Journo intel: Simoney Kyriakou, Senior Editor at FT Adviser, on challenges in journalism, working with PRs, and keeping chickens
Award-winning journalist Simoney Kyriakou has been covering personal finance for over 20 years and currently works as FT Adviser’s senior editor. Our media relations team was fortunate to have the opportunity to have a chat with Simoney to discuss all things journalism, PR and beyond.
How did you first get into journalism?
By accident. I had completed a MA in Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic and realised I had no skills for the modern world. The only thing I could do was translate, transliterate and write. While waiting for my dream job at the British Museum Library I applied for, and got, a job as an editorial assistant on a monthly magazine called Pensions World. I was about three weeks in when someone told me I was a member of the press and I just thought, “oh, ok, I have ended up in finance after all.”
What do you enjoy most about the job?
I like being able to bring a story together – pulling at that little thread until whatever’s covering up the truth unravels and reveals the crux of the story. Pinning things down, getting a story watertight, that’s a great feeling.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out?
I think newcomers need to be patient. Anyone born after 1990 hasn’t experienced the painful slog of trawling through library records. While that’s a good thing, that sort of time-consuming, methodical, old-school, hands-on, deep-dig research cannot be underestimated. A simple Google search won’t do it – you need to be patient and work hard at mining information from the computer.
What does a typical day at work look like for you?
If it’s an in-office day, usually a host of meetings in or around Bracken House, where I work. I usually publish one or two stories a day on my hubs and projects. I also work with the news desk and events team to see how I can help, add value, and bring my knowledge to the table.
What are the biggest challenges facing the profession?
Paid-for content has left the domain of the communications agencies and content agencies – which are all excellent – and come into mainstream journalism. Companies do not want to pay for display advertising in the same way as before, they want to sponsor content.
This comes with a host of challenges for journalists who have to work more closely with advertising teams than they did back in 2000 or even 2010. It also can risk blurring the lines between independent journalism and “mouthpiece” journalism, and I think this is a line that newspapers and magazines have to tread very carefully. Otherwise, they risk undermining the quality of the journalism and journalists they produce and employ.
How do you prefer PRs and companies to work with you?
I like receiving pitches. I don’t have a problem with people approaching me out of the blue, but I need something relevant to me. For example, today a PR emailed me a pitch for my Advice for Women hub that I’m working on. It wasn’t appropriate for my audience, but she had taken the time to think about what I was working on and what might make good content for that.
What I don’t like is when people send me random press releases and ask if I’m going to write about it, and then chase me even when they’ve had an out of office reply from me. I must tell people four or five times a day that I’m not the news editor. It shows that they don’t do their research on me or on our publication before coming at us with the spam.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a journalist?
I’d still be writing, and I might even have published some books. I would probably have married that chap back in 2000 and be on my eighth kid or novel by now. Maybe I’d have chickens. I’d like chickens. I’d have a smallholding, live off the grid and write books. A farmer-writer – perhaps there’s still time for that?
That’s all from Simoney for now, but if you want to learn more about how we conduct at Definition, contact us today