As the Editorial Director of the Hearst Content Agency, I am lucky that I get to have one foot in the content marketing camp and another firmly in my old consumer editorial stomping ground. One of our best USP’s as an agency is that we are able to draw upon the incredible up-to-the-minute, on the ground expertise of our edit teams. My former colleagues and often friends assist me with their knowledge, expertise and industry know-how, no matter the subject. If I need insight for a health client, the Women’s or Men’s Health digital or print teams are on hand. If our fashion clients want to hear about catwalk trends for 2022, we can ask the Elle fashion team to share their insider knowledge.
This week it was the turn of the homes department to work with the wider Hearst commercial team to produce a brilliant webinar attended by over 200 people virtually. It kicked off with unique insights from our data team which talked about how COVID has changed how we live forever and focused on themes around CALM, JOY and CONFIDENCE in the home.
Watch the webinar below which shares our research results in full…
I then spent 30 minutes interviewing the Editor in Chief of Elle Decoration, Ben Spriggs and Editor in Chief of House Beautiful and Country Living, Louise Pearce. I asked them how their relationship with their homes had personally changed over the last 12 months or so.
“I moved shortly before lockdown, so I’ve been living through a lot of renovation work,” Louise explained. “Because there has been so much mess, I’ve focused a lot on creating a home using scents and aromas. Diffusers, candles and home fragrance are a big growing trend and I’ve definitely taken that on board.”
“I live in a flat in central London, so I’ve focused on trying to create different spaces within it to work, work out or sleep,” Ben explained. “I didn’t spend a lot of time at home before as I was always out living an urbanite life, so it’s been quite nice to enjoy my home space.”
We also discussed how brands need to act as publishers, especially in the homes arena. With so many amateur hobbyist interiors content creators, I wanted their insights into how brands navigate the UGC vs their own content balance.
“This is where agencies like Hearst Content Agency are really useful,” explained Louise. “They can curate and oversee the different forms of content that brands deliver and ensure a consistency and a clear look and feel.”
“It’s also important for brands to think about the longterm implications of great content and not just treat it as an instant sales tool. Great content can create a trust in the brand and a reason to consider them for purchase today or in the future,” she added.
From Ben’s point of view content is viewed as inspiration no matter where it comes from. “Content for homes brands shouldn’t just be about advertising one particular product,” he explained. “It is about providing an inspiration and a starting point to help people see that brand as an option.”
And on the complicated subject of UGC and influencer content – we were all in agreement. It is critical for all content to have some form of curation.
“Agencies like HCA can really help to create expertise and a tone of voice for a brand – if they rely too heavily on UGC that can get lost and consistency isn’t there,” Louise suggested.
Which is really where we come in – we have recently done some digital and social work for DFS and it was a pleasure to help them with that a little bit
We all agreed that homes brands have one of the best opportunities to act as publishers and who better than Hearst to help them with that?