Creative Review, a sister brand of Oystercatchers, has been bringing the creative community together since 1980, first as a print magazine and now across more platforms than ever. They deliver the sharpest opinion, analysis and advice on life in the creative industries.
So we decided this month to get to know its editor even more, Eliza Williams.
What does your morning routine look like?
It varies, especially at the moment. I have a 7 year-old son who was off school between March and September due to the pandemic. I’ve always been a morning person but have found recently if I get up a couple of hours before everyone else I can get loads more work done. So have been rising early and working before doing breakfast and all the usual stuff. It’s tiring long term though. This week my son went back to school, and while it wasn’t all bad us being at home all the time together, it’s been a relief for everyone to get back to some sort of normality. Let’s just hope it lasts!
What food outlet are you most looking forward to visiting when you’re back in the office?
If you’re talking lunch, probably M&S Food Hall or Pret! Haha. I live near Manchester and work from home three days a week in normal times so only have lunch in the London office two days a week and am fairly unimaginative. What I do miss from being in London though is a few restaurants in Hackney that pre-pandemic I went to a lot – Lardo and Escocesa are particular faves – which I’m looking forward to seeing again one day soon I hope.
What does an average working day have in store for you?
It’s a real mix. It usually begins with editing the day’s stories and getting them up online. Then we have an editorial team meeting. After that it will depend what’s going on. We print the mag every two months and that’s an intense two-week process of editing the articles, and then working with the designer and sub editor to produce them in print form. We also do two award schemes per year – the Annual (which looks at projects across design and advertising from the year) and Photography Annual (which as you might guess, is focused on photography) – which take up a lot of time when they are happening. And then there’s bits of writing, meetings, lots of editorial planning, speaking at events. One of the best thing about the job is the variety.
What is the most random thing on your WFH desk?
A door handle that fell off the door to the room I’m in, which I need to figure out how to reattach!
What’s the best thing about your job?
Talking to really interesting people and getting the inside story on how things work. The best thing about being a journalist I think is that you get to go into people’s worlds and ask a lot of questions and generally nose about and find out things (to the extent they will let you). It’s a great job if you are interested in people and curious about the world generally.
Who was your last email from?
An email from a mailing list called West London Living which I suspect I never signed up for! You get a lot of PR spam as a journalist…
What is the best piece of advice you have received?
My dad gave me some good advice in a roundabout way when I was 18 that has stuck with me. I’d just done my A levels and not done well enough to get into the university places I’d been offered so had to reapply. I was pretty grumpy about this, especially when he pointed out that, with not amazing grades, I had to explain why I was interesting enough for them to take me on. I don’t think he used the phrase ‘sell yourself’, it was more along the lines of ‘they don’t know who you are, you have to tell them’. This made me uncomfortable and therefore quite stroppy as a teenager but it’s something that I’ve thought about since: that stepping out of your comfort zone and approaching people is a useful thing to do. Certainly, virtually all the jobs I’ve had have come by me approaching people rather than applying for advertised posts. Be bold and stick your neck out: most people like it if you show you are interested in them. But try and be charming too, don’t be a pest.
For more concise advice, I’ve also found ‘everything in moderation’ and ‘don’t be a dick’ are helpful words to live by.
What did you want to be when you ‘grew up’?
Briefly I wanted to be a vet but then I did some work experience at the local surgery and found I was too squeamish to deal with the reality of that. I was always interested in journalism and publishing but really had no clue how to get into those worlds, despite doing an English degree. In the end I got lucky and started working at a small publisher that then launched a magazine so I got in there from the ground up. After that I slowly networked my way into journalism, but it was tough going at the beginning.
The creative industries talk a lot about the need to diversify its talent but one of the biggest challenges to that that I can see is that it’s a real ‘who-you-know’ world – not just in getting a job but understanding how you might start to go about that. We are surrounded by media and advertising and design all the time, but unless you know someone to explain how you might get into those industries, they can feel like totally closed worlds. If you want more diverse talent, you need to get out there and explain the industry more, ideally at school level. This happens in certain communities but an awful lot of others are totally left out of that information.
What’s your current favourite campaign and why?
It feels a bit obvious to say this, as they are winning loads of awards, but I like the work that Burger King is doing. Moldy Whopper has obviously had loads of attention this year, and caused much debate, but actually I’ve been quite struck by a lot of smaller campaigns they’ve done too this year. They managed to produce a bunch of warm and funny work during the pandemic, which was pretty impressive. And it’s always good to be provocative too.
If you want to find out more about BBH, Burger King's creative agency, check out their profile on the Oystercatchers website.
Do you have any advice for agencies looking to be featured in Creative Review?
Obviously, working for a brand like Creative Review you’re no doubt inundated with great work, but what really makes something stand out for you?
There just needs to be a story there. It could be that it’s really standout creative work, or that there is a big change being made to a brand or a sector with the work, or that it’s saying something about our culture that’s interesting to talk about. Sadly a lot of ad work at the moment doesn’t have much of a news hook to it, so then it’s hard for us to write about. But it’s always worth getting in touch if you think you have something interesting to share, we are always on the lookout for stories!
And a light hearted one to finish on – If you could have any super power?
Well it’s always a toss up between invisibility and flying. But I think it would have to be invisibility as that would be particularly handy for a journalist.
You can see Eliza feature on panels at this year's Festival of Marketing (5-9 October) on Wednesday 7 October.
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