Focus Interview with Liz Moores and Natalie Woodcock of Whispermag.co.uk
This week, FeaturesExec spoke to Liz Moores and Natalie Woodcock, editors and publishers of recently launched women’s website Whispermag.co.uk.
They met at Maxim International, and were inspired to create an online magazine which represented the women of today, and came up with Whispermag.co.uk.
The website officially launched on 29 May 2008 and is aimed at women aged 18-30.
About the publication:
Whispermag.co.uk launched in May, what gave you the idea to start your own online magazine?
We are two young women who realised that there wasn’t a magazine on the newsstands or, more surprisingly, online that we felt represented the way that women our age are today. The women we know are funny and intelligent – so patronising them by bombarding them with celebrity nonsense and ill-informed reviews seems ridiculous. Whisper Mag was born from this idea and everything we feature, from fashion to cool websites, is desirable yet attainable.
How did you mark your launch?
We threw a party at the fabulous Maya in Soho, London to celebrate our launch issue on May 29. The night kicked off with a champagne reception, followed by our guests being served ‘Whisper Mag’ cocktails. After a speech from the Whisper Mag team, the entertainment opened with human beatboxer Jimi Ray, followed by burlesque from dancer Kitty Bang Bang and live music from The Moulettes.
It was a thoroughly entertaining evening that gave us the opportunity to meet up with lots of media contacts as well as make new ones. It was also great to see so many people hit the dancefloor and celebrate the launch in style!
Before the party, we’d circulated our press release to PR agencies and trade press to spread the Whisper Mag word, so the buzz on the night was great.
What makes you different from the other publications in your sector?
There is no e-zine aimed at women aged 18 to 30 out there, especially not one with our style of fresh content that speaks to young women in a realistic, accessible and fun way. Exclusively online, it’s free to access with no obligation to register, and unlike other women’s websites, we’re updated weekly, giving a true ‘magazine’ feel to the content.
We’re also immediately interactive, which is something our print competitors can never be.
What stories are you most interested about covering in the magazine?
We cover a very broad range of subjects from new music, opinion pieces and movie reviews to videos, websites and current affairs, plus traditional women’s mag topics like fashion, beauty and relationships, delivered with a tongue-in-cheek approach and down-to-earth tone.
Whisper Mag is very much on the pulse of popular culture and makes the best of its online platform by showcasing the best content on the web as well as including links in almost all articles. 95% of the products we feature are available to buy online.
We deliberately avoid celebrity content, since we feel that the market is saturated – and besides, we’d rather run things that our readers can relate to and feature products and lifestyles that are attainable and relevant.
How does the editorial process at the magazine run? Do you have specific days when you focus on different aspects of the magazine, or is the planning of the magazine conducted on a much more ad-hoc basis?
We loosely plan each issue a week in advance, and spend time evaluating and revising our plans over the following days according to which topics are generating the most interest. By the time we publish early on Thursdays, our content has been through this process of review with only the strongest items chosen for publication.
Our advance planning also depends on topical factors – eg. movie and album release dates as well as news items, new product releases, etc.
Everything we review is current – we don’t review things in advance, since our manifesto is to feature only things that are immediately available to our time-poor/cash-rich readership.
How do you see the magazine developing in years to come?
We have grand plans for Whisper Mag, and are now working to build its profile as the only e-zine for women. We have a lot of USPs that we plan to make the best of; our digital platform being one of the key ones, considering the potential from the perspective of readers and advertisers that it offers. Within several years we aim to have grown our already-increasing readership to a large and loyal group of young women that associates their Thursday lunchbreak with checking out the new issue of Whisper Mag.
Do you work closely with PRs?
PRs are crucial to Whisper Mag – we rely on them to hear news of the hottest new products, entertainment, trends and more to ensure that all of our content is always fresh and interesting.
What information/input from PRs is most useful to Whispermag.co.uk?
We cover such a wide range of topics that we’re interested in anything relating to classic women’s lifestyle content as well as more general or unusual news from PRs that might make interesting subject matter for a feature or opinion piece. As long as it’s exciting, attainable and cool – and something that our average aged 25-year-old reader will be interested in – we want to know about it.
What’s the best starting point for a PR who wants to tell you about their client?
Dropping an email to firstname.lastname@example.org is a great start.
When is the best time for PRs to contact you & when is your deadline for contributions?
PRs can email any time, or call during office hours. Our editorial deadline is Tuesday 8PM although we are sometimes able to squeeze new stories in before 8PM on Wednesdays.
What are your editorial duties/responsibilities at the magazine (e.g. commissioning, nibs, subbing, features, interviewing etc)?
We share overall responsibility for all duties to ensure that we’re both as involved as possible in all aspects of Whisper Mag. This covers everything from commissioning to subbing to posting, as well as other aspects of running the mag such as marketing. We also have a great team of people working with us, who provide great content and ideas.
What do you love about your work?
Although no small undertaking, running Whisper Mag is a joy. Publishing content that we believe in – especially with our ground level perspective, since we only run things we ourselves want to see in a women’s mag – and presenting it free of charge to a mass-market audience is a great motivator. Making the best of our web-based platform, as well pioneering in the fledging online women’s publishing market, means that we are constantly overflowing with ideas.
We’ve had a great reception from both readers and press/PRs since our launch, which also certainly creates a great buzz around working on Whisper Mag for all involved.
Where have you worked previously, and how did you end up in your current position?
We met while working on Maxim International at Dennis Publishing. Dennis has really embraced online publishing, which in part inspired us to launch Whisper Mag independently, as did the notable lack of online products for women that are down-to-earth, attainable and bold.
Favourite film/book/music, and why?
LM: Back To The Future – perfect in every way, and I know almost every word!
The Picture of Dorian Gray (dark, funny, elegant and full of one-liners)
This week? Joan As Policewoman, The Blow, Weezer and N.E.R.D. (it’s all about keeping things eclectic).
NW: Amelie – it is beautiful, quirky and funny.
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller (it’s a classic) at the moment I love the new Beck track Chemtrails (it has a great psychedelic sound and it a real grower).
[img|jpg|Liz and Natalie hard at work]