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Supplier Profile – PA Media 

Engaging evolving audiences in a new era of entertainment journalism

Entertainment and Lifestyle, despite the obvious cross-over, are often treated separately. PA Media has brought them together under Kerri-Ann Roper, who explains to James Evelegh the thinking behind this and other recent enhancements to PA Media’s offering for publishers.

By James Evelegh

Engaging evolving audiences in a new era of entertainment journalism
Kerri-Ann Roper: “Ultimately, this means that PA Media can offer its publishing clients a more rounded, engaging and multifaceted content package.”

The abundance of fakery, the explosion in the number of social media sources, the multi-platform expectations of our audiences and the sheer amount of content out there vying for readers’ attention, is putting huge pressure on editorial teams.

Professional publishers’ focus on creating original high-quality, verified and fact checked, multi-media journalism is sucking up increasing amounts of resource at a time when, due to the digital disruption of traditional publishing business models, resource is in short supply.

Kerri-Ann Roper is Head of Entertainment and Features at PA Media and her message to UK publishers is that PA Media has the resources and expertise to provide high-quality content to supplement and enhance publishers’ existing output, or even to provide bespoke content for new products or channels, from scratch.

Furthermore, recent changes to the way they work has resulted in a more rounded, more engaging content offering.

Kerri has been at PA Media for nine years. She started her journalism career working for Media24, one of South Africa’s largest media companies, based in Cape Town, initially starting in hard news.

After three years, she switched to the entertainment brief, in part because it involved a posting to Johannesburg (“a vibrant hub of new music”). Highlights of her time there included a cover-shoot with Nelson Mandela (“magnetic – when he walked into the room, the air changed”), an on-location week on the set of Casino Royale, a film made famous in part by Daniel Craig’s emergence from the sea in snug fitting blue swimming trunks (“I was there”) and tracking down Brad Pitt, after getting tipped off that he was lunching somewhere in Johannesburg with the Dalai Lama.

Moving to London, she worked as Showbiz News Editor at Sky for four years and then spent four years at MSN ending up as Managing Editor (UK/EMEA Celebrity and The Americas) before becoming Entertainment Editor at PA Media.

In November 2022, she was promoted to her current role overseeing both Entertainment (news and features) and the Lifestyle features department.

How entertainment journalism has changed

With 20 years’ entertainment journalism under her belt, Kerri is well placed to observe how it has changed. Four trends stood out for her:

  • Fake news. It’s not new, but the sheer volume of it that journalists have to wade through, is. Every story has to be verified and fact-checked, which is time consuming and it often takes an experienced journalist to spot the fakery.
  • Content tsunami. The advent of self-publishing and the social media platforms that facilitate and amplify it along with the increasing volumes of AI-created content, mean that publishers are struggling to be noticed. Trust is what sets professional publishers apart, so the emphasis at PA Media is on only putting out well-written, trustworthy and verified original journalism.
  • Multiplicity of sources. Long gone are the days when a celebrity’s agent would be the primary, perhaps only, source of news about them. Entertainment journalists nowadays additionally need to keep abreast of celebrities’ social media accounts as well as the output of bloggers, vloggers and other influencers (some of them well-informed and with enormous followings).
  • Words are no longer enough. Today’s audiences demand a multi-media approach to their entertainment news. They want not only the words, but pictures and, increasingly, video too. A journalist with a smartphone can snap a picture, even shoot some video, but it’s unlikely to be as good as those shot by specialist photographers and videographers.

All of the above necessitates employing experienced, agile and properly trained journalists who can sniff out a story, write it up in a compelling way, whilst making sure everything has been sufficiently verified and fact-checked, brilliant photographers to take eye-catching pictures and videographers to capture the key moments on video.

None of this comes cheap and that is why, says Kerri, many publishers source much of their entertainment and lifestyle content from PA Media.

Since Kerri has been at PA Media, their Entertainment and Lifestyle offering has evolved in three distinct ways:

1. Closer alignment between Entertainment & Lifestyle

PA Media has brought the Entertainment and Lifestyle teams under one manager – Kerri – due to the frequent cross-over between the two.

“Think of the number of times a celeb launches a fashion line or brings out a beauty range. There is always a tie in and it’s brilliant to have the two teams working really closely together.

“Take TV and film as an example – we produce a set of TV and film features every week. The two teams working together means that when we get access to talent, we really maximise it because we can do shorter news stories but then also do a longer form meatier interview as well.

