A year in review: 12 great projects created while working from home
Like many other companies across the UK and beyond, the team at APL Media has been working remotely for just over a year. Here are 12 of the best things we produced from home over the past 12 months:
The cover of the July/August 2020 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)
This was the first issue of National Geographic Traveller we produced entirely remotely. The challenge for the art team was to recreate the magazine’s iconic visual style, while bearing in mind that this issue represented the start of a new way of living and travelling. The cover we chose features three women fetching water from a stepwell in Jaipur. Despite showing a relatively mundane task, the image is remarkably impactful: the simple composition has a unique, MC Escher-esque feeling to it, capturing a moment in time that, framed by the zigzagging stone steps of the well, suggests endless repetition. We felt it was an idea that would subtly resonate with many of our readers.
Becky Redman, art director, APL Media
‘Why We Travel’ cover story for National Geographic Traveller
National Geographic Traveller’s August 2020 cover story ‘Why We Travel: The Power of Place’ was published deep in the pandemic, when physical travel had been curtailed for months. We chose to fly the flag and celebrate the power of transformative adventure with spirit-lifting content from 13 prominent authors, eco-explorers, athletes, naturalists, foreign correspondents and adventurers. The likes of Pico Iyer, William Dalrymple, Levison Wood, Robert Macfarlane and Felicity Aston offered unique testimonials touching on the value of seeing the world from different perspectives, the potential for travel as a force for good in frontline conservation, and the importance of being able to adapt in challenging circumstances — of allowing a place to teach you, to change you. It also proved to be a great success online.
Sarah Barrell, associate editor, National Geographic Traveller
National Geographic Traveller Stay Inspired campaign
The Stay Inspired digital campaign for National Geographic Traveller was introduced in March 2020 to bridge the gap between the brand’s print and online presence at a time when travel had come to a standstill. Having to pivot so quickly gave fresh impetus to our digital strategy and kickstarted a culture for us to create original, online content on a regular basis. Kudos to the team for all their hard work.
Maria Pieri, editorial director, APL Media
National Geographic Traveller Food summer 2020 issue
Since its launch in early 2018, National Geographic Traveller Food has been available as part of a bundle, along with sister magazine National Geographic Traveller. However, the summer 2020 issue of this award-winning quarterly title was the first one to be sold as a standalone magazine, as part of a move to broaden its readership. It was great to see the title, with its distinct and impactful cover, displayed on newsstands across the country.
Glen Mutel, editor, National Geographic Traveller Food
APL Media’s digital lifestyle publishing division
In July 2020, APL Media launched its digital lifestyle publishing division, which joined the company’s longstanding newspaper print division. As part of this new digital portfolio, we started creating tailor-made native content for titles including The Week, Evening Standard, Independent, City AM and The Telegraph, further strengthening our digital capability.
Zane Henry, project editor, APL Media
The online National Geographic Traveller Travel Geeks events
Over the past year, we’ve had to move our events online. This transition created an opportunity to reach larger audiences, across the UK and beyond, and create more engagement among our readers, resulting in inspiration for future travel. Our Travel Geeks events are a great example of this. In January 2021, National Geographic Traveller teamed up with the Israel Tourist Office to host Travel Geeks — a culinary tour of Israel, an online event bringing together an expert panel to discuss Israeli food. The event was a success, with more than 1,000 people tuning in to hear the discussion. Since then, our Travel Geeks events have continuously attracted large audiences as we look to create inspirational content and events.
Natalie Jackson, head of events, APL Media
‘Tales of San Francisco’ cover story for National Geographic Traveller
This National Geographic Traveller cover story came at a time when our readers needed it most: ahead of winter months, as the longer nights were setting in and new Covid-19 regulations came into effect, with a second national lockdown further restricting our ability to leave the house and socialise with family and friends. An explosion of colour, the stories and photography reflected a diverse human experience in one corner of our planet, but championed a united world. The stories were collated into an online hub and spread far and wide on social media.
Nora Wallaya, assistant online editor, National Geographic Traveller
The Great Italian Food Journey, a National Geographic Traveller campaign for the Italian National Tourist Board (ENIT)
A celebration of Italian food, this campaign featured a live cooking demonstration from the kitchen of award-winning chef Aldo Zilli. He was joined by Joe Fattorini, wine expert on The Wine Show, and Joe Hurd, a regular guest presenter on BBC One’s Saturday Kitchen, who led a discussion on Italian cuisine. Hosting such an event during a national lockdown was a success in its own right, and the discussion was in equal parts lively, informative and funny — it inspired me to rediscover the cuisine of my home country, which I sometimes take for granted.
Angela Locatelli, assistant editor, APL Media
Travel Media Awards 2020
The Travel Media Awards is an annual event celebrating the very best of travel media, across all mediums, and it’s one of my favourite APL Media events to work on. In 2020 we took the event virtual, streaming the awards announcement on the Travel Media Awards website and running a social media wall alongside to showcase reactions from winners and finalists. Although I missed the buzz of working behind the scenes on a large event and meeting with colleagues from across the travel and media industries in a grand hotel, I enjoyed moderating our social wall online and seeing the excitement of the winners and finalists who shared their reactions on social media. The virtual format saw more than 300 guests tune in from 16 countries worldwide, while the #TMA2020 had a reach of over 1.2 million on twitter. I can’t wait to welcome everyone back to the Travel Media Awards 2021 at the Kimpton Fitzroy London Hotel on Monday 18 October.
Seamus McDermott, operations manager, APL Media
‘Six of London’s best international food shops’, a National Geographic Traveller digital article
In lockdown, supermarket visits have become our weekly adventures, and cooking our nightly entertainment. As the weeks wore on, however, even the enormous Sainsbury’s down the road started to lose its charm, and I found myself exasperated by the idea of rustling up yet another chicken pie. This feature inspired me to branch out where I shopped and try all sorts of weird and wonderful ingredients, from fermented pickles to powdered cardamom.
Charlotte Wigram-Evans, content editor, National Geographic Traveller
‘The 2021 ASTA Worldwide Destination Guide
This is an annual comprehensive country-by-country reference guide we produce for ASTA (American Society of Travel Advisors), full of analysis, features, member information and a comprehensive A to Z guide to each country — it’s a huge undertaking at the best of times so pulling it together remotely was no mean feat. It landed on my doormat a few days ago (with a big thump — it’s huge!) and I’m so proud of us all, not just for making it happen but making it better and more useful than ever.
Jo Fletcher-Cross, editorial manager, APL Media
‘How different countries celebrate Nowruz, the Persian New Year’, a National Geographic Traveller digital article
Nowruz is one of my favourite holidays — it symbolises the dawn of spring and the end of darkness. Due to the coronavirus, I couldn’t celebrate the way I normally would by gathering with friends and family, eating copious amounts of food, and jumping over a roaring bonfire. This article ended up being my own little way of celebrating, and I was so proud to share the details of this ancient rite with our readers.
Farida Zeynalova, assistant editor, National Geographic Traveller Food