Meet the Media: Bree O’Brien, Kirkland Lifestyle Magazine & Bellevue Lifestyle Magazine

In this edition of Meet the Media, we are excited to introduce Bree O’Brien, the editor at Kirkland Lifestyle Magazine and Bellevue Lifestyle Magazine. Bree focuses on her community, spotlighting local businesses and individuals. In this interview, she opens up about her professional path, her methodical approach to selecting stories and how she keeps pace with a constantly evolving media landscape. 

1. When did you first get interested in writing/journalism?  

I’ve always been a writer, since I was in middle school or younger. In college, I was writing essays and things of a more academic variety, but historically I’ve written fiction. I actually started out freelancing for Kirkland Lifestyle Magazine a couple years ago. It was fun to highlight aspects of a community that I love and live in. While freelancing, I was also working full-time in strategy consulting. About a year ago, I had twins and I knew my consulting role would not work for me going forward. I met with my publisher and she offered me the Editor position for both Kirkland Lifestyle and Bellevue Lifestyle. I happily accepted, and here I am close to a year later!   

2. What do you love most about your job at Kirkland Lifestyle Magazine?   

I really love the field of communications: The message you can convey with words and how you tell a story and essentially paint a picture. My job allows me to meet all kinds of unique people, which keeps things interesting. Each of our issues has a different editorial theme, so I talk with people across various industries and walks of life. There are not a lot of other jobs where I would have the same opportunities to meet people and learn about the things that I do in this role.   

3. How do you think your work impacts the Kirkland and Bellevue communities?  

I like to think my work impacts our Eastside area in a variety of different ways. I’m always looking for small businesses to feature that may not be well-known yet, knowing that this content will be of interest to our readers. I hope my work helps to bring the community together in a small way. Highlighting local people, events, companies, and other organizations in a way that is useful or worthwhile for our readers.   

4. Can you share a story you’ve written that you are particularly proud of? Why does it stand out to you?   

For our June Men’s Issue of Bellevue Lifestyle, I interviewed former Governor Gary Locke, who was serving as the Interim President of Bellevue College. It was interesting to speak with him about his choice to step into academia after a long career in politics. Gaining insight into his ideas about needed changes within Bellevue College, the way he saw the role that community colleges play in the higher education field and how they serve students and employers in the area was fascinating. It was an engaging conversation and outside the realm of politics, which is how I had always thought of Gary Locke.  

5. As an editor, how do you ensure you constantly evolve and keep pace with the changing media landscape?   

I’m often on social media keeping track of local on-goings along with new people, companies or events I need to be aware of in Kirkland and Bellevue. That being said, I recently interviewed Dave Sims, the Seattle Mariners announcer, for our June issue and I asked him a similar question and what he said really stuck with me. He explained that technology and the way stories are delivered in the media landscape will continue to evolve and change; but the essence of what we’re doing, which is storytelling, will always be the same.  

6. Could you describe a typical day in your role at Kirkland Lifestyle Magazine 

My day-to-day varies depending on where we are in the editorial cycle. A lot of what I do is some level of research, developing ideas for potential features, and asking friends and connections for ideas. I also will just go into Kirkland or Bellevue and walk around, looking at different stores and businesses.   

I tend to read a lot during my day as well – I get a lot of press releases and pitches, so I’ll read through those. If something is a fit for one of our editorial themes or an upcoming issue, I’ll certainly respond and reach out to that contact. I also meet regularly with my publisher, she always has some great ideas for features.   

Part of what I do is design the issue. So what is the format that’s the right aesthetic for a specific article, and the overall issue? For our September Fashion Issue, that’s likely going to be a lot of gorgeous images. So we want to have layouts that allow those images to shine. It’s a lot of imagining how content is going to look when a person is flipping through the hard copy of the magazine.   

7. How do you go about picking which stories to cover?   

The first thing to consider is our editorial theme. For example, October is our Food and Beverage Issue, so I’m looking at local independent restaurants or companies that produce food or beverages in the area. I went to the Kirkland Farmers Market a few weeks ago, and looked at companies that had booths there, since they’re generally involved with food and beverage. I reached out to a few of them to see if they would like to be featured. A lot of it is word of mouth, where I hear about things by asking friends and connections.   

Quick Fire Questions:

  1. If I am not working, I am… either reading or spending time with my husband and four children.
  2. If I could interview anyone, it would be… Eddie Vedder (the lead singer of Pearl Jam)
  3. The last book I read was… Demi Moore’s autobiography, “Inside Out”
  4. My favorite movie is… Princess Bride

Interested in sharing your work through our Meet the Media series? Email us here.