Editor’s note: In a new, ongoing series, INMA is profiling our most engaged members — our super fans. At a time when we have less face-to-face time, we hope this gives members a chance to learn more about each other. Today we profile Aimie Rigas, Nine Publishing’s director of audience development/publishing.
One of the biggest challenges for the news media industry that Aimie Rigas sees is news fatigue.
The director of audience development/publishing for Nine Publishing in Sydney, Australia, said it’s a growing problem: “Our audience has the right to protect their happiness, and sometimes that comes at the expense of engaging with traditional news media — especially if they label the news, generally, as too depressing.”
Rigas said she’s fortunate to have a great team in place to meet these challenges and give their audience a great user experience. She is no stranger to challenges, as she was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer on New Year’s Eve 2021. She is grateful that her team is so efficient that she can take days off work to focus on her health and everything keeps running as it should.
INMA recently caught up with her to learn more about her and what’s on her mind.
INMA: What big lesson have you learned over the past couple of years that helped shape your plans for 2022?
Rigas: That to successfully get hundreds of people working together requires a shared sense of purpose. If everyone knows how they can use their unique skills to help us reach our goal, culturally that’s really powerful. They need to know why what they’re doing matters.
Then, when a problem arises — whether it’s a team member who needs to take unexpected leave or a relentless news cycle — everyone knows their job and can get on with things, knowing where they fit into the puzzle.
They understand the decisions senior management makes instead of getting frustrated, jumping to conclusions, or gossiping. They suggest and question ideas respectfully. They feel empowered to take ownership over the success of their work. They know where to go when they need help. And they feel like they can take a break without guilt.
INMA: If you had your career to do over again, what would you want to know in the beginning?
Rigas: You almost always learn more from your mistakes than your wins. I used to catastrophise things when I screwed up. When I was an assistant, I accidentally sent a personal e-mail to the entire office and hid under my desk, convinced I was going to be fired. It was harmless. But I learned pretty quickly to triple-check the “to” field in e-mails and separate work from play.
In the newsrooms, we focus on what content doesn’t work to create more of what does. The same premise applies. Editors have found the content that works backs up decades of gut feel, while the stuff that doesn’t is full of opportunities.
INMA: What makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning?
Rigas: First it’s the promise of breakfast. What keeps me going is spending time with so many curious, intelligent, and kind people. My family, definitely. And my colleagues, too. I’m so proud to work for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, and The Australian Financial Review. The teams publish stories with real-world impact. And as cheesy as it sounds, I take real pride in helping those stories find a meaningful audience.
INMA: What is the craziest job or project you’ve ever done in the media — and what did you learn from it?
Rigas: My very first full-time job was as an assistant to an editor of a fashion magazine. It was an induction by fire. I’d go from having to source obscure photoshoot props at the 11th hour to driving a van full of editors around town during fashion week, to getting stuck in the goods lift with sample designer dresses that were needed 20 minutes ago.
I lost count of how many last-minute miracles I was able to pull off because the person on the other end of the phone remembered I was nice to them or because I managed to avoid yelling in a stressful situation.
So the lesson is simple: Be kind to everyone, always. Even when you’re in a hurry or stressed. There’s always a way to deliver a message or ask a question without being unnecessarily rude — even if you’re unhappy with their service or performance.
INMA: What success within your company are you most proud of right now?
Rigas: I’m proud of how embedded the audience team and the dashboards we’ve worked on with the data team are in the newsrooms.
Everyone knows what our Topic Editor Dashboard (affectionately known as TED) is. They understand why we’re focused on the metrics we are and how important the work they do is in the subscriber acquisition and retention journey. And, perhaps most importantly, they’re always asking questions about our audience and how to better serve content to them when and where they want it.
It can be gratifying hearing people repeat insights back to you that you’ve previously shared with them — it’s a sign they’re listening — but it’s even better when they teach you something because they’ve taken a genuine interest in how their stories are performing and resonating. Our newsrooms care deeply about the work they do having an impact, and they realise impact doesn’t come from reach alone. If something is important, it’s our job to make it interesting.
INMA: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your career?
Rigas: Learning how to build relationships and lead teams in a way that makes them want to work with you and for you. I’ve learned a lot from good leaders — and just as much from ineffective ones.
INMA: What is your favourite thing to read?
Rigas: The books that my colleagues both past and present have written. It’s pretty special to be able to pick up a novel written by someone you know.
INMA: What are you most excited about for 2022?
Rigas: Hopefully getting to the end of cancer treatment without any hiccups and returning to “normal,” however that looks. If my diagnosis has taught me anything, it’s that we aren’t much use to anyone if we aren’t looking after ourselves. It’s taught me how to prioritise and when a bit of perspective is useful. That said, I’m excited to watch the audience team continue to embed themselves — and the products we help to create — n the newsrooms. They’ve stepped up as I’ve stepped back, and I’m very proud.