5 Minutes With

14 April 2022

5 minutes with...

Stacey Smith

Food and Drink Editor at Hearst



"It's always nice when a PR builds up a relationship, remembers what type of thing you work on and gets in touch with relevant products I'm actually likely to feature."

Please provide a brief introduction to yourself

I’ve been at Hearst for about a year and a half, as the Hearst Institute Food and Drink Editor. In this role, I look after all of the food and drink product taste test content, across all of the brand's titles including Good Housekeeping, Red, Esquire, Harper's Bazaar, Elle, Women's Health, Men's Health, Runner's World, Digital Spy, Cosmopolitan, etc, (mainly digital but also in print). Working on the Hearst Institute team means I'm responsible for shaping the content calendars, taking the excellent test results carried out by the consumer panel and in-house testers and creating quality content suitable for each title. We work pretty far in advance at times, testing Christmas as early as May in some cases.

On top of that, I review restaurants, bars and hotels over at Crummbs.

Give us the inside scoop, what is your favourite part about your role?

I love discovering exciting new brands/restaurants and trends before anyone else! I've met the most passionate, incredibly inspiring people along the way. Better yet is when someone buys a product I've recommended or booked and loved a restaurant for a special occasion.

What is it you look for from brands who are trying to get featured?

I would ask, is this a product you'd buy online? For example, an exciting new rum is more likely to be featured rather than a... stock cube!

What’s the most memorable approach you’ve had from a PR (good or bad)!

It's always nice when a PR builds up a relationship, remembers what type of thing you work on and gets in touch with relevant products I'm actually likely to feature. Sounds simple but you'd be surprised how many times a day I get asked to write restaurant features for my Hearst titles. And not to sound like a spoilt brat but I can not bear it when I'm sent unnecessary stuff with samples. No one wants one random branded glass, sorry! I probably get sent a bar spoon at least once a week, and don't get me started on single-use plastic packaging! Gah!

If you could give a PR advice on what to do to get your attention and secure coverage with you what would it be?

I appreciate it when a PR is transparent about exactly where they'd like coverage as I'll quickly be able to let them know if it's likely or not (see above!!). Even if I don't reply there and then, I keep and read every email. Then when it comes to researching for a piece, my inbox is the first place I start.

Tell us something fun that people don't know about you?

I was once on the BAFTA-nominated BBC documentary Blood, Sweat & Takeaways, where I worked in South East Asia's food production industry.

It must be impossible to choose, but what is your favourite restaurant you have ever reviewed?

Gah, impossible to answer that! I've literally reviewed thousands over the years! I honestly couldn't even begin to narrow it down! I will say though, I never take it for granted, and it's still a treat to be invited, even 10 years down the line.

With a successful Instagram page yourself, any tips for brands trying to grow their social media following?

Honestly? I think I just got lucky. I don't take it too seriously, and just keep putting out what makes me happy while hoping for the best.

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