April 14, 2021

Food and Fridays: Virtual Visit to Delish

By Surina Jain, NYU SPS MS in Publishing student

It began as a casual conversation around lazy and busy Fridays at a Zoom visit to Delish hosted and moderated by Lindsey Ramsey, Director of Content Operations. “It’s been quite busy. We’ve become the number one digital site for Hearst in the last year or two,” said Philip Swift, Senior Post-Production Supervisor, to a group of NYU MS in Publishing: Digital and Print Media students on Zoom. As Swift started his presentation, a tiny doughnut dropped and dotted the Delish i, making us all salivate.

In 2015, Hearst decided to expand delish.com from a focus on food search to a full food website. “We definitely wanted Delish to feel like it had personality, and we needed to figure out what our positioning was in the marketplace,” said Lindsay Funston, the website’s Executive Editor. “We wanted to create a place where everyone was welcome no matter your skill level in the kitchen… you just needed to love to eat. That became our tagline and north star as we were building out Delish to what it is today.”

Headshot of Lindsey Ramsey

Lindsey Ramsey, Director of Content Operations, Delish

Headshot of Philip Swift

Philip Swift, Senior Post-Production Supervisor, Delish

Delish now has over 75 million brand impressions. Their unique views grew from 3.8 million in September 2015 to 43.9 million in November 2020. They also produce bookazines that are similar to special issues and cookbooks. At a time when many brands are eliminating print, Delish launched a quarterly magazine last month that will spotlight recipes, food features, food news, product reviews, and tips from experts. “In general, there is a desire for well-produced content no matter the medium,” said Funston when asked about the reason for a new print launch during the pandemic. Delish has introduced a new subscription model that encourages members to sign up for “all access,” which includes the print quarterly, providing additional revenue beyond the usual advertising.

In a fast-paced world and a rapidly changing media landscape, lish has constantly adapted and their strategies are continuously evolving. When they started, their “tasty” style recipe videos did extremely well on Facebook and were a major part of their strategy. However, as trends and audiences shifted, Delish’s strategies changed, too. “If there’s anything to know, it is the importance of constantly evolving because you have to stay relevant,” said Funston. “As audiences come to the site less from social platforms and increasingly from search, SEO is now a major part of Delish’s on-going strategy.

During the pandemic, like many brands, Delish shifted strategy. Digital Director Tess Koman explained that emotion dictated content in a way it would never have done before. They were able to observe in real-time how banana bread, sourdough, and casseroles acted as comfort food and topped the search lists when something bad had happened in the world. “We’re able to publish more emotional, wistful essays than in the past,” said Koman. She also emphasized the importance of “constantly thinking about all the packaging and presentations of your content.”

Headshot of Lindsay Funston

Lindsay Funston, Executive Editor, Delish.com

Headshot of Tess Koman

Tess Koman, Digital Director, Delish 

Video is increasingly dominating the digital space. Julia Smith, Director of Video at Delish, talked about how their YouTube videos are a big part of their personality. “We’re turning out fewer videos but they’re much longer and much more impactful, and there is much more emotion involved in them,” said Smith, who noted that now there is always a face in every video.

Delish definitely stands out from competition. What makes them different, Smith says, is their editing style, their music, the video cuts, and the way the videos feel. Also, while a lot of food websites are male-centered, most of Delish’s content is directed toward women, with women as experts. “Everything has already been done. It’s your spin on it that’s going to make it feel just a little bit different from the competition,” Smith said. And to that point, Swift added these words of wisdom: “There are no original ideas, only original interpretations. That’s all it is, forever and always.”

Headshot of Julia Smith

Julia Smith, Director, Video, Delish

By Surina Jain, NYU SPS MS in Publishing ‘22

Surina is a second year MS in Publishing student. She also has a Masters in English, is a full-time poet, and is passionate about art. Surina hopes to continue her career in book publishing as an editor and wishes to open her own publishing house someday.

Visit our homepage for more information on the NYU SPS MS in Publishing: Digital & Print Media program.

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