Michaela Williams, freelance beauty and lifestyle journalist and Editor of recently relaunched blog, Lather Rinse Repeat, tells TMN about the importance of being on time and updating media lists…
Name: Michaela Williams
From: Adelaide, Australia
Current Job Title: Freelance beauty and lifestyle Journalist and Editor of Lather Rinse Repeat
When did you first arrive in Dubai? Just over two years ago.
Where did you work prior?
I worked in Sydney for about four years, the bulk of those were spent as Hotels Editor at QANTAS magazine alongside freelancing for brands like Cosmopolitan Australia, DOLLY, CLEO and several custom publishing titles. It was in Sydney that I originally launched my beauty site, Lather Rinse Repeat (latherrinserepeat.com.au) in 2010.
What were your first impressions of the media industry in the Middle East?
Teeny, tiny teams! I jumped in here as Deputy Editor at Good Housekeeping Middle East, where it was just the Editor-in-Chief and myself – a shock to the system after working in editorial teams of eight or more for similarly sized titles. It was also interesting to see less of an emphasis on digital.
Has your opinion changed much?
It’s no surprise that editorial departments are still shrinking, though fortunately the region has enough clever and resourceful Editors who are still able to consistently turn out a quality product weekly, monthly or quarterly.
Is blogging your full-time job or a part-time passion?
It’s part-time. My income comes from my freelance styling, writing and editing work, which takes priority over personal projects like Lather Rinse Repeat. I write and style for weeklies like Stylist Arabia, Cosmetic Business and Shortlist Middle East, as well as online titles, monthlies with three-month lead times, and copywriting clients who want a 24 hour turnaround, so all of those deadlines need to be attended to first.
Tell us about your blog…
Working across beauty in Sydney opened up a universe of cool new products and brands that were begging to be shared with a wider audience. I founded Lather Rinse Repeat in 2010 and found an audience for my brand of frank beauty content. While it started as a very personal exploration of my beauty journey – pink ombréhair, snail slime face masks, and adventures with foot peels, to name a few – the relaunch has seen not just the layout design change, but the written content take a more editorial feel. Lather Rinse Repeat will still give readers a completely authentic read, with honest reviews and a cheeky take on beauty news, but it’s a little more grown up and glossy now, with additional lifestyle content.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Testing out pretty and innovative products before anyone else gets to! I’m very lucky that most of my days involve beauty, so when fresh products or news comes in, I can match it up to one of my clients, the site, or a combination of both.
How do you find PRs in the region?
I’m fortunate that now I’ve worked in Dubai for a few years, I have met lots of beauty and lifestyle PRs and their brands. Most beauty accounts I’m already in touch with. The smart ones have updated their media lists as I’ve moved on and kept in contact – they tend to be the ones I’ll reach out to first when I’m working on a feature or a shoot. I’ll occasionally have to hunt down a restaurant or fashion PR via a mate, or just use good old-fashioned social media stalking.
What’s your pet PR peeve?
‘Dear Michael’ and ‘Dear dear’.
Would you rather be contacted by phone or email?
Email, unless it’s something that needs an immediate response – like an urgent (but relevant) story pitch. If it’s a follow-up to a mass press release, please don’t call. I’ve seen it, and have filed it away for use when a relevant feature comes up.
What’s your most overused saying?
Five things you can’t live without?
Flat whites, L’Artisan’s Tea For Two fragrance, Kat Von D liquid lipsticks, those melty chocolate cookies from Home Bakery, and my Bonds tracky-daks.
If you could change one thing about media in the UAE, what would it be?
Events running two hours behind because the media attendees are late, or don’t bother showing up at all. Then you start showing up late yourself, because you don’t want to waste your time messing around waiting for other people. I would 100% support a PR revolution for starting on time and letting the latecomers sort themselves out.
What would be the next step for you as a blogger?
Previously in Australia, I was fortunate enough to have Lather Rinse Repeat collaborate with brands through paid sponsored posts and hosted events, and now I’d be looking to do more of the same here, as an authoritative voice on beauty and lifestyle. I’m also happy to work with other media on vox pops etc – I get the importance of turning around a quote ASAP.