Having dreamed of a job in journalism from a young age, Claire Sanderson has established herself as the editorial figurehead of Women's Health, and will this year steer the Hearst UK title through its 100th issue celebrations. Here, Claire explains why she feels privileged to help open the health and wellness space to everyone, how the title is staying relevant in print and online, and how the Women's Health UK membership proposition is forging deeper audience relationships.
*What made you want to work in publishing? *
The media always seemed impossibly glamorous to me growing up in the South Wales Valleys. I adored writing from a young age, and had a genuine interest in current affairs, so a career in journalism was my long-term vision. My first job as a news journalist married those two loves perfectly, and I haven’t looked back since.
Women’s Health UK will soon be celebrating its 100th issue in August – what’s it like editing a magazine with such authority in the wellness space?
As soon as it launched, being the editor of Women’s Health UK was my dream as I’m obsessed with all things wellness. I’ve now been in the role for almost six years, but still feel so incredibly privileged to edit a magazine that holds such an authority in the wellness space. Women’s Health UK is so special in that it opens up the health and wellness space to everyone, whether that be through thought-provoking editorial, or bold campaigns that make an impact.
‘Project Body Love’ and ‘It Starts with a Bra’ are two recent campaigns that I’m particularly proud of. It was a huge honour to have Adele Roberts on our most recent print cover, too. I received hundreds of messages from those in the ostomate community who were so thrilled to see someone with a stoma on a magazine cover as big as Women’s Health UK for the very first time. That’s what it’s all about for me.
How has the brand stayed as relevant today as it was when it first launched in the UK?
Women’s Health UK is always ahead of the curve when it comes to forcing conversations – that, in my opinion, is what keeps it so relevant. It was one of the first brands to openly discuss mental health, encouraging women to be vocal about their experiences long before it was broadly socially accepted. Whether it be a question on fitness, health or self-confidence, we’re continuously pushing the boundaries, driving covers and campaigns that spark meaningful conversation.
Talk to us about your digital expansion…
We’ve expanded exponentially across digital and are continuing to look into how we can make our content even more accessible. We’ve enjoyed up to eight million unique views per month on the website, and are generating high engagement across social platforms, including TikTok, which is performing particularly well. My role as Editor-in-Chief is to ensure we’re consistently hitting our brand message, whether it be in print, on the website, or through social channels.
How important is the Women’s Health UK print product today?
The Women’s Health UK print product is, without a doubt, the foundation of the brand. We know it’s enormously important to our readers, and that’s not only reflected in feedback, but in performance, too. We grew in both subscribers and newsstand sales last year. I think it all goes back to the brand’s authority as a leader in the wellness space: women have formed a relationship with the print product which, in many ways, can’t be replicated online.
Tell us a bit more about the Women’s Health Collective, your membership proposition?
Women’s Health Collective was launched late last year to offer women the chance to establish an even deeper relationship with the brand. Essentially, it’s a content proposition that lives online, offering members exclusive access to content they can’t access anywhere else. Our experts include personal trainers, nutritionists and dermatologists – to name a few – and the content spans fitness plans, on-demand workouts and, nutrition and recipes. What’s special about the Collective is that it’s personal: readers are able to reach out to our experts with specific questions, and will receive relevant, science-based answers.
What’s on your radar? (Anything industry related of excitement or concern)
When it comes to publishing on a broad scale, I’m definitely very tuned in to how the membership model is evolving at the moment. I don’t view it as a threat, but rather, an opportunity. It’s really interesting to see how other brands are reshaping and redefining their membership propositions, and great to be able to see what’s working, and what’s not.
Of course, women’s attitudes to health and wellness are constantly on my mind, too. We saw a huge uptick in attention towards healthy living from our core demographic post-covid. Today, women are much more concerned with how to live healthier, whether that be mentally or physically, and there is no brand better placed to take them on that journey than Women’s Health UK.
What magazine do you stockpile?
I’m a huge magazine junkie (unsurprisingly!), and subscribe to Apple News Plus, which is fantastic because it means I get everything all in one place. I love the features in both ELLE and Cosmopolitan, as well as the longer reads in The Atlantic and New Yorker. I’m also a sucker for all the Sunday supplements – I read the Sunday Times Magazine from start to finish every week!