Helen Nugent, online money editor at The Spectator, on why she enjoys ‘fun’ personal finance stories, how she’s keen to work with PRs on image-led content and why calling her before 12pm is pointless.
The personal finance section of The Spectator is six months old. Why did it launch when it did and what has changed since it started?
I know that there was a feeling at the magazine that a money section could be a great addition to The Spectator and would be a useful and vital resource for its readers. I’m glad to say that that has proved to be the case. The comments threads both on the site itself and on social media are always full of debate and readerships stats are very strong.
We’re only six months in so there is still an element of feeling our way. But the last six months have shown that there is an appetite for personal finance stories that take on big business, and scrutinise government, company policies and conduct.
What’s different about personal finance in The Spectator?
Spectator readers expect a lot from the magazine’s writers, and rightly so. The same principles that apply to the rest of the publication apply to the personal finance section: quality writing, issue-led commentary, analysis, intelligent thought and a wide breadth of journalism and journalists.
That’s perhaps the main thing that makes Spectator Money stand out, the diversity and quality of the writing team. I’ve recruited the crème de la crème of financial journalism to the section. All are beautiful writers and all have an in-depth knowledge of personal finance amassed over many years and are not afraid to take a firm line or strong stance on an issue.
Spectator Money isn’t just about imparting useful information and guidance, although that is part of what we do, it’s about doing so in a way that will appeal to anyone who enjoys great writing and healthy debate.
What does your new role involve?
As Online Money Editor, I am at my desk early every weekday morning. My first job is the Money Digest, a thorough look at the financial stories of the day across print, online and broadcast, as well as sifting through the constant stream of press releases. I publish that Digest before 10am each day and also put together the daily Spectator Money newsletter.
Then it’s time for the daily Money Blog. I write two or three of these each week and commission the rest out. These vary from day to day and topic to topic. So one week we may have blogs on university fees, charity contributions, payday lenders, pensions and buy-to-let, and the week after that will be totally different.
What makes the perfect story for the website? Or what has been your favourite story so far and why?
One of the best things about Spectator Money is that there is no ‘perfect’ story. Our readers are interested in lots of things and sometimes it’s the article you aren’t sure about that gets the most interest.
Bernard Ginns, former Business Editor of the Yorkshire Post, did a piece recently questioning the point of donating to big charities – and that went down a storm with our readers. I’ve also been proud of pieces by Ruth Sunderland who has analysed gender pay differentials, and I have a soft spot for articles that we have fun with.
For instance, I worked with Opinium Research to produce some exclusive data on PANKs – Professional Aunt, No Kids. It’s a fun topic with a serious point (these women contribute millions to the economy). As for the future, I’m looking forward to chatting to leading lights in the personal finance world, drumming up more exclusives, and producing sharp and brilliantly written content for Spectator Money.
What type of content are you looking for from PRs?
It depends on the article. For the Money Digest, I want a variety of stories that will make interesting bite-size nuggets on a daily basis. For the blogs, I want substantive stories, eye-catching news lines or pieces of research. I’m also keen to work with PRs on exclusives and on great graphics and illustrations. Data is really useful but I often need a way to make it look appealing on the page.
What are your dos and don’ts for pitching stories in to you?
There’s little point calling me before 12pm each day as that is when I am flat out for Spectator Money. And if you are calling to repeat the content in a press release I already have, that’s not much point in doing that either. I do get swamped by releases but I am on top of my inbox. If the subject line is pithy and interesting, I will read the release. All in all, I prefer email as a way to contact me.
- Helen Nugent was interviewed by Gorkana’s Manuela Rundo.