LMFF: The Fashion Media Landscape Transformation

Posted March 22nd, 2013 by in

The Fashion Industry Forum 2 – The Fashion Media Landscape Transformation, part of the business event series at the 2013 L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Week

The Fashion Industry Forum 2 – The Fashion Media Landscape Transformation, part of the business event series at the 2013 L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival

 

A handful of Australia’s leading fashion writers and editors gathered this week to speak about how the changing media landscape has impacted on fashion journalism.

As part of the business event series at L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival, the Fashion Industry Forum 2 – The Fashion Media Landscape Transformation invited the industry influencers to share their thoughts on the topic.

From highlighting the fundamental expertise and skills required to succeed in the current fashion media marketplace to the challenges they’ve faced with the introduction of digital technology, the experts shared an interesting perspective on the current state of journalism in the fashion sector.

Speakers included:

  • Damien Woolnough, currently Fashion Editor at The Australian (soon to be Deputy Editor of the new ELLE Australia)
  • Edwina McCann, Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Australia
  • Janice Breen Burns, Fashion Journalist and Author
  • Melissa Hoyer, Fashion and Media Commentator
  • Kim Wilson, Executive Fashion Editor at Herald Sun
  • Rae Begley, Found and Director at Little Hero PR

Here are three things I learned about fashion media:

1. Traditional journalism will prevail

Damien Woolnough opened the conversation by saying newspapers are “no longer the monolithic voice” in the media landscape. “But there will always be room for an authoritative and respected voice in the media.”

In this changing media landscape Breen Burns is going back to her grassroots of fashion writing – quality editorials and long form journalism. With the launch of her new online publication Voxfrock she feels “getting away from the idea of the bedroom blogger” and opting for authenticity will succeed. “Traditional journalistic skills are going to be as important now as they ever were,” she said.

Hoyer still borrows skills and techniques from her old newspaper writing days and said that even though online is growing, “we still want short, sharp fixes of news today”.

While the panel said that graduates don’t have to come from a specific media course to be a journalist, they all agreed that traditional education is still important for landing work in the media.

2. Measuring audience engagement is difficult

Media, including fashion journalism, now relies on being instantaneous and interactive. But publishers and publicists are struggling to measure and interpret the value of online activity and readership.

Begley said there aren’t yet tools available to measure the value of social media and admits that is it is a challenge managing clients’ expectations when it comes to new media. “They don’t always understand the power it has,” she said.

Some clients also have the misperception that social media is the only channel that matters, adds Begley, pointing out that traditional mediums such as print, TV and radio are still among some of the strongest voices in the media landscape.

Across the board, the panel agreed that one of the biggest challenges in their business is communicating to clients what the return on investment (ROI) is on purchasing advertising space and being present on social media platforms.

Is a ‘like’ or a retweet more valuable than a page impression?

3. Journalism is not dead; it’s changing.

Hoyer said she was “sick” of hearing people speak about changes to the media industry in negative ways.

Media is exciting, she explained, because we are now working in an industry that is reacting to what our readers or consumers want.

“Media and journalism is not dead. It’s just the way we produce and consume it that has changed,” she said.

McCann agreed and noted that one of the biggest changes for publications nowadays was that they have to think carefully about what the value is for the reader – it’s not just about ticking boxes.

Editorial staff also have to be more accountable, in terms of keeping up with the latest technology and trends, added McCann.

For Vogue Australia, today’s editorial team works across the print magazine, its digital editions and the website. Journalists have become ‘multitaskers’ who know how to analyse data and produce content across a range of platforms.

Wilson said her role at Herald Sun has changed “dramatically”. Gone are the days where she could file copy purely for newspapers – now it’s all about creating stories for multiple platforms in what has become a continuous news cycle.

Although Wilson technically works part-time, she described her role as “a 24/7 job”. She’s tweeting, instagramming and checking international news feeds all before arriving at work on an average day.

But Wilson said she is excited “to be part of this new wave” even though she doesn’t know where it’s going to take her. “Having the dialogue with people that are interested in what you’re doing is fascinating,” she said.

Did you attend this Fashion Industry Forum? How have changes to the media industry impacted on the way you do journalism?

Fashion Torque: a discussion about fashion journalism

Posted March 15th, 2011 by in

Fashion Torque's Jenny Bannister and Philip Boon. Image credit: Fashion Torque

I finally managed to get to a Fashion Torque event last week for the first time. I was waiting for a topic of interest to come up and thought fashion journalism was quite possibly the best combination of two interests I am equally passionate about.

