Audience Engagement Digital Publishing
4 mins read

“Video is more important than ever”: Publishing insights from Cosmopolitan’s Edie Jefferys

Cosmopolitan saw video views grow by 40% last year and revenue for 2020 was up 27% year on year

Working as the Video Lead for Cosmopolitan, Edie Jefferys believes that the sky is the limit having managed to get through this tumultuous year which forced production teams to carry out their work entirely at home. From launching video series for ELLE and producing content watched by millions across all platforms, no wonder Edie was named one of our 30 Under 30 winners.

“Be adaptable and learn as much as you can,” she says when asked to give advice on getting into the industry. “Video production requires an incredibly wide skill set, so make sure you try a bit of everything. Practice practice practice.”

What made you want to work in publishing?

I was obsessed with magazines from an early age, poring over fashion spreads and making endless scrapbooks in my bedroom. I always wondered who put them together and hoped I’d be able to work alongside them one day.

Chart your career from the start to where you are now.

While completing my English degree at UCL, I managed to gain some work experience on the news desk for a current affairs programme. I had zero experience with cameras but they handed me a DSLR and sent me into London to film whatever I could. I learned fast and after graduating I applied for a permanent position there, working my way up from the planning desk to become a full time production journalist. I loved the job but after reporting on some very difficult stories, I decided to move away from news and focus on producing the content that I loved watching myself: features, fashion and celebrity. When I saw the Video Editor job advertised at Hearst UK I jumped at the chance. I’ve been here since 2017 and am now Acting Video Lead for Cosmopolitan.

At the time of winning a 30 under 30 award, you were Hearst UK’s Video Producer and worked across all titles, not just Cosmopolitan. How challenging was it to be reactive and adaptive in your approach to different brands and how did you manage these challenges?

Working across multiple brands is certainly challenging – one size does not fit all. We have an amazing mix of audiences at Hearst UK, and learning what performs for each one took some time. I’m fortunate enough to work with some incredibly talented people who know their brands through and through: listening to their expertise and applying that to our video strategy made a huge difference. Myself and my colleagues were the first dedicated central video team at Hearst UK working across multiple brands, and so building trust and confidence among more traditional print journalists was important, too. I’m really proud of how far we’ve come.

How do you identify what viral hits will make successful series?

Virality is amazing, but a one-off spike in viewing figures doesn’t always translate into growth. If one video has done particularly well for us, it’s important to look at the data and figure out why that is. Is the idea something with longevity? How can we take it that step further? I’m always thinking about audience value and the wider production process.

What work are you most proud of since working at Hearst UK?

There have been so many things! Launching ELLE’s Ask Me Anything series with Florence Pugh was a definite highlight, as was the success of my Grammys and Oscars content for Cosmopolitan – my videos were trending on YouTube and reached more than 6 million views cross-platform. Back in 2019 I also helped produce a three-part series on the mental health of Love Island contestants for Cosmo, which was nominated for an industry award. It was a privilege to be part of that.

What role does video play in securing the future of publishing?

Video is more important than ever. Due to the pandemic it’s been a seriously challenging 12 months for our industry, but video has continued to thrive and be full of opportunity, even when production was forced to take place entirely from home. It’s amazing to see how our whole department adapted during lockdown and still achieved big results. Cosmopolitan saw video views grow by 40% last year and revenue for 2020 was up 27% year on year. I changed roles during lockdown and work has never been busier. The sky’s the limit.

What advice would you give to any budding multimedia journalists looking to get into the industry?

Be adaptable and learn as much as you can. Video production requires an incredibly wide skill set, so make sure you try a bit of everything. Practice practice practice.

What’s on your radar?

TikTok makes me feel old and excited at the same time – there are some really interesting opportunities to be had there for video. Cosmopolitan has been working hard over the last year to experiment with the content we produce for the platform: we’ve created bespoke video for trending topics, repurposed existing footage and listened to our audience. We’ve had more than 7.5m video views since we launched in December 2019 and I can’t wait to see how this develops.

What magazine would you stockpile?

Cosmopolitan of course, and ELLE.

Jess Browne-Swinburne
PPA Staff Writer

This What’s on your Radar interview is republished here with kind permission of the PPA.