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Cristina Velocci – Deputy Editor, StyleBistro

Journalists are now more than a decade into the shift from print-centric journalism to digitally-optimized media aimed at a multiplatform audience, but many are still in the midst of this transition.  Cristina Velocci, new deputy editor at  StyleBistro, is just one of many who are taking skills honed in years of print journalism and combining them with new tools to help streamline digital brand content for audiences across multiple platforms.
We caught up with this editor who is currently up to her ears in the digital world and loving every  byte of it. She sees StyleBistro as the perfect place to earn her stripes (and backslashes, etc.) in all things digital.
“Coming from a print background, the digital side of media is something I’ve been eager to learn and couldn’t think of a better, more innovative company with which to do so,” she said.
StyleBistro is a guide for readers to inspire their own personal style by using celebrities and other trendsetters as examples. The site, like so many in the fashion and beauty industry, distributes content on a number of social media platforms that engage different audiences in different ways. It has a healthy following across the industry’s main social platforms with 272,000 ‘likes’ on  Facebook, more than 5,000 followers on  Twitter, and more than 18,000 followers on  Pinterest (including more than 8,000 followers on their  Men’s Design board).
Stories follow celebrity trends in beauty and fashion. When pitching the site, Velocci said it’s a best practice to follow the  vox celebriti:
“Since we do have a celebrity focus, it’s important that the line or product have a celebrity following, although we will make exceptions for things that just would appeal to our fashion-minded girl.”
In her first year, Velocci hopes to cultivate a broader conversation between content producers and their audience across all platforms.
Breaking free from the chains of a print format has this editor excited to work on both large-scale and one-off articles. No longer constricted by issue dates and page counts, she is excited to stretch her creative legs in multiple ways:
“The fact that I’m not confined to a page count or issue date and can cover so much more than I was able to squeeze into a weekly magazine is hugely exciting to me.”
She shares the task of many journalists who are responsible for staying abreast of the newest desirable skills, like CRM and SEO, as print outlets continue to fold and content is increasingly consumed digitally. In her new position, she is very excited to expand her knowledge of these practices while bringing her own extensive experience in print to the editing room.
Velocci also expects to have her limits pushed on multiple fronts, tackling multiple projects at once, while also expanding her own talents in the digital realm.
“As a top editor, I have my hands in nearly every piece of content that gets published to the site and it’s my goal to give StyleBistro a more consistent, elevated and defined voice.”
Velocci began her career as an assistant editor at Doubledown Media, where she cut her teeth in editorial and found her voice. After joining  Time Out New York in 2009, she steadily moved up through the ranks until she reached senior associate fashion editor before leaving at the end of 2013. She credits former T.O.N.Y. deputy features editor Billie Cohen for her super-sleuthing skills that have proven invaluable throughout her career.
“I’d often have to track down sources and wrangle celebrity quotes for features, and it proved to be an invaluable experience for my reporting.”
As a journalist currently hitting her stride and finding her own niche audience, Velocci advises those trying to break into journalism to stay curious and open-minded, and constantly remember that personal interviews create the most vivid and compelling stories. And especially in a digital age, she feels it’s important to have real-time conversations with other humans rather than just conversing electronically.
Velocci embraces her beats at StyleBistro because it has helped her appreciate the several overlaps of many different disciplines.
“When I switched over to the fashion and beauty beats it didn’t feel limiting at all because I saw how interrelated so many disciplines are; understanding that allows me to cover my specific niche through many different lenses and keep things fresh.”
Writing for an audience in an industry where red carpet attire is scrutinized as heavily as award recipients, up-to-the-minute coverage finds an anxiously waiting audience across social media and mobile platforms. The speed at which information is disseminated gives content curators the difficult task of not just deciding what content is published, but  when it is published.
“It’s our responsibility to figure out what timing makes sense for our readers,” she said. “We are not a breaking news site but we still want to provide them with timely serviceable content.”
In a celebrity-obsessed culture, there’s no shortage of topics to cover. When researching stories, Velocci has a wide range of sources to draw inspiration from. Researching stories can be as easy as opening her daily blog reader,  Feedly, or thinking up a new take on a freshly released product from a fellow beauty journalist’s  Instagram. The multitude of trends combined with the amount of attention given to celebrities keeps the need for new content high.
Velocci feels the rise of social media is great for branding and building relationships. “The only downside,” she said, “is that it can be time consuming and distracting.”
Velocci’s ultimate goal is to create content that will engage the reader beyond the page and inspire them to find their own style, whether they search on the site or on one of its social media sources.
“I think the key is offering a balance of quick, easy content and more in-depth pieces that we plan and work on well in advance so that readers get the best of both worlds.”
Pitching Tips
The best way to send a pitch is email.
“Pitch me stories and products that make sense for our site in a way that demonstrates you’re familiar with what we cover and have actually read our content,” Velocci said.
Emails about products should set out specifics clearly and concisely, and when pitching a person to profile, make it clear who they are and why he/she would be of interest to her readers.
The best way to forge a solid relationship might sound unconventional: meet them in person.
“Send an email asking to meet the journalist in person over coffee or a drink. Some of the best relationships I have with PR people started that way—it really does make a big difference to put a face to a name.”
Finally, after sending an email, allow time for a reply before following up with a call.
“I would say it’s safe to follow up after a full 24 hours has passed unless it’s super time sensitive.” Photo Credit: Cristina Velocci

About Neal Gregus

Neal T. Gregus is a Features Writer for Cision Blog. He is also a research aficionado focusing on print media in Cision’s Research division. He is hopelessly addicted to live music and can be found front row anywhere in Chicago. Or find him on Twitter at @NealGregus.

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