Confronting COVID-19: How One B2B Media Brand Is Staying Connected to the Cosmetics Industry
This is part of a series of articles showcasing publisher responses to COVID-19. If you’d like to share what your publishing business is doing to serve audiences and maintain business, please reply to our callout for industry input.
Trade shows are valuable grounds for B2B media brands to connect with professionals in the industries they serve. With in-person gatherings on hold during COVID-19, editors are getting creative to stay in touch with their markets and provide readers with critical business news.
In the following interview, Deanna Utroske, editor of William Reed Business Media brand Cosmetics Design, discusses the pandemic's impact on the cosmetics and personal care industry that she covers. Utroske also considers the role of B2B media during this crisis and shares how she is personally engaging with professionals in the beauty industry despite event cancellations.
How has the cosmetics and personal care industry been impacted by COVID-19?
The cosmetics, personal care, and fragrance industries have all been remarkably impacted by COVID-19. Retail store closings, salon and spa closings, layoffs, manufacturing turnarounds, and global ingredient supply chain disruptions are all affecting profitability and progress in what is normally a high-performing and fast-paced industry.
When the virus crisis hit the Americas region in earnest in March, I asked myself how it was impacting the industry; and as there was no short answer, I put together an article titled “19 ways the beauty industry is responding to CoronaVirus,” outlining everything from trade show cancellations to supply chain concerns and much more.
What are you doing at Cosmetics Design to help the industry?
As Editor of CosmeticsDesign.com, I’ve stepped out from behind the masthead and redoubled my personal engagement with the industry I cover. On LinkedIn, I am posting conversation prompts to let beauty insiders share with me and with one another about creativity in times of crisis, self-reflection and innovation, and most recently, the importance of brand purpose.
And I’m making time to speak one-on-one with beauty brand founders by phone or FaceTime, which has led to very informative and even news-generating conversations with indie beauty leaders around the world — in France, Dubai, Canada, and all across the US.
These are the conversations we would otherwise be having at beauty business networking events and at now-postponed or canceled cosmetics and personal care industry trade shows (like in-cosmetics Global, Cosmoprof North America, Luxepack New York, IBE Dallas, Unfiltered Experience, BeyondBeauty Americas, etc.). These are the conversations and connections I need to do my work well and to cover relevant news about and for the beauty industry.
Plus now, my periodic #duviews video posts on LinkedIn are all about how beauty is responding and reacting to the global health and financial virus crisis. These video posts don’t exactly stand in for the presentations and panel discussions that were on my 2020 calendar; but they are an effective way for my audience to see and hear from me on a regular and reliable basis beyond the confines of the Cosmetics Design media brand.
How is your audience responding to your coverage?
The industry appetite for reliable information during this crisis is big. Year-over-year page views on the CosmeticsDesign.com site for March and April are up over 40%, which is to say that virus-related news is performing well. But thankfully, more typical news continues to get good traffic as well. At the start of April, when Avon announced the forthcoming launch of CBD skincare, my article about it jumped to the top of the most popular news list on our site and stayed there for over a week.
What are the biggest challenges for your publishing business during COVID-19?
The attention of the whole world is on one topic. There’s a lot to wade through as a writer and editor looking for the right news to cover each day. So it’s challenging to make sure that coverage on CosmeticsDesign.com doesn’t get redundant and is instead always informative, insightful, and/or inspiring.
And it’s challenging to pivot from a familiar business model to whatever is next. The team at William Reed (the company that publishes CosmeticsDesign.com) has been hard at work for weeks to find the right platforms for, for instance, face-to-face events we were set to host this year, and the right tools to create content across the company’s 30+ brands that will keep the millions of business readers who turn to William Reed publications every day for news up-to-date and ahead of the competition.
Do you think the role of B2B media has changed during this worldwide crisis?
During the worldwide coronavirus crisis, B2B media has had the opportunity to connect with readers and sources and advertisers in a more personal way. We are business professionals, but we are people too.
My role as editor of CosmeticsDesign.com hasn’t formally changed. But my work has undoubtedly shifted to channels and strategies that let me connect more directly and personally with the people behind the brands and businesses that make this industry tick.
What advice would you give to fellow publishers right now?
This moment in history is all about humanity. It’s now more crucial than ever to be a publication of record, a publication of import, and a publication that truly matters in people’s (professional) lives.
Be yourself, be accessible, and be experimental; we’ve never lived through a pandemic before and we need to trust ourselves to get it right, but also allow ourselves the space to do our work in a new way.
Leah Wynalek is the senior editor for Publishing Executive and Book Business. She has worked at national magazine publishing companies including Trusted Media Brands and Rodale, where she assisted in digital content creation and strategy for Prevention.com. More recently, she used her multimedia skillset on behalf of clients as a content specialist for Philadelphia-based marketing agency En Route.