Becky Barrow, Sunday Times Personal Finance Editor on how the award-winning Money section comes together each week, what makes a good story and her thoughts on PR.
On the Sunday Times Money pages:
Money is a very emotional issue. Most people remain out of touch with their finances and the Government offers less and less support so as individuals we need to take more responsibility. The Sunday Times Money pages are about making money accessible and interesting for our readers. We approach the subject on the basis that people need to know about money but might not. We avoid language that might be complicated or confusing. You could really kill a story by using the kind of language used by pension experts, for example. The readership is made up of people who are wealthy, polite and kind. There’s obviously something special about the Sunday Times.
“A great PR is a great help but a bad PR is an absolute nightmare.” Becky Barrow, Sunday Times Personal Finance Editor
On what makes a good story:
Most stories in the section are illustrated with engaging photography of the people quoted, so to secure good coverage, illustrative case studies of your pitch are pretty influential. In December my deputy Ruth Emery wrote a story about two women. Both were born in 1953 and were in the same class at school but one will get pension two years after the other because of policy changes on pension age for women. We’ve received a lot of very angry emails, some saying we need to start up a new suffragette movement, another saying if the government has time to invade Syria, why not pay for this? It’s about bringing the issue of the state pension alive.
On her working week:
The team pitch their ideas on Monday when I’m out of the office so Monday morning is when they’d like to receive them. I take these into news conference at 11am on Tuesday on an A4 list. If there’s a great story you can pitch it on Friday afternoon as we can file news for Saturday but ideally it would be on a Monday morning for the team. On Friday evening I leave the office with a completed printout of the section.
A great PR is a great help but a bad PR is an absolute nightmare. If we’re trying to do our job right and get the facts right then a bad PR stands in the way so we need the answers and we need them quickly. I like exclusives and quotable experts but dislike embargoed stories that will have already been in the daily papers.
Becky Barrow was giving a briefing to media professionals.
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