Guest Lecture: Helen Gilchrist

“Have time to work on what interests you,” said Helen Gilchrist in a guest lecture, “because it defines you.”

She was certainly in a position to divulge such information having taken Stranger Collective (previously, just a magazine) a copywriting and creative agency, to an international level.

Now creating websites, e-newsletters, brochures and catalogues among many other types of copy, Helen claimed it was all down to the vast work experience and previous insights she had had to kickstart her career.

She started with a fast track Journalism postgraduate course over a period of three months where she moved on to write features that were independently commissioned. From that, Helen chased work experience at Time Out and managed to interview Laurence Llewelyn Bowen, before moving to Adrenaline Magazine to become Contributing Editor.

“Act like [getting work experience] is sales,” she added to the packed lecture theatre. “Talk about you, they want to know about you.”

From then on Helen went on to start her own project, which would become Stranger Magazine, that she had plenty of ideas for, and a solid outline of who it was targeting and exactly what it wasn’t.

Brand extension was key, and Helen made that clear by highlighting just how much she had gone into that side of her project. Promoting her company through parties, promotions and even clothing she earned a 15,000+ readership for her print copies, and a 400,000 monthly viewing figure for the web sidekick.

Helen bridged her project from a standalone magazine to what she now has as Stranger Collective, where she has worked alongside iTunes, Coca Cola and Port Eliot to create web content and international websites, that have huge viewing capacities.

Above all, the one thing I took away was a question she often asks herself: “How do you get a message across that people will engage with?” That seems to be toughest to answer, and has to be at the forefront of everything you do.

 

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