Pippa Roome, magazine editor at Horse & Hound, talks to Gorkana about the editorial team, its PR relationships and her experience covering the 2016 Rio Olympics.
How is the team at H&H set up?
There are 23 people in the editorial team. Each of the sports we cover has a section editor, who oversees all the magazine and online content in that area, plus we have a features editor, a news team, sub-editors, art and picture desks.
At the top end we have a content director, who feeds down to three senior members of the editorial team – I am the magazine editor, plus we have a website editor and a development editor. The three of us then manage the rest of the team.
Describe your ideal story
To work as news, it has to be genuinely “new” — a lot of people don’t seem to grasp the fact that the same thing happening as last year isn’t news.
Our readers enjoy a bit of controversy, particularly online. In reports, our readers love great sport — close competitions, difficult cross-country courses, world-beating scores — but also great human and horse interest stories, such as comebacks from injury, horses with an unusual background or those which have succeeded against the odds.
Our readers are also very patriotic and British riders doing well, particularly winning medals at the Olympics or other major championships, always result in a big spike of interest for us both online and in the magazine.
How do you like to be contacted by PRs?
By email initially — PRs should look up the relevant member of the team to contact in our staff panel.
Do you find that PRs have a good understanding of the kind of content H&H covers?
Those we work with frequently have a very good understanding of the sort of content we are looking to create. A lot of others make silly mistakes when contacting us, such as thinking we are a monthly magazine. It’s pretty annoying when someone calls and asks about the deadline for “your July issue” and we have to ask which of our four or five July issues they want to know about!
What do you love the most about your job?
Being paid to be a geek in a sport I love, and the opportunities to travel and report at amazing events.
Any stand-out moments in your career?
After being involved in our coverage of three Olympics from the office, since joining H&H in 2003, I was one of a three-man team H&H sent to the Rio Olympics this summer. It was a fantastic experience and reporting on Nick Skelton winning the individual showjumping gold for Britain was very special.
How has H&H changed since you first joined the publication?
We have become far more focused on our website (horseandhound.co.uk) , which drives over 100,000 page views most days, and on a really big day, twice that. We assess which stories are right for the magazine and which for the website as equals, rather than thinking about the magazine first and the website second.
Different sorts of content work better on different platforms so we can use them as complementary partners, giving people the immediate news, attention-grabbing stories, useful advice and entertainment online, while offering more in-depth analysis, reports, training and features in a carefully thought-out weekly package in the magazine.
Online, the right headline is crucial to encourage people to click on the story. We also have various other projects beyond our magazine and website now, such as Equo, our popular event entries website.