Last year was a good one for Graziadaily.co.uk's editor Jessica Vince – Bauer's Rising Star of 2012 also won the BSME for women's digital publishing, and covered British Fashion Week. Meeting personal heroes such as Chase Crawford and Karl Lagerfield is all in a day's work for Jessica…
About working at Graziadaily.co.uk
Congratulations on winning a BSME Award for your work on Graziadaily.co.uk! How did it feel to win?
Thank you! I was really excited to be nominated alongside editors I really admire and to attend the BSMEs for the first time, but I never ever expected to win – honestly! It’s incredible to know that the work I put into the site is being recognised within the industry. It makes all those late nights worth it!
For those who’ve never made it to the Awards, could you describe what the ceremony is like; did you get to give a speech like at the Oscars?! Did you succumb to a Gwyneth Paltrow-level crying fit?
Luckily I didn’t have to give a speech, otherwise I would have started blubbering and thanking my cat or something horribly embarrassing. It was daunting going on stage in front of such amazing journalists though and even scarier tackling the stairs up to the stage in my heels! But Stephen Mangan was a great host and had done a hilarious introductory speech that got everyone in a merry mood. It was a great excuse to celebrate with the people I work with and to meet other people in the industry. The atmosphere is very celebratory.
In your (Award-winning) opinion, what makes Graziadaily.co.uk the best out there in the digital women’s media market? Who are the website’s main competitors?
It’s important that Grazia Daily is first with breaking industry news but I also work on creating original content that’s entertaining, thought-provoking and helpful for the user. A lot of the Grazia editorial team contribute to the website, which helps to create diverse and compelling content, as well as giving the user an insight into what really goes on at Grazia. Our competitors are the sites covering similar content, like Vogue and Elle, so we aim to take a different approach to them.
You also won the Bauer Rising Star accolade in May 2012 – have you decided where you will display your Awards? Are they light enough to carry in your handbag to show people [that’s just what we’d do…]
My BSME Award is currently on tour; I had it in the office so my colleagues could see it, then took it home to show my friends and will be taking it to my family home for Christmas. Maybe I’ll do a Kate Winslet and just keep them in the toilet.
About Graziadaily.co.uk and freelance journalists
Does you pay for contributions from freelance journalists? How should they contribute to the website?
There’s only two permanent members of the Grazia Daily team so we rely a lot on freelancers who time to attend events on our behalf or conduct exclusive interviews. We’re also looking for more evergreen content and features that take more research and consideration. If a freelancer has an idea for something along these lines, it’s best to email me their suggestion and I’ll let them know if and how it could work.
What types of PR agencies do you work with?
I work with all of them!
Of all the press releases you receive on a daily basis, what percentage of them make it to publication?
I’d say an average of two per day. I’m either looking for breaking news or exclusive content. I also receive stats from various surveys which can be useful, especially for infographics, but only if they’re relevant to the brand.
Do you find that your idea of what makes a story and a PR's tends to differ? How do you think the PR/journo dynamic will change in the future?
The issue with online is that people assume there’s space to post an endless amount of content on the site and it takes no time to do so, but it’s not that simple. If I’m going to spend time researching, writing and posting a story on the site, I’m looking for an interesting hook that is relevant to the audience or an exclusive angle. A lot of suggestions don’t match that criteria. I think social media will have an effect on the dynamic because when you’re tweeting each other or sharing pictures on Instagram, the relationship becomes more than just another email in your inbox.
You worked your way up from being an intern at Grazia to being the digital editor in just four years – what advice would you give to aspiring journalists out there, from your own experiences?
Be patient but persistent. When I started, I was doing little more than downloading pictures for the website but I made it clear I was eager to learn more so slowly but surely, they gave me more responsibilities. If you’re passionate about a job, you should give it your all and people will recognise and appreciate that.
How important do you think ‘traditional’ journalism training (such as the NCTJ and other qualifications) is when looking to work in women’s consumer magazines these days? What else comes into play?
I don’t have ‘traditional’ journalism training – I studied English Literature at university – so for me, it’s all about experience. No one trained me how to write for online or how to use Photoshop, they’re all skills I picked up and worked on. These days, it’s great to make a name for yourself with a blog and to use social media to build up contacts. I’ve had several interns working on Grazia Daily who have be in touch with me through Twitter.
Describe a typical day at work at Graziadaily.co.uk: What are your editorial duties/responsibilities at the outlet (e.g. commissioning, subbing, features, interviewing)?
First thing, I go through all the news stories and pictures that have come in over night then post those that are most important. Each morning Grazia has a conference meeting when representatives from each team discuss new ideas, which is very inspiring and usually raucous! After that, I have the day’s weblist and commission stories to the Grazia editorial team who have all been trained in using the CMS and Photoshop. The rest of the day is spent writing, posting and subbing stories, conducting interviews and making plans for the site. There’s often an event in the evening – a premiere or a launch party, for example – so then it’s a matter of deciding who will be covering it.
What do you love most about your job?
I love the immediacy of online – being able to break news quickly, for example – and also the ability to get instant results by seeing how many people have viewed the content or by reading their responses on social media. I get still get excited by the opportunity to interview people I admire, like Kate Moss and Karl Lagerfeld. Meeting people like Robert Pattinson and Chace Crawford isn’t bad either!
What were your highlights from attending the 2012 British Fashion Awards?
I was interviewing the attendees on the red carpet which is a real rush. It was amazing to speak to incredible designers like Stella McCartney and Valentino, as well as the people I spend 50% of my life writing about. I’ve posted so many stories about the possibility of Alexa Chung’s fashion line so to actually ask her about it in person was very satisfying! Another highlight was speaking to Cara Delevingne who is so fun and she gave me great quotes, which got picked up by international sites.
Do you tweet? Why, why not?
I do tweet. As a digital journalist, it’s important to have an online presence and it’s a great platform for communicating with people you normally wouldn’t as well as giving your work an extra push. I just have to be careful about what I tweet because I’m still representing the brand so no drunk tweeting for me!
Of all the people you’ve written about/interviewed while working in journalism, who have been your favourites and why?
Probably the people I’ve already mentioned. It was amazing to interview Kate Moss because it’s KATE MOSS! I was nervous about meeting Karl Lagerfeld but there was no need to be; he was so charming and hilariously eccentric. He held my hand through the whole interview and happily dropped ‘Karlisms’ about Kate Middleton and Victoria Beckham. I’m also loving Cara Delevingne at the moment and am a full time Alexa Chung fan so it’s always a treat to speak to them.