LPA: You started out as an intern at Grazia just four years ago and now you’re digital editor! Was that internship your first experience in the fashion industry? How did you get from there to your current position?
JV: It wasn’t my first experience, no. I worked at my local newspaper for a few months, writing about egg and spoon races (seriously), then sent clippings to the magazines I dreamed of working for. Glamour got in touch and I did a month’s work experience with the editorial team before staying on for a six-month internship as Features Assistant. I also got work experience at OK! Magazine, Easy Living and Brides before starting a six-week internship when Grazia launched their website. That was the end of 2008 and the internship got extended then extended again before I became Digital Editorial Assistant then Assistant Digital Editor and now Digital Editor. It’s been a steady process but every step has been very exciting!
LPA: Talk me through a typical day as Digital Editor for Grazia Magazine…
JV: I wake up pretty early hence the eye bags and go through news stories from home. Occasionally I post a story from home, particularly if a story has just broken because I’m keen to get it up quickly. Once I’m in the office, I discuss the day’s stories with the wider team during morning conference when we decide which angle to take. I then commission each story to the various teams – Fashion, Beauty, Features, Entertainment, News and Web – before compiling the weblist. The rest of the day is spent writing and posting stories as well as editing copy and tweaking posts. There’s always a meeting or two to discuss digital developments, commercial ideas or traffic driving tactics and whenever I can, I go to press days or events and meet PRs. If I’m lucky, I get a 5-minute lunch break too! It’s non-stop when you’re working on the web.
LPA: What are your views on the print V digital debate, should one be awarded more gravitas than the other? And do you think that the rise of digital press will ever leave print publications redundant?
JV: I see print and digital as more of a collaborative process – they can both do different things that it makes sense to combine the strengths of both. I work closely with the print team to ensure all of Grazia’s platforms are complementing and enhancing each other, whether you’re experiencing the brand on a mobile, an iPad or on Twitter. The rise of digital innovations is so exciting and developments will continue at a rapid pace but that doesn’t mean print publications have to become redundant.
LPA: I can only imagine how many hundreds of press releases, emails and tweets you receive pitching stories and brands every day. How do you decide which ones to feature?
JV: I do get quite a few! I’m typically looking for an exclusive angle – whether it’s breaking a story or running extra assets like quotes, pictures or behind-the-scenes videos. I look at analytics daily so I know the topics that will be of most interest to our users, which influences what we write about. We also aim to give something extra to our users, especially when so many outlets are reporting on the same story, so if there’s a story I feel we can give a spin to or take on further, that’s great.
As most of us know, monthly fashion magazines are always working at least three months ahead of time meaning that while their content is brilliant, it isn’t necessarily breaking news. Grazia Daily is, of course, the online accompaniment of a weekly mag so I imagine things work a bit differently. How “breaking” are your stories? What’s the average length of time it takes to get one from pitch to published?
JV: Breaking news is a huge priority for Grazia Daily so the magazine deadlines don’t inhibit that. Online needs to be as reactive as possible so there’s no point running a news story that was in the magazine a week ago. Whether it’s staying up all night to watch the Oscar Awards in order to post dress credits instantly or breaking the news that Cara Delevingne is the face of Burberry Beauty, we always aim to be first. Luckily Jane Bruton, Grazia’s editor, trusts me when it comes to web content so I don’t have to pitch every story to her before I post it because that would slow down the process. If Kate Middleton’s just announced she’s pregnant, for example, we all know the priority is to get the news live as quickly as possible!
LPA: I was very surprised to discover that there are only two permanent members of the Grazia Daily team including you! How on earth do you manage to generate all that content? Do you employ many freelancers and if so, where do generally find them?
JV: It certainly makes for busy days but I enjoy the fast-pace and the immediacy of online. I work with Julia Fernandez, our Community Editor, who is an absolute dream, constantly churning out ideas and stories while also managing our social media as well as working with our blogger community. But we couldn’t do it without the wider editorial team who have been trained to write and upload web stories which allows us to generate a lot of brilliant content. It’s certainly a challenge when they’re having to create web stories on top of their work for the magazine but it makes sense that print and digital is a combined effort. As for freelancers, I commission a couple of stories a week, especially for evergreen content which we don’t have as much time to work on. The freelancers are either contacts that I already have or people who’ve contacted me asking to write for the site.
LPA: The past 12 months have seen increasing numbers of editors and journalists leaving publications in order to take up positions at major e-tailers like those I mentioned earlier. What do you think is the main reason for this trend? Could you ever see yourself being tempted to swap publishing for retail?
JV: I’m really excited by how ecommerce is mixing with editorial and it’s happening across more sites than ever so it makes sense that some editors are using their skills to combine the two. I don’t necessarily want to swap one for the other, but I am interested in how the two can work together, like how to combine news with shopping. ‘News with shoes’ has always been one of Grazia’s selling points.
LPA: What advice would you give to an aspiring journalist hoping to one-day land a position like yours?
JV: The interns we’ve had at Grazia Daily who really stand out are those prepared to go the extra mile. With online, you need to be willing to tweet live from a red carpet or Instagram from a store launch. And when it comes to posting web stories, the more online experience you have the better because speed is key as are Photoshop and CMS skills as well as having a sense of what’s news worthy. So I’d recommend using those platforms as much as possible – tweeting, Instagramming and blogging as well as regularly looking at a variety of sites that inspire you. Then, if you do get experience at your dream company, give it all you’ve got.
Love Ella. X