As one of the winners of our PPA 30 Under 30 2020 awards, Alice Wikinson, Deputy Editor of Waitrose & Partners HEALTH magazine explains how she got to where she is now so early on in her career and the ways in which she has navigated the changing media landscape. Our judges said that Alice is clearly a hard-working, 360-degree thinking, conscientious editor who is always thinking about ways to drive the brand forward.
What made you want to work in the publishing industry?
It was quite a natural move for me after graduating with an English Literature degree. From a young age, I had an appetite for good journalism and a beautifully designed magazine. Writing continues to be a big part of my life but I also love chatting to people and hearing their stories. Connecting with health professionals is a huge part of my role now. It’s a privilege, really, to get to do all these things as part of my day job.
Chart your career to the start to where you are now.
I actually started out as a junior project manager in a big consultancy firm. It was a great starting point and I learned loads in my time there but soon realised the creative communication and editing side was the bit I loved and wanted to do more of. So, I was thrilled when I secured work experience at Country Living. Those few weeks confirmed for me that journalism was where I wanted to be. A few years of hard work and dedication ensued. Those years saw me land my first editorship (at British Builder & Developer magazine), start my first paid role in consumer magazines at Woman & Home magazine, launch Eat Healthy magazine, go freelance to expand my writing portfolio, and get my first taste of newsroom life at The Telegraph. I started at John Brown working on the team that launched _Waitrose & Partners HEALTH _magazine two years ago and we’re now working on our ninth issue. I’m so proud of the publication and really passionate about its future. Turning the latest scientific research into something inspiring that readers can implement into their own lives is something I’m really passionate about.
How does it feel to be a PPA 30 Under 30 winner?
I’m really delighted to be part of this bunch of very talented young professionals. It has come at a point in my career which I’m enjoying immensely and it’s wonderful to get a chance to celebrate that.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
It’s so great to work with a brand like Waitrose & Partners, which has such integrity that healthcare professionals and medical researchers are genuinely thrilled to be part of your magazine. I recently wrote a feature on gut health where I interviewed three experts about the cutting-edge research that they were in the middle of conducting. They’re doing such interesting work and it’s really exciting to have even a small part in sharing that.
What advice would you give a young journalist trying to start out in the industry now?
Don’t be shy. Now young journalists are going to have to try really hard to approach people and ask questions, especially as they won’t be able to be in the office like normal. If there are any opportunities to meet with people and ask them questions then do it, because somebody will be happy to share their experiences with you. If you contact thirty people in the industry and one replies, then that’s a success in my eyes.
You have had a number of social media roles in your career. How have these skills helped you get to where you are now?
It taught me a lot about how people now consume news now. We’re living in a time where you can publish an article and gauge within seconds whether it’s a hit, who is reading it, where they’re reading it and by what means. I’ve seen social content go on a bit of journey since first starting in publishing. At the start, publishers were competing for the top-ranking spot on Google by writing clickbait headlines and covering trending stories that didn’t align with their brand. Now, I think we’re realising how important it is to be a bit more intelligent in our approach. Brands with integrity are really thoughtful in the way they use SEO and social media, and as a result, they can build life-long trust with their readership.
How has the media landscape changed since you started in the industry and how do you see it changing over the next 5 years?
There has been a big move back to print in my eyes. A lot of people my age subscribe to the print copies of newspapers so the publishing industry is definitely having to move with all these behaviours and print certainly still has its place. Its also interesting that readers are starting to understand more about SEO tools, so I imagine overtime, as consumers become more aware of all of this, we’ll have to build up their trust again.
What’s on your radar?
How to use my platforms to bring more diversity to the publishing industry is something that’s been on my mind for a while, especially since the Black Lives Matter movement. I’m still learning how I can support the movement, both within the businesses I work and in the content I create. It’s more important than ever that a range of voices are being heard.
What magazine would you stockpile?
New Scientist, they always have a fresh take on health news, and such scientific rigour.