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Content that connects: Grazia's Hattie Brett

Each week, we’ll be talking to an editor of one of the UK’s leading magazine brands as they share what content is connecting best during the seismic changes of 2020, what they’ve learned from their consumers during lockdown and how they’re adapting their content strategies across all platforms to best connect with their audiences

Content that connects: Grazia's Hattie Brett

This week: Hattie Brett, editor, Grazia 

Magazine content - especially online - has seen increased engagement over lockdown. What is it about magazine content that consumers will always identify with?
At this time of uncertainty and isolation, Grazia readers want to feel connected, understood – and uplifted. One wrote: ‘Grazia strikes the perfect balance – keeping me informed about the current situation and also taking my mind off it and looking to the future.’ We ripped up all pre-existing content and reimagined everything through the lens of how coronavirus was impacting our readers’ lives. Grazia’s helped the ABC1 woman adapt to this ever-evolving new normal, with practical and emotional advice that speaks directly to her. Also, there’s a new appreciation for the power of a physical magazine when a lot of us are now 24/7 glued to screens.

How have events of 2020 impacted your editorial direction?
Our reader is more engaged in world affairs than ever before, but at times feels disillusioned and demoralised. She wants to interact with relevant brands who share her values – and expects Grazia to stand up for her and use our platform for good. It was no surprise, then, that the very first issue we produced fully from home – which we dedicated to the NHS, shooting four medics for the cover and giving the issue free to hospitals – remains our most engaged-with issue on social media. 

In 2021 we’ll continue to ensure Grazia is the brand that stands up for women on the issues that matter most to them: right now, that’s diversity and inclusion, the pandemic’s adverse impact on gender equality, and mental health. And we’ll do that through the trusted voices we know our reader expects from us. For example, we’ve just announced that Candice Brathwaite and Stephanie Yeboah – two authors who fight for diversity, inclusion and women’s rights – are joining us as contributing editors.

We know ads are more effective when in positive, relevant and high-attention media spaces - like yours. Which advertisers turned to Grazia during the pandemic?
We’ve been collecting insights to understand how women’s behaviours and attitudes have changed, allowing us to shape both our editorial and advertising content. One study found that over a quarter of women were stressed about personal and family finances, so we worked with investment company Share Centre to produce helpful and relatable advertorials and branded content that spoke authentically to our audience. The campaign authentically connected Share Centre with a high-end female audience and positioned them at the heart of the financial conversation.

Another great partnership was with Yakult, the lead sponsor of our Grazia Life Advice podcast. The series interviews accomplished women, providing our audience with help, advice, wisdom and inspiration. The podcast aligned directly with Yakult’s philosophy of improving health and wellbeing, so it was a perfect fit for the brand to directly target the Grazia woman.

The series claimed a place in the iTunes’ ‘New Seasons’ chart and the coveted Society & Culture Top 200 chart.

What can consumers and advertisers look forward to from Grazia in 2021?
We’re ploughing time and resource into video production and building new niche communities – starting with parenting, a topic that saw huge spikes in traffic online during lockdown.

The best way of tackling seismic change is to double down on creativity and dare to think differently: in May, cherry blossom was in full bloom and it was clear people were reconnecting with nature, so we asked designers Erdem and Richard Quinn to illustrate two covers around that theme, with the line: ‘They can’t cancel the spring.’ It was proof my team will pivot and respond thoughtfully, beautifully and bravely – always in tune with how our audience is feeling.

Give us the inside track on what we’ll all be doing by Christmas 2021?
More people will be putting a magazine subscription on their Christmas list - we saw a doubling of demand for copies delivered to homes during lockdown.

Positive experiences during lockdown will see our audience continuing to support their local high streets and small businesses. And consumers will increasingly buy from brands they trust – not only ones that provide great products and services, but those that behave in an ethical way. The pandemic has also proved that readers now appreciate the simpler things. In 2021, more people will focus on protecting their mental health; placing greater value on time spent with family and friends and a career that fulfils them.

What’s one new lockdown habit you don’t want to give up?
We started a WhatsApp group where we recruited 20 readers through social media who answered questions daily about their fears, changing behaviour, shopping habits and more. Having a real-time focus group literally in my pocket at a time when seismic change was happening so quickly was invaluable in helping shape the right content. So I want to ensure we continue to find new ways to stay close to our audience.

Next week: Claire Sanderson, editor-in-chief, Women's Health

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