As part of our Zed Talks series, we spoke with Patrick Tillard, Online Editor of The Gentleman’s Journal, about his varied job role, which includes global jetsetter, fieldsports enthusiast, resident photographer and digital strategist in one dynamic publication.
The Gentleman’s Journal has universal appeal. Its breadth of content – from style and business to art and travel – aims to showcase and highlight the realms of luxury and power, as well as inspire. Whether a millionaire entrepreneur or a humble student, you can find informative, compelling and timeless features within the pages of The Gentleman’s Journal.
We are, relatively speaking, a new publication (three years old), run by a young and hugely enthusiastic team, constantly looking for ways to separate ourselves from others, both online and in print.
What was the most memorable trip you took last year for GJ and what made the experience so special?
It’s a tight call. I was incredibly lucky last year, with a stunning safari trip to Angama Mara lodge in Kenya’s Maasai Mara and a long weekend under wide Greek skies in Porto Heli. But the place that stole the show was the Isle of Skye on the west coast of Scotland – an untamed, primeval land exposed to the punishing elements of the North Atlantic Ocean. Its boulder-strewn slopes are some of the most dramatic in the country, dominated by the volcanic severity of the Cuillins, while the coastline is a series of peninsulas and bays, where waters with an emerald tinge more commonly associated with the Bahamas lap rocky shores. The seafood is the stuff of dreams, and the culture bursting from the land and the characters living there are simply intoxicating. If Skye isn’t already on your bucket list, change that now!
What is it about being “up close and personal” in your research, i.e. press trips, taking photos on site, etc. that makes writing and reviews that much more engaging?
It’s no secret that the world of luxury lifestyle journalism is a crowded market. We therefore have to find a way to stick out from the pack. Bespoke content, fresh angles and original photos are a great foundation to giving the readers something they haven’t seen before. This can only be achieved by getting hands-on, experiencing as much as possible in person as opposed to on a computer screen. Journalism is about creativity – it is hard to be creative if you aren’t getting out and about, meeting people and getting behind the scenes. It is far easier to write an engaging article once you have held an item, met the men or women who designed it, tried the food of a new restaurant or left the office and put a new stamp in your passport.
Why are you so passionate about fieldsports? Why do you enjoy writing about it?
Fieldsports have layers. There are the insanely beautiful places these sports take us to. Then there’s the thrill of the sport itself and the array of forms it can take: rough days in the West Country to driven grouse in the Borders; grassing salmon on narrow Highland spate rivers to stalking brownies on the River Test; following the hounds on Boxing Day to witnessing peregrines on the wing. You simply can’t match that adrenaline rush as you feel your line go tight and reel start singing, or the thumping heart rate induced by crawling into a roaring red stag. But above all it’s the camaraderie and occasion that accompanies a day in the field that is so special. There is no prejudice towards age, gender or background – everyone is welcomed with open arms. The field is where many memories and friends are made.
Why is innovative digital strategy so important to GJ? How does it play a part in your writing/editorship?
While the beauty of print is undeniable, and long may it remain on our high street shelves, we cannot ignore the rise of online influence. People are busier and busier nowadays, in a rush to get from A to B, and as a result look for digestible, stimulating articles while on the go – it is here that The Gentleman’s Journal excels, understanding that our two audiences are different and catering accordingly. Articles are shorter, picture led, with eye-catching titles. New content is uploaded to the website every single day – the wide variety of topics still integral to the brand – and social media is utilised extensively to share this with our audience. The joy of online is that we are able to interact with our readers, and analyse statistics and data to gain an understanding of how people use our website, how they came to it and which articles work well. As a result, the site never stands still.