In the latest of our “Meet The Team” features, we welcome Iain, Digital Content Editor at the “Friend”.
Iain – welcome! Tell us about your life before the “Friend”.
I studied at the University of St Andrews – so not too far from home here in Dundee!
I studied English Literature from 2004-2008, which seems like a lifetime ago. Graduating right in the teeth of “The Great Recession” made finding a job tough. I moved to Edinburgh while my partner went to the College of Art there, and worked in retail for a few years while interning with some publishers and looking for my big break.
It finally came when I joined the communications department at VisitScotland, the national tourism agency. I was there for a few years before we took the plunge and moved to the United Arab Emirates.
I worked for a small digital agency there for around nearly three years, working to create English-language webpages and content for a host of clients, including Etihad Airways, and Visit Abu Dhabi. It was definitely a culture shock, but you get used to it all quite quickly. Except for maybe the heat!
After we decided to come back to Scotland, I joined the University of Dundee’s marketing department, before moving on to the Principal’s Office in a corporate communications role.
Then a vacancy on the Production team at the “Friend” came up, and the rest is history…
Tell us a little about life on the Production team.
In my time on Production, I came to the realisation that they are the magazine’s unsung heroes. They are responsible for making sure all the fiction and features found in the magazine read well, conform to house style, and are factually accurate (where appropriate). The magazine might still be printed without them, but it wouldn’t quite be the same “Friend”.
I very much enjoyed my time on the team. And I didn’t move very far when taking up the new role, so I can pretend I’m still with them from time to time!
What does a normal day look like, work-wise?
A normal day will start with scanning the internet/social media for topics that it might be worth the “Friend” covering, either on our website or on our social media channels. I’ll usually have one or two web posts to write, and I generally make tweaks to the posts written by other members of the team. We want to make sure everyone can find us if they want to!
I have a few more long-term projects on the go at the moment, too. For example, I’m trying to improve how users can navigate through the website; this involves an awful lot of technical fiddling about, and a lot of reading through old posts.
Best bits about doing your job? Trickiest bits?
I like being able to track everything we do: I can tell the increase (or decrease . . .) in website visits or social media engagement, and tweak what we’re doing to see if it’s closer to what our audience is looking for. I’m not certain I’ve been the most successful at it so far, but I’m working on it!
The trickiest bit is when I want to do something – like an interesting, interactive piece of content for example – but I can’t quite get it to work because of technical limitations. Or limitations in my expertise, of which there are many.
I do most of my reading online, but it’s frequently the online versions of magazines, like the Economist and Wired. I used to read a lot of film magazines like Total Film and Empire, too. But there are plenty of other places to find film reviews these days.
Any previous “Friend” connections?
My great-aunt was an avid reader. She used to read every issue cover to cover before packaging them up and sending them to relatives in Canada.
Any thoughts on the “Friend” in this milestone 150th Year?
If you’d have told me before I started here that the magazine was 150 years old, I don’t think I would have believed you. But after joining the team, I can see why it’s lasted so long.
The readers really do love and appreciate everything that we print, and everyone here is dedicated to producing the best possible issue, every issue.
With that kind of attitude, I fully expect the “Friend” will still be going in another 150 years.
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