Telum Talks To… Jacqueline Tsang, Chief Editor, STYLE, South China Morning Post

Telum Talks To… Jacqueline Tsang, Chief Editor, STYLE, South China Morning Post

Many congratulations on STYLE reaching 15th Anniversary this year!
Thank you! STYLE has come a long way since it was first launched in 2005. The print magazine underwent a revamp and relaunch in March 2013, and the brand went online in September 2016. Over the years, STYLE has won awards for print, and has achieved record highs in terms of its online performance. Just this August, STYLE quadrupled its online traffic compared to just one year ago. We’re thrilled with the success so far and hope that we can continue to reach new heights.

STYLE is a monthly print magazine as well as running a well-established website. What’s the main differences in terms of content?
We realised early on that our print and online audiences are strikingly different. While both have a roughly equal gender split, our print readers, on average, are 10 years older than our online audience. Furthermore, the physical magazine is available to Hong Kong residents only, while our online readers span the globe.

We adapted our content approach accordingly, and produced online-only content that would stay true to our luxury DNA while also appealing to younger readers. Print stories, which were previously published online as seen in print, had to be tailored and restructured to appeal to our online audience. 

Nevertheless, print and online are still different platforms, and we’ve taken care to respect the fact that our loyal readers want different things. For print, we continue to value the depth and insight that only a long read can bring, as well as the holistic visual, tactile and intellectual experience of leafing through a physical magazine. For online, our stories are shorter and snappier, and more reflective of trends in the luxury and celebrity world.

August 2020 marked STYLE’s highest ever website traffic performance. Could you share a bit of the editorial strategy on how STYLE attracts readers? What’s your take on how to raise the competition in this attention-deficit era?
We went through a process of having to redefine our mission statement and reinterpret luxury: what does luxury really mean to a younger generation? If it’s not just about the zeros after the dollar sign any more, then what is it? We came to the conclusion that rarity, exclusivity and privilege are the hallmarks of luxury, and we wanted to offer these to our readers through access, insider’s knowledge and a uniquely Asian perspective.

This all sounds just peachy, but when it came to execution, it was much harder than we expected. We had to change the way we thought and reacted.

We had the access to celebrities, unique experiences, and the top movers and shakers in the luxury industry, but were we making the most of this access? We had the SCMP platform and exposure,
but were we engaging our readers in the most effective way possible? With a global online audience, were we striking the right tone with our Asian perspective? With access to data analysis for our online stories, how could we use these numbers to our advantage? These were all questions we had to answer over time, and it took a lot of trial and error to get to where we are today.

The best and worst thing about online media consumption is its ever-evolving nature, and it wasn’t until the last year or so that we realised that the biggest thing we had going for us was an overall willingness to try and to experiment.

You are the Chief Editor for STYLE who is responsible for overseeing and formulating the editorial strategy. How’s your daily life as a head of luxury magazine?
I wish I could tell you that it’s similar to the scene in The Devil Wears Prada, where Miranda Priestly strides into the Runway office, but I’m sorry to say that I don’t have minions scuttling out of my way when I make my entrance. Instead of a wall of Louboutins, I’m usually staring at a wall with a TV showing all our latest stories and their respective traffic performances.

There is certainly glamour and excitement, though. We’ve travelled the world and interviewed A-list celebrities; we’ve been the first outside top brands to see new collections, the first to taste a Michelin-star chef’s creations. We’ve rubbed shoulders with Jessica Jung and Alba alike; we’ve Zoomed with Rami Malek and chatted with Benedict Cumberbatch. I still get to write and edit while managing a team of smart, wonderful people. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

How can PRs work with you to create a win-win situation for everyone? What topics interest you and your team most?
We value exclusivity and innovation from brands. In this age of fast information and over-sharing, we prize access and exclusivity more than ever. Similarly, in an oversaturated market, the truly innovative strategies are the ones that stand out.

What trend should we all be watching out for next year?   
Honesty and transparency. Authenticity is more important than ever to consumers, readers and brands alike, and we’re already seeing luxury brands do a 180, going from jealously guarding their secrets to being as open as possible, particularly when it comes to sourcing a product’s craftsmanship journey, its sustainability practices, and even diversity.

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