Clemmie Moodie, associate features editor at the Daily Mirror, on being very upfront with PRs, having no set readers and an unfortunate incident involving the world’s ugliest dog.
You’ve been at the Daily Mirror for seven years, and as well as being associate features editor, you’ve just taken over the paper’s entertainment section, The Ticket – how are you finding the new remit?
It’s very early days so we are all still finding our feet, I think. But now that I am across both film and music, and able to forward plan a bit more, the idea is to increase content in both The Ticket and the front of the paper.
Which colleagues at the Daily Mirror do you work with most closely?
I liaise directly with the features desk – Clare Fitzsimons, Nick Webster and Jess Boulton – and, in terms of The Ticket, speak to David Edwards for all things film, and Gavin Martin for music.
What sort of content does The Ticket cover?
Essentially The Ticket is a comprehensive guide for what’s coming up in the world of film and entertainment, and what we should all be listening to/playing/watching. As well as movie, album and single reviews, it also covers video games and gig reviews. It’s also a great place to discover up n’ coming bands or musicians.
How would we spot a reader?
There is no set reader, but basically anyone wanting to plan their weekend or looking for something to go and see the following week will be reading, likewise anyone wanting to update their Spotify or show-off their muso credentials! Old or young, pretty much every genre is covered.
What sort of feature content works best for the paper and online?
Obviously, exclusivity is key; we want to be running something first that the other papers don’t have. In terms of The Ticket, it is always great to be the first national newspaper to cover an artist who goes on to be massive – it also won’t go unnoticed by the PR (and artist themselves).
We can also run exclusive clips from games or films to run online. In terms of the main paper, I always want to interview people who genuinely interest me, who have done great things or who are massive names. I am far more interested in, say, Sir Ian McKellen than I am the cast of TOWIE.
How would you describe your relationship with PRs?
After 10 years – firstly in showbiz and now features – I’d like to think it was pretty good! I tend to be very upfront with PRs and will always give them a steer on what I’m writing, even down to headlines if they ask (nicely); although these conversations can be painful at the time, it’s better to forewarn PRs and work together than for them to have a nasty shock the following day and lose a relationship.
It’s also vitally important to be decent so that people want to work with you time and time again; I’m not interested in burning bridges.
How can PRs help with content?
Be proactive, read the paper(!) and never be afraid to suggest a feature or interview. I’d rather be bombarded with ideas, than have an empty inbox.
How important is exclusivity?
Very, but clearly the nature of The Ticket means a lot of our content will be generic – every paper will review the next big Disney movie, for example. Having said that, we will always want something that sets us apart from rival supplements.
You tweeted recently: “Just heard my esteemed colleague on the phone, ingeniously fobbing off a relentless PR: ‘Sorry, I’m on work experience.’ How do you deal with “relentless PRs”?
Oh God! I shouldn’t be allowed on social media… No, really – I’m not a huge fan of the phone, and generally prefer someone pitching to me over email. But if it is something that needs an instantaneous yes/no, then obviously call me as well.
Top tips for PRs when pitching?
Be upfront, keep it brief and, ideally, make it exclusive. In terms of interviews, the bigger, the better, but I am also a sucker for anything quirky or sporty, so very often will go for something other people might turn down. Anything that gets me exercising is also usually a winner!
You’ve said in the past that you always wanted to be a sports journalist – how did you end up in entertainment?
By default! I was told by my first ever editor post-university that my CV was “too sporty” and I should consider “evening it out” with a stint in features and entertainment. 11 years later…
Until September last year you were also one of the famed 3AM girls – do you miss it or is it a case of “once a 3AM girl, always a 3AM girl”?
The day Private Eye described me as “3AM ‘Girl’ Clemmie Moodie…” was the day I knew enough was enough. But yes, I can still drink like a Wasps prop – and am quite often still staggering around a party at 3am.
You’ve won several awards over the years, including Most Funny Columnist at the 2013 LAFTA Awards. To finish, we challenge you to make us laugh…no pressure!
Er, thanks for that. Unfortunately this isn’t a joke – during my recent “interview” with Tuna, the world’s ugliest dog (which we blurbed on the front page), Tuna the Chihuahua sported a massive erection throughout. The poor photographer had to crop the photos, and the video, and I am still traumatised. I’ve not heard the end of it in the office, either. Does this count?
Clemmie was talking to Gorkana’s Richard O’Donnell