Interview with Sammy Preston, Editor at Lifestyle.com.au
Sammy Preston is a writer and editor based in Sydney. Working especially within lifestyle, culture, art and design, Sammy is the editor of Lifestyle.com.au, and a senior writer at Broadsheet. You’ll also find Sammy’s writing in local and international art press such as VAULT magazine, Art Collector, Art Edit, Habitus, Indesign, and MUSEUM magazines.
Sammy’s interest in the arts stems from four years managing Gallery 2010 in Sydney’s Surry Hills – a curator-run initiative she developed, which worked to support emerging and established artists. As well as this, she’s passionate about food and restaurant culture, good design, fashion, music, health and wellbeing, travel, everything digital, and telling great stories. You can find her on Twitter @sammypreston.
Have you always been a journalist? What attracted you to journalism?
I’ve always loved writing – but didn’t come to publishing straight away. I studied law, then moved to France to study, then came home to work in marketing and brand communications, and worked on an art gallery initiative in the loading dock of our building. While I was working in the arts, I started writing arts pieces for Broadsheet, and went on to freelance for a number of arts and culture and lifestyle publications from there.
You started as the Editor of Lifestyle.com.au last year. What does a typical day look like for you?
First, coffee. Then typically our editorial team will try to surface relevant news pieces to run that have come up overnight, or recently. After this, I’ll be wading through emails, working on ongoing features, filing amazing stories to begin work on, interviewing interesting people over the phone, organising other interviews, reviewing and scrutinising the week before in Analytics, or briefing in video content to our amazing producers. We’re also always working alongside Lifestyle’s incredible TV shows to give them a digital front (Grand Designs Australia, The Great Australian Bake Off, Gogglebox, and Love It Or List It Australia are some favourites).
For a press release to stand out to you, what does it need?
I get sent a great deal of releases in a week, and – just practically – it’s always incredibly useful if the key takeaways of the release are somewhere at the top. More broadly, I think having a genuine story and a general understanding of a publication’s audience and editorial plan are key. A press release that speaks directly to our content pillars or direction is easier to place. And images – when sifting through great volumes of releases, a picture really can sell the pitch.
What is the most interesting story you’ve written about in the last few months?
Too many! On Lifestyle, I’ve written about a yoga studio set to the frequency of the earth (a sort of soft, reverberating hum), and I’ve revealed a few of superstar baker Katherine Sabbath’s cake making secrets. I still write freelance for a few arts and culture magazines – some of my favourites in recent months would be interviewing Brooklyn based artist Nari Ward for Museum magazine, speaking to Gotye about his fascination with an early version of a synthesiser for Broadsheet, and an essay on the impact of Instagram on the art world for Vault magazine.
What are the aspects of being a journalist that motivate you the most?
As a digital editor, I’m pretty enthusiastic (read: very geeky) when it comes to publishing technology, audience data, the shifting plates of digital platforms, and discovering new and nuanced ways to reach audiences and serve them better. As a writer, I love being able to share stories that have resonated with me in some way, that I feel someone else in the world might enjoy. I’m also a big lifestyle media consumer – from digital publishers, to magazines, TV, and social media – so I’m often inspired and motivated by the work of other great writers, scriptwriters, directors, editors, and publishers.