“We never sugarcoat content on Refinery29, we talk to real women.” At Gorkana’s latest media briefing, Refinery29’s editorial director, Sarah Raphael, and executive branded content director (Europe), Kirsty Hathaway, revealed why its “living breathing” content speaks to the “millennial-minded” woman, what stories do best and how PRs can build relationships with its 30-strong UK team.

Refinery29 was launched in the UK in November 2015, with a London-based editorial team and wide contributor network delivering a mix of fresh, local content and the best personal style resources.

With backers including WPP, Hearst and Turner, the site is broken down into Fashion, Beauty, Living, Entertainment, Health and News.

The London edition of the site is updated throughout the day with a mix of US and UK content.

With a free daily newsletter, readers also receive cultural and political news, health and wellness features, work and money features, beauty how-to videos, and the latest fashion, celebrity, and arts news through the Refinery29 female-focused lens.

Refinery29’s Sarah Raphael and Kirsty Hathaway

Here are just a few top tips that Sarah Raphael and Kirsty Hathaway from Refinery29’s UK team revealed at the media briefing, which took place on Thursday 21 April at Tanner Warehouse in London’s Bermondsey Street.

Branded content

Refinery29 really knows how to make content accessible.” Hathaway says Refinery29 has always been famous for its strong branded content. It’s about creating a collaborative experience. It needs to be audience first, engaging and give meaning to the people who read it. If a piece of branded content can really talk to Refinery29’s target audience, they won’t care whether it’s sponsored or not.

The Refinery29 reader

The team targets the “millennial-minded” reader, rather than millennials themselves. “Every woman is an individual,” says Raphael. “We’re interested in so many issues, and we’re not just talking about one or two things.” 83% of readers are women and they are “particularly urban.”

Most read content

Statistically, health issues always do well. This can cover anything from women’s health, relationships and sex to fitness, nutrition and lifestyle. News comes next, and celebrity content always does well. When it comes to celebrity content, it’s not so much about what they are wearing, rather it’s about what they’re saying. Travel content also does well. One of the site’s most popular pieces ever was a “20 places women can travel alone” feature.

Working with PRs

Raphael says “we’re all in the business of storytelling” and she’s always keen to hear from PRs to find out about the things she wouldn’t otherwise know about. She values face-to-face time with PRs, as it helps build relationships. The team prefers to be contacted by email and Raphael says she will always read an email from someone she’s met. Try not to be too personal in your email if you haven’t met her before. Exclusive content, interview time and strong surveys are always of interest.

The Gorkana media briefing with Refinery29 took place on Thursday 21 April at Tanner Warehouse in London’s Bermondsey Street



More than 150 PR and comms professionals attended the media briefing, which was chaired by Gorkana’s head of news and content, Philip Smith.

Sophie Wyatt, senior account manager at M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment, said: “The talk from Refinery29 was compelling and engaging – touching on a variety of topics, from data driven insights, trends, pitching tips and what makes a strong Refinery29 story, all the way to how diverse and multi-faceted the millennial-minded woman is. I left feeling inspired (and happy to be a woman!).”