“When we go on a film junket, we know we’re going to have 15 minutes with all the key talent. We will end up with a bank of content and will sit down and discuss what’s going to run as a news story and what are we going to hold back and run as a full feature and a longer read.

“Similarly for our books content. We get brilliant access to authors. If we’re interviewing an author, and there’s something in the news about one of their titles that we’ve managed to get a really good news line, we run that quickly as news but equally, we hold back some really strong lines for a Lifestyle piece.

“The two teams working together means that we get much more mileage out of the good access that we enjoy.”

“For our publishing clients, this means that the content they take from us is more comprehensive, less piecemeal. Big Entertainment news stories will be followed up with in-depth feature pieces giving readers more reasons to return and engage with your content.”

2. Closer alignment between Lifestyle and the news agenda

Kerri has repositioned PA Media’s approach to Lifestyle content so that it is more in line with the main news agenda.

Traditionally, ‘news’ and ‘features’ have been treated separately, but she has brought them closer together, so that the Lifestyle team is effectively now offering sister content for news stories.

“As an example, let’s say there’s a big health story in the news that’s making headlines. We make sure that our Lifestyle reporters are speaking to the news reporter to see what content we can provide to go alongside the news story, such as ‘explainers’ or ‘Q&As’, to add context and depth.

“Ultimately, this means that PA Media can offer its publishing clients a more rounded, engaging and multifaceted content package.”

3. Expanded ‘bespoke’ offering

In addition to the news and features PA Media puts out on the wire and to digital customers, they also offer their services to publishers for specific projects.

This, says Kerri, can take different forms: “It could be working with a publisher to provide, sometimes at short notice, content for a special supplement, say, for the King’s coronation or the Taylor Swift tour.”

Or, it can involve longer term assignments.

One large digital publisher recently launched a new entertainment related channel on their website and commissioned Kerri and her team to provide all the content. Kerri sourced two journalists to work, full time and remotely, with direct access to the publisher’s content management system so they could upload new content every day.

“We can upscale quickly to meet demand. This means that publishers can get new products and channels off the ground quickly and cost-effectively.”

Boots on the ground

Being in all the places you need to be is a perennial challenge for over-stretched publishers.

“PA Media has the resource to be where you can’t,” says Kerri: “Our Entertainment team has eight journalists and our Lifestyle team nine, and we cover Entertainment 24/7.

“On top of that, we have a brilliant picture desk and video team, which we utilise, which can draw on photographers and VJs all over the country.

Boots on the ground: Hannah Cottrell, Social Media Reporter (on the left) and Laura Harding (Deputy Entertainment Editor) at this year’s TV Baftas.

“If we’re going out on a news job, a photographer and a videographer will go along with the reporter. Similarly for Lifestyle. If somebody’s going to interview a chef, for instance, and we know there’ll be great pictures of them cooking on the day, they’ll take a photographer with them, and often a videographer as well.

“This ability to put boots on the ground is one thing that sets us apart, something which was well demonstrated by our coverage of Sinéad O’Connor’s death last year, when our London-based team was supplemented by a team in Dublin getting local reaction and video footage of the funeral.

“Similarly with the Kevin Spacey trial. We had the resource to have a reporter in court every day of the trial, not just the start and end.

“On top of that, we have a permanent Los Angeles based correspondent, Ellie Iorizzo, to report on the latest news coming out of Hollywood.

“It’s all about making sure that we give publishers as comprehensive a package of content as possible – words, pictures and video.”


“Our motto is ‘fast, fair and accurate’. We employ trained journalists who take the time to do the necessary due-diligence when it comes to verifying stories. We produce original well-informed journalism, clearly and concisely written and which adheres to PA Media’s high quality standards.

“We are increasingly data informed, so we stay on top of trending stories to make sure our clients get served with the content their readers want most.

“And, because PA Media is a trusted outlet, we get lots of news exclusives. Death announcements, as was the case with Paul O’Grady and Michael Gambon last year, were broken by us because the families trusted us to handle the news professionally. Similarly, the announcement by Vicky Flind, Huw Edwards’ wife, which revealed him to be the BBC presenter at the centre of allegations made by The Sun, was also made to PA Media.”

Kerri says she is keen to talk to publishers about how PA Media can enhance their Entertainment and Lifestyle coverage.

“If you take our news and features already, hopefully you like our new approach. If you’re not using our content, but feel that your Entertainment and Lifestyle offering needs a lift, or, if you have a specific Entertainment or Lifestyle project, but not the editorial resource in-house to turn it into a reality, then get in touch.”

Kerri-Ann Roper

Head of Entertainment and Features

PA Media