Independent Viewpoint: Luke Nicholls, Editor of edie
Luke Nicholls took on some tough competition to be crowned Business Media Editor of the Year at the PPA New Talent Awards 2017. Here, the Editor of Faversham House sustainability title edie, talks about the importance of ensuring your content is 'need to have' and not 'nice to have'.
What attracted you to the industry?
I love starting with a blank canvas and creating something that captivates and inspires people. In journalism, the subject matter and the audience is always changing, and I think that is what drew me to this career – there is always a new story to tell and never one way to tell it. That’s what keeps us all inventing and reinventing, all the time.
How did you first get into publishing?
It wasn’t something I always knew I wanted to do. I took a degree in sports journalism because I was passionate about sport and enjoyed writing. I graduated three years later with more of a passion for writing and just an enjoyment of sport. Within a month of graduating, I secured my first reporting role (for BigHospitality). After three years writing about and experiencing hotels, restaurants, and pubs across the country, I decided it was time for a career step and so moved into the world of sustainability, taking up my first editor role here at edie in 2014.
What did winning New Editor of the Year at PPA’s New Talent Awards mean to you and edie?
I couldn’t believe it on the night! Receiving an award like this after three years of hard work and dedication to help drive the edie brand forward was an amazing feeling, especially considering the quality of other entrants in the category. The comments I received from the judges were incredible.
For me, this award is the perfect motivator to continue edie’s success story. Our reporter, George Ogleby was highly commended for the PPA’s New Talent Breakthrough award, and our senior reporter Matt Mace was shortlisted in the Best New Business Reporter category. It’s fantastic to be a part of this young, passionate team of successful journalists, and hopefully with continued hard work there’ll be many more awards to come for us in the future!
Luke accepts the PPA New Talent Award for Editor of the Year (Business Media) from host Paul McNamee, Editor of The Big Issue, and Lollie Tuckey of Huntwood Associates.
Who has been the biggest influence on you career so far?
edie’s Content Director, Will Parsons, has been a big influence on me over the past few years. Will has helped with so many aspects of my career development here at edie and taught me a lot about the most effective ways of approaching content. We’ve got a great working relationship which I think has underpinned edie’s fantastic progress.
What are the main areas of focus for edie and which channels present the biggest opportunities?
One word: engagement. Over the past few years, the focus has been on getting the edie proposition right, building up our audience, and really understanding who those readers are and what they want from us. Now, it’s all about engaging the core edie user: how can we make edie the must-read media brand in the sustainability/energy/CSR space? How can we meet the needs of the core job functions and industries we write for? The answers to those two key questions have helped us formulate a full editorial content plan for the next financial year.
Without giving away the full masterplan, there are several exciting new directions we will be taking. Over the next year, we’ll be producing a number of new content formats and series on top of our existing coverage, ranging from downloadable business reports and project case studies through to interactive webinars and masterclasses, which I believe will really help to drive that audience engagement.
Is there anything in particular that keeps you awake at night?
An unfinished project! I’m a big fan of a to-do list but have quickly realised that, as an Editor, that list is never fully crossed off. There have been times when I’ve found myself in bed thinking about a particular article or video that hasn’t been completed, but I’m learning to keep edie out of mind when I’m not working!
What are your top tips for other new Editors?
My biggest tip would be an extension of that last point: when workloads get particularly hectic or full-on, understand what your top priorities are for any given day or week and then just work to those. Sometimes it’s OK to let something drop off the list if it’s less important than others. Remember, the reader doesn’t know what’s on that list, only you do!
My other advice would be to always push yourself out of your comfort zone in this career. There may be certain things you don’t think you can do, don’t know how to do, or are nervous about – those are often the most exciting experiences that you learn the most from and end up enjoying the most.
Finally, always make sure you are going beyond the ‘what’ with your content to explore the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ – these are the key elements that a business audience is most interested in, so focusing on them can really drive engagement and make your work stand out from the crowd.
What are you optimistic about?
I’m optimistic that the current geopolitical turbulence involving Trump and Brexit isn’t as bad or as negative as some of the wider media has been claiming. Of course, both of these issues will have some implications on some aspects of some of our lives, but it’s important to remember that we have control over our own general happiness and well-being – and always being aware of that can in fact bring us closer together, so I feel positive about that.
"Always make sure you are going beyond the ‘what’ with your content to explore the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ – these are the key elements that a business audience is most interested in."
What gives you a kick about working in this industry?
As Forrest Gump’s Mamma always said: “you never know what you’re gonna get”. I don’t know exactly where I’ll be in a month’s time - if I’ll be in the office, out meeting new people, or catching up with contacts. I also don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing - if I’ll be writing or analysing the news, compiling an in-depth business guide, or recording another episode of the podcast with my team. That’s what keeps me so motivated – there’s always a fresh challenge and a new direction we can take with content.
Tell us about some of your career highlights?
Being stood deep within the Sumatran rainforest in Indonesia filming a mini-documentary about tackling deforestation stands out as a career and life highlight of mine. More generally, helping to oversee the transformation of edie and achieving such amazing growth in website traffic over the past few years has been a highlight in itself. And more recently, the launch of the Sustainable Business Covered podcast, which I conceptualised, has taken us in an exciting new direction and is proving really popular with our audience.
What’s your favourite magazine?
Apart from all of the magazines within the Faversham House portfolio (of course), I have been a subscriber of FourFourTwo for more than 10 years, ensuring my love of football hasn’t completely died out. National Geographic is always a fascinating read.
What are you most looking forward to this week?
Going paragliding on the South Downs on Saturday – something I haven’t done before! And from a work perspective, running through our new content plan with the rest of the team, which is exciting.
Tell us something about yourself that we might find surprising?
I used to play poker at relatively high stakes. At my peak, I was sponsored by a professional player to take part in a famous tournament at the Hippodrome Casino in London. Then I realised the seriousness of money and so now just play for fun.