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Editor Faith Xue Looks for Exceptional Beauty Coverage for Byrdie

Since its launch in 2013 by the fashionable folks of WhoWhatWear.com, Byrdie has provided top-notch, eye-catching beauty coverage in a market already saturated with the same old celeb makeup breakdowns and hairstyle tutorials. It may have seemed like a risk for co-founders Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power to launch a new website instead of folding beauty coverage into their already reputable and excessively fun fashion site, but it’s a move that appears to be paying off.

“Hillary and Katherine saw an opening in the digital landscape for an on-trend, youthful-yet-sophisticated beauty authority. And I think Byrdie’s editors at the time succeeded at doing just that,” editor Faith Xue said.

How has Byrdie managed to become such a compelling arbiter of all things beauty in just a short period of time? What sets them apart from the thousands of other online outlets covering the latest trends and products? For one, the Byrdie website is sleek and accessible with splashes of eye-catching color and products any makeup junky would kill to get their hands on, whether it be the latest fragrance from Gucci or a good drugstore hair care find.  It’s the same thing that has worked for journalists since the dawn of print. It doesn’t matter if you’re covering breaking news or equestrian sports, good content will find an audience, and what really sets Byrdie apart is their content.

“Because it’s a good mix of everything,” Xue said. “A lot of the products we talk about are slightly more high-end, but we love a good drugstore roundup, and anyone – no matter how old you are, or how much money you make – can appreciate a story about eyeliner hacks, or helping your strands beat summer humidity.”

After an untraditional career route into editorial – by way of internships at a couple PR agencies and a stint as a celebrity ghost writer – Xue landed the editor position at Byrdie in March 2014, and so far she says she loves it. Her duties range from overseeing site updates each morning to working with her editorial team on story concepts.

“Depending on the day, we might have a shoot, which means either Deven [Hopp, co-editor] or I will be on set all day, interviewing the makeup artists and taking notes,” Xue explained.

Other days she attends press functions and takes desk sides. She does all this while keeping Byrdie’s social media team and graphics department in the loop. It sounds like a lot of work for such a small staff, but the payoff is huge when considering the readers Xue gets to interact with on a daily basis on topics she is deeply passionate about.

“My position allows me the privilege of sharing beauty knowledge and creating an open, welcoming discussion online,” she said. “It’s an amazing feeling, seeing people engage with a story that you conceptualized and worked so hard on… nothing ever beats the feeling of reading a comment from someone saying that this story helped them in some way or other. That’s always the best, and it makes all the hours, worth it.”

Byrdie’s audience is growing fast, so fast that there are plans in the works to expand the site’s coverage and staff. “I think long term, we’ll focus on expanding our contributor network, beauty news coverage, and we’re definitely going to start doing more original imagery,” Xue said.

As for the role social media plays in growing their audience, Xue said, “We think about social media impact for every story we create on Byrdie—we think about accompanying social copy, visual imagery, which platforms it will perform the best on…the social ‘share-ability’ is always taken into account. I think familiarizing yourself with best practices, as well as social trends, will help create stories that have that ‘viral’ factor, and in turn, draw more readers to your site.”

How has social content changed beauty coverage specifically? “Beauty coverage, I think, has gotten a lot more personal and in some ways, a lot more honest because of it,”
Xue said. “We’re not flipping through magazines full of airbrushed models, anymore—we’re looking at real people, who do amazing things like create makeup how-to’s on YouTube, or write about their personal battle with acne…When a perfectly worded Facebook link, with just the right image to encourage click-through, leads to an informative, original, thought-provoking story, you might not have seen otherwise? That’s something really beautiful. And as an editor for a digital site, we’re always trying to achieve that.”

Xue adds one final thought about social media, “How else am I going to find out if a celebrity dyed her hair or went for the chop?” She may be joking, but she isn’t wrong. With an editor who likes the same kind of juicy, fun beauty coverage as the rest of us, Byrdie is a must-see stop on every beauty addict’s blog roll.

Pitching Tips

Xue is interested in receiving information about product launches, brand updates and collaborations. It is imperative that PR professionals familiarize themselves with the Byrdie brand.

“I always love getting pitches from PR people that say ‘I really thought this would be a good fit for Byrdie because…’—it makes me feel like they’ve taken the time to actually go onto Byrdie and familiarize themselves with the site, instead of just being a blast they sent to hundreds of other editors.”

Xue’s biggest pet peeve is receiving multiple follow-ups on a pitch that doesn’t meet Byrdie’s needs. She prefers to receive pitches via email.

About Susan Lanier

Susan Lanier is a staff writer for Cision Blog covering trends in journalism and new media. She is also a media researcher on the broadcast team at Cision and a writer of fiction. Prior to rejoining Cision in 2014, Lanier wrote for Mr. Man and was a social media adviser. Her first collection of short stories, The Game We Play, is forthcoming on Curbside Press in September 2014.

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