ALISON RICE | GROUP PUBLISHER of POPSUGAR, WHO WHAT WEAR, BYRDIE BEAUTY AND MY DOMAINE
Alison Rice is the group publisher for a some of Australia’s biggest fashion, beauty and lifestyle online destinations, POPSUGAR, Who What Wear, Byrdie Beauty and MyDomaine.
How did you get started in digital publishing and what steps lead you to your role today?
I started on POPSUGAR as the site’s first weekend editor. I worked every Saturday and Sunday, in addition to freelance subbing and writing at different outlets during the week.
When the beauty editor resigned, I threw my hat in the ring and got the role. It was a great experience and I learnt a lot about the commercial side of digital. Editing the site once upon a time also means I am a better publisher, but I’m always trying to stay close to how the team works so I can help identify where we can improve our processes and workflow.
From there I volunteered to launch our Health & Fitness channel (for no extra money as I really just wanted the experience!) and took on managing a writer.
Fast forward two years and when my publisher went on mat leave, both her and my now CEO approached me to cover her. I knew that was my moment to give it everything I had. Again, I didn’t chase a particular figure, I just wanted experience.
During that year I also put my hand up to work on the Who What Wear deal, with ambitions to run it when my publisher came back from mat leave. When she decided to return part time so she could be with her new family, I became group publisher of all four sites.
I’ve now been with the company for five years and held five different roles. I am proof that if you say yes to everything that comes your way (even if it looks different to what you thought it would!), and keep putting yourself forward for new opportunities, hard work will always be seen and rewarded.
What is a typical day in your work life like?
I wake up at 5:30am and answer the emails that have come in over night from our US partners. I organise both editorial teams across the fours sites on my commute to work, and then begin story approvals at about 8:30am. From there, its mainly internal meetings (approx. four per day) with different departments (leadership team, commercial editorial, strategy, sales, US partners and edit teams), responding to emails (I send approx, 100 per day), meeting clients and PRs. I leave the office around 7pm each night.
What characteristics do you look for in an intern?
Happy, proactive, good listener. A good intern will anticipate what the editors need before they need it.
What makes someone stand out in an interview?
A fan and dedicated reader of whichever site they are applying to work on. The ones that stand out can talk articulately about the brand, their favourite stories and what they like about what we do. Stand out interviewees also talk more about they will help impact and add value to the business than they do about themselves.
What advice would you give someone wanting a career in digital publishing?
Be patient. If a company is treating you well and offering development, stay put. It might not be The Role, but eventually you will build trust, grow an internal following and get the job you want. It will happen. Good managers will only promote you when you’re ready- trust that process and just keep showing up and giving it your all. With a smile. An no gossiping! There’s no greater turn off.
Read about the industry and stay up to date with changes in reader behaviour and technology/social. It;s important to have an opinion because the day you’re asked for it-your knowledge base will show.
Start a blog, a killer Instagram or Pinterest account. Be consistent with it-even when you think no one is engaging or reading. All that matters is you’re creating and building a body of work online. We need to be able to quickly identify your talent and taste/style sensibilities.