From PR to Rising Star: Erin Berryman on the magazine industry

The MPA judges described this year’s ‘Rising Star’, Erin Berryman, as a commercially-focused editor who has demonstrated strategic nous during her site, Beautyheaven, launch and ongoing development. Here, Berryman shares her thoughts on the award and the industry she is rising through. 

What does this award mean for you as an individual and part of a larger team?

As an individual, the award was unexpected – I knew we had a good shot with our brand awards (Rising Brand and Innovation to Grow Revenue and Audience), and in all honesty, I believed the team really deserved these wins. However, on a personal level, I was so honoured and elated to receive the Rising Star award. I’ve put my heart and soul into Beautyheaven since launch and to receive the recognition and validation from leaders in the industry, especially outside of Bauer, was truly rewarding. Personally, it definitely gives me added confidence to continue my passion and growth in the media industry.

What sparked your interest in the industry?

I never had that crisis where I didn’t know what I wanted to do – from a young age, I’ve always been sure of the fact I wanted to work in the media industry. Media, and particularly beauty journalism, is a field like no other. Creativity, writing, following your intuition, crossing paths with inspiring people you otherwise wouldn’t and of course, the ‘fun stuff’ (events, product previews etc.) all come with the job – I could never complain my job is boring. Every day is different – it’s such a diverse industry, continuously evolving and expanding in scope and I love that excitement. 

Also, from current affairs to beauty, the influence you can impart on someone has always drawn me to media. People often say “beauty isn’t saving lives” (and I’m under no illusion that we are!) but I do think it’s empowering. It’s inspiring in a different way – from the freedom to express your individuality, to making women feel they’re part of a collective to delivering confidence, it will always be relatable and relevant.

Can you please explain your career path so far: (how long have you been a part of it, how long in your current title)

My earliest experience in media was on the ‘other side’ in public relations. During high school, I took up work experience at my parent’s company – a beauty distributor – where I assisted the public relations manager. This cemented my passion to work in the industry and beauty. At university, I studied communications while interning at Pead PR. On completion of my degree, I was offered a role at Beat Communications as an account executive and showroom manager – an agency with clients across FMCG, lifestyle and fashion. In this role I worked closely with media, pitching stories, responding to call-outs, one-on-one meetings and hosting previews, which facilitated invaluable networking opportunities and further developed my interest in working media-side. After two years, Bauer offered me a role as a print beauty editor and content producer on beautydirectory.co.nz (progressing to editor after six months). Then, in July 2018, I was offered the incredible opportunity to head up beautyheaven.co.nz, which launched in October last year.

I’ve also continuously done freelance work ranging from press releases to web and print copywriting, which I’ve found hugely constructive for my role now.

What the most challenging aspect of your role?

While the opportunity to launch a new website in New Zealand was incredible it was also a significant challenge. A launch is never going to be smooth sailing and will always come with its fair share of obstacles, which has been a big learning curve. The primary challenge was navigating the various technical difficulties in the backend (a given with any digital launch!) and training a print editorial team on how to use the site while I’m still learning the ropes myself! I couldn’t have overcome all the challenges without the support of the super enthusiastic digital and beauty team.

Less specific to my role but equally as challenging is the fast-paced, always on nature of digital. There’s a lot to juggle: keeping abreast of trends, turning around content fast, managing social media, responding to commercial content briefs with clever solutions and proactively spotting opportunities for further revenue are all daily responsibilities.

Were there any misconceptions you had coming into the industry?

You have a lot to learn and nothing to offer. It’s constantly drilled into young people. While the former is definitely true – I have so much to learn and there is definitely amazing mentors at Bauer to learn from, it doesn’t mean I have nothing to offer. The media industry is always moving and I’m very grateful that Bauer appreciates the contribution of young talent, particularly in the digital field.

You’re a digital editor, how do you work alongside print editors?

My role coincided with the launch of Bauer’s first digital-first content hub – the beauty hub. This model involved a multi-platform, streamlined approach to publishing where beauty editors were siloed into specialist categories. So, in contrast to a lot of other print/digital publishers, I work really closely with the print editors. We’re constantly in communication, from brainstorming content ideas to sharing valuable insights. There’s always more room for improvement but in beauty, I think we do a great job of working collaboratively at Bauer.

How do you feel about the future of the magazine industry?

From my experience working in media to date, I think most people are fiercely passionate about one or the other. There’s very much an obvious print vs. digital divide but I definitely think there’s a place for both. Particularly in women’s lifestyle, I don’t think one is necessarily cannibalising the other, we both offer such different experiences.

One on hand, I don’t think anything can compare to the in-depth engagement of print. Unlike other mediums, you can’t split your attention; you’re wholeheartedly immersed in what you’re consuming. But, in saying that, consumers also want information faster and more concise than ever before. We’re busier than ever and we’ve got short attention spans and don’t always have time to sit down and read for 60 minutes (as much as I’d love to!). 

We can’t compete with each other – digital will never be tactile, beautiful and glossy, while print will never be instantaneous and moving. I think the most important thing magazines and print can do in times of uncertainty is continue to innovate their unique platform. At beautyheaven, we do what print can’t – we have the answer to practically everything on one site at the click of a button, we engage by demonstrating how to use products in video tutorials, we facilitate two-way communication between beauty lovers in an online community and readers can shop and purchase all within a couple of minutes.

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