As Hearst Create’s Content Director, Alexandra de Jong is responsible for the production of Holland Herald and Flying Dutchman. Over the last few years, Holland Herald has regularly been taking home prizes at the Content Marketing Awards in Cleveland. In 2020, Holland Herald won the award for Best Overall Editorial – Print and Holland Herald Junior was named Best New Print Publication. Here are six of Alexandra’s pointers for delivering outstanding content.
1. Build a strong in-house team
Having a strong, creative in-house team is key; that’s where strong content is born. Our editorial team is deeply rooted in B2C media, with experience working for brands such as Vogue, Quest and De Volkskrant. They’re true storytellers with curious minds and they’re always up to date on what’s happening and what’s next. Our team understands how to reach, inspire and activate an audience, both visually and through text.
I also think it’s important to get along with each other on a personal level. You spend a lot of time together working on a common goal, so it’s important to have a positive vibe, fun and balance within the team. It’s my conviction that true team spirit comes across in the final product.
2. Plan ahead and create structure
Being able to plan ahead and create structure is essential when making a high-quality and relevant magazine. Each year, we organise a brainstorming session with our entire team and KLM’s media managers during which we discuss every issue for the upcoming year and exchange ideas with the help of mood boards. We formulate themes for each issue, giving us a base to build on.
With all the information and ideas from this brainstorm, I put together a content list for the next year. Since we often have a couple of ‘big names’ on our wish list, we have to send out interview requests well ahead, just to make sure we have a chance to secure a spot in their busy schedules. The same goes for travel reports; if you’re looking for top-notch content, you have to plan ahead and not do things last-minute. At the same time, we always have to be ready for last-minute opportunities. For example, if an opportunity arises to interview a top athlete or actor, we have to act fast. If your long-term planning is in order, you have the freedom to switch it up if necessary.
3. Always bring your A-game
For every issue, I strive to have at least two eye-catching features. This could be a personal interview with a famous chef, or something people will want to share on their social media. For example, last year we photographed and interviewed top tennis star Kiki Bertens in her hometown of The Hague, portraying her in a way she had never been before. The response on her personal Instagram was overwhelmingly positive. The fact that she shared this glamourous photo shoot with her almost 90K followers is also great PR for Holland Herald and KLM.
Our travel reports are another focus point. We work with the best photographers, such as Mirjam Bleeker who created a beautiful series about Johannesburg. Our goal is to always have local journalists write the story, to make it as accurate and up to date as possible. This way, we avoid any tourists traps and give readers insight into the real gems of a destination.
4. Dare to dream big
“Nothing is impossible” is one of my mottos. To give you an example, top model Doutzen Kroes had been on my wish list for Holland Herald for a long time. Many people told me that she would never agree to do a shoot and interview for free for a brand like KLM, but after many calls and meetings with her management, she agreed. We took her to her hometown in Frysland, together with a top team made up of a fashion photographer, stylist and make-up artist. The result was an incredible production! The same goes for Princess Mabel; she declined many times before eventually saying ‘yes’. Being persistent is key to creating unique content.
5. Excel in visuals and text
When making a travel & lifestyle magazine, creating strong visual content is essential. There’s been a lot of research on the impact of strong visuals. Readers process images faster than text. So if the visuals are right, the text is better understood. Keeping in mind your client’s visual brand identity and using in-house expertise, you can get your message across in a more meaningful way.
6. Invest in a healthy client–agency relationship
Our relationship with KLM has always been sustainable and transparent. It’s a partnership; we listen to each other’s opinions and are open to other viewpoints. Thanks to the time and energy we’ve invested in our relationship, we have a lot of respect and appreciation for each other. This results in a lot of freedom and trust in our team, because they know we understand their wishes. This way, we continue to keep the team happy, motivated and always striving for the best.
Looking to develop or fine-tune your content, marketing or communication plans for 2021? We would love to help you take your content to the next level. Just get in touch by filling in the contact form on our website!