Q&A with Mark Ward
Job title: Nature's Home Magazine Editor
Location: UK Headquarters, The Lodge, Bedfordshire
Typical hours: 9am until 5.15pm, five days a week
What are your main duties and responsibilities?
My main duties and responsibilities are producing our magazine which goes to 1.7 million readers including all of our members, four times a year. I need to ensure that it encapsulates all areas of the RSPB's work, as well as being a fantastic read for our members.
Can you describe a typical day in (or out) of the office?
I'm mainly in the office, but I am trying to get out a bit more. It's quite good that I get invited to lots of our nature reserves and go out to meet people and do interviews and so on. So it's a very busy job despite the fact that we only publish four times a year.
Being such a big organisation there's loads going on. I get to talk to loads of different people who come to me to pitch ideas, and we'll discuss how we can get things in the magazine. I'll talk to people and commission articles for the magazine as well, and I work very closely with the magazine designer Joel. We're often sitting down with bits of paper everywhere looking at spreads.
We also look at covers – the magazine's famous for its photographs so we look at lots of images together, and perhaps we might decide to get some illustrations commissioned.
So it's very busy and great fun, and the other aspect of the job is that I get to talk directly to our members, which is really fantastic. Lots of e-mails and letters come in from members, and you never quite know what the next question might be on the end of the phone.
Which qualifications are useful or necessary for this field of work?
I'm quite lucky in that I've been a writer from quite a young age. I was 15 when I had my first magazine feature published, so before I got this job I'd written for lots of different magazines.
I've been lucky enough to write a few books, and I have a few newspaper columns, so that kind of experience is really good. A good knowledge of the RSPB and its members is important as well, so I'm a lifelong member and have done other jobs here including working in the web team and the wildlife enquiries team.
Which personal qualities do you feel make you suited to this job?
I think you need to be a good people person - there's a lot of negotiating that goes on. It's such a big organisation that lots of people want to get their work area into Nature's Home, but you have to have the ability to negotiate and say 'maybe not this time, maybe another time.'
And a good understanding of the members as well really, knowing what they like and giving them the hook, giving them the features they want to inspire them to get involved with campaigns and other areas of our work.
Have you always had a passion for conservation, or did your interest in journalism lead you into this job?
I've always had a passion for conservation really, that was the way it came around. Originally I quite liked the idea of getting my hands dirty on nature reserves, so my first plan was to be a warden, and the writing was on the side – I just did it alongside my studies. It just built up really. I got my name known, got published in a few places, and I never did quite achieve the aim of being a warden, but no regrets.
For you, what makes it worth coming into work each day?
It's back to the members to be honest. It's great when we've just put a magazine out, and the letters and e-mails come in and people appreciate the work we do, or share their own stories – that's really nice. And the people I work with as well – it's a good team and it's great fun producing the magazine.
Are there any downsides?
I don't think so. As I say, it's a very busy job, but I quite like the pressure element of it all, so I don't think there is a downside to the job.