Val Morgan’s digital conversation starter TheLatch— is born

• “Content that you can’t really find anywhere else”

Screen advertising giant, Val Morgan Cinema Network, is Australia and New Zealand’s leading national supplier of advertising for cinemas covering metro, regional and country areas. Recently a digital content platform called TheLatch was born out of a desire to complement the network’s cinema and outdoor business. We spoke to the executive editor Amanda Bardas about their content pillars, introducing another (increasingly popular) medium to the site, and the expressiveness behind the name of the brand.

Bardas previously worked at Allure Media as executive editor of POPSUGAR and the Who What Wear Network. When the Allure business merged with Pedestrian, she met Val Morgan Digital’s MD, Brian Florido. “We kept in touch throughout 2019 after I left the business, and that’s how I landed here.”

Bardas has joined the business to guide the launch of TheLatch—, determine the brand’s mission, and guide the editorial and platform strategy. “My job is also to establish the look and feel of the website. I lead the editorial direction each day and work to ensure we’re telling stories that deliver on our purpose — to make people smarter, faster. Expanding conversations beyond clickbait and giving our audience the tools to have richer conversations.

Bardas told Mediaweek that with the launch of TheLatch— they have the opportunity to distribute content throughout Val Morgan’s screen network, capturing the attention of approximately 16 million Australians each month. “We identified a gap in Australian publishing for a gender-neutral audience (targeting 30-45 year olds) that reads entertainment/ lifestyle/ beauty/ grooming and wellness content,” said Bardas. “Content that you can’t really find anywhere else.

“We’re focused on giving readers a deeper understanding on the topics they care about. We’re in our early days, but the response so far has been overwhelming — we’ve hit a few passion points around sustainability, sex and relationships, travel and money that are really resonating with our audience.

Bardas said she interviewed a friend about her doomsday prepping (before coronavirus was at borderline pandemic status) and the response was huge. “She’s had an inbox full of questions from curious readers. My hope is that we give audiences an interesting, or fresh, or new or different perspective on a topic they might not have really thought too much about. We want to act as a conversation starter. 

Bardas said their entertainment vertical showcases the very best in film, TV, music, streaming and celebrity. “Think of it as your go-to for all things culturally relevant. We also have a lifestyle vertical where we share news, informative deep-dives, tips and advice across travel, fashion, sustainability, relationships, sex, career, interiors — the list goes on.” 

Their third and final pillar – for now – is beauty & wellness. “We tick off everything from workouts to first-person reviews from a range of different voices. We’re focused on offering realistic advice on wellbeing — not quick-fixes or miracle cures. Just helpful, realistic, honest advice.

Bardas said they are determined for their audience to ‘latch’ onto something new, whether that be an idea, an opinion, a way of thinking, or a helpful tip. “There were a few iterations of the name that were bounced around, but we kept coming back to TheLatch— with an em dash. 

The purpose of the em dash by definition is it builds off a word and adds emphasis or it can signal an amplification or an ‘expansion’ of an idea. We included the em dash in our logo as it came back to our purpose of wanting to expand our reader’s thinking.

Bardas revealed they have some exciting milestone planning –  one project highlight being an upcoming podcast. “One of our team members has a special gift and I’m excited to share that gift with our podcast guests and audience. Beyond that, I’m looking at product and tech and where we can innovate in the market, new site launches, and bigger editorial initiatives around our passion points.”

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