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Editor Felicity Harley on where Whimn stands among local offerings

The launch makes the women’s market more competitive than ever

Australia’s newest online women’s destination from a major publisher, NewsDNA’s With Her In Mind, has hit the market. Mediaweek spoke to editor of the new venture, Felicity Harley, two days out from its launch on International Women’s Day earlier this month.

MORE: News Corp Australia CEO Michael Miller on Whimn and digital strategy

“It’s a mix of adrenaline, nervousness, and excitement,” Harley said. “Everything is ready to go. We are just making sure that all the Ts are crossed and the Is are dotted.”

On Facebook, the new destination is marketed as the “home of hangover-free wine and guilt-free cheese”.

Harley said that the aim with the website was to make it a positive destination where women would want to spend their time. She is careful not to dig Whimn into a hole where it’s only thought of as another entertainment website because news is an important part of its offerings.

“There is a place for serious stories and there is also a place for entertainment,” Harley said. “[The balance is] in the scheduling of the stories every day. We will be publishing 15-20 original stories a day.

“We are working towards getting a conversational tone, and that comes through more in the lifestyle type of stories as opposed to the stories in our Talk news section.”

The website will launch with six content categories: Talk, Love, Life, Look, Strength and Play. (See below for more.)

Talk about the women’s market being a crowded one has been doing the rounds since the second half of last year. That was when Nine gave Helen McCabe the task of reinvigorating the 9Honey network, which is aimed at women, and Mamamia announced the expansion of its content verticals with the launch of four new pillars, including sport.

News DNA NewFront [L-R]: Whimn editor Felicity Harley, product, sales & strategy director Ainslee O’Brien, News DNA CEO Nicold Sheffield and executive editor Melissa Overman

The launch of Whimn makes the women’s market more competitive than it has been in recent times. Mamamia has been dominating the space for some time.

“All through my career, I’ve been taught that you have to focus on what you do and get pro at it,” Harley said. “Sure you have to be mindful and look at what the competition is doing, but for us it’s about getting this right. There is a market of women out there who aren’t getting a website that is suited for them. That’s the market we are launching into.

“They want content that is smart, honest and fun. They are not getting that through other media offerings. We want to give them something that’s local with a global flavour.

“That’s in our advertising pitch. We have got some commercial partners on board for launch, which include Dove and Yoplait. We believe this site is something different and so do other commercial brands.”

The content published on the new website targets the 25- to 45-year-old woman.

“This is an important age group for women,” Harley said. “Women hold the purse strings in most relationships, so there is a lot of value in this space [for advertisers].

“That’s who we are appealing to when it comes to the fight for ad dollars.”

For its launch, Whimn had articles from Australian actress Nicole Kidman, an exclusive interview with The Beauty and The Beast actor Emma Watson and a piece from American writer Lindy West, among others.

“I will probably put pressure on myself thinking, ‘Okay, now I’ve got big names, how can I get bigger names?’” Harley said, laughing.

She acknowledged that two of the things that should help continue the momentum are its US office headed by journalist Charlotte Willis and its content partnership with New York Magazine’s fashion brand The Cut and the UK women’s website The Pool.

The six verticals of Whimn.com.au

The website has six content categories at launch, which were unveiled at NewsDNA’s first upfront.

• Talk: This section will have 24-hour news coverage of topics and subjects that relate to women. It will also include opinions and columns from its contributors (see below). The executive editor of women’s network at NewsLifeMedia, Melissa Overman, also emphasised that the section will have content relating to true crime. “We want to be her fix for her CSI,” she said.

• Love: This vertical will include everything to do with relationships. “We will have sex diaries, anonymously, of course,” Overman said, laughing. “Women want to engage in this content. They want to read about other people’s escapades, but they want to do it in a slightly sophisticated way. It’s like a thinking woman’s 50 Shades.”

• Life: The vertical will cover finance and career. Overman said the topics would be covered in an engaging way.

• Look: This section will include content about fashion and beauty.

• Strength: This category will include information about health, wellbeing and fitness.

• Play: The section will cover everything to do with entertainment such as pop culture and celebrity content.

Events for Whimn

Readers’ events are a tried and tested way of drawing engagement from the audience. News Corp’s magazine arm NewsLifeMedia is well-known for annual events like Vogue’s Fashion’s Night Out and the delicious. Produce Awards.

Harley is no stranger to launching such things. She was launch editor of Pacific Magazines’ Women’s Health magazine, and is also credited for the launch of its flagship awards night I Support Women In Sport. The night attracts a lot of press coverage from mastheads, radio and television alike.

She expressed the desire to host an event for Whimn, but said it wasn’t something she’d be doing in the near future.

“To be honest, right now I am just focusing on the launch of Whimn,” Harley said. “That is my big event. But down the track, definitely, I would love to find the next thing that women want to care about. I’ve always got my eyes open. Hopefully as the months roll by that will become apparent.”

What about a lifestyle website for men?

In a recent Seven Days podcast with guest panellist Paul Murray, the Sky News presenter recognised a new content category that publishers could invest in.

“Do you reckon any of these places are going to open blokes’ sites? By that I don’t mean boobs or sex. I don’t necessarily even mean sports,” he said.

“What does it mean to be a bloke in modern Australia?

“What annoys me a lot about the gendered conversations is that people think by saying this I am somehow saying the women’s stuff shouldn’t exist. I am not. I am just saying that I would like to see a mirrored series of content that dealt with, for example, the work-life balance, family, personality improvement and stuff that had a male skew.”

To hear more from Murray about this and everything else from radio to television here.

The women behind Whimn

As well as Harley, the team behind the latest women’s online destination in Australia includes:

Melissa Overman (executive editor)
Charlotte Willis (New York editor)
Daniela Elder (commissioning editor)
Gemma Wilson (news editor)
Jane Clancy (video editor)
HannahRose Yee (entertainment editor)
Ashleigh Austen (lifestyle editor).

They are joined by expert contributors including:

Sally-Anne Blanshard (careers)
Kendra Banks (leadership & careers)
James Duigan (nutrition)
Libby Babet (fitness)
Lola Berry (wellness)
Alison Hill (psychologist)
Xanthe Mallett (crime)

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