists for upcoming weeks: general features, London life, Homes & Property, arts, ES magazine and books, which gives us a sense of any potential crossovers, as well as a heads-up on good properties to promote in-paper or online.
Because the Standard is a very reactive paper we can take ideas and turn them around quickly if needs be, but in features, we try to work a few days in advance. Anyone pitching ideas to us should do so before our scheduled meetings as everything we print has to be approved in morning conference first. Urgent ideas should be sent the previous day and less timely ones must be with commissioning editors by Wednesday morning to be considered for the following week.
You're read by pretty much everyone in London during the rush hour. How do you cater for such a broad mix of readers?
The Standard has a very broad reach but there are some key reader groups: almost half of our readers are under 35, the vast majority are office-based professionals, and our City readership is hugely important to us, so content does tend to reflect this. You'll find lots on workplace politics and issues, indepth focuses on the banking sector and all the issues that affect young working Londoners put under the microscope: from housing and dating to the Silicone Roundabout and Prince Harry's favourite drinking den.
We balance the paper up by keeping regular slots for serious features, big interviews and investigations at the front of the book, and running a younger, sharper section at the back – London Life – which includes a poppier mix of pieces, lots of fashion, trends, work, food, fitness and beauty. It's not shallow though, you'll find brilliant columns by Charles Saatchi and provocative art reviews by Brian Sewell in this mix on a Thursday, as well as Fay Maschler's benchmark restaurant review every Wednesday.
You've also just launched an iPad app, just in time for the influx of visitors to the Capital - what is the thinking behind it?
The new app brings the London Evening Standard newspaper experience brilliantly to life on a tablet platform, and means the Standard can now be read by readers wherever they might be. It is all about making sure that everyone can access high quality London-based journalism on the most convenient platform or device for them.
What sort of content will it have and who will it target?
The new app is an exact replica of the London Evening Standard newspaper on a tablet, so that iPad users can enjoy a newspaper-led experience rather than a web-based app. It is designed to give visitors to the city - for this summer's Olympics and beyond - an unrivalled guide to the best London has to offer. It will also appeal to Londoners travelling or living abroad, who want to be kept informed, building on the international appetite for the Standard brand with its worldwide website attracting nearly 3m unique users and 10m page impressions through standard.co.uk.
It targets anyone and everyone, in London, the UK and internationally, who is keen to engage with the Olympics, London and the Evening Standard brand.
How much Olympics content will we see over the coming weeks?
Loads. We'll be doing a special Olympic-themed paper every day of the Games, starting next Friday on the day of the opening ceremony. You'll find picture specials, bluffers guides to sports, brilliant graphics and endless Olympic related stories and features. The website will be running a 24/7 operation to bring readers the most up-to-the-minute results with a brilliant live blog showcasing the pictures, results, stories, blogs and tweets from all over the city.
We've also got a special Olympic magazine next Friday and an action-packed preview supplement on Thursday.
How much content does the features team produce on a daily basis?
Each day there are between one and three features spreads, containing interviews, news features, essays and investigations, plus a London Life section of up to seven pages, which contains beauty, food, fashion, fitness, work, technology and trends features, plus a daily 'London Best' of five great ideas, the Al Desko slot which reviews what we eat at our desks, a Speed Read super concise book review and the London Look – daily street style taken by our photographers around town. Features writers also provide opinion pieces for the comment section, food, fashion and blogs for the website.
What makes the perfect Evening Standard feature?
Exclusivity – we have a duty to our readers to bring them stories first – a strong London angle, an exciting subject and a glamorous, fashionable person to focus it around!
How can PRs help with content?
Tell us first when you have something new and exciting that fits in with our readership. If we're not interested, we'll tell you quickly. Don't waste your time constructing a story around it, we can see instantly if we can use something.
What's the best way for PR to make contact?
Work out who is the best person to talk to and pitch direct to them via email. Be straightforward and honest, write clearly and grammatically and be fast to respond if we get back to you. Don't pitch small ideas to very senior editors as they don't have time to read them and will most likely delete without opening.
How much, if any, content is produced for online only?
We produce online only copy every day, in the Going Out section, Food, Fashion, ES magazine and arts, as well as on the homepage where we constantly create new galleries and instant stories around trending subjects. In the autumn we will be doing a great deal more of this, so online-only ideas will be welcome.
How does the team use social media?
We tweet articles regularly and most of us use twitter on a personal basis, and also to promote pieces we've written ourselves and like. We all look at twitter all the time and lots of our stories are generated or informed by twitter now.
And finally, any plans for the future you can tell us about?
A big online push in the autumn, to build on our newly launched, revitalised website which has been growing in traffic daily. And don't forget to log on during the Olympics.