Held at the back room of Globe Café in Prahran, the event presented an intimate discussion centred on the topic of fashion journalism hosted by fashion designer Jenny Bannister and stylist Philip Boon. The event also attracted two guest panelists – both fashion journalists working in Melbourne. The Herald Sun’s Fashion Editor Anna Byrne and Style Melbourne’s Sarah Willcocks were both there to tell us about their journey through a career in fashion journalism.

 

L-R: Jenny Bannister, Sarah Willcocks, Anna Byrne. Image credit: Business Chic

Anna Byrne began her journalism career by studying a professional writing and editing degree at Deakin University. When she completed her studies, she decided to take a year off to travel and freelance and found herself writing for mylusciouslife.com which launched her into the world of fashion writing. After completing a month-long internship at the Herald Sun, Anna kept in touch with contacts at the paper for months before a role came up that gave her the opportunity to do journalism full time. She also did a stint of volunteering backstage at fashion week to add to her fashion credibility.

Sarah Willcocks encountered a rather different experience prior to entering fashion journalism. She studied a media degree at La Trobe University before writing for The Scene, an online lifestyle publication. About two years ago she started Style Melbourne, her very own online magazine focusing on Melbourne fashion and designers. She notes that while it’s great to follow fashion coverage from Milan, Paris and New York, she felt there was nothing highlighting the talent and emerging designers in her own city. “Style Melbourne fills a niche,” she said. Sarah’s writing career has also leaned towards a lot of copywriting because, she admits, this is an area that tends to pay. “A lot of online start ups can’t pay,” she noted.

Philip Boon leads the discussion on fashion journalism. Image credit: Business Chic

In terms of breaking into the industry and building name for yourself, both Anna and Sarah note that networking has been vital in driving their career. Sarah said she was invited to fashion week where she sat next to an editor who later hired her writing services, while Anna mentioned the importance of connecting with readers and industry insiders via social networks as a way to keep in touch.

Anna suggests that those wanting to break into fashion journalism should start by simply attending events where you can network, meet people within the industry and gather business cards. “Fashion is not just about the writing, it’s about doing the hard work and socialising. So little of my time is actually spent writing the story,” she adds.

What about the big question about working for free that plagues so many breaking into what is a competitive industry, especially nowadays where anyone can publish on the internet? Anna suggests getting the unpaid work out of the way as early into your career as possible, such as when you are still completing your studies. But there does come a time when doing unpaid work must stop, notes Sarah: “When people are approaching you to work for them for free… that’s where you draw the line.”

Sarah Willcocks (middle) and Anna Byrne (far right) share details about their journalism career. Image credit: Business Chic

Both girls work quite differently even though they are essentially doing a similar job; Anna works within the constraints of limited newspaper space and catering to a mass commercial audience across a specific demographic while Sarah caters to a niche group of online readers who are often time-poor. Sarah also oversees more aspects of the role as editor of Style Melbourne and is responsible for everything from story selection to the writing, editing and proofing of content as well as ensuring her SEO is up to scratch to guarantee her website returns results that rank high on Google.

Of course, there’s also the question around main stream media and blogging that entered the conversation – something that is becoming more prevalent among fashion circles. Anna believes readers and advertisers will always need main stream media and that there will always be a need for printed publications because they are tactile and readers love looking at glossy fashion pages. Sarah notes that there is a lot of talk surrounding how fashion blogging has become a threat to traditional forms of fashion media but says that both can co-exist independently because they are two separate products. Sarah notes that while there are fashion bloggers (like former newspaper journalist Patty Huntington) offering new and valuable information directly from the industry, there are very few bloggers offering “top notch, investigative and original content.”

While the discussion wasn’t ground-breaking, it did offer an insight into an aspect of the fashion industry. As a journalist myself, who has done a fair share of fashion reporting, I was hoping to discover something a little more innovative about the workings of the industry or how to secure your first break in the industry.  The discussion did however, offer those new to the industry an idea about what to expect, the nature of the job and some challenges encountered along the way.

Fashion Torque is held every Thursday evening at Globe Café in Prahran. Details, visit: www.facebook.com/FashionTorqueShow or http://twitter.com/fashiontorque

Images thanks to Business Chic