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Reach targets 16 to 34-year-olds with social brand Curiously

Reach's Curiously is so far on Tiktok, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram and Snapchat - but not its own site.

By Charlotte Tobitt

Mirror, Express and regional news publisher Reach has increased its efforts to connect with younger audiences with the launch of a new social-first brand, Curiously.

Aimed at 16 to 34-year-olds, Curiously is described as a “social content brand”.

Anna Jeys, Reach’s audience and content director for news audiences, told Press Gazette their aim was to be a “culturally relevant youth brand” while “making sure that our content is reflective of the audience, promoting diversity of thought and perspectives – and making sure that people enjoy our content”.

The brand began publishing content in its soft launch at the end of September and so far has more than 18,000 followers on Tiktok, 15,000 on Facebook, 2,000 on Twitter, 1,000 on Youtube and 800 on Instagram. It has also most recently launched a weekly Snapchat show with “bits for your brain… to keep your mind wide open”.

[Read more: Around half of leading publishers in over 40 countries now regularly use Tiktok, report finds]

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Jeys, formerly editor of Birmingham Live, said: “Obviously we’ve been thinking about younger audiences for a while, it’s part of our mix in the rest of our news brands and other titles, but this is the first time we’ve actually thought about a brand built specifically for the younger audience.”

Jeys said Reach had undertaken months of research about the “wants and needs” of their target audience in terms of both topics and formats.

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Reach also created an internal advisory board of more than 100 of its young employees across the business to use as a sounding board on the types of content Curiously might produce.

The Curiously team of about 25, featuring content creators, social media editors, designers and video specialists, is itself largely made up of people from the target demographic. They are led by a senior team including former Lancs Live editor Luke Beardsworth as editor, and Reach’s head of brand Lauren Briley.

In addition Reach has small teams now in the newsrooms of some of its regional newsbrands – the Manchester Evening News, My London, Birmingham Live and Bristol Live – who take insight from Curiously about what works for the young audience and apply that to producing content for their titles.

“They are working to kind of make sure that either we’re commissioning the right stories for our audience, or we’re finding stories that we’ve already told and making sure they’re in the right format for our audience,” Jeys said.

She added: “We’ve always thought about younger audiences as part of the mix in our other brands, but this is about using the knowledge that we learn at Curiously and spreading that around.

“Those teams are very much part of their newsrooms, they’re part of their brand rather than part of the Curiously team, and that’s important because it means they’re part of the commissioning and decision making and involved in conference and that kind of thing.”

“We know that we’ve got to make sure that we’re attracting and retaining these audiences,” Jeys went on. “We already attract lots of people within these demographics to our titles across the business.

“This piece of work is really about making sure that we really understand the audience, that we know what’s going to make them come back as well, and it feels like we’re really thinking about what relevant and authentic content is for that audience.”

Jeys said it is “obvious” that these younger audiences are “important for the future of the industry” and that news consumption habits have changed, and that was why Curiously “isn’t just a news brand. It’s a content brand.”

Curiously’s Tiktok page (as of 20 December 2022)

Posts related to news, sport, travel, money, dating and sustainability are all in the mix – things Jeys said “that are potentially not part of the traditional mix of news content that are really important to our audience”.

Jeys suggested this was one way in which Curiously differs from The News Movement, the social-first news start-up led by ex-BBC editorial director Kamal Ahmed and Dow Jones chief executive Will Lewis that had its own soft launch about a year ago and held a London launch party this month. However both are finding that explainer-style videos are popular, as are other publishers that have been experimenting on newer platforms like Tiktok this year including Channel 4 News and Sky News.

It is not just publishers the Curiously team is looking at when thinking about what content works best for its target audience. They are also keeping a close eye on individuals that are “skilled at engaging audiences”, for example influencers on the likes of Instagram and Youtube.

This is why some of the new hires on the team have come from a less traditional background – instead, some are content creators who were already well-practised at building a social following.

Jeys said the immediate aim for Curiously over the next year is to continue to grow and try new things out – “testing, learning and adapting”.

“We know the platforms are changing all the time,” she said. “The needs of the audience are changing all the time. So we’ve got to be able to keep up with that pace of change. And we’re already seeing that – we’ve already changed some plans and brought forward other plans that we had later on. And I think that will be key for us as we go forward to make sure that we’re just staying agile.”

At some point the team will discuss the best way to monetise the brand, but for now Jeys said building a following is more important. “We are a business but I think we need to start with the needs of the audience,” she said.

Also to come is Curiously’s own site in 2023, Jeys said: “It’s really important that we launched on social first because I think it gives us a really good understanding of what type of content’s working and obviously at the moment we’re trying to learn lessons about what people like and what they don’t like. That will help inform where we go next year, but we will be looking at a platform next year.

“It’s far too early to say what that will look like or what it will even be, but we’re just in the works with that at the moment. So watch this space next year, there will be some kind of platform.”

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Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
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  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
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