Emma Kershaw is a British-born journalist and copywriter who has written for a range of powerhouse publications including PEOPLE, BuzzFeed, Cosmopolitan UK, i-D, and Apartment Therapy. Whether she’s writing creative copy for celebrity fashion campaigns or reporting for major US and UK outlets, Emma has gone on to become one of the most notable names in her industry. She spoke to Empire Weekly about her ongoing successes, tips for new writers, and the future of journalism.
Thanks for doing this interview with us. How did you begin your career in journalism and copywriting?
Thank you for chatting with me! So, in 2015, I started my own blog, which I ran alongside my admin job. It became pretty successful pretty fast, and I began working with household brands on sponsored posts and marketing campaigns. From there, I built up my writing experience through an editorial internship and going to university to study toward a Certificate of Higher Education in Multimedia Journalism. After this, I was offered a copywriting job where I would write engaging copy for celebrity fashion campaigns and newly launched beauty products. I then kickstarted my journalism career by pitching my own ideas to outlets across the US and UK.
You’ve written for some of the biggest outlets in the industry. What are your favorite topics to write about?
In my journalism work, I specialize in lifestyle, interior design, pop culture, and travel. When copywriting, I tend to focus on fashion, beauty, and entertainment copy. I do tend to gravitate to more soft news stories rather than hard reporting, but I do sometimes cover more serious and heavy topics.
Do you have a favorite story or campaign that you’ve written?
This is a hard one! It’s definitely a struggle to pick just one as there are so many fun and inspiring stories I’ve got to tell (as well as working on some super interesting copywriting campaigns!).
I’d say that my story on the TikTok Twilight renaissance for i-D is up there in my top three articles. I pitched the stories to the editors after seeing lots more Twilight-focused content on social media throughout the pandemic. After the article was commissioned and I got to work, I had the chance to interview some unique and talented people for the story and got to explore the nostalgia and fascination behind one of the most popular movie franchises of the late aughts.
In my copywriting work, one project that always sticks out to me was with an e-commerce fashion brand in 2019. The collection was inspired by Jennifer Lopez, and it was the first fashion campaign I had ever worked on. I had to write product descriptions and marketing copy for the website. It was so cool to be able to see all of the clothes early and be able to bring them to life with my copy.
What makes the perfect pitch?
When it comes to pitching your own ideas to companies—whether that’s as a writer to an editor or a PR professional to a journalist—it’s important that you keep things clear and concise. Back up your ideas with evidence and always include why you’re the best person to work on a certain project. I always suggest adding “writer pitch” or “PR pitch” to the email’s subject header too as media professionals’ inboxes are usually super busy, so you’re going to want to make it clear what you’re proposing from the get-go.
It’s also important to remember that good things take time. When you send your first pitch out, be prepared for a “no” or not receiving a response at all. Don’t take these things to heart. Crafting a successful pitch takes a lot of work but once you get your first story commissioned or project proposal approved, there’s no better feeling.
Where do you see the future of journalism heading?
I think that journalism is very much a digital industry and, as it saddens me to say, print may become a thing of the past eventually. We have already seen some well-known publications reduce their number of print issues or move completely to online-only publishing. This doesn’t make the stories any less credible though and working in digital journalism is incredibly rewarding.
Congrats on recently being announced as a finalist for the Lifestyle and Interiors Journalist of the Year in the Property Press Awards. What inspired you to start covering property stories?
Thank you so much! I began starting writing about property and interior design after spotting a Twitter call out from an Apartment Therapy editor who was looking for pitches. I sent over a few ideas and got my first article commissioned for the site.
From there, I began working with them on a regular basis before being put forward for the Weekend Editor position. I got the job and worked the weekend shifts from July 2021 through Aug. 2022. Now I am focusing on more of a weekday working schedule but still frequently contribute to the site.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
I’m sure that many people in the media industry can attest to no two days being the same! But as a general rule, I will check my emails and catch up on the news first thing in the morning before planning out my day. After that, it can be anything from speaking with a talent for reported features, editing a story, working on a copywriting campaign, or transcribing an interview. There’s also a good mix of meetings and events thrown in for good measure.
Do you have any advice for people who are just starting out in the creative industry?
Two things I will always tell people is that networking is key and remember that rejections will happen, especially in the beginning. If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, create one. Twitter will become your best friend. Social media always presents new opportunities so it’s a good idea to create an active presence for yourself. When you’re first starting out, you should remember that it will take a while to build up your contacts and decide just what you want to write about. While it may take some time to get your first story published or land your first client, the journey is equally as important.