Media Interview with Kate Stephens, online editor of Marieclaire.co.uk
After four years working as editor over at LOOK.co.uk for IPC Media, this February Kate Stephens made the move to the online editor role at Marieclaire.co.uk. How is the 2012 BSME Editor of the Year nominee settling in to her new position, and how do the two women's interest brands differ?
You’ve recently taken on the digital and online editor role at Marieclaire.co.uk – what are you enjoying getting stuck into in your new position?
Everything! I am so passionate about this brand. As an outsider I always saw Marie Claire as fashion's incisive, intelligent glossy. Now as part of the team I’m getting to work with the brand’s rich agenda, exploring everything from fashion to lifestyle, culture, current affairs and topical debate…the digital possibilities are endless.
You previously held the title of online editor at LOOK.co.uk – what would you say are the key differences between the Marie Claire and LOOK brands? Will your approach in your new role be very different?
LOOK presented an incredible opportunity – I joined the company and within three months was in development working on a complete relaunch. It was a pivotal moment in the digital development of the brand and I left the site with record figures – that’s quite a nice way to go out!
Marie Claire presents a very different challenge. It’s a big, well-established site (26m page impressions and 1.6m uniques monthly) so my first task really is to continue to drive that phenomenal growth while really bringing the brand’s unique identity into sharp focus. Right now I’m sitting back and soaking it all in – the best editors are the ones who watch and listen and understand exactly what has propelled the brand – the site – to where it is. Only then can meaningful development happen.
Who will you be working with on the team there?
Everyone! The old divisions between print teams and digital teams no longer exist, so while I have a core team reporting in to me, I’ll be working directly with the wider Marie Claire team. That’s a real privilege. We’ve got some really talented writers, stylists, subs and designers here.
Will you be blogging for the website?
I will, yes. Not straight away – I’ll keep you posted, though.
What big upcoming fashion/beauty/showbiz events are you looking forward to covering?
It’s Marie Claire UK’s 25th birthday in September this year. That presents some really exciting possibilities. I can’t tell you what we’re planning, though…
Aw! Okay, can you tell us what you get up to everyday when working on a fashion website…
My day starts with graphs. Graphs and numbers. I can’t make decisions without knowing exactly what’s going on across all our digital platforms, all the time, so for the first hour of my day I’m buried in analytics. Then I review the day’s planned content and generally head off to meetings. Meetings with publishing, the technical or commercial teams or external companies like Facebook and Twitter.
My time generally shifts between the creative and the strategic – it’s the perfect balance for a mind like mine that is both imaginative and logical.
How did you originally get started in journalism?
I couldn’t find a job after university (I did English). Being a Leeds-based girl I tracked down the fashion editor of the local paper, the Yorkshire Post, and called her every Friday for about two months asking for work experience. Finally – in what was probably an attempt to stop me calling her – she agreed to meet me.
I went in with two articles, both of which were published, and never really left. I was lucky to be given the opportunities I was there – I wrote TV reviews, co-ordinated editorial for their arts and entertainment supplement, I wrote festival reviews…and I left having edited their biannual fashion supplement, which was a real turning point for me. I made myself indispensable, worked hard, listened and grabbed every opportunity I could.
What do you love most about digital publishing? What are those working on print publications missing out on?
I love the pace, the possibilities, the never-ending innovation. I love the fact that you know what’s working and what isn’t and can respond immediately. I LOVE how beautiful our fashion imagery looks on tablets.
What are print teams missing? Very little, I suspect. We’re all cross-platform now, no?
Are you big on social media, do you tweet?
I have spent so much time working on social strategy and channeling efforts towards brand output that in truth my own accounts have been totally neglected. It did pay off – when I started at LOOK we had 400 Facebook fans and when I left it was well over 120k – but journalism is changing and moving towards greater transparency so, yes, I am tweeting. And Instagramming too. I’m hooked.
Are there any fashion or beauty trends you’re desperately hoping will make a comeback in the next year, such as perms, shell suits, scrunchies, or dark eyeliner with light lipstick?
God, I hope that picture you’ve just painted doesn’t come back to haunt us. That said, there’s usually a twist when trends make a comeback so you never know…
Trends don’t exist in the same way as they used to – they’re certainly not definitive now. If you want to wear it and it makes you feel good, do it. I’m not pining after anything, although I do wish I could get a big Dior-like skirt on the high street.
What magazines did you read when you were a teenager; were you always a ‘Marie Claire girl’?
I started reading fashion magazines when I was 13 (alongside the Dancing Times for my love of ballet and NME because I was a grunge girl). Interestingly, Marie Claire is the one that has stuck. It’s a great testament to the brand. I think that as a teen looking to aspire to something (I did not know what) the magazine pulled me in; as an adult it kept, and keeps, my attention.
Kate can be found tweeting @KateStephens_MC.