Luann Alphonso is the managing editor of vastly popular online portal LifestyleAsia.com and the head of digital content for Singapore and Malaysia at top international publishing house, Burda International Asia. Here, Ms. Alphonso, who is also a passionate auto enthusiast and respected motoring journalist, reveals the lessons she’s learned at the wheel of the world’s fastest cars — as well as wisdom gleaned steering LifestyleAsia and Burda International Asia’s regional content strategy.
The Great Room: Luxury sedan, high-performance supercar, efficient hatchback, reliable family wagon… If you were to liken an effective piece of content to a car, which type would it be, and why?
Luann Alphonso: I would go with high-performance supercar. Many supercars are hand-built, specialised vehicles with advanced structuring, which demonstrate passion. Likewise, a credible, engaging story is painstakingly put together after hours of research and provides value to its readers and consequentially strengthens relationships for the brand.
TGR: Which skills, honed behind the wheel, have you applied to your role as Head of Digital Content with Burda Singapore & Malaysia?
LA: Not so much a skill but rather, a habit — adjusting your mirrors to cover your blind spots. Very often, smaller problems tend to go unnoticed and can snowball very quickly. To prevent that from happening, I check in with the team regularly and liaise with different departments to make sure we get a clear view of impending problems.
TGR: What are the most important factors to consider when crafting a piece of content?
LA: Target audience, the purpose of the content and the value and longevity of the article.
TGR: What should non-specialists (start-up founders, for instance) do to ensure the content they publish on their own blogs and social media channels captures the audience’s attention?
LA: Depending on the capability of the platform, measuring and analysing responses and reactions from past articles is a good way to adapt one’s content and constantly improve.
TGR: In your opinion, do all businesses today need to evolve to become ‘pseudo publishers’, constantly pushing out content?
LA: If a particular company does not have the ability and resources to execute proper content with the help of functional departments, it is advisable to reconsider publishing, as poor content can greatly decrease brand loyalty.
TGR: Why is it important for a business to create content that engages, entertains and educates the customer — rather than simply trying to ‘sell’ to them?
LA: It’s a game of patience. Well thought-out content is about giving, not selling. When we give the audience a memorable read, it builds positive brand association which can, in turn, generate sales.
TGR: Editorial vs. content marketing vs. advertising — what’s the difference?
LA: Using a car as an analogy, I would say that editorial is the engine, the heart that drives emotions, and content marketing is the steering wheel with the destination in sight. And finally, advertising is the sleek exterior — complete with a glossy finish.