Rachel Tompkins is a freelance writer, journalist and editor with more than 14 years’ experience working for national magazines, newspapers, websites and apps. Rachel began her career as a writer for Take a Break magazine before going on to work on the launch of Pick Me Up Magazine in 2005. Debuting with a readership of half a million, it was the most successful magazine launch of the decade and won the BSME launch of the year. Today Rachel works as a freelancer feature writer for the national press and has taken time away from her busy deadline schedule to answer the notorious Sunny Bird PR questions.
1. What are the 5 words that best describe you?
That would depend who you asked! Colleagues have previously called me a terrier - because of my tenacity when chasing a story. I'm conscientious and a worrier, which means I feel an immense sense of responsibility when being trusted with someone's story. I'd like to think that my friends and family would describe me as kind and funny too.
2. What magazine do you love reading and why?
Take a Break will always have a special place in my heart because it's where my journalism career started when I left City University. The same goes for Chat and Pick Me Up because I worked on the launch of Pick Me Up and was the Features Director of both titles before going freelance. I love their clever headlines and eye for a great story. When I'm relaxing, I love Top Santé for some health and fitness inspiration and Guardian Weekend for thought-provoking longer reads.
3. What is your favourite book?
Through The Wall by Caroline Corcoran. It's out on October 17th but I was lucky enough to get a preview press copy and I literally can't put it down. It's dark women's fiction, or a psychological thriller, which is extremely relatable to me on so many levels.
4. Which song makes you dance?
Don't Stop Believin' by Journey, I first heard it in a piano bar in San Francisco on my honeymoon and it's become the anthem for so many nights out.
5. What has been your best career moment?
Getting my first job for Britain's top selling magazine felt pretty incredible at the time. Back then Take a Break sold well over 1million copies a week and I went on to learn so much there. Since becoming freelance there have been many little moments when I stop and pinch myself, for example a recent article I wrote for The Guardian Weekend about women without children. It took a lot of work to pull together and it was very moving and insightful to speak to some of the women involved. I was really proud of the end result.
6. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
Believe in yourself and worry less.
7. Where are you happiest?
At home in Oxfordshire with my family. After living in London for about fifteen years I cried the day we left. London will always hold so many fond memories, both with my career and also family and friends, but I've made a home in Oxfordshire now and I love our life here but also the fact that I can get the train into town in less than hour so I still feel connected.
8. Who would be your number one dinner guest and why?
Can I be cheeky and say two - Prince Harry and Meghan! They intrigue me so much, I would just love to know what goes on behind closed doors with those two!
9. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
To be able to fly, very quickly! That way I could whizz over and see my sister (who lives the other side of London) in seconds and catch up with friends who live far away without having to waste time getting there and back. Many of my good friends have migrated out of London like me now and one of the things I miss about living there is being able to hop on the tube and meet up with them easily.
10. If you had to ask us one question what would it be?
What's the most unusual campaign or client you've worked on?
We pride ourselves on being a creative agency and thinking outside the box to get results for our clients. Here are a few of our favourite unusual campaigns we’ve worked on…
Three Pregnant Dads
Our client The Book of Everyone came to us with the objective of launching its latest bespoke book; a personalised gift for Mother’s Day called ‘The Book of Mum’. To ensure the brand wouldn’t get lost amongst the Mother’s Day gifts already on the market, we needed to really grab the media’s in the run up to Mother’s Day – the concept of ‘The 3 Pregnant Dads’ was born. The company directors, themselves three middle-ages dads, wore “Empathy bellies” that weighed 33lbs/15kg for the duration of the month. This included; when attending client meetings, using public transport and even when heading to the pub! Everything was filmed and documented and shared with the media. The campaign secured 383 pieces of national and international coverage across 38 countries within a 3-week period. ‘The 3 Pregnant Dads’ were featured across all national titles and TV, including Lorraine Kelly, This Morning, Good Morning Britain, The Daily Mail, The Telegraph, Huffington Post and Times Magazine US amongst many others. Our 3 Pregnant Dad’s campaign led to a 2,765%, increase in sales, 2,000 shares on one Daily Mail article alone as well as a 1,850% increase in Facebook social media engagement.
Snoring Ruining the Nation’s Sex Life
In order to increase brand awareness and boost sales for our client Good Night Anti Snoring Ring we created a headline grabbing campaign. In order to secure column inches we set out to prove that the nation’s sex lives were suffering due to their partner’s snoring problems. We commissioned a survey that looked into the sex and love lives of our nation’s snorers. The survey revealed a whopping 30% of males admitted it took the spark out of their sex lives and 46.4 % of males felt embarrassed about their snoring. One out of five males and females expressed that snoring put them off being intimate with their partner. To add a real life element we also worked with case-studies who were happy to speak to the press about how snoring affected their sex lives and relationships. On the back of our strategy we secured national PR coverage with the Daily Mail Online, The Daily Mail, The Sun, The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Mirror. Other titles included; Woman and Home, Top Santé, Prima, Take a Break, Pick Me Up, Health & Fitness, Closer, Bella, Natural Health, Chat and DIVA magazine amongst others.
What Does Your Poo Say About You?
For our client, private healthcare provider Ramsay Health Care UK, we wanted to secure national coverage and generate web traffic around Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. We started with the headline we wanted to see in the newspaper itself ‘What does your poo say about you’ and then built a strong bank of assets to support it.
We created an exclusive infographic that detailed the signs of bowel cancer in stools that are often overlooked. We then created and executed a survey to over 1,000 people asking them if they would recognise the symptoms of bowel cancer and if they would do anything about them. This enabled us to source attention-grabbing statistics to add to our press release. Finally, we rounded off our assets with an expert comment from a Ramsay Health Care UK Bowel Cancer specialist. We approached the Mail Online and offered them the exclusive story. This resulted in the Mail Online running the piece in advance of Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. Once this was secured, we then rolled it out to further online titles, which resulted in the Express Online, Metro, Good Housekeeping, the Sun Online, The Irish Sun and The Scottish Sun. Not only did this boost the awareness of Ramsay Health Care UK within the national newspapers, but it boosted the website traffic by 208%.