Telum Talks To… Benita Lee, Editor, Honeycombers Singapore

Telum Talks To… Benita Lee, Editor, Honeycombers Singapore

We spoke with Benita to find out more about her team's editorial approach and how their lifestyle coverage has changed amid the pandemic.

What does a typical workday look like for you?
Every day is different, really. That’s the beauty of this job! Each day brings its own challenges and little joys. I’m usually in meetings - from planning editorial and social strategy to brainstorming concepts for client campaigns to catching up with my team and other managers. We also have fun (virtual) company-wide meet-ups every alternate week, where we host quirky quizzes and nominate our MVP colleagues for the month. It’s always lovely to see everyone’s faces! When I’m not talking to the screen, I’m editing or writing articles and overseeing all the editorial bits and bobs of Honeycombers Singapore to make sure we give readers our best.

There are quite a few lifestyle resources out there. How does Honeycombers Singapore set itself apart from the rest?
Honeycombers Singapore has a very solid and trusted voice. It’s been built over time (at 12 years old, we’re one of the longest-running lifestyle platforms in Singapore) and we’re known for our quality content. Readers tell us our articles always pop up in searches, and they know when they click on Honeycombers Singapore they’ll get a good recommendation.

We’re like that one friend you have who’s always in the know about the coolest corners of Singapore. We constantly update our lifestyle guides to keep readers up to speed with new openings and honest reviews. This year, we’ve branched out to expand our content offerings. Listicles on food and things to do are perpetually popular, but we also love exploring a mixed bag of topics like sustainability, mental health, finance, career, fitness, sex, dating and interior design. We’re happy to welcome contributor articles for more diverse voices as well. And we’ve been delving into issues close to our heart: racism in Singapore, LGBTQ+ experiences, burnout, body acceptance and women who are saying no to motherhood.

Your website has plenty of listicle guides, from the "best zi char restaurants" to the "best durian delivery services". How do you choose which businesses to feature and which to leave out?
We feature places we know and love. We have a large editorial team (16 people in total across our cities!) so that definitely gives us a boost in creating great content. Of course, it helps that we get to attend media tastings and events to check out hot new openings (shout-out to all the awesome PR peeps!). Plus, the team is naturally curious about our city, which means we’re constantly exploring Singapore to keep a lookout for what’s new and cool. That’s why our list of businesses we love expands all the time.

What is your favourite kind of story to work on and why?
Every type of story is enjoyable to write in its own way, but I love interviewing people who are passionate about what they do - be it making music, creating amazing dishes, running home-based businesses, or boldly advocating for what they believe in. Meeting new people and engaging in meaningful conversations inspire me. I’m a big fan of using our platform to show love to incredible talents and businesses in Singapore.

COVID-19 has disrupted the F&B and nightlife scene, among other things. How has your lifestyle coverage changed because of the pandemic, in terms of content, strategy and logistics?
It’s been a roller-coaster ride, for sure. During the circuit breaker last year, we pivoted to focusing on WFH, delivery services, things you can do at home and online, and initiatives to support struggling businesses, sectors and communities. At the peak of the pandemic, we launched our Honeycombers #StayHome Notice Board and kept it up for a couple of months to offer local businesses a platform to post free listings about their services.

We recently launched our first-ever Love Local Awards to show businesses in Singapore extra support and give them a little boost. Our campaign saw thousands of readers getting in on the action and voting for their favourite brands across food and drinks, shopping, health and wellness, hotels and culture categories.

Now, with every wave of new restrictions, we make sure to update relevant lifestyle guides so our readers get all the information they need to stay safe and sane. We’re also placing more emphasis on video content, with videos on food, self-care, exploring Singapore and various team members talking to the camera about different topics on IGTV. And we debuted on Telegram and TikTok this year - we’re always doing something new!

Speaking of TikTok, what is your approach on that platform?
TikTok is young and vibrant. So we’re all about trying crazy new trends, jumping on board hashtag challenges, experimenting with different concepts, hunting down secret spots, showing our playful side and getting creative in the kitchen. As long as it’s fun and inspiring, it’s up our alley. Follow us @TheHoneycombers!

What are some other editorial challenges that you and your team have had to adapt to?
It was quite a big change to go from writing about regular in-person activities to the stay-home life, from being out and about at media events to connecting with others only via virtual meetings. But the team’s awesome - we all adapted to the new creative direction and supported each other through the chaos of COVID-19. Welcoming thought-provoking features to our expanded editorial line-up was also a challenging mindset change at first, but it’s been enjoyable writing about meaningful topics that resonate with us. And our readers are loving it!

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