Journalist profile: Stacey McLachlan from Western Living

Stacey Mclachlan 0Are you looking to pitch to Western Living? This week I was fortunate enough to catch up with Stacey McLachlan, Assistant Editor at this publication. Read on to learn what makes her tick.

What do you love most about your job?

Working on the front-of-book design section is basically like window-shopping for a living. It’s really fun to get to research beautiful furniture and home décor — and to work with our city editors all over Western Canada to build an inspiring selection of great design each month.

When is the best time to pitch to you?

Months in advance: if you want your product in the holiday gift guide, speak up now! Magazine lead-time seems crazy compared to the instant-gratification of digital content, but that’s just how it works.

Publicists and writers can find our editorial calendar and guidelines here: http://www.westernlivingmagazine.com/ABOUT/faq.html for an idea of what stories we’re looking for and when. It’s July right now, but we’re just putting the finishing touches on our September issue. We’re always living in the future.

What do you look for in a story?
My section is product-driven, but whatever the item is — a bold light fixture, a new rug from a favourite designer — I’m looking for something that a) fits with Western Living’s design sensibilities, and b) has an interesting angle. Is this clock a modern take on a design classic? Is this chair made from recycled coconut shells?

Basically: what’s going to make one table/ceramic tile/artisan jam stand out from another? Yes, the products should be visually appealing on the page, but an item needs something more than good looks to really capture a reader’s attention. (There’s a metaphor for life in there somewhere.)

What’s your biggest bug bare when working with PRs?

I hate when I get emails from people who obviously have never read Western Living and don’t understand who our audience is, pitching products that don’t make sense in the magazine at all. Not to name names, but why would Western Living readers want to buy headphones designed by 50 Cent? We have media kits with our demographics, and anyone in the office would be happy to share that information — do your research and you’ll save both of us wasted time.

What’s your average day like?

Every day is a little bit different, which keeps things interesting. I’ll come in and catch up on emails; connect with our city editors and design columnist Kelly Deck to see where they’re at for the month; browse design, food, and travel blogs for content ideas and potential tweets.

I might help build our weekly e-newsletter (http://www.westernlivingmagazine.com/ABOUT/newsletter.html) that goes out every Tuesday, or update the website with new content. Wednesdays are editorial meetings. Some days, editor-in-chief Anicka Quin and I will go out and drop by local décor shops to see what’s new. Other times (like this morning!) the editorial department will get a delivery of something delicious from some enterprising bakery. Occasionally I’ll actually do some writing or editing (crazy, I know).

After work, there’s often events to check out—restaurant openings, launch parties at local shops, media previews. It’s hard work eating all the city’s canapés, but somebody has to do it.

What’s your favourite social network and why?

I love Twitter a lot. On a personal level, I’m into comedy, and Twitter has turned into a great avenue for sharing smart and silly jokes alike; business-wise, it’s a quick way to get the headlines and a taste of what’s going on. And I don’t know too much about Pinterest at this point, but I think it’s turning into a really good fit for Western Living — a visual magazine like ours can really take advantage of the format.

What coffee shop are you most likely to be found in?

I just moved to the West End so I’m still trying to find a new haunt, but I’ve been dropping by Melrichies on the way to work in the morning lately. I like the local art on display, the comically grumpy dreadlocked barista, and most importantly, their spinach and feta croissants.

What’s your personal career ambition?

One day I’d like to start my own magazine (be it print or digital) but I’m really happy where I am right now; I’m learning something new every day, and get to work with great people to produce something we’re proud of. Plus, my editor, Anicka, has been a really great mentor to me — I’d like to hang out here under her wing for a while yet.

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