In conversation with Amy King, editor-in-chief of The Lily

We spoke to Amy King about The Lily and the strategy behind editorial newsletter Lily Lines

Alice Rizzo, assistant editor, Reuters Community

Editorial newsletters are gaining attention in the media industry as a growing channel to reach audiences, drive registrations and eventually, subscribers. Publishers from the Washington Post to The Economist have been experimenting with newsletters as an additional connection to their audience.

Reuters News Agency spoke to Amy King, editor-in-chief and creative director of The Lily. Amy is part of the emerging news products team at the Washington Post. The emerging news products team runs the Post’s national app, Snapchat, Apple News and other distributed platforms. One of their main goals is to reach new audiences. As such, the publisher has been experimenting with a publication, The Lily and its accompanying editorial newsletter, Lily Lines. 

We respect that the inbox is a personal space, and because of this we put a lot of effort into choosing topics and creating visuals worthy of someone’s time.

Amy King, editor-in-chief and creative director, The Lily

Tell us more about The Lily. Why was it created and how has it evolved in its first year? 

The Lily is a publication from the Washington Post dedicated to stories central to the lives of young women.

We started The Lily as a way to reach new audiences with both new stories and existing Washington Post stories. Our mission statement is to promote inclusivity by exposing diverse voices and perspectives.

In our first year, we’ve experienced tremendous success. Our audience grew 277% across platforms. We exceeded internal benchmarks for growth and cultivated an engaged readership that extends across multiple platforms. We created an instantly recognizable brand, with stories and visuals that resonate with our readers.

 

Email newsletters are a growing channel for publishers to reach and develop their audience. How does Lily Lines do this?

Our newsletter, Lily Lines, is one of my favorite things we make. As a team, we feel close to this audience. They made the choice to sign up for our newsletter and are more invested than the average reader.

We respect that the inbox is a personal space, and because of this we put a lot of effort into choosing topics and creating visuals worthy of someone’s time. On this platform, we’ve experienced a lot of organic growth since launch, with sign-ups increasing by 177%.

Lily Lines has been honored with a Webby award in the newsletters category this year. What purpose do editorial newsletters serve?

Newsletters can serve all sorts of purposes. Of course, I enjoy newsletters that roundup interesting articles. But with Lily Lines, our intention was to give someone a full reading experience within the newsletter. We want people to learn something new from our newsletter.

On Mondays, we keep people informed on current events having to do with women. On Thursdays, we choose a single subject and take more of an in-depth look. Sometimes the newsletter is delightful, other times it’s more serious and critical.

Our hope is that people read about something they’re not familiar with. Our job is to open minds to unknown perspectives. This approach seems to work since Lily Lines is the fifth most opened newsletter at The Post.

Our job is to open minds to unknown perspectives. This approach seems to work since Lily Lines is the fifth most opened newsletter at The Post.

Why are prose and presentation equally important for The Lily?

A story can be great, and people might read it, just because of that.

But if stories are paired with a great visual strategy, this gives people another reason to click in and engage with work. Distinct visuals are a way for stories to stand out on places like the Facebook or Twitter feed.

What does good UX bring to both readers and publishers?

At The Lily, everything we publish is carefully considered — story choice, visual design, distribution strategy, social text. This is the user experience we offer our readers.

They notice we take the time and effort to present a story in a unique way. I think this makes everyone feel like the exchange is fair. They’re giving us their time, and we’re giving them ours, along with thoughtful stories and illustrations.

We see value in our Instagram community. Healthy debate often breaks out in our comment section.

Instagram isn’t a natural home for many news publishers. What opportunities do you think the platform offers?

Instagram is the platform where we can be most visually creative.

We also notice that people like posts where they get news and information. For a publication that places emphasis on both storytelling and visuals, it’s the perfect platform for us. We start with an empty white square and can fill it with anything we can dream up. Posts that do well for us are usually topical.

We’ve also seen a lot of success with comics, where we share perspectives from several different women. We see value in our Instagram community. Healthy debate often breaks out in our comment section.

What’s worked very well for us is creating a consistent visual brand. We stick to strict style guide with a distinct color palette to ensure readers can identify a Lily story at a glance in what tends to be a crowded social feed.

Want more insights, tips and innovative ideas? Join Reuters Community to learn about the latest developments in news media.

 

This interview was conducted at NewsImpact Paris. NewsImpact offer free-of-charge media innovation events and training, organized by the European Journalism Centre and powered by the Google News Initiative.

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