When I took the chair for the year as acting editor of whimn.com.au I didn’t realise just how big that year would be. First tragic bushfires raged across the country, then floods, and now a global pandemic.
Not only has this changed life as I, and the rest of the world, know it but it’s also completely upheaved how we do things on site.
The well-oiled machine I was meant to be ‘babysitting’ for the maternity leave contract, soon had parts that no longer fit. But in a fight not flight world, we had to roll with it and keep moving. We, like many others, had to adapt – and adapt fast. Not only did this mean rushed WFH setups and endless phone calls to IT (and don’t even get me started on shitty Wifi), it also meant looking at where whimn.com.au stands in the media landscape and looking at how we can be of service to our readers right now.
As we don’t exist without our readers, our first step was to turn to them.
We sent out calls in our newsletter, our social channels and on site asking them what they wanted to see at this time.
A resounding number of people wanted comic relief, they wanted advice on their mental wellbeing and they wanted to hear stories of what others were going through.
So we pivoted our editorial strategy - some BC (before coronavirus) ideas and beloved projects were put on the cutting room floor - to provide stories that touched on what Aussie women are thinking and feeling right now. We aimed (and still do) to spark joy but also to speak to all the emotions and hardships they are going through.
It was also important for us to not add to the overwhelming stress people were feeling. So quality was something that was really important to harness. Our journos ensure they take their time to do original reporting that is factual, accurate and free from hysteria.
Research from Nielsen shows that when people are forced to stay home, they watch and read about 60% more content than usual. Knowing more people were online we also looked at amplifying what we could do on other channels. We created a new series for IGTV called Lockdown Lunchtimes and started The Check In, an Instagram Live series that sees experts provide frank, factual advice in all areas of life. We are also in the early stages of exploring Pinterest.
We also have learnt that being done is sometimes better than being perfect. People understand that we can’t be in bright-lit studios at the moment, so if a video is a little low-fi that adds to the charm. It’s about being creative, showing you can be nimble and, most importantly, still being visible.
And it seems to have worked (so far). In March we had over 1 million UAs coming to our site and News Corp’s Women’s Network (which we are part of) as a whole had a record breaking month.
I’m also acutely aware the internet is a fickle place and that everything could change in an instant. It hasn’t always been easy (there have been tears and worried nights) but for us, it’s about constantly looking at the data, seeing what works, cutting what doesn’t and always having the reader front of mind.
My tips for brands:
Find out what your audience want
Pivot ways you talk to them that appeals to what’s going on in their lives right now
Open new channels of communication
You can’t change what the world throws at you, but you can decide who you’re going to do with it.
Eliza Cracknell's journalism career began in her final year at university with a job at Take 5 magazine. From this, she found her passion for health, beauty and lifestyle reporting, which led her role as Acting Editor for WHIMN.com.au.