Why did you pursue a career in magazine journalism?
I’ve always had a secret love affair with magazines. My mother is a magazine fiend, so this passion was instilled in me at a very young age. Studying journalism at Rhodes was always on the cards and confirmed that I wanted to pursue a career in magazines.
You’ve worked in New York and London. What experience did you gain during those three years?
The media industries in these cities are brutal. The competition was fierce, but reinforced my passion for my craft. After working for various media companies (Leith London and the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival to name but two), I decided that the South African media landscape was more interesting and presented more challenges. Being a small fish in a big pond was not my cup of tea, so I decided to pack my bags and come home.
What attracted you to your current position?
My fervent belief that Essentials is a relevant and useful title, which has earned its place in South Africa’s everburgeoning media market. Time has become our biggest commodity in the modern age and Essentials is committed to providing practical information to help the reader deal with her demanding role(s). It’s affordable, accessible and delightful – what more could you want from a magazine?
You are the title’s first male editor. Is gender relevant in this job?
Yes, gender is relevant but should not be the criteria for selection. People assume that an editor is someone who mirrors the readership of a particular brand. While I think it’s important to be able to identify with the target market, a good editor is committed to understanding the social, emotional and economic realities of that market. It’s not about sporting the latest fashions or being an icon; it’s about being able to interpret the needs of an audience, who at times can be fickle! Do this in a desirable manner and then you can warrant being called an editor. I’m also lucky in that I have the support of a team that is equally dedicated to the brand and wants me to excel at the helm of Essentials.
How do you stay in tune with a predominantly female readership?
Essentials is a magazine that thrives on reader feedback. Our readers are very loyal to the brand because we are loyal to them. Trust is integral to this relationship – we do a lot to keep our readers informed (via e-mail feedback, monthly book-club newsletters, and the events we host). Our readers also review books for the magazine and we have just started a monthly movie club. Our annual survey (conducted in July) and the reader polls on Essentials‘ website give us valuable information, so that we can deliver what our readers expect from us.
How would you describe an Essentials reader?
Essentials targets the 30-something woman whose time is her biggest luxury. Essentials is all about the basics – the content helps her simplify her life and maximise her potential.
What are your plans for Essentials?
I want to position Essentials as the most affordable lifestyle title on the market, without compromising the quality of the product. I believe that my meticulous disposition will be
advantageous in consolidating the content so that it remains relevant to the reader and consistent with the brand’s values.
- This Q & A first appeared in The Media magazine (December 2008)