TopLine met with Lucy Warwick-Ching of the Financial Times to find out what works when it comes to pitches, what life is like at the paper, and how to get published.
A typical, frenzied week in the FT office involves daily huddles to discuss ideas and plan out the day. Lucy works closely alongside the editors Claer Barrett and James Pickford. If you want to get her attention, reach out on a Tuesday, since that’s when she collects all of her social media and digital outreach. Wednesday is podcast day, so Lucy is busy recording, and the podcast goes live on Thursday. The various FT podcasts get an impressive 130,000 downloads every week, with as many as 40,000 listeners for an individual show.
As the personal finance digital and communities editor, Lucy covers a variety of topics. She writes a monthly column called Family Money about the intersection of life and finance. Lucy is always open to receiving ideas and pitches regarding pensions, joint finances, or saving for retirement, among other topics. The paper’s online audience average age is between 30 and 50, with an annual income of around £50,000, while the print edition’s audience is older. Lucy has young kids herself, and some of the most successful Family Money stories have been about caregiving, such as ‘1 in 5 have to leave work to look after relatives’. Really, according to Lucy, anything that hits a nerve for lots of people can be the foundation for an interesting article.
Lucy is also on constant lookout for new video ideas, because video content is what people pay most attention to right now. She does a video series called Money Spinners, and is always searching for simple, fun ideas and fun props. Lucy also writes for FT Wealth regarding the ultra-wealthy and is open to pitches about how the super-rich handle their money. The FT is also looking for investment articles, since they don’t have a dedicated team focused on the topic.
When people ask why the FT isn’t covering a topic, the answer is that she’s part of a very small team – just six people. As a result, their doors are always open to people with novel pitches. When it comes to the substance of pitches, Lucy says the FT accepts case studies if there are pictures and they can be on the record. For research-based stories, they look for a minimum sample size of 1,000 unless it is a particularly niche group such as UHNWIs, in which case they will accept a smaller size. She cautions against quirky company names, since editors are liable to disregard them, regardless of data quality.
Like many journalists, Lucy receives hundreds of emails every day – she has 92,000 unread messages in her inbox at this moment. She skim-reads most emails, so remain calm if she doesn’t get back to you right away. It might be that there’s no room for the story at that moment, or that she’s holding it for a later date. If you’re meeting with a member of the FT team, keep things concise and to the point, since they’re very busy. Lucy also points out that she’s willing to speak to experts from anywhere, not just CEOs. Recently, she has been meeting with a lot of specialists and lawyers.
Lucy works nine to five, Tuesday to Friday, and she doesn’t answer her phone, so if you are looking to pitch to her, reach out via email.