Gorkana Insight & Analysis Team
Ahead of the UK launch of the hugely popular US women's lifestyle website xoJane, we catch up with UK editor Rebecca Holman to hear all about the opportunities for PRs, publishing legend Jane Pratt, and why there's nothing in the UK like xojane.com...
The site has been really popular in North America but why launch in the UK?
There's a massive gap in the UK market for this type of ultra personal dialogue between women. Blogs are hugely popular, but they can only do this on a small scale. Plus, the nature of the site gives us the freedom to make the most of the fantastic witty female writers found in the UK, and really highlight their individual voices. We've had some fantastic contributions from some brilliant writers so far - it's really exciting!
What's the history and background of the site?
The fantastic Jane Pratt, who launched the hugely popular Sassy and Jane magazines in the States, teamed up with Say media last year to launch a new website - xoJane.com. The idea was to take all the fun elements from Jane and Sassy, including some of the regular features such as Pranks and It Happened To Me, plus great new content, and present them in a format that allows women to interact with the content and each other. Another important element is that the team, including Jane, get really involved with the commenting and discussion - they're not a bunch of faceless editors sitting in their proverbial ivory tower.
Tell us a bit about the content – what are the key channels?
We're using all the key channels from the US site - fashion, beauty, sex, fun, it happened to me (real life) and issues. Plus, we want to introduce more travel, food and literature content, as we really feel these are areas that will be hugely popular to the UK market.
The strapline for the site is "where women go when they are being selfish, and where their selfishness is applauded". What's that all about?
The original idea for that was it was the place where women go to please themselves rather than their husband, boyfriend, kids or boss, etc.
You've moved over from handbag.com - what enticed to join the xoJane team?
Working with Jane was a massive draw, she's a publishing legend. Also, Say Media is still a relatively small company over here, and the idea of working somewhere small on a start up really appealed to me. Handbag.com was fantastic, but it had already been around for a decade before I started - practically ancient in web terms. There's nothing quite like being at something from the very beginning.
Will the launch involve an xoRebecca of any kind?
Not any time soon! The site is a really British version of what Jane's doing in the US, but it's still very much in keeping with her ethos and spirit. Jane isn't as well known here as she is in the States, but she's going to be. And British women are going to love her.
Will there be many changes to the content to cater for the UK audience?
The format of the content will be the same, and there will be a definite crossover of content - any US content that's relevant for a UK audience will appear on the UK site and vice versa. But, the tone of voice and subject matter will be very British. I've probably gone a bit over the top with the British vibe for launch (my American colleagues are baffled by pretty much all of my cultural references so far...), but I really want to clarify that point of difference.
What type of women will the UK site appeal to?
Our core audience is women 25-44, ABC1, however it's definitely a psychographic, rather than a demographic. The xoJane woman might be at different stages in her life, but her core values and sensibilities will be the same.
You must be after lots of content ahead of the launch?
Yes! We've already got piles of fantastic content, but we're always after more - any ideas, press releases, etc, are gratefully received.
What can PRs do to help?
Just keep sending us press releases, inviting us to press days and keep us posted on all the exciting things that are happening around your brand. If we love it, we'll cover it.
Which parts of the site / what areas do you think will be the most PRable?
Fashion and beauty are the most obvious two. We're also be looking for cocktail recipes (boozy Friday), food recipes, book reviews, travel with a difference, and women's interest and issues.
The site is very interactive – tell us a bit about that.
The number of comments on every post on the US site is absolutely unbelievable. That's our main challenge for launch - we already have some amazing content, we just need to get British women talking about it in the same way. We want to know what they think, and if we ask them a question, it's because we really need the answer!
How important is video content?
It's SO important as a way of creating a connection between the user and the editorial team. It's all going to be pretty homespun, mobile video content to start with, but we'd love to start doing some longer, slicker stuff over time.
What advice would you give to a PR pitching to the team?
There are only two of us, so if you send a great idea to one of us, we'll definitely share it! Also, make sure you understand how the web works, as opposed to print and what you can offer us that's going to fit with this unique proposition. There's nothing I hate more than an email personally addressed to me from a PR, that's clearly been sent to 70 other journalists as well, particularly the ones that ask me when my print deadlines are!
Is there any type of story that wouldn't be of interest?
Anything too twee, dull or 'done'. Anything that's frankly sexist - I was once pitched a story about a car that was perfect for women because it was easy to park. You can send me that if you like, but I'll probably just publish the press release wholesale and explain why it annoys me so much.
Do you have a social media strategy?
Social is an extension of the fantastic community we hope to have on the UK site. Everything we do, from content on the site, press days we've been to, to the music we're playing in the office will be posted on our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc, etc!
Who do you see as your main competitor?
I get asked this a lot, and it's a tricky one - I think there's a real place for us in the middle of existing media - we have more of a personal, one-to-one feel to traditional women's sites and magazine sites, but a bigger scale to most blogs. We also have the freedom to be as irreverent, controversial or even shocking as we want. So, in short, I don't think there's anything in the UK quite like xojane.com!
Followe xoJane UK at www.twitter.com/xojaneuk